Future jobs fund vacancies are available in every local authority area in Scotland. To date, 44 bids have been approved in Scotland, offering almost 7,000 jobs.
Between them, North Ayrshire and East Ayrshire councils have secured more than 500 jobs for young people over the next 18 months through the future jobs fund. The Tory-nationalist coalition in South Ayrshire council, on the other hand, has secured none at all. What can the Secretary of State do to put the maximum pressure on councils such as South Ayrshire to allow young people to participate?
My hon. Friend raises a really important point, because we need to support young people who have recently lost their jobs so that they do not spend six months or a year out of work. It would be unforgivable if local authorities did not provide that degree of support, so I will find ways to raise her concerns with South Ayrshire council. However, it is important that we provide that support for the long-term young unemployed and those who are middle-aged in particular problem areas across Scotland.
Given the Secretary of State’s recent decision to reject the QinetiQ proposals for upgrading the Ministry of Defence ranges on Benbecula, is he confident that there will be no job losses on the Hebrides ranges for the next three years? [Interruption.] If he cannot be confident of that, will he ensure that the future jobs fund will be applied to the islanders of North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist? [Interruption.]
Order. Just before the Secretary of State answers that question, may I reiterate the appeal that I make every week for a decline in the number of private conversations? I say this to the hon. Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns): every week he indulges in these conversations, every week it is very tedious and every week it is not necessary. Let us have an end to it.
I am aware that the hon. Member for West Chelmsford (Mr. Burns) does not have much interest in Scotland or Scottish questions, but the decision that was taken about saving the ranges on the Uists was very important. Again, it shows the benefit of Scotland being part of the United Kingdom. We remain committed to those firing ranges on the Uists, but we have to ensure that they attract new business and that we achieve diversity in the economy in the Western Isles, which is important to their future.