§ 3.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Steen (Liverpool, Wavertree)
I beg to move,That leave be given to bring in a Bill to require local authorities to prepare schemes for encouraging young people to create their own jobs for community betterment; to provide for national publicity of the need for employers to make available on-the-job training opportunities; to authorise the provision of assistance for residential placements in public and voluntary establishments; and for connected purposes.I am deeply concerned about the stark facts which emerge from the monthly unemployment statistics for young people. I know that every hon. Member, whatever his political affiliation, shares my concern and wants to see an end to this situation. That is the aim of my Bill, and I hope that I shall receive the wholehearted support of the House.
The first point to emphasise is that the level of unemployment among school leavers is not transient or short term. It is a long-term problem.
In 1968, there were 28,000 young people out of work. Today there are 200,000 school leavers who have never had a job. We must add to that figure the 416,000 young people under 25 who are out of work, making a tragic total of 616,000 young people under 25 without work. More significant is the proportionally severe increase in the number of young unemployed workers within the total of just under 1½ million unemployed.
Another way to grasp what has happened is to compare the unemployment figures for this year with those of July 1972—an equivalent point in the previous trade cycle. They have doubled for the under-25s, trebled for school leavers and risen by 42 per cent. among those over 25.
Another deeply worrying aspect of the current mass unemployment is the number of young people out of work for long periods. Grave personal and social damage lies behind the July 1976 data which show that more than 190,000 young people under 25 have been unemployed for more than three months.
Without the Government's job-creation scheme, work experience programme and other measures, the figures would be higher. The Government have spent £400 1120 million doing something for the young unemployed, and this is welcomed by hon. Members on this side of the House. However, more than 500,000 young people under 25 are without work, and this is also gravely worrying to us. These are the dimensions of the crisis at which the Bill is aimed.
As long as the Government say that the unemployment situation is short-term, the problem will get worse as the short-term jobs created by Government schemes end and the young people come back to the employment market.
What are we to say to these young people? Are we to pretend that they are not there and banish them into a kind of Dante's Inferno, letting them drift round and round our heavily-populated urban areas?
Before hon. Members decide how to vote, I am sure that they will have careful regard to the consequences. What are the alternatives and how real a possibility are they?
My Bill recognises that every young person has a contribution to make to society, even if he has not attained academic distinction, and that there are endless opportunities for the young to earn their keep and to help sustain the work ethic. When they find paid work, these young people, who have not been at work before, do not know how to go about it. A response to the boredom and sense of frustration of the young lies at the root of my Bill. It will give every young unemployed person a chance to do something.
First, it gives every school leaver the automatic right to create his own work. The aim here will be to develop a sense of initiative by suggesting that he looks around his own neighbourhood to see what service of a personal nature he could give for community betterment. Instead of decisions being made by bureaucrats, the opportunity would be given to the young people themselves to do something positive to build a better society. Local authorities, instead of dreaming up schemes and using the young for their own purposes, would be told to provide a framework in which the young could develop their own schemes. The Government Job Shops would also help by locating voluntary organisations who were in need of extra help.
1121 Secondly, the Government and local authorities would make a national appeal to every citizen asking whether he could include a young person in his work. This would be a challenge to the whole community by direct advertisement to make available job training opportunities.
Thirdly, there would be up to a year's placement in Britain—a Voluntary Service Overseas in reverse. It would include residential placements in national and local institutions, children's homes, community centres and homes for the elderly and disabled where young people could play a part in making life happier for someone else.
Each job experience will bring young people into contact with a range of other people, adding to their education and training. Training such as this, unlike that for specific jobs, would help young people to turn into society rather than on society.
The unions need not take fright. The work created will not be at the expense of the regular work force, since they will be jobs which the employer was not carrying out and had no intention of carrying out because neither the hands to do it nor the money to pay for it were available.
How shall we pay these young people? We cannot do what the job creation programme does and pay up to £45 a week to 22-year-olds. Making available further sums of money is impracticable and inflationary. We must face reality and say that cash benefits will be paid only when there is no work to be done.
School leavers who have never had a job have never paid National Insurance stamps either. How can we justify paying them £12 a week for doing nothing? They think we are crazy, and perhaps they are right.
Many already think that it is their right to draw unemployment pay for doing nothing. Then they want more money and do not want to do anything in return. If a young person without enough stamps for benefits can get work either through the hydra-headed Government schemes or under the three provisions of this Bill, but decides that he does not want to work, we should say that he is free not to work, but that the State is then equally free not to pay him. Of course, if a young person were ill or 1122 handicapped, he would get provision from the State, but surely no provision should be made if there is work to be done and the young person concerned is physically and mentally fit. This is one of the most serious points in our history and we should surely re-assess the way in which we hand out unemployment pay.
