Is the Minister aware that in Sheffield alone 16,000 jobs are dependent on the scheme? Is that not an appalling indictment of the Government's economic policy? Can the Minister give an assurance that for as long as the Prime Minister continues with her present grotesque management of the economy this subsidy will be retained unaltered so that thousands of jobs are not lost unnecessarily?
I am aware of the figures for unemployment is Sheffield, because the hon. Gentleman came to see me about another problem and made that point. He will be aware that just over 10,000 people in the Sheffield and Woodhouse employment office area are covered by the scheme. He will also be aware that the scheme is open until 31 March next year.
Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that for many thousands of workers in South Yorkshire and elsewhere the limited nature of the scheme means that the benefit is now about to expire and, thus, is likely to precipitate a further significant rise in the number of unemployed, unless the scheme can in some way be extended? Will the hon. Gentleman also bear in mind that it was intended as a temporary stop-gap pending the introduction of the more generous and ambitious scheme that was dropped by the Government when they took office? Does he recall that it was introduced because the EEC objected to the temporary employment subsidy, which was its precursor, which had characteristics in line with the £15 job subsidy announced yesterday? Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that the EEC has now cleared the proposals for the £15 subsidy for young people?
The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that the scheme was extended from six months to nine months and that it is reviewed. He will be further aware that the intention of the scheme is not to subsidise a job more than once. The EEC is aware of the new subsidy because it has been informed about it.