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Inner Cities

Volume 128: debated on Tuesday 1 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the measures currently being taken by his Department to improve levels of employment in the inner cities.

The Department of Employment and the Manpower Services Commission provide a wide range of programmes which aim to equip individuals in inner cities and elsewhere with the skills and motivation to compete for available jobs and to stimulate enterprise and the growth of small businesses. The level of commitment is reflected in the estimated expenditure by the Department and the commission of over £1·1 billion in the areas of the 57 urban partnership authorities.

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the inner-city officer in the jobcentre in Wolverhampton will be concentrating his help and energy on those unemployed people in some of the most deprived areas in my constituency, such as Low Hill and Heathtown, as part of the Government's initiative in reducing inner-city deprivation?

Yes, indeed. I had the pleasure of visiting the task force in my hon. Friend's constituency in Wolverhampton recently and certainly those areas, among others in Wolverhampton, are part of his special task.

Will the Minister confirm that many of the employment opportunities to which he refers are temporary, part-time and low-paid, and create an illusion of economic prosperity, rather than the reality, for many people living in inner-city areas?

Does my hon. Friend agree that the inner cities could very well benefit from a substantial share in the extra revenue from tourism in this country, and what steps does he propose to take to ensure that this comes about?

We attempt to encourage tourism in all parts of the country, but my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment, the hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Lee), who deals with tourism, has a particular interest in creating employment in this way in the inner cities.

Does the Minister accept that the need in these areas is local jobs for local people, as opposed to developments which are attractive to outsiders? When are the Government going to accept that elected local councillors have a crucial role to play in the regeneration of our inner-city areas?

We believe that co-operation between Government agencies, local authorities and the private sector is very important to the creation of local jobs. The hon. Gentleman is quite right in saying that it is local jobs that we require as much as anything, but obviously other jobs have their part to play.