HC Deb 21 June 1982 vol 26 cc72-111 7.13 pm
Mr. Harry Ewing (Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth)

I beg to move, That this House condemns Her Majesty's Government for pursuing economic and industrial policies which have resulted in a massive rise in unemployment, hardship and demoralisation among young people. I am sure that when the Secretary of State for Employment came to the House today to make his statement on his new proposals for youth training, he came—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman. I should have announced that I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

Mr. Ewing

I never cease to be surprised, Mr. Speaker.

I am sure that the Secretary of State for Employment came with the impression that his statement would really take the feet from under the Opposition's case with regard to this Supply day debate. I am bound at the beginning of my remarks to disabuse the Secretary of State of any such notion. In fairness, the right hon. Gentleman made the most graceful about-turn that I have seen a Minister make since the Government came to office in May 1979. Indeed, so graceful was the right hon. Gentleman that I cannot understand why he does not do it more often. He is much better when he is making such graceful about-turns than when he is usually abusing right hon. and hon. Members.

The debate is opportune because it gives us an added opportunity to examine in a little more detail the right hon. Gentleman's statement before we go on to examine in greater detail the problems of unemployment and the difficulties that it causes for young people throughout the United Kingdom.

The Secretary of State made his statement against a background of pressure. However he dressed it up, he has yielded to the pressure by the TUC, the CBI and various other organisations. He attempted to display an air of flexibility when, in my view, The Guardian of Thursday 17 June—the statement was leaked to The Guardian last week—probably had a much more accurate account of the Secretary of State's approach to the subject. The Guardian article said: Mr. Norman Tebbit, the Employment Secretary, has backed down on his controversial plan to deny supplementary benefit to 16-year-old school-leavers who refuse to take a place on the Government's new £1 billion training scheme. The decision has still to be ratified by the Cabinet"— we know that the decision has been ratified— but the Government appears to accept that the rift it would cause among unions and employers is not worth the risk. Mr. Tebbit and other senior Ministers came to their decision after considering the views of the Manpower Services Commission, which told him that the CBI and the TUC were in favour of volunteerism and that to refuse supplementary benefit smacked of 'job conscription'. The likely outcome, therefore, is that the Government will announce that the scheme will be kept under constant review and that changes could be made in future. Mr. Tebbit's views will be made known to the MSC before the end of the month. The article goes on to describe much of the background to the Government's climb-down, making the point that the climb-down owes as much to the CBI's determination as to that of the TUC. From wherever the pressure comes, we are grateful that the Secretary of State has seen sense, although I understand from The Guardian article that the statement he made today was made very much against his wishes.

We are considering particularly the problems of unemployment among young people. Perhaps I may quote from the youth task group's report, published in April 1982. In paragraph 2.5 the report says: From the point of view of young people the immediate employment and training prospects—and the choices these imply—are grim, without the major intervention of public policy. The shape of that policy will have to reflect their longer term needs. I have used that quote because it was abundantly clear from the Secretary of State's statement and his replies to the questions that followed that the new scheme would contain no Government money and that all the additional resources would be coming from the various employers taking part in the scheme. As the exchanges continued across the Floor of the House, the right hon. Gentleman was at pains repeatedly to say that he expected "those who had shaped the scheme to deliver the scheme". Even as early as this afternoon the right hon. Gentleman was laying the foundation for excuses should the scheme not succeed or should it be modified in the promised review in the summer of 1983.

We are delighted that the decision on supplementary benefit has been reversed and that trainees will receive an increase. All participants in the scheme who are 17 years of age will receive an increase in September 1983. The right hon. Gentleman's original proposal was just over £14 a week, but it was announced this afternoon that that will be increased to £25 a week.

The Secretary of State said that he regarded the scheme as very much a stepping-stone between full-time education and employment. I shall reiterate the argument advanced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Varley) and the point made in the document produced by the youth task group. It is clear that, unless Government economic policies are changed, the scheme will rapidly become not a stepping-stone from full-time education to employment, but a stepping-stone from full-time education to unemployment.

We are entitled to ask: what will happen at the end of the training period? I believe that one year is not long enough, but that is a matter for debate. The training period may be all right, but we are entitled to ask: what will happen when it comes to an end? The evidence of the past three years does not lead us with any great confidence to believe that those leaving the training scheme at the end of their year's foundation training will find their way into full-time employment. Indeed, the evidence is to the contrary. The register shows clearly that more and more young people are failing to find jobs and are unemployed for longer and longer periods.

The House of Lords Select Committee on Unemployment published its report last week. It is interesting to note that total unemployment doubled between the date on which the Select Committee was set up and the publication of its report.

There is an interesting passage in the Select Committee's report, based on the work of Mr. W. W. Daniel, a senior research fellow of the Policy Studies Institute. A table has been published dealing with 18 to 24-year-olds. Mr. Daniel talks about those entering the register, not about registered unemployment, which he regards as the unemployment stock. I suppose that is a more accurate measure of the skills available. It appears that 18 to 24-year-olds represented 36 per cent. of all those unemployed who were entering the register at the time of the Daniel study. The evidence is that young people are now unemployed for longer and longer periods.

It is clear, even on the Government's figures, that people are remaining unemployed for much longer periods. That is equally true of those in the younger age groups to whom I have referred. Table 3.8 on page 14 of the Select Committee's report shows that the number unemployed for between 26 and 52 weeks has increased. I shall take the base line of October 1979, because that accurately reflects the Government's tenure of office and the damage that the Government have done to the economy.

From October 1979 to October 1981 those remaining unemployed for 26 to 52 weeks increased from 14.9 per cent. to 23.1 per cent. Those who were unemployed for 52 weeks or more remained fairly constant during that period. There was a slight increase from 26.1 per cent. to 26.3 per cent. It is natural that if people are unemployed for longer periods, the number of those who are unemployed for shorter periods will diminish. That is because everyone is unemployed for longer and there are fewer people to be unemployed for shorter periods.

Every area of the United Kingdom is affected by the problem that the House is debating. Youth unemployment is devastating. At the 1981 Conservative Party conference—it may have been the conference before that—the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath), referring to education, said that the Government were writing off a complete generation. That charge can be laid at the Government's door in respect of youth unemployment. The Government are writing off successive generations of young people.

The Government forecast that unemployment would increase by 300,000 in the financial year covered by the Budget and that it would continue at that level through 1984–85. There is no evidence from the Government that unemployment is about to fall. There may be reduced unemployment of 1,000 here or 1,000 there, but that does not add up to very much. The underlying trend is that unemployment will continue to increase. The scheme announced by the Secretary of State this afternoon covets only 16 to 17-year-olds.

I return to my original question: what happens to young people when the initial year's training is over? All the evidence is that they will move from the training scheme to the unemployment register. There is a strong possibility that some of our young people who are about to leave school—there is another school leaving date as we approach the end of the summer term—will be unable to secure jobs during a large part of their working lives. That has been the experience of those who have left school during the past three or four years.

I know that there are those who suspect my motives in opening the debate and who have mentioned to me in art offhand way that it has something to do with the by-election at Coatbridge and Airdrie. Far be it from me to disappoint hon. Members who want me to mention Coatbridge and Airdrie. I am always willing to oblige. I shall do so in a most devastating way. Hon. Members from both sides of the House have been canvassing in Coatbridge and Airdrie in recent weeks. It is soul-destroying to canvass in an industrial area such as Coatbridge and Airdrie, where house after house is affected by the curse of unemployment among young people.

I thank the Secretary of State for Employment for joining us in the debate. He is a great man of the people. I wish that he had taken his feelings into Coatbridge and Airdrie, knocked on some doors and heard the comments of some of the youngsters in that constituency about what he and his Government are doing to their future. Those comments are anything but complimentary.

In Coatbridge and Airdrie there are 1,200 young unemployed and only five vacancies. There are 240 youngsters for every vacancy in Coatbridge and Airdrie. That is why on Thursday the verdict of the electors there will be devastating.

Mr. Bill Walker (Perth and East Perthshire)

Be careful.

Mr. Ewing

I do not need to be careful. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman dips deep in his pockets to help his colleague to pay his deposit. The result in Coatbridge and Airdrie will reflect the damage that has been done to those young people by the Government.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

That problem moves us all deeply, but if it is a problem that moves the Labour Party so deeply, why are there only 11 members of the Labour Party in the Chamber for this important debate? Is that another example of placid indignation from the Labour Party?

Mr. Ewing

I knew that I should have had more sense than to give way to the hon. Gentleman. We always learn from our mistakes. That cheap ploy is not worth replying to. I shall not take up that issue. [Interruption.] Conservative Members seem to think that it is funny that there are 1,200 youngsters unemployed in Coatbridge and Airdrie. The laughter and hilarity on the Conservative Benches will be noted in Coatbridge and Airdrie. Unemployment is a serious subject. It deserves to be treated more seriously than it has been by the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow).

It is appropriate that I should say a few words about the Falkland Islands crisis, because I am one of the few hon. Members who have not commented on it so far. I have been much aware of the praise and adulation that have been heaped on our young men in the South Atlantic. That praise is much deserved. I join in the tribute. Those young men are now returning to this country. Many of them will leave the Armed Forces at the end of their contracts.

The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. Michael Alison)

They may stay on.

Mr. Ewing

Some may stay on, but what are those who decide not to stay on returning to? Are they returning to a land fit for heroes to live in or to a future of unemployment? If they knock at the Prime Minister's door, No. 10, they will get the usual platitude that she is trying to create real jobs and that only an upturn in the economy will provide them with permanent employment. Worse still, if they knock on the door of the Secretary of State for Employment, they will be told to get on their bikes and look for jobs. What are those young men returning to? They are returning to the same future as that of every one of our young men and women—a bleak future.

The Government's new training initiative was originally wholly unacceptable. I am glad that the Secretary of State for Employment made a statement today. That fits in well with the debate, which will give all my right hon. and hon. Friends a greater opportunity to examine the statement. I am glad that the Secretary of State has climbed down and agreed to amend his proposals. He has not only amended them, but introduced new proposals in the face of the opposition that was mounted by the Labour Party, the TUC and the CBI.

When the Minister of State opens the debate for the Government, I should like him to answer a question that is posed in the statement: We accept the need for large initial Government funding of the new scheme while youth unemployment is still high, but we intend before 1985 to review the future distribution of the training costs between employers and the Government. The MSC intends to undertake, in co-operation with the Government, a study of the funding of industrial training generally, which should help us decide the level of public funding in the longer term. In that paragraph there is a hidden threat and a great danger. By definition, anyone who is unemployed and over 18 is automatically on the adult register. There is a distinct possibility that if a 17-year-old leaves the initial training scheme and does not get a job, which is likely according to the evidence and economic reviews, he will move on to the adult register. The training scheme is bound to reduce youth unemployment figures, and in that process it will conceal the real problem of youngsters leaving the training scheme and moving directly to the register.

There is a need for the Secretary of State to consider an additional scheme to take care of what will happen when the youngsters' training is finished. The scheme announced today will come about near to the general election. There is a possibility that the Government will go to the country and say "Look what we have done. All the youngsters are in training". They will not say what will happen when the youngsters come out of training. Therefore, the large initial Government funding should be amended to large continuous Government funding to deal with the problems of youth unemployment.

I return to what I said when I moved the motion. The Government stand condemned on their economic and industrial policies. I have not dealt with the economy, because I wanted to concentrate on the problems of youth unemployment. All the indicators are that investment is down—there is no evidence of investment increasing—and that manufacturing production is continuing at a low level. It is only in the distributive and service sectors of the economy that there seems to be a slight improvement. There is an increase of about 2.6 per cent., but the decrease in the manufacturing sector more than takes account of that. There is no evidence that the future is bright for our youngsters. All the evidence is that the future is bleak.

