HC Deb 24 July 1990 vol 177 cc282-3
3. Mr. Pike

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he has any new proposals to increase job opportunities in rural and semi-rural areas.

Mr. Howard

Rural areas have shared in the increased job opportunities that have become available on an unprecedented scale in recent years. Training and enterprise councils are introducing new initiatives to reinforce that trend.

Mr. Pike

Let us dismiss the nonsense with which the Secretary of State started his comments. Does he accept that in rural areas there is a lack of choice of jobs and that there are many low-paid jobs? Will he do something to increase the opportunity for choice of jobs and for higher pay in rural and semi-rural areas?

Mr. Howard

But choice and job opportunities are increasing constantly in rural areas. They are sharing in the increased job opportunities that are becoming available. We have 3.5 million more jobs than we had in 1983 and rural areas have fully shared in that prosperity.

Miss Emma Nicholson

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that when he came to my constituency on Friday, he saw a welcome increase in excellent and well-paid jobs that require high qualifications in several parts of my constituency? Does he further agree that the increase by one quarter in jobs in the south-west—which is, in essence, rural—since 1983 is laudable and that we have a magnificent increase in jobs in the tourism industry?

Mr. Howard

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I was delighted to join her on Friday in her constituency, where we saw some magnificent examples of the dynamic enterprise which has flourished under this Government and which is providing job opportunities in rural areas. My hon. Friend, unlike the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike), is living in the real world.

Mr. Kirkwood

Will the Secretary of State undertake to look carefully at the way in which the new regime under which the training centres are operating is discriminating against potential trainees from rural areas? Is he aware that the amount of money that the Government give to the training centres per head must embrace an element for expenses? It is obviously more expensive to travel the 50 miles from my constituency to Edinburgh than it is to go round the corner. Will he make sure that potential trainees from rural areas are not discriminated against in that way?

Mr. Howard

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that one reason behind the setting up of the training and enterprise councils in England and Wales and the local enterprise companies in Scotland is to enable training to be provided that more closely fits the needs of local areas, including rural areas. They will be able to take the needs of their areas into account in a way that will be far more responsive than has previously been the case.