HC Deb 07 July 1992 vol 211 cc170-2
8. Mr. Amess

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if she will set out her Department's latest training initiative in Essex and Basildon.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard

The Essex training and enterprise council, with the Government, is playing a major role in helping people in Essex to get and keep their jobs.

Mr. Amess

Is my right hon. Friend aware that last month I had the honour to open the Basildon job club, which has already been successful in securing jobs for a number of my constituents? Does my right hon. Friend agree that such job clubs have a vital role to play in enabling my constituents who have been long-term unemployed to gain the confidence to return to the job market?

Mrs. Shephard

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his continuing concern for his now famous constituency, and I am delighted that he had the pleasure and honour of opening the Basildon job club. Job clubs do a very good job in getting people back to work as fast and effectively as possible. Nearly half the people who attend job clubs go from them into employment, and I am glad to say that this year we have 220,000 places in job clubs.

Mr. Mackinlay

Will the Secretary of State reflect on the fact that the training initiative for Essex will be irrelevant unless she stops the haemorrhaging of jobs throughout Essex? In particular, will she consider the need for training initiatives to meet the redundancies of Marconi workers in Chelmsford and the hundreds of workers facing redundancy at Ford's in Aveley and Dunton? What does she intend to do to stop the unemployment, particularly in Basildon where it has exceeded 160 per cent. in two years?

Mrs. Shephard

I think that it has escaped the hon. Gentleman's notice, and that of many of his hon. Friends, that the Opposition's economic policies would do nothing but increase unemployment. The only way to create lasting employment is to pursue a policy of low inflation, as this Government are doing.

The hon. Gentleman asked a specific question about what the Government were doing to help people back into jobs. Obviously, he was not listening to my previous answer, but I shall tell him what we are doing. There are increased targets for the employment service and there are 100,000 more places on employment and training programmes this year than last year, making almost 1 million in all. The effectiveness of the measures described by my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Amess) should also appeal to the hon. Gentleman if he is actually thinking of getting his constituents back to work as quickly and as effectively as possible.

Dr. Spink

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many people from Castle Point, including many from Canvey island, have to travel to beautiful Basildon to get training and further education? While Basildone does an excellent job for my people, should not provision for those services be made on Canvey island for its people? My right hon. Friend may be aware that there is not a single further education place available on Canvey island.

Mrs. Shephard

I am delighted to hear my hon. Friend's plea for his beautiful constituency. Until such places are provided, I feel sure that his constituents will benefit from the excellent service described by my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon.

Mr. Blair

On a point of information, will the right hon. Lady tell us—I believe that her Department now has this information—how many young people in Essex arid in Britain are waiting for a training place?

Mrs. Shephard

I do not have that information, but I shall remind the hon. Gentleman of the answer that I gave when we last had employment questions. I said that there were sufficient resources to provide youth training places for all young people and that resources need not be a problem to training and enterprise councils. I also said that the machinery for providing those places and for cutting down queues should not fail young people.

I am delighted to tell the hon. Gentleman that I am today putting into place new measures to establish a national system for monitoring the numbers of young people covered by the YT guarantee and seeking a place on YT. I shall shortly be discussing that matter with TEC representatives.

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