HC Deb 11 June 1985 vol 80 cc805-45 7.13 pm
Mr. Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield

I beg to move, That this House, mindful of the fact that 1985 is the International Year of Youth, believes that Her Majesty's Government has failed to foster conditions for opportunity, choice and participation for young people and has contributed to the desperate plight of youth by failing to operate the policies necessary to assist young people in securing work, housing, income and social security; and believes that all young people, regardless of sex and social background, have a right to effective education and training in order to give them wide and continuing opportunities to secure fulfilling employment and the consequent economic and social rewards.

Mr. Speaker

I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

Mr. Sheerman

It is sad, but hardly surprising, that the organisers of the International Year of Youth should criticise the Government for their miserable support of the year. They have provided a measly £250,000 for the whole year's efforts. That figure should be compared with the Canadian Government's provision of £8 million and the Greater London council's provision of £160,000. That is exactly the type of helpful and progressive use of resources which has led the Government to pursue its abolition. We all know that having to watch an alternative in action upsets the Prime Minister even more than hearing about it.

The Government regard youth as an embarrassment and a liability. Faced with the crisis of youth unemployment, which is substantially of their own making, Ministers have rained blows and blame on young people. Youth should be an exciting and fulfilling time of life. Throughout the ages, poets have celebrated and revered youth. Youth's the season made for joys wrote John Gay. Byron also dwelt on the sweetness of youth:

Oh, talk not to me of a name great in story; The days of our youth are the days of our glory; And the myrtle and ivy of sweet two-and-twenty; Are worth all your laurels, though ever so plenty. [Interruption.] It is not surprising that the Government Front Bench cannot understand why poetry should be quoted in a debate on young people.

Politicians also have known the value of youth. It was Disraeli who proclaimed that almost everything that is great has been done by youth and who described the youth of the nation as the trustees of its posterity. He might have added the word "prosperity" if he lived now. How unlike the poets and politicians,of an earlier age are the present Government. They have no vision of youth. What policy they have is merely a combination of saving money and political expediency, screened by a veneer of callous and insincere celebration of Victorian family values.

We all know that the most important step in becoming an adult and taking on the responsibilities of life is having a job. Being in work gives young people independence and a new status. It gives them the money to make their own choices and introduces them to new relationships with friends at work. It enables them to move away from independence on their families. For most young people, a job is their most important possession. However, too few young people have jobs or have been able to build the right foundations for work.

The old passes to an adult place in society no longer exist. Hon. Members, especially Opposition Members, understand that. The new ones such as the youth training scheme too often lead back to the dole queue. Unless society can create jobs for young people and help them to prepare for jobs through high quality education and training, it is denying opportunities to a whole generation. All right hon. and hon. Members have had such opportunities aplenty.

I shall return to jobs, and I do not apologise for that. Unless the Government are willing to sort out the problem of jobs, there will be no end to the miseries that youth endures. The bottom line is that, if the fundamental problems facing young people are to be put right, the economy must be put right. Our shrinking manufacturing sector cannot provide sufficient jobs for unemployed youth directly or in service occupations. If manufacturing continues to shrink, as John Harvey-Jones said, what on earth will they service? Our economy needs the skills and energies of youth to help make it successful.

It has been estimated that putting the under-25s back to work would produce a saving of between £5 billion and £7 billion a year in public expenditure. That is one public expenditure cut that we would favour. An even greater sum would be saved by the additional output of those employed young people. Treated as a liability, youth has become one. Youth is an asset, but the Government have been unwilling to capitalise on it.

I shall consider the desperate plight of young people under the four major headings of jobs, education and training, income and housing.

The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. Peter Morrison)

Will the hon. Gentleman explain precisely how he arrived at the figure of £5 billion to £7 billion?

Mr. Sheerman

The Minister will hear later of particular proposals. That figure was arrived at by an independent assessment made in the Labour party. I shall give him the figures from independent bodies if he cares to have them.

Let us talk about the plight of youth in terms of jobs —[Interruption.] I am not proud of those figures, This is a most desperate—[Interruption.] If Ministers looked at the findings of the Unemployment Unit, they woui.d find the figure of £5 billion to £7 billion, which was worked out by that unit. The Minister of State knows well of the existence of that unit. From 1979—[Interruption.] The Government Front Bench is trying to stop me giving the catalogue of the dreadful unemployment figures, but I shall continue.

Between 1979 and 1985 unemployment among all under 25-year-olds was up 167 per cent. For under 18-year-olds, it was up 77 per cent. For under 18-year-olds, including YTS trainees, it was up 168 per cent. For under 25-year-olds, the rate of unemployment was over double what it was for the rest of the population, at 22.7 per cent., compared with 10.3 per cent. for those over 25. In April 1985 1,203,000 people under 25 were out of a job. That is a dreadful catalogue of figures, especially if we add the fact that 359,000 of those people had been unemployed for 12 months or more, and 655,805 had been unemployed for six months or more. Although the totals for the past couple of years are holding relatively steady, the duration of unemployment is increasing markedly and worryingly.

School leavers' jobs and apprenticeships have also collapsed. Most tragic of all is the figure for young people who have not worked at all since leaving school. For example, 152,795 of those over 19 have never worked in their lives. That is a dreadful figure, and one that we shall pay for dearly in the years to come. Those young people despair of any hope or future.

The Government are fond of saying that appren-ticeships were out of date and produced out-of-date skills, and that they were time served rather than standard served. We have heard the catalogue of criticism about apprenticeships. However, the fact is that all over the world one can hear the praise for our apprenticeship system, which has provided skilled workers for industries in the United States and many other parts of the world. That system has been allowed to collapse. Even in 1978 we did not have enough apprenticeships. There were 86,000 male apprentices, and the figure reduced to 70,500 in 1980. However, by 1983 the figure was down to 22,000. What a record of skill training for a nation that has hopes of being a great industrial nation again.

Ministers are fond of reminding us that the YTS is a training measure, not an employment measure, so I shall deal with youth training separately. The only direct policies aimed at reducing youth unemployment are the wicked attempts to lower young people's wages, and to create jobs through the community programme. I confess that the community programme remains fairly popular, but the paltry wages—on average under £60 a week—are fast becoming a national scandal. In any event, the programme only scratches the surface of demand. I hope that the Minister will intervene if he disagrees with this. Even the increased 100,000 places on community schemes announced in the Budget will serve the needs of only less than 10 per cent. of eligible people under 25, who are out of work.

The Government's favourite claim is that it is not the Government's fault that there are no jobs. Their inadequate policies are not to blame. They are nothing to do with youth unemployment, according to Ministers and the Prime Minister. Young people are unemployed because it is their own fault. Unbeknown to them, they have been pricing themselves out of jobs for years. That is why there are no jobs. I would find that hilarious if it were not so tragic.

The Government have made much of "high" youth wages and have enlisted the YTS allowance alongside the —almost—late and wholly unlamented young workers scheme in support. However, the evidence is so thin as to be laughable. Research has been commissioned in a desperate attempt by the Government to find some evidence to back their prejudices on the matter. All the independent research that I have seen makes it clear that the Government's alleged relationship between high youth pay and the lack of jobs is nonsense. Of course, the Government find that proposition politically attractive.

The wages council proposals will further attack young people's ability to earn a decent living. There will be further moves in line with the idea that youth are to blame for their predicament, which is an amoral position for a Government to hold. Young people are the victims rather than the perpetrators, but they are blamed for the crisis. It is not youth, demographic trend or international competition that is to blame for youth unemployment— it is the Government's policies. In the debate, we hope to make it clear in the public imagination that the Government are responsible for the unemployment and despair of our young people.

The Government have failed to meet the challenge of education and training. Her Majesty's inspectorate has confirmed beyond doubt that our schools are crumbling from neglect. The leader in The Times Educational Supplement ofMay is entitled "False economy and penny-pinching" How appropriate that is to the present Government's policies and the present Secretary of State. The leader states: Working in decaying conditions amid peeling paint, under leaking roofs, unable to get defects repaired let alone improvements undertaken, is one of the most widespread complaints from teachers. As time goes by, working in a poor environment becomes more and more depressing and less and less conducive to high morale and the enthusiasm which lights up enthusiasm in others. Something else is far more telling against the Government's lack of understanding of what is happening in education today. The Secretary of State for Education and Science and his fellow Ministers do not have the imagination to understand, even when the teaching unions are reluctantly taking industrial action in support of their living standards. The teachers are doing so because it is a crime that they cannot do their job on their present rates of pay and in present conditions. The nature of education changes when there is mass youth unemployment. The Government do not have the imagination to know what the role of a teacher is, who used to teach a class of young men and women who confidently expected to get a job when they left school. Until a few years ago, they all would have done that. Let the Government compare that with trying to teach young people who know that there is no job, no future, and no opportunities when they leave school at 16. That is the measure of the Government's lack of understanding of today's education system. Until our economy provides the possibility of a job, there will be no hope for education and training. The Government have completely failed to meet that challenge.

The decay referred to in The Times Educational Supplement affects morale. For teachers to realise that there is little prospect of jobs for their pupils affects morale even more. The output from the system shows how badly we are lagging behind our industrial competitors. That is part of the bind we are in. The Government must be aware that we must improve our education system and have a proper training system that compares with that of Germany, Japan, the United States and our other industrial competitors and that we must move to a level of quality training and education. If we have any sense, we must do that in conditions of expansion and not contraction. It is difficult to achieve any change in an atmosphere of decline and cuts.

Britain lags behind its major competitors in every aspect of education and training. Just one third of its work force has any recognised qualifications equivalent to at least O-level, compared with about two thirds in West Germany. A high proportion of our 16-year-olds leave school with no prospects of genuine vocational preparation. That is in striking contrast to Germany and Japan. Only 13 per cent. of our school leavers go on to higher education, compared to one fifth in West Germany.

Our entry into higher education is lower than that of other countries. The recent Green Paper only squares the circle between places and demand by predicting levels of demand that fail to accord with the predictions of those who have no expenditure axe to grind. The Government also fail to see that the object should be to encourage and stimulate demand for higher education and to support all those who want to improve their learning and the value of their contribution to society.

Then we come to the co-called jewel in the Government's crown — YTS. We find that it is not a jewel. Most people's assessment is that it is a bad imitation paste. That must be said without embarrassment. I know that the Government will say that the Opposition are being disloyal to youth, because we criticise a training programme that is not good enough for our young people, our international competitiveness or the country's future. To see the problems of YTS is not disloyalty. It is disloyalty not to recognise those problems.

I have recently visited a number of mode A schemes. I may not have visited as many as the Minister of State. I understand from the grapevine that when I visit those schemes I do something that the Minister does not do. I ask for the trainees to talk to me on their own without their supervisors, teachers or anyone else.

Mr. Peter Morrison


Mr. Sheerman

I may be wrong about that. When one sees the trainees in a relaxed and informal atmosphere, one hears the central criticisms of even the mode A scheme about which the Minister brags so frequently. With his hand on his heart, the Minister must accept that most of the schemes that he studies involve work experience and not quality training. We must move to quality training and not merely job experience.

Mr. Peter Morrison

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be reassured when I tell him that that is not the fact.

Mr. Sheerman

The problem with YTS is that it leads to jobs for only half the trainees. The Government say

Mr. Peter Morrison


Mr. Sheerman

I shall stand by that statement. Roughly half the trainees obtain a job. In many parts of the country, hardly any trainees obtain a job. My information on this is as good as the Minister's. The Government say, "Yes, but only half are unemployed." Wonderful — that is the difference between us. The Government congratulate themselves on a job that is only half done. We want to start doing that job for our young people properly.

Mr. Giles Radice (Durham, North)

Tell us the figures.

Mr. Sheerman

The Government do not have the figures.

Secondly, the training is not of sufficient quality or any replacement for the apprenticeship schemes, the skillcentres or the industrial training boards. Thirdly, the YTS is being done on the cheap. When the YTS was launched, we were told many times that it would cost £1 billion. That is how much the Government were spending on YTS. Ministers crowed about that figure, but now we know that that £1 billion must pay for two years of YTS rather than just one. If, as the Opposition want, YTS is to be a stepping stone into quality training which matches that anywhere in the world, it will cost money. We cannot train on the cheap. The money must come from the employer, the individual or the Government. The Government have not faced that problem.

