HC Deb 16 December 1986 vol 107 cc1045-6
10. Mr. Terry Lewis

asked the Paymaster General how many people have so far participated in restart courses; how long they last; and how many have got permanent jobs as a result.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

By 13 November, 46,415 people had been on the one-week restart course under the national restart programme. We have no means of knowing exactly how many participants subsequently obtain permanent employment.

Mr. Lewis

According to an answer in Hansard on 6 November, only 0.7 per cent. of those interviewed had been placed in jobs. Is this not an indictment of the Paymaster General's policy, particularly as proper jobs in the real world are needed into which people can be slotted, instead of the palliatives that he has presented to the House?

Mr. Clarke

If the hon. Gentleman had listened to the answer that I gave he would have been given part of the explanation as to why the figure upon which he relies is completely meaningless. Among the many people who have to be added to the 0.7 per cent. are those who obtain jobs after they have been on a restart course. They are not included in the figure that the hon. Gentleman cited. My hon. Friends and I have repeatedly said that it is pathetic that the Opposition should be reduced at Employment Question Time to nitpicking about all these schemes and trying to find opportunities to denigrate them instead of realising that they represent a positive programme of help for the long-term unemployed.

Mr. Butterfill

Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept that a number of people in my constituency have been on the restart scheme and that they have then obtained jobs? Even one of those who have not obtained jobs came to my constituency advice centre the other day and told me that, although he had not yet found a new job, he felt that he was now very much better qualified to get one. I am sure that that applies throughout the country.

Mr. Clarke

As my hon. Friend says, individuals are placed directly in a job or in training, or they become self-employed, with a subsidy under the enterprise allowance scheme, or they attend a restart course and then try to enter the labour market. One in five of all those who contact stop claiming benefit and cease to be unemployed. A good proportion of these people are returning to the labour market. It is absurd to go through the statistics in minute detail in an effort to knock down this extremely ambitious programme, which aims to give that kind of help.