Youth Unemployment

– in the House of Commons at 4:13 pm on 22nd February 1984.

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OPPOSITION DAY [10TH ALLOTTED DAY]

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Monklands East 4:26 pm, 22nd February 1984

I beg to move, That this House condemns the Government's failure to tackle high and long term unemployment among young people which has resulted, as at January 1984, in 1,259,743 young people under the age of 25 years being unemployed, of whom 347,110 have been unemployed for more than one year; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to introduce a comprehensive and high quality training scheme for 16 to 19-year-olds.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. This the first of two important Opposition motions. I remind the House that a large number of hon. Members wish to take part in the debate. I should also announce that I have selected the amendment standing in the name of the Prime Minister.

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Monklands East

The fact that 1·75 million young people under 25 are unemployed is a national scandal. That nearly 350,000 of them have been unemployed for more than a year shows that the crisis is deep-seated as well as urgent. It seems that there is little prospect of a significant reduction in the figures in the near future.

We debate youth unemployment today because it is a crisis of national importance. Our young people are bearing the brunt of the Government's deflationary policies, which have caused unemployment to rise nonstop each year for the last four years. They are in danger of becoming a forgotten generation—denied the dignity of work, deprived of the training for skills, depressed by poverty and denuded of aspiration. We see them in all parts of the nation, but particularly in the hard-pressed industrial areas, kicking their heels disconsolately as one weary day of unemployment and lost opportunity follows another. If they are not so engaged, they are among the thousands of applicants for a handful of jobs when any enterprise advertises vacancies.

Any manager in the engineering industry will say that if he looks, for example, for the recruitment of 10 new apprentices —and they are a fast-disappearing phenomenon—he will receive hundreds of applications from youngsters bursting for opportunity, and well able to take advantage of it. With a heavy heart, he will have to turn away hundreds of ambitious and keen youngsters, and he and they will wonder—and so should we—what kind of society it is in which such things are permitted. Even for low-paid jobs with little by way of future opportunity, there are patient queues of the young unemployed.

I will not dwell—I have no doubt that other hon. Members will—on the social consequences of mass unemployment among young people; on the effect on family life; on individual character; and on the very social fabric of the community. It is enough to assert that the lost opportunities of this forgotten generation must have a major claim not only on the attention of the nation but on its resources and its concept of moral responsibility, for we reject utterly any proposition that states that youth unemployment on this scale is either tolerable or inevitable.

When we get high unemployment in general, as regrettably we do, we usually get disproportionately high youth unemployment in its train. Young people are often on the fringe of the labour market and are therefore the first to suffer. The first task in getting young people back to work is to tackle unemployment in general for everyone. It is not enough to introduce palliative work substitute schemes when the real answer lies in a change of economic policies which will seek to create, rather than to destroy, jobs for everyone in the country.

There is an almost endless list of what a caring, intelligent and purposeful Government could do by way of tackling this problem. We should be tackling it by seeking to fulfil the many unmet needs by the use of our unused resources, the greatest of which is the army of unemployed in our midst. The modernisation, replacement and expansion of our housing stock, the modernisation of our transport system, including electrification of the railways, the expansion of caring services for the sick, the elderly, the disabled and the disadvantaged and the renewal and rebuilding of our declining urban centres are only a few of the tasks that could form the basis of an imaginative public works programme which would put thousands of our young people back to work within a few years, if not within a few months.

Let us not hear from Conservative Members that we cannot afford such a programme. I remind them that since 1979 the Government have received over £25,000 million in North sea oil and gas revenues. That is the equivalent for the nation of a monster pools win for an individual. The Government did not work for this money and they did not even plan for it; they inherited it. What did they do and what do they do with the inheritance, which is still running at £9 billion each year? They spend it all, every penny piece of it, on paying for the cost of the extra unemployment that their policies have created since 1979. They continue relentlessly, year in, year out, to use our North sea oil revenues to pay a subsistence to our standing army of unemployed.

It is no wonder that the extent of North sea oil revenues is the best kept secret in No. 10 Downing street. To know the facts is to be prompted to ask, "What have we done with it all?" I was for a short time a Minister with some responsibility in a Labour Government for North sea oil and gas policies. It was known then that there would be substantial revenues after 1980.

I thought that an interesting debate would develop between the Left and the Right. I thought that the Left would in general say that we should use the revenue for community-based expenditure on rebuilding our social structure, developing regional policies and the straight financing of industry. I thought that the Right would argue for tax-cutting policies and a series of individual choice-based decisions rather than community choice-based decisions. That is part of the legitimate argument that has been taking place for many years between the Left and the Right.

I never thought—I do not think that anyone else did—that we would take neither of those courses. I do not think that it would have crossed anyone's mind during the time when the Labour Government were in office that we would pay the cost of unemployment, which was then uncreated but which would come, with our North sea oil revenues.

Britain has had unprecedented assets that have not been enjoyed by our competitors in western Europe. The tremendous asset of North sea oil revenues has been an advantage to our balance of trade and our balance of payments as well as to our straight cash resources, although straight cash is available in abundance.

At the same time as we have had these advantages—the Government have been lucky to have had them—we have seen an unprecedented collapse in manufacturing industry and the creation of an army of unemployed, many of its members being young people.

What do the Government offer our young people? They say that recovery is on the way. I think that we have been told that the upturn is round the corner during every quarter of every year since the Government were elected in 1979. We were told that again today and we were told it yesterday, and the message is in the amendment to the motion. We are told that there will be an increase in economic activity. If there is, we shall know that it is the result of the pre-election relaxation of financial controls—a Keynesian tactic in which the Government indulged shortly before the 1983 election.

Even if there is an increase in economic activity, it is not likely to lead to jobs. We know that the Treasury told the Government Actuary earlier in the year to bank on there being no reduction in unemployment throughout 1984. As far as I know, those instructions have not been changed, and I shall take the Treasury's word that there will be no reduction in unemployment in 1984. The depressing reality is that there is not likely to be any drop in unemployment—certainly not down to pre-1979 levels, or anywhere near them—throughout the future life of this Administration and Parliament.

The Government have tried to deal with the problem by rolling into place a number of youth training and youth work schemes. Two major elements, apart from the community programme, which is not really training based, are the youth training scheme and the young workers' scheme. In the Opposition's opinion, these schemes are an insufficient response to a major crisis. They are being adopted for the wrong motives and purposes. The Government's main aim in promoting the youth training scheme is to reduce unemployment figures for young people and to give them something to do for a year. Another purpose, which is being more and more revealed as the days pass, is to keep wages down for those who are in employment. That is why the YTS allowance has remained at £25 a week despite the Manpower Services Commission's recommendation that it should be regularly reviewed, and despite increases in the cost of living which would require another £10 weekly to be added to the £25 to maintain the value of the allowance.

That is why we have in the young workers' scheme the remarkable prospect of the Government subsidising employers to keep down the level of wages. Some employers are breaking the wages councils' legislation to qualify for the subsidy that another part of the Department of Employment hands out. We have policemen at one corner who are failing to catch criminals, and the same criminals are coining back to the police authority to ask for a subsidy for their criminal activities. That is an interesting example and reflection of what is going on.

In having 1·25 million unemployed young people we are in danger of creating a secondary labour market of young people that is made up of low skills, low wages and low aspirations. Instead, we need what the motion proposes— a comprehensive and high quality training scheme for 16 to 19-year-olds. It should be based on training for at least two years—preferably three years—so that real and lasting skills are learnt. It should complement our further and higher education system so that those in education and training receive fair treatment. The education maintenance allowances that the Labour party proposes would be an essential element in the scheme.

We need proper support for apprenticeships in industry so that there is real training for real jobs. Regrettably, we have seen apprenticeships almost disappear from the industrial landscape. We must so organise the programme that we encourage the acquisition of skills that are useful to work and to relevant industries and ensure that the training extends and develops the intellectual perceptions and horizons of young people within their own lives and personalities.

All this we could have if we had a Government who cared, but we do not. For their callous, complacent and disinterested neglect of our young people, we utterly condemn them.

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment 4:39 pm, 22nd February 1984

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: believes that the most important way in which the problems of the young unemployed can be overcome will be by a general improvement in the economy; therefore welcomes the encouraging signs of economic recovery; and recognises that the employment prospects of the younger generation will be greatly enhanced by the Government's considerable range of special employment and training measures. I welcome the opportunity that is presented by this debate. It will direct our attention to what by any standard is one of the most serious problems that faces us.

I was interested to speculate on the way in which the Opposition would approach the problem. Would they treat it as a political point-scoring exercise or would we have a serious discussion of a major problem? I leave it to right hon. and hon. Members to form their own judgment on the way in which the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) sought to deal with the problem by means of, for someone of his capability, a frivolous and party political contribution. His speech reflected no credit on him, especially as it was directed to such a serious subject.

We owe it to our young people—they are the children of many of our constituents and the are facing the tragic problems of unemployment—to approach these issues in a much more serious and sensible manner. A certain sense of humility would have become the right hon. and learned Gentleman in moving the motion. It is a fact that we face the same appallingly difficult problems of unemployment as are faced by a Christian Democratic Government in Germany, a Liberal Government in Holland and a Socialist Government in France, where the Socialist President has just forecast the loss of a further half million jobs in shipbuilding, steel and car manufacturing. It is political twaddle to pretend that unemployment is uniquely the problem of a Conservative Government, and the people of this country do not believe it. The right hon. and learned Gentleman owes it to the House to approach this matter more seriously. A certain sense of humility would have become a Labour spokesman when each Labour Government have promised to reduce unemployment, and no Labour Government have succeeded.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that there was an endless list of examples of what an intelligent, caring and creative Government would do to tackle the problems of unemployment. He was a member of a Cabinet that doubled unemployment, so we know what fallacious humbug that is.

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Monklands East

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving me an excellent example of nonparty political speech making. Before he proceeds further along that line, will he explain why unemployment as a whole was less under the Labour Government than it is now for young people under the Tory Government? There was no understanding of international comparisons then, although I am expected to exhibit that now.

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

I shall analyse the background to the problem facing this country. We owe it to the people, including the young, to look at this more seriously. The period 1955 to 1980 spans Governments of both political parties. In that period, our share of world trade halved from 20 per cent. to 10 per cent. It is sobering to think that in 1955 Britain was the largest car exporting nation in the world and by 1980 we were an also-ran. Our competitiveness deteriorated across industry—shipbuilding, steel and the other major industry to which I referred. In the 1970s, output increased by 17 per cent., wages increased—it is unhappy to remember this—by 350 per cent. and our competitiveness collapsed. When the world recession hit us with its full ferocity, Britain was overmanned, undertrained, unprofitable, underinvested and uncompetitive, and we paid a heavy price.

The key question is whether we have learnt the lessons of that period and are starting to lead the recovery. There is no way in which a state can provide all the jobs for its people. The only way we can provide proper employment for our people, including young people, is with a prosperous and successful economy. That is the first criterion. The right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East spelt out—I do not wish to embarrass the right hon. and learned Gentleman after his unfortunate experience last week in disowning the words of his colleague, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey)—that the first prerequisite for tackling unemployment was a successful economy. We stand heavily on that important first requirement and look at the progress we have made and the prospects for the economy. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that he had heard it all before, that there is not really any recovery, and that those are the same old words Government spokesmen always give and we have heard over the years.

Our first objective is to get inflation down. We remember the disastrous peak in 1975 when it was as high as 27 per cent. Inflation is now down to 5 per cent. [Interruption.] I would not attempt to misrepresent the figures. If the inflation rate for the past six months is extrapolated for 12 months—I am telling the House the basis on which I calculate—inflation is running at 3·5 per cent. It is worth looking at that figure. In the past six months, inflation has been 1·8 per cent. We see a prospect that we have not seen in recent years. Outside forecasters, whether the EEC or the OECD, have said that in 1983 the United Kingdom had the fastest growth in GDP of all the European countries and is forecast to have the fastest growth in GDP in 1984.

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

I just wish to clarify this point. Short-time working is at a much lower level, overtime is at a high level and, for the first time since 1979, the number of people in employment increased in the third quarter 1983. We are starting to see a more encouraging picture. The Government continues to regard the mastery of inflation as the pre-condition for success in returning to full employment. I say to those who disagree with me that that was said in a 1977 White Paper published by the Labour Government. We agree with that 100 per cent., and the only difference is that we have achieved that aim. That gives us the best possible prospect for an improvement in employment.

Photo of Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk , Knowsley North

While the right hon. Gentleman is talking about the encouraging news and being specific in attempting to forecast, will he tell me when the 46 men and 30 women in Kirkby in my constituency, who left school in the year in which this Government came into office and who have never had a full-time job, will—on his forecast, encouragement and optimism—get a job?