I shall deal with the plight of youth in respect of income. First, under this Government, mass family poverty has grown. In total, the number of children living on incomes below subsistence — supplementary benefit level — almost doubled in the first two years of this Government. A combination of growing unemployment, leading more families to depend upon supplementary benefit, and low pay means that one in four children were living in or near the margins of poverty in 1981. The proportion of working parents earning poverty wages has increased in recent years, and the number of children living with working parents on incomes below 140 per cent. of supplementary benefit level more than doubled in the two years to 1981. So much for the Government's celebration of the values of the family. That is how most of the families that we see in our constituencies suffer.

Moreover, young people's standards of living are falling, whether they are on a wage, a training allowance or a student grant, without a grant and having to rely on parents, or on the dole. The Government are like the famous advertisement: they manage to reach parts that no other Government have managed to reach. In terms of delivering poverty, that is not funny.

For the vast majority of young people wishing to continue in full-time education, there are no grants or educational maintenance allowances. sayhat is something for which the Opposition have called for many years and which we are committed to introducing once we are in government. Only those whose parents can afford to keep them can continue in full-time study. The Government have stubbornly refused to provide young people under 18 with grants. It is all right for the Secretary of State to tell us what we did or did not do, but the Labour Government did not have the same level of youth unemployment. We did not have the young unemployed school leaver having to decide whether to stay at school to do his or her A-levels, to obtain a vocational qualification or to take £26.25 home to the family budget because mum and dad are unemployed. That is the terrible tension that exists in many families, and it is one that we must recognise.

Students aged 18 or more are denied grants if they are not on higher education or specially designated courses. Grants for part-time study are non-existent. The value of student grants has fallen by 14 per cent. More students have to rely on parental contributions or are forced to borrow money from the banks. The Government have threatened to introduce student loans—pay as you learn. They have already tried, unsuccessfully, to charge parents course fees.

People on the youth training scheme are paid a totally inadequate allowance of £26.25 per week. Only a very few trainees manage to get that topped up through collective bargaining, and supplementary benefit is cut if trainees leave early. Anyone who has studied the White and Green Papers carefully knows that the spectre of withdrawal of benefit entirely from 16 and 17-year-olds probably merely awaits implementation of the second year of the youth training scheme. I should like to hear the Government's response on that.

Those changes in benefit come at the end of a whole series of changes designed to force young people back on to the resources of their families. I can give chapter and verse. In 1980, supplementary benefit was removed from school leavers for three to four months. In 1982, child benefit entitlement was reduced. In April 1983, 16 and 17-year-olds lost £3.10 per week housing benefit. That was extended to 18 to 20-year-olds in 1984. The catalogue of blows against young people is as depressing as it is possible to imagine.

The current reviews of the social security system will create ludicrous anomalies between the under-25s and the over-25s, so that a couple with a 24-year-old son or daughter will receive a different level of benefit from that received by the couple next door whose child is 25 years old. The Government have totally failed to tackle the tangle of benefits and incomes for young people, and further cuts in benefits for 16 and 17-year-olds are likely.

The plight of youth is equally desperate in housing. The decline of the private rented sector and the failure of the public sector to provide for the young and particularly for young single people has pushed them to the back of the housing queue in every area. As a result, housing problems among young people are on the increase and the unprecedented number of homeless young people is a national disgrace.

The pressure is building up, as reports from around the country show. I cite just a few instances. Between 1984 and 1985, Threshold had 1,500 new inquiries from persons under 25. Flatshop in Cardiff had 1,600 inquiries in 1983, 64 per cent. of them from people aged between 18 and 25 and 8 per cent. of them from people under the age of 18. The Association for the Single Homeless noted that between June 1983 and April 1984 79 per cent. of the homeless were under 24 years of age. Every year, 14,000 youngsters leave local authority care. It is estimated half of them end up homeless, but three out of four local authorities offer no assistance for priority allocation after leaving establishments of that kind and many local authorities maintain housing policies which operate against young people.

I have covered jobs, income, education, training and housing because they are the fundamental stepping stones for youth in moving to a full, worthwhile and secure place in adult society. The Government have not only failed to support those stepping stones but have actually weakened them in many respects. That is the measure of their culpability for the desperate plight of young people today.

The Minister may ask what Labour would do. I will tell him. First, Labour has a vision of youth.

The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Tom King)


Mr. Sheerman

Yes indeed, and we understand young working people in a way that Ministers with their privileged backgrounds cannot begin to appreciate.

At the heart of our policy is an appreciation of the value of youth. Youth does not last very long and it is a crime to deprive young people of all the things that the Government are taking away from them. Youth is a time to be enjoyed, a time to look forward with hope, a time of opportunity. Young people should be able to look to their families for help and mutual support, but they should also be allowed and indeed helped to work towards the essential independence and learning of life entailed by the responsibilities of adult living.

What is needed is a framework for that transition— not to mollycoddle young people but to give them something to build on and to build with—and it is the responsibility of Government to develop that framework. One element is jobs. Labour has set out its programme for getting the country and its young people back to work in "A Future that Works" and "Partners in Rebuilding Britain".

A second element is the education system. We have set out our proposals for that in our charter for pupils and parents. Thirdly, for education and training after the age of 16 we have "Learning for Life" and "Plan for Training". Fourthly, for income support we have set out our commitment to educational maintenance allowances, increased grants and a much improved grant for trainees. We also have a series of policy options to improve the housing prospects of young people, including more opportunities for rented housing, easier access to housing waiting lists and an extension of priority housing need to cover young people.

I have no doubt that the Government today will trot out the usual litany of excuses for their inadequacy, incompetence and indifference to the problems of young people, but however they twist and turn and squeal, as Harry Truman said, the buck stops there. The Government are responsible for what is happening to our young people and for the despair that those young people feel.

7.46 pm
The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. Peter Morrison)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: recognising that 1985 is the International Year of Youth, congratulates the Government on the action it is taking to improve the prospects for young people and, in particular, for introducing through the Youth Training Scheme the most imaginative and far reaching training programme since the last war; recognises the tremendous opportunities the scheme has created for young people and looks forward with confidence to the introduction of the two-year Youth Training Scheme in April 1986; and welcomes the initiative being taken to provide more effective education for young people. I was surprised that the Opposition chose to have a debate on youth, but I was also very pleased because their record when in government was not impressive, as what has been said today has shown. I intend to show that, despite the comments of the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman), the Government's record is impressive. The hon. Gentleman may live to regret his statement that we have no vision. The hon. Gentleman began his speech with a little poetry. He also praised Mr. Livingstone, but I wonder how many youngsters under the GLC have that sort of praise for that sort of man.

The hon. Gentleman's speech was very short on facts, and he was wrong about many facts. For example, he said that only 50 per cent. of those leaving the youth training scheme go into a job. He knows the facts because they have been debated before, so he knows that the figure is about 60 per cent., a further 6 per cent. going on to further training and education and another 5 per cent. going on to another scheme.

Mr. Sheerman

Perhaps the Minister will check his figures with the chairman of the Manpower Services Commission who is also uncertain about the figures because they are accumulated merely by survey. The figute that we have and that Youthaid has is 50 per cent.

Mr. Morrison

It is extraordinary that the hon. Gentleman should take what Youthaid says as official when it has been proved time and again to be factually incorrect. It is also extraordinary that members of the Youth Training Board, not all of whom are members of the Conservative party by any stretch of the imagination, do not question the facts given to them by the Manpower Services Commission. The figures are obtained through an independent survey, so factually the hon. Gentleman is incorrect.

The hon. Member for Huddersfield says that Labour has a vision of youth. That is fine. But what does he intend to do with that vision? I listened carefully to everything that he said, but he did not put forward even one new idea. That is the position of the Labour party. It has no ideas —[Interruption.] Labour Members may not like the fact that they have no ideas, but they cannot bluster their way out of it. Rhetoric is one thing, but constructive ideas are something else. The Labour party is good on rhetoric but bad on constructive ideas. I want to hear ideas about how one gets through a difficult situation such as this, and I have not for a moment pretended that it is anything other than difficult.

The hon. Member for Huddersfield forgot to remind the House that when in government the Labour party had the chance to introduce a youth training scheme. It was put forward by the then Secretary of State for Education and Science, who is now president of the Social Democratic party. She has vividly reminded us of the way in which the Labour Government at the time totally failed to put youth and the necessary resources up the list of priorities. As a result, many 19, 20, 21 and 22-year-olds have never had a job or any training at all. Had the Labour party had the courage at the time, it would have placed those 19 to 24-year-olds in a quite different situation.

I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman spends time on the youth training scheme. As he knows, I also spend a lot of time on it and have talked to many trainees. The hon. Gentleman's experience is interesting. He said that young people were not very keen on the scheme. I have not met all the 700,000 trainees who have benefited from the scheme, but I have met a good cross-section and heard quite a different story. However, the hon. Gentleman need not believe me or perch on my shoulder as I go around the various schemes, even though I would be delighted if he came with me. Perhaps he will look again at an independent survey, which is about to go to the Youth Training Board, with which I have had nothing whatever to do. That was a survey of trainees as they came off the scheme, and many were interviewed. It showed that 84 per cent, thought that the scheme was either fairly or very worthwhile. By any stretch of the imagination, that must be an extremely successful, positive rate. I believe that about 15,000 trainees took part in the survey, but if I am wrong I shall correct that figure if I have over-exaggerated or even under-exaggerated.

Just the other day, in conjuction with the Industrial Society, we met the trainees of the year. Had the hon. Gentleman attended that meeting, he would have heard the success stories and met trainees who after some years had changed their attitude and got themselves into employment. One trainee was offered a job provided he had a driving licence. He did not, but, because of his attitude, he obtained a driving licence within 10 days and became employed.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

The Minister will be aware that earlier this year at a conference in Bradford there was extensive criticism of racial discrimination within the YTS. He acknowledges that he is aware of that, but what action do the Government propose to take to diminish the level of such discrimination with the YTS, and when will the hon. Gentleman announce the Government's proposals?

Mr. Morrison

If there is any racial discrimination, the same rules and regulations apply up and down the land. I assure the hon. Gentleman that if I hear of specific cases, they will be looked into immediately, and he can also be assured that the right statute is in place so that that should not happen.

The hon. Member for Huddersfield misled the House when he said that we had cut back on YTS. He quoted a figure of £1 billion. We are now spending £830 million on the scheme this year, and it will go up by a further £300 million during the period of the full two-year scheme. But the hon. Gentleman did not acknowledge that for the last two years, the current year and the year ahead, every 16 and 17-year-old school leaver will have the opportunity of joining the scheme if he wishes. That is no cutback at all. Originally the guarantee covered all 16-year-olds, but we have now given the opportunity to every 17-year-old. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman cannot argue that there has been any cutback. Furthermore, there is common ground between us in our wish to see better quality training throughout industry and commerce—[Interruption.] It is obvious that the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) has nothing constructive to offer.

Mr. John Prescott (Kingston upon Hull, East)

Of course we have alternatives.

Mr. Morrison

I hope that the hon. Member for Huddersfield will agree that there is training in many industrial and commercial sectors as a result of YTS which did not exist previously. We have also moved away from outdated time-serving and age restrictions which were a feature of traditional apprenticeships. Many trade unionists believe that that was the right way to proceed. I am sorry that the Opposition Front Bench do not appear to believe that, because they are precluding many school leavers aged 17, 18 and perhaps 19 of getting the right sort of training.

Education and industry have been brought much closer together as a result of YTS. That is to the benefit not only of education and industry, but, perhaps more importantly, of 16 and 17-year-olds.

Mr. Prescott

How many apprentices were recruited under the normal industrial training boards in 1979, and how does that compare with the figure today?

Mr. Morrison

I cannot give the hon. Gentleman the precise figures of the number of apprentices, but the number of the traditional apprentices has dropped.

Mr. Prescott

By what order?

Mr. Morrison

By a substantial amount, but while the number of traditional apprentices has fallen, the number of people who, as a result of YTS, have obtained basic training has increased very substantially. I shall come back to the question of apprentices later in my speech.

Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill)

Does the hon. Gentleman disagree that between 1979 and 1983 the number of apprenticeships fell from 155,000 to about 90,000? Should we not look at the West German system and introduce statutory apprenticeships?

