HC Deb 01 February 1963 vol 670 cc1285-380

11.5 a.m.

Mr. Wilfred Proudfoot (Cleveland)

I beg to move, That this House welcomes the Government's proposals for improving industrial training outlined in Command Paper No. 1892 and urges an expansion of the facilities for training and retraining adult workers to meet the changing requirements of industry and to enable men and women whose jobs become redundant to acquire a new skill. I can hardly start my speech without saying how lucky I have been in the Ballot. I can only recollect winning one raffle outside the House, but since I have been here this is the fourth time I have been fortunate in the Ballot; indeed, my name has been drawn out of the Box first on two occasions. This is no accident. I pick the same number every time. This number has been a talisman in my life. I missed winning a seat in the 1955 General Election by the number I select to go into the Ballot Box. The first time I came across the number was when I was a technical training instructor in the Royal Air Force. I had been a technician before and had taken the technical training course before becoming an instructor. This number, which I learned there for the first time, is the melting point of grade A solder in degrees centigrade.

We need and must train more people, and when I say "train" I include retraining. I had a most incredible example of this the other day. I was told of a person who advertised for a general handyman and porter in a business in this city. To his astonishment, even with the full employment which prevails in that city, there were 200 applicants. In my own town, whenever anyone advertises for a van driver 150 people sometimes apply. This demonstrates the great well of untrained people in the country, a reservoir which we must tap.

Now that we have failed in the Common Market negotiations, we must obviously make ourselves more competitive. We must, as it were, turn in on ourselves and see that we have opportunities here. We must be more competitive in world trade. This means, of course, that we must accept the technological revolution which is sweeping the world and which is increasing its pace every day. When we talk about the technological revolution, which most of us accept, we must realise that it creates the new phenomenon of technological unemployment. America has technological unemployment at this point in time, and we are starting an era when we should have it. This means that we must look into the matter carefully and talk again of retraining people.

People will not stop in the same jobs all their lives. Some will, but great numbers will not, and they will be in the older, less efficient and dying industries, those for which a market no longer exists because of the new materials which are coming along. But this technological revolution should be welcomed for these reasons. It brings a great demand for higher skills. There will be fewer semiskilled and unskilled people in future. We must prepare for that situation by training people now.

If more skilled people are required, this automatically means that the top layer of skilled people must be deepened. In other words, we shall need greater numbers of supervisors and of managers when these new techniques are employed. In all my remarks I want it to be understood that I include management skills and supervisory skills. We should all knows that manegement does not just happen. Managers have to be trained for these skills just as surely as anyone else.

There is a blockage in training in this country. We have to examine, and I hope that we shall do so today, why we are not training more people and what are the hindrances. I do not believe that the Government are totally at fault. I do not think any Government would be totally at fault when criticised for not training more people. There are psychological blocks and blocks within our society which should be recognised.

Everybody is in favour of progress. If one stands up at a meeting and says that one is for progress, everybody there nods wisely. But if one says that one is for change, then one is in the dog-house. People accept progress in the community, but when it comes to the individual, it means change, and change as a result of external pressure, and people do not like being made to change by external forces. However, we are all being pressed by changes.

But change and progress are synonymous, and change includes change of place of work and job in the context of the technological revolution. It is the duty of Parliament and the Government to make these changes easier for individuals. I am convinced that if we want change we must prepare people for it. We must make it easier for individuals who are to have their lives changed by this form of progress.

The trade unions resist progress in many respects. But we should not think too harshly of them for that, because they are made up of individuals who agree with progress generally but do not necessarily like change affecting the individual. I feel that I have a moral right to speak in criticism of some trade union practices because a year ago, the last time I was successful in the Ballot, I chose as my subject monopolies and restrictive practices in business and said that monopolies were immoral. I believe this gives me an absolute right to speak today in criticism of some of the things the unions do which hurt our society and, indeed, make me feel at times that the unions are their own worst enemies when it comes to progress.

I sometimes think that the trade unions have witch doctors. In Africa, witch doctors are preservers of tradition. We have them in this country, too, and the trade unions have their own witch doctors, and they put up ju-jus on the paths of progress. When I refer to ju-jus, I do not want them to be confused with the famous ju-jubes of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). Ju-jus horrify}' the Africans, and our trade unions have ju-jus. But these are slogans, not the hideous things that the Africans have. I will go through a series of them. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour appears to be rather confused by my use of the word" ju-jus"—

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

As one who has experienced in Africa a visit to a so-called ju-ju man, might I ask the hon. Member whether he realises the seriousness of the allegation that he is making in this context?

Mr. Proudfoot

I have never been to Africa, only to India. But I have read books about ju-jus. They are things which make people deviate from the path they are on. That is the sense in which I am referring to them.

I will now give some of the ju-ju slogans. One is" Do not work yourself out of a job." Another is," But that is a welder's job." Others are: "Solidarity", "Sympathy", "Brothers", and "It is a matter of principle". These are all slogan ju-jus which are placed in the path of progress. Let us look at the most hideous and macabre of them all, which is used annually at the Labour Party Conference. It is called "The block vote", and it hurts our democracy.

I believe that our young people hate inefficiency. The workers hate inefficiency in management. That was why I included management training in my earlier remarks. The Government and Members of Parliament must help to remove these blocks. When I began this criticism I said that we should not judge the trade unions too harshly. We must legislate and work for greater security for their members. A start is being made with the Contracts of Employment Bill. That does not go as far as we should like; it should go further.

Security is one of the weapons that we must use in the changes that are to come. We must make a man feel secure and able to change from one job to another. Also, we must not lose for society the periods in betwene jobs; that is when retraining is necessary. We have had twenty years of full employment. We have, however, regional patches of unemployment now about which the Government are taking action. We may in future be affected by these patches, but I am convinced that we shall preserve full employment. The young men in the trade unions expect full employment, for they have known it throughout their working lives.

We must make sure that our economy grows. The Government have been doing something about that. They have set up the N.E.D.C., which has at last—I mentioned N.E.D.C. a year ago—brought out its figures for growth. I urge the Government to prod N.E.D.C. again to bring out the plans for this growth. So far the newspapers have said that there will be 16 industries which will be the growth factors in the next few years. If this is so, technical training and retraining in industry must be considered with urgency.

Again on security, why should a man not change his job? Why should he resist change? We must make sure that unemployment pay is equated more closely with a man's earnings at work. We must make sure that there is not too disastrous a drop between what he earns at work and what he receives as unemployment pay. We must go further in this respect in order to ensure that the man can feel that he is not on the scrap heap when he is unemployed, and at the same time that he must not lose time on the dole.

We must also go into the matter of redundancy pay. The trade unions have a job here. The modern trade union, I believe, should bargain for longer contracts. Business today budgets ahead and has new budgetary techniques. It has a good idea of what it hopes to do in the next few years. The trade unions must get with it in this respect; they must drive bargains with employers, asking how many men they need next year, how much they are prepared to pay, what they will do about the men they do not need and whether they will not need those men permanently. This is what the trade unions must do today, and there are great opportunities for trade union leaders in this respect. The trade unions have a great job to do in our future society; but they must get rid of their witch doctors.

All the time a greater number of skilled people and people with greater skills is needed, and I now turn to some of the things which should be said about the need for more training. Let us first examine the cruelty of the limits placed on apprenticeship. It is cruel that if a boy leaving school is not apprenticed within his first few years he is condemned to a life as an unskilled labourer. This is wrong. The trade unions bring this about by restrictive practices. This is no secret. The average figure throughout the country is one apprentice to four tradesmen. In the E.T.U. the ratio is better—one apprentice to every three tradesmen. But let me take one enlightened profession—accountancy. Before the war accountants were allowed two articled clerks to every qualified man. Today each qualified accountant is allowed four articled clerks. The trade unions must take note of this. If they do not, they will hold up progress.

A company chairman in my constituency told me that he would set up a training school in his factory immediately if the trade unions would let him have greater numbers of apprentices in his works so as to make a decent-sized school. I am sure he was not saying this in order to obtain cheap labour. Indeed, much talk about apprentices being Cheap labour today is myth. Particularly in the more modern industries, that is not so.

As the White Paper stresses, there must obviously be pay while training. Obviously, the first year must be full time training. Indeed, in my constituency some industrialists already operate this. The progress a boy can make in the first year is phenomenal if he is under full-time training.

Mr. R. E. Prentice (East Ham, North)

I am listening to the hon. Member with great interest, and I hope to deal with matters he has raised about the trade unions later, but I am waiting for him to give some comment on the attitude of employers. I hope he will do this, because it would be quite wrong to speak as though the trade unions had responsibility for all the errors and faults of the employing side of industry as well as for their own rôle.

Mr. Proudfoot

I have notes here about that, and I will come to it. But, of course, this is like discussing retail stores. Some are good and some are bad. It is the same in industry. Some of the bigger firms are most progressive in training, but some of the smaller firms cannot afford the training which we want.

Mr. Prentice

Some of the big trade unions are progressive, too.

Mr. Proudfoot

I agree. I am not trying to castigate one side of industry or the other. Last year I said that monopolies were immoral, and I have attacked managements on some of these things. I believe that today there is great willingness to learn among our young people. It used to distress me to see in other countries how young people took advantage of educational facilities. In this country before the war when I was a boy it was "squares" who went to night schools and swotted. Today I find that the "with-it" young people are taking advantage of training. In my division, we have trouble with our Young Conservative meetings because so many members attend night classes. They come in late afterwards.

There is also the myth that older people cannot be taught new skills. I do not accept it. I believe that older people are quite as able to do so as our young people. When I say older people, I mean in relation to youth. Men may have to change their jobs at 35 or 40 years of age. It is not a great age. It is still young. They still have the ability to grasp new things. We should stop thinking that people of that age have lost their ability to learn.

I want now to refer to the patchiness of skills. Some firms are good and some are bad at training. Often, the small firms cannot afford the machinery for training or the materials for the apprentices to work on. Thus, in some of them, we find an apprentice who spends five years making tea, while in other and larger firms an apprentice will acquire his skill. We cannot afford this patchiness of skills and the White Paper deals with this aspect quite efficiently.

Standards must be set. It is farcical to have people who in theory are supposed to have these skills but who quite often do not. Trade standards should be set up. In the Royal Air Force standards were set and tests had to be passed before a man could be called a tradesman. I am glad that the White Paper says that standards should be set up. Obviously they should be set up by consultations between the trade unions and the managements. I am convinced that if we are to succeed in giving ourselves a better standard of living and go forward to greater prosperity, training of both youths and adults is absolutely essential.

11.25 a.m.

Miss Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Proudfoot) on his success in the Ballot and on his choice of subject. We are all grateful to him for the points he has made. I want to make one comment on the trade unions. I am sure that we are all glad of the amalgamation between the Boilermakers and the Shipwrights Association. This is a good trend for the future and if we could only get the coppersmiths in as well, we would be even happier.

I support my hon. Friend's suggestion of a higher age for starting apprenticeships. So many boys and girls are staying in longer at school, especially at technical schools, and it is essential that the age of apprenticeship should be raised in some cases. Perhaps we might also consider shortening the period of apprenticeship, because, with better education, it may not be necessary for this to take such a long time.

Today I want mainly to discuss the question of apprenticeship and training of women and girls, particularly as I am a member of the Status of Women Commission of the United Nations, which is interested in this subject and passed a resolution last March. I want to quote some of the suggestions put forward on the vocational training of women and girls. The resolution stated: Recognising that the vocational training of women and the raising of the level of their qualifications are necessary prerequisites for their practical equality with men in the economic field … Consider how to improve effectively the vocational guidance and counselling as well as the vocational and technical training of women and girls and achieve free educational facilities in that field; Ensure to men and women equal access to existing vocational and professional schools and other facilities; Establish new centres, where necessary, for equal vocational guidance and counselling as well as vocational and professional training of men and women; Encourage on-the-job vocational training of women in industrial and other establishments. I believe that in this country in particular and also in the developing countries there is a great wastage of woman-power. In this country approximately one-third of our total labour force is made up of women and girls. In the clothing industry four out of five employees are women, in the textile and footwear industries half are women, and in the distributive trade more than half. But when it comes to the question of training, we find that only about 10 per cent. of the trainees are women or girls. Among girls under 18 one finds very few facilities for training. In fact in many industries there are no training schemes for them.

It is difficult to get exact and up-to-date figures, but I gather that only one in six of the girls who left school in 1961 received any systematic training for a year or more. By far the largest number did not get any training at all. This is one reason why young people, particularly girls, become unsettled and want to change jobs so often. The other day I was discussing with a youth employment officer the unemployment of young people. It appeared that there was less unemployment among those who had stuck to their first jobs and more unemployment among those who were continually changing their jobs. One had 15 jobs before she was 19.

One of the reasons is that they are not given an interest in their jobs. They are not told what happens in the firm and because they have no training they do not take a personal interest. Many firms think that the training of girls is a waste because they will get married. I have made inquiries of different firms making, for instance, gloves or foundation garments, and they say that, like swimming or bicycling, once the skill has been learned and the girl has been properly trained, she can leave the work for several years and the skill quickly returns to her if she goes back to work.

We shall have to have a new look at the employment of women, because so many of them will be getting married at an early age. The new pattern will be that girls will leave school and go to work, and then leave work to get married, and, when their children have reached school age, particularly now that the standard of their education is higher than it was, will want to go back to work. That brings me to something that was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland in regard to men—the fact that although employers do not mind keeping women on after they are 35, they are dubious about recruiting them after they are 35. I hope that that attitude will change.

A great deal is still left to be desired in the matter of giving girls information about careers. Too many of them go from one factory to another to take tests. Why cannot youth employment officers invite factory personnel officers to test the young people at the schools before they leave? It often happens that the girls take their tests and then fail their medical examination or do not provide satisfactory references. I hope to be able to see, that sort of action changing. I think there should first be the medical examination and production of references before the girls get excited about the thought of going into some job or profession in which they are interested. For this far more careers mistresses should be employed to give the girls a better understanding of the type of work which they can undertake and to take the necessary action.

Leaving school, especially for young girls, is a frightening moment. They have been at school since they were five and have always had home guidance and school guidance. When they go out on their own to the factories, they are often put before a machine, or whatever it may be, and given very little guidance. That does not lead to satisfactory work, and it must be an extremely worrying and frightening time for the individual concerned.

There is too little day-release for women and girls, and the scholarship which they learn during their school education is often all forgotten because they do not need to use that type of skill. I hope that many more firms will release girls for day-continuation classes, not necessarily only in connection with their work, but also for housecraft so that they can cope with this problem when they get married. I should like most firms to have a training officer to draw up training policy and to explain it at the most important moment of the girl's working life—her induction into the job.

What I am about to say may be controversial, but I feel rather strongly that young people who get a good, training during apprenticeship should be tied to the job for a definite period. It would then be up to the employer to release a young woman who was to have a baby, for instance, or who wished to go to another job for which she had trained.

Mr. Proudfoot

Some progressive firms in my constituency train far more apprentices than they can possibly use and in that way help local industry by pushing out the apprentices they do not want. If my hon. Friend's suggestion were adopted, it would limit the number of people which enlightened industrialists would take.

Miss Vickers

Perhaps I have not fully explained what I meant. For instance, certain firms and government organisations overseas send students to this country who are asked to work in that country's civil service, such as the social welfarc department, or whatever it may be, for at least two years on their return. I do not say that the apprentices need necessarily be tied to the one firm, but when they have finished training, they should be tied for a period and it would then be up to the firm to release the number it did not want.

In the navy dockyards apprentices are trained and then they go to a tremendous number of other firms. This, for example, is expensive for the taxpayer. One of the reasons why the apprentices leave the dockyard when they are trained is that they can get so much better payment elsewhere. I said that my view would be controversial, but I believe that there should be some system like that in the Army. Anyone who goes into the Army has to sign on for a period of years, and has to pay something if he wants to come out before that time. If the firm did not want the trained apprentice, that would be a different matter, but it should be entitled to his services for a definite period.

The White Paper also deals with whether there should be Government centres or schemes run by firms. I hope that wherever possible the training scheme will be run by firms, because it has been proved that when there is a separate centre and people go out for their training, their work output drops when they go to a firm and join an assembly line. It is quite sensible that that should be so, because in the training centres the apprentices are working more or less individually, whereas when they join a firm they have to get into an assembly line. It has been shown that if they have been trained with the people with whom they will work, there is less drop in their production.

