Orders of the Day — Employment (Young Persons)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th May 1977.

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Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery 12:00 am, 24th May 1977

I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman. Where, however, I disagree with many hon. Members below the Gangway on the Government side is that they oppose cuts in public expenditure indiscriminately. If those hon. Members supported some cuts but insisted on better public expenditure in other respects, there would be a great deal more to be said for their point of view.

I want to come to what I believe this country can do. We shall obviously be faced with a major fuel crisis when North Sea oil runs out. We therefore have to ask ourselves what will replace it. In part, coal will obviously replace it, but not entirely. Shall we entirely depend on nuclear energy? Ought we not to be taking a leaf out of Roosevelt's book and providing great public works, for example, barrages such as the Severn barrage, the Dee barrage and the Morecambe Bay barrage, as well as hydroelectric schemes?

One of the features of unemployment among young people at present is that it covers the whole gamut. We find that it affects young people with university degrees. I know of one young person with a zoology degree who has been out of work for 18 months; and another with an engineering degree. It covers the whole range of young people from those who are highly trained and highly skilled to those who have no training or skills at all.

We must also bear in mind that the problem is not only structural but cyclical. In fact, we are facing a declining work force in this country in the years ahead, although not in the immediate years ahead.