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Professional And Executive Register

Volume 980: debated on Tuesday 4 March 1980

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asked the Prime Minister if she will take steps to disband the Professional and Executive Register of the Manpower Services Commission.

We shall take a decision on the future of the Professional and Executive Register shortly.

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the steadily decreasing share of the market obtained by this service, and the steadily increasing cost in gross terms to the Exchequer? Is she further aware that the nationalised industries have refused to use the service, and that the private sector cannot afford to use it? In those circumstances, is it not time that the money was put to more effective use?

I am aware that only one in 25 people on the register secure jobs by means of the register. However, they must be registered somewhere, if they are to receive unemployment benefit. The future of the PER is under review, and the question is whether people should have to register under the general employment register or whether the Professional and Executive Register should be reshaped and restyled so as to be more economical, and people should still be able to register under it. I shall convey my hon. Friend's sentiments to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

Will the Prime Minister in her role as Minister for the Civil Service, tell the civil servants who work for the Manpower Services Commission that they are entitled to write to their Member of Parliament if their jobs are threatened? Is she aware that one of my constituents, a Mrs. Joyce Butler, has been told that if she writes to me again, disciplinary action may be taken.

I can only say to the hon. Gentleman that if that has happened I shall of course inquire into it, if he will give me the details. I have never found that those people, in the Civil Service whom I represent in my constituency do anything other than write to me if they have problems.

In view of the disturbing forecast that unemployment is likely to rise over the next two years, will my right hon. Friend confirm the report of the Manpower Services Commission that the Government will expand the youth opportunities programme so that no child leaving school this year will be without work or training?

As my hon. Friend is aware, my right hon. Friend made an announcement the other day about extending many employment opportunities. It is particularly our intention to help as many young people as we can.

Will the Prime Minister persuade the Manpower Services Commission to retain the Professional and Executive Register at least until after the next general election, when there should be an upsurge in demand for its services among existing Conservative Members?

It may be that even more Labour Members will be looking for a job then.