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Midland Region

Volume 19: debated on Tuesday 2 March 1982

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asked the Secretary of ,State for Employment if he will make a statement on employment prospects in the Midland region as assessed by the Manpower Services Commission's paper "Labour Market Trends, Midland Region, 1982–84".

This paper concludes that there will be a very gradual climb out of the recession throughout 1982 and into 1983 and it confirms that in the Midlands region, as in the rest of the country, there are already some signs of improvement. If British industry continues to succeed in its efforts to improve competitiveness, which is the only way to create the new and secure jobs we all seek, I have no doubt that the Midlands region will share in future prosperity as fully as it has in the past.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his statement. When reading the paper, did he notice that unemployment in Derbyshire, although still too high, was appreciably lower than in the rest of the region? Does he agree that that is because of good labour relations and diversification and, more particularly, because the number of small businesses is appreciably higher than in the rest of the country? If so, will he ask his right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give further assistance to entrepreneurs of small businesses next week in his Budget?

The relatively happy position to which my hon. Friend refers is evident. I take careful note of the point that she made. Her assiduous attention to her duties in her constituency is an important example that should be emulated.

Is the Minister aware that in Derbyshire the latest figures show that, as a result of the Tory Government's policies, bankruptcies are on the increase, as is unemployment? Will he also bear in mind that, as a result of these policies, Richard O'Brien, the previous head of the MSC, recently referred in another paper to the fact that it now costs the Exchequer £12½ billion to finance the dole queue. I suppose that because he had the temerity to say that, he got the sack.

The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) exposes himself to the charge of drawing aside the veil of reality for the causes of unemployment. That lies squarely with the Labour Government, who, between 1975 and 1980, allowed unit labour costs in manufacturing industry to double in Britain while in Japan they did not go up, in Germany they went up by one-fifth, in the United States by only a third and by a half in Canada. That is the reason for our present high unemployment.