Between 1950 and 1960, the number of women in the working population increased by more than 920,000. During that time there was a 12 per cent. increase in the number of women going to work and an increase of only 36 per cent. in the number of men. There has been a steady increase in the number of married women going out to work. In 1950, 41 per cent. of all the women employed were married, but by 1961 that figure had risen to 52 per cent. The figure is increasing because there are now more men of marriageable age. When I was young, there were 750,000 more women than men in this country, but now, with better maternity services, the boy baby, the frailer of the sexes in infancy, survives more often and there are now more boys than girls. Therefore, every girl will have the chance to get married if she wishes.

The following figures are very important. In 1931, one in ten married women worked, but in 1961 the figure was one in three. It is reckoned that by 1972 nearly every second woman will be at work and that 20 per cent. of the working population will be married women. That will create individual difficulties. Another factor which would increase the number of married women would be the raising of the school-leaving age to 16 years, because there would be fewer young girls coming into industry. The Institute of Personnel Management estimates that at the present rate there will be a shortage of 200,000 women workers in 12 years.

Why do we want to train women as apprentices and to give them these skills? I think that it is because there will be more automation so that there will be more need for the worker to understand his machine. There will be more need of more skilled manpower to keep the machine going. One difficulty experienced by women over 35 years of age in this country is in being recruited for a job. I gather that in America women are not asked their ages; they are just taken on if they are suitable for the job, and I hope that that system may develop here.

There is also the question of training part-time women who need to go to training centres, or to be trained by their firms. I understand that in June, 1960, no less than 371,000, or 13½ per cent. part-time married women were working in manufacturing companies. Again, no less than 55.8 per cent. of skilled women work in textile and clothing factories, and they have some training. Most of the other firms only employ them in their clerical departments. There is no evidence that juvenile delinquency is connected with the fact that women go out to work. Although it is important for women to go out to work, we must remember that grandmothers are getting younger, and there will be fewer of them to look after children in the future, which means that we may have to consider more day nurseries for children.

The present tendency is for a mother to obtain the services of an individual to mind her child, and there is a danger that there will be too many unregistered child minders, taking cash, looking after these children during their mother's absence.

By 1962, 316,000 more boys and girls were on the market than was the case 15 years ago. It is interesting to note that we always talk about the bulge that was—but the bulge is still here, as is shown by the statistics published by the Ministry of Health, and it will be with us in the future.

Paragraph 79 of the Carr Report says: Most apprenticeships are open to girls; nevertheless the number of girls who serve craft apprenticeships is very small. The Industrial Training Council suggests that systematic training, however short, is essential. It also suggests the use of election tests in order to place a girl in the right job; a detailed analysis of the skills and knowledge of the job as a basis for the training programme; a period of basic training for skill to be given to all individuals; provision for full or part-time instructors and, very important, records, charts and follow-up methods. Very often the individuals themselves can keep many of their charts and records.

The recruitment of school-leavers should be improved, particularly in the transition period from school. The wastage of girl-power or woman-power and materials is far less if they are trained. Furthermore, there is less chance of accidents, which is very important. The knowledge of the machinery on which they are working helps with this. Girls tend to stay longer with their employers when they have full knowledge of the job they are doing.

Training builds up the versatility and ability of the individual to an increasing degree, and she is far more ready to accept responsibility. On the whole, once learnt the skills are not forgotten. A number of firms, including Boots Pure Drugs; Joseph Lucas—engineering; Kayser Bondor—foundation garments, and Clark's, have very good training schemes for girls and women. Clark's, which has a factory in my constituency, has 17 operator-training centres, and is very keen on education for girls; so it is clear that some firms are already doing this work extremely well and it is hoped that others will follow these examples.

Women can put their skills to most professions or trades. I was interested to read, in the British Soroptomists Journal, of some of the rather unusual jobs that women are doing. They include a dog-stripping specialist, steel drum and keg manufacturer, spice merchant, tug owner, and coffin and shroud manufacturer—and in St. Albans the mayor, town clerk and librarian at one time were all women. Apart from that, women can easily adopt their skills to many different professions and trades if given the opportunity.

We have come a long way since the day when the normal woman wage-earners and children worked an 18-hour day in a factory or a mine—when there was no demand for the services of other women then as governesses and, later, nurses. The Post Office first provided an opportunity for the employment of women clerks as early as 1870, and in the two world wars women proved conclusively what a great part they can play in the nation's economy. I hope that the Minister will assure us that in all the training schemes mentioned in the White Paper women will be given an equal share with men and boys.

11.45 a.m.

Mr. Robert Woof (Blaydon)

In following the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers), I can say that I would not have attempted to participate in the debate if it were not for the fact that there are two outstanding problems which, to my mind, are embodied in the Motion moved by the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Proudfoot). The problems to which I want to refer cry out for a solution. They are bound up with the uncertainty of jobs, especially jobs for the increasing numbers of school-leavers now and in the future, because of redundancy. There is also the problem which arises from a lack of systematic training schemes for semi-skilled workers.

One cannot attempt to deal with these questions without introducing the social and economic side of the problem created by redundancy. They cannot be dealt with in a new way, or from a new starting point, for the simple reason that the trends of such problems have been known to us for some time. This is not something which has to be undertaken primarily for our own mental comfort, although we are qualified to assume an authoritative tone in these matters. Cleveland is in the North, as is my constituency, and I think that the hon. Member will agree that the situation in the North-East is most melancholy. It cannot be looked at in anything but a serious light.

Nothing in our thinking should lead us to permit a deterioration in the situation, in the interests of those redundant. Special attention should be given to the provision of retraining, through the planned location of industry—especially in the case of those communities that form a complete and distinct industrial whole and which are victims of economic change through causes that bear an important rôle in producing hard times. Any dead-end job that brings in a contribution to the family income, however small, is eagerly snapped up. This means that many youths find themselves in competition with school-leavers who have no marketable training, and no prospects.

The Motion places much emphasis on Cmnd. 1892. We remember, way back in 1942, the then Minister of Labour initiating discussions with the Joint Consultative Committee representing the British Employers' Confederation and the Trades Union Congress. This resulted in a report on the recruitment and training of juveniles for industry. That report contained at least one important proposal, namely, that the Ministry of Labour should encourage in each main industry the establishment of a National Joint Apprenticeship Training Council to foster and supervise the introduction of training schemes in the firms within their scope. After a great deal of discussion, many principal industries set up schemes agreed jointly by the employers associations and the trade unions, laying down conditions and providing for the training of apprentices. As a result of the responsibility undertaken by individual firms, many of these schemes are working well, with admirable results.

Content with nothing less than this method of recruitment for the labour force in factory trades, we recognise also that there are certain industries where work of great accuracy is essential and which, consequently, are almost entirely dependent upon machinery for their existence. What troubles me is the position in areas of concentrated population where no factories exist and which are suffering from the contraction of the basic industry, such as coal mining. Striking proof of this can be seen in my own constituency, where the livelihood of many is continually threatened as a result of the economic shifts in the competitive system. This may be an irresistible tendency of the times. Redundancy is plainly on the increase, reaching a proportional crisis of 9.7 per cent. unemployed, posing most acute social and economic problems for the families concerned.

Opportunities even in occupations which afford some scope for skill are now becoming restricted. In our present industrial malaise, many skilled workers are beginning to realise that, if they lose their place in industry, they, too, will become part of the flotsam and jetsam of society. Experience has come to be regarded as the best school in life, but there are occasions when we seem to have a desire to escape from our own thoughts. But our thoughts never leave us, especially when there are so many issues which are so profound in many different aspects of human affairs and behaviour which are at times so difficult to disentangle.

Any practical study of retraining for industry must take into consideration the present crisis. One can truthfully say that one cannot move about in the constituencies without being confronted by concrete evidence of the haunting fears created by redundancy. Whether inadvertently or deliberately, there is a general expression of weighty grief brought about by experienced facts.

So far, the Government have not admitted any obligation to establish safeguards. I have read very carefully Cmnd. 1892. Nowhere does it refer to redundancy. The Government have not announced their intention to prepare and carry through any scheme of retraining for redundant workers. We believe that the Government can do much to give redundant wage earners the status which they need. With public opinion behind them, the Government can do many things in a time of emergency. As we watch the great movement of modern progress approaching our time, we look upon and applaud our enlightened and civilised nation as one in which one improvement succeeds another. But it is a strange spectacle to see large numbers of willing men who cannot find employment. Anyone who thinks consecutively can recognise the causes. It is an unnatural thing that men who wish to labour in order to satisfy their wants cannot find the opportunity.

By virtue of the very nature of their redundancy, after a prolonged period of being unable to find employment, these workers should be given every consideration, through retaining in industry, to enable them to work to the best of their physical and mental abilities.

In no circumstances can this be regarded as seasonal depression. Work is shut off from these men and they are compelled to stand idle. The proximate cause of enforced idleness springs from a great primary wrong as a consequence of Government policy. Adequate provision for proper and efficient instruction should be made in order to help fit redundant workers for a trade.

The Government have inclusive possession of the means for doing what they think best in their own interest, always on the look out for everything which will serve the class they represent and seeing to it that their power is not impaired. It is never hard to learn how Government policy can be most effectively used when it suits them, particularly when they have enjoyed power in directing affairs for so long. No doubt, this is all very natural in politics.

The situation in the mining industry is worsening day by day, and it is continually becoming apparent that the growing tension within the industry is bedevilled by moves towards more pit closures, thus creating further redundancy. The source of the present crisis shows how causes appear to go deeper. We see this in the way the mining industry is suffering as a result of Government policy. In this situation, we urge the Government to set up local centres where men whose industries are dying can be trained for new skills.

Most writers on political economy usually exclude human nature from consideration, assuming for the purpose of their investigation that man is animated solely by self-interest, and not the higher kind of self-interest which enables a man to realise that what is best for a community is best for him as a member of it. It may well be that, in the narrower scale of individual life, unemployment is often obscured; there is only the freedom to tramp the highways looking for work. But in the wider field its consequences stand out irresistibly. It crushes manhood and womanhood. Such a criminal waste of human energy drives men to endure the worst of indignities for a miserable pittance. Moreover, hopelessness is, perhaps, of all things the most destructive of the qualities of energy and co-operation on which the progress of our people so greatly depends. Redundancy seems like a hopeless darkness which kills the happiness of society.

Mr. Proudfoot

The hon. Gentleman is advancing arguments for more training, and particularly for the training of redundant workers and the setting up of centres in the north of England for this purpose, which I heartily support, but I think that he must, at the same time, address himself to how the trade unions will accept retrained people within their circle. In speaking in that way, he has, I think, a moral obligation to take up this other point.

Mr. Woof

I have already explained that in an earlier part of my speech, if the hon. Gentleman was listening. I referred to the action which the late Ernest Bevin took when he initiated discussions between the Trades Union Congress and the British employers' associations.

Society is becoming, to an ever-increasing extent, a machine-created and machine-supported organism. The advent of such a society may be an inevitable step in material progress, and, in this way, workers in the industries affected by contraction could gain something equivalent to what they have lost if they were retrained to meet the new industrial requirements. The social and economic effects of mine closures cannot be too often stated. The decline can only be described as catastrophic. There must be an exhaustive analysis of the situation of the people involved and of the mental tumult and economic distress brought about. It all adds up to a wholly depressed people threatened with economic collapse.

A great wave of redundancy has swept over the North-East. In his new year message in the Conservative Weekly News Letter, the Prime Minister appeared to give extensive consideration to unemployment in the North. One cannot help but notice his appreciation of the awakening conscious discontent. Britain, he wrote, has to stake her claim to her rightful place in the markets for the new and complex products the manufacture of which is developing and expanding. We agree that this requires a decision about the forms and quantities of production of different types of goods based on a survey of available productive resources. Only in this way can there be a cure for the disorder of which redundancy is the outcome.

But the Prime Minister goes on to tell us: The answer to the employment problem in the North is to take active steps to attract these new industries. That is what the Government is doing at an accelerating pace. Perseverance is anything but an easy path in these times. I do not know by what reason or inspiration he confirmed in his own mind the authority for saying that. Whatever be the motive or value, we are not misled by striking a chord which inculcates action to relieve unemployment. He may have tried to create a new hope, but so far advantage is yet to be witnessed. Indeed, very little has been done to appease public opinion.

In regard to redundancy the position in the Durham coalfield is this: its manpower has fallen from 110,000 in 1957 to 78,000 and may well be down to 66,000 by 1966. More than 1,500 miners migrated to Yorkshire and the Midlands last year. The North-East Development Council has estimated that 12,000 to 15,000 new jobs a year are needed if we are to get unemployment down again to the national level.

This needs new activity, which only Government help can bring. The prob- lem of reorganisation will have to be faced and schemes for retraining may show how they can be approached so as to lay the foundation of a better industrial system. The history of the past ten years of this Government is sufficient to give us a guide. Anyone who is at all conversant with the process of politics knows the nature of the beast. The present-day decline of the mining industry greatly inclines to despair, particularly among school-leavers. At one time thousands on leaving school were attracted to the mines because that was the only industry to provide employment. The worst feature today is that the National Coal Board has discontinued its recruitment from school-leavers in the whole of the area which I represent.

It is needless to multiply instances, nevertheless we are supposed to look upon youth as an age of enterprise and hope. I am very much afraid that the youth I have in mind are not in an age of pleasure. They are exposed to daily disappointments. Most of them find it very difficult to get employment. The capacity for sane judgment is necessary to appreciate what is on the minds of young people but to make people industrious, prudent, skilful and intelligent they must be relieved of want.

I must say this. As a vital part of truth there should be evidence required to set up full-time apprentice training in schools. In the past Governments have made half-hearted attempts to provide jobs for the unemployed through development of the policy of public works. When unemployment has first become severe, especially in anticipation of a short slump, endeavours have been made to mitigate it by the execution of public works. At present it is impossible for us to look around without perceiving how far-reaching is the process of adverse change. The centre of significance still continues to grow intensively, with the result that it exceeds in range and magnitude anything experienced before. It is now a problem of replacing traditional heavy industry on which the economy was built.

As we regard the situation which is developing and deep beneath the surface of events, I agree that we must look at the change in an entirely new light. It must be expressed with such emphasis that the past is no longer tenable, the future has yet to come. Moreover, new and vigorous industries must be introduced on a scale sufficient to bring the present state of affairs to an end. This cannot be removed without profound changes in the present underlying structure. If any such policy is to be successful it must take on a far more ambitious change. It must be concentrated on efforts towards a real improvement in national productive capacity.

It has been said of old that "all roads lead to Rome". In paraphrasing and applying that to the tendencies of today, it may be truly said that all roads lead to a great economic and social construction over a wide field. Practically in every phase of economic life we appear to be passing into a new era. I am reminded of what I once read. A moralist stated that opinions are like nails—the more one hits them the more one drives them in; but I am of the opinion that if the Government accept the Motion before the House, and press it on with determination, a significant step will have been taken in the desired direction.

12.6 p.m.

Mr. Robert Carr (Mitcham)

I am sure the whole House will share with the hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. Woof) concern about the problems of redundancy. A man's inability to get regular work through no fault of his own is one of the greatest human disasters, because work is an essential part of life if we are to enjoy life in the leisure we have. I am sure we all agree with him that we must be passionate in trying to root out the fear of redundancy in every possible way. I believe that in industrial training, about which we are talking today, we are in fact dealing with one of the most important factors for reducing the fear of redundancy.

I have little doubt that the maintenance of full employment would become much easier if we had in our labour force a higher proportion of skilled workers than is the case at the moment. Over and over again when I had the honour to be the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and went around the country and studied the position at individual employment exchanges I saw figures which proved that on far too many occasions unskilled men registered as unemployed in an area while there were vacancies for skilled workers and unfortunately skilled workers did not exist to fill them. If only there had been skilled workers to fill those vacancies it would have been possible also to give work to many of the unskilled unemployed.

I am, therefore, sure that an increase in the number of trained workers is one of the most important steps which we must take if we are to make the maintenance of full employment easier in the long-term future. That, of course, requires Government action. We are concerned today with the recent White Paper published by the Government describing the action which they think they should take and which they think industry should take. I am sure that the hon. Member for Blaydon will accept, however, that whatever the Government do in this field the first essential requirement is full-scale co-operation both by employers and trade unions. That has not been forthcoming to the extent it should have been hitherto in our industrial history.

