Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Bill — Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:49 pm on 21st March 2013.

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Photo of Baroness Sherlock Baroness Sherlock Opposition Whip (Lords) 4:49 pm, 21st March 2013

I am so sorry, I could not catch what the noble Lord said from a sedentary position. Let me share a view with him about the Government flagship Work Programme, on which the noble Lord, Lord German, spoke so movingly.

The Public Accounts Committee described it as follows:

"Actual performance was even below the Department's assessment of the non-intervention rate-the number of people that would have found sustained work had the Work Programme not been running".

It was worse than doing nothing. I do not regard that as a success. There are other ways to do this. The Minister is aware that if Labour was in power, it would create real jobs for the long-term unemployed: six months of a proper job for 25 hours a week on the minimum wage. It would be compulsory, because we have never had a problem with sanctions, provided that they are fair and robust-oh yes, and legal.

I do not suppose the Minister will see the light today on that point, so instead I look forward to hearing answers to the various questions that have been asked, especially those from the noble Lords, Lord Pannick and Lord German. Our expectations are high. As there are no sitting days between today and all the remaining stages, the Minister will have to answer all our questions today. Unfortunately, on this occasion, we cannot wait for him to write to us, unless he does so very speedily. Perhaps he will also take the opportunity to one other thing: will he apologise to the House, to the nation, and especially to all those affected for the shambles that his Government have created?