HC Deb 29 July 1975 vol 896 cc1474-6
2. Mr. Rooker

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give a directive to the Manpower Services Commission to institute a programme of work creation.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Harold Walker)

No, Sir. The Government are considering detailed proposals prepared by the Manpower Services Commission for a work creation scheme but are not committed to adopting such a scheme.

Mr. Rooker

Why the delay? Last October the Manpower Services Commission sent to the Department of Employment proposals for work creation. Why have we had to wait so long? Surely we did not have to wait for unemployment to reach 1 million.

Mr. Walker

Last October the Manpower Services Commission submitted to the Department outline proposals. Those proposals were submitted in detail at the beginning of July. The proposal for a work creation scheme is only one of several options, and it is for the Government to decide which is the best of the options to go for in trying to mitigate unemployment.

Mr. Prior

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many employers will wish to take part in any scheme that is available to keep in employment or to employ more young people and to give them a skill? What consultations has the Minister held and what consultations will he hold with employers' organisations to see what additional schemes they can run for this year to enable young people who otherwise would be unemployed to have a job? I think he will find that many employers will wish to co-operate fully to help young people particularly in this difficult situation.

Mr. Walker

I welcome what the right hon. Gentleman said about co-operation from employers. The appropriate forum for consultation is the Manpower Services Commission because that is heavily representative of both the TUC and the CBI. I do not preclude further consultations, which we are certainly willing to undertake. I repeat that this work creation proposal is only one of several options that have been put to the Government. We have, of course, announced the temporary employment subsidy, and my right hon. Friend will be making a further statement about that. We have embarked on a substantial expansion of training opportunities with the introduction of training award schemes, and we are dramatically expanding the Community Industry scheme.

Mr. Watkinson

Will my hon. Friend give active attention to the possibility of creating community work organised by local authorities and enabling local authorities to employ school leavers and to pay them for work within the community?

Mr. Walker

That is largely the essence of the existing Community Industry scheme, for which the Government have provided additional funds for substantial expansion.

Mr. Steen

Is the Minister aware that both sides of the House share his concern about the unemployment which faces school leavers? Is not much more enlightened action needed from the Government to create job opportunities not only within local authorities but within voluntary organisations? Is he prepared to advise local authorities to draw up a register in every locality highlighting the social needs in each area which could be tackled by young people, and could not those young people be paid unemployment benefit for the community work they do? Alternatively, is the Minister prepared to consider allowing young people to plan their own projects for the benefit of the community in which they live and to be paid unemployment benefit for that work?

Mr. Walker

The hon. Gentleman has made one or two interesting suggestions, but they all centre around what is essentially the Community Industry concept, for which I repeat that the Government have provided substantial additional funds. We think that one of the best ways of helping young people, particularly those who might seek an apprenticeship which would otherwise be denied them, is through an expansion of training facilities. The Government, in the Chancellor's Budget, provided an additional£50 million for the current period and this month announced a further£8½ million, which will provide an additional 36,500 training places.