I want to make quite clear that in making that criticism I am criticising both employers and trade unions and neither excepting one nor the other, but criticising both. I think my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Proud-foot) had some justification when he interrupted the hon. Member for Blaydon. I am sure we were all delighted to hear the hon. Member for Blaydon supporting with his industrial and trade union background the principle of retraining of adult workers. Of course this is important. I am sure that we must do more of it in future than we have done in the past, but if we are to do that we must do it not just to find temporary jobs but to be able to give people who are retrained the assurance that they will be accepted fully into the craft in which they have become trained. The hon. Member must know, if he is honest about this, as I am sure he is, that in spite of what the late Ernest Bevin did 20 years ago it is still a fact that many workers who become skilled in their craft only when they are adults are accepted by the trade unions only by the horrible word" dilutees". It is a beastly word and has beastly connotations.

I hope that he will do his part within the trade union movement to see that adult workers who are trained in their crafts as adults are fully accepted as skilled workers, with all that that means, when they have achieved an adequate measure of skill—which is essential—and are not put in some inferior class apart simply because they did not receive their training in skill when they first left school in their teens.

I am sure that we are all grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland for giving us the opportunity today to discuss the subject of training in industry, with particular reference to the Government's recent White Paper. I believe that this White Paper is an historic, and I hope that it is a decisive, development in industrial training in this country.

As the House may know, I had the privilege of being the chairman of a committee set up in 1956 to study the question of training for skill. The Report of the Committee, which was subsequently known as the Carr Report, was published in 1958 and has been the textbook for this subject for the last few years—a textbook which has often been criticised. Whatever its faults, it is at least shorter and more readable than many standard works on other subjects.

I recall my part in past events only to make it clear that I warmly welcome the Government's proposals in the White Paper. I do that because it has been suggested in some quarters that the Government White Paper is a complete reversal of the recommendations of my Committee a few years ago. Indeed, one journal praises the Government for finally" recognising the sterility of the Carr Report." Even mules have their usefulness on occasions. But I believe that I speak for the whole of my Committee in saying that we do not look upon ourselves as mules in this connection. We both feel pride of ancestry and have a hope of progeny in the work of our Committee.

I think that the Committee will see this White Paper—I certainly do as its late chairman—as the child of the work which we did some years ago. I believe that it is a development from this work, and I do not believe that the White Paper could have been produced with any hope of acceptance by industry unless the Report of my Committee and the action which followed it had first taken place.

Indeed, I regard that previous work as an essential development and, as I said in the debate in April, 1959, when the Carr Committee's Report was first discussed, we certainly felt that it was the first word on the subject but not the last word. May I make it clear to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary that I have great pleasure and encouragement in welcoming this White Paper.

My right hon. Friend's proposals are not revolutionary by the Carr Committee's Report standards. May I draw the attention of the House to Recommendation No. 13 in the summary of the Report, in which we said: The responsibility which an industry collectively has for the training of its young workers must in effect be a responsibility which is shared by each firm in the industry … Firms which are unable to provide training themselves might make some other contribution towards the cost of training the skilled workers their industry requires. It does not need much reading between the lines to see that there was in embryonic form the idea of a levy, such as is now proposed in the White Paper. I think that we should have liked to see these things develop voluntarily and to see industry doing all this on its own initiative, but I for one certainly welcome the fact that the Government have introduced and are bringing into operation the embryonic idea contained in the Report five years ago. I could, although I will not, go through the Report and draw other important conclusions which we reached in the Report and which are now seen to be developed in this White Paper.

I want to say a few words on the proposals in the White Paper, and, in particular, to ask my hon. Friend a few questions to elucidate them. Some critics say that the machinery envisaged in the White Paper is weak and will be ineffective. I do not agree with that, because the machinery envisaged overcomes two of the chief weaknesses in our industrial training system as it has hitherto been known in this country. First, by setting up boards on an industry-by-industry basis, specifically concerned with training, it gets away from the great weakness which previously arose because training in this country has depended on the completely uncoordinated decisions of large numbers of firms in each industry, uncoordinated both as to quantity and as to type of training required. Secondly, by imposing a levy on the firms in the industry for which a board has been set up, the new machinery overcomes the previous weakness that large numbers of firms made no contribution of any kind to industrial training. Under the new system they will either train or at least contribute to the cost of training.

At the moment the machinery envisaged in the White Paper is very much in skeleton form, but I think that the framework is strong, even though it is flexible, as it should be. I think that in practice its strength will be increased rather than reduced by the flexibility which it possesses.

While the new proposals still leave the responsibility for carrying out work on training entirely with industry—this was one of the major recommendations of the Carr Committee Report—it injects into the system the active co-operation of Government in the form of financial grant, of membership of the training boards, and of Government supervision of the standards of training which are being carried out. Once the Government have committed themselves to this injection of active support and co-operation, I believe that inevitably they also commit themselves to the use, in the background if necessary, of the sanction of their authority to make sure that adequate standards both as regards quantity and quality of training are maintained in the future. This is indeed a White Paper which is as important and as strong as it is commendably short.

There are one or two questions which I want to put to my hon. Friend about the machinery. The first, concerns the composition of the proposed training boards. I am glad to see that it is suggested—although in line with the rest of the White Paper not finally laid down—that these boards should include people in addition to representatives of employers and trade unions. I hope that whatever representations my hon. Friend gets from industry, he will stick inexorably to his present views on that position. I do not in any way want to belittle the work of joint councils composed entirely of employers and trade union representatives in the field of training or other fields of industrial relations. However, it is of great importance in training to inject into the planning and supervisory instrument of policy the thoughts and experience of other people as well. I am delighted that it is suggested that the membership should include those con- nected with education. I hope that the Minister when he sets up these boards will consider the possibility of taking powers himself to appoint certain members to each board, thus ensuring that the boards are widely representative in experience.

Mr. Dalyell

Would the hon. Gentleman agree that it might be a good idea to make representation of youth employment officers on the boards statutory?

Mr. Carr

I certainly would not exclude that, but in framing the White Paper my right hon. Friend has rightly put it in what may appear to be too permissive a form at the moment. While being firm about the framework, my right hon. Friend is rightly inviting, and leaving great freedom for, discussion before he commits himself to what will be in the subsequent legislation. I would certainly welcome consideration of youth employment officers, because the placing of boys from school into industry is extremely important. That is a vital connection in getting people from school into places where they get proper training.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will realise the importance to be attached to the staffing of the training boards for each industry. They will need not large but good secretariats. If the part-time members are busy men, who merely attend the meetings of the boards, and they are not backed up by an adequate secretariat, action will be too slow and imprecise.

An important part of the scheme envisaged is that the board should have inspectors who will be responsible for ensuring that the proper standards, as well as the proper quantity of training are being maintained in their industries. I can imagine that it will not be easy to find the right type of experience and calibre to recruit for the inspectorate of training boards. I hope that the right hon. Friend will ensure that his Department does all it can to encourage and help industry to make provision for this as quickly as possible.

My right hon. Friend also has to consider the question of how he is to find personnel to be the supervisors that he himself will have to provide. Another essential part of the scheme is that the Ministry of Labour will supervise the work of the boards. It will need not a large force of Ministry inspectors, I hope, but nevertheless one which is adequate in quality as well as quantity, and I expect cannot be recruited all of a sudden. I hope that forethought will be given to this question.

I should like to ask my right hon. Friend about the definition of the industries for which these boards will be established. I hope that the industry covered by each board will not be too large and amorphous. It is very difficult to define industries. It is becoming more difficult with the advance of technology. It is so easy, to take the classic example, to label a vast mass of industry as the engineering industry, when in fact it includes within its boundaries dozens of separate industries. If a board is established for a too large and amorphous sector of industry, I do not see how the board will be able to apply itself in sufficient detail and sufficient force to setting up adequate training for the industry. I hope that the question of definition will be very carefully considered. In particular, I hope that the Minister will be able to use the functions which are envisaged in paragraph 12 of the White Paper, which says: … the Minister of Labour, at the request of a Board, could undertake the duty … of identifying the establishment comprised within the definition of the industry. In practice it will be found that large numbers of companies, and by no means all very small companies, will be very difficult to classify as belonging to one particular industry. Yet from the point of view of getting the training done it will be extremely important to include them under the auspices of an appropriate training board.

Finally, on the question of machinery, I want to ask my right hon. Friend whether he is yet able to say anything about the future of the Industrial Training Council. I am inclined to think that in addition to these individual boards for each industry there will still be value in having a national body concerned with training. I am inclined to think that this will be the case. If it is decided that a national body of an advisory nature should continue, I hope that the composition of the body will be extended to match in character the composition of the individual training boards. In saying this I am not in any way criticising the work done by the representatives of the T.U.C. and the British Employers' Confederation on the existing Industrial Training Council, but I believe, certainly in the future context, that the value of the work of the national body would be enhanced if it included representatives in addition to those from the two sides of industry.

If we imagine that these boards for various industries are set up and are beginning to work, what are some of the most important things to which they should turn their attention? While saying no more than a few words about each I should like to headline some of the subjects which I believe are the most important.

First and foremost, there is the one mentioned in the White Paper, namely, concentration on first-year training. Anyone who has studied the practice of industrial training will agree that if the first year of training of a young boy or girl can be carried out in properly organised surroundings and be of first-class quality, probably the most important step has been taken in seeing that the young person concerned is well trained.

The second thing which I am sure must be considered is the quality of training. This will be taken care of under the new proposals by the boards' inspectors and also by the Minister's assessors. It is also essential that we should develop much more than has yet been done in this country in the way of proficiency tests at the end of training. I am not suggesting that somebody should have to pass a test in order to qualify for employment. We could develop the most dangerous form of closed shop if we went too far in that direction. However, I feel that at the end of a proper syllabus of training the trainee should have the opportunity to take a proficiency test. If he passes it, it will be a label of value to him, which will carry a passport to a standard of job, and the hope of promotion as well as of remuneration, higher than would be the case if he had no such test. The increased use of efficiency tests is an essential element in raising the quality of training in this country.

The boards must look very closely at the length of apprenticeship. I do not go all the way with people who think that it is of great importance to reduce the length of apprenticeship. It is unnecessarily long in many cases at the moment, but I do not think that is the main thing which is wrong with our system. As the Carr Report made clear, I am inclined to believe that more important than the length of training is the scope of training. I would rather see the traditional five years kept and have included within that period a much broader scope of training than I would see the five years cut to three or even two and the scope of training kept narrow. I believe that in the shipbuilding industry in France, to take one example, they train each man for two crafts.

This is of immense importance when it comes to technological change. We must realise that there will be a very rapid period of technological change in the years to come and that we cannot expect with any certainty that a man gaining his skill at the age of 20 will still be required to use that skill thirty or forty years later, when he draws to the end of his working life. To give each trainee the greatest flexibility of skills is extremely important to provide full employment as well as for the economic needs of the industry in which he is employed. In this connection, the sort of amalgamation of unions which my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devon-port (Miss Vickers) mentioned is a valuable step in making it easier to broaden the scope of craft training, and I hope that there will be many such developments taking place in the years to come.

Another important factor which should receive the boards' attention is that of providing, in the first year or so, for young people who do not become immediately attached to any particular firm. At present, the difficulty is to find enough firms willing to take on indentured apprenticeships. One important thing, therefore, is to train in prospect of future needs. It is because of this that the obvious way out would be to develop a system whereby a young person is apprenticed to an industry rather than to a particular firm, and I hope that this sort of system will be considered and, if possible, developed.

An important point in the White Paper, if it is to be put into action, is that which states that the Minister should make clear that training should be carried out in all its aspects. While the training of apprentices is very important, it is also extremely important that older workers should receive training and that this should be training in skills which do not rank as fully craft skills. With modern developments in industry it will be difficult to keep pace with all the skills that will be required. Thus training in a wide range of skills, as well as those of the more traditional apprentice crafts, is important, and I hope that the boards will give this their attention.

There is one other item I would like to put on the boards' agenda; and I have no doubt that a number of other people, inside and outside the House, will wish to add many other items. I am concerned with research into the methods of training. There is no doubt that the techniques of training vary greatly from one place to another and that they are rapidly developing. The skill in the art of training is changing and developing and it is extremely important that the board for each industry should investigate all possible new ways of training which will achieve the results more quickly and, at the same time, achieve a higher quality.

This is a subject on which one can talk endlessly, and I apologise if, because of my long association with it, I am tempted to speak for far too long. I will not indulge myself further and bore the House any longer, but I hope that we can all go away from today's debate and use our influence with our friends in industry, whether on the employers' or trade union side, to get them to accept that to increase the quantity and quality of industrial training is vital for our economic future, the maintenance of full employment and the health of society as a whole.

12.34 p.m.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

Without being pompous, one can say that everyone interested in the subject of industrial training owes a considerable intellectual debt to the hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) and his colleagues who made up the Carr Committee. As this problem is too often seen in an all-male context, we might also express our gratitude to the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devon-port (Miss Vickers), particularly since one of the troubles in this country is that we do not make sufficient use of our women's brains.

The problem can be seen partly from the point of view of the nation as a whole, partly from that of an industry, and partly from that of individual firms, but I wish to concentrate on the problem with which I am most familiar; how the whole thing looks to the individual apprentice himself. After all, his working life will go on well into the twenty-first century, and the only certainty we have is that in that time, by 2010 or 2012, techniques will have changed not once but several times. When I heard the hon. Member for Devonport say that she knew of a girl aged 19 who had had fifteen different jobs I felt like replying," Is this not inevitable? Are there not many examples of people who must retrain not once but several times?" This is, perhaps, only one symptom of the problems which face us.

How real, in this contemporary world, is the distinction between training needs and education, because there seems to be a very fine distinction indeed at the moment? If we talk about "comprehensive training" should we not realise that a man may never be called upon to exercise the particular skill which he acquired in his youth? I pay tribute to some of the training schemes of the larger firms, but with the best will in the world it is not possible for a great many firms to give the adequate training which is necessary. The workers in the smaller firms are precisely those who need the training the most, and this is one of the reasons for my theme, which is block training as opposed to day release.

I wish to put before the House a few quotations from apprentices, for these may be relevant to our discussion. One apprentice said, "I learn only the sort of work suited to one firm which is engaged in a narrow range of jobs." The answer should be day release, but is it? Another apprentice said, "No one ever asks me what I do on day release." In this connection I refer to the Carr Report as a substantiation of this, for it is stated in paragraph 70: What sometimes happens at present is that the employer releases his apprentices but takes no interest in what they are doing at the college; while the technical college pays no regard to the relevance of the education it is giving the apprentices to what they may be doing on the other four days of the week. Another apprentice said that he could not get day release because—"Oh, it dislocates my boss's working schedule." The boss's remark is all too frequently, "We are too busy to let the lad go." This must not be, and there must be greater pressure brought to bear on certain employers who make that sort of remark. Another apprentice said," They give training in such-and-such a technique because it is familiar to the instructor"—even though the demand for that technique may be declining. I need not underline what is involved here, because the hon. Member for Mitcham referred to the necessity to train those who are, in turn, going to train apprentices.

Perhaps the most important remark an apprentice made is this, "I am a nuisance to the craftsman looking after me because if he takes a lot of trouble over me it lessens his chances of a high bonus." I am not saying that no trouble is taken in these individual cases, or in other cases, by the craftsmen who might have been losing some of their bonuses, but let us face it; a certain embarrassment may creep into the relationship between the apprentice and the craftsman looking after him if the apprentice knows that, by taking a lot of trouble over teaching him, the craftsman may lessen his bonus opportunities.

A further problem is that the sixteen-plus school-leaver who finds that he is not suited, let us call it, to the "grammar school-senior secondary school type of job" may like to take up an apprenticeship at the age of 16½ or 17½ This assumes particular importance in view of the O-level certificate and the fact that we are encouraging boys to stay on at school to get their fourth and fifth year examinations.

How does the Minister propose to tackle this problem and make it possible for those who have done what the nation wanted by staying on at school to get an apprenticeship? Many of them would make the adaptable and highly skilled operatives for whom we are looking. I regret that a boy's or girl's chance of suitable technical education should ever be allowed to depend on the accident of geography. There is a certain problem here. Because we are asking them to travel often twenty or thirty miles, at the end of the day release they are exceedingly tired and possibly have not taken in their afternoon's work even though their morning's work has been satisfactory. This is an argument for having more full-time local establishments.

I ask the Minister why it is that the group apprenticeship schemes have not been as successful as many of us hoped. If the figures are right, only 30 such schemes are operating in Britain, training, perhaps, 1,000 boys and girls. Five or six years ago it was hoped that much would come from these group apprenticeship schemes, and some of us have not been able to fathom why they have not been successful. What residual powers will the Minister have if an individual board such as is outlined in the White Paper is sluggish and laggardly about carrying out its duties? Is there any way in which the Minister can goad them into more action if he feels it desirable? How are the industrial training boards to give strong local supervision, which to some of us seems rather haphazard?

