Then & Now: Outnumbered

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The Independent Online
20 January 1972: The number of unemployed has risen to 1,023,583, the first time it has stood at more than 1 million since 1947. Hugh Noyes, 'Times' parliamentary correspondent, reports from the House of Commons.

'A huge roar of 'Resign' and 'Heath out' greeted the Prime Minister today as he took his seat ready for his question session. About 30 Labour backbenchers began a standing demonstration.

'A question to Lord Balniel, Minister of State, Defence, about the evacuation of polo ponies from Malta was drowned in an explosion of angry shouts. Mr Dennis Skinner, MP for Bolsover, strode across the Chamber and stood in front of Mr Heath, shouting at him.

'As the Prime Minister rose to answer his first question Mr Tom Swain, Labour MP for Derbyshire North- east, walked across to him and slammed down a newspaper announcing the unemployment figures.

'Mr Heath swept the paper aside and made another vain attempt to answer. The Speaker tried to restore order.

' 'I hope', Mr Lloyd said, 'that the House realises the position it is putting me in. I should have to suspend the sitting and the sole effect of that will be that the Prime Minister will not be able to be questioned today.'

'Labour MPs showed not the slightest sign of dismay at the thought of not being able to question the Prime Minister and, as the shouts continued, the Speaker suspended the sitting.'

18 February 1993: Despite 30 changes in the definition of unemployment since 1979, the number out of work stands at 3,062,065. John Major is howled down in the Commons trying to read lists of government training measures.

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