§ 8. Mr. Arbuthnot
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many people have consulted jobcentres in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Arbuthnot
What proportion of the inquiries received by jobcentres came from the unemployed and from job changers, and how many people were placed in jobs as a result of those inquiries?
§ Mr. Leighton
Are not the numbers of staff in jobcentres now being reduced? The Under-Secretary of State has an opportunity to provide a better service to the unemployed. Why is he throwing that away?
§ Mr. Lee
I have to make the point—I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is well aware of it—that unemployment is falling substantially. Therefore, we obviously have to look at the jobcentre network. Having said that, we are at the same time trying to improve the quality of service for those individuals who are, sadly, unemployed. Even at present, the jobcentre network employs about 6,800 people.
§ Mr. Devlin
Why does not my hon. Friend consider merging jobcentres and unemployment offices as quite a few people still seem to get lost somewhere between the two? It seems self-evident that people who are registering as unemployed should be directed at least to somewhere in the same building so that they can be found employment as quickly as possible.
§ Mr. McAllion
Does the Minister not understand that one of the main barriers against people finding work at present is that more than 150 major United Kingdom employers are buying personnel management systems which claim, on the basis of a 15-minute pencil and paper test, to establish the honesty and emotional stability of job applicants? Does the Minister approve of employers taking such a crude approach or does he intend to do something to stop that abuse?