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Unemployment Statistics

Volume 14: debated on Monday 30 November 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales what estimate his Department has made of the number of people who have been unemployed in Wales for 12 months or more.

On 8 October 1981, 50,078 people had been registered as unemployed for over 12 months.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that is a staggering figure? It seems that 50,000 people in Wales now depend on supplementary benefit and social security discretionary payments instead of unemployment benefit. Is he further aware that the Government propose to establish centres—there will be one at Merthyr, for example—to interrogate and harass the long-term unemployed and to try to force them into looking for jobs far and wide? Will he make representations to his fellow Ministers and tell them how deeply resented and bitterly opposed will be the establishment of such centres in South Wales, especially at Merthyr?

The hon. Gentleman is wrong about what will be done at the centres. Preparation is being made for the change that will involve a movement to self-registration for unemployment. That will involve a transfer of responsibility from jobcentres to unemployment benefit offices. A series of investigations are taking place to ensure that the transfer of responsibility can be carried out effectively by the unemployment benefit offices.

Will my right hon. Friend note that what will no doubt be described in the press as a massive onslaught by Labour Members on this day of demonstration against unemployment is supported by five Labour Members on the Opposition Back Benches? On a separate point, will he endeavour as soon as possible to put an end to the nonsense whereby any unemployed person who seeks either to better himself by going on a course or by doing some voluntary work risks losing his benefit?

I shall take up the final issue that my hon. Friend raised. As to the point about the Opposition Benches, there is a difficulty, because I understand that a number of Labour Members are leaving the party.

What is the right hon. Gentleman doing to help the long-term unemployed through the Nissan car factory project? What news has he of that? Does he know that on Deeside about 8,700 workers are still presenting themselves for work, which the Conservative Government are not supplying?

Representatives of the Nissan car factory have met my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry within the past week to discuss further this important project. I understand that it is likely that the company will indicate its intentions early in the new year.

In view of the inadequate explanation about the interrogation centre that is to be established at Merthyr, I wish to give notice that I shall seek to raise the issue in an Adjournment debate.