HC Deb 21 May 1962 vol 660 cc1-5
1. Mr. Grey

asked the Minister of Labour how many children who left school at Christmas, in the employment exchange areas covered by the Durham constituency, are unemployed.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Alan Green)

Ten on 14th May.

Mr. Grey

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that even though those figures may seem small they are still pretty important and are the largest we have had for some time? Does the hon. Gentleman not think it is shocking that young people should still be without a job five months after leaving school? What consultation has the hon. Gentleman had with the President of the Board of Trade to try to ensure that these young people obtain suitable employment?

Mr. Green

We have every sympathy with the need to get these young people as soon as possible into good work, and particularly into work with training attached to it. The hon. Member knows that a good deal of work is being done by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to meet the needs of the area.

2. Mr. Pentland

asked the Minister of Labour, in view of the fact that the problem of finding employment in the north-east of England for a large number of children who left school at Christmas has been further intensified by children seeking jobs in the area after leaving school at Easter, what new action he proposes to take in order to deal with the problem.

Mr. Green

By mid-April, all but 262 of nearly 13,700 Christmas school leavers in the Northern Region had entered employment. I am hopeful that the Easter school leavers will get jobs without undue difficulty. The Youth Employment Service is doing all it can to help the young people find employment.

Mr. Pentland

Has the hon. Gentleman taken any surveys recently among the industrial firms in the North-East to find out their intentions in the matter of increasing their intake of apprentices and learners? Is he aware that our information is that a number of private industrial concerns who can if they so desire alleviate the serious position among juveniles in the North-East are showing great reluctance to do anything about it? Will the hon Gentleman look into the matter?

Mr. Green

There is a later Question on the Order Paper which deals more specifically with this subject. Last year 42 per cent. of the boys obtained apprenticeships in the area, compared with 38 per cent. for the country as a whole. This suggests that a considerable drive is being made locally.

Mr. Bottomley

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his reply is most disappointing, as the electors of Middlesbrough, West, will shortly show? Is he aware that the reply is not a true reflection of the numbers who cannot obtain work since many are staying at school because there are no prospects of employment?

Mr. Green

With great respect to the right hon. Gentleman, whose experience I very much appreciate and understand, staying on an extra year at school is surely to be encouraged rather than to be put down solely to the fact that young people cannot obtain work. This extension of the use of educational facilities should be welcomed.

Mr. Bourne-Arton

Is my hon. Friend aware that in Darlington private employers and British Railways foresaw this situation several years ago and took appropriate action by expanding training and apprenticeship facilities?

Mr. Green

Yes, Sir.

4. Mr. Prentice

asked the Minister of Labour what is the reason for the 2.8 per cent. drop in the number of boys leaving school last Christmas who entered apprenticeships, compared with last summer; what additional steps he will take to stimulate the provision of apprenticeships for the record number of school leavers this summer; and whether he will make a statement.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. John Hare)

Many firms have their annual intake of apprentices at the end of the summer term and it is therefore normal for fewer school leavers to enter apprenticeships at Christmas and Easter. Despite this, the number and percentage of boys getting apprenticeships in the first quarter of 1962 was higher than in the corresponding quarter of 1961; and in the first four months of 1962 a higher number and proportion of boys got apprenticeships than in the first six months of last year. This is very satisfactory and indeed it is a record; but nevertheless the Government will continue to impress on industry the vital need to continue to increase the number of apprenticeship opportunities.

Mr. Prentice

While I am sure that everyone will welcome the progress shown by the figures, might I put two points to the Minister? In regard to the comparison between Christmas school leavers and summer school leavers, is it not a fact that proportionately more 15-years-old pupils leave school at Christmas, and, therefore, the drop of 2.8 per cent. is a more serious decline than one might otherwise think? Secondly, in regard to the number leaving school this summer, does the Minister think that his present plans are adequate, bearing in mind the counter-effects of the Government's economic policy, which may discourage firms from taking on extra skilled labour?

Mr. Hare

As I indicated in the first part of my answer to the Question, it is not fair to compare Christmas school leavers with summer and Easter school leavers. On the second point, there is no room for complacency. I hope I made that clear in my answer. I think that it is satisfactory that we got an 11 per cent. increase in 1961 compared with 1960. Later figures indicate that we shall do a great deal better in 1962 than we did in 1961.

13. Mr. J. Robertson

asked the Minister of Labour what proportion of school leavers in Great Britain, registered as unemployed, were registered in Scotland at the latest convenient date.

Mr. Hare

On 9th April, out of 859 unemployed Christmas school leavers 134 or 15.6 per cent. were in Scotland.

Mr. Robertson

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that this is far too high a proportion of young people who are unable to find work, and will he ask his right hon. Friend to take whatever steps are necessary to get new industry into Scotland so that young people there can find the right kind of job? What we are not told is what kind of jobs these young people are finding.

Mr. Hare

I think that the hon. Gentleman and the House must keep a sense of proportion on this matter. The 859 young people who are unemployed were the balance of 178,891 school leavers in Great Britain. The 134 which applies to Scotland were left out of the total there of 22,524. I am glad to say that young people are coming into employment reasonably well. None of us wants to see any young person without a job.

Mr. Robertson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the number of apprenticeships in Scotland has been decreasing and that the jobs that they are taking up are more or less dead-end jobs? Will he look at the kind of employment that is being offered to them?

Mr. Hare

The hon. Gentleman is not really aware of the facts. I am glad to say that the number of apprenticeships in Scotland has been increasing.

24. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Minister of Labour how many boys and girls left school in Dundee on the last leaving date; and how many are still unemployed.

Mr. Green

721 left school at Easter of whom nine were unemployed on 14th May.