The latest figures, covering February to April 2012, show almost 23.5 million people employed in the private sector. That is a rise of 222,000 on the previous quarter and more than 900,000 since 2010.
What a splendid answer. Would the Minister like to increase that figure a little more? A company in my constituency has won an export order for 90 air conditioners to Egypt, but it is being blocked by red tape from the Foreign Office from carrying out the order. Could he provide some help and encouragement so that the order can happen?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight the need to rebalance the economy and to encourage more businesses to export. His comments will have been heard by our right hon. and hon. Friends in the Foreign Office and I shall ensure that they are made known to them directly.
The vast majority of people in part-time work actually want to work part time, but we need to find more ways to encourage people who want to work full time to do so and we will work very closely with Jobcentre Plus to ensure that those opportunities are available.
The private sector and private sector employment can be supported if there is a strong network of jobcentres. Will the Minister explain why his Department plans to close the Old Swan jobcentre in my constituency, making it harder for businesses to recruit workers?
The hon. Lady will be aware that the Old Swan jobcentre in her constituency was subject to an arson attack in May. The cases dealt with at the centre and the 63 members of staff working there have been moved to the West Derby jobcentre. I am confident that they can provide the same quality of service from there as they could from their previous centre.