HC Deb 12 May 1983 vol 42 cc906-7
7. Mr. Fitt

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much was spent on grants to employers for apprentice training in Northern Ireland in the financial year 1982–83.

Mr. Adam Butler

As part of the Government's comprehensive support for training in Northern Ireland, in the last financial year a total of £6,445,769 was paid to employers for the training of apprentices.

Mr. Fitt

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, given the plight facing young people in Northern Ireland, the sum that he has announced is a mere drop in the ocean and that much more help should be given to employers to take young people off the streets?

Mr. Butler

I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman. I remind him of the sums being spent on youth training in the Province. The youth training programme will cost about £53 million in the current year. That is evidence of the support that the Government are giving and a recognition of the importance of training our young people. It has been a considerable encouragement that the number of apprentices in training has risen in the past year.

Rev. Ian Paisley

How do the figures that the hon. Gentleman has given compare with those in the previous financial year?

Mr. Butler

The figure of £53 million for the youth training programme in the full year 1983–84 compares with about £45 million spent on the youth training programme, the youth opportunities programme and other such measures in 1982–83.

Mr. Soley

If the hon. Gentleman thinks that sufficient money is going into the Province, perhaps he will tell us how much is being spent on paying unemployment benefit to young people.

Mr. Butler

Thanks to the youth training programme, which applies to all unemployed 16 and 17-year-olds, to those who have jobs, but insufficient training facilities, and to those in education — we introduced the programme a year earlier in Northern Ireland—there are many fewer youngsters on the dole.