Mr. Morrison

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, and I shall come on to that subject at the end of my speech.

Contrary to what the Opposition have put forward— which, as far as I can see, is nothing at all—what we have suggested for YTS is more imaginative than any other training initiative since the war. Therefore, every school leaver aged 16 or 17 has the chance of being trained for the first time—

Mr. Prescott


Mr. Morrison

I shall come to the hon. Gentleman's letter to me in a moment, which might annoy him even more. In the past, only a privileged minority went into the apprentice system.

However, the Government do not rest on their laurels. They are introducing the two-year youth training scheme, which will enhance for 16-year-olds the opportunity of obtaining employment. It could not have happened if we did not have the support of the employers and the unions. Perhaps Opposition Members are no longer worried about the support of the unions for the youth training scheme. It would not have happened without the good relationships that exist between the colleges and the training providers. I am glad to say that, although it is still early days, progress towards the two-year scheme is set fair. That will mean a better-trained work force than hitherto. The fact that we have not had a well-trained work force has meant that we have lost some markets to our overseas competitors and, as a result, lost jobs.

The White Paper on education and training for young people emphasises for the first time the importance of a unified approach to training and education for all 14 to 18-year-olds. It links, crucially, schools and industry. It is extremely depressing — I hope that the Opposition spokesman can do something about it — that some Labour-controlled local education authorities will not jump aboard the technical and vocational education initiative. Perhaps when the hon. Gentleman talks with his colleagues in local government he will encourage them to do so. If they do no take part in the initiative, they will deprive the youngsters in their areas of a vocational education that would certainly benefit them.

Mr. Prescott

I encourage everyone to do what they can about training. I should tell the Minister that Labour authorities are fulfilling the training requirements which the Manpower Services Commission is not fulfilling in many areas. One should give credit for the amount of resources allocated to training by local authorities, which compares well with the amount given by Tory authorities. Indeed, the Minister said today that the Labour authority in Southampton stepped in to save the training centre there.

Mr. Morrison

I accept the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's intervention. However, he must know that some Left-wing local education authorities will not enter the technical and vocational education initiative. I do not know why they are not interested in it, but they are depriving the 14 and 15-year-olds in their areas—

Mr. Prescott


Mr. Morrison

It is not rubbish. It is true. They are depriving 14 and 15-year-olds of the opportunity to have such training. The hon. Gentleman will also know that some Left-wing local authorities will not take part in the community programme. I wonder why. Are they not worried about the long-term unemployed?

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

Does the Minister accept that if the Government were prepared to make the TVEI money available to all schools it might benefit all school leavers? Many local authorities are worried about the divisiveness of the scheme, whereby money is given to one school but not to another. They believe that that increases the problems of the allocation of children among different schools.

Mr. Morrison

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that about £250 million has been spent on the initiative. It is suitable for only some local educational authorities, and it is only a pilot scheme. It must be worth the while of every local authority to try it on a pilot basis. However, for party political reasons, some Labour-controlled local education authorities have not done so.

For some time, the Opposition have criticised the youth training scheme. Indeed, their opposition seemed a little more shrill this evening. I agree that the quality of the scheme is crucial. On 11 March, when we debated this matter, the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East mentioned that point. He will recall that I wrote to him a day or two later saying that if he could suggest schemes that did not rate according to quality, I would examine them immediately. On 1 April—I do not know whether the date is significant—he replied: Thank you for your letter dated 14 March offering to look into any training schemes which I find unsatisfactory. The one involving shifting cardboard boxes around"— this is the case which he mentioned in the House— is actually run by a Tory councillor and I have sorted the matter out myself, though I still think the training is not up to standard and I have discussed the matter with some of your officers. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that. He continues: I am compiling a number of criticisms of the Youth Training Scheme and will make you aware of my case as soon as I have it ready to my satisfaction. The hon. Gentleman raised the matter in a bland, rhetorical statement on 11 March. He wrote to me on 1 April, but nine weeks later some schemes have become one scheme and the hon. Gentleman has not produced a shred of evidence.

Mr. Prescott

The case to which I referred that evening occurred in a business run by a Tory councillor. I did sort it out. It concerned the exploitation of a young worker. Other examples have come to my attention, and the Minister must know that we intend to produce a report by October—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] We shall produce a report not only about the youth training scheme, but about training in general and about getting people back to work. After we have produced that report, we should have a proper statement from the Minister. He seems to accept the success of the scheme, although little evidence has been produced to show that, on surveys of between 1,000 and 5,000 people. He is obviously easily satisfied. The Minister participated in a BBC programme about the YTS during which youngsters on the scheme made it clear that they believed that it was cheap labour and that they wanted nothing to do with it.

Mr. Morrison

Again, the hon. Gentleman has not produced concrete examples. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I am not complacent. If my Department receives a complaint, my officials know that they must resolve it within 24 hours, or explain their failure to do so. The hon. Gentleman is the official Opposition spokesman on employment, yet he makes bland statements and, after two and a half months, he cannot give me more than one example of abuse. The youngsters on the youth training scheme will note that he cannot give me more than one example. If the hon. Gentleman has concrete examples, I shall consider them immediately. I am amazed that he cannot give me one today.

The knockers of the scheme, of whom the hon. Gentleman is one, include the British Youth Council. When it gave evidence to the Select Committee, it made similar remarks, and it wrote a letter to my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry) stating: In response to a request of the Select Committee on Employment held 17 April 1985 and your recent comments in the House of Commons. I am writing to inform you that the British Youth Council will be furnishing you with the names of 'Bad Schemes' at the end of June 1985. If the council knows of bad schemes, why does it not tell us immediately? It is common ground between the hon. Gentleman and me that we should improve schemes where possible. If we know of bad schemes, we shall do so. To make such bland statements is not acceptable.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) referred to health and safety. He will recall that the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist) introduced a Bill which dealt with health and safety. The hon. Gentleman had not taken into account the fact that the Government have covered all health and safety matters in legislation. What is just as important is that every trainee on the scheme has statutory protection against racial discrimination in the selection for and termination of training. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is satisfied that the necessary legislation is in force, as it should be.

The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East referred to the placement of trainees. When I first went to the Department of Employment the placement rate on the youth opportunities programme was 30 per cent. The Labour Government's youth opportunities programme was successful. Today, the placement rate is about 60 per cent., with a further 6 per cent, going into further training and education and over 5 per cent. going into another scheme. Good placements are not necessarily achieved in the areas where one expects them to be achieved. In parts of the country where there are high levels of unemployment there have been placement rates of 70, 80 and 90 per cent.

Mr. Sheerman


Mr. Morrison

However, the hon. Member for Huddersfield has never addressed himself to the point that no Government have the power to ordain that a job should be provided at the end of the youth training scheme. The hon. Gentleman and all trainees know that a job exists only when a product is created at a cost and of a quality that the consumer wants to buy.

The hon. Gentleman referred to wages and the allowance. He will have talked to trainees, as I have, and the answer that I receive is, "We get by." Of course they would like more money, but when it is put to them that the more that they receive by way of an allowance the less will be spent on their training, because there is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, they begin to understand that the training element — the quality of the scheme—is crucial.

Mr. Geoff Lawler (Bradford, North)

Will my hon. Friend comment upon the announcement by the Manpower Services Commission of its intention to employ clerical assistants as trainees at £60 a week? Does that not undermine the laudable efforts of the Government to persuade young people to take realistic training allowances? If everybody were to copy the MSC, there would be a substantial reduction in the number of young people who would be able to take advantage of the youth training scheme.

Mr. Morrison

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Lawler), I read the report, and it came as a surprise to me, too. I made inquiries about it. My hon. Friend and I agree that wages or allowances are relevant in terms of prospective employment. Like my hon. Friend, I do not believe everything that I read in The Times.

On apprentices, the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East, is out of step with another of his supporters. Look at what happened in the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union. It agreed that the pay of apprentices should be reduced from £41.63 to £27.88. The result was that the intake of apprentices trebled. But there is still a long way to go.

Mr. Sheerman

That is a most fraudulent claim. 1 have checked this with the EETPU and with the employers. The package for the three and four-year period provides a higher rather than a lower income over that period. There is merely a reduction in the starting rate. However, there is an overall increase. To equate low wages with more apprentices is to turn logic on its head.

Mr. Tom King

By George, he's got it.

Mr. Morrison

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment says, "By George, he's got it."

Despite the fact that this is an enlightened development, there is still a long way to go. The Liberal spokesman pointed to West Germany where first-year apprentices earn about 20 to 30 per cent. of the adult rate compared with the average rate of 60 per cent. in this country. The result is that about 50 per cent. of school leavers in West Germany become apprentices compared with about only 5 per cent. in this country. The Opposition fail to take that matter on board.

Mr. Prescott

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Morrison

No. I have given way on many occasions, and I know that many hon. Members want to take part in this debate.

During the last three years the Government have introduced a new training scheme which is universally popular and very successful. It is sad that some people are trying to encourage youngsters not to join the scheme. The Government have introduced a community programme that provides training, the technical and vocational education initiative and the enterprise allowance scheme, all of which are imaginative and relate to the 14 to 25-year-old age group. The provision of proper education and training for young people is vital both for them and for the future prosperity of this country. The measures that I have outlined represent the most wide-ranging programme of reforms that has been produced for many years.

I commend the amendment to the House.

8.17 pm
Mr. Terry Fields (Liverpool, Broadgreen

About 24 hours ago there appeared on television an advertisement warning young people and children of the seductive advances that can be made by strangers. That was in an entirely different context, but in terms of this motion the youth of this country should listen hard to the non-explanation and the bland and unpositive attitude of Government Ministers about the plight of the unemployed, particularly the youth of this country. It is to the credit of the Opposition that we have raised this key issue, not as a bantering match between sixth formers but as the reality of life for millions of people in this country, in particular for our youth. In some instances it is a life and death struggle for the youth of this country. For Ministers blandly to push aside the reality that faces the youth of this country is a crime.

I should declare an interest on two counts. I am both a father and a grandfather. My daughter has two young children. Her husband is unemployed. Both of them are in their early twenties. When I look at those kids who have no hope for the future, I despair. I have a 22-year-old son who had to leave Liverpool three years ago because of this Government's policies and the system that they represent. He has had to leave the home circle and his friends to look for work elsewhere. He has had to follow Tebbit's advice to get on his bike. I also have a 17-year-old daughter who is on a youth training scheme. She prays that she will be kept on at the end of it if she is given decent training. I have a 14-year-old lad who is still at school, with nothing in front of him but the youth training scheme and exploitation by this Government, as long as they remain in power.

It would be easy to raise the spectre of the wicked witch or the mad monk, but these matters should not be personalised. By providing simplistic answers, we do not educate youth about why these things are happening, who is responsible for them and how to resolve the problems that they face.

The hypocrisy of members of the Government is evident in their everyday speeches. As we listen to the Prime Minister talking about the creation of one nation, we must wonder where the evidence for such a creation exists. Is it in the contradictions which appeared only last week in the press? In the Liverpool Daily Post and Liverpool Echo stories appeared saying: Sexual harassment, verbal abuse, unpaid overtime, dirty conditions and wages as low as 48p an hour have been uncovered by a team looking into the plight of working teenagers. They are considered to be the lucky ones because they have a job. A 16-year-old girl machinist complained female staff were left in no doubt how they could find an extra £10 in their pay packet by an employer who regularly tried to touch her breast. A 19-year-old clerk typist received just £25 for a 49-hour week, an 18-year-old with 11 O-Levels earned just £32.25 a week, while a young roofer was paid £8 for 12½ hours overtime. That is the way in which the young are suffering.

Our elders and betters are supposed to be telling us what is good for us. Last week on Derby day those elders and betters consumed 8,000 bottles of champagne, 5,000 lb of strawberries, 1,800 lb of beef, 1,500 lb of salmon and 2,500 gulls' eggs. They must think that we are gulls if they believe that we will accept the propaganda, lies and distortions that come from Conservatives about the conditions of working people. They are out of touch with reality.

The Government's policy on education — on comprehensive schools, further education, higher education and universities—is an exposition of their lunacy and bankruptcy in relation to investment for the future. Places are being cut, courses are being savaged and standards in our educational establishments are being reduced.