When the country is called on to decide the stewardship of the Government under the right hon. Lady—particularly the stewardship of the Secretary of State for Employment—the damage done to our young people will be reflected in the ballot boxes. Not only do I invite my right hon. and hon. Friends to join me in the Lobby, but I appeal to a wider audience. I ask our young people to join us in the fight to ensure that the Government are replaced by those who will introduce economic policies to ensure that training will lead to jobs, not to further unemployment.

7.40 pm
The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. Michael Alison)

I beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: this House welcomes the introduction of a new youth training scheme as part of Her Majesty's Government's economic and industrial policies which are the only means by which the competitiveness of British industry will be restored and the right conditions created for increased growth and employment". The "Book of Proverbs" says: The first to present his case seems right, till another conies forward and questions him". As the second speaker in this short debate propose to do more than question the hon. Member for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth (Mr. Ewing) who opened for the Opposition. I propose to rebut him categorically in his assertion, and that of the Opposition motion itself, that it is the Government's economic and industrial policies that have produced the present levels of unemployment. The reverse is the case. It is, above all, the past misdeeds of the last Labour Government that have produced the present levels of unemployment. It is they who opened up the gusher of unemployment, and it is to us that the much more difficult task of shutting it off has been left. [Interruption.] I can see from the way that the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes) reacts that that is the truth.

I can make my point most simply by quoting one set of figures. This compares the increase in manufacturing industry unit labour costs in the United Kingdom over the five-year period 1975 to 1980 with the record of our principal overseas competitors. Incidentally, this period covers roughly the period in office of the last Labour Government—a period in office, moreover, that was marked by an unprecedented willingness on the part of that Government, coming to office in the aftermath of the 1974 miners' dispute, to accede to practically any request that the trade union movement put to it.

It is against that background that we found that between 1975 and 1980 United Kingdom unit labour costs in manufacturing industry virtually doubled, while those of our major competitors increased by much less; Canada's by less than half, America's by about a third, Germany's by less than one-fifth and Japan's not at all. That dramatic decline in our competitiveness was the kind of preparation that the last Labour Government made for Britain when the nation came to face the Arctic economic environment ushered in by the tripling of oil prices in 1979.

No wonder, with a decline in our competitiveness on that scale, that Britain's rate of unemployment rose at first much more rapidly than that of our main competitors. We were scarcely better prepared to meet the cold winds of world recession after 1979, compared, say, with Japan or Germany, than General Galtieri's Argentine conscripts were to match up to Britain in the South Atlantic. The responsibility for that lies squarely with the performance of the last Government.

It cannot now seriously be argued that a return to the economic philosophy of the 1960s and 1970s—the basic Keynesian idea of spending one's way out of a recession—is a convincing alternative to the Government's policy. The hon. Member for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth did not have one alternative prescription. At least the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Varley) in response to the statement this afternoon laid bare the Opposition's basic philosophy—a general economic reflation.

In every Parliament since 1964, and before the present one, we have seen a general policy pursued on a virtually bipartisan basis of allowing inflation and Government expenditure to increase year by year in the hope that the inexorable rise in the average unemployment level would be reduced. It has not worked. Each Parliament that I have been in since 1964 has handed over to its successor a higher level of inflation and a higher level of unemployment than it inherited. It cannot be seriously argued that the growth in inflation year by year, Parliament by Parliament, in the 1960s and 1970s was caused by unemployment rather than the other way round—the inflation itself being the main cause of the unemployment. A large part of the cause of the inflation was the way in which Governments financed public expenditure, as well as the sheer scale of it.

Mr. Bruce Millan (Glasgow, Craigton)

What about youth unemployment?

Mr. Alison

I shall come to that. It is a special case of general unemployment.

I come back to the only positive Opposition alternative, which the right hon. Member for Chesterfield, the Shadow Secretary of State, advanced—general economic reflation.

Dr. Keith Hampson (Ripon)

Does my right hon. Friend recall that the French Government came to power, much heralded by Opposition Members, on the same programme, and unemployment in Frence has been reduced by only 100,000—at terrible cost? That policy now has to be reversed.

Mr. Alison

My hon. Friend anticipates a point that I shall come to. That reinforces the fact that informed minds think alike.

The policy of general economic expansion has been tried in the past and found profoundly wanting. Let us take the decade 1969 to 1979 up to the threshold of this Parliament. Total domestic expenditure increased by 308 per cent. at current prices but by only 23 per cent. at constant prices. Under 8 per cent. of the increased money demand unleashed on the economy in that decade resulted in an increase in output. Over 92 per cent. of the increased money demand went straight into prices. In the second half of the decade, with unemployment averaging nearly 6 per cent.—far from full employment, with plenty of scope for general expansionary measures to bring unemployment down—over 94 per cent. of the increased monetary expenditure was dissipated in inflation and not in an increase in output.

The alternative policy canvassed by the official Opposition—a return to a programme of general economic expansion—is enough to fill the employed and unemployed alike with profound gloom tempered only with a realisation that the Labour Party is unlikely to have a real opportunity to put it into effect.

An interesting project was conducted by The Times last year. It tested on the Treasury computer model of the economy a simulation of a £4 billion reflation package—£2 billion in tax cuts and £2 billion in increased public sector investment. The indication was that unemployment would fall by only 130,000 and inflation would accelerate rapidly. That is the sequence of the old familiar poison. In persisting in adhering to policies of general economic expansion the Opposition simply show that they have forgotten nothing and learnt nothing.

Mr. Derek Foster (Bishop Auckland)

The Minister makes great play of the Government's success, but it amounts to only a marginal reduction in the rate of inflation if one discounts the inflation that ensued in their first 18 months of office, largely as a result of increasing VAT. At what cost has that success been achieved? Unemployment has now more than doubled. It has increased far more rapidly here than in any other European country. The Minister is now trying to pin all the blame for that on the Labour Government.

Mr. Alison

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman has not followed the argument. The doubling of our unit labour costs as compared with Japan's not increasing at all lies behind the massive increase in unemployment. There is always a time lag. He asked whether I had something better to show than a decrease in inflation. I do and I shall come to it.

The Opposition motion lays special emphasis on the hardship that is experienced by unemployed young people. I make no apology for having started with a general review of the background causes of the present high level of adult unemployment. If adults suffer from the economic recession, youngsters, who are necessarily less skilled and experienced—especially school leavers—will suffer more than proportionately. That is why it is as important, if not more important, for young people that we pursue the right strategy for the economy.

There is little doubt that we are on the right course. Pay moderation and higher productivity mean that unit labour costs in manufacturing industry—the same yardstick that produced the disastrous figures to which I referred earlier—rose by less than 3 per cent. in the year to February 1982. That figure is below the rate of increase for many of our principal industrial competitors. Believe it or not, it is on a par with increases in Germany and Japan behind whom we lagged so far and so disastrously in the period 1975–80. That, coupled with the steady downward trend in inflation, has laid a solid foundation for economic recovery. Indeed, we look like being the first post-war Government that will leave to our successor—a Conservative successor, of course—a lower rate of inflation than we inherited.

Mr. John Grant (Islington, Central)

What about the 3 million unemployed?

Mr. Alison

There is always a gap between seed time and harvest—before the long-term reduction of unemployment that I am persuaded will occur begins.

It is worth reminding the House of the beginnings of the improvement. The underlying rate of increase in unemployment has dropped markedly from 105,000 a month in the last quarter of 1980—the full lag effects of the outgoing Government—through 33,000 a month, to a dramatic decrease in the last quarter of last year, to 22,000 in the first five months of this year. The vacancies inflow averaged 164,000 a month from February to April this year as compared with 163,000 a month in November to January and 155,000 a month in August to October last year. The stock of vacancies, seasonally adjusted in the three months March to May, averaged 109,000 as compared with 111,000 in the previous three months and 101,000 in the period September to November 1981. The trend is in the right direction. The gap between righting the damage done by the Labour Government's policies and the beginning of the long-term decline in unemployment that I am persuaded that we shall witness merits a special response. In that context, I shall now deal with the measures that we have introduced and are developing to help youngsters.

Mr. Harry Ewing

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. Is he suggesting that the Treasury forecast at the time of the Budget that was contained in papers connected with it is now wrong and that unemployment will not increase in line with it, or is unemployment still expected to rise in line with what the Chancellor said?

Mr. Alison

The hon. Gentleman is familiar enough with jargon to know that the Treasury extrapolation is not a forecast. Since I came to the House in 1964, every Parliament has witnessed a steady increase in the rate of unemployment. I hope that I shall remain in the House as long again during which time we shall witness a long-term decline in the rate of unemployment as we have already seen with inflation.

Mr. Bill Walker

Will my hon. Friend note that the long-term unemployed in my constituency have been unemployed for a very long time? In Blairgowrie, 20 per cent. are unemployed because the factory that employed them closed down when the Labour Government were in power. The Labour Party produced that problem, which it now pretends does not exist. Yet those long-term unemployed are a direct result of the policies of the Labour Administration.

Mr. Alison

That is exactly my point. The root cause of our present difficulties lies in the appalling unit labour costs in manufacturing industry that occurred during the period of office of the Labour Government.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)


Mr. Alison

The hon. Gentleman is a respected parliamentary colleague. I shall try to give way to him later. I shall deal now with the positive steps that we are taking in the interim period of a relatively high level of unemployment.

The Government have placed in the gap that exists before unemployment starts a long-term decline one of the most generously funded, imaginative and comprehensive schemes for school leavers ever known in Britain. Further details of the scheme, the roots of which admittedly lie in the steadily growing youth opportunities programme, were announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State today. We have in prospect a programme for school leavers as historic and far-reaching as the great educational reforms of the nineteenth century.

The new youth training scheme is best placed in perspective by the scale and growth of expenditure on special employment measures for youngsters. In 1979–80—our first year in office—about £125 million was spend on YOP. In the financial year 1981–82 that had been increased to about £400 million. In the current financial year, the estimated expenditure on young people through YOP will be more than £700 million. When the new youth training scheme takes over in September 1983, we shall be committed to a programme costing nearly £1 billion in 1983–84 and £1,112 million in 1984–85. When the new scheme is fully operational in 1984–85, expenditure on training young people will have increased 17 times since 1978–79—the Opposition's last year in Government.

That is a far higher rate of increase than the increase in youth unemployment, which has just about doubled between the last monthly count under the last Government—January 1979, when it was about 107,000—and the latest January count which is about 220,000. Bearing in mind the relatively much bigger effort that the present Government are making to tackle a problem that is not of their own making, one wonders what the Opposition were doing when they were in power and how they have had the effrontery to table the type of motion that is before us.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that the Government assumed substantial assistance for the youth training scheme from the European social fund. No doubt he is aware that that fund is heavily over-subscribed. What would happen if he did not receive the full amount of funding for which he asked? Would some training places have to be sacrificed?

Mr. Alison

We would start by getting hold of Mr. Ivor Richard by the ear. I think that I had better not go further than that now.

Mr. Spearing

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. He practises what he preaches about people questioning. He talks about training. But training for what? Does he agree that the Government have placed no block on the export of capital and that since North Sea oil began to flow there has been an increase in import substitution for manufactured goods in this country? Does he agree that if the young people whom he is to train are to obtain effective employment we need more investment in manufacturing industry and therefore more jobs for them to take up?

Mr. Alison

I agree that it is always to the advantage of Britain as a great trading country that every commodity that is tradeable internationally should be liberally exported and imported, as it pays off better in the end.

Mr. John Grant

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Alison

No, I must get on.

The net effect of our new scheme is nothing less than the removal of the threat of unemployment from all 16-year-old school leavers. Moreover, as our guarantee of a place on the training scheme will hold good for a year after a youngster has left school at the minimum permitted age, many will be 17 before the guarantee expires, so it is not only from 16-year-olds that the threat of unemployment is now effectively removed.

