HC Deb 13 June 1995 vol 261 cc589-90
9. Mr. Mackinlay

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what measures are proposed to match the availability of jobs to individuals' desire for full-time or part-time work as appropriate. [26515]

Mr. Paice

People who visit Employment Service offices around the country already have access to information about a range of vacancies, which are openly displayed and clearly marked as full time or part time.

Mr. Mackinlay

Is that not a callous and indifferent reply, given that, in addition to the millions of people who are unemployed, millions of people who need full-time jobs are in part-time jobs that are stultifying and inappropriate to their needs and skills? Is it not the duty of Government to maximise the potential of our country and our people by ensuring that people have jobs that are appropriate to their family circumstances, skills and aptitudes, and maximise their potential as human beings? The Government fail in that regard by maintaining a work force in part-time jobs that they do not want.

Mr. Paice

Not only does the hon. Gentleman fail to listen to the answer but his whole harangue is based on a misunderstanding. Survey after survey has demonstrated that some 86 per cent. of people in part-time jobs are in them because they want to be. A small proportion have part-time jobs in the hope that they will lead to full-time jobs. The Government have extended the jobmatch pilot so that people who get a part-time job can get an extra bonus through the benefit system to take on more than one part-time job and build up a portfolio to enhance their chances of that job leading to full-time employment.

Mr. Colvin

Why was the Government's job-sharing scheme, which ran in the late 1980s, wound up? In view of what my hon. Friend has just said, have the Government any plans to reintroduce work-sharing or job-splitting schemes? A good example of those is the House of Commons Library, where we have managed to retain high-quality staff through splitting jobs. That has enabled us to continue to benefit from the extremely high quality of research and advice which we get from our Library.

Mr. Paice

The short answer is that we have no plans to reintroduce those schemes. They were successful because they changed many people's cultural attitude to part-time working and the idea of job sharing. They are now engrained in the psyche and practice of many employers and employees who want to set about sharing their work because it fits with their family and domestic commitments. That is also why we introduced the jobmatch scheme this year for people who can genuinely get only part-time work and want to build up to full-time work.

Ms Short

I suggest to the Minister and his colleagues, particularly the Secretary of State, that it is because their party is funded in secret by shady business interests that they do not understand, in the way that the Labour party and the British trade union movement do, why people in Britain are so worried about what is happening in the job market and about our continuing economic decline. The Government are deeply unpopular because we have high unemployment, dreadfully low wages and lots of families who are trapped on benefit. That is what the Government are doing to the people of Britain. Is that not why the Government are so deeply loathed?

Mr. Paice

Nobody pretends that we are satisfied or happy with the present level of unemployment, but it has come down for 20 consecutive months as a result of the Government's policies. One hundred years ago, this country led the world in trade and exports. At last we are clawing our way back, as productivity is rising and we are regaining the markets of the world that we have lost. All the Labour party can do is bleat, whinge and put forward policies that would destroy our economic recovery.