Investment in the future should be the name of the game. If the Government were serious about their policies for industry, they would be encouraging massive investment in science and technology. The reverse is the case. The needs of the next decade, if not of the next century, are in our hands today and we, legislating in Parliament, should be preparing for the future if Britain is to survive as an industrial nation. Unfortunately, the resources and means of the nation are being frittered away by the Government.

Mr. Alton

Does the hon. Gentleman think that it helps standards in schools for youngsters to be led out of their schools to take part in demonstrations? Does he believe that constantly advocating breaking the law gives people the right standards for living?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. I hope that hon. Members will keep to the terms of the motion.

Mr. Fields

I knew that I was being foolish the moment I gave way to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton).

Government propaganda tells us that we are now going through a boom period. Tell the youth, the unemployed, the people living in substandard housing, those with no hospital services and those deprived of social services that we are going through a boom and they will reply that there is no boom.

But even if we were going through a boom, the Government, particularly in view of the class of people they represent, should be making massive investment for the future. The unfortunate truth is that increased investment is going ahead, but it is not occurring in this country. The wealth created by the workers of Britain is being invested abroad rather than in industry in our own nation.

We warn the Government that the consequences of their actions will be felt in the next 12 to 18 months when worldwide capitalism faces a further slump, and Britain will be unable to live with that situation. Hence we explain to the youth the need to create vast armies of unemployed, of people on slave rates of pay, of youth on YTS schemes doing full-timers out of jobs and part-time workers out of work, reducing the standard of living of those in work by the schemes that the Government are adopting.

In addition, on the backs of trade union legislation, the Government are attempting to whip the trade union movement into line for the inevitable catastrophe that is round the corner, a catastrophe which the commentators on capitalism understand but to which the Government seem impervious.

The myth that workers are pricing themselves out of jobs—that myth is applied in particular to the young— has exploded. But for millions of working people, in particular the young — we have the highest levels of youth unemployment and the lowest wages—that myth is a crime for which the Government are responsible.

We tell youth, "You will not resolve your problems in isolation, any more than the difficulties of the old, the unemployed in general, the problems of peace in the world, low pay, inadequate health services and social services can be resolved in isolation."

While we are fighting to get these reforms and better conditions for youth, we must explain to the young the nature of society and the reasons why, because of the greed of the acquisitive few, those few propped up by the policies of the Government are feeding off the backs of working people. Despite the faint hearts in our movement, the Youth Trade Union Rights Campaign has carried out in recent years sterling work on behalf of the youth of Britain.

The Minister boasted about the Government's record in health and safety at work. The Youth Trade Union Rights Campaign—with myself and comrade Dave Nellist as honorary vice-presidents — has achieved better health and safety conditions. In 1982 we fought against cuts in benefits for the unemployed. The demonstration and school strike this year brought about a climbdown by the Government over the compulsory nature of the YTS. We warn the Government that, if they bring in compulsory YTS, the 250,000 kids who were seen on the streets will pale into insignificance beside the mass movement of working-class youth that will appear.

A myth has been created about it being wrong to politicise young people. From the cradle to the grave, the working classes' minds are poisoned by the ruling classes and the Tories, by the present Government. It is happening in our schools. I will give just one example. Discussions were taking place in a school that I know in Liverpool about the Tolpuddle martyrs. Although that school is in a working-class area, the story that was peddled was to the effect that the Tolpuddle martyrs were criminals who, in the dead of night, carried out satanic worship, with skulls and the rest, for which they were transported to Australia. That is the level of political education in our schools.

We make no apology for joining with youth in politicising them. In my view, working-class youth should be politicised from the cradle, when they first start to speak and go on to read and talk about the nature of society. We must explain why there is no future for them under the present Tory Government and this capitalist system.

The deceit, lies and hypocrisy of society, with the YTS scheme being used, with wages councils being abolished, with low pay being the order of the day and with high levels of unemployment, which will become even higher in the period to come, is one side of the coin. On the other side are those who are telling us how wrong we are. They preach in the press that we are wrong, but they own and control the wealth of society. They are handing themselves vast pay increases, money got off the backs of working people.

The choice for us and for youth in 1985 involves recognising that society is at a crossroads. Increasingly, we must reach a decision. We must decide whether society is to continue on the greed of the few or the needs of the majority, using the wealth created by working people for the benefit of the workers.

We on the Opposition Benches, particularly Labour Members, are not here on the sufferance of the ruling class. We were forged as part of the trade union struggle, understanding that we should have to change capitalist law to working-class law. That is why the Labour party and trade unions were established. They were set up not to come to terms with the present system but to change it.

The young of today have not lived through the years of class collaboration and reformism over policies. They know, as all hon. Members should know, that there will be no return to the 1950s and 1960s. The system is bankrupt and crooked, and in terminal decay. The youth must understand that the future is theirs. As the most audacious and enthusiastic section of society, they are being denigrated by society in general and by the Government in particular. They are being demoralised.

I recently quoted the case of kids being used as scarecrows to chase away starlings from a rich farmer's cherry orchard. As I came through Euston station today I saw a young man on his knees cleaning people's shoes. "Shoeshine", he shouted, and when I spoke to him he told me that he had eight O and three A-levels. This is happening in London, not Liverpool, where we have been birched by the Government. Youth in London have no future.

Mr. Lawler


Mr. Fields

The hon. Gentleman should sit down. He has nothing to say to me.

I, for one, have confidence in youth in particular and workers in general. [HON. MEMBERS: "They have none in you."] They have confidence in me as vice-president of the Youth Trade Union Rights Campaign. We want to point out that the Thatcher Government understand what must be done to maintain the profit system and give profits to their rich backers. That is why they are selling off all our nationalised industries and our assets to the sharks on the stock exchange.

A future Socialist Government need to carry out the pledges enshrined in clause four of Labour's constitution, giving to those who work by hand and by brain the full fruits of their labour, taking over production, distribution and exchange in society.

The youth of today are the adults of tomorrow. Past generations have let down today's youth, but youth now have an opportunity. They are saying, "We shall no longer take the crumbs from the rich man's table. We do not even want the cake now. We want to take over the bakery." The youth of today have seen through the Government and the system that they represent.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Bob Dunn)


Mr. Fields

I shall not give way. I am sorry. The hon. Gentleman should sit down.

We have a warning for the parasites who feed off the working people, who hive off the wealth for their own aggrandisement. When working people wake up and see through their own experience the distortions, lies and manipulation of society and hear the message of our Socialist alternative, an unstoppable movement will develop. The youth will be at the head of that movement, carrying out the historical task of transforming society from this rotten, decayed, exploitative system into a caring compassionate society where people will be treated as human beings, not wage slaves or market commodities for the benefit of a handful in society. Only then will youth look forward to a future free from fear and despair.

There is a correlation between unemployment and drugs, although we would not say that unemployment was the sole cause of drug use. There is also a correlation between unemployment and crime. No one condones crime, hooliganism or drug taking, but if people are treated subhumanly we cannot expect any better from some of them.

The Government have brutalised social relations. They have brought about the politics of the jungle. The rich and powerful get the lion's share, and the poor and weak get the scraps. It is little wonder that the pale shadows of the Tory Government and the alliance ask why we seek to defend ourselves, our youth, our families and our conditions. We are fighting for those people against this brutal system which you are propping up along with the Government.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am sorry to have to interrupt the hon. Member, when he is in such fine flow, but I do not prop up anything.

Mr. Fields

I shall not go into that, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

The message from this debate is that the Tory Government have nothing to offer youth. This system has nothing to offer youth. Despite the criticisms of the faint-hearted, my appeal to youth is to get organised in the Young Socialists and the Youth Trade Union Rights Campaign and fight back against this vicious Tory Government and their attacks. We say to youth "The future can be yours, organised with a programme that can and will change society to create civilised conditions in health, education, housing, jobs and personal fulfilment." If youth hear no more during this debate than this message of hope, I for one shall be satisfied.

8.34 pm
Sir Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)

1 have an awful feeling that when the colleagues of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Broadgreen, (Mr. Fields) take over power they will treat the young and the old with the same delicate courtesy as the hon. Gentleman showed to those who sought to intervene during his speech.

Nearly a fortnight ago, on the day on which Liverpool football club played Juventus in Brussels, I was in Holland talking to employers, trade union leaders and Government officials about the youth unemployment problem. The latest figures for youth unemployment in Holland had come out a couple of days before, and they were excited about the trend. The April unemployment rate among those under 19 had fallen by 20 per cent. between 1984 and 1985. This had followed a decrease of 14 per cent. in the March unemployment rate for the same group between 1984 and March 1985. People were optimistic that the tide had turned.

In the recent past, the Dutch were in a bad position. In 1980 an employers' federation estimated that one manufacturing job in two was operating at a loss. When the recession came, the loss of jobs was more rapid and went further than in the United Kingdom. The Dutch unemployment rate increased to 18.5 per cent. in January 1984. Nearly half the unemployed were young people.

At the end of 1982, a Conservative coalition was elected to Government. It followed policies that are broadly in line with those of the British Government. The Dutch Government gave priority to competitiveness and profitability and waged a successful battle against

inflation. They kept tight control over the money supply and sought to cut public spending. They sought also to remove themselves directly from the wage negotiation process.

The one aspect of wage negotiation from which the Dutch Government have not removed themselves is in setting wages for young people. For many years, under successive Governments, an elaborate system of minimum wage levels has operated. With the co-operation of the trade unions and employers, the Dutch Government have sought deliberately to lower the minimum wages of workers under 19. Although the minimum wage for those over 20 increased between 1980 and 1985 by 6 per cent., the minimum wage of young workers was reduced, on average, by 22 per cent.

The Dutch Government's tactics in tackling youth unemployment were set at the beginning of 1983 by the chairman of the Federation of Netherlands Industry, an employers' organisation. The proposals that he put forward bore a remarkable similarity to the programme suggested at the end of 1982 by the unemployment steering group of the CBI, under the chairmanship of Sir Richard Cave, then the chairman of Thorn EMI. The one difference was that, because the situtation was rather worse in Holland than it was here, Mr. van Veen had an easier ride with his proposals and found it easier to get co-operation than have Sir Richard Cave and the unemployment steering group of the CBI in Britain.

Basically, the proposal was that the minimum wages of young workers in Holland should be reduced—as they have been there—by about 22 per cent. At the same time, a great deal of attention was paid to youth training schemes. They are not as comprehensive or as costly as those in operation here, but they are still an improvement on what has gone before. The one scheme which was adopted in Holland which we have not adopted in Britain is a shorter working week for young workers. In Holland it is impossible for any new young worker under the age of 23 to get employment in the public sector, or in a major firm covered by a collective trade union agreement, for more than 32 hours, with, of course, 32 hours' pay.

There have been some problems in introducing the scheme. The unions in the public sector showed a certain amount of reluctance, but they eventually accepted it, and I note that the 32-hour week scheme has been introduced in the public sector in a way that would certainly appeal to a Prime Minister wishing to see a reduction in public sector employment. One Civil Service department is reducing the number of posts open to recruitment from 4,500 to 4,000, yet it is taking on 5,000 new workers to fill those 4,000 jobs. Therefore, there is a reduction in the level of employment within the public sector, while at the same time more job opportunities are being given to young people.

The result has been spectacularly good in the past few months. There has been a reduction of 14 per cent. in youth unemployment in March compared with the previous year, and a reduction of 19 per cent. in April compared with a year ago. There is a real feeling that the problem of youth unemployment has been tackled successfully. If the Dutch experience continues to be as satisfactory as it has been in the recent past, I would ask the Government to look seriously at the possibility of introducing a shorter working week for young workers.

Our Government have introduced their own job-splitting programme, although not adopting it themselves.

We saw further encouragement of job-splitting for young people in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's last Budget. Perhaps this a concept that is too revolutionary at the moment. At the last count, only 1,500 posts had been split. It may well be that the Dutch approach, which is less revolutionary and much simpler to operate, offers a better and a simpler road to follow.

I hope that my hon. Friends will look very carefully at what is taking place across the Channel. As one Dutch employer said to me, "The 32-hour week for 32 hours' pay has two great attributes: first, it is very simple; secondly, it costs almost nothing." Both attributes should appeal to our Government, and I hope that they will consider them very carefully.