Nor should any cynic complain—it is a pity that the hon. Member for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth almost comes into that category—that the training scheme merely postpones the evil day of unemployment for youngsters. The most recent survey results show that of young people entering the youth opportunities programme in the autumn of 1980 about 47 per cent. obtained jobs on leaving—a very big increase—and a further 12 per cent. progressed to further education or training. An earlier survey showed that only 30 per cent. were getting jobs on leaving, so the overall trend is sharply upward, and it can only be boosted and improved by the better quality and longer training programme now taking shape.

Mr. John Grant

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Alison

No, I must finish my piece. The hon. Gentleman will have a chance to speak later.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State described the new scheme as an immense step forward towards setting standards and systems of training for our young people as good as those anywhere overseas. Those facts, together with the facts on expenditure that I have given, make the terms of the Opposition's motion appear as remote from reality as most of their policies, and I urge the House in due course absolutely to reject it.

8.2 pm

Mrs. Shirley Williams (Crosby)

The speech from the official Opposition was long on criticism but extremely short on constructive ideas. In that respect, I bear out what the Minister of State said. However, an increase in the number of unemployed under the age of 24 from 423,000 in April 1979 to more than 1,023,000 in April 1982 hardly deserves the complacency with which the Minister addressed the House. It is incumbent upon us to produce the most constructive ideas we can for what is little short of a tragedy for many young people.

I begin, therefore, by welcoming the altered youth training scheme announced by the Secretary of State today and pay him due credit for being the first Minister of any Government to introduce a scheme to provide all unemployed 16-year-olds with what we hope will be effective training. It would be less than generous not to admit that the right hon. Gentleman has had more success with his Cabinet colleagues than I had with mine. Nevertheless, certain questions must be asked, and I ask them in all good faith.

First, when will it be possible to embrace the interim recommendation in the task group's report of April 1982 that all 16-year-olds should be covered and not just those who have no jobs?

Secondly, does the MSC's statement that there will be no support other than the youth training scheme for those in that age group mean that in the next few months we shall see a development from a one-year foundation scheme to becoming one module in a system of qualifications leading to skill certification? A factor that is missing both from the original task group report and from the Minister's statement is a statement of how far these young people, if they show motivation and ability, will be able to move on towards achieving craft and skill status. That is critical if the money is not to be partly wasted.

Mr. Marlow

Is the right hon. Lady suggesting in her first question to my right hon. Friend that the scheme should eventually become compulsory for 16-year-olds not in further or higher education? Is she saying, in other words, that if a 16-year-old wants to get a job and can find one he should not be permitted to do so, but should be forced to go into a compulsory scheme?

Mrs. Williams

No, that is not what I am suggesting. What I have suggested is implicit in the task group's report. It is that places should be made available to young people now in employment who wish to leave that employment to enter the scheme in order to improve their qualifications.

In the context of the necessity to progress towards the achievement of skills, the Government must be criticised for the massive decline in the proportion of young people undergoing skill training. The number of young people in apprenticeships has declined from 236,000 in 1968 to 80,000 this year, and the number undergoing other long-term training has fallen from 210,000 to 90,000 in the same period. The simple truth is that it is harder for young people to obtain effective skill training in Britain today than in almost any other advanced European country, when one considers Germany or France, which has come in for a certain amount of knocking in the debate, let alone the Scandinavian countries.

Therefore, it is fair to ask the Minister to tell us today how the Government envisage the youth training scheme contributing to the great need for more skilled people in this country at a time when all the evidence shows that skill bottlenecks will stand in the way of any recovery at a very early stage.

Mr. Richard Needham (Chippenham)

Does the right hon. Lady agree that the number of apprenticeships has declined steadily since 1968 because the base for such training was narrowing as a result of other factors as well?

Mrs. Williams

It is certanly fair to say that traditional apprenticeships were no longer appropriate to Britain's industrial and technological needs. My criticism is that the Government did not act quickly enough and adopt the suggestion for a multi-faceted approach to a four-year traineeship as proposed by the MSC in 1980 and repeated in 1981. It is not good enough simply to blame the Labour Government, because the Conservatives have not replaced the traditinal apprenticeships with anything better. [HON MEMBERS: "We have now."] I am not sure about that, just as I am not sure how far the new scheme will lead to recognised skills. Nothing in the Secretary of State's statement, welcome though it was, and nothing in the debate so far has answered my question about skill bottlenecks and recognised skill qualifications. It is legitimate to raise that issue in a debate on youth unemployment, as we know that there are vacancies for certain types of skilled people.

Mr. Bill Walker

The right hon. Lady referred to other European countries. I believe that all of the countries that she cited, including the Scandinavian countries, have a substantial national service commitment, which would affect both the training programme and the number out of work.

Mrs. Williams

With great respect, that is not my point. My point is that, outside Iberia, Britain is the only advanced industrial country in Europe where so few young people go on to apprenticeships or equivalent training. Moreover, the proportion has declined from 18 per cent. a decade ago to 12 per cent. today. That is bad news for Britain by any standard. I remember the statistics well.

The youth task group's statement said of the Manpower Services Commission with regard to the youth opportunities programme that it was Less successful in delivering quality than in delivering quantity. That cannot be denied. The quality of some of the courses under the youth opportunities programme are generally relatively poor. What steps are the Government taking, because it is not clear from the final part of the task group's report, to ensure that the schemes now offered will actually comprise training at all?

I fear that the right hon. Gentleman may be relying too much on blue chip companies, of which there are few in those areas such as Merseyside, parts of Scotland, or Northern Ireland, which are the most affected by unemployment. In my area, the North-West, youth unemployment has jumped from 70,000 to 160,000 in the past three years. Can the right hon. Gentleman be sure that, in areas where there are no blue chip companies capable of offering a high quality of training, the MSC—and its track record is not the best in this sphere—will be able to offer training of a reasonable standard to young people in the most deprived regions?

I make a further suggestion. It is an arresting fact that in the Republic of Ireland—I do not use a rich country as my alternative example—there is one training officer for every 70 workers in manufacturing employment, yet in the debate on the industrial training boards we learnt that the carpet industry has one training officer for 70,000 employees.

The ratio of training officers—

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Peter Morrison)

indicated dissent.

Mrs. Williams

It is no good the Under-Secretary shaking his head. I have just completed a report on the Republic of Ireland and I know what I am talking about. The ratio of training officers to people at work is low in Britain. I am not clear from anything said by the Minister whether steps are being taken to recruit training officers and to establish effective standards for the scheme.

The youth task group report states that local groups will be overseen by the Manpower Services Commission as far as the quality of training is concerned. But the task group has already said that the MSC does not have an outstanding record in this respect.

Not unreasonably, the Minister said that we should put forward constructive suggestions. I therefore make the constructive suggestion that the Minister should consider the possibility of establishing a training monitoring group, or inspectorate, that would be able to establish models and then monitor the training to see whether those models were approached by the actual training. Although many hon. Members are busily nodding their heads, I have gone through the document very closely and there is no indication of such a group, other than the proposal for a professional group associated loosely with the supervisory task group, but that is something quite different.

Mr. Peter Morrison

I am sure that the right hon. Lady does not want to mislead the House. She referred to the number of training officers in the carpet industry. She will be aware that carpet manufacturing companies have training officers of their own. They were not included in the figures that she gave. Therefore, perhaps the impression that she gave was not quite correct.

Mrs. Williams

I did not want to mislead the House and I shall give a precise parallel. The body concerned with training in Ireland, which is the nearest parallel to the training boards, has a much higher ratio than ours, leaving out the industrial training officers in firms. It is a different ball game altogether. I shall put it bluntly. Much bad so-called training is occurring in British companies. Some of it is under the youth opportunities programme, and so far we have heard nothing credible or convincing from the Government about the monitoring of the quality of the youth training scheme. I shall be delighted to hear an effective reply to that point, if one is forthcoming.

I have two further questions, one of which was avoided by the Minister and relates to the dependence on the European social fund. Can the Government tell the House whether, if that money is not forthcoming, they will nevertheless proceed with the scheme without cutting it back?

The other question relates to the issue that the Secretary of State dismissed with some contumely when making his statement. He was asked about education maintenance allowances. He said, dismissively, that hon. Members wanted to put forward proposals for fresh expenditure. However, he knows that in the youth task group's report reference is made to education maintenance allowances with the phrase: We believe in the future, as we move to cover all those under 18 years of age, that this issue of educational maintenance allowances will need to be reviewed as anomalies become more apparent. I believe that those anomalies will become more apparent.

The hon. Member for York (Mr. Lyon), in a question on the statement this afternoon, referred to £1 billion. He is utterly out of court in doing so. It is estimated that the present university and higher education student maintenance system costs £900 million. About 500,000 young people are covered by that. It is estimated that about one quarter of those who stay on at school—about 600,000—would gain from means-tested educational maintenance allowances. The figure is, therefore, about 150,000, and even if they were to get identical allowances to those proposed for the youth training scheme the amount would be more like £175 million or £200 million. There is no reason why the Government should not start in the areas of high unemployment, where the real danger is that young people will cease to stay at school or, more importantly, in technical colleges because of the attraction of the allowance that is being offered under the youth training scheme.

I give the Government credit for being genuinely concerned about youth training, but do they really want to see young people who are capable of getting technical, engineering and possibly university qualifications drawn away from the schools and further education colleges because they cannot get one penny, however poor their parents may be, and are offered the chance of picking up £25 a week in what is called a youth training scheme? It is a serious proposition and the Secretary of State should not dismiss it so lightly. It is in nobody's interest that that proportion of able young people should leave school or college because they are attracted to getting money, possibly because they have a highly responsible attitude towards the family income. I hope that the Secretary of State and his colleagues will think about that aspect more deeply than they have done hitherto.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

The right hon. Lady will know that sixth form courses last more than a year. Is she suggesting that the educational maintenance allowance should last for two years for an A-level course or three years for an S-level course? What are the limits in what she suggests?

Mrs. Williams

The figure of 600,000 is not a one-year figure. It is the figure for 16 to 18-year-olds after allowing for the number who stay on after their sixteenth birthday to complete the term. It is a broad estimate, but it is a fair one for 16 to 18-year-olds. It is not a one-year estimate.

I come now to the broader issues of youth employment. The official Opposition were fair in saying that a youth training scheme, however good, directed towards simply turning young people from one stage of unemployment to another could lead to intense disillusionment.

The MSC's projections for youth unemployment are 57 per cent. of 16-year-olds and 48 per cent. of 17-year-olds in 1984. Those are terrifying figures. We should link those figures with the evidence in the House of Lords Select Committee report that those areas that suffered riots last spring all had youth unemployment levels exceeding 42 per cent. The evidence from Northern Ireland and from an earlier national stage in 1980 was that young people under the age of 19 coming before the courts were four time s as likely to be unemployed as young people generally.

The graphs in the House of Lords report show at every stage an almost direct correlation between rising youth unemployment and rising crime figures for young people. Given those facts, how can the party of law and order, which it claims to be, treat youth unemployment quite as complacently as it has done so far in this debate? [Interruption.] I am sorry, but the Minister's remarks appeared to be singularly complacent, whatever the Secretary of State's earlier announcement may have been.

The view that I have expressed is supported by people a long way from our shores who do not have the same unemployment problems as ours. They are neither SDP nor Labour supporters. The European Commission said in its report to the Council of Employment Ministers—[HON. MEMBERS: "Ivor Richard."] I do not mean Ivor Richard. I quote the remarks of Commissioner Orsini, who as far as I know is a Christian Democrat and not Labour or Social Democrat. He said that there were extreme dangers that the levels of unemployment among young people were becoming intolerable and that they presented threats to the whole basis upon which economic growth had occurred in the last 20 or 30 years. One simply cannot dismiss beliefs of that kind, which are now central to the Community's own programme for unemployment as quoted at the Versailles summit.

