HC Deb 30 June 1982 vol 26 cc882-3
9. Mr. Foulkes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps to allow the Manpower Services Commission in Scotland greater autonomy in the design and implementation of measures to aid the unemployed.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher

The Manpower Services Commission in Scotland already has considerable autonomy in the implementation of measures to aid the unemployed and Ministers and the Commission consult closely on the design of such measures.

Mr. Foulkes

Will the Minister confirm that he received a letter from the Scottish Council for Social Service which said that more than 30 voluntary organisations will not participate in any scheme for phoney employment for adults? Will he ensure that any such schemes in Scotland satisfy two important criteria: first, that those participating have the full status of employed persons; and, secondly, that they are paid the right wage for the job?

Mr. Fletcher

The hon. Gentleman should know that the schemes put into operation by the MSC in Scotland and elsewhere are agreed by employers, trade union representatives and others on the local committees. The local committees are themselves important and the MSC committee for Scotland makes a great contribution towards ensuring that the schemes are as useful and practical as possible for the unemployed and others who are training.

Mr. Donald Stewart

Why is the Minister allowing the MSC establishment in Scotland to be cut by a far higher percentage than that in England, where unemployment is lower?

Mr. Fletcher

The studies of manpower in the MSC apply on a United Kingdom basis. The MSC in Scotland is performing its functions very satisfactorily. The right hon. Gentleman will know that the MSC is responsible to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State as well as to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment, and my right hon. Friend takes a very close interest in these matters.

Mr. Bill Walker

Does my hon. Friend agree that the new training initiative has a much better prospect of being successful in Scotland because we have a Minister with responsibility for education and industry, both of which will be essential elements if the project is to be as successful as we all wish?

Mr. Fletcher

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Of course, I agree entirely.

Dr. J. Dickson Mabon

Will the Minister look at this again, as in my constituency it is proposed to close down one jobcentre and to reduce the number of staff at the other? In the jobcentre that may be closed as a result of this so-called economy, youth unemployment is remarkable, and 44 per cent. of young people unemployed have been out of work for a year or more.

Mr. Fletcher

The right hon. Gentleman will know that if it is planned to close a jobcentre in his constituency other jobcentres are being opened elsewhere in the West of Scotland. This is a matter of MSC planning in considering the use and uptake of places at jobcentres, which is low in some parts of the country despite high unemployment.

Mr. Millan

How will opening a jobcentre elsewhere help the people of Greenock?

Mr. Fletcher

It depends on the uptake of places at the jobcentre. These are matters that the MSC or any other organisation must take into account.

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