I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that at 1 December 1978, it employed some 25,600 staff. The MSC is responsible for the operation of the public employment and training services, and of certain programmes of special measures introduced by the Government to combat unemployment. These include the youth opportunities programme and the special temporary employment programme. As such, the MSC serves the entire working population of some 26·5 million people.
Will the Minister answer the question? How many people are involved in these programmes? Does he not agree that those employed at the MSC and the people on those programmes should be added to the true figure of those put out of work by a combination of the Labour Government and the union activities?
I answered the hon. Gentleman's question. I will now try to answer his other and different question by saying that I thought the Opposition were fully in support of the Government in introducing a programme of special measures to diminish the effects of unemployment. Currently, 255,000 people are benefiting from those programmes.
As the job centres are working successfully at this time of high unemployment, will my hon. Friend encourage all employers to use the job centres, and to notify them of job vacancies, rather than going to the private agencies?
I welcome what my hon. Friend said, because it is now becoming clear that the recent substantial investment in job centres has had a significant effect on employment placing. If we could place the people seeking jobs in their work one day earlier than might otherwise have been the case, that would result in a saving of production time which would be in excess of what is lost in the industrial disputes in an average year.