HC Deb 22 April 1975 vol 890 cc1213-5
1. Mr. Wrigglesworth

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish monthly figures showing the number of unemployed teenagers.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. John Fraser)

The figures requested are normally available and published only at six-monthly intervals. I am considering whether they may be collected more frequently.

Mr. Wrigglesworth

I thank the Minister for that reply. Is he aware that all those interested, especially members of the Institute of Careers Officers, would like the figures to be published monthly, so that they can be more aware of the trends and the true size of the problem? That would enable them to deal with it more adequately in the country as a whole, particularly in the regions, where one suspects that the figure goes up and down within the six-months' period that the Minister has mentioned, and action could be taken to alleviate the great difficulty that that brings.

Mr. Fraser

Consideration is being given to the publication of the figures more frequently. However, the figures for unemployed school leavers and those registered at careers offices are published on a monthly basis.

Mr. Bulmer

What evidence is the Minister receiving on the outlook for jobs for those who will leave school at the end of the school year? If it is the same as the evidence that I am getting in my constituency, the outlook for those leaving school is as bad as it has been at any time within the past 10 years. What steps does the Department contemplate to relieve this situation?

Mr. Fraser

When unemployment rises, young people tend to suffer disproportionately more than others. The Chancellor has announced an increased grant-in-aid to the Manpower Services Commission, and young people will benefit from the strengthening of the employment and training services. The commission regards the training of young people as a high priority and provides short industrial and experimental "wider opportunity" courses of preliminary training. It also devises methods of safeguarding and continuing training for redundant apprentices. A great deal is being done.

Mr. Noble

Does my hon. Friend not agree that the unemployment statistics are probably one of the most valuable economic indicators that we have, and that therefore they should be kept up to date and comprehensive? Will he consider, in his Department, ways and means of showing the figures for all married women who lose their jobs, rather than just those who either pay a full stamp and collect unemployment pay or present themselves at employment exchanges for further jobs?

Mr. Fraser

This point is frequently made. The difficulty is to collect figures of married women who are economically active and employed on a monthly basis. Those figures are published as a result of population surveys, but they would not be collected on the same basis as that used for the registered unemployed.

Mr. Hayhoe

Is not the outlook for teenagers, especially those leaving school later this year, worse than it has been for a long time? Surely the various measures which the Minister read to the House will have hardly any effect on that outlook? Will he give more urgent attention to this matter?

Mr. Fraser

I rebut the presumption in that question. The Government regard employment for teenagers and others as an urgent matter, and believe that training opportunities are more important than almost anything else, because they provide the opportunity for a take-off when the present state of recession recedes.