Justice secretary makes admission as he says prolonged recession could see increase in crime
Kenneth Clarke, the justice secretary and former chancellor, admitted on Tuesday that Britain was facing "a long period of youth unemployment".
His remarks came on the day before the latest unemployment figures are published. They were seized on by Labour as an admission that the Conservatives have privately resigned themselves to a long period of economic decline.
Clarke made his error in answering departmental questions on the impact of the economic slowdown on prison places. Clarke said: "It is possible that with the prolonged recession and the long period of youth unemployment, there will be an increase in acquisitive crime ? The Prison Service is responding very well to it at the moment, though of course we have to adjust the capacity of the estate."
Rachel Reeves, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said in response: "Instead of planning for a recession, years of high youth unemployment and rising crime, Ken Clarke and this Tory-led government should be doing everything they can to stop it. Cabinet ministers should be taking urgent action to get our economy growing again, not wringing their hands."