HC Deb 11 December 1961 vol 651 cc25-7
37. Mr. P. Noel-Baker

asked the Minister of Labour on what grounds he proposes to close the Government training centre at Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire; whether he is aware of the opposition to this proposal expressed by the Derby and District Disablement Advisory Committee; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. John Hare)

The industrial rehabilitation unit and the first-year apprentice class at Long Eaton are not being closed down, but, as I announced in my Answer to my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. B. Harrison) on 8th December, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that I must close the Government Training Centre because the number of persons trained at this centre have been too few in recent years to justify its retention. There is a centre at Leicester and some training classes can be transferred there. There is also a Residential Training Centre for more severely disabled persons at Portland, near Nottingham. I consulted the disablement advisory committees and local employment committees concerned and took their views into account before arriving at my decision. The Long Eaton Local Employment Committee and the Chairman of the Long Eaton Disablement Advisory Committee after consultation with his members did not oppose the decision.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is great anxiety in Derby and district about this proposal because it is felt that it will deprive industry in the area of skilled men, that handicapped and disabled men will not be able to travel to distant stations for training, and, therefore, instead of having skilled jobs, they will have to live on public assistance?

Mr. Hare

As I explained in my Answer, I do not think that the fears which the right hon. Gentleman had in mind will materialise. What I am doing is to reduce the training facilities to a level which is, I think, nearer to the actual demand. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that empty places make no contribution to our economic welfare.

Mr. Prentice

If there is surplus capacity at the Long Eaton centre or any other Government training centre, would it not be a good idea to expand the first-year apprenticeship course? Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that, in distinction to what happened last year, there is a big unsatisfied demand by firms for this course?

Mr. Hare

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the first-year apprenticeship training courses are designed to set an example of what can be done in pre-apprentice training and are quite apart from the normal work done at the Government training centres. I really have nothing more to add to what I have just said in answer to the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Tapsell

Will my right hon. Friend be able to ensure that everyone from Nottingham who would otherwise have gone to the Long Eaton training centre will now be able to get similar training elsewhere?

Mr. Hare

As I have indicated in my Answer to the right hon. Gentleman, I think that is so.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will the Minister ensure that transport facilities are provided to these distant places?

Mr. Hare

The right hon. Gentleman knows that they always are.