§ Mr. Chaytor
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what discussions he has had since May 1997 relating to the 16-hour rule and further education colleges; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Wicks
[holding answer 21 December 1999]: We have received a number of representations from individuals and organisations regarding further education colleges and the 16-hour study role in Jobseeker's Allowance. These were mainly in response to the White Paper "Learning to Succeed" published in July 1999, where we introduced proposals for a new system of post-16 learning which is responsive to the needs of individuals, companies and communities. The White Paper, and the Learning and Skills Council Prospectus which was published in December, set out our plans for the new Learning and Skills Council which will ensure a co-ordinated and coherent approach to post-16 learning.
We have taken positive measures to increase the opportunities for study among unemployed people. The New Deal for Young People aged 18 to 24 forms a key part of the Government's Welfare to Work agenda and comprises four options, all of which contain an element of training. The Full-Time Education and Training Option offers opportunities for young people to study full-time in order to enhance their prospects of finding a job. In June 1998 we introduced Education and Training Opportunities under the New Deal for those aged 25 and over. These allow people unemployed for two years or more to 152W undertake full-time employment-related courses for up to a year whilst continuing to receive Jobseeker's Allowance.