HC Deb 19 July 1983 vol 46 cc160-1
3. Mr. Colin Shepherd

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the number of places presently occupied in special employment and training schemes.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Alan Clark)

At the end of May the total number of people covered by the special employment and training measures was estimated to be 561,000.

Mr. Shepherd

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that the correct percentage of resources is being set aside for the enterprise allowance scheme? Will he undertake to monitor it closely so that necessary adjustments can be made as matters develop?

Mr. Clark

The proportion of resources is relatively small—£28 million out of £2 billion—but the success of the pilot scheme shows that it will be well supported. The scheme is distinguished by the fact that it is job generative. In other words, where it is successful, it is likely to increase and generate employment rather than simply effect a one-for-one substitution. However, my hon. Friend is right—we shall have to monitor it. A survey, which will be available in November, will give us data on which we can assess future resource levels.

Mr. Cyril Smith

Is the Minister aware that, at least in my constituency, the only people who are being allowed to be taken on as training officers under this scheme are those who have been unemployed for at least one year? Is he aware that there are people in the dole queue who are highly skilled and have been unemployed for less than one year? Will the Minister try to bring about greater flexibility in the recruitment of training officers?

Mr. Clark

The hon. Gentleman referred to "this scheme." I am not sure whether he was referring to the enterprise allowance scheme, in which that is not the case, or to the community programme, in which, as far as I am aware, that is the rule. If he wants that rule changed I suggest that he submits a proper request to that effect, reasoning it carefully rather than asking a question across the Floor of the House.