Unemployment in the UK

Part of Opposition Day — [18th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 8:42 pm on 7th October 2008.

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Photo of Nigel Griffiths Nigel Griffiths Labour, Edinburgh South 8:42 pm, 7th October 2008

He certainly did say that.

Those are their values, not ours. It was their choice, not ours. It was their 3 million on the dole. Our choice was to help to create 3 million more jobs than there were in 1997, putting more people in work than at any time in our history. It was this Government's choice to give the UK one of the highest employment rates of any advanced manufacturing country—it is higher today than that of France, Italy, Germany, Japan or even the United States of America. So far this year, every weekday, 10,000 new vacancies have been posted. With 600,000 vacancies, 90 per cent. of those losing their jobs and seeking another one find work within a year, while 80 per cent. find one within six months.

This motion was tabled by the party that regrets rien and labels as unemployed parents with very young children, the most severely disabled people, carers of disabled children and frail elderly people and the bereaved. Doubtless, the Opposition think that they should pick up their spirits and get on their bikes. Those are the very people—the disabled and others—that the Opposition pretended to care about in their welfare reform proposals of 27 May, when Chris Grayling claimed that they would be exempt. But now, just four months later, here in the House, the Opposition have counted them in, as we knew they always would.

The task of Government is to tap into the talents of every citizen. That is what the record number of university and college places is about, and it is why we have more than tripled the numbers of apprenticeships. Let us remember that other Tory legacy: 75,000 apprenticeships in 1996-97. Now there are 255,000, with 70,000 alone in manufacturing. But it does not stop there. This Government are committed to ensuring that every 17 and 18-year-old has an apprenticeship, a college education or skilled schooling to allow them to maximise their potential. And it does not stop at that either. We are committed to the £1 billion Train to Gain programme, which will allow businesses to invest in the training and retraining of their work force to meet the skills challenges all businesses face.

There must be no return to the mass unemployment, despair and poverty that ravaged many communities in the 1980s and 1990s. For this country to ride out these economic storms, and for us to prosper in the decades to come, we must tap into the talents of every person in every part of this country. As a nation, we cannot afford to neglect the talents of anyone, regardless of race, creed, ability or disability. That is the path we must choose.

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