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Deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine today welcomed a 40,800 fall in unemployment to its lowest level for over f...
Deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine today welcomed a 40,800 fall in unemployment to its lowest level for over five and a half years.

Mr Heseltine said: 'I am delighted with today's massive fall in unemployment, down 40,800 to 7.2%, one of the lowest unemployment rates anywhere in Europe.

'Following last month's equally large fall, no-one can now deny the strengths of Britain's sparkling economic performance: output up 0.8% in the quarter to September; inflation and earnings under control; employment rising, up 124,000 in the year to June; and unemployment falling on average 15 to 20,000 a month.

'Only yesterday Eurostat, the European Commission's statistical service confirmed that while unemployment across Europe remains constant at nearly 11%, the United Kingdom is virtually alone in Europe in having falling unemployment.

'Britain is on the move. More of our people have jobs and fewer are out of work than any other major European country. The reason is clear. Britain's flexible, deregulated labour market delivers jobs - 70% of people of working age have jobs in Britain, compared with only 65% in Germany or 59% in France.

'Jobs matter. They are the basis of people's prosperity and well being. We must not put them at risk through placing unnecessary burdens on business which raise costs and force them to cut back on staff numbers.

'That is why the prime minister secured our vital opt out to the Social Chapter. That is why we must oppose a job destroying national minimum wage and that is why we must oppose the imposition of restrictions on people's working time.

'Britain is getting more prosperous because we are working harder and working more efficiently. In a competitive world that is how a nation succeeds and how individuals better themselves.

'In Italy there are nearly three million people out of work, over three million in France and over four million in Germany. Britain is the only major economy in Europe where unemployment is falling.'

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