HC Deb 22 April 1975 vol 890 cc1228-9
11. Mr. Canavan

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give a progress report on the community industry schemes for the employment of young people.

Mr. John Fraser

Community industry has been extended to 20 areas, and now employs 1,518 young people.

Mr. Canavan

Will my hon. Friend consult the Department of Education and Science and the Scottish Education Department with a view to the possibility of dovetailing the community industry scheme into the final school year curriculum for young school leavers? Will he also give consideration to the starting of such a scheme in Stirlingshire, where at present 235 boys and 187 girls are out of work? Is he aware that there is a possibility of the figures increasing with the next batch of young school leavers after the June school leaving date?

Mr. Fraser

On my hon. Friend's last point, I shall certainly consider his proposal and determine what can be done. My hon. Friend's first point goes rather wide, but I think that it is worth considering the possibility of community industry providing work experience. This is a matter that will have to be discussed not only with the Scottish Education Department but with the Department of Education and Science, local authorities and other professional bodies. It is one that is worth investigating.

Mr. Lane

Will the Government do more to see that community industry schemes are available in the city areas, where they are desperately needed?

Mr. Fraser

Yes, most certainly. I think that they have a valuable contribution to make in the stress of inner city areas. I have looked recently at one such scheme in Lewisham and I shall look at another one in Manchester. I shall press that point of view.

Mr. Fernyhough

As this has been one of the most successful schemes ever initiated by any Government, will my hon. Friend ensure, as far as it lies within his power, that whatever other cuts there may be in public expenditure there will be none in this area?

Mr. Fraser

I can assure my right hon. Friend that the Department has authorised the continuation of community industry. The present authorised capacity is 2,000 and the number that I have given is well within that capacity. There is no question of any cuts.

Mr. Prior

Does the hon. Gentleman understand that we wish to see this scheme expanded, particularly in the areas which my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Lane) has mentioned? Is the Minister aware that it is particularly important that it should be extended, as it is generally accepted that those now leaving school will experience more difficulty in getting jobs than has been the case at any time since the end of the war? Anything we can do to help them by something like community industry schemes will greatly ease the pressure and make for a better social system in Britain.

Mr. Fraser

The right hon. Gentleman will understand my enthusiasm for community industry, but I would be deceiving the House if I suggested that the scheme, which has a capacity of 2,000 entrants at any one time, could cope with the much larger number of school leavers. That is why the Government have taken other measures, including the expansion of training facilities, to deal with the problems which may be met by those leaving school during the summer.