The Economy

Part of Opposition Day — [8th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 5:25 pm on 18th March 2009.

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Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire 5:25 pm, 18th March 2009

The hon. Lady knows that most of the 2 million extra jobs did not go to people who were here and looking for work when her party came into office. In fact, the number of unemployed fell by 300,000, but the number of jobs rose by close to 2 million. That is another issue.

Unemployment is a scourge for young people. To have young people, with their hopes for the future, unable to find work and even facing the prospect of long-term unemployment, is such a worry. It is important that the Government get the loan guarantee scheme in place and gear up for the unemployment challenge ahead. Just reversing the cuts in the Department for Work and Pensions—keeping the current number of offices open and increasing staff numbers—will come nowhere near meeting the challenge. More funding will also be needed for the flexible new deal if it is to go ahead in its current form, as the Select Committee on Work and Pensions has said.

It is time to wake up, smell the coffee and realise that the country feels a deep sense of insecurity. Urgent action is needed, and it is no good just going along with a civil-service type approach, examining everything very carefully and circulating documents round the Cabinet and junior Ministers. Sometimes it is necessary to stop dithering and get a grip—the time to do so is now.