Another problem which may not be the responsibility of the Ministry but which is, nevertheless, important is the standardising of machinery for apprentices. Too often they are being taught on dated and, perhaps, irrelevant production machinery. The equipment at day release is old-fashioned compared with that being used in the factory. Most mechanical equipment is now so expensive that public authorities which are responsible for certain kinds of colleges simply cannot afford it.

The hon. Member for Mitcham asked whether youth employment officers or other people connected with education would be represented on the boards. There is a certain advantage in having youth employment officers. They represent continuity, and, in dealing with 15 to 20 year olds, continuity is, perhaps, of far more importance than in dealing with adults. It is my personal conviction that block courses are more satisfactory than day release, which tends to be isolated in the minds of 15 to 20 year olds whereas it might not be so isolated in the minds of adults. Here the phrase of the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Proudfoot), the patchiness of skill, is relevant.

I should like to say a word or two about retraining. Many of those whom I represent have been miners of shale for 30 to 35 years. There is nothing more distressing than to go to the shale mining villages and to talk to honest, loyal and hard-working men who have been unable to get any job at the age of 55 or 60. They say pathetically, "Does not the world want us any longer?" It is particularly embarrassing if their teen-age sons and daughters have jobs, because they then feel that the head of the household has become irrelevant and nonfunctional. This presents a terrific human problem, and, believing that man is not a loafing organism, to make those who have been declared technically redundant feel that they are wanted is a priority. I think that that is as much as usefully can be said.

12.45 p.m.

Mr. Gordon Matthews (Meriden)

I hope that the House will excuse me if in the earlier part of my speech I make one or two general remarks about the need for more training in industry, because I feel that the more we say about this subject the better. Far too many people in this country still do not realise the seriousness of the situation. Industrial training is one of the most important subjects under discussion at present.

As every hon. Member knows, there is a serious shortage of skilled labour, and this fact is one of the most serious obstacles to increased productivity. Some of the overall figures of industries that we read in the newspapers conceal serious shortages in certain key trades, such as turners, machine tool setters, carpenters, joiners, draughtsmen and many others. We recognise that this is a serious problem in meeting the challenge of foreign competition and maintaining employment.

I think that most of us in the House realise that the organisation of training in this country has not kept pace with the rapid changes in the structure of industry in the last few years nor with the new modern industrial techniques, particularly in learning the new disciplines necessary in an age of mass production. There is, therefore, a need to reorganise our methods of training. It is not, however, just a matter of reorganisating the methods of training. It is also important that we should give great attention to proper selection at the recruitment stage so that young boys and girls leaving school are selected according to their natural aptitudes for an occupation which is suitable to their make-up.

It is, therefore, a problem not only of quantity of training but also of quality. I am sure that we all recognise that boy labour is no longer something which employers can obtain on the cheap. Adolescents' wages have, I believe, increased by about 37 per cent. since 1956. We also recognise, I think, the difficulties of day-release, which adds to the costs of the employers and dislocates their work schedules. We recognise that, up to now, the heaviest burden has fallen on the large firms which have the facilities for providing comprehensive training schemes. Small firms do not have these facilities, and something must be done to encourage group apprenticeship schemes.

There are very big difficulties about this matter. We must face the fact that group apprenticeship schemes have not been a success. As the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) said, there are only about 30 such schemes in the country. There is also the difficulty that the modern trend to specialisation and concentration on a narrow range of products in many smaller factories makes a comprehensive training scheme very difficult to organise.

We recognise—and the White Paper confirms this—that the basic preparation of a boy or girl for industry is one of the most urgent needs. I support what my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) said about the importance of giving more attention to the needs of young women in addition to those of men. We believe, as the White Paper says, that it is right to concentrate on first-year training. In many trades there is a great similarity in the necessary basic training and it would be more economic to organise this basic training in large groups so that we can afford to employ trained instructors.

It seems to me very important that the instructors should have the right attitude to this job, especially in the early stages. I have had some experience in Birmingham in the training of young women for retail distribution. I have been shocked at the amount of wastage that we have had through what I believe was a wrong attitude on the part of the instructor in the early stages. No serious attempt was made to convince the young ladies in the class of the purpose of what they were being asked to do. It is fundamental that young people should be told right at the beginning what it is all about and why they are being asked to attend classes and instruction. The greatest need is for fundamental scientific principles to be understood in regard to the use of tools of their trade, and for them to learn accuracy and precision in their work.

Therefore, I welcome, as, I am sure, every hon. Member welcomes, the White Paper Cmnd. 1892. It is one of the most far-reaching documents on training policy which we have produced for many years. I am glad that it reveals a change in the Government's approach to industrial training. I am glad that it recognises that mere exhortation is no longer enough. We have to go much further than merely exhorting business men and others to make an effort in this respect.

I am glad that it now appears to be accepted that the Government must take some responsibility in that direction. I hasten to add, however, that the initiative must remain primarily with industry. In these days when we are so anxious about our position in connection with the Common Market I hear numerous comparisons with the position elsewhere in Western Europe. It is said that our training conditions can be compared with the system adopted by, say, France. I do not consider that the system adopted in France would be appropriate to the United Kingdom. It is far too centralised for our methods and the French do not have the great advantage that we have of numerous voluntary associations which do a lot of work for the Government.

When, however, one compares our position with the Continent of Europe, where so many schemes have been started in recent years, it is gratifying to realise that the opportunities in this country for further part-time study up to a full professional level are probably better than those on the Continent. Our facilities for day-release for technical education are better than the facilities elsewhere. Our system of technical education is more progressive and coherent in providing new scales and new disciplines such as are demanded by mechanisation and automation. If, after all, Britain joins Europe, there is no doubt that the equation of the various qualifications needed in industry will be of vital importance.

But the position is not all as rosy as that. We in Britain also have weaknesses, and certain weaknesses of our system need to be considered. The first is the lack of incentive to apprentices. There are no tests which they have to pass. Study at the technical college is voluntary. There is no need to attend or to qualify. All that one has to do is to enrol for a certain number of years. I cannot believe that this is good enough in this modern age. There should be a definite test and something for the young people to work for, so that they may show that they have achieved a standard. In addition, employers should do more to recognise a young man or a young woman who has made the effort to qualify. At present, little recognition is given in the form of higher wages or promotion.

It must be made possible for these young people to see that it is worth their while to make the effort. In far too many cases the girl friend wins out. I have had experience of teaching at the College of Commerce in Birmingham and at the College of Advanced Technology and I have noticed students slipping away. On looking into the matter, one finds that the girl friend has won out and the temptation to earn and to spend more money defeats the aims of education.

A third defect in this country is the poor organisation of craft training and the lack of a system of testing the skills that are acquired. In addition, there is a limited range of opportunity for apprentices. When one studies what is happening on the Continent, one finds that there is a much wider range of opportunity for apprentices, especially in commerce and in the occupations followed by girls and young women.

All this is relevant to our problems of industry. Every one of us is aware of the high cost of distribution. I hope, therefore, that in a debate mainly upon the problems of industry, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will include the needs of commerce, because the prob- lems of distribution are inseparable from those of production.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport, I feel that women could be aided much more than they are, especially at the stage when they could come back to industry having completed their task as the mother of a family. There is a great deal of waste of ability when women reach the middle forties and could come back and do useful work. This depends fundamentally on their training when they are young before they marry.

I have spoken against adopting a system similar to that which is in vogue in France, and perhaps I should give my reasons why training for industrial skills should remain the responsibility of industry and not be the function of some kind of formal education, as in France. My reasons, briefly, are as follows. It would be a complete reversal of our traditional practice to adopt a centralised system of that kind. Educational systems have certain disadvantages of rigidity that are not satisfactory. The intake cannot be easily expanded, as it would need to be if we were rapidly to meet the changing needs of modern industry.

We all know that staffing and new equipment require political decisions by local authorities and the like which very often take far too long to put through the political machine. As the hon. Member for West Lothian has pointed out, the mechanical equipment is often sadly out of date and so also are the instructors. Both instructors and machinery tend to fall behind the times when events are moving as rapidly as they are now.

Mr. Dalyell

Perhaps it ought also to be put on record that although some instructors are behind the times, there are many who are extremely good.

Mr. Matthews

I endorse what the hon. Member says. I did not intend to imply that the majority of instructors are not excellent. We must, however, face the fact that there is a tendency for some instructors to specialise in one line; and if that one subject becomes unfashionable or out of date, they are left with a diminishing number of students to teach and they lack the ability to switch over to something which is in greater need. When technological change is as rapid as it is now, it is of the utmost importance that training should be up to date.

One further reason why the responsibility should rest mainly upon industry is that colleges have a big disadvantage from the viewpoint of the students, because they deprive a number of young people of their earnings at a time when earnings mean a lot to them. In addition, the financial burden on parents is increased.

I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister will do what he can to keep the boards envisaged in the White Paper small in number, so that they will be able to make policy decisions and to achieve results. It will no doubt be envisaged that much of the detailed work would be delegated to panels. I hope also that when the time comes to legislate on this subject the Government proposals will not be too restrictive as to the range of training and that the boards will have power to operate in a wide field of skilled and semi-skilled work affecting apprentices and older workers, technicians and technologists, foremen and managers and even technical salesmen.

I see some difficulty here. If we are to go out into the world and build our export markets we must have salesmen with technical knowledge who can back sales knowledge and the knowledge of financial problems with technical knowledge. It is hard to see how we can separate the two. Therefore, problems of salesmanship and marketing should be included.

I hope also that priority will be given to the problems of craft apprenticeship training and that the boards will apply to commercial as well as technical activities in industry. I hope, too, that the standard industrial classification will not become the basis of definition of industries. I see two difficulties here in particular which need serious consideration. One is that some of the bigger companies will be subject to supervision by several different boards, each charging a different levy and each requiring different standards of training.

Another difficulty will be that some crafts will have a different standard in each industry. What is intended to be done about this? I urge my right hon. Friend whenever possible to use the arrangements already set up voluntarily in industry, for example in the iron-founders industry. If we were to follow the standard industrial classification in that industry three boards would be involved with engineering, metal producing and processing. But I hope that the House will agree that it would be undesirable for this to happen when good progress has already been made in setting up the existing very excellent system of training.

I would hope, too, that there might be some form of national co-ordinating body to have a kind of caretaker function to dead with research and information and things of that kind, and to hold the whole structure of the various individual boards together. In view of the fact that craft unions still form the basis of very much of our industrial organisation, I would hope that there would be a trade advisory committee to cover all industries, one from each industry—one to cover fitters, the other electricians and the other machine metal-workers—and that those should aim at producing a certificate of craftsmanship such as is awarded by the London City and Guilds on behalf of the ironfounding industry.

As to the question of admission dealt with in the White Paper, I hope that we shall develop a system of selecting boys and girls according to their aptitudes, in order to avoid the appalling wastages that arise through having square pegs in round holes, of which I have a great deal of unfortunate experience. I should like to see the careers masters at most of the big schools making their job a full-time job and carefully inquiring into the aptitudes of the boys and girls who pass through their hands and taking the greatest care in advising them and placing them in the right kind of occupation. A great deal has been written on guidance in careers, but I feel a great deal still can be done in classifying the aptitudes necessary for various jobs.

I should hope also that there could be a relaxation of restrictions on the age of apprenticeship. The traditional ages in many cases deny young people and older people the opportunity of a second chance. A case was mentioned on the B.B.C. programme last Tuesday of an engine driver who had been driving a steam locomotive but who had been able to retrain himself and is now able to drive a diesel. This is the sort of thing that we want to make possible. The driver was 60 years of age, but why should a man of that age be denied the opportunity to retrain himself in this way?

We all know that many young people are restless when they first leave school. They want to get away from school training and classes and they are tempted to take a dead-end job because the wages in the earlier stages are better. Then they get bored with the dead-end job or they begin to realise that it is dead-end. They want to have a go at training themselves as their wiser brethren have done, but the opportunity is sometimes denied them because we are too restrictive and rigid in the matter of apprenticeship ages.

It is not always the result of the restlessness of the young person. It is sometimes the result of having unsympathetic or even greedy parents who think only of the money the child can earn rather than of his training for the future. Sometimes it is due to domestic problems. The young person has to earn higher wages because of the need to help a parent or an aged aunt. Sometimes it is just a matter of illness interrupting serious study. But whatever it is, we must be more liberal and more relaxed in the regulations governing age limits.

As to the length of training, the old traditional five-year apprenticeship is out-of-date. We cannot be as dogmatic as that. The period of training is dependent upon the degree of skill, and the degree in different occupations varies very widely in modern times. It is unwise to tie ourselves to fixed periods of five years from the age of 16 to 21. Other countries have far shorter periods of apprenticeship.

We need a clearing house for the standards of training and the facilities provided in different occupations. Britain has no standards. In this respect we are almost unique in Europe. The only requirement is to have completed a prescribed period of apprenticeship. No evidence is called for about the number of classes attended, or what the student has learned, or what skills he has acquired. In most cases today it is still a case of a man being either skilled or unskilled, whereas we know that there are many different degrees of skill in every industry. There are also wide differences between the skill necessary for working in a large-scale industrial plant, where as a rule skills are high but in a narrow range, and the skill required in a small family business where everyone has to be in the nature of a Jack-of-all-trades. In France, Italy and the Netherlands it is generally recognised that there are at least three or four different grades of skill in most occupations, and, what is more, remuneration is based on those skills.

I would refer also to the McMeeking Report on the redesigning of syllabuses for commercial training. The first recommendation in the summary says: Courses, particularly with reference to the export trade, should be developed on the technique of salesmanship and all aspects of sales management, marketing and distribution. As I say, it is difficult to draw a line between the skills of the salesman and those of a technical representative. Very often, these two functions are in effect combined. I suggest that it is very important from the point of view of our export trade that we should look carefully into this problem.

In conclusion, I quote from the report of a recent conference organised by the British Association of Industrial and Commercial Education. The conference took place at Nottingham University in September, 1961, when the subject of "Continental Comparisons" was discussed. I quote the remarks of Sven Grabe, who said: The emphasis on theoretical instruction, the acquisition of a full understanding of the process involved and the moral education held to be an important result of vocational and technical training as now organised, are generally considered to be the reasons why the engineers, technicians and workers of Europe have been able to adapt themselves to rapidly changing requirements and thus to achieve a rate of economic development unmatched elsewhere in the Western world.

1.12 p.m.

Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Swindon)

I suspect that at this stage of this kind of debate the wish of the House in general, and particularly, perhaps, of the Parliamentary Secretary, who has sat so patiently through it, would be that speeches should be brief, and therefore I shall do my best to compress what I have to say into a short time. Obviously, we on this side of the House welcome an opportunity of discussing this subject and are grateful to the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Proudfoot) for raising it. I apologise to him for the fact that the snow depraved me of the opportunity of hearing the first few minutes of his speech.

We are, of course, glad of the revival of Government interest in this subject. We had the White Paper in December and there is the Contract of Employment Bill shortly to come before us, and there was a reference to this subject by the Minister of Labour only last week when he met his National Joint Advisory Council. This revival of interest in the problems of redundancy and of training is very welcome, although I find that some of my political friends and some of my friends in the tirade unions do tend to detect what they believe to be an element of electioneering in some of this. They very much hope that the White Paper, for example, will be followed by practical action and not remain an ineffective dead letter as many of us think the Industrial Training Council has done. This, as the House knows, was set up following the Carr Committee's Report in July, 1958. It seems to have been totally ineffective since then. Indeed, the best which the White Paper can say about it is that it has "helped to stimulate interest" in the question of industrial training and quite a number of people do regard it rather as a philanthropic offshoot of the British Employers' Confederation from whose premises, in fact, it operates.

I have a constituency reason for intervening in this debate, and it is, as the Parliamentary Secretary and the House are aware, that we in Swindon have a major British Railways work-Shop which is going to face heavy redundancy if the present Government plans, as they appear to be, go through. The anxiety of the men in this employment is, of course, aggravated by the fact that we have no firm policy on transport from the Government, and although we have now waited for eleven years to hear from Ministers of the Conservative Party what their policy is to be, we are still at the stage of waiting. We have yet to hear Dr. Beeching's final proposals. Then we have to have the Government's comments on them, and whether we shall get the final policy in operation before the next General Election does seem to be increasingly unlikely; and this general atmosphere of uncertainty surrounding the railway services is one of the major causes of poor morale and other difficulties they are facing at the moment.