The Government say that we are climbing out of our economic difficulties. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury chirruped last month that evidence of economic recovery is all around us". The Secretary of State, who usually adopts a suitably grave mien for his job, broke into smiles a week ago to inform us of the economic upturn. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was almost chorusing with delight on "The World At One" about the way in which recovery was now so rapidly coming. We hear a lot of the dawn chorus, but rarely see the dawn.

The simple truth is that industrial output is lower than it was in the last quarter of 1981; that manufacturing output has fallen below what it was in that quarter, which was affected by a severe winter; that unemployment, according to the Secretary of State, is likely to exceed 3 million in the next week; that inflation is not coming down but levelling out and may even be going up; that the productivity rise in 1980–81, of which the Government are so proud, merely offset the decline in productivity between 1979–80; and that public investment is 38 per cent. down over the last three years, most markedly in areas such as housing investment, housing improvement and house repairs, which are major job sources.

The House of Lords produced a unanimous report. It was one of the best reports by a Select Committee that we have seen in the Houses of Parliament for a very long time. It was a report to which Conservative, Liberal, Labour and SDP Members all subscribed. It showed that there is an alternative to the present level of unemployment among young people. It put forward a modest programme amounting to a net cost of about £2 billion a year. It was directed towards the labour-intensive areas of the economy.

That programme was carefully costed and thought through and was supported by many bodies, including the Cambridge Econometrics Group, elements in the CBI industrial and construction group and others. It was not a partisan report. It should not be so easily dismissed by Conservative Members, because when making his statement this afternoon the Secretary of State asked why we should regard £.1½ billion as too much for fighting for the liberties of our fellow British subjects. One is bound to ask: why should we regard £1.9 billion as too much to recreate hope in our democratic institutions among our young people. That may well be the cost of beginning to establish the chance of an economic recovery and of offering hope to those who are currently unemployed.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Paul Dean)

Order. This is a short debate, and the winding-up speeches are due to begin at about 9.30 pm. Many hon. Members wish to catch my eye, and fewer of them will be disappointed if speeches are brief.

Mr. John Grant

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. In view of the misleading remarks by the official Opposition about minority party attendance during the industrial training debate last week, would it be in order for an official Opposition spokesman to come to the Dispatch Box to apologise for the fact that during this debate there have never been more than three or four members of the official Opposition—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that that is a matter for argument and not for me.

8.25 pm
Dr. Keith Hampson (Ripon)

I hope that the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mrs. Williams) will take it in good part if I say that her speech was the best she has made since her return to the House. It contained much good sense.

It is not always apparent, but it is none the less true, that youth unemployment is viewed by right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House as a personal tragedy and a great cost and waste of resources to the nation. It is apparent that the Government are as committed as any other to trying to do something about that personal and national tragedy. Indeed, as the right hon. Lady rightly said, when she went to the Labour Cabinet to seek very much smaller sums than my right hon. Friend has received from this Cabinet, she was scorned. The then Prime Minister and senior members weighed in against her, and she was defeated. Therefore, I should have thought that we had moved on from that.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

Not totally defeated. We left behind an education maintenance allowance scheme, which I think the Government might well look at again.

Dr. Hampson

That was a temporary scheme, which was not even fully devolved.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of State said something with which we can all agree. He told the House that Britain had suffered from appalling unit costs. Our unit costs of production have got worse when compared with our competitors, and that must be at the root of our economic problem. There are, of course, other factors. We can argue about why there is this lack of competitiveness, but that must be accepted as one of our basic failings.

The corollary is that, as one tries to bring down unit costs of production, there must be unemployment. We have been overmanned, whether in the large nationalised sectors, such as steel, or in many of our private companies, such as ICI and BP. They have found that they can shed labour to become more efficient. Therein lies the tragedy, because, at the same time as shedding overmanning, technology is marching on apace and many of the jobs do not require the same level of manpower. That applies not only to manufacturing but to the service sector, which used to be seen as the great mopping-up sector for many unskilled school leavers. This leaves our school leavers in a terrible plight.

In apprenticeships, about which the right hon. Lady spoke, there is an even more chronic state of affairs. What a chronic and archaic system of apprenticeships we have had. No Government have been able to deal with the position satisfactorily, largely because the unions have had too vested an interest. The system of serving time marches on, rather than the provision of qualifications by merit.

Unless a school leaver manages to obtain one of the diminishing band of apprenticeships at 16 he has not a cat in hell's chance of obtaining one later. Once a school leaver has missed an opportunity at the age of 16, he or she is in competition with an increasing number of fresh school leavers. If, as one hopes, the education service is improving, those later school leavers have better qualifications than those who missed the boat the first time round. That is the terrible, vicious circle with which we must contend.

This is not just a problem of this Government. It is deep-rooted and long-standing and all Governments have ducked away from it. There are some crippling statistics which compare what happens to school leavers in Britain with school leavers in most of our major competitor countries. In Britain one in four school leavers obtains full-time vocational work or an apprenticeship after leaving school compared with two out of four in France, three out of four in Germany and three-and-a-third out of four in Japan. That says a great deal about why this country has had such a rotten economy for so long.

We must not only grapple with the basic malaise of the British economy—high wage costs and overmanning—but grasp the nettle of the sort of courses and opportunities that we provide for our young people. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State mentioned the need to spend a large sum of money to set up employment schemes for an "interim" period. As I said to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State earlier, I hope that we have moved beyond that stage. Previous Governments have introduced schemes—the youth opportunities programme and its predecessor—that provided only a patching-up job in dealing with the problem of youth employment.

The Government should be concerned not just with the tragedy of youth unemployment, but with the long-term prospects for the British economy. How do we reverse some of the crippling statistics that have been mentioned? How do we become more competitive? How do we improve the productivity of our companies? Those questions are related to the opportunities that we provide for our 16 to 18-year-olds in the form of an integrated balance of education and work experience. Work experience may be just as valuable as sitting in a classroom. In a sense, that is the answer to the question posed by the right hon. Member for Crosby. I do not worry too much about offering £25 to young people if it enables them to obtain constructive opportunities to acquire some skills, when the alternative is that they stick around schools where they are already alienated and where there is neither the provision nor the range of courses to stimulate them. We must aim for a scheme that will put pressure—

Mr. Foster

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that young people who wish to stay on at school or to attend colleges of further education are not always deprived of courses that are relevant for them? The courses are there, but the pupils are not staying on at school for some other reason.

Dr. Hampson

There is not much evidence of that. The British education system is improving, but it is academically centred towards university entrance. We have a public school influence. We have never had the technical tradition of the French and Germans. We have not gone as far as the Americans, who now have special vocational schools that attract pupils from many neighbourhoods and are much better equipped than our further education colleges. We have a long way to go before young people in education think positively about industry at an early stage and acquire the attitudes as much as the skills of industry.

We need a two-pronged approach: first, to put pressure on industrialists and employers to give youngsters worth while experience—placements are a problem; obviously they cost companies a great deal—and, secondly, to find incentives for young people to learn industrial skills. Our school system in general, especially in Toxteth and other such areas, has not managed to "turn on" youngsters. Not only the Department of Industry but the Department of Education and Science must examine the matter carefully.

The reality is that this Government are beginning that process. We have new vocational qualifications in education. The integrated scheme that was launched today will, as the right hon. Member for Crosby suggested, ensure that there will be opportunities to move from module to module under the new combined system to gain national qualifications that are recognised by employers. The qualifications will include experience in industry as well as academic work. At the same time, we have begun to find the means by which 16-year-olds can get off the scrap heap and do something constructive.

The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Norman Tebbit)

If my hon. Friend is saying that it is time that we did rather more for 16-year-old school leavers, of whom I was one once, rather than to concentrate everything on pupils in the academic stream who have often learnt disciplines that have not helped the economy, I am inclined to agree with him.

Dr. Hampson

That puts it in a nutshell. Let me add: people cannot be made to learn. We must develop an environment in our schools that turns them on. Many of the courses and much of the atmosphere in schools do not do that. Further education colleges often do it better. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science must reconsider the notion of tertiary colleges, which usually have a better atmosphere for young people.

What has been launched today is the beginning of what many hon. Members on all sides have called for in recent years—a proper comprehensive scheme for that age group. It is imaginative. If the Government show the will and the Prime Minister puts her personal determination behind it, as she did in the Falkland Islands crisis, the nation will respond, and it will be seen as a real breakthrough that no previous Government have managed to achieve.

8.36 pm
Mr. Derek Foster (Bishop Auckland)

I am pleased to follow two remarkable speeches by the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mrs. Williams) and the hon. Member for Ripon (Dr. Hampson). They contrast with an appallingly complacent speech by the Minister of State.

It is a little off-putting that Government supporters seem to believe that the new Jerusalem has started today. They are the beneficiaries of the hard work that has been done by education and training agencies during the past five years since the publication of the Holland report. When that report was published, it was regarded as a great leap forward. It was, but Geoffrey Holland began to talk about a new transition from school to work and about a work-based education programme. That was in 1977, long before some hon. Members knew anything about the problem or showed any commitment. Indeed, the Secretary of State has only recently shown any commitment to the matter.

Conservative Members pretend that it is a great beginning. What we are discussing today, welcome though it is, is only a marginal improvement in the youth opportunities programme until it is proved otherwise. Nothing has been said about the quality of training in the programme. Great claims have been made, but they have been made in every year since 1977. Many young people have yet to see the quality of training that all of us claimed for those programmes as they developed. We need to see evidence of the quality and the amount of effort that will be put into monitoring the schemes by the Manpower Services Commission and other agencies. The large companies have so far, together with Government agencies, shown no commitment to the youth opportunities programme, and until we see the colour of their money and the quality of the training that they are prepared to deliver we must judge this programme as a marginal improvement only on the youth opportunities programme.

The new programme is twice as long and twice as costly, but let us examine the cost and how much the Government would have to spend if they did nothing except pay those young people supplementary benefit. I estimate that the sum involved would be about £700 million. Therefore, the Government's great boast that they are spending £1 billion on an education programme turns out to be an improvement of only £300 million on doing nothing. The new Jerusalem will not be built with £300 million.

We should approach the problem with great seriousness and be committed to eradicate the problem of youth unemployment which, at its present level, brands our society as immoral and uncivilised, but none of us can claim that we are doing all that can be done. We must reject the Government's great complacency in their post-Falklands euphoria. They approach every problem with an arrogant complacency, as though they were a great gift to the world.

The problem for the Government is how many young people will find jobs after taking part in the programme. Will the numbers be an improvement on those achieved under the YOP? I have news for the Government. Young people will not minutely scrutinise the quality of training experience. They want to know whether they will get a job at the end of it. If they do not get a job, they will take the money, but reject the programme in the most cynical way. Having gained only marginal benefits, they will say "This is all that the no-hope, no-future society that the Tory Government have created is offering us." They will learn a bitter lesson from that.

Mr. Peter Morrison

Can the hon. Gentleman explain why, according to the most recent estimates, more than 70 per cent. of those who have completed a YOP course are happy with the programme?

Mr. Foster

When does the hon. Gentleman intend to do something about the 75 per cent. of young people in the Northern region who cannot get jobs after completing the programme? That is a more important question. What are you going to do about that?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)

Order. The hon. Gentleman must not involve me in the debate.

Mr. Foster

I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wish to be constructive. I do not condemn the Government's initiative. Indeed, I welcome it, but they must not be allowed to get away with their complacency.

Much more needs to be done. The rate of job placement must be dealt with and the quality of training must be scrutinised and monitored more efficiently. We must also move on to the integration of education and training, both nationally and locally.

