HC Deb 21 December 1982 vol 34 cc816-7
9. Mr. Alton

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what percentage of people have remained unemployed for six months or more after completing a youth opportunities programme scheme in Merseyside.

Mr. Peter Morrison

Information is not available in the precise form requested. The latest national survey, which relates to entrants to the youth opportunities programme during the second quarter of 1981, shows that 43 per cent. were registered as unemployed.

Mr. Alton

Is the Minister worried and dismayed that so many young people who have been on youth opportunities programme schemes do not then go into full-time employment but face the prospect of 50 years on the dole? Will he comment on the relationship between the rising crime rate and the unemployment of young people? Is he aware that for every thousand young people who become unemployed, an additional 23 juveniles go to gaol?

Mr. Morrison

The trend of those going into employment as they come out of the youth opportunities programme schemes is on the increase. It dipped to 30 per cent. and it is now just above 40 per cent. I condemn the rising rate of crime, as the hon. Member does. It is for him to decide whether the points that he makes have a bearing on it.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

The Minister is not stupid—nor is the Secretary of State—and he must be aware of the rising despair felt by young people in Merseyside and other inner cities. Will he consider extending the idea of the training scheme to the shared job scheme in such a way that starter jobs might be shared among young people? I believe he will agree that there is nothing more demoralising for a youngster than facing the prospect of having no job for a long time.

Mr. Morrison

The right hon. Lady may be aware that the latest survey shows that 75 per cent. of young people who come out of the youth opportunities programme scheme are "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with it. It serves a good purpose for them in that respect. Job-splitting could follow the youth training scheme. I believe that it would be a mistake at this stage to develop the youth training scheme along the lines that she suggests.

Mr. Porter

Has the Minister taken note, not just of the figures for the youth opportunities programme, but the forecast, by Professor Patrick Minford of Liverpool university relating to the possibilities of employment under the Government's economic programme or the economic programmes put forward by the Labour Party and the Social Democratic Party, showing that the Government's policy offers more hope eventually for the unemployed youth of Liverpool than any other?

Mr. Morrison

As my hon. Friend knows, my constituency is not far from Liverpool. I am convinced, as he is, that a realistic attitude towards the economy in Liverpool is the right way to get jobs back there.

Mr. Parry

Is not the Government's record on youth employment in Merseyside appalling and disgraceful, bearing in mind the YOP and the hundreds of young people and apprentices who have been put on the scrap-heap halfway through their time by the Government? Is that not an indictment of callous Thatcherist policies?

Mr. Morrison

The hon. Gentleman has missed the point. Merseyside and Liverpool benefit enormously from the youth opportunities programme, as he well knows. With regard to the Christmas undertaking for the 16 and 17-year-old school leavers, virtually all of them will have been offered an opportunity by Christmas.

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