HC Deb 28 September 1944 vol 403 c392
17. Sir Robert Young

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is yet in a position to state what arrangements it is proposed to make to enable apprentices, whose apprenticeship has been interrupted by war service, to resume their training.

Mr. Bevin

Yes, Sir, and I will, if I may, arrange for my proposals to be circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Sir R. Young

May I ask the Minister whether his proposal will affect equally those who have not been apprenticed, because, as he knows, in the engineering and other trades there is an obligation to work a certain number of years without being bound to the employer?

Mr. Bevin

Yes, the proposal is not limited to what are known as indentured apprentices. It has a wide definition which allows people to be dealt with who, by the practice of the trade, went up on scales of promotion.

Colonel Greenwell

Is the Minister aware that negotiations in connection with this very important matter have long ago been entered into by the employers organisation and the trade unions with satisfactory results in many of these cases?

Mr. Bevin

I dealt with it in conjunction with a large number of trades. I got their views and I finally discussed it with the British Employers' Confederation and the T.U.C., and I think the proposals have the merit of being unanimously accepted by both sides of the industry.

Following are the proposals:


1. THE PROBLEM 1. Men and women who were apprentices when they joined the forces, or when they were diverted to other work during the war, will have lost periods of training which may amount to as much as three years or more. Apprentices in certain occupations may have served at their trade while in the forces and will thus have been able to continue their training; others will return to industry with no greater skill and knowledge of their respective trades than when they joined the forces; and many will have forgotten much of what they had learned; or, at any rate, will have lost the touch which is so important in some occupations. Experience has shown, however, that they will quickly pick up the threads of their training and readily re-adapt themselves to their former occupations. 2. In the case of apprentices whose apprenticeship has been interrupted by war service, reinstatement is only one aspect of their problem. Generally speaking, on discharge from the forces the time would have passed at which they would otherwise have completed the original apprenticeship and qualified as journeymen. They will normally wish, to resume their training with a view to qualifying as journeymen as soon as possible. The industries to which they belong will need them and the country will not be able to afford to lose this potential supply of skilled workers. But if they are to complete their training. the apprentices will require during the period of renewed apprenticeship a wage commensurate with their adult status and responsibilities, i.e. a man's wage and not that of a boy; and that wage must be such as would attract the apprentice to resume training for his craft. 3. In general the skill of the men will be at best that of apprentices. It is true that they will be older and, in many cases, improved in health, physique, self-reliance and adaptability and for this reason their industrial capacity will be greater than when they enlisted, but this will not be sufficient to compensate the employer for the increased wage which he must pay to the apprentices if they are to be attracted back to their former trades The gap between the industrial value of his services and what the apprentice will need must be bridged if apprentices are to complete their training and become skilled workmen. In this matter the State has a responsibility; it called the apprentice to the forces, or diverted him to other work, thus interrupting his training, and should share with the employer the cost of re-establishing him in his trade, but as the returned apprentice will be able to learn more quickly the period of renewed apprenticeship can be shortened. Proposals for dealing with the problem are set out below.


Persons eligible 4. The persons for whom provision will be made will be those whose apprenticeship to a skilled occupation has been interrupted by whole time service in: His Majesty's Armed Forces (including training under the Military Training Act 1939); The Merchant Navy or Mercantile Marine; the Civil Defence Services; the National Fire Service; the Police Auxiliary; the Civil Nursing Reserve; service in any of the capacities mentioned in the First Schedule to the Reinstatement in Civil Employment Act 1944; or other work of national importance, including industrial work, provided they were employed under arrangements made or approved by the Minister of Labour and National Service. 5. The occupations concerned will be those in which before the war the practice was to require a person, as a condition of recognition as a journeyman or skilled workman, to undergo a course of training of not less than three years' duration for a definite period fixed in advance. 6. The term "apprentice" will be interpreted in a broad sense and will include:
  1. (a) those serving under an indenture or other written agreement;
  2. (b) those serving under less formal conditions, e.g., under a verbal understanding between the parties or in accordance with the recognised custom or practice in the trade or industry concerned;
  3. (c) recognised learners;
provided that in each case, before joining the forces, etc., the person was recognised as actually learning a skilled trade. Satisfactory evidence of this will be required.

Time Allowance in respect of War Service.