I have to say that at the present moment redundancy is not affecting Swindon very severely. We have only a small group of men facing real personal difficulty at the present time, although, as the Parliamentary Secretary may be aware, one result of the uncertainty and of the process of contraction of the workshops has been to drive men, who could continue to be usefully employed there for months and perhaps years, to other employment. I am sorry to say that very many of them are skilled workers who have been doing skilled jobs for which they had been trained and have done for many years and they have gone into quite different and quite unsuitable work because of the fear either that they will not find something more suitable for them or because there is not any adequate training.

The hon. Member for Meriden (Mr. Matthews) mentioned the case of a steam locomotive driver who was retrained to drive a diesel engine. He was one of the lucky ones, if I may say so. I know men who have been main line drivers for many years who have gone into unskilled jobs, and this, of course, is a deplorable waste of skill and capacity for the railways.

Mr. Matthews

This emphasises the point I made, too, that the reason why these men have to go out of the service is that for various reasons they are not retrained.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Because in this case training is available. Inside the railways it is possible for the driver of one type of locomotive to be trained to drive another type; but many people in the industry, facing redundancy now or in the near future and at a fairly advanced age, have to be retrained for work in another firm for different jobs, or go, as usually happens, into unskilled jobs. This is a devastating waste.

However, I did not intervene in this debate only for constituency reasons, because so far we are not facing a very severe problem, although many people in my constituency are worried about what may happen next year or the year after and because of the uncertainty arising from a Lack of policy for transport as a whole. I should like to speak in the general context of what is happening outside the railway industry.

As my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) made plain, too, there are many other declining traditional industries, employing hundreds of thousands of workers at the present time, which are now to release large numbers of adult workers, some of them a long way through their working lives, and trained for one particular job, whose skills and intelligence and capacities are urgently needed in the growing new industries but for whom no provision at the present time is being made. We are going through a period of unemployment, very serious in some areas. My hon. Friend tells me it is 9.8 per cent. in his constituency. I am glad to say it is a good deal less in mine. Of course we hope that unemployment will not persist. But even in the existing situation there are large numbers of vacancies in trades in which there are unemployed skilled workers. The last figures I have—the Minister may be able to give new ones—relate to September, 1961, and were published last February. They reveal that at the national level for every one turner unemployed there are 13.7 vacancies, for every machine tool setter unemployed 12.9 vacancies, for every bricklayer unemployed 10 vacancies, for every draughtsman unemployed 5.1 vacancies, and for every instrument maker unemployed 7.9 vacancies.

Surprising as they are, those figures do not tell the whole story. Indeed, they are rather misleading. If one breaks them down into regional figures one finds that, although the national figure for draughtsmen is 5.1 vacancies for every unemployed draughtsman, the regional figures for the East and West Riding show 29.3 vacancies for every unemployed draughtsman. Although the national figure for the building industry was 1:4.4, in the South-West, my area, it was 1:7.8, and in the East and the South of the country 1:9.6. There are similar figures for engineering and other occupations. This shows that when we get through, as we hope we shall, the present period of heavy unemployment in some areas, the problem of the demand for skilled workers will become very much more serious. This will represent a major national emergency, and energetic steps must be taken to deal with it.

Although I find that almost everything that appears in the first section of the White Paper would apply equally, if not more so, to the retraining of adult workers, the remainder deals only with young people, and I very much regret that.

Turning to the proposed boards, I find myself wondering very much whether a strong centralised body to co-ordinate and direct their activities is not immediately required. Perhaps the Minister can tell us what he has in mind for ensuring that the boards integrate and co-operate and plan their activities. The point has already been put to the Ministry of Labour by the T.U.C.

Secondly, are the Minister and his Department really satisfied that to organise the boards on an industry basis is the most effective method? I, and, I believe, a number of my friends in the trade union movement who are better qualified to speak on this subject, wonder very much whether it would not be far better to have the boards-working on an inter-industry regional basis instead. That would enable the boards to deal with the needs of industry as a whole in a region, and make it much easier for them to help direct the flow of labour from declining traditional industries to new ones in their area. It might be that co-operation would be easier between regional boards than between boards constituted on an industry by industry basis.

Another point which has already been made is that it is difficult in some cases to define exactly what industry a certain factory or occupation belongs to. Therefore, I am doubtful about the way in which these boards will be set up, first, because I do not see sufficient provision made in the White Paper for co-ordinating and integrating their work, and secondly, because of the point I have made about regional organisation. Above all, we are anxious to see whether or not real action will follow from the publication of the White Paper or whether it will remain largely a dead letter.

I do not want to say anything about young people or women and girls, although I realise how important those subjects are. They have, indeed, been adequately covered in the debate. I listened with great attention to the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers), and I am glad to think that she represents us in matters of this kind at the United Nations as well as doing a valuable job in this House.

I shall confine myself to the retraining of adult workers. There are a number of other related matters which affect this closely. One is the question of compensation to workers becoming redundant. Although I know that the terms offered in the industry with which I am mainly concerned—railways—compare rather favourably with some others, nevertheless if one looks at them in terms of individual cases—what men having worked for twenty or thirty years in a Swindon railway shop are to get—they seem very meagre from the humanitarian point of view and from the point of view of giving the men sufficient leeway to equip and train themselves for another skilled job. Generally the man finds himself in such a jam when the axe falls that he has to rush into the first unskilled job he can find and is then stuck with it for the rest of his life.

On 5th May, the Economistsaid on this subject: Standards of severance pay in British industry are too often a national disgrace. The whole question of compensation and redundancy payments must be looked at very carefully in this context, because, unless a man has a certain amount of opportunity to look around and find a job which will suit him and has the possibility of getting training, he will go into something where his skill and capacity will be wasted.

The second point is the urgent need for adequate pay while men are being retrained. I shall come in a moment to the question of Government training centres. The figures that I have seen for pay in these training centres seem to be lamentably inadequate. I have the figures for 1961. I do not know whether there has been any improvement since then. A single man over 20 attending a residential centre gets only £2 18s. Perhaps he can just scrape by. But a man with a wife and two dependent children, who does not live in the place where he is being trained, gets only £7 10s., and if he lives in the training centre he gets only £6 18s. The other figures are in line with those. They are woefully inadequate, and represent one of the reasons why the training centres have been so badly patronised by people other than disabled persons.

The centres did a very valuable job in the retraining and rehabilitating of ex-Service men and disabled people. We all acknowledge that and are glad that it was so. But in the task of retraining able-bodied adults their contribution has been negligible. The figures I have go only up to 1960, and they are for people excluding ex-Service men and disabled persons attending Government training centres: in 1957, 624; in 1958, 778; 1959, 652; and 1960, 781. This shows that they are not tackling the task at all. Perhaps the Minister can bring the figures up to date.

There is the problem of the type of training given in the centres. On paper it looks a wide range—a total of 40 trades in 1960—but this includes all sorts of things, like repairing sewing machines and hairdressing, which are totally irrelevant to the needs of most of the people Who might need to use the centres. The subjects appear to be based mainly on the availability of instructors and on the needs of disabled people.

Then there is the big psychological obstacle which impedes many able-bodied adults from going into a place which was designed for, and is largely full of, disabled people and ex-Service men. It will take a lot to get a self-respecting, highly skilled craftsman out of the Swindon railway works into one of these Government training centres as at present organised. I hope that another look will be taken at this system and something much better put in its place.

A good deal has been said about the advantages of training within industry. I would be the first to admit that there are some first-class apprenticeship schemes run privately, some of them in my constituency. But that is not really the way to tackle the problem of adult workers made redundant in declining industries and wishing to be trained for a totally different job.

The railways can retrain a steam engine driver to drive a diesel locomotive. An engineering or an electronics firm—I have one in my constituency—can retrain a man in order to move him from one job to another in their factory. But employers are not willing, quite naturally, to retrain a man for other companies. This problem is becoming larger and larger. What is to happen to men leaving the railways, mining and shipbuilding and trying to go into electronics, chemicals and other expanding industries with new techniques? This job will not be done by private industry and therefore it must be looked at in a quite different and broader context.

The whole question needs a thorough overhaul. There will have to be a good deal of Government intervention both to get action and to co-ordinate and plan what is already being done. So far, however, the steps which the Government have taken have been woefully inadequate to meet an urgent need.

1.31 p.m.

Mr. John H. Osborn (Sheffield, Hallam)

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Proud-foot) on raising this subject today. He drew parallels with Africa and then had to withdraw because he had not been there. I was privileged at one time to train Africans, admittedly in the Army, and I saw for myself the effect of ju-jus on Africans, even those under training.

Both my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland and my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) brought up the question of a young person condemned to one type of job if he has failed to get an apprenticeship in an industry which appeals to him. One cannot overestimate the importance of letting parents know what is involved in helping their children as they grow older to choose a career. It is essential not only that It should be the right job but that it should be in the right industry and, if possible, that the young people should be put with a good employer. I commend to the House the work in many areas of parent-teacher associations, because invariably they invite to their meetings people who can help them to help their own children choose careers.

I speak now from the side of the employers. I know a number of grateful parents who have seen their children taken into a company, given proper training and well set up for the trials ahead. This sort of thing is being done by many firms. It is wrong to underestimate the achievements of those companies which have properly organised, well-conducted courses.

First, I want to deal with the Government's White Paper and then with the point raised by the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker)—that of the training of adults and what we can do for them. My hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) referred to redundancy and I should like to emphasise the value of skilled training. In my area there is a certain degree of short time and unemployment yet some employers are finding it difficult to take on skilled people when they need them. Many who are unemployed are not necessarily skilled and perhaps there are also some so-called skilled people who really have not got the amount of skill they should have.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mr. Matthews) spoke of proficiency tests and the need for some craft standards in industry. I have before me the aims and objects of the certificate of craftsmanship in the foundry industry in which, as many hon. Members will know, I have an interest. I want to read out three of those aims and objects, because I believe that the foundry industry has achieved something which could be a model for many other industries.

One object is, To prepare, for the guidance of foundries, a scheme of practical training, in conformity with the syllabus of training for apprentice moulders and core makers, approved by the National Joint Body of the Engineering Employers' Federation and the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions, designed to enable an apprentice to reach the defined minimum standard. Another object is, To provide a means of assessing the craft skill of apprentice moulders and core makers employed by foundries registered with the Committee. Reference is also made to the City and Guilds of London Institute and its certificate for … apprentice moulders and core makers employed in registered foundries, who have completed an approved scheme of training and who reach the required standard upon the completion of their apprenticeship. One industry has done this, but it still has a long way to go before it cam be said to qualify to that defined standard. It is wrong, however, to say that nothing has been done.

Mr. Geoffrey Johnson Smith (Holborn and St. pancras, South)

My hon. Friend said that one industry has done this. Has he knowledge of any other industry where it is being done?

Mr. Osborn

There are other industries in which there must be some craft training. For instance, in electrical engineering, it is needed by most of the men in power stations, and post office engineers have to have a great deal of training before they can be let loose among highly complicated apparatus.

Then there is the plumbing and domestic engineering industry. In this industry, the formal training given to many people in such trades on the Continent could well be applied to this country. I say that with some feeling because I, like other hon. Members and many people in the country, still have no water in my house due to the weather. One cannot condemn the trade for that. but it is vital that the standard set and experience gained should be passed on to new craftsmen. I do not wish to criticise this particular industry but it is an example of one where formal training has been largely ignored.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour has done something this year which has created a precedent. Soon we shall be debating the Contracts of Employment Bill. This is a legislative precedent of considerable significance, and there are many knotty problems concerned with it. I do not wish to refer to severance pay, or redundancy, which is an equally important issue which has been mentioned in various charters.

Perhaps the House will forgive me if I quote various parts of the White Paper, which indicates that the Government intend that something should be done about this problem. Even the first paragraph of the White Paper uses the words: … in those parts of the country where such expansion would have done most to reduce a level of general unemployment higher than the average. Reference is also made to: Our overseas competitors, particularly in Western European countries, have paid great attention to the need to maintain an adequate supply of well trained skilled labour. We must be quite sure that our own arrangements do not fall behind. I admire the way in which that necessity has been accepted. The White Paper adds: Experience in the United States, for example, suggests that technological progress requires an increasing proportion of trained and technical manpower in the working population, with a correspondingly smaller demand for unskilled and semi-skilled labour. I have already said that in my own area there is still a shortage of skilled people.

Another factor is the series of unco-ordinated decisions among many individual firms. The problem of coordination is important. The White Paper says: While the benefits of training are shared by all, the cost is borne only by those firms which decide to undertake training themselves. Many progressive firms have been willing to accept and have said that they do not resent providing a training ground from which others can draw skilled labour, but they appreciate that they are putting their own money into a training programme to train people who are later attracted to other firms.

How are the training boards to be constituted? In our last debate on this subject, on 31st May, 1961, I pointed out that the British Iron and Steel Federation had its own training department in Sheffield and that the British Engineers' Employers Confederation had its own training officer in the south Yorkshire area. These officers visit firms and advise them on how to set up their own individual training schemes and set standards. Their work is first-class and should be commended.

How will organisations like this fit in with the boards which are suggested in the White Paper? What will be the position of a company which employs engineers, foundrymen, rollers, melters and electricians and which has to train a wide variety of craftsmen? Will a middle-sized firm have to accept a levy established by each of the boards, which would presumably be national boards? This is a problem which must be resolved, and I know that the firms concerned would welcome some elucidation.

How wide is the scope of the boards to be? Are they to deal with higher technology and the training of technicians, or will they confine themselves to craft apprenticeships? Higher technology is already covered by the Ministry of Education. Emphasis must be given to regional and local co-ordinating committees, such as the I.T.C., which already exists on a national basis. In areas where men have to move from one industry to another, a high degree of local co-ordination is required among those representing the training facilities, the various industries in the area, local education authorities and the Ministry of Labour. In my own area, as with others, the impact of apprentice training and changes in further education are altering the pattern of training within industry. It is the work of the first-year training which could be taken from individual firms and done on a wider basis, and that is already happening in several areas, including my own.

Perhaps I shall be forgiven for concentrating on adult education and the retraining of adults when they change their jobs. This subject has been mentioned several times and it happens to be the subject of a leader in The Times Educational Supplement which criticises the lack of interest by the Ministry of Education. Far be it from me to accept or reject that criticism, but I emphasise the need for adult education.

Let us consider the position of the adult worker who is a skilled craftsman, a coal miner, or a worker in heavy engineering, or in shipbuilding. What are the qualities of the older man? Reference has been made to the engine driver of 60. The chances are that he has come up in the hard school of life. He probably left school at the age of 14 or 16 without the benefits of the Education Act, 1944.

What are the problems which face the older worker, even the skilled worker? One knows that he has to have an interest in his job. On occasions I have been to factories where I have discussed with skilled craftsmen a component which they are manufacturing, machining or finishing and I have asked whether they knew that it is for the atomic energy industry or a particular aircraft. An interest is provided for the man on the job if he knows where the end product goes, but that is a responsibility of management. The man on the shop floor must also have the benefit of an education about his job so that he knows where it fits into his industry.

I want to describe to hon. Members something which has been going on in Sheffield since 1918—the Sheffield Trades Technical Society. Finding a better way to do a job is an inherent characteristic of the British worker; the craftsman has an inquiring mind. Early in 1918, there were informal gatherings under the auspices of Sheffield University. The number of craftsmen who came to find out about their job was amazing. This was after a war, after a period of devastation.

Many Sheffield firms then succumbed, and men went through an unhappy era of unemployment, in a situation not unlike that which we are now facing. But it so happened that during those years—the 1930s—more and more craftsmen joined the Sheffield trade technical societies because they created a greater interest. Tremendous progress has been made recently. Services to members in industry have been widened, and in 1961, as a result of assistance from the Ministry of Education, the Nuffield Foundation gave a grant to continue this work.

A small establishment, with permanent staff, has been employed, but it is still a temporary organisation. In the West Midlands area each week there are "on the spot" lectures, where, admittedly, only between 30 and 40 workers attend, but in the Sheffield area there are more lectures, and in the Lancashire and Darlington areas courses are being started. This organisation has feelers out, and is discussing similar projects north of the Border. I am sure that hon. Members representing that part of the country will be interested in the type of work that the organisation has been doing.

How is the wider, background education given to the skilled craftsman who is somewhat older? Coercion cannot be entertained. The first essential in any training programme is the co-operation of the shop floor worker. The presentation of lectures must be attractive, by means of study visits, discussions and films. These study courses are being held in works canteens. Members of one skilled trade have gone there to see how craftsmen in another factory carry on similar operations, and they have been able to discuss them with the craftsmen in the factory on the shop floor level. That has been the appeal to the worker. Such a worker invariably feels out of place in a classroom. He finds it difficult to listen to a lecture and to comprehend what he is being told.