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

The hon. Gentleman knows that it is as difficult to answer his question as it is to answer it for the people in my constituency, in the other constituencies in this country, the constituencies of French Ministers in the Socialist Government and the constituencies in America that face that problem. The only hope for employment—the hon. Gentleman knows this—is expansion and a prosperous economy. That is the first requirement, and that is why there is a significant improvement in the number of young people getting into employment. One of the reasons, as the hon. Gentleman will know, that there is a shortfall this year on the youth training scheme is that a higher number of school leavers than forecast have obtained jobs and gone into direct employment. It would be dishonest, at the Dispatch Box, to give a direct answer and to predict, because I cannot do so. The prospects depend on a number of factors. I am in no doubt that the prospects for those young people to whom the hon. Member for Knowsley, North (Mr. Kilroy-Silk) referred are now better this year than at any time in the past three years, and I take some comfort from that.

While there is an improvement and the position in the economy is encouraging, we know that the key problem is employment, not investment, which is improving, not exports, which are doing well, and not profits, which are improving and which are a vital ingredient in investment.

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

I shall just deal with this point. The key requirement for employment is that we have the people with the training and skills necessary to take the new jobs that will be available in the upturn.

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

I have inherited responsibility for the new training initiative and have recently published the White Paper "Training for Jobs". The Opposition motion deals with the problems of the young unemployed.

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown , Yeovil

I wanted to catch the right hon. Gentleman before he moved away from statistics. I waited until he had spoken about unemployment as well as inflation. If the Government's record is so good, why is it that when the Government came to power in 1979 we had, measured against OECD countries, about average inflation and unemployment, but we now have well above average unemployment and round about average inflation, as I understand it?

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

I deliberately condensed the points that I was making about overmanned, uncompetitive, under-invested and under-productive industry. I remember a book written about 20 years ago about the 2 million under-employed. We were singularly ill-placed, and w hen the recession came it caught us out in a big way. I will not debate this point at great length. The hon. Member, who studies these matters seriously, knows that that was the problem we then faced.

I took exception to one thing that the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East said. He may have spotted my concern when he said that the main purpose of the youth training scheme was to keep unemployment figures down and give young people something to do. That is a most disgraceful comment coming from an Opposition Front Bench spokesman. It is pandering to the worst elements on the Left wing of his party who are determined to maintain their hostility to the scheme. I believe that he is far too intelligent to share that view.

I pay tribute to the work and leadership of the trade union movement and the TUC in the development and encouragement of the youth training scheme. It does them great credit. It does the right hon. and learned Gentleman no credit to lend the Labour party's official name to denigrating that scheme. The co-operation of employers, trade unions, employees, management, the MSC and the trainees is most encouraging in the development of what I believe will probably be recognised as a most important scheme for the future. It will increasingly be the way in which young people come into jobs with some training which, all too often in the past, they did not have.

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Monklands East

The Secretary of State accused me of something of which I have not been accused before—pandering to some Left wing fantasy. May I quote to him an editorial in The Times of 2 September 1983: The crude political impulse behind this"— that is the YTS scheme— is maintaining social peace. YTS is an anti-riot device keeping 16 year olds off the unemployment record and off the streets. As The Times said that, why is it some terrible fantasy of mine?

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

It is a disgraceful editorial. It is quite untrue. I urge whichever leader writer it was on The Times to see for himself some of what is going on on the youth training scheme. I hope that that will not be the Opposition's view of this matter. It would be sad if the Opposition were to resile from a scheme in which about 300,000 youngsters would have been involved, and which gives, for the first time, an opportunity for training. I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman), when he replies, will respond rather more positively and enthusiastically to the scheme. The right hon. and learned Gentleman might have had the generousity to respond in the way that Shirley Williams did. At least she gave my predecessor in this position due credit for being the first Minister of any Government to introduce a scheme to provide unemployed 16-year-olds with what we hope will be effective training. It would be less than generous not to admit that the right hon. Gentleman has had more success with his Cabinet colleagues than I had with mine."—[Official Report, 21 June 1982; Vol 26, c. 82.] Dare I ask: was the right hon. and learned Gentleman one of those Cabinet colleagues who was not prepared to back a training scheme for unemployed 16-year-olds and who then has the nerve to come to the House and rubbish the Government who are now spending £700 million of public money on giving youngsters a proper job?

Photo of Dr Brian Mawhinney Dr Brian Mawhinney , Peterborough

Given the attitude of the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith), will my right hon. Friend give him the opportunity to commit the Labour party to doing away with the scheme in the unlikely event that it ever gets back to power?

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

I do not want to embarrass the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East any further. It is far too serious a matter. I hope that we shall receive general support for the scheme.

I have already had the opportunity to visit a considerable number of schemes. I have been enormously impressed by the youngsters' attitude and enthusiasm. It is appalling if the right hon. and learned Gentleman pursues his attitude. I hope that on reflection he will not.

Photo of Mr Dave Nellist Mr Dave Nellist , Coventry South East

As the Minister is reluctant to accept the quotations given by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) about the purpose of the youth training scheme, and the views of The Times editorial, will he give his reaction to Sir John Hoskyns' paper, which was produced when he was head of the No. 10 policy unit? He said that the training programmes set up by the Conservative Government should be designed to increase the differential between young people's and adult's wages. If the right hon. Gentleman does not like The Times' Left wing views or the Left wing Labour Front Bench, does he no longer like the Left-wing No. 10?

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

I have not been in much doubt about the hon. Member's views. What shocked me was to find the right hon. and learned Gentleman spouting them from the Opposition Front Bench. I know the damage that the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist) has sought to do to the youth training scheme for his own political interests.

The point that Sir John Hoskyns makes in his article is serious because there is a problem about the level of wages of young people first coming into jobs. It is interesting to note that under the Social Democratic Government in West Germany the starting wage for someone there is about 25 per cent. of the full adult wage. Although the Opposition will perhaps seek to maintain that our youth unemployment is much worse, it is significant to note that about the only country whose youth unemployment is significantly below ours is West Germany. It has a much lower starting wage relative to the full adult rate. Wage levels in this country have undoubtedly not helped young people.

For that reason, we have introduced the young workers scheme. I hope the House will support this, but as I am anxious to encourage training for 16-year-olds I have therefore closed the young workers scheme to them. It will now be for 17-year-olds. That will make it possible to dovetail it with the youth training scheme, so that they can move from that scheme to a real job on the young workers scheme.

It would be wrong for the House to ignore what is contained in our adult training strategy, because the problem to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman referred—one about which some of us feel most keenly—involves those people who were too old for the youth training scheme and who at age 20, 22 or 24 now face the problem of unemployment. They have never worked—the point made by the hon. Member for Knowsley, North—and have no training.

The Opposition motion refers to the problem of unemployment but then talks about the introduction of a training scheme for 16 to 19-year-olds. It does not refer to any measure for the older group. Many hon. Members will feel that that is a serious problem. It is one to which we have paid particular attention in the adult training strategy, which is why we have doubled the annual provision to 250,000 adults whom we can train, and thus give an opportunity to make youngsters who have never worked fit for work. I shall be particularly interested in that aspect of the problem because it is worrying and one to which we must pay attention.

I recognise the importance of the steps taken, and the introduction of special employment measures and the community programme. More than half of those working on that programme are under 25 years old. We must ensure that that age group will not be excluded or prevented from taking up the job opportunities coming with the improvement in the economy because of a lack of adequate training.

I know that this is a short debate and that many right hon. and hon. Members wish to speak, so I shall be brief. I sought to set out the two key ingredients of the amendment. First, the prerequisite for improved employment opportunities must be a strengthening of the economy, of which there have been very encouraging signs. It is too soon to say whether that recovery and strengthening of the economy will lead to a real improvement in unemployment. However, as I told the House yesterday, I hope that that will take place. I am determined to see that, as the economy improves, training appropriate to the needs of that economy will be available. At the same time, we shall do all we can to help those facing the difficulties of unemployment.

We should not embark on the Opposition's extraordinary proposals, which are put forward without proper costing, as that will lead to an explosion in public expenditure in areas suggested in the speech of the right hon. and learned Member for Monkland, East. If that were done, it would lead directly to the old cycle of higher inflation and interest rates, and to a downturn in the economy and a disappoining performance by industry. We should be back with the conditions that led to the remorseless rise in unemployment suffered in the 1970s, and in the recent recession. The course that we have charted is the best hope for the British people. It is a heavy responsibility because employment is the area of greatest difficulty that we face. We shall stick to our policies to ensure that the economy improves, and that employment opportunities improve with it.

Photo of Mr John Golding Mr John Golding , Newcastle-under-Lyme 5:06 pm, 22nd February 1984

Insensitive, inadequate, incompetent—those words sum up the performance of the Department of Employment these days. It is insensitive because Ministers have slipped into apathy in the face of the massive problem of unemployment among those under 25 years old, and the unhappiness and frustration that that creates.

It is appalling that almost three in 10, or 27·2 per cent., of our 18 to 19-year-olds are unemployed. More than two in 10 of our 19 to 24-year-olds are unemployed. That is a national disgrace. Yet Ministers sit there like dum-dums, doing next to nothing about it. We cannot underline the figure often enough: 1,209,443 young people under the age of 25 are drawing benefits because we cannot provide them with work and wages. It is a crime that 329,685 of those young people have been out of work for more than 12 months, and a personal tragedy for them and their families. It would be insensitive not to be distressed about that enormous problem, but the Government's response has been totally inadequate.

My complaint against the Government is not about the youth training scheme, as I strongly support it, but about the fact that it does not go far enough. The Government have concentrated so much on provision for 16-year-olds and school leavers that they have virtually washed their hands of responsibility for young adults.

The problem of unemployment for 18 to 24-year-olds is massive, with more than 1 million of them out of work. Provision for them is almost non-existent, as was the Secretary of State's explanation. For the unemployed over 18, of whom there are well over 1 million, only 130,000 community programme places are available, even after the scheme's expansion. The vast bulk of 18 to 24-year-olds have been written off by the Government.

There has been an enormous impact on personality and attitudes among the young. The normal patterns of work and of saving to get married have been upset. I am concerned about the problems faced by youngsters saving up to get married, and about the whole impact of unemployment on family life.

Young unemployed people living at home receive only £24·55 per week in benefits. After April, the Government will take £3·10 away from them as a result of the proposed housing benefit reduction. Those young people will get £21·45 per week. It is appalling that the housing benefit cuts will hit that age group. A single householder aged 18 or 19 receives £26·80 per week and an allowance for rent and rates. A boarder gets board and lodging payments, and a meals allowance, totalling £8·85 per week.

How does the Secretary of State—I have asked his predecessors the same question—expect young adults of 18 to 24 to save up and get married on that sort of money? What a start to family life. The last time that I asked one of his right hon. Friends that question, he replied that young people in that position should not get married.

It is an increasingly important problem. We are dealing with 1 million of our fellow citizens, who are living on a pittance and are unable to save. Even the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) could not get through the week with enough money to put in the gas meter, never mind saving to get married.

The Government's response to the problems of this age group is as inadequate as it is insensitive. It is not that the Government do not have enough money to help those youngsters, as the Government are wasting money in the most incompetent manner on the job-splitting scheme and the young workers wage subsidy scheme, which are fine examples of waste and gross incompetence. Both those schemes were defective when introduced, and should have been killed off long ago.

On the job-splitting scheme, the House was told on 17 November 1982 of an estimate of 62,500 jobs being split by 31 March 1984, of which 50,000 would be split by 31 December 1983. That was for last year. The figure for 1983 was 734, after an estimate of 50,000. What a flop. What a waste of money. As much as £338,500, was spent on advertising the scheme. Perhaps the Minister will tell me, taking into account the money spent on advertising, the cost of providing each job under the scheme. Only 706 jobs have been created for the 1,200,000 young adults who are unemployed. It does not bear examination. However, I hope very much that the Select Committee on Employment will consider the scheme in detail.

The Government are dogged by dogma. They should have scrapped the job-splitting scheme before now or introduced radical alternatives to make it work. Instead, they have extended the principle to the job release scheme. I am prejudiced. I introduced the job release scheme and am proud to have done so. It was a good scheme because it allowed those who had worked hard all their lives to retire and give their jobs to the young unemployed. It was an inexpensive scheme, relative to other schemes.

However, the Government have now stopped early retirement at 62 and 63 and have put the age for job release back to 64, which is a disgrace. The people believe that to be a disgrace. To make it more palatable, the Government took a flop, the job-splitting scheme, which has not cost them much money because nobody wants it, and said that they would insert job splitting into the job release scheme. At 10 February only 26 people were receiving the part-time job release scheme allowance. Can the Secretary of State tell me that it is worth keeping countless civil servants working on the scheme? It is a Civil Service job creation scheme. It is incompetent to run schemes in which only 26 people are involved.

