HC Deb 14 March 1962 vol 655 cc1306-7
27. Mr. Rankin

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he accepts the recommendation of the Toothill Committee that day, or block, release should be made compulsory for apprentices; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclay

Prior to the issue of the Toothill Report I invited the Scottish Technical Education Consultative Council to appoint a committee to consider the legislative or other measures that might be adopted in order to secure the progressive development of part-time further education by release from employment. Its first Report has just been completed and I shall take full account of the Toothill Committee's views in my consideration of it.

Mr. Rankin

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we have been waiting for a long while for something to be done about this matter? Would he consider that part of the recommendations of the Toothill Committee where it is suggested that, instead of waiting on a complete scheme, the right hon. Gentleman ought to make a start by taking one trade to begin with and developing that?

Mr. Maclay

I am awaiting the chance to consider properly the Report which I have just received. I will bear very much in mind what the hon. Member has said when I am considering it.

Miss Herbison

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that for a long time Scotland has lagged completely behind England in day release? Surely the Secretary of State should have sufficient information without having to wait for the Toothill Committee or any other Committee to report to take a decision which is of such importance to Scotland, where we need many more apprentices to be trained in order to attract further industries to Scottish areas.

Mr. Maclay

The hon. Lady will be aware that over a period I and other Scottish Ministers have made a series of speeches on this subject. She is also aware that quite complicated issues are involved in which the trade unions and all other possible interests must be consulted before we move into a scheme the result of which we cannot be sure of until we know how the different interests will react.

Mr. Brewis

Has there been any improvement in the day-release figures for Scotland recently?

Mr. Maclay

I have not the figures with me but I will certainly send them to my hon. Friend.