I am a little ambivalent about whether we should have a national education and training agency. There are constitutional difficulties involving the relationships between local government and national Government and between the MSC and local government, but it is clear that we must develop a coherent philosophy about education and training, particularly for the 16 to 19 age group, but also, in my view, for adults. That would go a long way to deal, at least temporarily, with the problem of long-term unemployment.

We must also consider the problem identified by the right hon. Member for Crosby. We ought to encourage greater participation in sixth form and further education college courses.

For many of our young people, particularly working class young people, the best thing that could happen is that they should take conventional sixth form courses and go on to university, polytechnic or colleges of further education to take courses that already exist. That would be the most cost-effective and, in educational terms, the best solution to the problem. We have the lowest participation rate in higher and further education of any developed country. The Government are making the problem worse. They are preventing qualified students from going on to university and polytechnic courses. They must therefore look towards the development of sixth form colleges and tertiary colleges.

There is not time to go into all these matters, but I should like to mention the problem of educational maintenance allowances. If the 16 to 19-year-old educational and training programme is a patchwork quilt of courses, it is also a patchwork quilt of levels of income support. We are heading for the most appalling anomalies in which there will be positive disincentives for young people to stay at school or to enter colleges of further education and to take what for them will be an inferior course of training. The Government must turn their mind seriously to this problem. Having agreed the allowance, they have the problem of what to do with those who stay at school and enter college.

This brings me to the Labour Party programme, which I think is extremely progressive in this area.

Dr. Hampson

We have never heard of it.

Mr. Foster

Hon. Members may not perhaps have heard about it before, but they will hear much about it now. Young people are very much in favour of it. Those attending colleges of further education and those who know about the problem are also very much in favour of it. It represents the most comprehensive programme of education and training, including a comprehensive set of measures for income support, that many members of the Government do not even realise is a problem. I exclude the hon. Member for Ripon, who understands a great deal about these problems, and also the hon. Member for Beeston (Mr. Lester).

The next problem to be wrestled with is long-term unemployment. This stands now at over 1 million. The figure has doubled over the past 12 months. That gives the lie to the idea that the cause of the problem lies at the door of the previous Labour Government. We want to know what action the Government intend to take. The community enterprise programme is a derisory response to the problem. What is required is a parallel programme to the youth training scheme for the long-term unemployed. There is need for education and training based upon work experience. Does the Under-Secretary of State not realise that at least 150,000, if not a quarter of a million, of the unemployed cannot read or write? That is a staggering figure. They are unemployable in today's world and in tomorrow's world.

When will the Government say what they intend to do? We are spending and shovelling down the drain £15 billion funding unemployment. This is another opportunity to spend the money constructively and to introduce proper education and training programmes to give the flexibility, adaptability and mobility that the Government say they so much desire.

8.49 pm
Mr. Jim Lester (Beeston)

I hope to make a short speech following the pattern of the speeches made by the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mrs. Williams) and by my hon. Friend the Member for Ripon (Dr. Hampson) and following some of the points made—in his "up" moments, rather than in his "down" moments—by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Foster).

The great thing about today is that there is now no doubt about the Government's intentions. I should have thought that all hon. Members would willingly support the youth training scheme, as amended by today's statement, as it represents a most exciting revolution and offers a new way in which to introduce our young people into the world of work so that they can begin to meet the challenge of the future. I am amazed that the Opposition should be so critical and that some of the speeches have been so narrow and needling. We all recognise that the seeds of the problem were planted long before May 1979. I am talking not about the economy but about those young people who have been affected by the bulge in the birth rate, by the fact that unskilled jobs have been vanishing at an enormous pace and by the fact that a further million unskilled jobs are likely to be lost in the next 10 years. The amount paid to young people entering work compared with the amount paid to married women has changed dramatically, thus changing the recruiting patterns of companies. All those trends were set well before May 1979.

Whatever else people may criticise the Government for, they cannot criticise them for the way in which they have dealt with our young people. We supported the youth opportunities programme when the Labour Party introduced it and did so willingly. We expanded it and found the resources to meet the guarantee. We have shortened the guarantee and have done everything possible, despite the huge escalation in numbers. More people have been involved in mobilising the youth opportunities programme than were involved in the whole of the last war. That has been going on since 1978. It reflects great credit on those involved and on the Government, because they gave it top priority.

The scheme was invented to deal with a minority of school leavers, so that they could be held usefully until the market took them up. Of course, it has been difficult to develop the scheme to deal with the present huge numbers of unemployed. What have the Government done? They have worked with the Manpower Services Commission and have produced a new and exciting scheme. No one is remotely complacent and no one wants successive generations of young men and women to be left without prospect or hope.

In our delight with the youth training scheme and in our keenness to evangelise on its behalf we must not forget the youth opportunities programme. It is important to put over the message that we shall need the youth opportunities programme for the whole of next year. We need more sponsors and we need to be able to make a general and smooth transfer from the youth opportunities programme to the youth training scheme. In the needling, narrow criticisms of the fringes of the youth opportunities programme, it would be wrong to imply that we were against it or to imply that it was not performing—and did not still perform—a valuable service.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and find him a pragmatic and reasonable man. It was suggested that he had climbed down from his previous commitments. However, a man's ability to listen to arguments and his willingness to change his mind should be seen as climbing up. It shows the man's stature and does not diminish him in any way. I am delighted that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made that statement and that he willingly accepted the valuable work done by the youth task group, which was essentally based on his White Paper. That provided the foundation for the revolutionary change to a full year's foundation training for all 16-yearolds, beginning with the unemployed.

The Government's commitment is now clear beyond peradventure. The Opposition try to portray the Secretary of State as "Tebbit the Terrible", but it would be much more helpful if they portrayed him, from today, as "Tebbit the Trainer". He has made a major and worthwhile step forward. The problems that could have arisen over the level of allowance and the removal of supplementary benefit are now out of the way. Therefore, the Government's commitment is proven. The Government are committed to a man and we should like to see the same enthusiasm from the Opposition, instead of their narrow needling. Through the task group, the MSC has shown its commitment. I particularly commend the members of the task group from the CBI and the TUC on their farsighted commitment. We hope that tomorrow, at the commission meeting, the whole scheme will be accepted. If they can do it, we ought to be able to do it in this House.

I have already said that the youth opportunities programme has given valuable service, and many others have recognised the fact. We also recognised that we needed radical changes, for which some of us have been pressing for a long time.

The right hon. Member for Crosby mentioned the commitment to training and asked how the youth training scheme was to be very much better than YOP. Some of the things for which we have been pressing are essentially to achieve that. We must recognise how much work now rests on the shoulders of the MSC and people of good will.

The first thing that we wanted is on its way—linking the training services division with the special programmes divisions, so that there is a whole new training input. There will be many trainers involved there. Secondly, there is the whole concept of local area boards instead of district manpower committees, where there will be an involvement of people from training boards, presumably in the local areas. That commitment will increase the level of training.

The amount of money in the scheme that is directly payable to employers for training is a big improvement on the YOP. The creation of a national standards board, which will be working to create the modules and the certification for sub-skills, where industrial training boards are not already doing it, is a major step forward.

I should like to see an absolute pledge and commitment from the MSC and from the Secretary of State for Employment that the certification of skills and semi-skills will have a three-year drive, so that in three years' time the whole range of skills and modules will be certificated and integrated into the scheme. That is possible, because the construction industry training board is already committed to that.

There is still a great deal to do, and we have to do a great deal in this House. The new concept of local boards and the concept of the managing agent, who will be responsible for ensuring the level of training and monitoring it, will take a great deal of persuasion to get off the ground.

I have already paid tribute to the top people of the CBI and TUC who have been involved with the MSC, but none of us should imagine that when we get out to the regions and to the individual factories there will not be considerable difficulties. Those of us who are committed to the concept of training and to the youth training scheme have a very valuable role to play in our local communities in ensuring that we mobilise all that is good in terms of leadership, wherever it comes from, in order to put over the scheme and get people to come forward with the places.

Industry ought not to have any difficulty. Surely industry and commerce ought to recognise our place in the international training league. The right hon. Lady gave the figures. Surely they should recognise the real financial support that the Government are putting into the scheme. They ought also to have the moral commitment in their own local society to the next generation of young people on whom they will ultimately depend.

The real message that should go out from the debate is not a narrow one but a broad one—that we in this House want to work together to remove any restrictions on the implementation of the youth training scheme. We desire to create a vehicle by 1983 which will perhaps be the first model. No one can pretend that it will be perfect, but I hope that with the good will, the commitment and the recognition of the place in our society of trained and motivated people, we shall create a better vehicle by 1987, and an even better one by 1990.

I return to the salutary figures that my hon. Friend the Member for Ripon used. In Britain, one person in four receives vocational training, as compared with two in four in France, three in four in Germany, and 3⅓ in four in Japan. There is a recognisable pattern between training activity and jobs and the society that is created as a result of it. If the hon. Member for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth (Mr. Ewing) wants to do anything for Coatbridge and Airdrie, he must look at those figures in relation to his local community.

Now that we have the route and the vehicle, I hope that we shall get the support and commitment of every hon. Member of this House.

8.59 pm
Mr. Frank Haynes (Ashfield)

I am pleased that the Minister has returned to the Chamber. I listened carefully to what he said and I regret that it was the most complacent speech that I have heard since I came to the House.

Youngsters cannot get work and I welcome any initiative for a youth training programme, provided that it will do the job—the job that everyone says that it will do. We have heard severe criticisms from the Conservative Benches of the contributions from the Opposition Benches. That attitude is also complacent, because they are trying to hide what is going on and why the Government are to have a training scheme of this type.

Private industry has brought about this situation. One can visit any public industry and find that it has, and always has had, a first-class training programme. The mining industry has a training programme that is second to none, but it is having to take in so many young people from the dole queue that that is having a serious effect on the programme. The public industries have done their job from way back, and continue to do it, but private industry has failed the nation in its approach to training for youth.

There are a number of reasons for what has happened. In private industry, profits can be creamed off to fill a few people's pockets. The result is no investment in the industry itself and, at the same time, no investment in a proper training programme.—[Interruption.] Conservative Members laugh, but public industries have first-class training programmes whereas private industry has fallen down on its duty, and the Government are having to pick up the tab.

In addition to creaming off profits, we must not forget the amount of money that private industry pours into the coffers of the Conservative Party. It happens every year, and it runs into millions of pounds. Money to provide incentives and the development of the process in private industry is being taken away. That must have a serious effect on training.

When the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mrs. Williams) quoted some figures for youth unemployment I did not hear many comments from the Conservative Benches. There were no comments either on what she had to say about the future and the percentage of youngsters who will not get a job. The figures in the report from which she quoted prove the case, and the same is being said in Europe. There is a clear indication of where the real problem lies. It lies with jobs, and we return to jobs on every occasion.

We have not heard from the Government Benches how we are to create jobs for the youngsters when they have been through the training programme. My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth (Mr. Ewing) and other Opposition Members have asked where the jobs will come from for young people when they have been through the training programme. The jobs will not be there.

The Minister made particular reference to unit costs. When I travel around the country and around my constituency, what do I find? I find that many firms have reduced unit costs and increased productivity, and that the Government have forced them to give low wage increases because of the wages policy. The result is that workers are still being laid off. Their jobs have gone, probably for ever.

There are many who say that the situation now is similar to that of the 1930s. That is not true. In the 1930s there was a massive recession. When the workers left the dole queues and the soup kitchens at the end of that recession they were able to return to the factories to resume work. The picture in the 1980s under a Conservative Administration is very different. The factories have gone and the jobs have gone. There will be no jobs for the youngsters whom we are training for the future.