The young workers scheme is totally inefficient. Under the scheme, where earnings are below £42 a week, the employer gets a subsidy of £15, and where earnings are below £47 a week, the employer gets £7·50. It is a ridiculous subsidy system because it pays employers to employ youngsters whom they would have employed, even without the subsidy. Labour tried a recruitment subsidy for school leavers, but we quickly scrapped it. I was involved in the scrapping. Experience told us that we were paying employers to take on youngsters with eight or nine O-levels whom they did not need to pay, and whom they would recruit and employ anyway. What is the point in the Government saying to an employer that if he employs a Queen's scout or somebody with a Duke of Edinburgh award, who has 10 O-levels, they will pay the employer £15 a week? If subsidies are being paid they should go towards ensuring that youngsters are employed who otherwise would not be employed.

I shall go back not to the 1982 survey, which was unfavourable to the Government, but to a recent parliamentary answer. I understand that four fifths of the jobs for which an allowance is paid are not dependent on that allowance. My arithmetic may be wrong, but I have calculated that at present it costs the Government £1,435 a year for each job with wages of £42 per week. That does not make sense. It is not economic sense. [Interruption.] The Secretary of State stutters and mutters. I should be glad if he would get up and say "The hon. Gentleman has got his figures wrong."

Photo of Mr John Golding Mr John Golding , Newcastle-under-Lyme

The Minister of State will reply when we cannot get at the right hon. Gentleman. That is an old dodge. The Secretary of State talks his general waffle and the Minister of State will be asked to reply when we cannot get at him. I wonder what justification there can be for running such an expensive scheme. It is a financial flop.

Another problem that we face is that we are receiving complaints from constituents because employers are being encouraged to exploit young people. That is happening increasingly. Young people are taken on the young workers scheme. As soon as the subsidy comes to an end, they are bundled out of the door. If a person is recruited on the young workers scheme and then goes into an apprenticed job with higher wages, the employer grumbles when his subsidy is cut. If complaints are made against the employer for cutting pay, the youngster mysteriously gets the sack for something else. He gets the sack not because of the wages, but because of this, that or the other. Once complaints are lodged, victimisation takes place.

That is no way to treat our young people. One will not get the best out of them if they are exploited and ill-treated. That is not a base for increased productivity in future. One will produce so many work people who are against the system, the boss and the firm. The atmosphere that has been created by the young workers scheme and some of the deficiencies in other schemes will be harmful to our industrial future. The Government owe it to our young people to ensure that they can develop their talents and their potential to the full in a favourable atmosphere. They cannot do that at present.

There is evidence of growing exploitation not only of those between 16 and 24 but of those under 16. It is important for the Government to take seriously the charge that young people under the age of 16 are being exploited in cafes and elsewhere. They are being given low pay, and are taking jobs from other people.

We need a Department of Employment that once again will stand up for itself against the Treasury. We want Ministers at the Department who will stand up against the Prime Minister and make it absolutely clear that their role in government is to stand up and be counted on the side of the unemployed. All that those Ministers seem to do at present, from their comfortable offices in Caxton house, Tothill street, is to count the number of unemployed. They are insensitive, inadequate and incompetent. The quicker they go, the better.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lawler Mr Geoffrey Lawler , Bradford North 5:18 pm, 22nd February 1984

I share the dismay of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State at the negative attitude taken by the Labour party to this subject. In the motion there is an element of constructive suggestion. I hope that it will come out later. At the moment there is precious little evidence of it. Perhaps the fact that there are so few Labour Members present is a reflection of how short on constructive ideas they are.

That negative attitude to youth unemployment does not go down well with young people. They do not like to be told that they are on the scrap heap or that there is no hope. If one talks to young people, one finds that they are taking great steps, either through joining the youth training scheme or, if they are too old for that, by going to unemployment centres or joining any other schemes on which they can teach themselves skills and learn to become more employable and thus find jobs more easily. What Labour Members say is like a doctor telling everyone in a hospital that they are desperately ill and there is no hope for recovery. There is hope, and young people are grasping those opportunities.

That negative attitude is almost a death wish for the youth training scheme and has done more harm to it than any other factor, including the level of allowances such as the travelling allowance, and the quality of training. If one talks to some young people on the youth training scheme, one hears criticisms that spring from certain Opposition Members and certain people in trade unions, but I agree with my right hon. Friend that the bulk of trainees take a responsible attitude towards the scheme. Unwarranted criticism of the training scheme has done much harm to young people's aspirations, but the vast majority have ignored it, and those on schemes are pleased to be there and regard them as an avenue to a future job.

On a more constructive note, I should like to consider what the Government are currently doing and suggest measures to put more young people into jobs. The reason youth unemployment is so high is that for every reduction of 1 per cent. in employment, it generally happens during a recession that the level of unemployment among the under-twenties rises by 1·7 per cent. That is because the employers' first step during a recession is to stop recruiting. In particular, they stop recruiting young people, because young people are a burden on a company. They are untrained and add very little to productivity and competitiveness.

It is therefore imperative that the Government should pursue a national training scheme that enables young people to contribute to a company almost from the day they arrive. They must arrive equipped with skills. The lack of a suitable scheme has greatly damaged industry in this country in the past few years. Until September 1983, only 50 per cent. of young people in the United Kingdom had training of any kind, compared with 90 per cent. in Germany and 80 per cent. in France. It is no coincidence that in Germany last year the level of youth unemployment was 13 per cent., while ours was 26 per cent. We have the lowest level of skilled young people in the Common Market. That point was recognised by the Labour party in 1978 in its consultative paper, which stated: If this neglected group do not receive the vocational preparation they need, many workers in Britain will continue to be substantially less well trained than their counterparts abroad, and the industries in which they work will continue to suffer in consequence. That is very important. It shows that training not only provides young people with skills but helps to create jobs. That is why a national training scheme is so important. In Bradford this year, 40 per cent. of school leavers who have found jobs have opted for the traditional manufacturing industries. If they acquire skills before they go into those industries, they are able to contribute to them. They are able to use their skills in technology and engineering to contribute to innovation. That will ensure that their company becomes more competitive, that its share of the market expands and—perhaps even more important—that it is able to develop new markets.

This new generation of skilled young people will not feel trapped in one occupation. The youth training scheme will provide them with job skills that are flexible, adaptable and transferable—all vital qualities in today's changing job market and work environment, as many hon. Members in marginal seats can attest. Employers want those skills and will take people on if they have them. That is why, as recovery continues, we shall find that employers will take on a greater proportion of young people, as they have done in every other economic recovery in the past. So the level of youth unemployment will decline.

The seeds are sown for a promising future for young people from the youth training scheme. However—I welcome my right hon. Friend's remarks on this point—there will be a problem with those who have not had the benefit of the youth training scheme. Young people aged 17, 18 or more have not been able to acquire skills. I am glad that my right hon. Friend is considering this area seriously. In Bradford there are 475 18-year-olds who have been unemployed for over a year. It is vital that, when we provide skill training for young people, we do not forget those who are aged 18 to 24 or more. I urge the Minister to encourage the Manpower Services Commission to show greater flexibility in the treatment of those young people. For example, there are the information technology centre schemes which have been so successful that in Bradford, where there were 60 places, so many people have gone into jobs already that there are a certain number of vacancies that cannot be filled because there are no 16-year-olds to fill them. They are all placed in jobs or education. Rather than leave 10 places standing idle, could not the MSC take in 10 people aged 17, 18 or more? That would not involve any extra expense. It is inconceivable that there are no young people of 18, 19 or more who would not be glad to take an ITEC place, knowing that it virtually guarantees them full-time employment afterwards, and who would not want an extra allowance for attending that place. All that is required is a certain amount of flexibility from the MSC and the DHSS to bend its rules to permit these people to attend ITEC courses full-time.

There is another way in which we could help to create jobs for young people. In liaison with other authorities we should consider how to give greater encouragement to young people to become self-employed or to start their own businesses. Much interest is being shown in this area. A recent youth survey, carried out in conjunction with the Thompson report, showed that 30 per cent. of young people were interested in becoming self-employed and running their own businesses.

Photo of Robert Wareing Robert Wareing , Liverpool, West Derby

And then they saw the bankruptcy figures for last year.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lawler Mr Geoffrey Lawler , Bradford North

That idea is being taken up by groups such as the British Youth Council—organisations that take a more constructive view of youth unemployment than certain members of the Labour party. I commend one such scheme, which seems to be working—the stand-by scheme in Kent. This youth unemployment project allows young people to become self-employed or to start their own businesses. It provides advice and skill training, and, in conjunction with the DHSS, has worked out a scheme of providing credits for young people so that the money that they earn goes into a bank and provides for tools for self-employment. It is also a way of saving up the £1,000 that they will need to take advantage of the enterprise allowance at the age of 18.

My right hon. Friend should consider an extension of this, perhaps by encouraging chambers of commerce to provide professional advice and management, working in liaison with unemployment centres where skill training can be provided. Such schemes would contribute to creating extra employment for young people. I hope that that suggestion will be considered.

The Government have taken a constructive view of the problem of youth unemployment and made a constructive response. That response, and the schemes that are in operation, give young people hope.

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair , Sedgefield 5:28 pm, 22nd February 1984

The eastern division of County Durham's career service recently published its 1983 annual report, which covers eight comprehensive schools and their school leavers. Only 335 of those school leavers have obtained full-time jobs. In the final quarter of 1983, only 24 obtained full-time jobs. Ninety-seven of the 335 have rejoined the dole queue since they left school and found a job. The report also shows that over 120 of those who left school in 1982 and found jobs are now back on the dole and that a further 261—16 per cent.—of those who left school in 1982 have not worked at all since leaving school. It is true that 1,000 or more are on youth training schemes, but that is of little comfort to them.

In County Durham, about 20 per cent. of those who join Government schemes get full-time jobs after leaving them. Across the northern region, since 1979 the most dramatic change in the total unemployment figure has been the percentage of long-term unemployed. Whereas in 1979 12·5 per cent. of youth unemployment was long term, by the beginning of 1984 it had risen to 32·3 per cent. It is not the statistics that matter but how the lives of young people who live in areas such as mine are actually affected that brings those figures home.

Young people are desperate for work. They have no sense of purpose or hope—only despair—and their first experience of adult life is often the dole queue. Their lives comprise standing on street corners, watching television or video and going along to apply for jobs and frequently being told that unless they have experience they cannot have a job — but it is not possible to gain such experience without having had a job. In a recent paper which was presented to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Mr. Kenneth Roberts talked of the twilight world which many young unemployed people inhabit. They move from temporary Government schemes to low-wage unskilled jobs temporarily and then back to the dole queue.

The Government's amendment congratulates them on their economic policies and youth training programme. It would be easier to be well disposed towards the latter if it were not so much influenced by the former. The character of schemes such as the youth training scheme and the young workers scheme depends as much on the motives and ideology of those who run the schemes and the Government as they do on their detail. No Opposition Member is against the idea of youth training, but we oppose the way in which the schemes have been implemented by the Government and how they are being run. It is difficult to resist the conclusion that the Government's intention in the YTS is to condition youth to low wages. We have reached the ludicrous point at which the concept of training becomes the concept of training people to accept low wages.

Photo of Mrs Angela Rumbold Mrs Angela Rumbold , Mitcham and Morden

The hon. Gentleman disagrees with the way in which the Government have set up their youth training scheme. Does he disagree with the idea that the employer has a great deal to give in terms of training young people?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair , Sedgefield

I certainly do not suggest that the employer does not have a role in training young people. The Labour party's programme makes that clear. I must point out emphatically, however, that it is wrong for the youth training scheme to become a means of conditioning young people to low wages. It is difficult to resist the conclusion that that is what the scheme is about.

Perhaps I might quote what the Prime Minister said on 27 July 1981, shortly before the White Paper on the youth training scheme was introduced. She said: Because the wages of young people are often too high in relation to experienced adults, employers cannot afford to take them on—even though it is clear that many employers want to help. That situation has come about because of unrealistic pay bargaining over the years."—[Official Report, 27 July 1981; Vol. 9, c. 835.]

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair , Sedgefield

For the benefit of the hon. Member for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind), I shall read from the Department of Employment's research paper which was published shortly before the Prime Minister spoke. It said: Variations in youth unemployment do not appear to have any systematic relationship with changes in the relative earnings of young people. The young workers scheme is an extraordinary indication of the Government's purpose in that area of policy. It provides a subsidy for young people to be paid low wages. If any right hon. or hon. Member is in any doubt about how the scheme is perceived by many young people, he should be aware that many such people regard themselves as being brutally and cruelly exploited by the low wages paid in the youth training scheme. One has only to talk to them sensibly to appreciate that.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lawler Mr Geoffrey Lawler , Bradford North

The recent survey, to which I referred in my speech, showed that when young people were asked why they would not go on the youth opportunities programme, only 3 per cent. quoted the allowance and their being exploited as cheap labour as a reason.

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair , Sedgefield

That is a piece of calculated impertinence. Many young people, when faced with the prospect of doing absolutely nothing and going on a scheme, choose to go on a scheme. That is why many young people in my area go on such schemes. That is not a reason for the complacent arrogance that we have just heard.

Photo of Mr John Golding Mr John Golding , Newcastle-under-Lyme

Will my hon. Friend bear it in mind that the first thing in young people's minds is not the wages but the fact that there is little point in going on a scheme if they do not get a job afterwards? That is the feeling that has conditioned the response to the survey.

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair , Sedgefield

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We should remember that when the YTS was originally mooted by the Government, it was to be compulsory and the wages were to be much lower than they are. Now the number of mode B1 places is to be reduced and the NAPRO wheelbase project in Darlington, which provides a service that meets a real need in the community, is to have its 90 places reduced to 30. Measures such as that mean that many young people and others who analyse Government policy believe that the Government's purpose is to push people into low-wage jobs rather than to give them real training.

I entirely accept that no amount of schemes is a substitute for Government action in the broad management of the economy, but it is there that the Government's true failure lies. Government action requires Government will.

It is appropriate that today's debate takes place almost 40 years after the Conservative-led coalition Government of 1944 presented a White Paper on employment policy. It was a Conservative Minister of Reconstruction—my goodness, we need such a Minister now — who presented that White Paper to the House. Sir William Beveridge later described that White Paper as a milestone in economic and political history". It defined three major advances in economic policy which should be taken as read: first, that the concept of planning had a role to play in creating employment; secondly, that the Government's role in stimulating demand and spending was a key factor in diminishing unemployment; and thirdly, that the primary aim and responsibility of Government was to maintain high and stable levels of employment.

It is a sad but profound reflection on the modern Conservative party that it is the Labour party which must now argue with Conservative Members for all three of the points that were advanced. The Beveridge pamphlet called "Full Employment in a Free Society" was widely praised. Like the Opposition, he appreciated that freedom and democracy are not abstract and formal concepts but relative. When our young people are deprived of the opportunity to lead an active working life and to play a proper part in the affairs of the community, they cease to feel a part of the community.

Photo of Mr Barry Porter Mr Barry Porter , Wirral South

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the debate so far has shown that successive Governments have fiddled about with schemes of various types with varying success? Does he further agree that no one has yet attempted to define full employment which is one of the three legs on which the hon. Gentleman advances his argument? Will the hon. Gentleman define, in modern terms, what full employment means and say whether it is achievable? Is he speaking of employment levels such as those of the 1950s? No forecast that I have seen suggests that full employment in terms of the 1950s is possible. Would it not be much kinder to young people to say what we mean by full employment? Should we not spend our time trying to find a way in which to organise society so that people who are not working in the ordinary sense have a proper role to play in society? Would it not be much better if we did that rather than exchanged ridiculous rhetoric?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair , Sedgefield

I hope that the House will compare what the hon. Gentleman has just said with what a Conservative Government wrote in 1944. If it does, it will see clearly the difference between the modern and the old Conservative party.

When young people do not feel that they are playing a part in community life, more than their livelihoods suffer. Democracy suffers. The tragedy is that many young people are denied the opportunity to live an active working life and to play a part in community affairs. The Government's sin—no amount of schemes will absolve them—is that, as long as they are in power, the tragedy will go unremedied.

Photo of Mr Michael Woodcock Mr Michael Woodcock , Ellesmere Port and Neston 5:39 pm, 22nd February 1984

In my constituency there are more than 5,000 registered unemployed. That represents more than 20 per cent. of the working population. For every registered vacancy there are 75 people waiting to fill the job. Fifteen per cent. of all young people between 16 and 18 are without a job, even though last year 71 per cent. of school leavers entered youth training schemes. Moreover, 40 per cent. of the registered unemployed are under 25.

That is a tragedy. It is a tragedy in personal terms because to trade the classroom for the dole queue is no way to start adult life and because young people lose hope. Last week, I heard about one young person with A-levels who had made 140 job applications and received 140 rejections. It is also a tragedy for society, for without work young people can become frustrated, rebellious and eventually apathetic; and apathy is no solution to the country's problems. It is also a tragedy for society, because unemployed young people can so easily drift into bad ways, including petty crime. Shoplifting may be induced by the desire to keep up living standards and vandalism may be induced by boredom. I make no excuses for such behaviour, but in 12 years as a magistrate before I became a Member of Parliament I learned that there is a connection between youth unemployment and petty crime.

Youth employment opportunities depend on many factors. First, they depend on young people not being priced out of the job market, because employers will ultimately choose employees who seem to be good value, after taking account of the inevitably higher costs of training young people. They depend on young people having adequate education standards and adequate qualifications. Our schools and colleges still have a long way to go before they turn out young people suitably qualified to work in trade and industry. They depend also on young people having the right attitudes and appearance when they attend their first job interviews.

Photo of Mr John Golding Mr John Golding , Newcastle-under-Lyme

Did the young gentleman with A-levels whom the hon. Member cited as having applied for 140 jobs meet the requirements of good education and appearance, attractiveness and so on?

Photo of Mr Michael Woodcock Mr Michael Woodcock , Ellesmere Port and Neston

Yes, I think that it is fair to say that that young person—it was in fact a young lady—met those requirements. But that is not the whole story. Above all, job opportunities for young people depend on job opportunities generally. When I talk to careers officers and jobcentre staff in my constituency, they say that the problem is not that employers are reluctant to take on young employees but that there are simply no jobs available for anyone.

To put it very simply, if there are to be more jobs for young people, there must be more jobs generally. There is only one way to achieve that — through higher productivity. That means producing the right goods at the right price in the right quantity at the right time. That is the only way to succeed, as every successful business man knows. It means paying ourselves what we earn and not more than we earn, because that merely leads to inflation and ultimately to unemployment. It means encouraging business expansion by rewarding enterprise and allowing businesses to keep and invest more of what they earn. It means reducing taxation, especially rates. I regularly hear of businesses in my constituency paying rates equal to £40 per employee per week.

Photo of Robert Wareing Robert Wareing , Liverpool, West Derby

The hon. Gentleman may be interested to know that at a meeting with the Secretary of State for the Environment this morning a delegation of Liverpool councillors was advised to increase rates by 60 per cent. What does the hon. Gentleman think about that?

Photo of Mr Michael Woodcock Mr Michael Woodcock , Ellesmere Port and Neston

Any local authority which raises rates by 60 per cent. and passes on the increase to local businesses will certainly increase unemployment.

I do not pretend to know the answer to youth unemployment, but I do know that before we can have more jobs we must have more successful employers. Every one of us can help in achieving that. The Government can help by reducing taxation on businesses trying to expand and by continuing to roll back the frontiers of state bureaucracy and interference. They must gear regional aid more closely to job creation and give special consideration to cases where jobs are lost as a direct result of Government action. For example, Associated Octel in my constituency produces most of the lead additives for petrol. Its 1,500 employees stand to suffer greatly from the Government's decision to phase out lead in petrol. That is no fault of the company.

Local authorities can help be reducing rate levels which are crippling many small businesses. They must be more active in providing and helping small businesses to find accommodation. The education system must help more by preparing young people more adequately for working life and teaching them the disciplines and constraints that working life demands. The trade unions must help by modifying agreements which require employers to pay wage-for-age scales and which in many cases make it uneconomic to employ young people. Parents must help by preparing children for the day when they must compete in the job market. Young people can also sometimes help themselves more by recognising that most employers will choose smart, punctual, polite applicants.

Above all, Members of Parliament can help by supporting policies based on business common sense, policies which recognise that we must live and work in a world economy and that protectionism in any form is no long-term solution. We can help by supporting policies which tackle the underlying problems of this country. Those are the policies which will lead to an upturn in the economy and those are the policies of this Government.

Photo of Mr Ian Wrigglesworth Mr Ian Wrigglesworth , Stockton South 5:47 pm, 22nd February 1984

Although it is always necessary for the country to have as comprehensive and effective a system as possible for training young people, the problem of unemployment makes the training scheme introduced by the Government and the various schemes run by the Manpower Services Commission especially important for so many young people today. I wish to say something about the youth training scheme before commenting on the problem of unemployment.

It is a sad fact that this country has taken far too long to introduce a system of youth training that has been needed for many years past. Although the Government have now introduced such a scheme—the Secretary of State mentioned the comments of the SDP president, the right hon. Shirley Williams, on this—our competitors in Europe, especially Germany, and in other parts of the world have more comprehensive and effective training schemes in which they have invested far more resources than this country ever has.

The alliance supports and welcomes the introduction of the youth training scheme but believes that it can be improved. I shall point out one or two ideas for improving the scheme that I hope the Government will consider. First, I hope that their approach to the scheme will be to look on it as only a first step towards a longer system of training for young people than we have had in the past or that we have today. Secondly, it must be developed into a more comprehensive scheme than it is, because it does not fit in well with adult training, the apprenticeship system or what is going on in the schools and further education colleges, which should run parallel with it.

The Secretary of State will know that I and my colleagues have often expressed our anxiety about the development of the dual track training and education system. The Secretary of State is aware of the problem of the overlap, and the decrease in co-ordination between what is happening in local education institutions and under the MSC. So much has been put on to the shoulders of the MSC that I am sure that all hon. Members must be aware that it has not been able to carry out its duties and responsibilities as effectively as it should have done or would like to have done. It has been given so much to do in a short period that it is not able to carry out its job properly. More resources are needed to help it to do so.

Instead of having two Government Departments, one responsible for education and one for training, we should have one Government Department responsible for both. I know that, with the vested interests of Government Departments and members of the Cabinet, it is not easy to contemplate losing part of an empire, but I beg the Government to look at the problem of the dual track system that is developing, particularly with regard to the recently published White Paper. The problems will grow, and there will not be the comprehensive system that is needed unless we have better co-ordination.

Nothing illustrates this better than the development of what I regard as the excellent and exciting new initiative in training in vocational work in schools that the Secretary of State for Education and Science has introduced. However, it is no good for the Department of Education and Science to introduce such an initiative, welcome as it is, when it is not tied in with the youth training scheme and the other work going on under the MSC and other parts of the education sector. I hope that the Government will look not only at this but at the way in which the YTS is monitored and certificated. It is no good having a scheme if, at the end of the day, it has been second-rate training for the young people and they do not have a piece of paper, a qualification that they can take from the employer, that is recognised as being worth something.

The problem is not only one of the quality of training but also of fitting that qualification in as a component with what is going on in apprentice training and adult education later in life. We should not be speaking only about youth training because in today's world people will need to go back to training and education throughout their careers much more than they did in the past. Therefore, youth training should be the first step in achieving a more comprehensive system than that which we now have.

Reference has been made to the weakness of the scheme, caused by the unemployment that is the main feature of this debate. There is a clear division in the House between the parties as to what economic policy we should adopt to get more people back to work—I do not say to get rid of unemployment. It would be a bold hon. Member from either side of the House who would claim that he or she knew the answer to this problem, and a little humility on the part of all hon. Members might ring a bell outside if we were to demonstrate it rather more than we do in debates such as this.

The best way to characterise the difference of approach between the parties is to refer to the economic indicator to which the Government have paid so much attention in recent years, the public sector borrowing requirement. The Government are the party of the 2 per cent. PSBR as a percentage of gross domestic product. The alliance is the party of 4 per cent. and the Labour party is the party of 6 per cent. or 8 per cent., depending upon whose speech one is listening to. I read with interest the speech made by the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) as he seems to be moving in the direction of the alliance.

As the Secretary of State knows, we do not take the view that there should be a massive and confetti-like reflation of the economy. The Government have a major responsibility towards the young unemployed and must do more than they have done since 1979. The international comparisons show this clearly. They must do more to get young people back to work and into jobs and to give them opportunities that they do not have at the moment.

What worries me about the Secretary of State's speech today, about the Prime Minister's attitude and about the Chancellor's and other senior economic Ministers' attitudes, is that they do not seem to be aware of the scale of the problem facing them. I have the pleasure and the pride to represent Stockton-on-Tees. A former right hon. Member who represented my constituency, which is also my home town, is the ex-Prime Minister Mr. Harold Macmillan, who was our Member before the last war. As his choice of title for when he goes to the other place demonstrates, he learnt a great deal from the town, and that has stayed with him throughout his life. His period as our Member left an indelible imprint on his mind, and in Stockton because he will always be held in high regard there, where he is a freeman of the city. The effect the town had upon him was demonstrated in his writings at that time and in the policies that he has pursued since then.

All those experiences and policies have been rejected by this Administration. Over the past two weeks I have been reading Harold Macmillan's biography, and I have been struck by the fact that the unemployment figures in Stockton-on-Tees today are not that much different from what they were when he was the Member for my constituency. In particular, the young people are in virtually the same difficulty today as they were then.

If he has not done so recently, the Secretary of State for Employment would do well to study the writing of that former Prime Minister and the policies that he advocated and pursued when he was in office. They are not revolutionary policies, but they are very different from the policies that characterise this Administration. If the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister in this Administration were to move in that direction, they would give hope to the young unemployed and make their participation in the youth training scheme and in the employment opportunities that the Secretary of State's Department provides through the MSC that much more meaningful. That would get more people into them and make them more relevant to their lives.

Unless the Government are prepared to change their economic policies and to start a steady reflation of the economy over a period those youngsters who have been unemployed for too long already, and who have no hope of obtaining jobs in the foreseeable future, will despair even more. I fear to think what retribution will be wreaked on society as a result of their despair and anger.

Photo of Mrs Angela Rumbold Mrs Angela Rumbold , Mitcham and Morden 5:59 pm, 22nd February 1984

It was interesting to hear the hon. Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Wrigglesworth) comparing the position of 40 or 50 years ago with today's. He and Labour Members seem to have forgotten that, sadly, unemployment is not the prerogative of Britain. In the European Community, which has a total population of 273 million, of whom 100 million are aged under 25, the sad fact is that young people account for 20 per cent. of the working population, but for 40 per cent. of the unemployed. Youngsters are especially vulnerable to the effects of world recession, and it is generally acknowledged that special measures are needed to help them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Lawler) stressed the importance of the young people of any country being in the right frame of mind. Central to that is an optimistic future in which employment is available and the rewards for it are attractive. That will provide the background for a better understanding of other nations' problems and the greater likelihood of mutually beneficial attitudes among countries.

Although the world recession has partly contributed to unemployment in Britain, other factors, such as new technology, have also had an impact upon it. We must take on board the fact that traditional jobs will disappear as new forms of employment appear. As I can see no reason for continuing to look back and wring our hands in misery, I wish to look forward and try to determine where those jobs will come from.

It is important to make it clear that the Government can play only one role, and that is providing the right policy framework within which economic changes can take place smoothly. It is logical to say that only when the long-term decline in profit is reversed will investment be encouraged, which is critical to long-term job creation. Without labouring the point, may I say that for Britain to provide the optimum opportunity for sustained competitiveness there must be an improvement in design, more reliability in marketing and an effective after-sales service comparable with that of other countries, so that we can improve our share of domestic and world markets. Without such effective management we cannot compete with other countries.

The Government have taken a number of steps in the right direction to encourage the training of youngsters. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said, they are already spending a considerable sum to ensure that training is available to every young person who requires it. Some hon. Members have said that the amount of money paid to the youngsters is not enough, but, whatever the sum they received, some people would find fault with it. It would either be too much or too little. Although it might seem tough, part of the training process is the understanding of the trainees that those who are teaching them and working with them are sharing skills which have a cost attached to them. That is a valuable bench mark for the young, coming face to face with the realities of work.

I have always believed that training is only as good as the result: that those in receipt of training are successfully employed afterwards. That must mean that the current scheme should relate to possible, or even probable, employment. That is why there should be a change of emphasis from community-led schemes to employer-led schemes. The schemes should be based on first-hand experience of the skills required in jobs, which would provide a much better chance for future employment.

Any future training scheme should have three basic elements: potential employers should be involved, it must be regarded as a long-term investment to provide relevant employment; and the idea should be clearly implanted that a well-trained work force produces an efficient work force composed of people who obtain maximum job satisfaction. We have heard very little in the debate about ultimate job satisfaction, but without it no future work force, however well trained and however much employment there is, will be satisfied with what it is doing. The future work force must also be adaptable.

I have concentrated on only one area of a many-faceted problem, but it is critical to our future employment pattern. The relevance of the training which our young people receive must be examined continuously, and I hope that those who plan training in future will take an accurate estimate of employment patterns so that the skills chosen and the schemes introduced change according to our prospects. I refer especially to the use of computers and high technology, which will play a significant part in our future employment scene. However, we should not forget the service industries when planning youth training schemes, since in future there will be much more time for leisure. There should be endless opportunities for planners to imagine what those industries will be.

I stress the danger of allowing youngsters to continue to believe that they will not have a place in society. Although the Government have taken many steps towards improving the position, it is vital for our future society that young people are geared to believing that they can look forward to success. Unless we do that — it is our responsibility as adults—and unless we point out the opportunities to young people, believing that they will exist, we shall not satisfy the requirements of a responsible Government.

Photo of Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk , Knowsley North 6:08 pm, 22nd February 1984

I represent half of the borough of Knowsley, which has the highest youth unemployment in Britain. For that reason alone, I welcome the motion tabled by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) and the opportunity provided for the House to debate youth unemployment and to hear what plans the Government have to alleviate the enormous scale and depth of youth unemployment. The problem is that we heard little from the Secretary of State today that would contribute to relieving the anxiety of the 85 per cent. of school leavers in my constituency who are either unemployed or serving on youth training schemes. They have heard nothing to make them sure of a full-time, proper job at any time in the foreseeable future.

Youth unemployment has to be set in the context of the general economic situation and of adult unemployment. The background in my constituency is the continuing and deepening crisis of Merseyside. According to the 1981 census, the employment rate level in my constituency was 22 per cent. male unemployment. Since then, in the town of Kirkby alone, which is one small part of the constituency, there have been 8,000 redundancies. On Merseyside we have witnessed major closures of factories such as Dunlop, Tate and Lyle, Courtaulds, Hygena, Metal Box and Meccano, and substantial redundancies in BICC and British American Tobacco. Scarcely a day goes by on Merseyside or in my constituency without a major factory closure or substantial redundancies announced.

On Merseyside, 103,639 men are unemployed, an unemployment rate of 18 per cent., with 38,745 women and 5,500 school leavers unemployed. In the town of Kirkby, 5,949 men are chasing seven jobs, with 1,764 unemployed women and 252 unemployed school leavers. In the small town of Prescot, 1,865 men, 830 women and 107 school leavers are unemployed.

The problem is not just magnitude of the numbers, but, as the Secretary of State acknowledged, the length of time that many adults, and in particular today young people, have to spend waiting for the opportunity to begin their lives as fully employed individuals. As I pointed out in my intervention in the Secretary of State's speech, 46 boys and 30 girls who left school in the year in which the Government came into office in 1979 remain unemployed, and have never had the opportunity to earn their living. They have never had a proper job. Nine boys and two girls aged 18 to 19 have been unemployed for between three and four years.

Let us consider the higher age group. The unemployed are often the 24-year-olds who have missed out on training or youth opportunities programmes. In Kirkby, 210 boys—if one can so call them—and 72 girls in the age group 20 to 24 have been unemployed for up to three years. A total of 154 males and 56 females have been unemployed for up to four years. Fifty-seven boys and 20 girls in the same age group have been unemployed for four to five years. Of that age group, 56 boys and 15 girls have been unemployed for over five and a half years in the town of Kirkby alone. That shows not only the scale of the problem and the depth of the economic crisis, but the way in which this affects our young and, in some cases, vulnerable people.

In the town of Prescot, three 19-year-old boys have been unemployed for four years, and 13 19-year-old boys and four 19-year-old girls have been unemployed for three years. Unemployment is at its highest, however, in the town of Cantrell Farm or, as it is now called, Stockbridge village, where in hardly one block of fiats—and they are huge blocks—can one find a male, female, adult or young person in full-time work. The Secretary of State will know this, because he was partly responsible for funding the privatisation of that council estate. The area covered by this huge estate is deprived, desolate and decimated, with hardly one person in full-time productive employment. The situation is terrifying. It is a scandalous state of affairs for any Government or any country to have allowed entire communities in places like Cantrell Farm and Kirkby to have reached this level.

The Secretary of State says that at least there are the youth training schemes. In my constituency, the youth training scheme has been avidly and enthusiastically embraced by the council and by private employers such as BICC and Otis Elevator, as have the community-based schemes such as the Kirkby training workshop or Knowsley community enterprise scheme. There are approximately 2,000 places in my constituency alone. The fact that those community-based schemes are used by the council and by the private sector does not detract from the criticisms that have been made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East and other hon. Friends. In my constituency—I know this not from academic surveys such as those quoted by Conservative Members, but from speaking to the people on the streets and in the places in which they are working on these schemes—I have been told repeatedly that the schemes are no substitute for a proper job. The schemes are often reviled by people, because they do not offer the prospect of full-time employment at the end of the year. Their training needs are not met, because the jobs for which they are being trained—if, indeed, they are being trained—are not available at the end of the year.

Photo of Mr Tom King Mr Tom King Secretary of State for Employment

Anybody who has the slightest knowledge of Knowsley or Merseyside knows the appalling difficulties in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. When the hon. Gentleman echoes those criticisms yet again, there is an unfortunate side effect. While it may be true that these courses are no substitute for the full employment that many would wish to see in certain areas, they do provide training and work experience. The message to some young people from the contributions of some of the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friends is that it is better to stay at home and do nothing than to go on a scheme. That is the damage that is done to young people.

Photo of Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk , Knowsley North

Let me make it clear—I speak for my constituency and my constituents—that I have not said that, nor do I say it. It is the young people who say to me that they would rather be in full-time employment, that there are many deficiencies in the scheme and that they are not being paid enough or being adequately protected by health, safety and welfare regulations. These comments are made forcefully and eloquently. This point was made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East, and it was repeated by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist). We are not dreaming or theorising, but are relating the direct experience of our constituents, who are at the sharp end where it counts. The youth training schemes in my constituency are no substitute for jobs, nor do they provide sufficient training. [Interruption.] If the Secretary of State wishes to mutter, I shall be happy to give way to him. However, he will be much better employed listening to the criticisms of these schemes by my hon. Friends, and then improving them.

Without detracting from the useful work that the schemes have often done, I maintain that some schemes do not cater for children of lesser ability. Unfortunately, there are many such children in my constituency who cannot benefit from the training provided in the schemes. None of the schemes is any substitute for proper jobs.

Several hon. Members, not least on the Conservative Benches, have pointed to the waste of young people caused by the present levels of unemployment. We are wasting the future of those young people—indeed, we are wasting a whole generation. They are the forgotten generation. We are involved in the criminal, almost wanton, destruction of their hopes, lives, talent and abilities. There is not the dignity of employment for them; there is no training or proper skill acquisition; there is no future. There is no need for what my constituents experience. There is no need for the desolation, deprivation and scale of unemployment that we presently confront.

I say that with great authority and great confidence because of the unmet social needs in my constituency and on Merseyside. Any sensible, reasonable person could match the resources, abilities, aptitudes, talents and ambitions of my unemployed constituents with the real social needs for rehousing, repairing the sewers and improving the transport system — all of which are urgently needed in Knowsley and on Merseyside.

There are 36,000 men and women on Merseyside in pain, agony and distress, on the waiting list for hospital admission. Yet wards are closed and new wards have empty beds. There are unemployed doctors and nurses because of the cuts that the Government have imposed on the National Health Service. How much more sensible it would be to open those wards and fill those beds, to reemploy the doctors and the nurses, and thereby offer employment opportunities to my constituents as ancillary workers, administrative workers and so on. That could be done in that one area alone. There is no need for such criminal destruction of our lives and our youngsters. The quicker the Government understand that, the quicker they can embark upon the massive public works programme that is so urgently needed and the quicker they will stop the corrosive effects on my constituents.

The riots that we have seen—which no one condones or wants to see again—will be as nothing to those that we will experience if we do not now show that we care for our children and their future, if we do not now show that they are just as much a part of this community and our society as the Secretary of State for Employment. At the moment we are not giving them that message; the message that they are receiving is that we do not care and they do not count. That is a terrifying message and it will have horrendous consequences.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale , North Thanet 6:23 pm, 22nd February 1984

It is incumbent upon me to say immediately on behalf of any youngsters who may be listening to the debate that the indictment that we have just heard from the hon. Member for Knowsley, North (Mr. Kilroy-Silk) is wholly irresponsible.

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this performance because I was at the rehearsal on Friday 15 July when the hon. Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) was rather more constructive and sympathetic than his Opposition colleagues have been this afternoon.

Conservative Members agree with Opposition Members on the need that has been voiced, but we part company with them on how to meet that need. I have not heard from the Opposition Benches one useful, costed suggestion that is likely to help young people—

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short , Birmingham, Ladywood

The hon. Gentleman has not been listening.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale , North Thanet

I have been listening intently.

Photo of Mr Dave Nellist Mr Dave Nellist , Coventry South East

The hon. Gentleman has not understood, then.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale , North Thanet

I have not heard one useful, costed suggestion that will help youngsters. Instead, I have heard an indictment of a scheme that we believe is making a significant contribution to helping youngsters. It is an insult to the youngsters taking part in the YTS that it should be condemned out of hand, quite irresponsibly, by the Opposition this afternoon. Any youngsters listening to those comments would be dismayed.

Conservative Members want to say to youngsters—and their parents—who have been and will be taking part in the YTS that, for the first time, the Government have introduced a genuine short-term apprenticeship that will provide job experience, a useful opportunity and a qualification at the end of a year's training.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale , North Thanet

After 13 weeks of off-site training, they will receive a piece of paper that will state exactly what they have done, the duties that they have had to fulfil, how they have fulfilled them, comments on their time-keeping and on what sort of persons they may be. It will be a reference that will tell a future employer that those youngsters have experience and are now employable. Conservative Members believe that that is extremely worth while.

In my constituency, the Thanet youth training association has offered 400 placements this year, and 210 of them have been taken up by youngsters. Of those 210 youngsters, 53 per cent. —and we are still only two thirds of the way through the first year—now have jobs either in those placements or as a direct result of their training. According to Mr. Lynas, who has run that scheme, all the young people on it have gained in personal development, in confidence and in experience. That sort of enterprise is to be not condemned, but applauded.

I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will take the opportunity to visit that enterprise to see the work there. Such work is going on in similar schemes throughout the country. Youngsters are benefiting from a project that the Government have introduced. Rather than condemning it out of hand, and making the youngsters feel that they are doing something that is not worth while, Opposition Members should applaud the enterprise that has been shown.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mrs. Rumbold) that many of the jobs being learned are in the new service industries. The youngsters gaining experience in those industries are going out and getting jobs. I also agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Lawler), who congratulated my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on saying that it was time to consider ways in which the scheme could be extended upwards.

Looking to the future, we must offer training in high technology. We must train youngsters in the skills that they need for the opportunities likely to be available to them. Those youngsters are ideally suited to take advantage of modern technology, and, therefore, they must be trained in modern technology. We must provide the facilities for that training. That is why I and many of my hon. Friends have been pressing our colleagues at the Department of Education and Science to increase the opportunities for hi-tech training, and that is now happening.

In the debate in July, which not many Opposition Members present today attended — [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes, we did."' I do not think that many of them did attend. My hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Employment, referred in that debate to the enterprise allowance scheme, which at that time was beginning to go nationwide. We have now had an opportunity to see the benefits of that scheme and the way in which it applies to youngsters. No one on either side of the House has yet mentioned the possibility for self-employment created by the Government. If is a fact that large numbers of youngsters are taking the opportunities offered by the enterprise allowance scheme. They are not sitting back waiting for something to happen; they are going out and setting themselves up in business.

I wish to refer to two financial equations. The first is the equation between social service benefits and jobs. I find it immensely depressing when a youngster of 18 or 19 comes into my surgery on a Saturday morning and tells me that he, his girl friend and the child receive £83 a week in social service benefits, and that, even though he has useable skills, it is not worth his working.

The second equation is between wages and productivity, to which reference has already been made in the debate.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale , North Thanet

I shall not give way.

The money that we pay to young people in Britain is higher than in any other Western country. There is, as is often said, a direct relationship between the amount that we pay and the amount that we earn through productivity. I am afraid that as a result of what has become known as wage bargaining—which other people would call greed — young people have been priced out of jobs by the very people who claim to represent them.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale , North Thanet

I shall not give way. I said that I would be brief.

In July, I said, and I still believe, that in our young people we have a wealth of enthusiasm, energy and optimism. We must not fail them. Nor must we write them off. They are not, as Labour Members believe, a forgotten generation. They are our future. They are very bright indeed, and they are at the forefront of our minds.

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short , Birmingham, Ladywood 6:32 pm, 22nd February 1984

I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in what is one of the most important debates we have had for a considerable time, because, unless we solve the problem of youth unemployment, we shall not solve any of the other problems that face the nation. Our primary task is to solve that problem, but not enough is being done in that direction.

The scale of the problem is enormous. One in two of all under 18-year-olds are unemployed or on the youth training scheme. It has been projected by the MSC that this year the figure would be two in three, and the only reason why we are not at that figure is that more young people are staying on at school and college because their families consider that that is better than to have them unemployed or on a scheme that will lead them nowhere.

About 1·5 million under 25-year-olds are unemployed, and 339,000 of them have been out of work for a year or more. Unemployment is bad, but long-term unemployment is savage. It leads to gross poverty, grinding apathy and no hope for the future. This problem is growing fastest for young people than for any other group, and last year 100,000 youngsters were added to the statistics of the long-term unemployed.

In my constituency the situation is very bad. In the area covered by the Handsworth careers service — which includes the whole of my constituency and one ward of the neighbouring constituency of Perry Barr—in 1983, of 1,389 young people who left school 101, got jobs. In my constituency, people have one chance in 138 of getting a job when leaving school at 16. One in four of them has gone on to the YTS.

If the Secretary of State is suggesting that we are no longer allowed in this House to speak the truth about a training scheme because we might mislead young people, he is believing in his own propaganda far too much. The youngsters of Britain take a certain view of the YTS, and many of them are on it because they have no other opportunity. Nevertheless, they are critical of it, and they will do what they think is right on the basis of their own and their friends' experience. We have not yet reached the stage when we cannot discuss such matters honestly, because to do so might be to mislead. The youth are far more intelligent than that.

In my constituency, 329 have gone on to youth training schemes, but the careers service tells me that the schemes are belittled and thought nothing of by the parents as well as by the youngsters themselves. It is the view of my local careers service that many youngsters who are rejecting the schemes might benefit from them because the options locally are so poor. Nevertheless, they are rejecting them. That is their opinion, not mine. The Government should take seriously into account the people whom they claim the schemes should benefit.

There is another irony in that my constituency takes in the centre of Birmingham. We have the highest level of unemployment in the Soho ward of Birmingham, in the centre of my constituency, with 47·7 per cent. unemployed. We also have the commercial centre of Birmingham, but young people from Handsworth do not get on the few high quality YTS schemes there that lead to jobs. Their opportunities end at Hockleybrook, so they go on to schemes that lead nowhere, and increasing numbers of them are rejecting such schemes.

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short , Birmingham, Ladywood

I shall not give way to the Minister. I have very little time in which to speak, and he will be addressing the House shortly.

In Handsworth, increasing numbers of young people—one in five—have decided to stay on at school, with a further one in five going on to college. One in 10 are registered unemployed, and one in five has disappeared from the unemployment figures. In 1962, I left school in Handsworth at the age of 16. It was never a rich area, but every one of those in my class got a job. That shows the destruction that the Conservatives have done to the west midlands and to my constituents.

It is important to remind ourselves of how recently the problem of youth unemployment has become so gross because Conservative Members suggest that youth wages explain youth unemployment. That is false, and I will come to that. They also claim that there is something wrong with the education system. That is false, too. Until the mid-1970s there was no major problem of youth unemployment in Britain. Indeed, youngsters were snapped up into jobs the moment they left school.

We should, at the same time, nail the lie—it was put about by the Conservative party at the general election and Conservative Members have been repeating it ever since—that there has been an inexorable rise in unemployment since the war and that the figures have risen under every Labour Government since that time. That is false, as the facts show.

From the end of the war until 1970, unemployment stood at just over or below 0·5 million. It did not rise higher than that during those years. Then we got the Government led by the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) and Selsdon Man. That was monetarism first time round, and unemployment shot up to 1 million. In those days even the Conservatives did not believe that 1 million unemployed was tolerable, so we got the famous U-turn, and unemployment returned to 0·5 million. Inflation was encouraged, and that result was achieved.

Next we had the famous Labour Government who, it is claimed, created massive unemployment. In fact, in August 1977 the peak level of unemployment throughout the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, was 1·63 million. Today, we are talking about 3 million registered unemployed, but the number is really far higher. Throughout the time when the Labour party was in office, the number of jobs in the economy increased and the participation rate of women workers, for example, went up. When the Labour party left office, unemployment had come down to 1·3 million.

That is the true historical record, not the big lie that has been repeated time and again to try to confuse the public into accepting the atrocious unemployment record of the Conservatives. Today we have 3 million registered unemployed, but the Government have changed the way in which the figures are collected. It is widely agreed that if they were still collected in the way they were when the Conservatives came to office, they would show 3·5 million registered unemployed. The number of unregistered unemployed has also grown, while the number of people in jobs has declined. That is the record of the Conservatives.

The Government claim that they are not responsible because unemployment has risen in every country in the world. Figures produced by the American Bureau of Labour Statistics—it produces figures for all developed countries on a comparable rate—show that the increase in Britain has been greater than in any other nation. In any event, the Government cannot have it both ways. If they claim not to be responsible for the level of unemployment —because it has risen throughout the world, and other Governments have been foolish enough to follow the economic policies that the British Government have been pursuing—they cannot claim responsibility for reducing inflation.

As for the economic policies that the Government have been pursuing, if many countries are thrown into recession because they adopt monetarist policies and believe in the ridiculous ideas that the British Government have been following, the world economy is bound to go into recession. That does not mean that an act of God has occurred or that it is a problem that we cannot solve. If we pursue sensible economic policies, we can resolve all these problems.

The Government cannot claim that they are not responsible for unemployment, yet at the same time claim that they are responsible for bringing down the rate of inflation. Just as unemployment has gone up in other countries, so inflation has come down in those countries, simply because they have adopted the same package of policies. In other words, the Government are responsible for unemployment, if they wish to claim credit for what has happened to inflation, or they cannot claim credit for either. So let them not continue that piece of double-speak.

Conservative Members continually suggest that wage levels cause unemployment among young people, but they speak without considering the facts. What has been the relationship between wage levels and unemployment among young people? In 1980, Peter Makeham undertook a major study, which was published by the Department of Employment, which showed that there was no relationship between the movement in wage levels and the rise in unemployment among young people in Britain.

The study revealed facts that are true throughout the world — that when unemployment rises, youth unemployment rises faster than unemployment within other categories, and that when unemployment falls, youth unemployment falls faster than the average. That has been the pattern in Britain and in all other industrialised countries throughout the post-war period.

The Government are determined to reduce wage levels and to increase profit levels. That is what they are about. They were unhappy with the study to which I have referred, so they recently commissioned another one, to be undertaken by Mr. W. Wells, on the relative pay and employment of young people. The report has recently been published by the Department of Employment. It is research paper No. 42—known in the unemployment trade as the Wishing Wells report. It is suggested that the report reveals a relationship between young people's wages and the level of unemployment, but that is a false description of the study's findings.

The report recognises that youth pay has not risen relative to adult pay over the past decade. We know from the new earnings survey that it has declined relatively since 1979 and that there has been no corresponding decline in young people's levels of unemployment.

The report claims to discover a link between pay and employment, but it is statistically significant for only one group — under 18—year-old males. If that is the explanation of rising youth unemployment, surely there should be a link for females and 18 to 24-year-olds. However, the report states that even for this narrow group the results should be viewed with caution. The great finding is that up to 100,000 jobs could be created for young people by a 10 per cent. cut in their wages. However, about 80 per cent. of those jobs would have to be taken from older workers. Let us have no misquoting of the report.

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short , Birmingham, Ladywood

I shall not give way to my hon. Friend. I have been speaking for too long as it is.

Reference has been made to the young workers scheme. The Government have a dogmatic attachment to trying to cut young people's wages and pretending that such wage levels are the cause of unemployment. They ignored the research findings published by the Department of Employment and chose to invent a scheme— it is an expensive subsidy—to cause young people's wages to be cut. The scheme has shown that the Government are subsidising many jobs that would exist for young people in any event, and that, by cutting young people's wages, they have not generated a significant number of new jobs for them.

The Government must stop claiming that they have the solution and the way forward. The evidence provided by research and practice proves that they are wrong and that their schemes are not working.

What is the effect of the youth unemployment that the Government have created? More jobs for teenagers were lost in 1980 than throughout the 1970s. That loss was suffered in one year—the year after the Government came to power.

There is clear research evidence that there is a link between unemployment among young people and a rising incidence of mental illness. Authoritative studies have borne that out. Other authoritative studies show that there is a link between long-term unemployment and suicide attempts. The largest group of those affected by long-term unemployment consists of young people, and long-term unemployment is growing faster among young people than any other group.

There are other problems, such as increasing drug addiction. A serious proportion of working-class young people are now addicted, and many of them were not previously involved with hard drugs. There is a problem of prostitution among young women. The greatest problem is the sense of hopelessness that has been created among a generation which is starting adult life. Those young people feel that they have no future and no prospects as adults. That is the direct result of the Government's economic policy.

We are all in favour of training, but Britain is providing less training for 16 to 18-year-olds than any other OECD country. In the good old days of full employment, 40 per cent. of young people left school at 16 years of age and received no training. The Government's economic policy has caused the virtual destruction of the apprenticeship system, which has been replaced only by the YTS. The Government's policies have not improved training prospects. Indeed, the training received by young people has become worse. A massive improvement is needed. It is a false claim that the scheme that the Government have cobbled together to cope with the problem of unemployment—they call it the youth training scheme —has met the needs of young people.

The Government have deeply damaged the British economy by implementing policies that were always immoral and that have now been proved not to work. Have Conservative Members the guts not only to admit that their policies do not work but to change them? The answer does not lie in fancy bits and pieces of new training schemes. The solution is a change of economic policy. We shall not salvage a generation, our economy or our country until the Government have the guts to admit that everything they have tried has failed and that they have destroyed a generation in the process.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Is the hon. Gentleman raising a point of order because he has not been called to contribute to the debate?

Photo of Mr Dave Nellist Mr Dave Nellist , Coventry South East

This debate began at 4.25 pm. and an equally important debate will follow it on care for the elderly. It seems that we can stay in the Chamber virtually all night to discuss Members' salaries, which involve large salaries and high pay. Bearing in mind the interest that has been shown by hon. Members in youth unemployment, is it not within your power, Mr. Speaker, to extend the debate a little longer so that those who have been in the Chamber since 4.25 pm might contribute to it?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

That is not within my power. However, the debate can continue beyond 7 o'clock. I think that the hon. Gentleman should direct his remarks to the usual channels rather than to me. The Opposition Front Bench spokesman, the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman), rose in his place and I have called him to address the House.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Shadow Spokesperson (Education and Employment)

We have heard eloquent testimony to the fact that youth unemployment threatens a generation with the loss of its future. It threatens the whole of our society by the loss of the contribution that that generation could make to it. I accept that the problem is not entirely of the Government's making—no one on the Opposition Benches would be crass enough to make that allegation —for it reflects in part the long-term structural decline of the British economy. However, the Government stand guilty of contributing enormously to the scale of youth unemployment through their disastrous economic policies and, secondly, of making a heartless and pathetic response to the terrifying scale of the problem.

As has been said repeatedly during the debate, 1·25 million young people are unemployed. Around 25 per cent. of all young people under 25 years of age are unemployed. These young people are not in work, in training or further education. In response to this dire situation, the Government have not begun to do nearly enough. More tragically for the young people affected, what they have done has not been good-hearted or well-intentioned, and their motives have always been suspect. For these reasons the problems will inevitably worsen.

The Government's attitude to the problems of the unemployed young person is crystal clear in their entire approach, in what they have done and in what they have left undone. They did their best to introduce industrial conscription at a miserly £15 a week in the original YTS proposals. They are still doing their best to move the YTS back in that direction by letting the training allowance erode until it finds its way back to a basic minimum level. The Government hanker persistently for an element of compulsion in the scheme. They are using public money to encourage employers to reduce the wages of young people through the young workers scheme. It is shameful that they blame young people for creating unemployment through the ludicrous argument that young people are pricing themselves out of jobs.

The Government have reduced the number of places in higher education when we should be building and developing skills. University places have been cut by 20,000. The Government have increased spending on training to the extent of that which is represented by the YTS, and we accept that this move contains the development, in part, of a more integrated approach. The idea of the YTS came not from the Conservative party or Ministers but from many well-intentioned individuals and organisations, including the TUC and youth training boards.

The training schemes have been cheapened and soiled by the bad heart with which they were introduced. The range of measures I have listed make it clear that the Government have no real commitment to the training of young people. The Government are not well-intentioned in their approach to training. The good which others persuade them to do is promptly poisoned by the Government's motivation for doing it. For that reason, the YTS will never be a success under this Government. There will still be a demand for places from young people, because they have no alternative.

The Government's motives, in the form of crude ideology, are rapidly displacing any pretext of concern for training. It is increasingly clear that the YTS is not a policy with anything like the scope necessary to meet the scale of the problem. We have heard that time and time again this evening from the Opposition. The YTS's focus is on only the 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds. So far the Government have been reluctant to lift their eyes to see what can be done for the generation under 25.

I repeat the figures: 1¼ million people under 25 are out of work. In so far as youth training is a policy, it is a fig-leaf policy. While the scale of the problem is growing, and there is a steady erosion of the allowances through inflationary increases, that fig leaf is rapidly shrinking. What is needed now as a matter of urgency—that has not been displayed by the Secretary of State or any other Conservative Member—as a minimum, is a crisis initiative for 18-year-olds and 19-year-olds at least on the scale of YTS, although with a much higher specific training component. We need an effective scheme for the 25-year-olds as well. The community programme is barely scratching the surface.

I shall put this in proportion. There are 530,000 long-term unemployed in the 18 to 25-year-old age group compared with the 460,000 places on YTS, and so we need a scheme equally large. YTS is not at stake. We can get locked into those initials. The Government constantly point to anyone who criticises training and say, "You are doing down YTS." We are not doing down YTS. We want to make it bigger and better and a proper training scheme for all our young people. This debate is about the position of young people in society today.

The Government are squandering the human potential of our young people in the same way as year after year they are squandering our oil revenues. Young people are being dealt a cheap four-card trick, and that is a raw deal for most of them. If they choose the work card, there are no jobs. If they choose the training card, YTS leads to nothing after it. If they choose the further education card, there is precious little at the end of that extension of training. If they take the dole card, at best that is a poor card and the restrictions on self-betterment make it increasingly difficult to pursue education under it.

I remind the House that, for just a few, there is privilege and assured success. It is no surprise to me that the Secretary of State went to Rugby and the Minister of State, Department of Employment the hon. Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Morrison) went to Eton. It is hard for such people to understand and realise what young ordinary working people must face. For many of the people playing this game there is a privileged and assured success. For one or two—the jokers in the pack—there is wealth beyond the wildest dreams of the young unemployed. Mark my words: like the jokers in many card games, they do not need any substance of their own to be whatever they like. The hopelessness and frustration of young people is growing fuelled by the lack of a future and stoked by the glossy blandishments of our strident, aquisitive society. That hopelessness may lead in many directions. The unemployed may take no easy road out, into riots and mayhem. That road may lead to more crime, more civil unrest and, most serious off all, to a deepening apathy and a sense of personal alienation for young people. Whichever it is, it spells disaster for the next generation.

The Labour party has an alternative, which is not token or perfect, but at least tries to get some measure of the problem. That alternative recognises the problems but does not have all the answers. We want educational maintenance awards, two-year traineeships, and a chance for people to develop real skills within a package over two years. We want to nurture the apprenticeship scheme, which has been devastated under this Government. We want a comprehensive training scheme at the end of the day for all 16 to 19-year-olds. More important, we approach the issue with a different attitude, a good heart and a genuine commitment to youth and to helping young people realise that their trite potential as individuals lies in the discovery of themselves, not in their becoming mere wage slaves in a rotten job for the sake of it. We want them to be individuals who make a contribution to society through effective education and training.

Make no mistake—young people are bitter about the deal they are getting, as was apparent at the recent lobby by YTS trainees which, for some reason, the Secretary of State could not attend. Meeting them that day and thinking of the prospects they face made me think of Tennyson's pathetic lament: What shall I be at 50, Should nature keep me alive If I find the world so bitter When I am but 25? Those young people are a lost generation—lost to the world of work, to the sense of purpose and worth that people get from a job and to their families. The Secretary of State smiles. Perhaps he has never had an unemployed son or daughter. That is the problem with the Conservative Benches. How many unemployed sons and daughters do Conservative Members have? Those young people are lost through the tensions and torments of poverty and unemployment. Most dangerous of all for us as politicians is that they are probably lost even to democracy. Young people deserve a new deal and a better deal than they get under this Government. In due course, Labour will provide them with the new deal they deserve.

Photo of Hon. Peter Morrison Hon. Peter Morrison , City of Chester 6:57 pm, 22nd February 1984

The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) suggested that those of us who had had a public school education were not worthy to talk about important subjects such as unemployment generally and youth unemployment. The hon. Gentleman said that at an inappropriate moment, because it was a large stab in the back for his party's candidate in the Chesterfield by-election.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Lawler) said—I could not agree with him more— that young people will pay enormous attention to this debate. I hope that they will notice that Conservative Members have been constructive and that the Opposition have been negative and destructive. M y hon. Friend the Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Mr. Woodcock) said that a job exists only when a product or service is provided at a cost and a quality that makes consumers wish to buy. I agree with him. However much Opposition Members may wish to avoid these basic facts, they always were true, they are true and they will remain true.

The right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) appeared totally to avoid those economic facts of life. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said, of course the level of unemployment is regrettably high, but with the backdrop of Britain losing international competitiveness and, during the 1970s, our output rising by only 15 per cent. and wages by 350 per cent., it is not entirely surprising. I accept the statement of the right hon. and learned Member that young people are at a particular disadvantage because they do not have the experience or skills to sell that other potential employees have. The economic recovery is with us. Inflation is down to 4·6 per cent. In the last quarter of 1983, industrial output was up by 4 per cent. on a year earlier. In 1983, car production was near the 1 million mark for the first time since 1979 and 18 per cent. up on 1982.

The hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) talked about the figures for his careers service. According to the latest figures produced by the Manpower Services Commission, in January this year in England 25,000 more young people under 18 had come on to the labour market compared with a year ago, but there were 15,000 fewer unemployed. That was because, compared with last year, some 40,000 more young people had obtained jobs, some within and some outside the youth training scheme.

There are two final items of good news. Cost-competitiveness in manufacturing has improved by about 20 per cent. since 1981. The hours lost through short-time working in manufacturing are at the lowest level for four years. Contrary to what the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) said, there has always been a link between a job and the price that an employer has to pay. As I said last week, even the TUC accepts that. In a recent document sent to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, the TUC said: There must obviously be some truth in the proposition that with all other things being equal an individual employer will tend to employ more people if wages are lower and fewer people if wages are higher.

Photo of Mr Dave Nellist Mr Dave Nellist , Coventry South East

If the contention of the Department of Employment research paper No. 42, that high youth wages cause youth unemployment, is correct, can the Minister explain to me how he stood at the Dispatch Box before Christmas and told me that over the past four years boys' wages relative to the adult rate had dropped by 8 per cent. and that girls' wages relative to the adult rate had dropped by 12 per cent., when we have heard repeatedly tonight that during the same period youth unemployment trebled? Wages have gone down, but unemployment has still gone up.

Photo of Hon. Peter Morrison Hon. Peter Morrison , City of Chester

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman was listening to the figures that I quoted. They had just come from the Manpower Services Commission and they are a distinct improvement over last year, taking into account the fact that the relative difference between adult and youth wages is greater.

The youth training scheme has been wholeheartedly welcomed by all my hon. Friends, including my hon.

Friends the Members for Thanet, North (Mr. Gale) and for Mitcham and Morden (Mrs. Rumbold) and by the hon. Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Wrigglesworth) who represents the Social Democratic party, and the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding), in marked contrast to the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East and the hon. Member for Huddersfield, who gave the impression that the youth training scheme was no good. They are doing themselves no good by that, because the youngsters are voting with their feet, and they are doing no good for the scheme, which is of great benefit to tens of thousands of youngsters.

The right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East quoted a leader in The Times. Perhaps I may quote the same leader: At the least, this"— the youth training scheme— is the latest and biggest attempt by Mrs. Thatcher's Government to rescue a generation of British youth from aimless unemployment. At best here are the beginnings of a long-term effort to raise the quality and skills of the labour force to the levels of our trading competitors … Judgment on the YTS must, of course, be deferred: the scheme has not deserved the early drizzle of carping it has had—negative complaint of the sort that often greets any plan of social reform that is patently less than perfect. By September next it will be possible to reach a conclusion. That puts The Times leader into context.

