HC Deb 27 January 1981 vol 997 cc761-2
8. Mr. Dubs

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many people in the London area are currently on youth opportunities programme schemes; and how many of those eligible for such schemes are unemployed.

Mr. Peter Morrison

At the end of October 1980 there were about 3,000 young people participating in the youth opportunities programme in the GLC boundaries area. The latest available figure for those young people unemployed but eligible for the programme is for the October count, when there were about 19,200 young people with more than six weeks' unemployment. The analysis of the count made this January will be available in mid-February.

Mr. Dubs

Does the Minister agree that the figures that he has quoted indicate that the YOP schemes are making no significant contribution to the problem of unemployment among young people in the London area? Should he not do something to review the schemes, so that we do not have a generation of young people in London, and elsewhere, who will never have learnt what it is like to go to work, because there is no work for them under this Government?

Mr. Morrison

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I visited some schemes in his constituency yesterday to learn what is happening. I cannot agree with his contention that the schemes are not doing any good. Indeed, I admired what I saw. He will probably be aware that in 1979–80, 5,000 young people in London entered a YOP scheme. Next year, provisional allocation is being made for 11,000 young people. Efforts are being made to deal with the problem.

Mr. Chapman

Although the number of young people unemployed in London exceeds the number of registered job vacancies suitable for young people in the Metropolis, will my hon. Friend bear in mind that there are thousands of vacancies suitable for young people? Does he intend to take any initiative to encourage young people, who are unemployed to take up some of these jobs, at least temporarily, while they look for a permanent job more suited to their taste?

Mr. Morrison

I am always keen to examine any new initiative on jobs for young people. If my hon. Friend has any particular ideas that he thinks I have not noticed, I hope that he will talk to me about them. If he does, I shall consider reviewing the present policy.

Mr. Freeson

Is the Minister aware that the relationship between job vacancies and unemployment in London is worsening and that it is a misconception to suggest that there is great potential for dealing with the problem? Will he confirm that the unemployment figures for London generally, for both the young and the adult unemployed, are second only to those for Merseyside? How can that be squared with the fact that hundreds of millions of pounds of Government resources have been switched out of London in recent announcements by his fellow member of the Cabinet, the Secretary of State for the Environment?

Mr. Morrison

The right hon. Gentleman flatters me by saying that I am a fellow member of the Cabinet. I am not in that position. I confirm that unemployment in London is a little worse than it was. However, I cannot confirm that London is as bad as the right hon. Gentleman suggests. I represent a part of the North-West, an area that has much greater problems than those of London.

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