HC Deb 20 October 2003 vol 411 c355
2. Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North)

When he next plans to visit Nottingham, North to discuss youth unemployment. [132602]

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. Andrew Smith)

I shall be happy to visit my hon. Friend's constituency, especially as long-term youth unemployment there has been cut by 71 per cent., with 1,500 young people already helped into jobs by the new deal and by the good work of local bodies which I know enjoy energetic support from my hon. Friend.

Mr. Allen

Will my right hon. Friend continue to remind everybody that in 1997 in constituencies such as mine unemployment was the No. 1 problem and that it has been tackled effectively by his team and by previous teams? More than 2,000 people who were unemployed are now in jobs in my constituency as a result of the new deal programmes.

Will my right hon. Friend reassure me that the rumours that I have heard that the Opposition still intend to abolish large chunks of the new deal policy—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman should be seated. The Secretary of State should say nothing about Opposition proposals.

Mr. Smith

strongly and warmly endorse the parts of the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen) that commended the new deal and our other policies for economic stability. Keeping people attached to the labour market has transformed the experience and the culture of expectations in Nottingham and places right across the country that previously endured mass unemployment. We have been proud to cut unemployment, and it would stagger me if anyone were to suggest abandoning programmes that have helped to give us the lowest unemployment in the G7 and the highest rate of employment.