7. It is proposed that:
  1. (a) An apprentice who was in the last year of apprenticeship before war service shall he regarded as a journeyman on returning to his former occupation.
  2. (b) In the case of other apprentices the period of training to be served as the renewed apprenticeship will be determined on the following basis:
The unexpired apprenticeship shall be reduced by one-third of the period of war service subject to a maximum reduction of one-third of the unexpired period of the original apprenticeship. (c) Any time served by an apprentice at his trade or at work comparable with that of his trade during his war service will be counted as part of the apprenticeship.
Provision of State Assistance. 8. It is proposed that allowances, as set out below, should be payable by the State during the period of renewed apprenticeship of those who Satisfy the conditions laid down: (a) A Wages Allowance in respect of apprentices receiving training in an em-plover's establishment after the date on which the original apprenticeship would have ended or the age of 21 (23 in certain cases in Scotland) whichever is the earlier. This allowance to be one-third of the recognised journeyman's rate, including war bonus, for the trade in the district concerned. It will not be payable until the apprentice reaches the age of 21 years (23 in some cases in Scotland) or until the date on which the original apprenticeship would have terminated if it had not been interrupted by war service, whichever is the earlier (see para. 9 (1) and (2) below). (b) A Maintenance Allowance to apprentices receiving training in a technical institution or training centre (see para. 10 (1) below). (c) A Fees Allowance to cover the cost of the fees payable in respect of training in a technical institution or training centres. The above allowances would be payable up to a maximum of 104 weeks in the aggregate, and it will be necessary for the employer and the apprentices to enter into an agreement to comply with such terms and conditions as may be decided to be appropriate in any particular industry. Wages payable by Employer to the Apprentice. 9. The employer will be required to pay to the apprentice wages as follows: (1) Up to the date on which the original apprenticeship would have ended or until he reaches the age of 21 (23 in Scotland in certain cases) whichever is the earlier: the wages (including war bonus) paid in that trade and district to apprentices in that year of training which the apprentice would have reached had his apprenticeship not been interrupted by war service. (2) Subsequently: not less than the fraction stated below of the journeyman's rate, including war bonus for the trade and district:
  1. (a) during the first half of the remaining period of training: ten-twelfths.
  2. (b) during the second half of the remaining period of training: eleven-twelfths.
The wage so calculated will include the Wages Allowance payable by the State (see para. 8 (a)), and will be paid by the employer to the apprentice. The employer, on giving proof that the proper amount has been paid to the apprentice, will reclaim from the Ministry of Labour and National Service the amount of the Wages Allowance.
Technical Training 10.—(1) During the period of approved whole-time training in a technical institution or training centre the apprentice will be paid by the Minister an allowance at the same rates as may be fixed for the industrial training of new entrants. (2) Where an apprentice is released during normal working hours for part-time training in a technical institution or training centre, the wages payable by the employer as in para. 9 above will continue to rank for the Wages Allowance. (3) Where part of the renewed apprenticeship is served in a technical institution or training centre, such period will count for the purpose of calculating the amount of wages due to the apprentice in respect of that part of the renewed apprenticeship served in the employer's establishment. III. PREPARATION OF SCHEMES 11. The Minister will invite the following bodies to prepare, in consultation with his Department a scheme appropriate to their industry or trade:
  1. (1) National Joint Industrial Councils.
  2. (2) Trade Boards.
  3. (3) Other joint bodies which, in the opinion of the Minister, are sufficiently representative of the employers and work-people in their respective industries or trades.
Where there is no such joint body the Minister himself may prepare a scheme to cover an industry or trade. 12. Schemes will not become effective until they have been approved by the Minister, who will satisfy himself that each scheme complies with the minimum conditions and, in particular, each scheme should provide—
  1. (1) a definition of the occupations to be covered and the amount and character of training to be given in each case;
  2. (2) the arrangements for the administration of the scheme and for the manner in which applications for payment of allowances are to be made;
  3. (3) arrangements for dealing with any difficulties or disputes that may arise in connection with the application of the scheme to the particular industry or trade; and
  4. (4) a form of agreement to be entered into by the employer and the apprentice.
13. It will be possible without legislation for the Minister to take the necessary steps to secure the proper observance of the schemes, and he will be able to suspend or discontinue allowances wherever that might seem necessary.