HC Deb 28 April 1981 vol 3 cc634-5
3. Mr. Marlow

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he intends to make any further changes in revising the system of allowances payable to 16 to 18-yearolds.

Mr. Prior

This is an area that the Government are keeping under review, but we have at present no plans to change the system.

Mr. Marlow

Since the poll published in The Observer at the weekend stated that a massive 84 per cent. of the public would be in favour of some "new-style work-based National Service," will my right hon. Friend consider spending some of the money currently being spent on young people on setting up a voluntary scheme for what Kingman Brewster called an under-compensated, publicly useful service, available to young men and women before they embark on their lifetime careers?

Mr. Prior

I am constantly looking at new schemes. I have studied the survey in The Observer. A suggestion is made as a result of the poll. That scheme would be expensive, but I do not rule out moving further towards such schemes whenever we can.

Mr. Marks

Does the Secretary of State realise that many young people left school at Easter because of the allowances system? Does he accept that many of them could have passed examinations at school in the next few months?

Mr. Prior

I do not know how many young people left school at Easter in order to obtain an allowance, but some may have left. It is a problem with which we must deal alongside the other problems of finding ways of encouraging young people to stay at school.

Mr. Foster

Is the Secretary of State aware that there would be a good deal of support from this side of the House for education maintenance allowances for pupils who stay on at school or who embark on full-time further education? Does he accept that that must not be introduced at the expense of the youth opportunities allowance because that would put the youth opportunities programme in danger of collapse?

Mr. Prior

The hon. Gentleman has obviously been reading The Times Educational Supplement.