HC Deb 27 October 1999 vol 336 c1008
7. Mr. Michael Fabricant (Lichfield)

What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education and Employment about the efficacy of the new deal in Wales. [94081]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. David Hanson)

I have held several discussions with a range of organisations involved in the Government's welfare to work agenda in Wales, and plan soon to meet my right hon. Friend the Minister for Employment, Welfare to Work and Equal Opportunities.

Mr. Fabricant

Further to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow), will the Minister apologise to the various people with whom he has had meetings? Is it not the case that, of the 7,000 people who have gone on the new deal, less than 46 per cent. have consequently found jobs? Is that not both a Welsh national disgrace and a disgrace for the Department?

Mr. Hanson

I take it from that question that Conservative Members are opposed to the new deal. I also take it that they are opposed to the 4,500 employers who have signed up to the new deal, and to the 13,000 people who have benefited from it in Wales, including 9,400 under-25s. I take it that, the next time I go to Wales to meet those young people, the hon. Gentleman will accompany me and tell them that they will have no opportunities or jobs under the Conservative party.

Mr. John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan)

Since the new deal was introduced, unemployment in my constituency has fallen to its lowest level for 20 years. When my hon. Friend talks to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, will he stress how important it is that objective 3 funding for skills and training should come to constituencies such as mine?

Mr. Hanson

Since the introduction of the new deal in Wales, there has been a 51 per cent. fall in unemployment for the under-24s. I take on board my hon. Friend's points and I shall make representations accordingly.