The Minister has said that in future, under a Conservative Administration, unemployment will diminish. He should have said that the consequence of the Government's policy is that the number of jobs available to working people is declining. In his Budget Statement the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us that the unemployment figures were increasing and would continue to increase. That will happen unless the Government are prepared to change direction.

On BBC television on Friday nights there is a short programme that tells us where jobs have been lost and where other jobs have been made available. The screen is filled by a map of Britain and there are flashpoints to show where job losses have occurred. That is followed by one or two flashpoints on the same map to show where jobs have been created. More often than not the jobs that have recently become available are at supermarkets.

The Government tell us that they are creating real jobs. Are the jobs in supermarkets real jobs? Jobs of that sort will not help the economy. They involve putting products on shelves for customers to buy. Will those jobs help the economy? We want real jobs in industry. If we create real jobs, we are creating jobs for our youngsters when they have finished their training programmes. I hope that the Government will take a fresh look at their programme for jobs. No one on the Conservative Benches has suggested how we shall produce more jobs and reduce the present wicked unemployment levels. As I have said, we are told by Ministers that unemployment will worsen.

I do not have to remind Ministers and Conservative Members of their promises during the 1979 election campaign. There were huge hoardings througout the country, including in my constituency, telling us that Labour was not working and that the policies of the Labour Government were leading people to the dole queue. This Government have let down the workers, especially our young people.

I visit the schools in my constituency to talk to the youngsters and the parents. Whenever I can, I seize the opportunity to talk to sixth formers. The Secretary of State for Education and Science has ruined many opportunities for sixth formers to go to colleges of further education or to university.

I serve on an all-party group in the House. We are looking desperately at the question of adult education. However, there have been Government cuts not only in adult education but in university places. Some sixth form youngsters could go to university if the places were there. Many establishments train youngsters who go on to further education, for example teacher training colleges, yet the Government have cut the number of teachers, so the places are not there. Therefore, the youngsters cannot go in that direction.

The training programme has not started. I hope that it will not be long before it starts. I hope, too, that it will give the youth of this country exactly what they want, in the interests of the nation. However, what about the youngsters who are waiting for that programme to start?

The right hon. Member for Crosby was correct when she spoke of law and order. The Conservative Party is the party of law and order—the "hang 'em and bash 'em brigade." However, if we look at the court figures—[Interruption.] Conservative Members do not like that, because those are the facts. The figures for 17 to 19-year-olds in juvenile courts have almost doubled in the past three years, because those young people have nothing to do. They are on the street corners because they cannot get jobs. I hope that they will all be given the opportunity, because that is what the Conservative Front Bench has promised, to enter the training programme.

I hope that the Government will keep to their word. We must think about what happens to young people when they have been trained. If the jobs are not there, the Government will have failed once again, as they have failed before.

9.12 pm
Mr. Peter Hordern (Horsham and Crawley)

Even the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes), among some rude remarks about the Government, was flattering about the Government's youth training scheme. I join my hon. Friends who have spoken in congratulating my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on producing the scheme.

The scheme should have been produced, at least in some form or another, a long time ago. It concerns the vocational training of our young people. As my hon. Friends and the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mrs. Williams) said, our schemes for vocational training and further education for the young lag sadly behind those in other competitor countries. I cannot think but that that has had a profound effect on our manufacturing skills and ability to compete with other countries.

But the hon. Member for Ashfield seemed to put his finger on the nub of the problem. Of course, we must consider what is to happen about jobs, as he said, after the training schemes have been implemented. It is about that fundamental position that I should like to address the House in a few short remarks.

It is a serious state of affairs that nearly 18 per cent of the total number of our unemployed are under 20 and that the Manpower Services Commission expects that 25 per cent. of the unemployed by the end of the year will be under 25. There was a time last year when the proportion of the young unemployed to the total number of unemployed was falling. Some of us took comfort from that statistic in the sense that a large turnover of labour was taking place.

Recently the number of young unemployed has been rising. I take it that that will continue, as the MSC has predicted. That is particularly serious in parts of the country where unemployment is at its highest. I refer in particular to Scotland and Wales, but especially to Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland generally unemployment stands at 20 per cent., but in some towns and cities and for young people it is a great deal higher. The youth training scheme depends largely on major employers. Are the Government confident that the scheme will be fully effective in Northern Ireland, or must we find other measures to regenerate economic activity?

I do not suggest that the Government are not doing a great deal about Northern Ireland. We spend £1,000 million more than otherwise would be spent in Northern Ireland, but the money is spent in a subjective way. It has to go through the Departments of Trade and Industry. We should consider special incentives for employment in the regions, and particularly in Northern Ireland.

I was told in a written answer that if corporation tax were abolished in Northern Ireland for firms operating solely within the Province, it would cost £40 million, which is not a large sum. I do not understand why the Government do not try that. It is the most natural incentive to encourage people to form companies to trade and to do business. The youth training scheme is of the utmost importance, but it is not as important as creating the real jobs.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

Has the hon. Gentleman considered the French scheme for allowing national insurance to be waived for the first year of a new employee?

Mr. Hordern

All such schemes should be considered.

Foreign trade zones are available in many parts of the world, including the United States and at Shannon airport. If customs duties were abolished in Northern. Ireland, it would mean a loss of only £25 million. With all the Northern Ireland constitutional proposals before us, we should consider such schemes to regenerate employment.

We are considering why unemployment among the young has risen so quickly. One reason is that the wages of the young have risen faster than those of their elders. The trend has markedly increased in the past 10 years. The second reason is that our vocational training record is poor. The right hon. Member for Crosby mentioned 1968. In that year we had 445,000 trainees and apprentices; in 1980 there were only 239,000. The right hon. Lady took some of the blame for the previous Administration, but not enough. Industry cannot afford to use its full capacity. Only 64 per cent. of approved training places are filled. If firms had the money, plenty of places exist. I hope that the youth training scheme will help.

I am particularly encouraged by the success of the young workers scheme. About 70,000 people have been taken on. Perhaps the level at which the subsidy starts could be increased. The scheme offers genuine employment.

As one cause of the problem is the rapid increase in wages for the young in recent years, we should consider the role of the wage councils. I should like to scrap them all. I cannot see their economic benefit, but I understand that there is a major difficulty, because we belong to the International Labour Organisation. We may not suffer mortally by leaving it.

Germany, of all OECD countries, has the lowest ratio of youth-adult unemployment and its average wage for vocational trainees is 20 per cent. to 40 per cent. of initial wages. In Britain it is 70 per cent. Furthermore, until the scheme was suggested, our record on vocational training was the worst in the Community. In the late 1970s we had a smaller proportion of school leavers—24 per cent.—going on to vocational training or apprenticeships than any other EEC nation. Only 56 per cent. went on to further training or education in the United Kingdom; in Germany it was 90 per cent., and in Japan 94 per cent. As a result of superior training, in 1977 Germany produced twice as many qualified engineers and the output per employee was 50 per cent. higher. I cannot commend the new initiative highly enough, but we have a heavy responsibility to bear for the inadequate training of our young in past years.

Some say that one difficulty with the Walters scheme is that firms will take young people on, but at the expense of the elderly. That is not a serious handicap. We should have a proper programme for early retirement for people unemployed for over a year. They should have that right. It would cost £130 million and it would be infinitely better than continuing the present scheme that simply allows such people to have supplementary benefit, which is equivalent to the old-age pension. We should abolish the earnings rule for pensions, as we are committed to do in our manifesto. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will get round to that.

There is a fundamental imbalance in the economy. It is no good throwing money at it. It has been tried too often and too much in the past and has failed, as we have all seen. I understand that the 35 councils that have shown how much land they possess have shown that they own 22,000 acres that they do not at the moment propose to develop. Another 350 councils still have to report. There is, therefore, a vast quantity of development land lying untouched because it is in public ownership—either owned by local councils or nationalised industries.

I understand that the Government have powers under the Housing Act 1980 to order local authorities and nationalised industries to dispose of such land. What are we waiting for? Why should we not order them to do so, so that the construction industry can be put to work? That would bring more young people into employment more quickly than any other single available action.

Privatising the public sector, as with the example of British Telecom, is the most certain way of producing employment, especially for the young. The nation cannot afford to leave its assets lying waste. Whether they be owned by nationalised industries or local authorities, the assets must be unlocked and used for the sake of the nation. If they are not, the plight of the young unemployed will get worse. It is time for imaginative schemes. I wish that I thought that they would all be comprehended in the youth training scheme. Unless we take special measures to unlock assets in the public sector, we shall not achieve the improvement in the economy and the regeneration of employment that we so badly need.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I understand that the winding-up speeches are to begin at 9.30 pm.

9.25 pm
Mr. R. B. Cant (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)

I have listened to the whole debate with great interest. I had not intended to speak, but one partner among the institutions involved—local government itself—has not so far been dealt with. I speak today as chairman of the education committee of one of the shire counties. The impact upon local government of the Government's action, particularly with regard to the training scheme, is traumatic.

A matter of great interest educationally at local government level is the number of Government Departments involved. One would expect the Department of Education and Science to be involved, but there is also the Department of the Environment which, rather than the Treasury, deals with finance. With the introduction of computer technology in schools, the Department of Industry is now also involved. In these circumstances, it is difficult for local education committees to know what the Government's next move will be.

I wish to make just two points in the short time available. First, the emergence of that massive institution, the Manpower Services Commission, and its operations at local education level is creating great strains not just at departmental level but also locally. In local education today, there is a great battle between education and training. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Foster) that it would be very sad if the power and money of the MSC were such that too much emphasis were placed on training, important though that is, as against more conventional education.

The situation is complicated, and not only by the cuts, which impose a terrible discipline because unemployment inevitably means that everyone wants to expand further education. The Department of Education and Science is making further cuts. We understand that polytechnics are to be cut severely in the near future. At the same time, we are asked to increase the courses available.

If colleges of further education and similar bodies find that the consequences of the new training scheme are such that they must use all their resources to carry out MSC work, serious problems will be created. Any young lad leaving school has three options. He can go through conventional education, but he has no money. If he cannot get a job, he can fall back on social security. Or he may be tempted, as many are, to participate in the new training initiative and the schemes associated with it. This is having a tremendous impact on the whole education pattern for 16 to 19-year-olds.

Secondly, to what extent will the quality of training under the scheme be diminished because "Tebbit the Trainer", as he must now be called, has—for the best of reasons, I am sure—capitulated? The Department of Employment press notice on today's statement says: The Government has been able to accept … a higher allowance without lowering training standards … because under the MSC's proposals … employers will share in the training costs. If the employers do not respond in a positive manner and if their contribution is not so great as the Government expect, most of the £1 billion will inevitably go towards paying the £1,300 per year training allowance. In that case, I believe, the training content of the scheme will be sacrificed.

I am glad that the Secretary of State for Employment conceded those two important points. However, I should like an assurance that there will be no sacrifice in the quality of training and that the increase in the amount of money to be paid has not pre-empted too high a proportion of the £1 billion, particularly if the blue chip and other companies that are supposed to sponsor this scheme do not respond in a positive fashion to what the Government are trying to do.

9.30 pm
Mr. Barry Jones (Flint, East)

I am glad to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Cant) because he is the chairman of one of Britain's largest education authorities. I am pleased that the Under-Secretary has heard his remarks. Of all the many questions that the Under-Secretary must answer tonight I hope that he will give a clear reply to my hon. Friend who sought guarantees earlier today regarding education and training for the 18-year-old educationally subnormal and 18-year-old disabled citizens.

The Secretary of State received many congratulations this afternoon. He celebrated a defeat at the hands of the Manpower Services Commission, the Confederation of British Industry, the Trades Union Congress and the Opposition with a parliamentary performance of skill and considerable quick thinking. Tucked away behind his olive branch we saw the acceptable face of the right hon. Gentleman. We even saw a penitent when he explained the surrender of his policy as being for the benefit of school leavers. The Opposition would be churlish if they did not applaud the right hon. Gentleman's decisions. Nevertheless, his statement represents a major defeat for his preferred policy.

