HC Deb 16 March 1993 vol 221 cc153-4
3. Mr. Robathan

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what measures she intends to bring foward to assist the unemployed in the east midlands.

Mr. McLoughlin

New arrangements, announced at the time of the autumn statement, will offer almost half a million more opportunities on our programmes in 1993–94 than we are providing this year.

Mr. Robathan

I thank my hon. Friend for that response. He will know that my constituency of Blaby is not one of those badly affected by the current high rates of unemployment. While recognising the awful and tragic consequences of unemployment, will my hon. Friend add his not inconsiderable weight in support of the excellent work of the Leicestershire TEC in my area and, in particular, the imaginative approach of the career choice scheme which is encouraging disaffected youngsters to go back into employment training, the child care voucher scheme—

Madam Speaker

Order. May we have a question?

Mr. Robathan

Will my hon. Friend particularly add his support to the close involvement of the TEC with the Leicestershire city challenge scheme and initiative fostering a partnership between the private and public sectors?

Mr. McLoughlin

My hon. Friend's point is correct. I shall be in Leicester tomorrow to sign the city challenge agreement between the Government and the city challenge organisation.

Mr. Janner

Does the Minister agree that the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan) is as wrong as his noble predecessor in his approach to the handling of unemployment, and that what matters in Leicester and the rest of the east midlands, where the traditional manufacturing industries of hosiery, knitwear and footwear are collapsing, is not to train unemployed people for jobs that will not exist but to help existing industries to stay alive and employ people?

Mr. McLoughlin

I am surprised that the Chairman of the Employment Select Committee downgrades and denigrates the training opportunities that are provided throughout Britain. That is an appalling indictment of him. The important factor is the amount of inward investment which has been attracted. The east midlands has benefited greatly from that inward investment. I should have thought that even the hon. and learned Gentleman might have welcomed that.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Does my hon. Friend consider that those who wish to undertake training should be encouraged? Therefore, does he believe that a good idea for helping the unemployed in the east midlands might be to make expenses incurred in whatever way in undertaking training allowable against tax?

Mr. McLoughlin

My hon. Friend asks a junior Minister to comment on tax matters. Today in particular, I do not wish to embark on that.

Mr. Barnes

If the initial pit closure programme is implemented in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, some 30,000 jobs in coal mining and associated industries will be lost. What will that do to help unemployed people's prospects of getting work in the east midlands? Will he have a word with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to tell him that it is time to call the dogs off?

Mr. McLoughlin

My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will make a statement on the White Paper in due course. I should have thought that even the hon. Gentleman might welcome the Toyota investment in Derbyshire. That £700 million investment is the largest single investment in any country for some considerable time.