An active work force of young people dedicated to comunity betterment could have a tremendous effect and help to restore confidence at home and abroad.
My Bill will positively help the 500,000 young people who are crying out for a chance to contribute to our society.
§ 3.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Kilroy-Silk (Ormskirk)
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Waver-tree (Mr. Steen) said that this was a time for facing reality. He is right and the reality is that we shall not see any more of this Bill after today—just as we shall see no more of his three previous phantom Bills, none of which has been printed.
It is surprising that the hon. Member for Wavertree should be expressing this great concern about unemployment, particularly in the area which he and I represent and yet at the same time be responsible, with his right hon. and hon. Friends, for having voted for increases in unemployment in British Leyland, Chrysler, Alfred Herbert—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. This is not the time for a debate. The hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk) must oppose the Ten-Minute Rule Bill, if that is what he is seeking to do, and not broaden it into a debate on the whole economic situation.
§ Mr. Kilroy-Silk
I am opposing the Bill and I am questioning the motives and intentions that lie behind it.
I do not believe that it will be a contribution to solving the unemployment problem. If the hon. Member for Waver-tree is concerned to do that, he should have acted with his feet and his votes in the past. Not only is he not concerned in reducing the level of unemployment but he and his hon. Friends want cuts in public expenditure which would increase unemployment.
Coming specifically to the Bill, we have been given a series of nebulous ideas with no concrete specifics about them. The hon. 1123 Gentleman's attitude is patronising and condescending towards those who are unemployed through no fault of their own. The intention behind the Bill, although we have not heard it today, is to set up a series of what the hon. Gentleman on a previous occasion referred to as dolls' hospitals to which we can shunt the unemployed school leavers to learn to mend dolls. The hon. Gentleman has also suggested that they could collect waste paper and clear derelict beaches.
Is that the way in which we want to solve the unemployment problem among young people? Are these the kind of skills that we are expecting them to accumulate through this work experience?
The Hon. Gentleman, not content with being patronising and condescending by setting the young unemployed menial and degrading tasks, is also saying that he will compel them to undertake these tasks.
Here we have the typical ethos of the Conservative Party faced with the problem of unemployment. If we give approval to the Bill, we shall be back to the ethos and ethics of the poor law and the workhouse: "You will work at the kind of things that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree wants you to do or you will not receive unemployment pay you will clear up the waste paper and the beaches or you will not get any means-tested benefit."
That is what we are being asked to support. We are not asked to support any means of giving young people proper skills and training or to extend apprenticeships so that young people can make a valuable contribution to industry, to society and to themselves.
The Bill goes even further and suggests the setting up of work camps. The hon. Gentleman did not talk about the barbed wire to be put round them or the sections of the country to be set
|Division No. 328.]||AYES||[3.54 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Berry, Hon Anthony||Churchill, W. S.|
|Alison, Michael||Blaker, Peter||Clegg, Walter|
|Arnold, Tom||Boscawen, Hon Robert||Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Braine, Sir Bernard||Corrle, John|
|Awdry, Daniel||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Costain, A. P.|
|Baker, Kenneth||Bryan, Sir Paul||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James|
|Beith, A. J.||Budgen, Nick||Drayson, Burnaby|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)||Burden, F. A.||Durant, Tony|
|Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)||Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Eden, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Benyon, W.||Carlisle, Mark||Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)|
§ aside for the recalcitrant youths who do not want to go on his jamboree of collecting waste paper. Again, we have the whole ethos of the Conservative Party set out in the Bill.
§ I deliberately disputed the hon. Gentleman's motives at the beginning of my speech. I suggest that he is not concerned about unemployment or the many thousands of unemployed school leavers on Merseyside. The policies in the Bill and of the Opposition Front Bench, which the hon. Gentleman supports, would result in more nurses, teachers, social workers and school leavers on Merseyside being unemployed today than in the past.
§ I hope that the House will treat the Bill with the distaste and disdain that it deserves and not give leave for it to be introduced.
§ Mr. Michael English (Nottingham, West)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker—before you put the Question. The whole procedure of the House is in the end based on trust. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Steen), whom I thank for his courtesy in telling me that he proposed to introduce the Bill today, has on three previous occasions used this procedure of the House and, the House having given him leave, has not produced a Bill. Therefore, I suggest that you should not put the Question unless the hon. Gentleman assures the House that he will on this occasion produce a Bill.
§ Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 13 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of Public Business):—
§ The House divided: Ayes 138, Noes 144.
|Elliott, Sir William||Lamont, Norman||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Eyre, Reginald||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Fairbalrn, Nicholas||Latham, Michael (Melton)||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|Farr, John||Lawrence, Ivan||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey||Le Marchant, Spencer||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Forman, Nigel||Loverldge, John||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)||Luce, Richard||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Freud, Clement||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)||MacCormick, Iain||Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)|
|Goodhew, Victor||Macfarlane, Neil||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Goodlad, Alastair||MacGregor, John||Shepherd, Colin|
|Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)||Madel, David||Silvester, Fred|
|Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Sims, Roger|
|Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)||Marten, Neil||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Gray, Hamish||Mather, Carol||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|Griffiths, Eldon||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Speed, Keith|
|Grylls, Michael||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)||Spence, John|
|Hall, Sir John||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Sproat, fain|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Morgan, Geraint||Stainton, Keith|
|Hannam, John||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Stanley, John|
|Havers, Sir Michael||Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Nelson, Anthony||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Hicks, Robert||Neubert, Michael||Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Newton, Tony||Trotter, Neville|
|Hooson, Emlyn||Nott, John||Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)|
|Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)||Page, John (Harrow West)||Wall, Patrick|
|Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)||Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)||Walters, Dennis|
|Hunt, David (Wirral)||Pardoe, John||Warren, Kenneth|
|Jessel, Toby||Pattie, Geoffrey||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Jones, Arthur (Daventry)||Penhaligon, David||Whitelaw, Rt Hon William|
|Jopling, Michael||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Prior, Rt Hon James||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Pym, Rt Hon Francis|
|King, Evelyn (South Dorset)||Raison, Timothy||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)||Mr. Anthony Steen and|
|Kitson, Sir Timothy||Renton, Tim (Mid Sussex)||Mr. Jonathan Aitken.|
|Knight, Mrs Jill|
|Archer, Peter||Forrester, John||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Ashton, Joe||Garrett, John (Norwich S)||Mendelson, John|
|Atkins Ronald (Presto? N)||Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Atkinson, Norman||George, Bruce||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)|
|Bates, All||Golding, John||Moonman, Eric|
|Bean, R. E.||Graham, Ted||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Bennett, And'ew (Stockport N)||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Grocott, Bruce||Nowens, Stanley|
|Bishop, E. S.||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Noble, Mike|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Harper, Joseph||Ogden, Eric|
|Bottomiey, Rt Hor Arthur||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Pendry, Tom|
|Boyden, James (Blsh Auck)||Hatton, Frank||Price, C. (Lewisham W)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Heffer, Eric S.||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Buchan, Norman||Henderson, Douglas||Reid, George|
|Buchanan, Richard||Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)||Richardson, Miss Jo|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Huckfield, Les||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Campbell, Ian||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Robinson, Geoffrey|
|Cant, R. B.||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Roderick, Caerwyn|
|Carmichael, Nell||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Rodgers, George (Chorley)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)||Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)|
|Cartwright, John||Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)||Rowlands, Ted|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Ryman, John|
|Clemltson, Ivor||Johnson, James (Hull West)||Sandelson, Neville|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)||Kaufman, Gerald||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Cohen, Stanley||Kelley, Richard||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)|
|Colquhoun, Ms Maureen||Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Skinner, Dennis|
|Conlan, Bernard||Klnnock, Nell||Small, William|
|Corbett, Robin||Lamble, David||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Crawford, Douglas||Lamborn, Harry||Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)|
|Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)||Lamond, James||Stoddart, David|
|Davidson, Arthur||Latham, Arthur (Paddington)||Stott, Roger|
|Deakins, Eric||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Strang, Gavin|
|Dempsey, James||Lipton, Marcus||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)|
|Dormand, J. D.||Litterick, Tom||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)|
|Edge, Geoff||Loyden, Eddie||Thompson, George|
|Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)||McCartney, Hugh||Tinn, James|
|English, Michael||McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Tomney, Frank|
|Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||MacFarquhar, Roderick||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)|
|Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)||MacKenzie, Gregor||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Evans, loan (Aberdare)||McNamara, Kevin||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Ewing, Harry (Stirling)||Madden, Max||Ward, Michael|
|Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.||Mallalleu, J. P. W.||Watkins, David|
|Fletcher, L. R. (Ilkeston)||Marks, Kenneth||Watt, Hamish|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)||Weetch, Ken|
|Weitzman, David||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick||Young. Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)|
|White, Frank R. (Bury)||Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)|
|White, James (Pollok)||Woodall, Alec||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Whitehead, Phillip||Wrigglesworth, Ian||Mr. Stan Thorne and|
|Whitlock, William||Young, David (Bolton E)||Mr. J. W. Rooker.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.