As regards the frighteningly serious issue of youth unemployment, many in Britain recoil at the stench from this worst of all Conservative Governments' Augean Stable. At the last count there were 125,000 unemployed school leavers. The youth opportunities programme, Britain's compassionate antidote, must cater for 630.000 entrants this year. Compassionate, though partly negative, it requires £730 million of funding.

The battle to find work for school leavers takes place against a deeply distressing economic background. Over 2 million jobs have evaporated since May 1979. Like a neutron bomb, the Tory policy destroys the jobs but leaves the buildings standing. There are now 3 million jobless citizens, of whom 1 million have been jobless for more than a year. Moreover, we expect to hear tomorrow of an unemployment rate of 3.1 million. We fear a steady rise to at least 3.2 million, with perhaps another 1 million citizens not in work.

The Northern region enjoys a sickening 16 per cent. rate of unemployment. Wales, the West Midlands and the North-West hover above 15 per cent. Never before in modern times have our boys and girls faced so bewildering and stressful a test in the search for work. Young blacks in the inner cities have been hard hit. Britain is a civilised society, but the disorders in Toxteth, Brixton and Bristol were the measurable protests of our young people. We are testing their patience, character and hopes to the point of destruction.

One of my own constituency high schools exemplifies the problem. Out of a fifth form of 210 pupils, only 10 per cent. obtained some sort of a job, 50 per cent. found no work and went back to school and the remainder joined the YOP schemes and thereafter joined the dole queue.

We should not forget the agony of those conscientious parents who desperately seek work for their children. In areas of high unemployment, the stress is now showing. The incidence of non-accidental, family violence, increased alcohol consumption and depression has increased greatly. Headmasters in my constituency have informed me of more than one youngster's suicide attempt.

The Government have created a situation where it is obvious to senior students that good qualifications no longer lead to a good job. I quote the Secretary of State: Let's get the facts straight. From September 1983 16-year-old school leavers won't be entitled to supplementary benefit in their own right. That is they will be just like other 16-year-olds at present who are in the sixth forms or colleges of further education. What they will be guaranteed, if they want it, is a good 12 month training scheme. They don't have to accept, it … But is there anyone here who thinks they should be paid by taxpayers—including their own mates in jobs—if they opt out?". That is what the right hon. Gentleman said in January. However, the sinner has repented. He has abandoned his unjust plan to end the entitlement of 16-year-old school leavers to supplementary benefit, and it appears that he has had second thoughts on the meanest of mean schemes because many of his younger, wet, colleagues warned him that they would not vote for such cynical plans for compulsion.

How will the new training scheme help? With the best will in the world, even if the new training scheme in 1983–84 is a spanking success, its coverage will be less than the youth opportunities programme. There will be a sharp divide between large-scale resources for unemployed young people and little progress in training for employed young people. That could be highly damaging and could, for example, lead employers to decide not to recruit any young person unless he or she has been through the new training scheme. On that basis, we could be identifying a lost generation.

Like the hon. Member for Beeston (Mr. Lester), we argue that one of the most immediate concerns must be to keep an improved youth opportunities programmme alive. It has 15 months' life left. We do not want a drop in the provision for young men and women within the youth opportunities programme when it is most needed.

The most vulnerable will be the 17 to 18-year-old grouping, particularly the 18-year-olds. What plans have the Government to assist that group? Nearly one in five of young people between 18 and 19 are out of work. Is it not the case that the 18 to 25-year-old unemployment grouping is growing steadily and alarmingly, and has now reached the same wretched figures as the 18 to 19-year-old group? What action are the Government prepared to take?

It is incredible that the young workers' scheme that was mentioned by the hon. Member for Horsham and Crawley (Mr. Hordern) carries no insistence on training and therefore must be seen as inconsistent with the principles and objectives of the new training scheme. The scheme may be beloved of the backwoodsmen of industry and commerce but to us it represents a vital part of the strategy to cut the cost of youth labour. Happily, the MSC, with the backing of the TUC and the CBI, has implicitly criticised this unworthy and exploitative scheme. I refer to paragraph 7.20 of the task group's report. The commission has delivered a slap in the face to the Secretary of State. We assert that this shabby scheme is a disastrous £260 million mistake. The Government should dump it now and generously declare that the budget is to be reallocated either to the new training scheme or to the follow-up measures designed to assist trainees to obtain permanent employment.

It was pusillanimous of the Secretary of State to have brought this unworthy scheme to the House in the first place. It appears that No. 10 has imposed a policy that is at odds with the honourable traditions of the Department of Employment and, we surmise, with its Civil Service. The young workers scheme is part of the Conservative Party's ideological vendetta against the wages councils and the principles of wage bargaining that they enshrine.

The right hon. Member for Crosby (Mrs. Williams) mentioned apprenticeships. Our young men and women are entitled to such apprenticeships and it is certainly the hope of their parents that they get them. But last year Britain's employers took on only 10,000 engineering apprentices, which was the lowest figure since records began. Informed sources estimate that Britain requires 20,000 apprenticeships annually to meet our long-term needs and to avoid skill shortages when the economy revives.

Last year, nearly 5,000 apprentices were made redundant. In Wales there has been a 48 per cent. decline in engineering apprenticeships and a 75 per cent. decline in the apprenticeships offered by the transport industry since 1979. Monetarism has damaged Britain's manufacturing industry more seriously than ever did Hitler's blitz. Now, incomprehensively, the Government are smashing the training boards that are the basis of our skills training and the likeliest mechanism for the successful delivery of the new training scheme. The decline in apprenticeships is an especially severe blow to young women, who are greatly disadvantaged in the training industry.

If the Under-Secretary of State could give us his time and attention rather than smirking idly on the Treasury Bench, as though he does not care about the massive problems of unemployment, we may get more answers to the many questions posed than we got from him last Monday night when, by common consent on the Opposition Benches, his replies were quite pathetic.

Mr. Tim Renton (Mid-Sussex)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Barry Jones

I am about to complete my remarks.

Unemployment, including youth unemployment on the titanic level that has been created by this Government, is a political and social time bomb. The problem cannot even be solved in the medium term until a Government directly sponsor billion pound public works and investment programmes. We remind the Government that President Roosevelt helped his unemployed citizens towards self-respect with such a programme. The British economy and our young unemployed citizens need a New Deal of the same proportions. We remind the Minister of State that the blind vandalism of Toxteth, Bristol and Brixton was a cry for such a new deal. The Opposition's alternative strategy would give hope to many of our unemployed youngsters.

The striking truth is that, when put to the test in the Falklands battles, our young citizens rose to the challenge. Their mettle and character are not in doubt. The Government's economic strategy is in doubt, and in denouncing their policies we say that they are scarring the lives of an entire generation of young people.

9.45 pm
The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Peter Morrison)

We have heard from the Opposition that yet again they would throw billions of pounds at their problems. That would give much solace and happiness to our competitors, because we should again become an uncompetitive nation and our youngsters would have no chance of getting a job.

My hon. Friend the Member for Beeston (Mr. Lester) started by saying that there was no doubt about the Government's intentions for training our youngsters. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend, who has played an important part in the Government's training strategy. He went on to say that the Government and the Manpower Services Commission had proposed an exciting challenge. He pointed out that my right hon. Friend's statement today was not, as the hon. Member for Flint, East (Mr. Jones) suggested, a climb down, but a climb up. My right hon. Friend is prepared to listen, as are all Conservative Members. That is apparently not the case with the Labour Party.

Whether the Opposition's decision to debate youth unemployment today was a coincidence in terms of my right hon. Friend's statement on the youth training scheme, I did not know. However, I now realise, from what was said by the hon. Member for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth (Mr. Ewing) that it was no coincidence, but a deliberate decision in the light of the Coatbridge and Airdrie by-election, to which he referred at length. Although that seat should be one of the safest Labour seats in Scotland, I am amazed to see that the official Opposition are running scared. Despite that, I noticed that no Scottish Labour Member came to support the hon. Gentleman. I also noticed that until about 9.25 pm only about nine Opposition Back-Bench Members had attended this debate on youth unemployment.

The hon. Member for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth understandably asked about the prospects of those on the youth opportunities programme and the future youth training scheme. As he is no doubt aware, the latest available figures—I accept that they are out of date—show that 47 per cent. of those who leave the youth opportunities programme will find a full-time job. About 70 per cent. of those in the YOP believe that it is a good scheme.

I understand that it is the duty of the Opposition to oppose what the Government are doing, but I had always thought that it was sensible for the Opposition to put forward an alternative strategy. The Government are not complacent and the Opposition rightly pointed out that there is a big problem of youth unemployment, but I listened carefully to the Opposition spokesmen and they did not say what they would do about that problem.

Real jobs will exist only in profitable companies. Profit may not be a word that comes easily to the lips of Labour Members, but it is an important word for real jobs. Profitable companies will exist only in a competitive economy, and that economy will exist only when we manufacture goods that we can sell on a competitive basis at home and abroad. I hope that the Opposition will eventually begin to understand that that is where real jobs come from.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of State put the matter into perspective when he pointed out that the Government are reaping a harvest. The blame for the high level of unemployment, including youth unemployment, does not rest solely with the Opposition. It rests with their erstwhile hon. Friends in the SDP and it must be galling for the Opposition to find themselves being criticised by those who planted the seeds of what is amounting to Labour's destruction. The rising unit labour costs under the previous Government are the principal reason for the current high level of unemployment.

Contrary to what some Labour Members may believe, this year's school leavers and their elder brothers and sisters understand that there is a rate for a job. If their pay is too high there will be no job but only the dole. It is as simple as that.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

If it is as simple as that, can the hon. Gentleman explain why, in the United States, which has adopted monetarist policies, there has been a massive increase in unemployment, even though less than one-quarter of the labour force is organised in any way?

Mr. Morrison

I was not talking about organised labour. I was pointing out that when the rate for a youngster's job is as high as it has become and the differential has been eroded, the likelihood that those youngsters will get jobs, particularly with proper training, is less.

Mr. Barry Jones

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that if wage rates are cut there will be more jobs?

Mr. Morrison

I am pointing out a straightforward economic fact of life. There is a level at which an employer is prepared to offer a job, but above which he is not prepared to do so. That is a straightforward economic lesson which the Opposition should begin to understand. If they do not, they are doing the nation's youth a major disservice.

I return to the point made by the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mrs. Williams). In France and West Germany the wage rates for apprentices are substantially lower. As the right hon. Lady pointed out in her interesting speech, the number of apprenticeships in those countries is substantially higher.

Mention was made of the level of the allowance in the youth opportunities programme and the youth training programme. I can only say that the youth of this country voted with their feet. They joined the youth opportunities programme in droves. In the first two months of this year over 63,000 have joined. I should have thought that it goes without saying that they at least believe that the allowance is right.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ripon (Dr. Hampson) drew attention to the apprenticeship part of the new training initiative. My hon. Friend, who knows the subject well, talked about breaking the mould and standards and not time-serving. As he will know, my right hon. Friend and I are particularly concerned that this aspect of the new training initiative should be highlighted as much as possible.

Mr. Marlow

The excellent scheme that my hon. Friend described is about training for working life. Is there any possibility of its being extended to training generally for adult life? One way would be to have an embryonic scheme of national voluntary community service within the scheme. The right hon. Member for Crosby (Mrs. Williams) referred to the problems in some areas which will not be able to provide blue chip companies with blue chip schemes. Will my hon. Friend consider the possibility of bringing in such a scheme?

Mr. Morrison

I know that my hon. Friend is particularly keen about that sort of scheme. As my right hon. Friend told him not long ago, community service can be embraced within the youth training scheme.

