The unemployment figures announced by my Department last week are a cause for deep concern. We are continuing to do all we can to help those worst affected by unemployment, particularly young people. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced to the House yesterday the additional measures the Government are taking.
Does the Secretary of State acknowledge the appalling economic policies that have brought about this massive increase in unemployment? The increase amounts to over 183 per cent. in my constituency since the Tories came to power two years ago. Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that the crisis measures announced yesterday will have only a marginal effect on this appalling position? Will he say when the entrepeneurs, who received all the tax concessions when the Government came to office, are to provide the proper jobs promised by the Government and by the Conservatives so glibly during the 1979 election?
I acknowledge the seriousness of the problems of unemployment that have been coming to this country for the last 20 years. I have acknowledged on more than one occasion that everyone has a share of responsibility, including unions, management and Governments of all political parties. Hon. Members would do better to look at the underlying causes of unemployment rather than indulge in the sort of statement made by the hon. Gentleman.
Will not my right hon. Friend agree that the problems of youth unemployment present an opportunity for his Department to encourage trade unions and management to get together to agree radical solutions and changes in our present system of transition from school to work and of training and apprenticeships? Will not he agree that if such encouragement requires the expenditure of more money, as it will, such expenditure is likely to prove very cost-effective?
I do not think that there is any doubt that if money is needed to bring about a radical change in the vocational preparation of young people after they leave school and also to improve the situation in the years before they leave school the Government will play their full part in bringing this about. It underlines much of our bad economic performance over the last 20 years that we have a worse record in training young people than any other advanced society.
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what further increase has to occur in the already horrifying figures of unemployment before this insensitive Government decide to reflate and to cut unemployment.
Which does my right hon. Friend believe to be the greatest threat to jobs in the public sector—the behaviour of Labour councillors like Mr. Livingstone, withdrawal from the Common Market, or the refusal of some trade union negotiators to see the link between wage increases unjustified by productivity and unemployment?
I do not wish to compare them. They can be equally damaging. I respect enormously, however, those trade union leaders who have negotiated sensible settlements in the past year. That should not be forgotten. I await the Opposition's views on Mr. Livingstone. I hope that they will have the courage to give them.
Will the Secretary of State confirm that on the basis of Government policies the Manpower Services Commission estimates that by 1983 two-thirds of those under 18 at that time will be without a proper job? Will not he agree that if this happens the scale of the disaster will be devastating? Should not the Secretary of State, instead of going along with some of his colleagues in putting people out of work, be providing jobs and so contributing towards social cohesion and harmony? Is he further aware that the Opposition regard the measures announced by the Prime Minister yesterday as wholly inadequate to deal with a most serious problem afflicting the nation, namely, youth unemployment?
If ever there was an inadequate response to the serious problems of unemployment it was the speech of the Leader of the Opposition yesterday. I ant disappointed that the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Varley) has not replied to the challenge that I issued on Mr. Livingstone. Of course, it would be better if real, proper jobs could be provided for all young people. That is our intention. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] One of the ways in which we can help towards that situation is to see that they are better trained to take jobs.