8.46 pm
Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill)

The hon. Member for Beckenham (Sir P. Goodhart) has put forward a very sensible proposition, and I hope the Government will take due note of it. I support the idea of a shorter working week for younger workers. Anything that can be done to ensure that more of the employment opportunities are shared more evenly is well worth our support. It is useful to look at examples from other European countries and see how we might emulate them.

We heard earlier about the statutory apprenticeship scheme in West Germany. At present, 500,000 young people are employed in statutory apprenticeships in West Germany, and we could well copy that. A similar scheme operates in Belgium.

In the three countries which have been mentioned— Holland, West Germany and Belgium — there is one thing that they all have in common, and that is Liberals participating in the Government. One of the problems in the United Kingdom is that the people who might be advocating measures of that sort — some of them in groups such as the Conservative Centre Forward—are not listened to with sufficient seriousness.

This year, 1985, should be a time of hope. Young people should be able to look forward with confidence to making their contribution to our community, but instead it is very much a time of hopelessness and despair.

About half of the unemployed in Britain are young people. I agree with the hon. Member for Liverpool, Broadgreen (Mr. Fields)—I hope that it will not do him too much damage in the Militant Tendency—that there is an undoubted relationship between high unemployment and high rates of crime, despite the Prime Minister's regular denials of the link. Half of all the crimes are committed by young people. There is a link, too, with the escalating problem of drug abuse—a subject to which I shall like to return later in my speech.

Many of our young people face the prospect of 50 years on the dole. They face youth training schemes. They face increasing competition for university places. Many of my contemporaries, with worse A-level results than brothers and sisters who are now being turned away from universities, were able to get into higher education. It is a tragedy that those younger brothers and sisters are now denied the opportunity of going to university. What we see today is a reduction in self-esteem and self-respect.

The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman), who opened the debate for the Opposition, indulged himself in some poetry. I am glad to see him returning to his place. I think that Alfred, Lord Tennyson put it very well in a couplet that he composed when he asked:

Ah, what shall I be at fifty, Should Nature keep me alive, If I find the world so bitter When I am but twenty-five? The truth is that there is today a great sense of bitterness, hopelessness and despair among many of our young people.

The hon. Gentleman complained that only £250,000 had been made available for International Year of Youth. I do not intend to follow that argument because the debate is not simply about throwing money at young people and their problems. However, I agree that it should be about the Government taking International Year of Youth seriously.

The hon. Member for Broadgreen, who spoke as a member of the Labour party, struck an interesting contrast with the Labour Front Bench. We should not laugh him off, as some hon. Members tried to do today. In Liverpool, his colleagues run the council. Indeed, his colleagues have a great say in who is to be selected for many seats throughout the country. We shall see more and more people like him in the House representing the Labour party.

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)


Mr. Alton

We know that there are great affinities between the London and Liverpool Labour parties. We should not laugh off the hon. Gentleman, but should take him seriously. When he talks, as he did today, about breaking the capitalist laws and replacing them with working-class laws, it shows how he and many of his hon. Friends regard the law of the land. When I intervened, I pointed out to him that it sets an appalling standard and example to young people to lure them from their school classes, to march them to the pierhead in Liverpool and for speakers to harangue them at open-air rallies. The effect of that on discipline and morale in schools, and on their long-term opportunities and future, is unbelievable.

Mr. Tony Banks

Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House why he believes that explaining to young people the cause of their lost opportunities and how the system brutalises them is a disadvantage to them?

Mr. Alton

It is not a disadvantage to explain to people the causes of our problems. The way to solve those problems is through the ballot box and parliamentary democracy, not by pulling young people on to the streets, or by encouraging them to leave their classrooms. That is simply to take the first steps towards breaking the law.

As I also pointed out in my intervention, constantly to tell people that it is all right to break some laws but not others, and that they can defy the Government, whoever that Government may be, breeds contempt for parliamen-tary democracy. Some of us know that this is all that the members of Militant Tendency who dominate the Labour party in many parts are concerned with. I warn the House not to laugh off those pied pipers who pull young people from their classrooms and who constantly advocate breaking the law.

I also have a criticism of the Government. They have created the breeding ground that has allowed people like the hon. Member for Broadgreen to prosper and thrive. We have witnessed the creation of a disaffected, disillusioned, cynical and bitter youth. The measures which the Government have announced during the past two weeks have compounded the problem. They have announced a rise in students' grants below the rate of inflation, which will cut the real value of the grant further. They have continued to threaten to extract young people from the vital protection of the wages councils. They have presented a review of social security which treats anyone under the age of 25 as a juvenile and forces young people into greater dependence on their parents. It has been a bad 14 days for young people.

It has also been the 14 days during which the Government have implemented their change in the Department of Health and Social Security board and lodging house allowance regulations to save £70 million. The affect of that saving has been to force about 10,000 people in Scotland on to the streets, and about 4,000 people in Merseyside to endure greater hardship. Many young people will now sleep rough in the inner cities rather than go home. Others will make fraudulent claims. Others again will take to prostitution or to peddling drugs to pay for living accommodation. How can the Government reconcile that policy with their previous urging of young people to get on their bikes, to become a nation of Dick Whittingtons, and to go off and seek their fortunes? The Government urged them from their homes, but now do not give them the wherewithal to survive in the social antipodes—the inner city areas—where young people find themselves.

This year is International Year of Youth, and my hon. Friends and I have tried to take it seriously. That is why we invited 1,000 young people to participate in our Youth Day in Westminster earlier this month. The young people who came wanted to learn about Parliament, its processes, and how this building operates and functions. I believe that they learnt a great deal that day. Many of them may have seen my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud) introduce his Bill on disabled young people.

Four other Bills have also been introduced by my hon. Friends during International Year of Youth. My hon. Friend the Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon), who is present, introduced a Bill to deal with the problem of young people in rural areas; my hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) introduced a Bill to deal with the problems of young people in Scotland; my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) introduced a Bill to deal with employment opportunities for young people, in which he advocated the statutory apprenticeship scheme, to which I referred earlier; and on the first sitting day of Parliament in International Year of Youth my hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) introduced his Youth Charter Bill. We have taken International Year of Youth extremely seriously.

"International" is a word that I wish to draw to the Government's attention. It is very sad that the Young Conservatives and the Federation of Conservative Students have decided not to participate in the British Youth Council's visit to Moscow this year. The best way of building bridges and creating peace in the world is for our young people, whether they live on the eastern or the western side of Europe, to get to know each other. Unacceptable pressure has been placed on the British Youth Council. It has been threatened with losing its grant if it goes ahead with the visit. That is utterly unacceptable.

I hope that the Government will say tonight that there will be no reduction in its funds. I hope that they will reconsider supporting what could be a mission of peace.

As the joint chairman of the Council for Education in the Commonwealth, I also regard it as a tragedy that during the past five years young people from the poorest pans of the world have been denied the opportunity of coming to our colleges and universities because of the introduction of full-cost fees for overseas students.

I shall make my remaining remarks in the context of the three grand themes which the United Nations designated for International Year of Youth — peace, participation and development. I ask the House to consider now not international peace, but inner peace. What sort of generation is being brought up on heroin and cocaine? Some 100,000 young people in Britain today are taking heroin. Only two weeks ago the chairman of our Home Affairs Select Committee rightly said: Every son and daughter of every family in this country will be at risk from this terrible epidemic. For years, Liberals have been advocating the introduction of life sentences for those who peddle heroin and organise the evil of trade in heroin. It is one of the worst maladies to affect our age. My right hon. Friend the leader of the Liberal party has also said that we should sequestrate the funds of those who have been making then-vast profits from peddling heroin to the young. At present the racketeers salt away their ill-gotten gains, place fortunes in bank accounts in Zurich, or bask on beaches in countries with which we have no extradition arrangements. They should not be able to get away with it. We must make every effort to bring them to justice, to sequestrate their ill-gotten gains and to use them for the treatment of young people who suffer from the heroin plague. It was very easy during the strike of the National Union of Mineworkers to sequestrate the union's funds. Surely it must also be possible to track down those to whom I have referred and similarly to sequestrate then-funds.

Inner peace, the opportunity to feel that one can be a self-respecting member of the community and the right to self-esteem are important conditions for many of our young people. Similarly, the right to play a part in society is vital. That is why we on the alliance Benches have considered the lowering of the age of candidature in line with the voting age. My noble Friend Lord Tordoff introduced an amendment to the Representation of the People Bill, which, sadly, was defeated by Conservative peers voting against the proposal and by the abstention of Labour peers. The alliance believes that there should be statutory representation by young people on organisations such as the area manpower boards of the Manpower Services Commission, which monitor youth training schemes at local level, thereby allowing trainees some say in the schemes in which they participate.

The alliance thinks that young people should be able to sit on local authority committees. I served on the education committee in Liverpool some years ago. The Liberal group introduced the right for a young person from one of the local schools to be elected—incidentally, by the single transferable vote system—after hustings had been held to sit on the education committee and to be able to speak on behalf of the consumers. There are other organisations, such as the health boards, where young people should have the chance to express themselves.

Participation is crucial to Liberals. We believe in giving people control over the institutions that govern their lives. For many young people the mechanisms of control do not exist as yet. Participation should not be confined to a purely mechanistic level. Unemployment means having nothing to do, and sometimes that can mean having nothing to do with the rest of us. Young people also need to be able to participate by virtue of having a job.

I have reminded the House of the number of apprenticeships that have been lost. There were 155,000 in 1979, and the total declined to about 90,000 in the mid-1980s. Far too many of our young people have been introduced to the hopelessness and despair of the dole queue.

Liberals believe that the youth training scheme is based on sound principles, but we are not happy with many of the ways in which it operates. Far too many employers view the scheme as a means of obtaining cheap labour. Too few young people enter permanent employment at the end of their YTS scheme. Many young people receive no real training from YTS and, therefore, are not having their employment prospects improved. Too many people on the YTS are being put into jobs in which they are neither interested nor suited to.

Liberals would like to see the YTS improved, first, by the establishment of an inspectorate to vet companies which wish to take part in the scheme and regularly to scrutinise the scheme at the workplace. Secondly, all health, safety and insurance regulations applying to industry should apply also to the YTS. Thirdly, no young person should be forced on to the scheme under the threat of reduction or removal of state benefits. Fourthly, we should establish an improved system of consultation so that everyone entering the YTS is appointed to a training scheme in which he is interested and to which he is suited. Fifthly, those on the scheme should receive fair payment that is set at a level appreciably higher than that of state benefit. Sixthly, each young person should receive training in a number of skills, and the system of assessment and qualification should be developed in consultation with both trade unions and employers. Seventhly, each young person on the YTS should receive training in life skills. Finally, there should be greater emphasis on training in skills that are of use to the community.

Earlier, the Minister asked what practical proposals the Opposition had for improving the YTS, and he was given some ideas by the hon. Member for Huddersfield. I hope that the ideas which I have introduced to the debate will be considered seriously by the Minister.

After peace and participation, the other great theme of this year is supposed to be development. There should be more opportunities in our Britain of 1985 for more personal development. At present, the clock is being turned back in education to a time before the Education Act 1944 and even before Mr. Gladstone's Elementary Education Act of 1870. Opportunities for development are being reduced.

Young people in the International Year of Youth have suffered a great deal if they have wanted improved education opportunities. There has been a series of attacks on their standard of living—they are already poor—and on their representative institutions. In the past fortnight they have been told that there is to be yet another cut in the value of their maintenance grant. After a 10 per cent. drop in the real value of the grant over the past five years, they are to receive only a 3 per cent. increase this year. That increase will not even allow the grant to keep pace with inflation. They will probably have to rely even more on housing benefit payments and long vacation supplementary benefit payments, which have come to provide vital income for students on inadequate grants.

The Government have thought of that. The Secretary of State for Social Services has promised that in his already infamous Green Paper there will be proposals that students should soon be deprived of long vacation supplementary benefit and housing benefit payments. Why is he taking that course? It appears that the payments made to students cause the DHSS administrative problems. However, the Secretary of State claims that it will not really matter if these payments are not made as the amount of benefit involved is usually small. The payments are not small if the student's grant barely covers his college bills, if he has a permanent bank overdraft and if his parents do not pay the full contribution. They are certainly not small if, as thousands of students have found, the new travel grant system has left them hundreds of pounds out of pocket.

