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Employment Action

Volume 205: debated on Tuesday 10 March 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many trade unions are taking part in the employment action programme.

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that reply, which is a great disappointment to all my right and hon. Friends. Does he agree with me that proposals to pay more to those taking part in the programme will mean inevitably that fewer places will be available?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is typical of the Labour party's attitude that it would fritter away additional resources by spending more money not on increasing the number of training places but on paying more to those already in training places. There would be no net benefit to training.

Instead of attacking trade unions, why does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman attack unemployment? Why does not he admit that since last year's Budget more than 500,000 people have been added to the dole queue? At the same time, there are 1 million fewer jobs in the economy. If present policies continue, hundreds of thousands of people will stand in fear for their jobs. Is not it the truth that the right hon. and learned Gentleman's Government, having created recession and unemployment, do not care about the casualties of their policies?

The hon. Gentleman's synthetic protestations about unemployment would carry a little more conviction if he were not so determined to advance policies which, by introducing a national statutory minimum wage, by embracing the European Commission's social action programme and by imposing a jobs tax on employers, would make unemployment far, far higher than it otherwise would be. Even the proprietor of the aptly named Walworth Castle hotel in the hon. Gentleman's constituency near Darlington has said:

"Labour's plan would be nothing short of disastrous."