Many of the older craftsmen have never had to take an examination, and many of the younger ones have taken examinations and have failed. But when these people have a chance of getting together under such auspices they appreciate the wider picture. This sort of activity provides an excellent forum where all those who are engaged in industry—workers, supervisors, managers, technicians, office staffs and teachers—can get together.

I have taken part in some of these visits, and the top managements of my competitors have been somewhat surprised to see me go in for such a course in order to see how they carry on competitive activity. But the reverse also applies. Top managements have come in with the craftsmen and seen how people in the factories with which I have been associated have been doing their own jobs.

Two advantages arise from this. First, the enlightened worker recognises the need for and the place of management in industry, and he is more willing to cooperate with people at all levels for the common good. Secondly, if the process of education is slow, it teaches the adult worker its real advantage, and he is encouraged to send his children along its path. I have here a Sheffield publication. Opening it at random, I find reference to the Foundry Trade Technical Society, Sheffield Rolling, Forging and Tilting Technical Society; (the Sheffield File Trade, and the Sheffield Tool Trade Technical Society. The top people are usually managers and engineers of distinction from these industries, but the membership is primarily of older craftsmen.

How is this financed? Member firms in the industry finance it locally, and now local education grants are given and facilities are provided in colleges of education, although, in the early days, the universities did it. In many cases facilities are given for lectures, and there is a large panel of lecturers.

But the real problem with this, and, perhaps, many other voluntary organisa- tions, has been the problem of recognition. There was a report by a committee appointed by the Minister of Education, published as a White Paper in August, 1954, dealing with the whole question of responsible bodies and their financing. The Workers' Educational Association is acknowledged there, but what about an organisation such as this?

The immediate problem facing the Government—as the hon. Member for Swindon said—is how best this large body of workers now being made redundant can be retrained at a level consistent with the economy of the country as it develops. The methods of a voluntary association like this provide a very useful way. After a series of "on the spot" lectures, not only about the industries in which the people are working, where there is redundancy, but about industries where there are vacancies, a man who realises that he will become redundant in another three or six months has a chance of seeing for himself the sort of work that is going on in other industries. Once a worker has been assisted in this way he can be shown an industry which may appeal to him, after which it is up to a firm in that industry to take him on and provide the right sort of induction courses, in order to introduce the man to his new industry and to show him the processes with which he will have to become familiar.

I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will consider what is being done by this voluntary organisation and by others, and see whether they provide a background which would be of value to the Ministry of Labour, local education authorities, and all those people concerned with the transfer of men from the industry in which they have their roots to another one. I hope that the House will forgive me for talking about what is being done in my area. It is an idea and a concept which can be developed in future.

This raises the question of the status of the voluntary organisations. What is the rôle of a voluntary organisation such as this compared with the I.T.C., our colleges of technology, and, more particularly, our colleges of further education? I have spoken to officers of the National Trades Technical Society, and, inevitably, have found that they would like to amalgamate their "know-how" with that of any future organisation, whether or not it is envisaged under the White Paper, and to deal with the immediate problems of those who have skills in one industry and have to move to another.

Finally, on the more general aspect, the partners in industry are management, trade unions and, more and more, in this educational venture, the Government, including Government Departments, the Civil Service, and teachers in our colleges of technology. The most vital need is good will all round, in order to bring to fruition the idea and plan proposed in the White Paper.

I have mentioned some of the snags. This does not mean that I am opposed to the concept of the proposed Bill. But there are some real difficulties to iron out with the parties concerned in order to create an effective organisation which will appeal to industry, while not affecting its autonomy and, at the same time, will provide education for both young and old.

I therefore ask the Parliamentary Secretary to explore the ideas that I have referred to and the pilot schemes that have been working since 1918 in Sheffield. I assure him that I fully support the idea and concept behind the White Paper, and look forward to the day when the difficulties can be ironed out and we can have an effective scheme to increase the number of apprentices who can properly be brought into industry in conjunction with our educational system.

2.0 p.m.

Mr Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

I, too, am indebted to the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Proudfoot) for his Motion, and I thank him for the opportunity which has been given to the House for a very interesting debate in which many useful and constructive speeches have been made. The Motion rightly urges an expansion of the facilities for training and retraining adult workers to meet the changing requirements of industry and to enable men and women whose jobs become redundant to acquire a new skill. The word "redundant" has become one of the dreaded words of our industrial vocabulary, especially in the hard-hit areas where the spectre of unemployment is growing to alarming proportions. In Scotland, of course, we are vitally concerned about the future of our whole industrial structure. We are as alarmed as is the north-east of England. In all the industrial areas where we see un- employment growing in the older-established key industries, it is vitally necessary that we have immediate constructive plans to deal with what is not just a temporary surge of unemployment but, we believe, a sign of a new industrial revolution.

Those of us who represent mining areas, who are daily confronted by the problem of pit closures but who are not anxious to perpetuate mining for the sake of mining, are greatly concerned about the possible development of new industries and the opportunities which could thereby be given to redundant workers to take their part in a new and planned growth.

In the little town where I live, for example, our unemployment problem has reached the point where nearly every other man is out of work as a result of a colliery disaster in addition to the economic problem caused by pit closures. We are most anxious to have new industries. We are anxiously looking for any sign at all, such as that contained in the White Paper, that the Government are alive to the need to organise new industries to absorb the workers who are now unemployed. In too many industrial areas we have mines and very little else. There is very little opportunity for women workers. There is a real sense of urgency in our demand for new industries and all the ancillary methods of training and technical education which can give our people hope and an opportunity to play their part in society.

In Scotland now there are 128,000 people unemployed. Those of us who try to look beneath the surface and to the future realise that there is also a permanent problem here. We cannot hope to see coal mining, for example, expanding in such a way as to absorb the large number of young people coming out of school. New industries must, I believe, be directed to places like Scotland. We shall not achieve results by the unco-ordinated voluntary efforts of private enterprise. We must have a national plan and we must have direction in the interests of industry and in the interests of the community.

This means that we must in Scotland look to such things as the development of industrial estates. I hope that they will come around the duty-free airport proposed for Scotland at Prestwick. We need something like the Treforest Estate in South Wales which was planned ahead and which has resulted in the establishment of many new and varied industries there.

The proposals in the White Paper go a certain way, but they do not go as far as we in Scotland would like them to go. There must be more urgency in the building of new factories and industrial estates, all of which could absorb the unemployed in the areas whose future is now in jeopardy.

The problem arises not only in mining. The plight of shipbuilding in the Clyde area is very serious. There is no doubt that we shall see a contraction in shipbuilding of such—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Robert Grimston)

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman. The Motion deals chiefly with training. I am listening carefully and trying to see how he relates what he is saying now to the question of training. Perhaps he will help me.

Mr. Hughes

Certainly, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I am pointing out that there is the problem of recession in the shipbuilding areas, that there is redundancy in the shipbuilding areas, and that it is urgently necessary to have schemes for retraining the workers there. We have to accept that there must be a certain amount of contraction and that workers will have to be trained in new industries. The schemes for which the Motion calls are relevant to the problem with which we are confronted.

There will have to be a change over from some industries which have been regarded as, so to speak, eternal industries in this country. I take, for example, the old-established industry in the constituency of the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers). I do not believe that we can continue to have large populations engaged in naval shipbuilding. I see not the slightest advantage, from the point of view of trade and building up the country's economy, in having so many people engaged in what I believe to be uneconomic work. Therefore, we shall have to train people so that they may move from work on armaments to work in constructive industry.

I welcome the recent signs that the Minister of Public Building and Works is taking this matter up. I am glad that he has been to the shipbuilding centres and is examining the possibility of alternative work and training there. He has been to Glasgow and has called for an investigation into whether the plant in the shipbuilding centres can be used for making prefabricated building parts. I welcome the signs that the Minister has realised that we have to transfer people from one kind of industry to another. I should welcome the possibility of training a large number of people now engaged in what I believe to be uneconomic to work in really constructive work to produce things for which there would be a permanent market for the trade of this country.

If the Minister can organise training for redundant shipbuilding workers, redundant miners, redundant railway-men or redundant workers in the steel industry to work in some other industries in which there is a future in the economy of the country, he will be doing a public service. It may be that we will find a certain amount of conservatism. We may find people in the shipyards saying, "We do not want to be employed in the house-building industry. We would rather go on building frigates and all the paraphernalia of naval establishments than realise that the day for this sort of thing is over."

If I represented a shipbuilding area I should much sooner see orders for building prefabricated houses, not only for this country but for export, than to see this enormous economic waste which is planned for the future in the shipbuilding industry. I believe there is a permanent market for housing components. I believe there is a permanent market for plumbing arrangements and for electricity arrangements for housing, not only in this country but in all parts of the world. So I welcome this sign that the Ministry is prepared to switch from one industry which belongs to the past generation to train workers to take part in an industry of the future.

I stress the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker). If we face the fact that we shall have to train large numbers of people to do something new, it is not right that they should receive poor and inadequate redundancy pay. After all, it is not the fault of the miner that his industry has become in some respects obsolete. He is the victim of a social revolution. In the period of training when he has to learn new skills there is no reason at all why he should have a greatly reduced standard of life because he is the victim of these major changes in society.

I urge the Minister to look again at the question of adequate pay for workers in training centres. We are used to a comparatively high standard of life. For people in mining areas who may be earn £10 or £15 a week to come down to redundancy pay—even to the £7 10s. which appeared to be one of the highest rates quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon—will mean a great reduction in their standard of life. I do not see why the industrial worker should be asked to bear the brunt of this change in technology any more than more fortunate workers in other parts of the country.

If in the Midlands and the south of England there is prosperous industry, we should expect the Midlands and the south of England to accept to some extent the social consequences of the big changeover needed in industry at present. What kind of industrial picture can we visualise for the future of the country? As many other hon. Members have said in the debate, the emphasis is on electronics, electrical engineering, chemicals and other new industries of the 1960s. This country will have to have a skilled population which can provide the technique for the new industries in the export trade.

For that reason I give an illustration from my part of Scotland. In the town of Dumfries, which is adjacent to South Ayrshire, there is a big factory known as the North British Rubber Company. For the last twelve months that factory has been engaged in producing rubber belting to meet an order from the Soviet Union. The factory has become one of the main, staple industries in that part of the world. In another part of the south of Scotland the textile industry is engaged in producing woollen goods in exchange by barter for Russian grain.

I want to see the redundant miners, railwaymen and shipyard workers transferred to industries for which there is a possibility of greater development. It may take a certain amount of training to transfer a miner into a factory worker manufacturing rubber belting, but I believe there is a possibility of a great development in these industries which require such skill. In one of the newspapers this week I noticed that the Soviet Union is now turning out as much manufactured steel as the whole of the six countries of the Common Market. What is the industrial background to that? We know that Colvilles of Scotland have imported some of that steel to be redressed in a certain way. The background is that there is the possibility of this country becoming a great engineering centre, producing all the different kinds of light engineering needed in countries which have to develop their industrial production for consumption goods.

I do not see that we need be despondent about unemployment if we can organise the facilities for training workers to go from the industries which have become out of date to industries for which there is a future. As the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. J. Osborn) said, we need a great deal more technical education. We cannot hide the fact that in technical staff and technical skill going into training centres, we are far behind other countries. We are far behind the United States and the Soviet Union, and we shall soon be far behind China. We must develop our technical education in order to face these facts.

Yet in my area we are short of 200 elementary school teachers. We cannot have training facilities and a trained staff unless we first have the primary basis of education, the elementary school, right. Yet in some parts of Scotland woodwork teachers are being conscripted into teaching mathematics. The whole educational system of the country needs to be brought up to the standard of the United States, Soviet Union and China. It might hurt our national pride to face these facts, but if we are to look forward to the future we must accept the primary fact that we have to change over to new industries and accept the need for spending a far greater percentage of our national income on this transference, which could lead to the new industrial revolution.

I welcome the White Paper, but I do not think that we can possibly rely upon voluntary effort. It must be co-ordinated as part of a national plan and a national effort. In so far as the White Paper does that, I welcome it, and I hope that the facilities and possibilities arising from it will be developed into something greater and more imaginative.

2.22 p.m.

Dr. Alan Glyn (Clapham)

I do not want to detain the House for long, because other hon. Members have Motions on the Order Paper, and I will confine my remarks to one or two brief points.

First of all, in welcoming the White Paper and congratulating the Government upon it, I recognise that it is an appreciation by the Government of the vital necessity of keeping pace in the world with other highly competitive countries. This has been shown in great force recently in our complicated negotiations in Europe. It has been shown in many of our industries, not only when we were negotiating with our E.F.T.A. partners but in other trading agreements. It is clear that there are many industries in this country which are no longer competitive. As the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) said, we cannot continue regarding ourselves as having certain eternal industries, and I recognise his appreciation of the fact that men are beginning to realise that they can no longer lie entrenched in certain industries for the rest of their lives.

The White Paper goes a long way towards recognising the necessity for training men who are displaced, through no fault of their own. It is as well to emphasise that it is not the fault of the man on the factory floor that he is displaced from an industry in which he has spent the greater part of his life. It is up to the Government to ensure that adequate retraining facilities are available. Up to now, far too many of the retraining facilities have been provided by the large industries, and the small industries have benefited by the amount of money and energy which the large industries have spent on training their men. I welcome the Government's proposal to levy a charge in order to ensure that all industry will share in this very important development.

I do not agree with the hon. Member for South Ayrshire in his view that our industry should be geared to the Soviet Union, but I agree that we must look to the future and ensure that our industries are competitive. I hope that one of the many good things which will come out of the debate is that young people throughout the country will recognise the value of apprenticeships in industry. Young men are often reluctant to spend years in training. But I think that it must be apparent to most people leaving school that an apprenticeship will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.

The hon. Member referred to redundancy pay, and we all agree with the principle which he enunciated—that it is far better to train men for something new than to pay them for an occupation which can be regarded as useful only during a short transitional period. We want to make sure that redundancy pay is converted into a course whereby men are equipped to take their place in another industry, side by side with others who perhaps spent a lifetime in that industry.

It is vital for the Government to give the maximum publicity to all the steps which they are taking and to ensure that in whatever steps they take in this respect they have the full co-operation of the unions, because without that co-operation no scheme of education in industry can have any success. It is up to the Government—and I say this without fear—it is equally up to the unions and to management to explain to the men the changes which have taken place in individual factories and industries, so that the men on the floor realise what is happening and appreciate the necessity for and the value of going in for a rehabilitation course. In this way, a man at the age of 40 does not lose a position which he has achieved in an industry; instead he becomes more highly skilled and trained as a result of a course and can once again catch up in his standard of living in a new industry.

I trust that the Government will not be too long in implementing the conclusions which have been reached in this excellent White Paper. I hope that the maximum publicity will be given to the subject so that throughout the country people realise that we are faced with a great problem and that the Government are trying to take a step forward to solve one of the greatest problems with which we shall be confronted in this half of the century.

2.28 p.m.

Mr. R. E. Prentice (East Ham, North)

I join other Members in congratulating the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Proudfoot) on his success in the Ballot. He seems to have the knack of winning the Ballot; he wins it with a frequency which is almost indecent, and many of us would like to know how he does it. I also congratulate him on his choice of a subject, for he has given us an opportunity to debate a subject of great human and economic importance.

I thought that he introduced his Motion with great skill and clarity and with that refreshing and rather irreverent approach which is so attractive and with which he often tackles subjects. But I have one criticism to make of his remarks, and I should like to get it out of the way before returning to the White Paper, on which I wish to concentrate.

I thought that he fell into an error into which a number of people fall when he pointed to the trade unions as the main obstacles to progress in this field. I suggest that the obstacle to progress is conservatism, both with a capital "C" and with a small "c"; in particular, conservatism with a small "c", on both sides of industry and among people of all classes. Of course, there is conservatism in the trade unions in their attitude to changes in technical and industrial training of all kinds, and many of us in the trade union movement have criticised this and have tried to play a part in promoting new attitudes. There is also conservatism in management about it. Neither side of industry has a good enough record in this respect.

But there is a tendency sometimes for managements to use trade union attitudes as an excuse for not making changes themselves, and that is why I felt a need to point to that part of the hon. Member's speech and to suggest that it did not present a fair picture. If he can get them—and I think that they are available—I recommend him to study the reports of the conference in London on 15th January called by the British Association for Commercial and Industrial Education. In particular, if he studies the remarks of Mr. Frank Cousins, he will find that on that occasion Mr. Cousins welcomed the White Paper, made certain detailed criticisms of it and made the major criticism that it does not go far enough. I speak as a member of the Transport and General Workers' Union, and I further remind the hon. Member that in June, 1961, at its conference, the Transport and General Workers' Union went on record as being in favour of a levy of the type which the Government are now proposing. The union was eighteen months ahead of the Government in this respect.

