HC Deb 26 July 1976 vol 916 cc10-2
7. Mr. Kinnock

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what consultations he has had with careers officers in Wales about the availability of jobs for school leavers.

Mr. John Morris

I have not myself had direct consultations, since this is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment, but my office maintains the closest contact with his Department over all aspects of the employment situation, including Government measures to assist unemployed school leavers.

Mr. Kinnock

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that that is in some ways comforting news, although it does not provide additional jobs? Is he aware that Gwent currently has 15,000 unemployed people, a substantial proportion of whom are young school leavers? Will he use his voice in the Government to promote the idea of immediate reflation of the economy as the only means of overcoming the cause of inflation and our disastrous economic position, which is under-production?

Mr. Morris

No one is more aware than I am of the serious problem of unemployment. I am sure that my hon. Friend will want to take account of the fact that there have been 2,400 applications in Wales for the recruitment subsidy for school leavers. Under the Job Creation Scheme 3,300 young people will benefit, and the Community Industry Scheme will mean new jobs for 400 young people in Wales. As I said, this is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend, who will shortly be announcing further measures to help with the serious problem of unemployment among young people.

Mr. Hooson

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that with our background in Wales unemployment is probably one of the most tragic aspects of all? Has he had discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his other Cabinet colleagues on not increasing public expenditure but diverting public expenditure from other areas to meet this crucial problem?

Mr. Morris

This is a very difficult problem. It is as the result of such discussion that the schemes I mentioned have already been set up in Wales and elsewhere. I gave particulars of those schemes to the House a few moments ago. As I said, further discussions are going on, and my right hon. Friend will shortly make an announcement.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

Would not such consultations belatedly help the right hon. and learned Gentleman to understand the scale of the social catastrophe that the Government's policies have inflicted on the Welsh people and prompt him perhaps to remind his hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) that a 20 per cent. increase in expenditure matched by a 2 per cent. increase in production must inevitably destroy the hopes of the young people of Wales?

Mr. Morris

The hon. Gentleman is responsible for his own remarks. I have read in the South Wales Echo the remarks of other members of the Shadow Cabinet to the effect that many more cuts are needed. Had we had the public expenditure cuts which the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friends wanted, there would have been a much higher rate of unemployment in Wales. We have deliberately sheltered the unemployed in Wales.