To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what new policies he has to reduce unemployment in the north-west region.
The Government's main role is to ensure a sound and stable economic framework within which enterprise can flourish and the battle against inflation can be won. In addition, since 1979 regional selective assistance worth £326 million has been committed to the north-west, creating more than 60,000 new jobs and safeguarding more than 60,000 existing jobs.
Is not it patently clear that the Conservative party and the Minister have no understanding whatever of what unemployment means to the unemployed, their families and communities? After 13 years, it is an absolute disgrace that no input has been made to tackling unemployment. The Government have failed absolutely to tackle unemployment except for some cosmetic surgery. Is not it about time that the Government recognised that the only cure for unemployment is to get rid of the Conservative Government as soon as possible?
If the hon. Gentleman really cares about unemployed people, will he join me today in calling on his Front-Bench colleagues to abandon their policy of a national statutory minimum wage, to abandon their jobs tax and to abandon their embrace of the European Community social action programme so that we can avoid the disastrous consequences for employment that would follow from such policies?
Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that the north-west of England is coming out of recession faster than the rest of the country? Will he also confirm that we are leading the way in many training schemes and that there is no doubt that housing—[Interruption.] Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that there is no doubt that, in housing and in many other matters, the north-west of England is showing the way and will continue to show the way?
I agree with my hon. Friend, who will continue to champion the cause of the north-west in the next Parliament. The only things that could put a stop to the recovery from recession in the north-west of England and elsewhere are the policies of the Labour party—for example, the sharpest ever peacetime tax increase, the national statutory minimum wage, and changes in the law to encourage strikes. Those would be the policies to put a stop to recovery. [Interruption.] We shall ensure—[Interruption.]
We shall ensure that—[Interruption.]