Mr. Proudfoot

When the hon. Gentleman reads my speech in HANSARD he will notice that I did not attack the trade union leadership. The conservative people within the movement were the people at whom I was aiming my remarks.

Mr. Prentice

That is another way of saying that people in general tend to resist change. This is an unfortunate fact. I do not think that it applies any more to trade unionists than to other people, but it applies to trade unionists among other people. This is something we have to tackle.

I was going on to remind the hon. Gentleman that a number of other trade union leaders have played a great part in recent years in trying to promote progress. I need only mention the name of Mr. George Lowthian, the chairman of the Industrial Training Council, as a fine example in this field. Although all of us will make our comments about the attitude on both sides of industry, we ought to concentrate on the White Paper and on the rôle the Government should play. Both employers and trade unionists are bound to some degree to take a selfish attitude. One can appeal to them to take a long-term attitude and not to be short-sighted.

Every board of directors looking at its own training programme is bound to think of the needs of its firm and relate its training programme to them and to the profitability of the firm. Every trade union is bound to consider how a training programme will affect its existing membership and how the new trainees will affect the standards of living enjoyed by its members. These views do not necessarily conflict with the national interest. The Government, and they alone, have the overall view of things and the overall responsibility. We must look to the Government to give a completely new lead.

I join those who welcome the White Paper as being a step in the right direction. Whenever this Government take a step in the right direction, one can usually apply to it the description of being too little and too late. On the point about it being too late, we on this side are entitled to claim that all' this should have been done some years ago and should particularly have been done before the bulge in school-leavers began to come on to the labour market. I remember attending a debate, and indeed contributing to it, which was held in the House on 30th April, 1959. I remember the speech Lord Robens made from this Box. He pointed out that a great deal more positive action was needed by the Government in relation to this problem. In that speech Lord Robens foreshadowed many of the proposals which now appear in a tentative form in the White Paper. Many of us on this side of the House have repeated that point of view on several occasions since then.

Mr. R. Carr

Does the hon. Gentleman on this point of timing really maintain that the leaders of the trade union movement, let alone the employers, would conceivably have accepted and not resisted this approach only two or three years ago? What would have been the good of the Government introducing this in the teeth of opposition from the leaders of industry, whether employers or trade unionists?

Mr. Prentice

This is a very important point and one with a certain amount of weight in it. I realise that no Government can move too far ahead of opinion on both sides of industry in this field, but the Government have tended to lag behind the most progressive thinking on both sides of industry. The Government should have been out in front giving a lead.

The Carr Report gave a wonderful analysis of the situation. It made a number of recommendations on various things which many of us would accept, but many of them still not have been accepted by the Government. In its major conclusion that the strategy had to be left with industry the Carr Report was wrong. The hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) in his excellent speech suggested that if one reads between the lines of some particular paragraph one can see hinted at something like an industrial levy and the suggestion that something of the sort needs to be introduced. It should not have been between the lines. It should have been there in black and white. It is not there. As it is not there, the Government should have stepped in. The Carr Report was a recommendation to the Government as a whole, as I understand it, and the Government could have superimposed their own policies on it. They have failed to do so.

What was overwhelmingly correct about the Carr Report was that it recognised the bulge in school-leavers as an opportunity—not merely as an embarrassing problem, but as a once-for-all, never to be repeated, opportunity to provide in a few years a great extra number of skilled workers of which there was a great shortage in Britain.

To fulfil that opportunity we needed, first, to ensure that the numbers of extra people trained during the bulge years would expand by at least as much as if not by more than, the school leaving bulge expanded. Secondly, we needed to ensure that steps about the quality of training and the up-to-date nature of training were taken in advance of the bulge so that these extra people would get proper training. In fact virtually nothing was done by the Government about the quality of training during the years leading up to the bulge.

As to the numbers, the Government have had a partial success, but only a partial success. In 1961 the number of young people admitted to apprenticeship was the highest on record. We all welcome that. I do not wish in any way to minimise that fact. It is a great pity that the percentage fell last year. The numbers rose, but because this was the peak of the bulge, because this was the year in which we had the record number of school-leavers, the percentage dropped. It dropped from 37.9 per cent. in 1961 to 36.2 per cent. last year.

I do not want to over-state this point. There as been an increase in the number trained, and that is a very good thing, but I suggest it is only a partial use of the opportunity that these extra young people presented to the country. The partial success was more than the Government themselves were entitled to expect, since their efforts throughout the period were mainly by way of exhortation and nothing else. Such success as was achieved in increasing the numbers should be attributed first to the Industrial Training Council and the devoted work it did. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) that the Council is a body which has not been as effective as one would like, because it has never had the staff, the powers or the finance to operate on a big enough scale. However, the Council did good work in arousing interest. There are a number of unsung heroes throughout the country. Local people on both sides of industry, local youth employment officers, and others, have made great efforts to increase the training facilities during the last couple of years. All this is to the good, but they have not had the backing from the Government that they should have had.

The White Paper could be the start of a new era, provided that it is backed up with sufficiently energetic measures by the Government. That is a pretty big proviso to make about this Government. In this debate we all need to make some suggestions about the way it should be followed through. I intend to make suggestions. Can the Parliamentary Secretary tell us anything about the timetable? The White Paper was published some weeks ago. We know that there are to be consultations. The consultations are bound to be complex. We are bound to be anxious about the timing. The change in Government policy resulting in the White Paper has been a long time coming. We hope that the consultations will not take too long, that the subsequent legislation will not take too long, and that the action after the legislation will not take too long. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary can tell us about this. I hope in particular he can tell us whether he expects there will be a Bill this Session to carry out the main proposals in the White Paper.

A general criticism I want to make about the White Paper is that its whole tone is too permissive. In reply to the intervention of the hon. Member for Mitcham I suggested that the Government had to be in advance of the general state of opinion on both sides of industry. At the moment the Government are lagging behind the more progressive opinion. I quoted just now the speech made by Mr. Cousins at the B.A.C.I.E. conference. It is fair to add that speeches were made at that conference by progressive employers who wanted more positive action than that suggested in the White Paper. They are concerned because while they are doing more than their share of training the other firms which are not are poaching the skilled workers who they are training. It is reasonable, therefore, for the better firms to say that they want the other firms brought up to scratch.

To be more specific, I suggest that the first thing needed is for the Government to commit themselves to a strong central authority for training. I am not suggesting that the proposal for boards for each industry is a bad one, for it is not. It is, in fact, an absolutely essential feature of the whole thing. There is some danger that the Government, if they do not go far enough, will be shuffling off their responsibilities on to these boards. It is for this reason that there should be a parallel development at national level.

Just as in industry there is to be a move from the old National Joint Apprenticeship Councils to the new type of boards, so nationally we should move from the Industrial Training Council to a much stronger body with a reasonable staff and finance so that it can plan the programme of training on a national scale. Such a body should co-operate with the more general work of N.E.D.C., because if the plans of N.E.D.C. for economic expansion are to be carried into effect increased training on this scale is vital.

The body I am suggesting could work alongside N.E.D.C.'s future plans and could itself run a number of new training centres. Some interesting remarks have been made today about the unsuitability of some of the Government training centres for retraining workers. One would have thought that the new type of centre which has been suggested could come under control of the national board. It should also co-ordinate the activities of the industrial boards, bring the laggards up to strength, and it would obviously need some control over finance and a strong central inspectorate of its own. The White Paper envisages a two-tier system—the Minister with certain powers in his Department and the industrial boards. I am suggesting a three-tier system with something between the Minister and the boards—and the sort of central authority I have in mind could come between the two.

In support of this argument I would remind the House that a great many countries have been successful—more so than we have been in industrial training—as a result of setting up some type of national apprenticeship or training authority of the kind I have described. Its job would be to assess future needs and to make a sort of manpower budget for industry as a whole. It could also be in close liaison with local education authorities on such matters as pre-industrial training and the content of sixth form courses and college courses of all kinds, relating these to the needs of industry.

Another important task would be for it to be a power house for publicity concerning training. One of the great needs is to make the whole of our community training conscious, for at the moment it certainly is not. I was perturbed to find that when the White Paper was published it did not get much attention from the national Press. This is simply one symptom of the fact that people do not think of this matter as being of great national importance. Even the attendance in this House today is another symptom of the same thing.

I must say a few words about the proposed levy. This is something which my hon. Friends and I have been urging for some years, and naturally we welcome its inclusion in the White Paper. We are a little worried, however, about the way it is presented. We would like an assurance that there is definitely going to be a levy and that there will be rebates to firms which do good training work. The levy should be regarded primarily as a sanction against those firms which do not play their part. After all, it is the only sanction proposed in the White Paper because, in the last analysis, there will be no direct control.

It must be remembered that the boards will have no power to give orders to firms which will not play their part. Thus the levy should operate in such a way that the firm which does its share of training breaks even, the firm which does more than its share gets a subsidy, while the firm which does nothing and poaches skilled workers from elsewhere is penalised—in such a case the levy being large enough to make a real impact on the firm's finances. That is the sort of sanction which we consider necessary to bring the bad firms up to scratch.

The levy is seen in the White Paper as primarily to pay for the cost of the boards and the services they provide. I would have thought that a good deal of the necessary money should come from national funds and that a substantial contribution from the Exchequer to the boards would release the levy, as it were, for the kind of task I have in mind; being a variable factor between the different types of firms. A contribution from the Exchequer would ensure adequate control centrally and adequate commitment on the part of the Government in this important matter of training.

It is suggested in the White Paper that the levy should apply to firms above a certain size, but I hope that the smaller firms will be made to play their part. Assuming that it will be assessed on a manpower basis—a sort of payroll basis—there seems no reason for excluding the smaller firms, many of which are extremely prosperous and do not have a particularly good record in training their employees. I realise that some of these smaller firms present the excuse—in some ways a legitimate one—that being small they cannot provide the necessary training facilities. In this connection, the progress made in group schemes has been disappointing. Thus if the levy affected the small firms as well as the large it would operate as a sanction encouraging them to start group schemes, and for this reason there seems no necessity to exclude the smaller firms from its operation.

I welcome what is stated in paragraph 15 about the need for systematic courses in basic principles in the first year of training, for this is absolutely correct. It is one step among others which needs to be taken to increase the class room element in industrial training. I say that with some caution, because needs vary from one industry to another, and I realise that in the foreseeable future a great deal of the training is likely to continue on the shop floor. The sad fact is that far too much of apprenticeship training in industry involves the apprentice simply working alongside skilled craftsmen, picking up what he can; sometimes known as "Sitting next to Nelly". This will not do, and a more formal type of education must be included in future programmes.

This, of course, is related to day release, and perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will today be able to tell us what, if any, progress has been made in day release, especially since a committee has been appointed by the Minister of Education to inquire into the matter. I hope that we shall see some quick results which will try to establish, as far as possible, the right of the young worker to day release, provided he wants it and provided he can get accepted by a college. We take the view that he should have the right to do this and that his employer should on no account be able to stand in his way. We realise that there are difficulties about this but believe that it is the kind of motive which should inspire Government thinking in training matters.

If the consultations about the White Paper are to take time, there is one aspect which should receive immediate consideration; the expansion of Government facilities for training. If paragraph 15, to which I referred, is to be implemented to a considerable extent we shall need more Government training centres and more facilities for local education authorities as well. I cannot resist saying that it is a great pity that 18 months ago the Government closed down the training centres at Kidbrooke and Long Eaton. While they were not being fully used, the sort of thinking contained in the White Paper should have existed in the mind of the Government at that time so that the envisaged expansion of training could have meant the centres being kept open.

In implementing the White Paper, there must be a vigorous attack made on what have become the sacred cows of apprenticeship: its rigid five-year periods, rigid age of entry, and so on. I do not want to repeat what has been said on both sides of the House today on this very important question. It is exactly four hundred years since our predecessors in the reign of Elizabeth I passed the Statute of Artificers. I think that they would be amazed if they were to come back and saw how much of their system was still in operation in a totally different world. We have to change a great deal of this radically.

I make one further reference to the B.A.C.I.E. conference on 15th January. A lecture there by Lady Gertrude Williams, who has played a notable part in promoting new thinking on industrial training, suggested that the Government's Bill should contain a legislative framework for apprenticeship in which certain rules were laid down. She suggested that it should be laid down that three years is the normal period and that exceptions to it should be specially justified. How far this is practicable in a Bill I am not sure. I do not necessarily go all the way with Lady Williams, but this sort of approach is healthy, and the more we can insist on in our legislation the better. We must make allowances for the various needs of trades, but we should make it clear that we expect real changes in this matter.

Above all, we need to break down the rigid barrier between those who are known as skilled workers and those who are know as unskilled workers. We need not only to train craftsmen in the old sense, but to lift the level of skill of everybody working at all kinds of jobs in industry, commerce and working life generally. A great deal of skill is needed by people who do jobs which are not classified as skilled jobs in the conventional sense. A great deal of skill is required by a docker. A great deal of skill is required by a shop assistant if he or she is to be efficient and to give service to the customer and to the employer. A great deal of skill is needed by operators in our newer industries, such as the oil and chemical industries, in jobs which are not craft jobs in the old sense. We need a whole spectrum of suitable training and courses of training.

The measures taken by the Government should include a radical attack on what we should identify as the great areas of wastage. I need not add to what the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) said in a first-class speech about girls. The fact is that in 1962, while 36.2 per cent. of boys entered apprenticeship on leaving school, only 6.6 per cent. of girls did so. This is a great pity. This is partly because of early marriage, and so on, but, nevertheless, there is a great deal of wastage in potential skills which the nation needs.

The other great area of wastage concerns the problem of retraining skilled men whose old skill becomes redundant. This is one of the great challenges in this period of change through which we are passing. A great deal of criticism is made about demarcation disputes, and so on. I sometimes wish that those who make this criticism would look at the human problems behind these disputes. If a man has served his time as an apprentice and has worked for many years in a skilled trade and has built up a good standard of living based on his skill—is buying his home on mortgage, and that sort of thing—if changes come about which knock the bottom out of his world and take away the skill on which he has based his standard of living, if society does nothing to offer him a new skilled occupation, he will, of course, resist those changes. It is absolutely useless to give pious lectures to people like that.

The amazing thing is that there is not more resistance to technological change in this country based on that. It is a human tragedy if a man has to spend the rest of his working life in a job which is below his powers, and it is a great waste to the community. A very radical approach to this problem is needed. I should have thought that the answer to it was an expansion of specially designed Government training centres related to this type of man, with the employers who will use him being expected to pay a substantial part of the cost of his training. But the man's income, while he is going through his training, should be reasonable because he will have built up his commitments and his standard of living. I think that while he is being retrained, having been made redundant through no fault of his own, he should be looked after.

We are discussing this problem against the background of heavy unemployment, the heaviest we have known for over twenty years. The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) and my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Mr. Woof) particularly related their speeches to this problem. It seems to me that it affects the matter in two ways. First, we cannot solve, and we are not likely to begin to solve, the problem of training unless we have a background of full employment. If there is unemployment at the present level the resistance will be too great for success to be possible. There will be resistance on the unions' side because of the fear of too many people being trained and no jobs being available for them. There will be resistance on the employer's side, who will say, "If my order book is falling, and if I do not have confidence about the future, how can I undertake a big new training programme at the risk of not having work for my employees to do later?" This problem can be solved only against the background of full employment.

At the same time what we have been discussing today is an essential part of a full employment policy. If we are to bring new life to the North-East Coast and to the areas of Scotland about which we are concerned, there must be drastic training programmes in those areas in addition to the other measures which are needed. This does two things—provides occupations for people who will be otherwise unemployed, for the young school leaver and for the man made redundant, and builds up a reservoir of skilled labour as a basis for future expansion in those areas. We have had the experience over a long period since the war of unemployment in many parts of the country being caused partly by a shortage of skilled labour, and the paradox of unskilled men at the labour exchange wanting jobs and a list of vacancies for skilled men but skilled men not being available to fill them.

