Clare Short: I am grateful for this chance to make my first speech, as I prefer to call it, in this House. I intend to follow tradition and speak about my constituency. However, it is impossible for me to follow the tradition of not being controversial, for what is happening in my constituency encapsulates much of the harm done to many parts of the country by the policies of the Conservative Government....
Clare Short: To suggest that a pound on the allowance means a pound off training is to suggest that the Government cannot find more resources for the scheme. Every other unemployment benefit must be upgraded each year in line with inflation, for which the Government must find more money. The allowance is an unemployment benefit for the young and it has been cut already. For the Government to suggest that...
Clare Short: I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss the youth training scheme almost immediately after my entry to the House, as it has been one of my major obsessions for the past four years. Its development involved a great deal of work by the organisation with which I was involved previously. I visited many schemes up and down the country and talked to many people who were involved in its...
Clare Short: I have talked to many young people on the youth opportunities programme and most are rather disgruntled about it. They say repeatedly that it is better than nothing; that they cannot bear hanging around having nothing to do or staying in bed all day; that they are no better off on this scheme than they would be unemployed by the time that they have paid their fares and bought their lunch;...
Clare Short: I am not suggesting that the hon. Gentleman said that, but one of his colleagues in the Department of Employment said it in a previous debate in the House, and I shall find the reference for him afterwards. The fact that at least one in two youngsters will be unemployed will bring the scheme into disrepute. Of course, that ratio is an average, and in some areas, such as in my constituency,...
Clare Short: Speed it up a hit.
Clare Short: Does the hon. Gentleman believe in what he is saying? If not, is he not demeaning the office of a Minister of the Crown? Does he feel it right that he should stand at the Dispatch Box acting the part, just reading out words? He should either mean what he says or resign.
Clare Short: Disgraceful.
Clare Short: If not, resign.
Clare Short: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have read in the newspapers that in the House one is not allowed to accuse another hon. Member of not being sober. However, I seriously put it to you that the Minister is incapable. [HoN. MEMBERS Withdraw."] It is disrespectful to the House and to the office that he holds for the hon. Gentleman to come here—
Clare Short: I shall not withdraw.
Clare Short: No. I am speaking the truth.
Clare Short: I should be grateful for your advice, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I mean what I say, but I do not understand the rules of the House. How I am allowed to tell the House that I mean it, without being penalised for saying it?
Clare Short: rose—
Clare Short: If I am allowed to withdraw when the House understands that I meant what I said, I withdraw.
Clare Short: Does my hon. Friend agree that the only honourable course for a Minister who does not believe in the action that he is asked to recommend to the House is to resign?
Clare Short: rose—
Clare Short: I am sorry that the Minister has not mentioned the 21-hour concession. Whatever the divisions in the House about the causes of unemployment we would all agree that it is right that people who are unemployed and on benefit should at least be given the chance to study. It is clear that the concession is not working well and people are not getting that chance. Will the Minister undertake to...
Clare Short: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?
Clare Short: The discussion that is now taking place is wrong. It is suggested that my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) did not believe in what he said. He is not here to answer that allegation. It is disgraceful. My right hon. Friend should be given the opportunity to answer the accusation.