HC Deb 12 July 2000 vol 353 cc851-2
1. Mr. Vernon Coaker (Gedling)

What assessment she has made of the impact of the Government's measures to tackle social exclusion. [128644]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office (Marjorie Mowlam)

I have held meetings with my ministerial colleagues over the past two months to ensure that the social exclusion unit's past reports are being implemented, and that progress towards the agreed targets is being made. The reports are on truancy and school exclusion, rough sleepers, teenage pregnancy and bridging the gap.

Mr. Coaker

I consider the unit's work phenomenally important. As my right hon. Friend says, the reports are mostly about young people. When considering young people at the bottom end of society who have severe problems, will she ensure that the Government listen to what they themselves have to say about solutions to their problems? Will she also do all that she can to establish bodies such as youth forums, so we can listen to young people, learn from their experience and thereby make better policy?

Marjorie Mowlam

I assure my hon. Friend that we do an awful lot of that already. The social exclusion unit's reports are compiled by a committee consisting not just of civil servants but of representatives of the voluntary sector, business and trade unions. Those people have a wide range of experience. There are also a number of forums enabling us to listen to old as well as young people. When we were compiling the recent report on "Bridging the Gap", one suggestion made by young people was the provision of a mentor with whom they could work. The report was a direct result of our having listened to young people—but I assure my hon. Friend that we shall continue to do so.

Sir Sydney Chapman (Chipping Barnet)

Does the right hon. Lady agree that a significant factor in the tackling of social exclusion must be regeneration of our inner cities? It is more than a year since Lord Rogers's urban taskforce presented its recommendations, and it could reasonably be assumed that the Government would produce a White Paper within a few months of that. As the right hon. Lady is presumably the Minister responsible for joined-up government, can she tell us when the urban White Paper will see the light of day?

Marjorie Mowlam

I am sorry to disappoint the hon. Gentleman. I do not have a date, but I know that the White Paper will be published soon. I expect it to appear within the next couple of months. I am afraid that I cannot be more specific.

The national neighbourhood renewal strategy, however, has now been produced. The strategy, which was created across departments, deals with the regeneration of neighbourhoods—not just in terms of housing, but in terms of employment, health and education. If those factors are not taken into account, neighbourhoods slip again. Ours is an integrated strategy which I am sure will cover some of the aspects of the urban White Paper.

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