HC Deb 03 February 1944 vol 396 cc1402-3
63. Sir Granville Gibson

asked the President of the Board of Education the estimated number of children between 15 and 18 years of age who will be called upon to attend young people's colleges under the scheme outlined in the Education Bill, giving the total for each separate year; and what is the estimated financial burden to be borne by employers as a result of being called upon to pay the wages of young people attending colleges during the working hours of firms.

Mr. Butler

The average number in the age groups which will enter young people's colleges in each of the first three years from their opening is estimated to be about 500,000. My hon. Friend will realise I cannot undertake to give exact estimates for a long period ahead. I cannot furnish an estimate of the additional costs likely to fall upon employers as a result of the requirement to release young employees to attend college during working hours for the equivalent of one day a week. I am, however, advised that over the whole field of employment, juvenile wages ordinarily represent only a small fraction of total costs.

Sir G. Gibson

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if the average wage of a young person is 50s. a week, the cost of absence for one day a week will be £20 a year; and that if 500,000 young people go to these colleges for three years each, it will mean a burden on industry of £30,000,000 a year? Cannot my right hon. Friend avoid that cost by making it compulsory to attend these colleges in the evening?

Mr. Butler

One of our objects is to avoid evening work for young persons, and while I do not doubt the figures which my hon. Friend has put forward, I would remind him that industry, and employers generally, have accepted this scheme extraordinarily well. If, however, he wishes to discuss costs with me I shall be only too glad to do so.

Mr. J. J. Lawson

Is it not a fact that firms have been working this system for many years?

Mr. Butler

That is so.

Captain Cobb

Is my right hon. Friend aware that employers in Rugby regard this scheme as of immense benefit?

Mr. Butler

That is so; employers large and small in Rugby have co-operated in a magnificent manner.