§ 13. Mr. O'Hara
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment when he next plans to meet the Merseyside TEC to discuss funding.
My right hon. and learned Friend and I meet TEC chairmen on a regular basis to discuss a range of issues, including questions of funding.
§ Mr. O'Hara
What advice or comfort can the Under-Secretary of State offer to those providers of training on Merseyside who have been driven out of business because insufficient resources have been allocated to the Merseyside TEC to provide contracts to them? What succour or comfort can he offer to the unemployed in my constituency of Knowsley, South, where 65 jobless now chase every vacancy advertised in the jobcentres? How can he possibly justify cutting training which is so desperately needed by a work force without jobs such as that in Knowsley, South?
There has been an increase in the overall budget made available by the Government for training. Negotiations between particular TECs and providers must be a matter for those TECs and providers.[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. May I ask the House not to indulge in private conversations. It is difficult to hear even at this end.
§ Mr. Alton
If the protests that have been made about cuts in training places on Merseyside are simply synthetic protestations, as the Minister said earlier, can he explain why projects such as the Hexagon project on Merseyside face closure? How can he explain that when 71,000 people in the city of Liverpool alone are currently unemployed? Surely that is an area where more training, not less, is needed.
I know that the hon. Gentleman is sympathetic to the idea of localism that lay behind the creation of the training and enterprise councils. The TECs are in the best position to make informed judgments about the qualities of particular providers. I will not second-guess the judgments made by Merseyside TEC in respect of any provider, including Hexagon.