EX-NORTHERN Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson stepped back into his role as a constituency MP yesterday by calling for Government intervention to help match people with jobs in Hartlepool.

Mr Mandelson was speaking in the Commons for the first time since he was cleared of any wrongdoing by Sir Anthony Hammond's inquiry into the Hinduja passport affair.

He hailed a 750 jobs boost in Hartlepool from the largest single overseas offshore contract as a "major boost for the North-East".

He praised the Government, citing the achievement as "fulfilment of the Government's pledge to spread prosperity throughout the regions".

Mr Mandelson, who has said he plans to devote himself to being re-elected in Hartlepool, told MPs: ''The biggest problem faced by the hardcore long-term unemployed, in places like Hartlepool, is a persistent lack of skills and low level of employability.

''What we need in constituencies like mine is targeted intervention by the Government and agencies so that this gap can be remedied, so that people who want to work can fill the jobs that have been generated in the economy.