§ 37. Mr. G. M. Thomson
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make it a condition of the award of public authority contracts in Scotland that the firms obtaining such contracts employ an adequate number of apprentices and provide approved training facilities by way of day-release education or otherwise.
§ Mr. Maclay
It would not be justified to ask public authorities to restrict the award of contracts in this manner as the 1079 general rule is that public contracts should be awarded after open competition.
I am informed, however, that Scottish firms have a satisfactory record for the employment of apprentices but that much greater advantage could be taken of the facilities available for day release.
§ Mr. Thomson
Is the Secretary of State aware that Scotland still lags behind a great deal in the provision of day-release facilities, and that one of the most urgent needs of Scotland is to provide the maximum number of skilled jobs? I appreciate the difficulty of this suggestion, but would it not be an encouragement to firms applying for public contracts if public authorities had some discretionary powers in this matter?
§ Mr. Maclay
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman appreciates the difficulty of his original suggestion. It is a very awkward one indeed, for obvious reasons. On the question of day release, as I have said in a number of speeches in Scotland, I think it is very desirable that the number of day-release students should increase.