asked the Paymaster General how many people found work in the northern region in the first quarter of 1987.
The Government have no means of knowing exactly how many people find work in any given period. But between 9 January and 6 March 1987, 23,600 people in the northern region were placed in jobs by jobcentres alone, and we estimate that jobcentres account for only about a quarter of all engagements.
Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm, before any electioneering starts, that more than 1 million people are in paid employment in the north-east, which is 29,000 more than in 1983, that self-employment has increased by 16,000 since then and that unemployment is falling fastest in the northern region?
I would happily confirm that, both before and during the election period which is upon us. I am glad to say that the position seems likely to be sustained, because the number of unfilled vacancies at jobcentres in the region has increased by 24 per cent. on a year ago and our jobcentres are placing 12 per cent. more people in jobs than they were a year ago.
Surely what is important is how many of those who find work find real jobs with permanency, as distinct from those who are on short-term, part-time, trainee operations?
I am sure that the bulk of them did. At present there is a growth in the total amount of employment and a corresponding decline in unemployment. There are people between jobs, but the fact is that more and more people are finding jobs in the north and the number of those out of work is steadily decreasing.
Will my right hon. and learned Friend take it from me that we in Cumbria are not aided in our job creation prospects by the doom and gloom coming from Opposition Members from further south, such as. Liverpool and Manchester? In Cumbria, unemployment is falling and in my constituency it is below 10 per cent., business is booming, we are creating jobs and we could do without the whingeing from the Opposition parties.
I am sure that my hon. Friend could also add that the commitments of the Labour party, the Liberal party and the Social Democratic party to cut the Trident programme and stop our nuclear power programme pose the biggest threat to jobs in the northern region of any single policy of any party.