HC Deb 04 July 1978 vol 953 cc208-9
2. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will seek to place on the agenda for his next meeting with his EEC colleagues the question of long-term structural unemployment within the Community.

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

Social Affairs Ministers of the Community regularly discuss unemployment in all its aspects, including the effects on employment of industrial change and the special problems of particular groups of the workforce.

Mr. Dempsey

As unemployment is likely to be long-term and we cannot afford to sit around until world trade takes off, will not the Minister advocate, for example, the extension of facilities for 16-year-old school leavers such as further education, youth training, work sharing with weekly financial income, and a reduction of the working week, which need not be accompanied by inflationary costs, as well as a reduction in the retirement age? Would not these suggestions make substantial reductions in the present unemployment figures?

Mr. Grant

A number of the matters raised by my hon. Friend are under consideration by our own Government and some of them by Community Governments. Certainly, with regard to work sharing, we are hoping that it will be possible for there to be a Community initiative before the end of the year.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will my hon. Friend accept that any long-term solution to the problems of structural unemployment can be dealt with successfully only on a Community basis? If we try to tackle these problems on a national basis, we shall end up with a kind of beggar-my-neighbour sterility.

Mr. Grant

There is a great deal in what my hon. Friend says. Obviously we are not ruling out national measures to deal with structural unemployment, but clearly there is an advantage in doing these things on a Community basis.

Forward to