HC Deb 24 June 1980 vol 987 cc220-2
6. Mr. Edward Lyons

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the latest figure for unemployed school leavers in the Bradford metropolitan council district.

Mr. Jim Lester

At 12 June, the provisional number of school leavers under 18 years of age registered as unemployed in the Bradford metropolitan council district was 1,599.

Mr. Lyons

In view of the devastating current rate of job destruction in West Yorkshire and the consequent loss of job opportunities for youth, and in the context of the new horrendous estimates of 3 million unemployed by 1983, will the Minister consider taking emergency measures to halt the demoralisation of youth resulting from prolonged idleness?

Mr. Lester

The measures operating in the hon. and learned Gentleman's constituency have been particularly effective. In 1979 all the young people involved in the youth opportunities programme were offered and accepted jobs, with the exception of 31 who had personal reasons for not doing so. The community industry scheme is designed for particularly disadvantaged young people, and 78 of the hon. and learned Gentleman's constituents are already involved in the scheme.

Mr. Alexander

When my hon. Friend considers Bradford's problems will he note the comments by the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality on the appalling job prospects for young blacks? In view of those comments, what steps can be taken to improve the training and employment prospects for unemployed school leavers, particularly in the inner city areas?

Mr. Lester

Most of the schemes operate regardless of colour—and that is as it should be. Places are offered on the basis of need. Special measures exist for West Indian and Asian young people where they are seen to be necessary within the existing schemes. We shall be meeting the chairman of the CRE this week to examine again the serious problem.

Mr. Cryer

Does the Minister accept that the wave of anger that swept through the Commons at the announcement of the unemployment figures is reflected throughout the Opposition Benches? Is he aware that we are particularly worried about the level of unemployment among young people? Is he further aware that in Keighley, which is within the Bradford metropolitan area, there is a higher level of unemployment among young people than there was during the whole of the Labour Government's period of office? Does he accept that the Conservative Government have been in office for 13 months and that they should be doing something about restoring morale among young people, who see years ahead of cuts in public expenditure, high interest rates and dole queues? What are they going to do about that?

Mr. Lester

We have taken urgent measures to deal with the bulge of young people coming on to the labour market. I do not wish to minimise the situation. Last year 711,000 young people left school, and all but 35,000 of them got jobs, although I accept that that is 35,000 too many.

Mr. John Grant

Why is it necessary for the chairman of the CRE to seek a meeting with the Secretary of State? Why have the Government not taken the initiative to deal with the problem of unemployment in the black community, when they know that between May of last year and May of this year unemployment among the ethnic minority community increased by 28 per cent.—about double the figure for the rest of the population?

Mr. Lester

There is a constant review of policy, and we are always looking at the various difficult areas. We run an open door policy, and the chairman of the CRE and anybody else is welcome to come and discuss the problems so that we can exchange ideas.