HC Deb 04 March 2004 vol 418 cc1039-40
6. Miss Anne Begg (Aberdeen, South) (Lab)

If he will make a statement on the level of employment in Scotland since 1997. [158472]

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gordon Brown)

Employment in Scotland has risen by 119,000 since 1997.

Miss Begg

The north of Scotland is like the rest of Scotland—there are now more people in work than ever before. However. that means that a lot of businesses cannot find people to fill jobs because there is a labour shortage. The local Jobcentre Plus in Aberdeen, which covers Grampian, Moray and Orkney and Shetland, has been doing sterling work in getting lone parents and people on incapacity benefit off benefits and into work. Will my right hon. Friend assure me that this Government will not abolish the new deals or the work that has been done on new deals to get people into work to plug that gap in the labour market—unlike the Conservative party?

Mr. Brown

My hon. Friend knows that unemployment in her constituency is now only 2 per cent., that only 33 young people are unemployed and that there are 30 long-term unemployed. It is because of the new deal that it has been possible for people to get back into work. It is even more necessary in a highly skilled economy that the new deal operates to give people the skills that are necessary. It is sad that both the Liberal and Conservative parties want to abolish the new deal.

Mr. Russell Brown (Dumfries) (Lab)

The Leader of the Opposition is in my locality today meeting pensioners. Quite clearly he will explain to them what a Conservative Government would do, but I am sure he will not explain how he would pay for it. Clearly the new deal is under threat—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The question is about unemployment, and there is too much emphasis on the Leader of the Opposition. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] I did not mean that in a bad sense.

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