Labour to set out plan for economic recovery: Government inaction over recession is criticised as Brown cites fear of unemployment as biggest obstacle to the restoration of confidence

ACTION TO reduce unemployment was the key to unlocking the log jam of economic confidence, Gordon Brown, the shadow Chancellor, said yesterday.

Mr Brown told a Westminster press conference that the Shadow Cabinet's economic sub-committee would be meeting tomorrow to consider a four- point alternative to government inaction on the recession.

But he added: 'It is the absence of business and consumer confidence that is the main barrier to industrial recovery in this country, and it is the fear of unemployment that is the biggest obstacle to restoring confidence.

'It is this that is preventing people spending, people investing. It is preventing people moving homes, and it has to be unlocked if we are to have a substantial recovery.'

Attacking the Government's 'stubborn and persistent' refusal to consider alternative programmes, he said the Japanese and other EC countries had taken action and added that shadow ministers would be finalising details of a package which could include measures to reduce unemployment, encourage investment, and revive the housing market, as well as reiterating the repeated call for EC action on high-level interest rates.

Mr Brown said a Labour survey had shown 'huge falls in industrial output and strength', prompting fears that unless action was taken, British industry would become too small to benefit from an upturn in demand. As a result of the post-1990 recession, he said, mechanical engineering output had fallen by 17.8 per cent; footwear and clothing by 13.4 per cent; minerals and building materials by 12.9 per cent; car production by 11.7 per cent; and electrical and instrument engineering production by 7.5 per cent. 'No other EC country has seen such a fall in capacity in key sectors,' he said. Mr Brown's attack on the Government record was underscored by Frank Dobson, Labour's frontbench employment spokesman, who said that more than a third of manufacturing jobs had been lost since the Conservatives took office in 1979.

Mr Dobson said the country was being brought to its knees by the loss of more than 2 million manufacturing jobs - down from 7.1 million in June 1979 to 4.6 million at the end of last year.

In the South-east, the number of manufacturing jobs had fallen by 729,000 to 1,154,000; Scotland was down by 220,000 to 383,000; and in the West Midlands, there had been a fall of 401,000 to 585,000.

'Britain has a Tory government devoid of any industrial strategy,' Mr Dobson said. 'What these 2.4 million people used to make we now have to import instead.

'Britain is supposed to be preparing for the single market to come into operation next January. We were supposed to be building up our industrial strength and fitness. Instead we've been throwing it away. We'll not be on our marks, we'll be on our knees.'

Mr Brown called on Norman Lamont, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to set up an inquiry into bank charges following reports that more banks were considering increases. 'Customers - already facing rising charges in the last year - can ill-afford to pay more,' he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Ecommerce Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity is available to ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This world leading specialist i...

Recruitment Genius: Regional Support Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This role's responsibility also include operat...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy