Unemployed Centres

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd February 1987.

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Photo of Mr Jerry Hayes Mr Jerry Hayes , Harlow 12:00 am, 3rd February 1987

asked the Paymaster General what representations he has received regarding the funding of unemployed centres; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr John Lee Mr John Lee , Pendle

We have received a number of representations from hon. Members and others about the value of funding centres for the unemployed under the community programme.

Photo of Mr Jerry Hayes Mr Jerry Hayes , Harlow

I am sure that my hon. Friend is as dismayed as I am that he has been unable to receive a categorical assurance that the small minority of Left-wing activists who have wrecked the Harlow unemployed centre will not be involved in the management of it. Will he reassure unemployed people—that is the vulnerable people in Harlow who have been cynically manipulated—that there will be help from the MSC in other ways?

Photo of Mr John Lee Mr John Lee , Pendle

The centre in Harlow was given repeated warnings not to display political literature and was given every opportunity to put its house in order. According to the Wednesday 28 January edition of the Morning Star, a certain Danny Purton of the management committee said: We are not prepared to censure posters put up by the unemployed, unless racist or sexist.

In other words, anything of a political nature is acceptable to him. Therefore, the centre will cease to operate, because funding will be withdrawn. My hon. Friend asked about the innocent people who will suffer because of the mindless minority. We shall do everything that we can, via the MSC and existing programmes, to be helpful and sympathetic.

Photo of Ms Jo Richardson Ms Jo Richardson , Barking

I understand that the Harlow unemployed centre was closed down very largely because of literature that was placed there by the campaign for action for benefits, a worthy organisation that is drawing attention to people who need benefits. Will the Minister ensure that, generally speaking, there is sufficient funding for unemployed centres to ensure that women who have either lost their chance of training in non-traditional skills, or who will never have a chance because of the closure of manual skill courses for women at skillcentres, can be provided with advice?

Photo of Mr John Lee Mr John Lee , Pendle

The hon. Lady's question goes somewhat wider than the question on the Order Paper. Via the MSC, we are continuing to fund 83 unemployed centres, at a cost of around £3·5 million per annum. There are about 670 places and they are equally available to women and men.