I do not believe that there can be any question of any of my right hon. and hon. Friends being complacent about youth unemployment and employment. During our time in Government we have developed several schemes—the community industry scheme, the youth opportunities programme, which has been expanded enormously, and others. As my hon. Friend the Member for Beeston said, there is a great need for that programme to be continued over the next 12 to 18 months while the youth training programme is coming into existence.

We are also supporting the apprenticeship scheme on a large basis, involving £50 million and more than 30,000 first-year apprentices. There is also the young workers scheme, which the hon. Member for Flint, East derided. I am amazed that the hon. Gentleman should deride the scheme. Over 60,000 youngsters are getting jobs under the scheme. If the hon. Gentleman believes it to be a bad scheme, I can only say that I believe it to be a very good scheme.

The youth training scheme announced today is, I believe, a major step forward. The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Cant), who is perhaps less biased than some Opposition Members, picked up the remark of my hon. Friend the Member for Beeston that my right hon. Friend should be known as "Tebbit the Trainer".

That is in my view the right way to look at the matter. It is first and foremost a proper training scheme. The whole of industry, that is to say the CBI, the TUC, the education establishments and indeed the voluntary organisations—I cannot stress enough that I believe that these organisations will have an important part of play—are behind the Government's proposals.

The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Foster) appeared to deride or to belittle the scheme, although I noticed that when he got into deep water he seemed to retract. I think that that was a sensible course to adopt. When £1 billion worth of taxpayers' money a year is spent on these youngsters, it seems not entirely sensible for hon. Members to deride that amount of expenditure.

The hon. Member for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth said that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State had done a graceful about turn. He said that there had been background pressure from the TUC. However, he should know that my right hon. Friend is a pragmatic and sensible man, and that is why we have introduced the scheme.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 247, Noes 294.

Division No. 230] [10 pm
Abse, Leo Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)
Adams, Allen Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd)
Allaun, Frank Deakins, Eric
Alton, David Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)
Anderson, Donald Dewar, Donald
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Dixon, Donald
Ashton, Joe Dobson, Frank
Atkinson, N. (H'gey,) Dormand, Jack
Bagier, Gordon A.T. Douglas, Dick
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Dubs, Alfred
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd) Duffy, A. E. P.
Beith, A. J. Dunn, James A.
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Dunnett, Jack
Bidwell, Sydney Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Eadie, Alex
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Eastham, Ken
Bottomley, Rt Hon A. (M'b'ro) Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)
Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S) English, Michael
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Ennals, Rt Hon David
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Evans, loan (Aberdare)
Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P) Evans, John (Newton)
Campbell, Ian Ewing, Harry
Canavan, Dennis Faulds, Andrew
Cant, R. B. Field, Frank
Carmichael, Neil Flannery, Martin
Carter-Jones, Lewis Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Cartwright, John Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Ford, Ben
Cohen, Stanley Forrester, John
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Foster, Derek
Conlan, Bernard FouIkes, George
Cook, Robin F. Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd)
Cowans, Harry Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g) Freud, Clement
Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, M'hill) Garrett, John (Norwich S)
Crawshaw, Richard Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)
Crowther, Stan George, Bruce
Cryer, Bob Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Cunliffe, Lawrence Ginsburg, David
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Golding, John
Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n) Gourlay, Harry
Dalyell, Tam Graham, Ted
Davidson, Arthur Grant, John (Islington C)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzll (L'lli) Grimond, Rt Hon J.
Hamilton, James(Bofftwell) Palmer, Arthur
Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife) Park, George
Hardy, Peter Parker, John
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Parry, Robert
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Pavitt, Laurie
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Pendry, Tom
Haynes, Frank Penhaligon, David
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Pitt, William Henry
Heffer, Eric S. Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire) Prescott, John
Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll) Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Home Robertson, John Race, Reg
Hooley, Frank Radice, Giles
Horam, John Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)
Howell, Rt Hon D. Richardson, Jo
Hoyle, Douglas Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Huckfield, Les Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Robertson, George
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Rodgers, Rt Hon William
Janner, Hon Greville Rooker, J. W.
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
John, Brynmor Rowlands, Ted
Johnson, James (Hull West) Ryman, John
Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Sandelson, Neville
Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda) Sever, John
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Sheerman, Barry
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Kerr, Russell Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Kilfedder, James A. Short, Mrs Renée
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Silkin, Rt Hon J.(Deptford)
Lamborn, Harry Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Lamond, James Silverman, Julius
Leadbitter, Ted Skinner, Dennis
Leighton, Ronald Snape, Peter
Lestor, Miss Joan Soley, Clive
Lewis, Arthur (N'ham NW) Spearing, Nigel
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Spriggs, Leslie
Litherland, Robert Stallard, A.W.
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Lyon, Alexander (York) Stoddart, David
Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W) Stott, Roger
McCartney, Hugh Strang, Gavin
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Straw, Jack
McElhone, Frank Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
McGuire, Michael (Ince) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
McKelvey, William Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Maclennan, Robert Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
McMahon, Andrew Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
McNally, Thomas Tilley, John
McNamara, Kevin Tinn, James
McTaggart, Robert Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
McWilliam, John Wainwright, E. (Dearne V)
Magee, Bryan Walker, Rt Hon H. (D'caster)
Marshall, D (G'gow S'ton) Watkins, David
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Weetch, Ken
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Wellbeloved, James
Martin, M (G'gow S'burn) Wells, Bowen
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Welsh, Michael
Maxton, John White, Frank R.
Maynard, Miss Joan White, J. (G'gow Pollok)
Meacher, Michael Whitehead, Phillip
Mikardo, Ian Whitlock, William
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Wigley, Dafydd
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Williams, Rt Hon A. (S'sea W)
Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen) Williams, Rt Hon Mrs (Crosby)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (O'shaw) Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H.(H'ton)
Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw) Wilson, William (C'try SE)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Winnick, David
Moyle, Rt Hon Roland Woodall, Alec
Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Woolmer, Kenneth
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Wrigglesworth, Ian
Ogden, Eric Wright, Sheila
O'Halloran, Michael Young, David (Bolton E)
O'Neill, Martin
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Tellers for the Ayes:
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Mr. Allen McKay and
Paisley, Rev Ian Mr. George Morton
Aitken, Jonathan Faith, Mrs Sheila
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Farr, John
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Finsberg, Geoffrey
Ancram, Michael Fisher, Sir Nigel
Arnold, Tom Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles
Aspinwall, Jack Fookes, Miss Janet
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (S'thorne) Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Atkins, Robert (Preston N) Fox, Marcus
Atkinson, David (B'm'th, E) Fraser, Peter (South Angus)
Baker, Kenneth (St. M'bone) Fry, Peter
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Banks, Robert Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bendall, Vivian Glyn, Dr Alan
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Goodhart, Sir Philip
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Goodhew, Sir Victor
Best, Keith Goodlad, Alastair
Bevan, David, Gilroy Gorst, John
Biffen, Rt Hon John Gow, Ian
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)
Blackburn, John Greenway, Harry
Blaker, Peter Griffiths, E.(B'y St. Edm'ds)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Griffiths, PeterPortsm'th N)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Grist, Ian
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Grylls, Michael
Bowden, Andrew Gummer, John Selwyn
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Hamilton, Hon A.
Braine, Sir Bernard Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Bright, Graham Hampson, Dr Keith
Brinton, Tim Hannam, John
Brittan, Rt. Hon. Leon Haselhurst, Alan
Brooke, Hon Peter Hastings, Stephen
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n) Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Browne, John (Winchester) Hawkins, Sir Paul
Bruce-Gardyne, John Hawksley, Warren
Bryan, Sir Paul Hayhoe, Barney
Buchanan-Smith, Rt. Hon. A. Heddle, John
Buck, Antony Henderson, Barry
Budgen, Nick Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Bulmer, Esmond Hicks, Robert
Burden, Sir Frederick Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Butcher, John Hill, James
Butler, Hon Adam Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Cadbury, Jocelyn Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Hooson, Tom
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hordern, Peter
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n) Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)
Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Chapman, Sydney Hunt, David (Wirral)
Churchill, W. S. Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Irvine, Bryant Godman
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Clegg, Sir Walter Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Cockeram, Eric Jessel, Toby
Colvin, Michael Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Cope, John Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Cormack, Patrick Kaberry, Sir Donald
Costain, Sir Albert Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Cranborne, Viscount Kershaw, Sir Antnony
Critchley, Julian Kimball, Sir Marcus
Crouch, David King, Rt Hon Tom
Dickens, Geoffrey Kitson, Sir Timothy
Dorrell, Stephen Knight, Mrs Jill
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Knox, David
Dover, Denshore Lamont, Norman
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Lang, Ian
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Langford-Holt, Sir John
Durant, Tony Latham, Michael
Dykes, Hugh Lawrence, Ivan
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Eggar, Tim Lee, John
Emery, Sir Peter Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Eyre, Reginald Lester, Jim(Beeston)
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Lloyd, Peter(Fareham) Rifkind, Malcolm
Loveridge, John Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)
Luce, Richard Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Lyell, Nicholas Rossi, Hugh
McCrindle, Robert Rost, Peter
Macfarlane, Neil Royle, Sir Anthony
MacKay, John (Argyll) Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R.
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Scott, Nicholas
McQuarrie, Albert Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Madel, David Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Major, John Shelton, William (Streatham)
Marland, Paul Shepherd, Richard
Marlow, Antony Silvester, Fred
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Sims, Roger
Marten, Rt Hon Neil Skeet, T. H. H.
Mates, Michael Smith, Dudley
Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Mawby, Ray Speed, Keith
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Speller, Tony
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Mayhew, Patrick Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mellor, David Sproat, Iain
Meyer, Sir Anthony Squire, Robin
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Stainton, Keith
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Stanbrook, Ivor
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Stanley, John
Miscampbell, Norman Steen, Anthony
Moate, Roger Stevens, Martin
Monro, Sir Hector Stokes, John
Montgomery, Fergus Stradling Thomas, J.
Moore, John Tapsell, Peter
Morgan, Geraint Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Morris, M. (N'hampton S) Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Temple-Morris, Peter
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Mudd, David Thompson, Donald
Murphy, Christopher Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Myles, David Thornton, Malcolm
Neale, Gerrard Townend, John (Bridlington)
Needham, Richard Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Nelson, Anthony Trippier, David
Newton, Tony Trotter, Neville
Normanton, Tom van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Nott, Rt Hon John Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Onslow, Cranley Viggers, Peter
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Wakeham, John
Osborn, John Waldegrave, Hon William
Page, John (Harrow, West) Walker, Rt Hon P.(W'cester)
Page, Richard(SW Herts) Walker, B. (Perth)
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Wall, Sir Patrick
Parris, Matthew Waller, Gary
Patten, John (Oxford) Walters, Dennis
Pattie, Geoffrey Ward, John
Pawsey, James Warren, Kenneth
Percival, Sir Ian Wells, Bowen
Peyton, RtHon John Wells, John (Maidstone)
Pink, R.Bonner Wheeler, John
Pollock, Alexander Whitney, Raymond
Porter, Barry Wickenden, Keith
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Wiggin, Jerry
Price, Sir David (Eastleigh) Wilkinson, John
Prior, Rt Hon James Williams, D.(Montgomery)
Proctor, K. Harvey Winterton, Nicholas
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Wolfson, Mark
Raison, RtHonTimothy Young, Sir George (Acton)
Rathbone, Tim Younger, Rt Hon George
Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)
Rees-Davies, W. R. Tellers for the Noes:
Renton, Tim Mr. Anthony Berry and
Rhodes James, Robert Mr. Carol Mather.

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 32 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

MR. SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved, That this House welcomes the introduction of a new youth training scheme as part of Her Majesty's Government's economic and industrial policies which are the only means by which the competitiveness of British industry will be restored and the right conditions created for increased growth and employment.

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