How do the Government expect young people in colleges to manage? The answer is in the social security Green Paper, which says that students should be helped through the grant system by their families and by their earnings in vacation". As nearly half the parental contribution to grants are not paid in full now, and as the Secretary of State chickened out of asking parents to contribute to tuition fees last November, in reality this means one thing. If a student finds that his money has run out, he will have to rely on part-time or temporary work to stay in education—never mind the damage to studies. These are Victorian values of the worst kind, and the Government are undermining the funding of public education.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that forcing students into part-time work takes jobs from other people in the community?

Mr. Alton

I made that point at the outset of my remarks. We should be sharing the available work and making more, not fewer, working opportunities available. Encouraging students to take up jobs adds to the unemployment problem. I agree with the hon. Gentleman.

There is worse. The only institutions on which students can rely to defend their interests, the student unions, are also under attack. The Green Paper on higher education accuses them of being unrepresentative and says that some of their policies are determined by a minute portion of the union membership. That is rich, coming from a Conservative Government with a mandate of only 31 per cent. of the electorate.

Every student union in the country uses proportional representation in some variation to elect its officers, and all of them are therefore more representative of their electorate than is the Secretary of State. The strict controls on student union expenditure threatened in section 7.19 of the Green Paper are yet another attempt by the Government to clamp down on those of their victims who have the audacity to fight back.

What do the Government have in store for students? The likelihood is that it will be some form of student loans system, which would be a disaster. Not only would it be extremely costly to introduce, taking years to become cost-effective, but it would discourage entry into higher education by women and those from less affluent backgrounds. This is at a time when a fall in the 18-year-old population offers us a golden opportunity to broaden access to education across the social spectrum.

The International Year of Youth will, for young people in Britain and in British colleges, represent the opposite of the United Nations' themes. The Government are encouraging protest, not peace. They are discouraging participation and turning away from the development of a fair and accessible higher education system. The Secretary of State for Education and Science is a fellow of the Oxford College of All Souls and the Faithful Departed. He clearly wants to add traditional British education to the faithful departed.

9.3 pm

Mr. Patrick Thompson (Norwich, North)

I declare an interest. I have worked for a large proportion of my career with young people, and I made my maiden speech on this topic. The Opposition, with their unerring sense of overstatement, talk about the "desperate plight" of young people. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Broadgreen (Mr. Fields) went over the top with his Marxist analysis of the situation. For those reasons, as well as many others, I shall oppose the motion and support the Government amendment.

Although the world of the 1980s is not easy for young people, it is important to emphasise that they are in good heart. Every day in my constituency I learn about the achievements of the young people of Norwich and the surrounding areas. I learn of young people who have gone on Operation Raleigh round the world and achieved great things; I learn of young people on the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme who are achieving great things; I leam of young people starting their own businesses; and I learn of those who are aiming high in academic, sporting or other sectors. We should commend the achievements of our young people and not continually talk them down in the gloomy tones of the Opposition.

Above all else, our young people need a sense of direction — not the direction provided by the hon. Member for Broadgreen — and leadership. Any fair-minded person must pay tribute to the Government at least for their efforts to provide higher standards of education, which must be the right way forward for our young people. We should also congratulate the Government on improving and extending the youth training scheme. They plan to extend it to two years so that no young person need be without a job, training or education. If that is not an ambitious programme, I do not know what is.

The hon. Member for Broadgreen spoke proudly of how the Youth Trade Union Rights Campaign organised a strike of school students against the youth training scheme. The hon. Gentleman does not appear to be thoroughly ashamed of himself, but he should be. That is the type of irresponsibility among adults which leads young people to ignorant rather than tolerant and enlightened attitudes.

I deplore recent events at the University of East Anglia. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Broadgreen has anything to do with the Socialist Workers party, but its members did all that they could to prevent free speech at that university. Thanks to influence and firm action by the university authorities, the meeting went ahead. That was a triumph for democracy and a defeat of everything that the hon. Member for Broadgreen appears to stand for.

Opposition Members should remember that ever since the early 1960s, when Labour was in power, there has been pressure to increase the wages of young people. There may be votes in this, but the result of increasing such wages was a reduction in the length and effectiveness of apprenticeship schemes. We all regret that trend, but responsibility must be laid squarely with the Labour Governments of the 1960s. In 1970, 12 per cent. of 18-year-olds had adult rates of pay. That proportion has increased to more than 50 per cent. today. Anybody who compares what is happening in Britain with what is happening in West Germany will not be surprised at the serious depletion in the British training effort and the reduction in skills which are vital to our economy.

I do not need to spend long reminding the House of our serious skills shortages. Information technology is just one shortage area. In response to such shortages, the Government introduced and extended YTS. It was the Labour party which failed to take up the challenge when it had an opportunity to do so.

Mr. Sheerman

Will the hon. Gentleman cast his mind back to 1979 when total unemployment was equivalent to youth unemployment today? The proportion of the problem is quite different now. Does he agree that the youth opportunities programme was successful and tailored according to conditions at that time? We did not have 1.25 million unemployed young people then.

Mr. Thompson

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for reminding me of 1979.1 remember it well. I remember campaigning when the number of unemployed people had doubled under Labour. I can remember the criticisms of the youth opportunities programme. It was right for the Conservative party to make good those deficiencies and to introduce a proper scheme in the shape of YTS.

I should like to draw the attention of my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench to some serious points about the youth training scheme. There are dangers in that scheme — for example, too much bureaucracy. I hope that we shall address ourselves to those dangers. I hope that there will be more co-operation and liaison between the Manpower Services Commission, education and industry. The lines of communication between those three areas of national life are not as good as they should be. I hope that Ministers are taking note of this point. As a matter of urgency, we should do all that we can to raise the standards of achievement on the YTS. I hope that we shall not be tempted, as sometimes happens, to mislead our young people into the belief that they are gaining qualifications when they are not.

For example, if young people are on a scheme that provides them with skills, that is fine and it must be better than having no training at all; but we must not try to give them the impression that they are obtaining craft skills that are provided by more extended training schemes elsewhere. I am not criticising the YTS in saying that; I am merely stating a very important way in which it can be improved. We must raise standards, make sure that young people fully understand what skills they are acquiring and what they will be able to do with them when the time comes.

The good news is that in Norfolk the number of people going on to jobs from YTS is as high as 80 per cent. I am quoting the most up-to-date figures available. Surely that is a success if ever there was one. So much for Opposition carping on that point.

Education is mentioned in the motion and the amendment. Again, I should like to pay tribute to the Government's efforts to raise standards in education. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Minister will not argue with this. There is no doubt that at the moment there is difficulty and low morale in the education service. We should look seriously at the causes. That does not mean that we should change course. I should like to set the record straight. The House should be reminded that we are accused of making cuts in education, but the facts are that more than ever is being spent on education per pupil, the teacher-pupil ratio is the best ever, and more young people aged between 18 and 20 are entering higher education than ever before.

Nevertheless, we should look seriously at the causes of the present unhappiness in the education service. I know that my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench are doing so and taking that point seriously. I believe that, in the long term, for the sake of education and our young people, the financing of teachers' salaries should be removed from the local authorities. I hope that if that were ever to come about, we would end once and for all the sad saga of the Burnham committee and the consequences resulting from the failure over and over again to reach satisfactory agreements. As a Member of Parliament, and as a past member of the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association, it is good news to find that at least some of the teachers' organisations have realised that there is no future in conducting their dispute by strike action. I hope that that message will finally get across, and that we can get back to talking about the problems of education, the teaching profession, and so on.

The financing of teachers' salaries should be taken out of the control of local authorities because, ideally, schools should be run by head teachers and boards of governors. State schools should be run by those who are closest to the school, not by large bureaucracies. There must be local input. That matter needs debate and discussion. I hope that there will be much more debate and discussion before we finish discussing local government finance and related topics.

There should be a national approach to the teaching profession. That is why I support the idea of a professional teachers' council. I hope that that matter will be discussed again. If we can move in those general directions and continue pressing for higher standards in education, as the Government are doing, we shall serve our young people well.

In case the Opposition should feel unduly pleased with themselves over their criticisms of the present education set-up, they should remember the serious damage that I saw done in Manchester and elsewhere by the headlong rush into comprehensivisation. I was teaching in Manchester at the time. Nationally, we have not recovered from the damage. We need to move on and to improve our schools in every way that we possibly can. Let us not forget the prominent part played in that dreadful, mishandled political rush to the new comprehensive organisation by one of the members of the gang of four, now a member of the alliance.

The youth service in Norwich is doing a good job. I have obtained a great deal of experience of the work being done by its professional and voluntary workers. Last Monday, I visited a youth and community centre in Thorpe St. Andrew. There is a great deal to discuss on this subject, but I shall confine my remarks to saying that I hope that the Government will continue to do what they can to encourage the professional and voluntary leaders and the young people who do good work and who take part in the worthwhile activities provided by our youth service.

In the House and the country, we need to apply ourselves even more vigorously to ways of harnessing the ambitions and energies of our young people. I should favour some form of national service, if it were possible. Nevertheless, whatever happens, we must set higher standards. The Opposition wish to level down. We must set the highest challenge and standards for our young people, and they will respond to that challenge. As we have heard tonight, they are responding to the challenge.

We have seen the effects of lower standards of discipline and moral education in schools, families and society. The subject of drugs has been mentioned tonight. Those are serious matters. Lower disciplinary standards and the failure of moral education will lead to ever more appalling effects unless we seek to reverse the trends. I am sure that there is consensus throughout the country that that is the direction in which we need to move.

The Government are addressing themselves seriously to the problems of youth and will continue to do so if we push them in the right direction. Our young people will have, and will be able to provide, the energy and leadership for their children in the future. Therefore, I am happy to support the Government's amendment and to oppose the Opposition's overstated motion.

9.22 pm
Mr. Gareth Wardell (Gower)

The Government's White Paper "Education and training for young people" contains at least one interesting sentence. On page 4, it states: Yet, for all these developments, much still remains to be done. The word "much" can cover a multitude of sins, as can the word "very" and many others. When the Minister replies I should be interested to know whether he considers that the problem of what needs to be done in our education system for youth is massive, enormous or a crisis that desperately needs attention and not just a sentence in a White Paper which merely states: much still remains to be done.

As a teacher of many years' standing, I want to concentrate upon some of the features of our education system which have been covered in various documents such as "Better Schools" and that excellent report from the Select Committee on Science and Technology in the other place on education and training for new technologies.

The environment in our schools creates a problem for young people, in that they are worried by the impression created and the urges given to them by teachers and parents. There is a feeling that they must work harder so that in future they can somehow achieve the paradise of high-wage employment, as a result of which they will throughout their working lives enjoy a high salary combined with job security, marvellous holidays, trips abroad and so on.

In reality, school buildings are deteriorating, buckets are provided to catch the leaking water from the roofs and library facilities are denied. A recent report showed that very few chartered librarians work in our state schools, as a result of which very few children learn how a good library works within the school system. Many pupils do not know how to use the reference and cross-reference facilities that a good library provides. In addition, book stocks are now suffering from prolonged use over many years.

When my little boy comes home from school he asks, "What is the point of working hard? When I see Mr. Davies in my classroom, I think to myself, 'If that is the sort of job I will have when I finish my school career I would rather not bother'." That is the type of discrimination that has been built into our education system.

Morale among teachers is low, and the Government are not helping. Paragraph 4.27 of the report of the Select Committee of the other place stated: In schools there is a shortage of teachers in specialist subjects, notably mathematics and physics It said that the Cockcroft committee, looking at mathematics in secondary schools, estimated … that the 'hidden' shortage of mathematics teachers in secondary schools was about 9,000. Yet this country prides itself on an education system that is supposed to be the best in the world.

According to the Select Committee of the other place, teachers seldom have experience of applied science in industry and commerce. There is an inbuilt tendency among teachers to be inward-looking. They do not have the necessary work experience to pass on to their pupils. A fundamental change in the secondary school curriculum is necessary. The Open University system, under which material is made available through radio and television programmes and units provided to students, is a model that could be repeated in our schools. That would avoid the sad situation which still exists, whereby teachers trot out dictated notes day after day. The notes which teachers used in their colleges are passed on to their students with no additional input. There must be a fundamental change so that the Open University system is repeated in our schools.

