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Volume 80: debated on Tuesday 11 June 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the current unemployment level on Merseyside; and what has been the percentage increase since May 1979.

On 9 May 1985, the number of unemployed claimants on Merseyside was 138,847. This is not fully comparable with the figure of 79,644 registered unemployed in jobcentre areas approximating to Merseyside in May 1979.We are very concerned about the level of unemploy-ment on Merseyside. That is why the area receives the highest levels of Government assistance. A substantial number of people in the area are benefiting from our special employment and training measures, two of which the youth training scheme and the community programme —are to be considerably expanded. We are committed to maintaining our economic policies which are directed at holding down inflation and public borrowing, while encouraging enterprise, flexibility and competitiveness in industry and the labour market. This is the only way to generate lasting jobs on Merseyside and elsewhere.