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Unemployed (Ethnic Minorities)

Volume 987: debated on Thursday 3 July 1980

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asked the Prime Minister what steps she is taking to deal with the problem of unemployment for young blacks.

We have agreed to the proposals from the Manpower Services Commission to expand the youth opportunities programme by 25 per cent. to over 250,000 places in 1980–81. This expansion has enabled the MSC to renew its undertakings to all unemployed school leavers and all the long-term young unemployed, whether black or white.

Does the Prime Minister accept that the rate of unemployment for young blacks is at least twice, and possibly three or four times, as high as that of young whites and that they often work in low-paid jobs and do not appear to be pricing themselves into the market, as is the current silly theory? Therefore, is it not time that the Prime Minister did something effective to ensure that young blacks are not discriminated against in employment?

It is right for the youth opportunities programme to apply to all young people, irrespective of colour. In areas with large ethnic minorities some of the schemes under the large youth opportunities programme are arranged and run by the minorities. That seems to be right.

In the light of recent exchanges, will my right hon. Friend take time today to consult again the speech by the Leader of the Opposition—

Order. Does the hon. Gentleman realise that we are considering unemployment among young blacks? An open question is due to be asked shortly.

Could the Government give a lead, in relation to discrimination against blacks by insisting that the Taivstock Institute's recommendation about discrimination in the Civil Service is implemented by the Civil Service?

I am sure that the Civil Service implements everything which it has to implement and which it is advisable to implement. If the hon. Gentleman has a particular case in mind, perhaps he will let us know about it.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the unemployment problems encountered by young blacks are not eased by inflammatory statements from some bodies urging members of the minority communities to withhold co-operation?

I entirely agree. It does no one any good to suggest that co-operation with the police should be withheld. I said on Tuesday—and I say it again—that I believe that the vast majority of the coloured community believe firmly in upholding the law and will support the police wholly in their task.