I must assume that the Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist), supported by the hon. Member for St. Helens, North (Mr. Evans), is part of the Opposition's strategy towards the youth training scheme. I see no rebuttal of that from hon. Members on the Opposition Front Bench. The proposal in the Bill is that the scheme shall exclude trainees from involvement in production work. That says goodbye to factories. It says also: No trainee shall be placed in a workplace not registered by the Factories Inspectorate"—

Photo of Mr Dave Nellist Mr Dave Nellist , Coventry South East

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I apologise for returning to the same point that I was the only Member who has been here for the whole of the debate without being called, but the Minister is attacking me and a private Member's Bill that I have introduced. I have no opportunity to answer those allegations. What is your advice, Mr. Speaker?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

I have no advice to give the hon. Member, except to say that I have no power to stop the debate when the Minister sits down. The hon. Member might discuss that with his Whips.

Photo of Hon. Peter Morrison Hon. Peter Morrison , City of Chester

The quotation I gave means there will be no training in offices, shops or laboratories. The Bill is supported by the hon. Member for St Helens, North who, if my memory serves me correctly, is an employment spokesman. I must assume that the Bill is Opposition policy. But if the hon. Member wishes to rebut that and say that it is not Opposition policy, that is different.

Finally, the Bill says: Youth Training Schemes shall not be introduced into non-unionised workplaces. That will say goodbye to a large chunk of the scheme. It would include a number—I cannot say how many—of the mode B1 schemes about which the Opposition feel so strongly.

The youth training scheme—

Photo of Hon. Peter Morrison Hon. Peter Morrison , City of Chester

The hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well—I explained at the beginning of the debate the economic backdrop to jobs — that the youth training scheme is but one of the Government's training plans. It must be taken in context with the adult training strategy to which the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Lyme referred, and with the efforts that have been made to help the 18 to 24-year-olds under the community programme. I find it somewhat surprising that some Labour-controlled councils do not come forward as sponsors of the community programme, despite the fact that it is a genuine attempt to help the long-term unemployed.

We have still not heard from the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East what the reaction of his right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) is, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman referred to his right hon. Friend's remarks in the April 1976 Budget debate as "gobbledegook". Which right hon. Gentleman is now stating official Opposition policy? In their White Paper in July 1977, the then Labour Government stated: The Government continues to regard the mastery of inflation as the precondition for success in returing to full employment. I agree entirely with what they said then. That is why I invite the Opposition, as well as my right hon. and hon. Friends, to join me in the Lobby in support of our amendment.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question: —

The House divided: Ayes 191, Noes 301.

Division No. 172][7.7 pm
AYES
Alton, DavidCowans, Harry
Anderson, DonaldCox, Thomas (Tooting)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterCraigen, J. M.
Ashdown, PaddyCrowther, Stan
Ashley, Rt Hon JackCunningham, Dr John
Ashton, JoeDalyell, Tam
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Deakins, Eric
Barnett, GuyDewar, Donald
Beggs, RoyDixon, Donald
Beith, A. J.Dormand, Jack
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)Douglas, Dick
Bermingham, GeraldDubs, Alfred
Bidwell, SydneyDuffy, A. E. P.
Blair, AnthonyDunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Boothroyd, Miss BettyEadie, Alex
Boyes, RolandEastham, Ken
Bray, Dr JeremyEdwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)Fatchett, Derek
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)Faulds, Andrew
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Bruce, MalcolmFoot, Rt Hon Michael
Buchan, NormanForrester, John
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim)
Campbell, IanFoster, Derek
Campbell-Savours, DaleFoulkes, George
Canavan, DennisFraser, J. (Norwood)
Carter-Jones, LewisFreeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Cartwright, JohnFreud, Clement
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Garrett, W. E.
Clarke, ThomasGeorge, Bruce
Clay, RobertGilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)Godman, Dr Norman
Cohen, HarryGolding, John
Coleman, DonaldGould, Bryan
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.Gourlay, Harry
Conlan, BernardHamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Cook, Frank (Stockton North)Hardy, Peter
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)Harman, Ms Harriet
Corbyn, JeremyHarrison, Rt Hon Walter
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyOwen, Rt Hon Dr David
Haynes, FrankPark, George
Healey, Rt Hon DenisParry, Robert
Heffer, Eric S.Patchett, Terry
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)Pavitt, Laurie
Home Robertson, JohnPendry, Tom
Howells, GeraintPowell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)
Hoyle, DouglasPowell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)Prescott, John
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Radice, Giles
Hughes, Roy (Newport East)Randall, Stuart
Janner, Hon GrevilleRees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)Richardson, Ms Jo
John, BrynmorRoberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Johnston, RussellRobertson, George
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)Rooker, J. W.
Kennedy, CharlesRoss, Ernest (Dundee W)
Kilroy-Silk, RobertRoss, Wm. (Londonderry)
Kinnock, Rt Hon NeilRowlands, Ted
Kirkwood, ArchibaldSheerman, Barry
Lambie, DavidSheldon, Rt Hon R.
Lamond, JamesShore, Rt Hon Peter
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Litherland, RobertShort, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)
Lofthouse, GeoffreySilkin, Rt Hon J.
Loyden, EdwardSkinner, Dennis
McCartney, HughSmith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
McCusker, HaroldSmith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)
McDonald, Dr OonaghSmyth, Rev W. M. (Belfast S)
McGuire, MichaelSoley, Clive
McKay, Allen (Penistone)Spearing, Nigel
McKelvey, WilliamSteel, Rt Hon David
Mackenzie, Rt Hon GregorStewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
McNamara, KevinStott, Roger
McTaggart, RobertStrang, Gavin
Madden, MaxThomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Maginnis, KenThompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Marek, Dr JohnThorne, Stan (Preston)
Martin, MichaelTinn, James
Mason, Rt Hon RoyWalker, Cecil (Belfast N)
Maxton, JohnWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Maynard, Miss JoanWareing, Robert
Meacher, MichaelWeetch, Ken
Mikardo, IanWhite, James
Millan, Rt Hon BruceWigley, Dafydd
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)Williams, Rt Hon A.
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)Wilson, Gordon
Molyneaux, Rt Hon JamesWinnick, David
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)Woodall, Alec
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Wrigglesworth, Ian
Nellist, DavidYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Nicholson, J.
Oakes, Rt Hon GordonTellers for the Ayes:
O'Brien, WilliamMr. James Hamilton and
O'Neill, MartinMr. John McWilliam.
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
NOES
Aitken, JonathanBrown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)
Alexander, RichardBrowne, John
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBruinvels, Peter
Ancram, MichaelBuck, Sir Antony
Arnold, TomBudgen, Nick
Ashby, DavidBulmer, Esmond
Aspinwall, JackBurt, Alistair
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)Butcher, John
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Butterfill, John
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Carlisle, John (N Luton)
Bellingham, HenryCarttiss, Michael
Bendall, VivianChapman, Sydney
Best, KeithClark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Bevan, David GilroyClarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnClegg, Sir Walter
Body, RichardCockeram, Eric
Boscawen, Hon RobertColvin, Michael
Bottomley, PeterConway, Derek
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)Coombs, Simon
Boyson, Dr RhodesCope, John
Braine, Sir BernardCorrie, John
Brandon-Bravo, MartinCouchman, James
Cranborne, ViscountHunt, David (Wirral)
Critchley, JulianHunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Currie, Mrs EdwinaHunter, Andrew
Dorrell, StephenIrving, Charles
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Dunn, RobertJessel, Toby
Durant, TonyJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Dykes, HughJones, Robert (W Herts)
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Eggar, TimKershaw, Sir Anthony
Emery, Sir PeterKey, Robert
Fairbairn, NicholasKing, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Fallon, MichaelKing, Rt Hon Tom
Farr, JohnKnight, Gregory (Derby N)
Favell, AnthonyKnight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)
Fenner, Mrs PeggyKnox, David
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyLamont, Norman
Fletcher, AlexanderLang, Ian
Fookes, Miss JanetLawler, Geoffrey
Forman, NigelLawrence, Ivan
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanLee, John (Pendle)
Fox, MarcusLeigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fraser, Peter (Angus East)Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Freeman, RogerLewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)
Fry, PeterLilley, Peter
Gale, RogerLloyd, Ian (Havant)
Gardiner, George (Reigate)Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)
Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)Lord, Michael
Garel-Jones, TristanMcCrindle, Robert
Glyn, Dr AlanMcCurley, Mrs Anna
Goodhart, Sir PhilipMacGregor, John
Goodlad, AlastairMacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Gorst, JohnMacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Gow, IanMaclean, David John.
Gower, Sir RaymondMcNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Grant, Sir AnthonyMcQuarrie, Albert
Greenway, HarryMadel, David
Gregory, ConalMajor, John
Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)Malins, Humfrey
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)Malone, Gerald
Grist, IanMaples, John
Gummer, John SelwynMarland, Paul
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Mates, Michael
Hampson, Dr KeithMather, Carol
Hanley, JeremyMaude, Hon Francis
Hannam, JohnMawhinney, Dr Brian
Hargreaves, KennethMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Harvey, RobertMayhew, Sir Patrick
Haselhurst, AlanMellor, David
Havers, Rt Hon Sir MichaelMerchant, Piers
Hawkins, C. (High Peak)Meyer, Sir Anthony
Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Hawksley, WarrenMills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Hayhoe, BarneyMiscampbell, Norman
Hayward, RobertMitchell, David (NW Hants)
Heath, Rt Hon EdwardMoate, Roger
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidMonro, Sir Hector
Heddle, JohnMontgomery, Fergus
Henderson, BarryMoore, John
Hickmet, RichardMorris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Hicks, RobertMorrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence LMoynihan, Hon C.
Hill, JamesMudd, David
Hind, KennethMurphy, Christopher
Hirst, MichaelNeale, Gerrard
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)Needham, Richard
Holt, RichardNelson, Anthony
Hooson, TomNeubert, Michael
Hordern, PeterNewton, Tony
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)Nicholls, Patrick
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)Norris, Steven
Hubbard-Miles, PeterOnslow, Cranley
Oppenheim, PhilipStevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Osborn, Sir JohnStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Ottaway, RichardStewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Page, John (Harrow W)Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Page, Richard (Herts SW)Stokes, John
Parkinson, Rt Hon CecilStradling Thomas, J.
Parris, MatthewSumberg, David
Patten, John (Oxford)Taylor, John (Solihull)
Pattie, GeoffreyTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Pawsey, JamesTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Peacock, Mrs ElizabethTemple-Morris, Peter
Percival, Rt Hon Sir IanTerlezki, Stefan
Pink, R. BonnerThomas, Rt Hon Peter
Pollock, AlexanderThompson, Donald (Calder V)
Porter, BarryThompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Powell, William (Corby)Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Powley, JohnThornton, Malcolm
Prior, Rt Hon JamesThurnham, Peter
Proctor, K. HarveyTownend, John (Bridlington)
Raffan, KeithTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Raison, Rt Hon TimothyTracey, Richard
Rathbone, TimTrotter, Neville
Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)Twinn, Dr Ian
Renton, Timvan Straubenzee, Sir W.
Rhodes James, RobertVaughan, Sir Gerard
Ridley, Rt Hon NicholasViggers, Peter
Rippon, Rt Hon GeoffreyWaddington, David
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Robinson, Mark (N'port W)Waldegrave, Hon William
Roe, Mrs MarionWalden, George
Rost, PeterWalker, Bill (T'side N)
Rowe, AndrewWall, Sir Patrick
Rumbold, Mrs AngelaWaller, Gary
Ryder, RichardWard, John
Sackville, Hon ThomasWardle, C. (Bexhill)
St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.Warren, Kenneth
Sayeed, JonathanWatson, John
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)Watts, John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Shelton, William (Streatham)Wells, John (Maidstone)
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)Wheeler, John
Shersby, MichaelWhitfield, John
Silvester, FredWiggin, Jerry
Sims, RogerWilkinson, John
Skeet, T. H. H.Winterton, Mrs Ann
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)Winterton, Nicholas
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Wolfson, Mark
Soames, Hon NicholasWood, Timothy
Spence, JohnWoodcock, Michael
Spencer, D.Yeo, Tim
Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)Younger, Rt Hon George
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Squire, RobinTellers for the Noes:
Stanbrook, IvorMr. Tim Sainsbury and
Steen, AnthonyMr. Douglas Hogg.
Stern, Michael

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 33 (Questions on amendments) and agreed to.

MR. SPEAKER forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved,That this House believes that the most important way in which the problems of the young unemployed can be overcome will be by a general improvement in the economy; therefore welcomes the encouraging signs of economic recovery; and recognises that the employment prospects of the younger generation will be greatly enhanced by the Government's considerable range of special employment and training measures.