§ 11. Mr. Robert B. Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the increase of self-employment since 1983.
§ Mr. Jones
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for those encouraging figures. Can he confirm that they represent a substantial reversal of the post-war trend in self-employment? Can he also confirm that the enterprise allowance scheme is one of the main contributory factors in achieving such a substantial increase?
§ Mr. Heffer
Is it not clear that part of the increase in self-employment has been in the construction industry, which has led to a position in which there is little training for craftsmen in the industry, safety regulations are being ignored, the cowboys are increasingly taking over and people are not getting a good deal? Is it not time that the Government faced the fact that lump labour in the construction industry is serious for its future, and is it not about time that it was stopped?
§ Mr. Barry Porter
Is my hon. Friend aware that one of the reasons for the welcome reduction in unemployment 908 on Merseyside is the fact that 6,000 people are in receipt of the enterprise allowance? Is he also aware that that figure was given out at the recent conference called "Business Opportunities on Merseyside" and at the launch of the small enterprise scheme, which my hon. Friend attended last Friday? Is it not a pity that no hon. Members from the city of Liverpool were present at either of those occasions?
§ Mr. Sheerman
The Government must know that self-employment must be seen in the light of high unemployment. We all know that self-employment rises at times such as this, as it did in the 1930s, and as it has done over the past eight years. Despite the mood of self-congratulation in which the Government appear to be this afternoon, unemployment has come down by only a fifth of the amount by which it has risen by since 1979—so that is a marginal decline. The enterprise allowance scheme will be seen to have succeeded only if it moves on to more employment and success. The evidence shows that it does not do that. It is about time the Government learnt that we need training and investment in small business.
§ Mr. Patrick Thompson
In the context of unemploy-ment, does my hon. Friend agree that the increasing number of young people starting out in self-employment at an early stage of their careers is a welcome sign? Is it not a measure of the success of the Government's policy, and one of the reasons why increasing numbers of young people voted Conservative at the last general election?