HC Deb 29 October 1985 vol 84 cc805-6
9. Mr. James Hamilton

asked the Paymaster General how many young people are currently unemployed.

Mr. Trippier

On 11 July 1985, the latest date for which figures are available, the number of unemployed claimants aged under 18 years in the United Kingdom was 177,600.

Mr. Hamilton

Will the Minister concede that it is a diabolical scandal when such figures are presented to the House? Has he read the survey prepared by Marplan, which states categorically that three out of four of those interviewed took the view tht the Government do not care two hoots about unemployment and creating jobs for the unemployed? Is he aware that the survey reveals that many of those who are on the youth training scheme regard it a a cheap form of employment? Will he urge his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who, is, of course, a member of the Cabinet, to flex his muscles and get the Government's policy changed in order to get young people back to work as quickly as possible?

Mr. Trippier

It is disgraceful of the hon. Gentleman to say that the Government do not care two hoots about youth unemployment. That is a ridiculous assertion. Earlier in the year, with the publication of the White Paper on education and training, the Government stated they hoped that unemployment among young people under 18 years of age would become a thing of the past. The hon. Gentleman seeks to rubbish the YTS. He forgets that the scheme was put forward by the MSC, and that the TUC, which is an effective and strong member of the MSC, supports it. He tries to rubbish the YTS, but 84 per cent. of trainees are satisfied and find the scheme to be valuable. The hon. Gentleman should be rather more careful in what he says.

Mr. Gale

My hon. Friend will know that the chairman of the British Tourist Authority has said that if the Government are prepared to put up £5 million for the promotion of tourism, he believes that he can raise a further £10 million from private industry. That £15 million would generally generate £200 million worth of new business, which would be worth about 10,000 new jobs, many of which would go to young people. Would my hon. Friend be prepared to support such a scheme?

Mr. Trippier

I am aware that Mr. Duncan Bluck, the chairman of the British Tourist Authority, has said what my hon. Friend has attributed to him.. I have had the pleasure of meeting him, and in the near future I shall have the opportunity again of meeting him and members of his board. I shall examine what he says in great detail. I hope the House will welcome the fact that tourism is now the responsibility of the Department of Employment and that there is a clear recognition not only of the wealth creation, but the employment potential, of tourism.

Mr. Sheerman

Does the hon. Gentleman really care about unemployed young people? Will the Government use this occasion to dissociate themselves from the statement by Jeffrey Archer on the well-known radio programme "The World This Weekend", when he insulted all young people? Will the Government also dissociate themselves from the remarks of Lord Young, who said that there was no relationship between levels of 60 and 80 per cent. of black young people unemployment in our inner-city areas and recent urban disturbances? If the Government do not use this opportunity to do something, they are no more that a bunch of Pinocchios manipulated from somewhere else.

Mr. Trippier

Before the hon. Gentleman is carried away with his own rhetoric, let me assure him that my right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State has gone to enormous lengths to show that the Government, and this Department in particular, are extremely concerned about the level of unemployment. We have said that time and again.

The hon. Gentleman referred to an interview of Jeffrey Archer on Radio 4. I heard that programme, and I have read the transcript. I assure the hon. Gentleman that he is distorting what was said by Mr. Archer. He actually said, "I am not saying there are not groups who are not genuinely in need.".

Mr. Soames

Is my hon. Friend aware that in many places where there are jobs, as in my constituency, there is a shortage of housing? What can he do to help young people to find accommodation in a situation like that?

Mr. Trippier

It is part of the trading strategy to which I referred when answering an earlier question. We should encourage employers, wherever possible, either to bus people into work or to look favourably on housing.