I welcome the training and vocational education initiative, but I believe that companies should increase their efforts to interest local and head teachers in their enterprises. In liaison with schools, companies are doing very little to ensure that our young people are prepared for the changes that are now taking place in our economy.

The former chairman of the Manpower Services Commission, now Lord Young, stated in evidence to the Select Committee that in 1983 the youth training scheme cost the Government about £850 million. German employers, not the Government, pay about £7.5 billion per year towards apprenticeships. The Government have said that much needs to be done and have outlined some proposals in their White Paper. I hope that they will rectify the fact that, according to Lord Young, the expenditure on training and the proportion of the working population holding vocational qualifications was lower in the United Kingdom in 1983 than it was, for example, in West Germany.

Relevant knowledge is critical. It is a sad reflection on our education system that most young people in our schools not only have no link with local industry but do not know the difference between the roles of their local community council, the district council, the county council and their Member of Parliament. A serious look needs to be taken at a school system which churns out young people ignorant of the roles of the important decision-makers in our system. If we do not combat that ignorance, we shall be in serious trouble.

The decline in our standard of living is shown by the GDP per head for the United Kingdom compared with other industrial countries. We are slipping year after year. Before long, we may not be able to describe ourselves as an advanced industrial economy at all.

In a recent oral answer to me, the Prime Minister expressed complete confidence in Her Majesty's inspectorate of schools, but what experience do the inspectors have of life? Is there any guarantee that they have done other than been educated in our schools, passed on to our universities and colleges, then gone back to our schools and then been appointed as inspectors to advise others on the best way forward? In Wales, the inspectors churn out papers such as "Home-School Links", which is just chat about the way in which teachers should mark reports. There is no mention of solvent abuse, under-age drinking, crime, pornography and the rest. That is a pretty bad show on the part of the inspectorate. On the subject of obscenity, I hope that orders will shortly be brought in to bring the video recordings Act into operation. That will be of at least some assistance to our youth.

In West Glamorgan there has been a massive increase in the percentage of young people among the long-term unemployed. The DHSS research report No. 11 on the cohort study of unemployed men states that the relationship between long-term unemployment and illness in our society is a fruitful area of research for the future. I hope that the Secretary of State for Employment and other Secretaries of State will consider setting up a research study for that purpose.

I am deeply perturbed that the effects of long-term unemployment among young people will be seen after a time lag. The eminent professor of gynaecology and paediatrics at Edinburgh university, Professor Baird, has examined longitudinal studies of the effect of long-term unemployment on infant mortality rates 15 and 20 years ahead. I wonder what the effect on young people in terms of neonatal and perinatal mortality will be and what other consequences and hardships will appear after the time lag. The Government must set up a research project to find out what evidence exists and to ensure that the young girls who will be giving birth to children in 15 or 20 years' time will not have such problems.

The two-year YTS scheme worries me, as it does other Opposition Members, because the youngsters do not believe that they are part of a proper work force. Indeed, they do not know where they belong. They are neither one thing nor the other. Youngsters who want independence and who wish to live away from home will be forced by the Government's new board and lodging regulations to move from place to place to find homes. I wish that the public had given the same attention to that change as they did to the cut in education grants, which forced the Secretary of State for Education and Science to change his mind.

I am extremely angry about the present education system. The priority of all hon. Members should be to talk to youngsters and to listen to what they say. The message that I have received from them is that the Government do not care. Unless we start to embrace those youngsters and stop leaving them in ignorance, in terms of income per head of the population and the quality of life, Britain will be doomed to slip down the international table of standards of living. In the end, we shall say that we are lucky to be ahead of some of the most under-developed countries in the world, but we should be saying that we wish to be one of the great countries in terms of our progress and development.

9.37 pm
Mr. Geoff Lawler (Bradford, North)

A motion phrased in such generalised, negative terms, which lumps together those who have done well, including the 20-year-old football stars and people who have started their own businesses, with the unemployed, is an insult to those who have done well and glosses over the special needs of the disadvantaged. After hearing the speeches made by Opposition Members tonight, I am not surprised that youngsters are much more cynical about politicians and politics than is the rest of the population. They believe that they are being manipulated by politicians.

One thing that youngsters have in common is that they do not like general statements about their having no hope or no future. Nor do they wish life to be run for them. They want the opportunity to control their destinies. It is no coincidence that two main themes of the International Year of Youth are development and participation. Traditionally, youngsters have looked to education and employment for development. But what development? We have heard the praises sung of the old apprenticeship system, but hon. Members have ignored the fact that many youngsters could not enter the system. Indeed, many youngsters who obtained jobs had no training at all. The majority of youngsters—it is estimated to be 60 per cent.—who left school and went into employment received no training, whereas in competitor countries the reverse was the case. They went into dead-end jobs with low wages and minimum security, which is one reason why Britain has more youth unemployment than do its competitors.

We are now moving into a new world where youngsters have the opportunity to learn skills that will be of real use to them. There will be an end to those wasted school years when youngsters could not wait to leave school. Nowadays, the headmaster of a TVEI school will say that youngsters are queueing to get into school in the mornings and that they cannot get rid of them at the end of the day. We are creating a generation of people who can look forward to qualifications, real skills and security of employment, and the economy will benefit as a result. Those who doubt that young people want this ought to talk to them. We have heard about young people wanting this and wanting that.

When the hon. Member for Liverpool, Broadgreen (Mr. Fields) talks to his pushchair revolutionaries, one wonders how many other people he talks to. If one talks to those who are taking part in the technical and vocational education initiative and to those who are in youth training schemes, one finds that the majority are happy about being in those schemes. They believe that they are receiving a worthwhile training. The youth training scheme is taking those who were written off at school. They played truant because they found that the school course was entirely irrelevant. Having been written off by their teachers, they went into the youth training scheme and discovered that they possessed talents that they did not know they possessed. After nine months on a YTS course they have written computer programmes. Before YTS they had no future. Now their future is bright. They find that they can contribute something to society.

To those who purport to have the interests of young people at heart I say that every time they deter, by politically motivated propaganda, young people from going into the youth training scheme they destroy their self-advancement. There must be many 17-year-olds who wish that they had never been misguided by professional critics. They look at those who did not listen to the professional critics but went instead into the youth training scheme and find that they have jobs, or at least that they have received some experience and training.

The youth training scheme is developing into the major avenue between school and employment. It is being incorporated into longer-term craft training, as is happening with the electrical contractors, but the vital point about the new scheme is that it must remove the distinction between employed and unemployed trainees. It must not remain the second best, the alternative to a proper job. It must be the accepted destination of those 16-year-olds who want to acquire a skill when they leave school. That distinction must be removed if the stigma of YTS being the second best is to be removed. It must not be regarded as the avenue for the unemployed.

There are still too many young people over the age of 18 who are still unemployed and who have been without work ever since they left school. They have to look for other avenues of self-development. That is dealt with by the youth service. My hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Thompson) referred to the youth service. I wish that the Opposition recognised the valuable role played by paid and, more often than not, unpaid people who dedicate themselves to the development of young people.

The positive approach of the youth service to the problems of large scale unemployment has led to new initiatives and new ideas. It has provided young people with the self-confidence that they would not otherwise have had. There is a new range of options, from drop-in centres to "instant muscle". It is appropriate that in 1985 this work has been supported and enhanced by means of the youth circular and the formation of the National Youth Advisory Council.

I wish that every local authority was as supportive as are the Government. In 1982–83, 78 out of 96 local education authorities spent less than their grant-related expenditure youth service assessment on the youth service. It means that £35 million—30 per cent. of the total— was lost to the youth service. The Government cannot be accused of failing to recognise the importance of the youth service. They provided a 13.1 per cent. increase in the youth budget for 1985–86.

Many local authorities also failed to recognise the valuable contribution of the voluntary organisations. For every £1 of public money that is put into the voluntary youth sector, a huge amount of money is generated in terms of cash and time. I hope that in this International Year of Youth local authorities will consider their responsibilities, pay heed to the circular and give young people that which is rightfully theirs.

As we debate this motion, hundreds, indeed thousands, of young people are meeting in youth clubs all around the country. They will be planning community work and raising money for charity. There will also be a minority who are smashing telephone boxes and indulging in other acts of vandalism. We shall read of the latter in the press tomorrow; we shall not read of the former. If it were not for the youth service, there would be much more of the latter than of the former.

Opposition Members make the big mistake of seeing everything as a problem. Young people are, to them, a problem, when in reality they are not. They do not want to be viewed as a problem. They are a major resource in terms of the future, and now, for the first time, there is a guarantee that every young person will have an opportunity to realise his or her full potential. That is the best contribution that the Government could make to International Year of Youth.

9.50 pm
Mr. Sheer man

We have had a full debate and, although I have only a few minutes in which to comment on it, I must deal with three points of fact following the Minister's remarks. He challenged me about the saving of £5 billion to £7 billion. I have with me a copy of the Unmployment Bulletin containing the figures, which I will let him have.

The hon. Gentleman was unhappy when I referred to half of those leaving YTS getting jobs. I refer him to an article entitled Half YTS leavers find jobs in The Times Higher Educational Supplement. He also challenged the veracity of Youthaid information. I hate to embarrass the hon. Gentleman, following the altercations that took place about discontent with bad youth training schemes, but a few months ago, replying to a parliamentary question of mine, the Minister accused Youthaid of inaccuracy. I challenged him on that, but received from him no example of inaccuracy in Youthaid reports.

Youthaid has catalogued many misleading statements that various Ministers, from the Prime Minister down, including Lord Young, have made about the number of people getting jobs following YTS training, the Youthaid figure being not 70 but 40 per cent. That information is on the record and I will let the Minister have that, too.

I got the feeling as the Minister spoke about the YTS that he was really discussing the philosophy of "Never mind the quality, feel the width." My hon. Friends and I have been indulging in positive and constructive criticism of the YTS. We want it to be a training scheme, not job experience, whatever the quality of that job experience. We want it to be the sort of training that will match the training received by youngsters given by any of our industrial competitors. That is palpably not what it is now.

Mr. Alton


Mr. Sheerman

I do not have time to give way.

If we are to compete with our major competitors, we must perform in training and education, and I refer the House to an interesting written answer yesterday by the Secretary of State for Education and Science to my hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett), who asked about the age participation and training in European countries, in the United States and in Japan. [Interruption.] There is no need for carping criticism from Conservative Members. The table contained in the answer given by the Secretary of State ends with Spain, followed by the United Kingdom at the bottom of the league. We are at the bottom of the league as a result of the Government's education and training policies. We in the Labour party have ideas that the Government palpably do not have.

Prior to this debate we had a fascinating discussion about famine in Africa and under-privilege in various parts of the world. A range of schemes is needed and a Government with imagination could harness the idealism of our young people—the wonderful youngsters that we have in Britain—to fight under-privilege and poverty and to carry out the constructive tasks that need to be performed. The potential is there. The Government lack the will to do anything for our young people.

9.49 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Bob Dunn)

I must start by telling the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) that I am not deaf, that I listened intently to what he shouted and that, if he wants to quote Disraeli, I wish that he would get it right. In "Sybil", published in 1845, Benjamin Disraeli said:

"The Youth of a Nation are the trustees of Posterity."
Mr. Sheerman

That is what I said.

Mr. Dunn

The hon. Gentleman did not; he said "prosperity".

Mr. Sheerman

If the Under-Secretary of State reads Hansard tomorrow, he will see that I said "posterity". I said that the words could be updated today to include "prosperity".

Mr. Dunn

I accept the hon. Gentleman's apology. We have had a stimulating debate, with contributions from my hon. Friends the Members for Beckenham (Sir P. Goodhart), for Norwich, North (Mr. Thompson) and for Bradford, North (Mr. Lawler) and comments by the hon. Members for Liverpool, Broadgreen (Mr. Fields), for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) and for Gower (Mr. Wardell). I enjoyed the speech of the hon. Member for Gower, who made some very sensible points to which I shall certainly give my attention.

