HC Deb 14 February 1989 vol 147 cc138-40
8. Dr. Moonie

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what was the fall in unemployment, and the number of jobs created in the United Kingdom, in the 12 months to September 1988.

Mr. Fowler

In the United Kingdom in the 12 months to September 1988, the level of unemployment fell by 526,400. Since then, there has been a further fall of 152,600. Provisional estimates of the work force in employment show that there has been a net increase of 402,000 in the 12 months to September 1988. But that last figure is subject to revision when the labour force survey is published.

Dr. Moonie

Will the Secretary of State tell the House how many of the jobs gained have been full-time jobs, and how many part-time?

Mr. Fowler

Yes, Sir. Over the past 12 months about 55 per cent. of the jobs obtained have been full-time and about 45 per cent. part-time.

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson

If my right hon. Friend compares the people in the various age groups that have found employment, will it be found that those who are aged over 50 or disabled receive a proportionate number of jobs, or do they need special assistance?

Mr. Fowler

Both groups require special help, and in terms of the employment training programme, we are trying to provide it both for the over-50s and, particularly, for the disabled. That is a continuing element in our policy, and it will continue to be a priority.

Mr. Wallace

Of the 152,600 people who have come off the unemployment register since September 1988, how many are aged between 16 and 18 who have been unable to find a YTS place, and who are no longer entitled to receive income support? Does the growing number of young people so affected give the Secretary of State cause for concern? It appears that there is a gap in the training provision, which does not cater for people unable to find a YTS place.

Mr. Fowler

I am always prepared to consider individual cases of people who have been unable to find a YTS place. At present, there are 120,000 vacancies on the YTS programme in all the regions of the country. Our information is that all who have applied for a YTS place have been able to obtain one. If the hon. Gentleman gives me an example of where that has not occurred, I am prepared to investigate it.

Mr. Favell

A man of 50 obtaining a job can often give 15 years' service to his new-found employer. Does my right hon. Friend agree that there should be advertisements stating, "No one aged under 50 need apply"?

Mr. Fowler

I wish to ensure that employment opportunities exist for people of all ages. Many people aged over 50 have the experience that enables them to take up new jobs, at a time when many more vacancies are occurring. I feel sure that employers will increasingly want to appoint older workers; that trend is already visible.

Mr. Ashley

Will the Secretary of State make a special effort to provide jobs for the disabled? The Office of Population Censuses and Surveys reveals that only 31 per cent. of disabled people of working age have jobs.

Mr. Fowler

The right hon. Gentleman makes an important point. The employment training programme already makes special provision for disabled people, and I am glad to tell the right hon. Gentleman that take-up of those places is very high.

Mr. Knapman

Does my right hon. Friend agree that employment is at a record level, that output is at a record level, and that the Maclnnes report is pseudo-academic bunkum?

Mr. Fowler

The report is certainly discredited as a statistical exercise. Unemployment is falling fast, and is now below that not only of the European Community average but of a host of European countries. That is a very welcome trend.

Mr. Meacher

Will the Secretary of State confirm that the British Government are the only Government in Europe to use the benefit claimant count as a measure of unemployment, and that ours is the only country to knock people off their entitlement to unemployment benefit and then parade that as a cut in unemployment?

Will the Minister confirm also that the Government's labour force survey, which uses the same international measure of unemployment as all other countries but which, significantly, the Government have not published for the last two years, reveals that unemployment today in Britain is still over 2.6 million and that the Government's claim on Thursday that unemployment has now fallen below 2 million will be completely and utterly bogus?

Mr. Fowler

The hon. Gentleman is running a bit scared—[Interruption.] He is absolutely terrified that the figures next Thursday will go below 2 million, and that shows the hon. Gentleman at his contemptible worst. The comparison that I gave, which shows that the rate of unemployment in this country is below the European Community average, is on a standardised basis. There is no question about that. What the hon. Gentleman said about the labour force survey was wrong in practically every detail. I hope that by Thursday he will have done his homework.

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