HC Deb 13 February 1990 vol 167 c128
6. Mr. Campbell-Savours

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what proposals he has for employment training in Cumbria.

Mr. Nicholls

Employment training continues to play its valuable role in helping unemployed people in Cumbria to obtain the skills and experience that they need to obtain jobs.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

There is a deep sense of concern in west Cumbria that the new training and enterprise council will be unable to provide employment training for the thousands of people who will be made redundant through the run-down of construction projects at Sellafield. We are talking about thousands of men and women. Will the Government give some assurance, because the former Secretary of State gave an undertaking at the Dispatch Box that he would look into the matter'? Can something be done, because people are worried?

Mr. Nicholls

I entirely accept the hon. Gentleman's concern about the redundancies that will take place in his constituency. I think that he will agree that those redundancies are due to take place over two to three years. Just before Christmas, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir. N. Fowler), the then Secretary of State, told the hon. Gentleman that he would certainly do everything that he could to ensure that a contribution was made. In any case of widespread redundancy, the full resources open to the Department of Employment can be brought to bear in particular circumstances. With employment training, although one normally has to be trained for six months, a number of flexibilities in the system can be brought to bear. The Cumbria TEC is due to be operational from April and if, by any chance, the hon. Gentleman has not yet had the opportunity to go along and make contact with it, I certainly hope that he will do so because the TEC will want to play its part.

Mr. Thurnham

Is my hon. Friend aware of the survey by Newcastle university, which showed that 15 times as many jobs were created by small firms, employing fewer than 20 people, as by large firms? Are not the Government right to focus their training schemes on the needs of small firms in Cumbria and elsewhere, rather than to attempt to boycott schemes?

Mr. Nicholls

Some truths are so universal that they apply as much to Cumbria as to other places. My hon. Friend is entirely right—self-employment can have a valuable role to play. There is a range of Government initiatives and forms of assistance to help people start up in small businesses if that is what they want to do.

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