§ Mr. John Grant
asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) if he will arrange discussions with the London borough of Islington, employers, trade union representatives, educationalists and other interested parties to consider rising unemployment in Islington,
(2) if he will authorise an extension of the use of special measures, including the training opportunities scheme and the special temporary employment programme, in the London borough of Islington;
(3) if he will hold discussions with the Manpower Services Commission, the Greater London Council, the London boroughs, employers and unions, concerning rising unemployment in inner London; what new initiatives he proposes to deal with the employment problems in the area of school leavers, the disabled, ethnic minorities and the unskilled; and if he will reverse the reductions in the budget of the Manpower Services Commission in so far as they affect London.
§ Mr. Jim Lester
I am satisfied that sufficient opportunities already exist for discussions of this kind with reference both to inner London and specifically to Islington.
School leavers, the disabled, ethnic minorities and the unskilled already benefit from existing measures such as the youth opportunities programme, the fit for work campaign and the training opportunities scheme, some of which include provision specifically designed to meet the needs of particular groups. Even after the reductions in planned expenditure there was a modest increase in real terms in total expenditure by the Manpower Services Commission in 1979–80, although the reductions announced in June 1979 included the limitation of the special temporary employment programme to the areas of greatest need, 671W and its withdrawal from some parts of London. There is provision for a further modest increase in expenditure in the current financial year.
The full range of measures, including the special temporary employment programme, is available in the London borough of Islington, and existing plans for the training opportunities scheme are expected to meet the needs of the area. Nevertheless, I have told the commission that I would be prepared to consider any representations from it on the adequacy of its services in the light of rising unemployment. There is at present a very clear need for measures like the youth opportunities programme, and we are considering the future scale and scope of special employment measures in consultation with the commission.