HC Deb 21 January 1998 vol 304 cc1002-4
6. Ms Julie Morgan

When the new deal programme will begin in Wales; and if he will make a statement. [21968]

8. Mr. Ruane

When the new deal welfare-to-work programme will begin in Wales; and if he will make a statement. [21970]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Hain)

The new deal for 18 to 24-year-olds started in the south-west Wales pathfinder area on 5 January 1998 and will be extended to all parts of Wales from 6 April 1998. The new deal for unemployed people aged 25 and over will start in June 1998. The new deal for lone parents is being piloted in Cardiff and the Vale and will be extended to all parts of Wales from April 1998 for newly registering lone parents and from October 1998 for lone parents already registered. The programme for people with a disability or long-term illness will start from late spring 1998.

Ms Morgan

I thank my hon. Friend for his reply. Will it be possible for lone parents to take advantage of some of the options available to 18 to 24-year-olds under the new deal—options that are not open to them under the lone parent initiative—particularly the employment and training option?

Mr. Hain

I pay tribute to the commitment and energy shown by my hon. Friend on that subject. Nearly one third of those interviewed in Cardiff and the Vale have been helped into jobs and others have been helped into training. We are determined to help lone parents in Wales, not attack them as the Tories did.

Mr. Ruane

I welcome the £190 million for Wales in the new deal. Does my hon. Friend agree that an attack on poverty—indeed, a war on poverty—is needed in Wales? After 18 years of Tory rule, Wales has the worst housing in Britain, the worst health in Britain and the lowest pay in Britain, as well every fifth household not working.

Mr. Hain

I agree with my hon. Friend. The Tories condemned millions of people to despair. Labour is mobilising billions of pounds from the excess profits of the privatised utilities to bring hope, opportunity and the dignity of work. What a contrast between the people's party in government and the fat cats' party, which is so degenerate that it was willing to take more than £1 million from a Hong Kong drugs baron.

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones

Does the Minister accept that an additional problem to unemployment in rural areas is depopulation? What assurances can he give not only that will the new deal provide jobs for young people but that they will have opportunities to have those jobs in their communities, raising the economic profile of those areas?

Mr. Hain

I am conscious of the problems of the rural areas of Wales. We shall make special efforts to ensure that opportunities are available to everyone who wishes to take advantage of them in rural areas such as that represented by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Brady

Does the Minister believe that the new deal will reduce unemployment in Wales? If so, by what time or what year does he believe that the savings to the welfare budget will exceed the cost of the new deal programme?

Mr. Hain

Yes, I believe that the new deal will reduce unemployment in Wales. That contrasts with the pathetic and shabby record of the Tory party, which consistently pushed people off the claimants register into a jobless ghetto. The new deal will bring more jobs to young people and to the long-term adult unemployed. That will relieve the burden on the welfare bill and give more resources to education and health, which the Tory Government cut, cut and cut.

Mr. Barry Jones

How many places and how much money will come to my constituency from the new deal? Does my hon. Friend agree that the new deal will also attempt to tackle the drugs culture and petty crime from which many of our communities suffer?

Mr. Hain

I expect several hundred job opportunities to come to the people in my hon. Friend's constituency, especially the young unemployed. I also expect that to make a start in tackling the increase in the drugs culture, over which the Conservative Government presided, that has left many of our communities in terrible despair.