§ 8. Mr. Kilroy-Silk
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the number of school leavers currently unemployed in the North-West, Merseyside. Ormskirk and Kirkby, respectively.
§ Mr. Jim Lester
At 10 April the provisional numbers of school leavers aged under 18 registered as unemployed in the areas specified were:
|Merseyside special development area||4,143|
|Ormskirk employment office area||21|
|Kirkby employment office area||320|
§ Mr. Kilroy-Silk
Is not the Minister thoroughly ashamed of those disgraceful figures? Does he accept that thousands of school leavers in the North-West face an extremely bleak and unhappy future as a direct result of the Government's economic policies? Does he accept, in spite of what his right hon. Friend said earlier about the youth opportunities programme, that unemployment is extremely expensive in terms of human resources? Will he therefore urge a massive increase in the youth opportunities programme?
§ Mr. Lester
I am not ashamed of what we are trying to do in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. I take the matter seriously. We must examine what we are doing and I visit the area regularly. I shall examine any proposals that the hon. Gentleman cares to make to support the scheme, for which he is asking that increased expenditure should be incurred. I should welcome his support in encouraging people to take part in the scheme to enable us to spend the money available. In the Merseyside area only 55 per cent. of the places are taken up. The problem does not involve money or places. People must be encouraged to use the scheme. I never fail to praise the good things that I see. I never suggest that Merseyside is an outcast area—and that is more helpful than anything else.
§ Mr. Spriggs
Is the Minister aware of the Index training scheme which takes young people direct from school into training, in full co-operation with local firms and the local authority? Will the Government give us their blessing and support the scheme? Is he aware that if the Government did that we could train youngsters direct from school to take up permanent jobs at the end of the training?
§ Mr. Lester
I welcome the Index scheme as a good initiative. The only problem is that it is a two-year scheme and therefore does not fit the rules of either the youth opportunities programme or the STEP scheme. I encourage such moves. We are examining ways in which such schemes might be encouraged.