I accept that schools can do much to increase young people's chances of finding employment or of creating jobs for themselves and others. The House must accept that our schools have a duty to prepare pupils effectively for working life. I am very much afraid that the standards now generally attained by our pupils are not as good as they need to be for the competitive world of today, still less of tomorrow. Schools must promote enterprise, adaptability and the qualities and skills needed for work in a technological age. They must seek to develop the attitudes that will help young people to find their way in modern society. To do this, changes are needed, in what schools do and how they teach. That is why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science has launched his initiative to improve standards. That is why we need national agreement, as the hon. Member for Gower said, about the objectives of the school curriculum. That is why the Government are spending £250 million on the technical and vocational education initiative.

During the early part of the debate, we were challenged to list Labour authorities that had refused to participate in TVEI. The non-participants are the Inner London education authority, Manchester, Sheffield and, of course, Liverpool. I hope, because bids for the final round of the TVEI allocation are not due until the end of July, that those authorities will decide to join the initiative for the benefit of the children for whose education they are responsible. I welcome the fact that the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) condemned those authorities that were not taking part because of their political animosity to the scheme.

I believe that the hon. Member for Broadgreen was trying to make a helpful speech—at least, helpful to his hon. Friends on the Labour Front Bench—but I must express concern that a Member of this House, when giving advice to impressionable young people, should advise them to break the law rather than to take advantage of the opportunities that may or may not be available to them.

It was indeed welcome that the hon. Member, in the honesty with which he expressed his views, left us in no doubt whatever where he and his colleagues will stand when they form a majority on the Opposition Benches. [Interruption.] They certainly will not form a majority on the Government side of the House. The hon. Gentleman's attempts to influence and infiltrate the young people of Liverpool will be seen for what they are — a cynical abuse and misuse of the feelings, motivation and anxieties of young people. I wish him no success whatever in the evil campaign that he and his colleagues are embarked upon.

I welcomed the comments of the Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock) when he said: those who support the youth trade union rights campaign are a bunch of dafties". I welcomed those words, and the approbation given to them tonight by the Opposition Front Bench.

The hon. Member for Mossley Hill asked some specific questions about the youth training scheme, and listed seven or eight of them for the attention of the House. He will be pleased to know that the Manpower Services Commission, via its inspectorate, already checks and monitors schemes as they are created, and makes regular visits accordingly.

The hon. Gentleman asked for an improvement in consultation between the applicants and those providing the scheme. The careers service already offers advice to youngsters about the YTS, and regular consultation is available.

The hon. Gentleman asked about the allowance. He knows as well as I that the allowance is a training allowance and does not pretend to be a wage.

Mr. Tony Banks


Mr. Dunn

The hon. Member for Mossley Hill called for training in life skills — something that I see very much as a future role for the schools themselves. He will know also that training in life skills is already part of the YTS.

Mr. Banks


Mr. Dunn

I give way to the chairman of the GLC.

Mr. Banks

Will the Minister tell the House whether the Government have any proposals to make the youth training scheme compulsory?

Mr. Dunn

That is a matter that I shall come to later.

Mr. Banks

Will the Minister answer yes or no?

Mr. Dunn

I can say a great deal in the course of a minute.

With regard to training for relevant skills, to which the hon. Member for Mossley Hill referred, he and I know that schemes are approved by the area manpower board, comprising employers, trade union representatives and representatives of the community, and that such schemes are based in the community itself.

As for staying-on rates, over 30 per cent. of 16 to 19-year-olds are now in full-time education, half of them in further education colleges. Here, as before, we seek improvement. We shall continue to raise standards and to raise the quality of what is taught.

The answer to the question by the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) is, briefly, no.

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

The House divided: Ayes 182, Noes 274.✶

Abse, Leo Ellis, Raymond
Alton, David Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Anderson, Donald Ewing, Harry
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Ashton, Joe Fisher, Mark
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Bagier, Gordon A. T Forrester, John
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Foster, Derek
Barnett, Guy Foulkes, George
Barron, Kevin Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Beith, A. J Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Benn, Tony Freud, Clement
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Garrett, W. E.
Bermingham, Gerald George, Bruce
Bidwell, Sydney Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Blair, Anthony Golding, John
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Gould, Bryan
Boyes, Roland Gourlay, Harry
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hamilton, James (M'weil N)
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Hardy, Peter
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Harman, Ms Harriet
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Campbell-Savours, Dale Haynes, Frank
Canavan, Dennis Heffer, Eric S.
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Cartwright, John Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Home Robertson, John
Clarke, Thomas Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Clay, Robert Howells, Geraint
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Hoyle, Douglas
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)
Cohen, Harry Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Coleman, Donald Hughes, Roy (Newport East)
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Conlan, Bernard Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Janner, Hon Greville
Corbett, Robin John, Brynmor
Cowans, Harry Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Kennedy, Charles
Craigen, J. M. Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Crowther, Stan Kirkwood, Archy
Cunliffe, Lawrence Lambie, David
Cunningham, Dr John Leadbitter, Ted
Dalyell, Tarn Leighton, Ronald
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H"l) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Deakins, Eric Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Dewar, Donald Litherland, Robert
Dobson, Frank Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Dormand, Jack Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Douglas, Dick Loyden, Edward
Duffy, A. E. P. McCartney, Hugh
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Eastham, Ken McGuire, Michael
Edwards, Bob (Wh'mpt'n SE) McKay, Allen (Penistone)
McKelvey, William Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Robertson, George
McNamara, Kevin Rogers, Allan
McTaggart, Robert Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
McWilham, John Rowlands, Ted
Madden, Max Sedgemore, Brian
Marek, Dr John Sheerman, Barry
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Sheldon, Rt Hon R
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Maxton, John Skinner, Dennis
Maynard, Miss Joan Smith, C.flsl'ton S & F'bury)
Meacher, Michael Snape, Peter
Meadowcroft, Michael Spearing, Nigel
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Miller, Dr M S (E Kilbnde) Stott, Roger
Mitchell, Austin (G t Gnmsby) Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Morris, Rt Hon A (W'shawe) Thomas, Dr R (Carmarthen)
Morns, Rt Hon J (Aberavon) Thompson, J (Wansbeck)
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Thome, Stan (Preston)
O'Brien, William Tinn, James
O'Neill, Martin Torney, Tom
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Wainwnght, R.
Park, George Wallace, James
Parry, Robert Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Patchett, Terry Weetch, Ken
Pavitt, Laurie Welsh, Michael
Pendry, Tom White, James
Penhaligon, David Wilson, Gordon
Pike, Peter Winnick, David
Prescott, John Woodall, Alec
Radice, Giles Young, David (Bolton SE)
Randall, Stuart
Redmond, M Tellers for the Ayes
Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S) Mr Don Dixon and
Richardson, Ms Jo Mr Ray Powell
Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Aitken, Jonathan Burt, Alistair
Alexander, Richard Butcher, John
Amess, David Butler, Hon Adam
Ancram, Michael Butterfill, John
Arnold, Tom Carlisle, John (N Luton)
Ashby, David Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Aspinwall, Jack Carttiss, Michael
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H Cash, William
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Chalker, Mrs Lynda
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Chapman, Sydney
Baker, Rt Hon K (Mole Vall'y) Chope, Christopher
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Churchill, W S
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Clark, Hon A (Plym'th S'n)
Batiste, Spencer Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Bellingham, Henry Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Bendall, Vivian Cockeram, Eric
Bennett, Rt Hon Sir Frederic Conway, Derek
Benyon, William Coombs, Simon
Best, Keith Cope, John
Bevan, David Gilroy Cormack, Patrick
Biffen, Rt Hon John Corrie, John
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Couchman, James
Blackburn, John Cranborne, Viscount
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Cntchley, Julian
Boscawen, Hon Robert Crouch, David
Bottomley, Peter Curne, Mrs Edwina
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Dicks, Terry
Bowden, A (Brighton K'to'n) Dorrell, Stephen
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Dover, Den
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Dunn, Robert
Bright, Graham Durant, Tony
Brmton, Tim Dykes, Hugh
Bnttan, Rt Hon Leon Emery, Sir Peter
Brown, M (Bngg & Cl'thpes) Evennett, David
Browne, John Eyre, Sir Reginald
Bruinvels, Peter Farr, Sir John
Bryan, Sir Paul Fletcher, Alexander
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A Fookes, Miss Janet
Buck, Sir Antony Forman, Nigel
Budgen, Nick Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Forth, Eric Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Fraser, Peter (Angus East) Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Freeman, Roger Moynihan, Hon C.
Gale, Roger Neale, Gerrard
Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde) Needham, Richard
Garel-Jones, Tristan Nelson, Anthony
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Newton, Tony
Glyn, DrAlan Nicholls, Patrick
Gorst, John Norris, Steven
Gower, Sir Raymond Oppenheim, Phillip
Grant, Sir Anthony Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Greenway, Harry Osborn, Sir John
Gregory, Conal Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds) Parris, Matthew
Grist, Ian Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Ground, Patrick Pawsey, James
Grylls, Michael Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Gummer, John Selwyn Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Pollock, Alexander
Hampson, Dr Keith Porter, Barry
Hanley, Jeremy Portillo, Michael
Haselhurst, Alan Powell, William (Corby)
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Powley, John
Henderson, Barry Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Proctor, K. Harvey
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L .Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Hill, James Rathbone, Tim
Hind, Kenneth Rhodes James, Robert
Hirst, Michael Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Hordern, Peter Rifkind, Malcolm
Howard, Michael Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford) Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Irving, Charles Roe, Mrs Marion
Jackson, Robert Rossi, Sir Hugh
Jessel, Toby Rost, Peter
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Rowe, Andrew
King, Rt Hon Tom Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Knight, Gregory (Derby N) Ryder, Richard
Lang, Ian Sackville, Hon Thomas
Lawler, Geoffrey Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Lawrence, Ivan St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Sayeed, Jonathan
Lee, John (Pendle) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Shelton, William (Streatham)
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd) Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Lightbown, David Shersby, Michael
Lilley, Peter Sims, Roger
Lloyd, Ian (Havant) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Lord, Michael Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lyell, Nicholas Soames, Hon Nicholas
McCrindle, Robert Speed, Keith
Maclean, David John Speller, Tony
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Spencer, Derek
Madel, David Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Major, John Squire, Robin
Malins, Humfrey Stanbrook, Ivor
Malone, Gerald Stern, Michael
Maples, John Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Marland, Paul Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Marlow, Antony Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Mates, Michael Stokes, John
Mather, Carol Stradling Thomas, J.
Maude, Hon Francis Sumberg, David
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Taylor, John (Solihull)
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Mellor, David Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Merchant, Piers Terlezki, Stefan
Meyer, Sir Anthony Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Mills, lain (Meriden) Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Miscampbell, Norman Thorne, Neil (llford S)
Mitchell, David (NW Hants) Thornton, Malcolm
Moate, Roger Thurnham, Peter
Monro, Sir Hector Townend, John (Bridlington)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Tracey, Richard Watts, John
Trippier, David Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Trotter, Neville Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Twinn, Dr Ian Whitney, Raymond
van Straubenzee, Sir W. Wiggin, Jerry
Vaughan, Sir Gerard Wilkinson, John
Viggers, Peter Winterton, Mrs Ann
Waddington, David Winterton, Nicholas
Waldegrave, Hon William Wolfson, Mark
.Walden, George Wood, Timothy
Walker, Bill (T'side N) Yeo, Tim
Wall, Sir Patrick Young, Sir George (Acton)
Waller, Gary Younger, Rt Hon George
Walters, Dennis
Ward, John Tellers for the Noes:
Wardle, C. (Bexhill) Mr. Michael Neubert and
Watson, John Mr. Peter Lloyd.

✶See Mr. Speaker's ruling at column 898.

Question accordingly negatived,.

,Question,, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 33 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

Mr. Ian Mikardo (Bow and Poplar)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have just walked through the Lobby and come out, and found that the Tellers have disappeared. The exit door of the Lobby was open, but the tellers had gone. I do not know on what basis my vote has not been counted. Can you help me?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

I am slightly surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman saying that, because four Tellers appeared, and as far as I am aware the Division has been correctly recorded. I shall look into the hon. Gentleman's point.

Mr. Mikardo

I am obliged, Sir.

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


That this House recognising that 1985 is the International Year of Youth congratulates the Government on the action it is taking to improve the prospects for young people and, in particular, for introducing through the Youth Training Scheme the most imaginative and far reaching training programme since the last war; recognises the tremendous opportunities the scheme has created for young people and look forward with confidence to the introduction of the two-year Youth Training Scheme in April 1986; and welcomes the initiative being taken to provide more effective education for young people.