HC Deb 14 July 1981 vol 8 cc970-1
12. Mr. Hardy

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what expansion in the educational provisions for the post-16 age groups he expects during 1981–82.

Mr. Mark Carlisle

The Government's expenditure plans allow for an increase of nearly 6 per cent. between 1979–80 and 1981–82 in the numbers of post 16-year-olds staying on for full-time courses in school or non-advanced further education.

Mr. Hardy

Does the Secretary of State accept that we need to see many more young people in schools than we envisaged a year or two ago when the forecast was made? May we assume that the Government will be reviewing their priorities urgently and will, having carried out that review, greatly increase the facilities available for the 16 to 19-year-olds so that many young people who are currently unemployed will be taken off the streets?

Mr. Carlisle

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the way in which he put that supplementary question. I share his view that we should do all that we can to encourage people to stay on in full-time education. That is the best form of post 16-year-old training for young people. I am glad to say that the information that we have—and it is still early information—shows that in various parts of the country the demand for staying on has increased considerably this year. The Government are reviewing generally their plans and proposals for youth unemployment.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that there are proposed cuts in further education because of a possible reduction in numbers? Will he discuss with his right hon. Friends the possibility of filling those places with post 16-year-olds who will be given the same advantages in pay as young people on the youth opportunities scheme, so that they can carry on with further education, just as they can take up a job in industry?

Mr. Carlisle

I am not sure that I follow my hon. Friend's question. We are anxious to see as many post 16-year-olds as possible staying on in education or training. We are aware that at present there are spare places in the colleges of further education, which we have identified. We hope that some of those places will be used for expanding and training opportunities available to young people.