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Planning Regions (Employment)

Volume 972: debated on Thursday 25 October 1979

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asked the Prime Minister if she will estimate the number of jobs lost in each planning region of the United Kingdom as a result of the policies of Her Majesty's Government.

The number of unemployed, seasonally adjusted and excluding school leavers, has in fact declined by 24,000 since this Government took office.

Is the right hon. Lady aware that instead of answering the question she has evaded the issue? Is she aware that her attitude towards unemployment is both complacent and fainthearted? Is she further aware that her regional policy will result in a greater concentration of industry in the so-called "golden triangle" of the EEC and that the removal of exchange controls this week will further exacerbate that position?

The greatest threat to jobs in this country is extravagant pay claims which go beyond what is warranted by increased productivity. When that happens, costs and prices go up and jobs will disappear.

Will my right hon. Friend seek to encourage Labour Members from the regions to explain in the regions that only by increased productivity and moderated wage demands can we solve our unemployment problems?

I cannot emphasise this too much. We shall get increased prosperity only through increased productivity. We shall avoid higher inflation and higher unemployment only with wage demands which are related to output.

Does the Prime Minister agree that the extravagant wage claims that she talks about are caused by the policies of her and her Government and the attitude that they took towards the last Government, beginning with the Ford claim?

No, Sir. Pay claims that go beyond productivity can be allowed only at the expense of others, and those others are such people as old age pensioners, who cannot use industrial muscle on the same scale.

Will my right hon. Friend accept the congratulations of the country on three consecutive reductions in the unemployment figures? Will she further accept that part of the reason is that the Government have taken such a robust attitude on regional policy?

We shall achieve genuine improvements in the job position only when we have increasing numbers of small businesses expanding. Our policies and strategies are directed to that end.