HC Deb 25 June 2001 vol 370 cc370-1
5. Mr. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston)

If he will make a statement on employment trends in the north-west in the last five years. [444]

The Minister for Work (Mr. Nicholas Brown)

In the past five years, employment in the north-west has grown by 187,000, and 73 per cent, of all those of working age are now in employment, compared with 69.2 per cent, five years ago.

Mr. Miller

I welcome my right hon. Friend to his new post. May I bring to his attention a success story involving the Cheshire Oaks, Coliseum and Blue Planet complex in my constituency, where partnership between his Department, local government and the private sector has resulted in real jobs for people from some of the areas of highest unemployment in my community? I was pleased to see the Employment Service taking a lead, working with me to help to prepare young people from those areas for work. I commend that policy to my right hon. Friend as a model for other people to consider.

Mr. Brown

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's comments. The proactive approach underpins the Government's roll-out of Jobcentre Plus. We intend to work as proactively as we can with people who are out of work in order to get them into work and to enhance their incomes.

Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West)

I welcome the Minister to his brief, and I hope to shadow him for a little longer at least. The Opposition have been warning for a long time that the Government have failed with the new deal because, for far too many people, it is a revolving door that takes them back on to benefits and into long-term dependency. Now that the TUC has also warned that participants in the new deal are being churned through unwaged new deal options, will the right hon. Gentleman take urgent steps to re-focus the scheme on getting people into real, sustained jobs?

Mr. Brown

I thank the hon. Gentleman for welcoming me to my post, and I note his ambitions for retaining his. I am afraid that I cannot help him with that, as I have little influence over who the new leader of the Conservative party will be. The hon. Gentleman's attitude towards the work of the Employment Service and the proactive approach of the new deal is fundamentally wrong. It is right that the Government should intervene to help those who are out of work into employment, and to work with employers to ensure that the jobs into which we help people can be sustained and provide enduring employment opportunities so that people can be enriched and their standard of living improved, which is what it is all about.