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Volume 124: debated on Tuesday 15 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the current levels of self-employment.

Self-employment has a very important role to play in the regeneration of the economy and the reduction of unemployment. The current level of self-employment is 2ยท7 million, representing one in nine of the work force, and it is continuing to increase.

I thank my hon. Friend for that encouraging reply. It shows that, if those figures were taken together with the employed population, unemployment would be well below 10 per cent. Has my hon. Friend any plans to ensure that self-employed people are helped by Government to sell their services and products to Government?

We help small firms as much as we can to tender for Government contracts. A booklet, "Tendering for Government Contracts", is available from the Department's small firms service. With our encouragement, a number of Departments are publishing similar guidance for small firms on the opportunities to do business with Government.

Very few young people are self-employed. After April, self-employment for young people may take on a new definition, because they will either have to be on benefit or on YTS. Will the Minister guarantee that he will provide a YTS place for every 16 and 17-yearold, as the Secretary of State for Social Services is unprepared to give that guarantee?