HC Deb 03 December 1958 vol 596 cc1177-80
27. Mr. Brockway

asked the Minister of Labour what action is being taken to provide employment for children in Slough and other towns where it is estimated that the effect of the post-war birth rate bulge will be largely above the national average by the year 1962.

Mr. Wood

The capacity of a particular area to absorb the additional number of school leavers into employment will normally be determined more by the general employment situation in that area than by the size of the "bulge". The employment situation in Slough is good.

Mr. Brockway

While noting the fact that not a single hon. Member on the opposite benches has put down a Question about unemployment, may I ask whether the Parliamentary Secretary is aware how seriously we view this situation, particularly for the boys and girls leaving school? Is he also aware that in Slough the youth employment officer estimates that, between 1954 and 1902, the number of school leavers will increase by 90 per cent. compared with 52 per cent. as the national average? Is this Tory freedom—the freedom to start life on the scrapheap?

Mr. Wood

Certainly my right hon. and hon. Friends are not responsible for the size of the bulge which will, in fact, be a little greater than the hon. Gentleman suggested. Whatever the views of the youth employment officer in Slough, I argue from the past and I say that every single one of the 746 boys and girls in Slough who left school in July had been placed by the end of September.

Mr. Brockway

On a point of order. As I have been asked to withdraw, may I say that at the present time that statement is not true? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] As I have been asked to withdraw—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I did not hear the hon. Member being asked to withdraw. I do not think he said anything he ought to withdraw.

Mr. Brockway

May I press the point of order, Mr. Speaker'? It was suggested that I was not stating the truth. At the present time, the boys and girls of Slough cannot get jobs.

29. Mr. Spriggs

asked the Minister of Labour how many students, having left schools in the County Borough of St. Helens, are signing the employment exchange register; how many students have remained at school because employment cannot be found for them; and what steps he is taking to induce employers to accept young people into apprenticeships.

Mr. Wood

Fourteen boys and 13 girls who left school last term are registered as unemployed. I cannot say whether any boys or girls remained at school because of the employment situation, but no cases are known of any returning to school because they could not get work. Youth employment committees have been invited to take the lead in sponsoring local action in furtherance of the recommendations contained in the Report "Training for Skill".

Mr. Spriggs

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that I met a young people's deputation in St. Helens whose main complaint was that youth could not find work? Further, I found that employers were very reluctant to develop apprenticeship schemes because National Service tended to give youngsters the idea that when they had finished their Service they should go elsewhere or do something fresh—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."] Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that one of my hon. Friends stated a little while ago that the main cause of youth unemployment was the Government's economic policy?

Mr. Wood

I am not quite sure what is the question I should answer. I can only give the figures. Out of 407 boys and 340 girls who, as I said in my Answer, left school, 14 boys and 13 girls are registered as unemployed. Therefore, I do not think the difficulties should be over-emphasised, although I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is vitally necessary for us to increase the opportunities for apprenticeship as quickly as possible.

38. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Minister of Labour how many vacancies were notified for Salford boys leaving school this July compared with July last year; how much longer it took to place the boys; and if he will give some indication of the prospects for those leaving school there this Christmas.

Mr. Wood

Thirty-three vacancies were notified in July, compared with 62 last year. The placing of all boys leaving school took about a month longer this year than last. It is not yet possible to forecast what will be the prospects for those leaving school at Christmas.

Mr. Allaun

Does the Minister agree that unemployment is a most disheartening way for a boy to start his industrial life? Is he aware that the school leaver, who previously had a choice of jobs, now has to take the third or fourth choice, if that, which means that he is unhappily stuck in an unsuitable job, possibly for the rest of his life? Would his right hon. Friend consider providing unemployment pay for these boys or their parents, because at present they do not receive any?

Mr. Wood

I agree with the hon. Gentleman in that I think that there is nothing more frustrating at the beginning of a career than to find it very difficult to obtain work. That is not so far the case in most areas, and I hope it will not be. I am pleased that in what has not been a very easy year all the boys leaving school at the end of the summer term in the hon. Gentleman's constituency had been placed in employment by the middle of October. As to his second suggestion, I should want notice of that and should like to see a Question on the Order Paper