HC Deb 03 April 1963 vol 675 cc477-9

I now have to turn to the measures I have to lay before the Committee for promoting our target of 4 per cent. rate of growth. In dealing with the problems of expansion I turn, first, to its human aspect. It is the availability of manpower, and especially of skilled manpower, that sets the limit to our capacity to increase production. We need more skilled men and we need to increase the speed at which men can acquire new skills and tackle new tasks. What we must provide is the facilities for training and the will to use them when provided.

Clearly, this calls for concerted effort by Government, unions and employers: Government to give the lead and to provide financial and material help; employers to help with the means of training and to give their men the opportunity and a proper reward for the effort involved; and unions to sweep aside restrictions, to encourage men to train and to support more rational wage structures with due allowance for skill.

We will do our part in this. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour has put forward comprehensive proposals for the establishment of industrial training boards. I am prepared to see a significant Government contribution to the cost of these which should be added to what is contributed by industry. I have provisionally allocated up to £10 million for this purpose as a start. We will double the facilities in Government training centres and over a half of the increase here is to be in Scotland and the north of England. This will mean extra expenditure on running costs of perhaps £3 million per year and once-and-for-all expenditure of about the same order on equipment. I look to management and to unions to respond to this Government lead.

Next, I turn to the problem of redundancy. Growth, as we know, means change. More rapid growth means more rapid change. As some industries grow, others must contract. But the corollary of this is that the community must treat fairly those whose skills and special training become in consequence no longer required in their former occupations or industries. Proper provision for redundancy is, therefore, of vital importance for economic growth. The problem is complicated, and many possible approaches have been suggested.

For our part, the Government intend to tackle this problem vigorously in consultation with both sides of industry in the next few months, with a view to the publication of proposals and, if necessary, the introduction of legislation in the autumn. I intend, in particular, to examine whether there are any possible changes in the Income Tax system that could help in the establishment of effective redundancy schemes.

For the longer term any Chancellor of the Exchequer is bound to be impressed by the great effort which is being devoted to the expansion of education, upon which our economic strength will depend. Total public expenditure on education in 1963–64 will be about 10 per cent. up on last year and it is moving up towards £1,300 million. Expenditure from public funds on universities, including awards to students, has risen from £36 million in 1952–53 to an estimated level of about £140 million in the coming financial year. This is a formidable figure when related to a university population which is now 117,000, and it represents a remarkable rate of growth. Expenditure on education is the most rapidly developing feature of the whole public outlay.