I am sure that every one of us would like to see much more done about this matter. It is a tremendous subject. I can only say that I hope that we shall debate it further. I suppose that it is optimistic to expect that we shall have another debate on industrial training in the near future but in our debates on economic affairs industrial training should play a bigger part. It has tended to become neglected and to be the Cinderella. We are talking about expansion. We on this side of the House have talked about it for years. It is even becoming fashionable on the Conservative benches. We tend to relate it, quite rightly, to such programmes as capital investment, but the quantity and quality of skilled labour have been inadequate even for the economic problems of this country in recent years. It is still more inadequate if we relate the matter to a growth rate of 4 per cent., or something of that kind, at which we should be aiming.

Therefore, this is a vital question, vital from the economic point of view and vital, too, from the human point of view. Above all, we are concerned with the self-satisfaction and self-fulfilment that millions of people will get from their working lives. In that respect, we have to do a great deal better than we have been doing in recent years.

2.58 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. William Whitelaw)

My right hon. Friend the Minister specially asked me to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Proudfoot) for giving him this opportunity of hearing Parliament's views on our White Paper and on the whole subject of industrial training. I should like to add my thanks, because a short apprenticeship, if that is the right word, in the Ministry of Labour has quickly taught me the vital importance of this subject.

In that connection, I suppose that I may yet qualify for membership of the trade union of Parliamentary Secretaries to the Ministry of Labour. I am delighted in that respect to have one of my predecessors—my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr)—present today. I will refer as I go along to some of the important points made by my hon. Friend in what I think the whole House would agree was, as one would expect, an exceptionally well-informed and valuable speech.

In this matter, I share something with the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice). Neither he nor I are conservatives. But there are conservatives in this matter, and some of the people who are conservative would be those who would be most distressed of all if that nomenclature was applied to them. We have to accept that there are conservatives on all sides of industry, as my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham stressed and as the hon. Member for East Ham, North was the first to say. Those who have come to this debate today, however, and those of us who are participating in it, can all at least say that in this matter we are certainly on the side of progress and expansion.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland referred to the changing requirements of industry and the need for us to match our training practices to take account of it. I entirely agree with him. As a country, we are not rich in raw materials. Our future as an industrial nation depends upon our ability to continue to utilise to the fullest degree all our potentials of skill. Indeed, as the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) said, it is now widely accepted that one of the most important factors of industrial growth and expansion is the existence of an adequate supply of skilled labour. I certainly agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland when he says that the whole problem of industrial training must be considered against the vital importance of achieving growth in our economy.

That is why, in recent years, the Government have laid such stress on the importance of industry taking full advantage of the increased numbers of boys and girls leaving school. Nineteen sixty-two was the peak year of the so-called "bulge." My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) tells us that this is no temporary phenomenon and that it is continuing. I am never quite clear how the statisticians seem to think that they know so accurately what will happen in these directions. However, they do, and perhaps, if they are wrong, they excuse themselves with some percentage of margin of error which cloaks a quite considerable difference between their estimates and the facts. Nevertheless we all understand that our birth-rate is likely to rise in the years ahead.

Nineteen sixty-two was a year when industry was not having a particularly easy time. In view of his remarks about the number of apprenticeships in that year, I remind the hon. Member for East Ham, North of that and particularly because of the fears that were expressed in some quarters that the number of boys taken on as apprentices might fall. In fact, the opposite has happened. In 1960, 103,000 boys leaving school took jobs involving apprenticeships. In 1961 the number rose to 114,700 and last year it was an all-time record of 121,500.

It would be widely accepted that that is a remarkable achievement and it is only right to congratulate all those who have done a lot to make it possible. First, there is the Industrial Training Council, whose work the hon. Member for East Ham, North praised. I certainly associate myself with him in that. The hon. Member then said that he agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Swindon.

The two are, however, slightly incompatible. If I understood the hon. Member for Swindon aright, it would be difficult to agree with him that the Industrial Training Council had done good work. The hon. Member for Swindon did not say that. He pretended, or sought to prove, that it was a lackey of the British Employers' Confederation; but his hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North soon put him right. He pointed out that up to very recently the Chairman—a very considerable enthusiast for training—was none other than Mr. George Lowthian of the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers. I do not seek to make more of this slight difference. All I would say is that I think it would certainly be accepted by those who have studied the Industrial Training Council that it has played a very significant part in this increase in the number of apprentices.

Mr. Prentice

The view I was expressing was that the Industrial Training Council had done a very good job within the limitations of its staff and finance and so on, but that because it was part-time work by busy people with a tiny staff and very little finance it was limited and therefore was not playing as effective a part as it would wish, and as, I am sure, the members of the Council itself would wish to play.

Mr. F. Noel-Baker

What my hon. Friend has just said shows that the difference between us is not very great. I think that this body could be more effective and that it is not as effective as it should be, and my hon. Friend agrees. It was regarded, I think I said, by a number of my friends in the trade union movement as some sort of offshoot of the British Employers' Confederation, partly because of the fact that it lives there, or used to. Anything the Minister can do to make it more effective would be welcomed with equal warmth by me and my hon. Friend.

Mr. Whitelaw

I hope that neither hon. Gentleman will be too sensitive to what was in truth just a little mild fun, which, I am sure, they would allow me.

In addition to the Industrial Training Council there are, of course, the youth employment officers to whom the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) referred in what, if I may say so, was a most interesting speech, and officers of my own Department. I would also mention that there are many individual enthusiasts many of them employers and trade unionists.

There have been suggestions—we have all talked about them—about conservatives or those who are not particularly keen on training—conservatives, I hasten to add, with a small "c". I think we should now pay tribute to those people with enthusiasm for training who have built up these apprenticeship schemes. We should like to see more of them, but there are a great many of these enthusiasts and, as a result, we can say that the rise in the number of apprenticeships has more than kept pace with the increase in the number of boys leaving school. These indeed are gratifying figures, but they leave us with absolutely no room for complacency. Anyway, as my hon. Friend the Member for Devon-port was quick to point out, they tell only half the story, and possibly, as she was suggesting, not even half the story. We have to consider the whole question of training for girls and women.

It is true, as my hon. Friend said, that only one girl in six enters employment with training, but this, of course, refers to systematic training lasting more than one year. There are many other girls, in offices, in shops and factories, doing jobs for which they received training lasting less than a year. I think my hon. Friend would accept that. From 1st January of this year the Ministry of Labour is collecting figures of young people entering jobs with training lasting less than a year. I think that this will be a valuable exercise which will show us where we are going, particularly on the question of girls.

Mr. Proudfoot

I should like to interrupt my hon. Friend just to point out that I have an excellent example of this in my own division, where girls receive six weeks' training and may earn as much as £1,000 a year within a couple of years of leaving school.

Mr. Whitelaw

I was going on to say that I have, when going round the country, seen that some firms have for girls excellent training schemes of comparatively short duration, after which the girls do take on skilled jobs in which they give, I believe, very considerable satisfaction.

Nevertheless, I would certainly recognise what my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport said. I should like to thank her for her extremely valuable intervention, and I should like to give her the assurance, which she sought, that, in all our planning for training, girls certainly receive—certainly must receive—their equal share of consideration.

Over and above this, I do not think that it would be right to measure success in the training of young people solely in terms of the number of boys obtaining apprenticeships. The proportion of boys or, indeed, for that matter of girls, entering apprenticeship in any area will partly depend on the amount of industry there is in that area. The proportions of boys, for example, obtaining apprenticeships in Scotland and the North-East are both above the national average. This is because of the predominance in those areas of such industries as shipbuilding and heavy engineering into which entry is largely through apprenticeship. Equally, it is precisely because of the predominance of these old industries that total opportunities for progressive employment for young people in Scotland and the North-East are not as good as they are in other parts of the country.

Therefore, although the proportion of boys obtaining apprenticeships throughout the country as a whole provides a useful measure of the amount of industrial training of young people, it does not tell the whole story. Modern industry requires many new forms of skill outside the old craft apprenticeships. Therefore, in looking at this matter, we have to take a broad view and consider the needs of industry over the whole field. I think that this and the actions required are crystal clear.

We must increase the amount of training of all kinds done in industry. I want to stress that, because some hon. Members have questioned whether our plans went as far as all forms of training. I give an absolute assurance that they do. We must also improve its quality, and in some cases develop new types of training altogether. This is the purpose of the White Paper which my right hon. Friend put out a few weeks ago.

I started my speech by saying how grateful I am to my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham for the support which he gives us. I must add that that support is particularly valuable, coming as it does from his knowledge as chairman of the Carr Committee. I respectfully agree with my hon. Friend that this White Paper is a natural development from his Report. There is no doubt that there has been a remarkable movement of opinion throughout industry on the question of industrial training. I would say to the hon. Member for East Ham, North, and reinforce what was said to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham, that plans such as are envisaged in the White Paper would simply not have been acceptable a few years ago. I believe that the Carr Committee's Report laid a foundation upon which we should build for the future, and the White Paper is a very natural development from it.

This is quite natural because, while they have gained some success, voluntary efforts have not done enough. We have to go further, and the White Paper represents a completely new initiative in industrial training. I want to stress that again and again. The hon. Member for East Ham, North welcomed the White Paper and said that he regretted that it had not had as much coverage in the national Press as it might have had. I would merely reply that the more publicity it gets, the better my right hon. Friend will be pleased.

It is in truth a completely new initiative and I should have thought a very important one indeed. The White Paper provides clear evidence of the Government's determination to give a lead in fitting our nation to face the competitive challenge of the years ahead. I welcome this opportunity to stress the great importance which the Government attach to the implementation of these proposals. I want particularly to draw the attention of the hon. Member for Swindon to those words. He expressed some doubt about whether the Government really meant to implement the proposals. I hope he will read what I have said as an answer to that doubt.

Of course it is true that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham said, this is an outline scheme. The details, as I think everyone would agree is only right, will not be filled in until we have had the benefit of the views of those with an interest in and a knowledge of this extremely important subject. Naturally, we welcome today, and, indeed, at all times, constructive criticisms and suggestions. I have, naturally, made a note of the many different points which were made particularly about the size of the boards and the definition of the boards by my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham, my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mr. Matthews) and by many other hon. Gentlemen.

My hon. Friend the Member for Meriden and my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. J. H. Osborn), raised the question of some existing organisations which are already doing a very good job. I give them the assurance that, as far as is at all possible, we intend to build on existing foundations. I must admit that there may be difficulties in doing so in all cases, but wherever possible that is our purpose. My right hon. Friend is at present having consultations about these proposals with industrial organisations. Here I come to a point made by the hon. Member for East Ham, North, about timing. Discussions have already begun with the British Employers' Confederation, and the talks with the Trades Union Congress will start on Monday. Meanwhile, my right hon. Friends the Minister of Education and the Secretary of State for Scotland are consulting the various educational organisations concerned.

So far I am glad to say that, both in the debate and in many comments outside, the proposals in the White Paper have been generally welcomed. I think there are many Who would agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham when he says that until now the danger has been that training has depended too much on the unco-ordinated decisions of a very large number of firms.

I want now to refer to a few of the doubts and criticisms which have been expressed in the debate and outside about the White Paper. I would stress that if I do not refer to all the points made by various hon. Members about it, they will nevertheless be considered carefully along with the suggestions which will come from the British Employers' Confederation, the T.U.C. and other interested parties. Everything that has been said in the debate will be very carefully considered and brought out in all the discussions.

One criticism has been that the White Paper does not go far enough and may lack teeth. It has been said, for example, that the success or failure of the new proposals will depend on who is appointed to serve on the boards and that if the boards lack the will to do anything, nothing will happen. I see no reason to suppose that the boards will lack the will. If they do, it must be up to the Government and, indeed, to the House—which has a valuable rôle to play—to ensure that they do not.

My right hon. Friend would certainly hope to be able to enlist in the service of the boards the knowledge and enthusiasm for training which exists in so many different parts of industry. I note particularly what my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham said about the type of people he thought should be on the boards. Nor, indeed, would my right hon. Friend's responsibilities cease there. Hon. Members will have noticed that, as was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham, the Minister of Labour will be able to pay grants to the boards. In paragraph 13 it goes on to say that he will have the power to appoint inspectors to satisfy himself that the standards of training adopted by the boards are sufficient to justify payment of the grants.

Here I merely say to the hon. Member for West Lothian that if my right hon. Friend is not so satisfied it is envisaged that he would have the power to withhold the grants. This might well be a very salutary sanction. The main responsibility for these new arrangements, as my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden said, will inevitably rest with industry. Only industry has the resources to cope with training on the vast scale required but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham said, the Government will have a larger financial stake than it has had before and will naturally wish to make this financial investment produce a good return in the quantity and quality of the training. In this respect I noted what was said by my hon. Friends the Members for Meriden and Mitcham about proficiency tests. It will be the responsibility of my right hon. Friend to see that the national interest is not overlooked.

The hon. Member for East Ham, North referred to a speech by Mr. Cousins at the recent meeting of the British Association for Commercial and Industrial Education. I want to refer to what my right hon. Friend said on that occasion. It was to the effect that it was not his intention to introduce legislation for the purpose of maintaining the status quo,and he is particularly anxious that stress be laid on those words.

The hon. Members for Swindon, East Ham, North, Meriden and Mitcham all referred to the proposals by the T.U.C. for a central training board in addition to the individual boards to be set up for the various industries. I do not wish today to go into the merits of the proposal but I am grateful for their views. This, of course, will be one of the subjects to be discussed with the representatives of the T.U.C.

The power given to the various boards to impose a levy on the firms in their industries is an essential part of the plan. At the moment I think that everyone will agree that the costs of training are not at all fairly divided. A firm that employs skilled workers benefits from the results of training. At the present time not all firms train and the costs are borne only by those who do. The proposal we make for enabling the costs of training to be spread more fairly has been very warmly welcomed.

There has, indeed, been some criticism of the proposal in paragraph 11 that firms below a certain size might be excluded from the levy. If a firm benefits, it is said, why should it not pay? I would entirely agree that in equity there is no justification for excluding any firm. What my right hon. Friend had in mind in including this provision was that it would relieve the boards of the need to secure the levy from very small firms where this could be done only at inordinate administrative cost.

When I say "very small firms" I mean really small ones, with, say, five or fewer employees. Of course, if it should prove possible to find a way of collecting the levy from very small firms without great expense, there would be no reason to exclude them. In this connection I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland that we should be careful not to assume too readily that the reason for lack of training in some small firms today is necessarily lack of finance. It is one of the considerations in many cases but, alas, it is not always the main consideration.

Mr. Proudfoot

Will my hon. Friend say whether this will apply to the retail trade, or just to manufacturing firms?

Mr. Whitelaw

I would prefer to confine myself to industrial training and retraining, which is the subject of the Motion. My hon. Friend the Member for Meriden tempted me into commerce and the hon. Member for Cleveland now tempts me into the retail trade. If I am to cover all that I am already trying to cover and to add that as well, the House will have even more of me than it is going to have. I note what my hon. Friend has said.

I now turn to a point made by the hon. Member for East Ham, North connected with the levy, the question of what might be described as grants—he called them "rebates", but perhaps "grants" is the fairer way of putting it. Some people have suggested that the levy will place an additional burden on firms which are already doing their fair share of training. It has been said that not only will they have to go on paying for their own training, but they will have to help to finance training for the rest of industry.

This is a misunderstanding of the purposes of the scheme. If, for example, as the White Paper suggests, a training board assumes responsibility for first-year apprentice training, it would have power to make grants to firms which were providing training of an approved standard. If this were done, it would be possible for a firm which was doing more training than it needed to meet its own requirements to receive in grants more than it was paying in levy.

An important feature of the proposals is the recognition which they give of the link—the hon. Member for West Lothian described it as a most important link—which must exist between industrial training and technical education.

Mr. F. Noel-Baker

Is the Parliamentary Secretary now leaving the subject of the boards?

Mr. Whitelaw

I am returning to the board in connection with the subject of adult retraining, but leaving it otherwise.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Can the hon. Gentleman answer the question about whether the Minister has firmly and finally decided to have industry-by-industry boards rather than a regional structure and, if he has, how there is to be co-ordination of the activities of different industry boards in the same area?

Mr. Whitelaw

We think that the industry-by-industry approach is right. In this respect I was very pleased to be reinforced by my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham. Before putting forward this proposal, close study was made of the French system. Having studied it, we decided that it was not appropriate to our particular industrial conditions and that the method most likely to succeed and to achieve the best result was the industry-by-industry approach. I have noted the difficulties which the hon. Member for Swindon suggested might be produced. They are tied up with other suggestions which have been made by other hon. Members about a central body. They should be considered in that context and they will be carefully studied together.

To return to the link with education; the Ministry of Education and the Scottish Education Department have been closely associated with the Ministry of Labour in working out the proposals. I can assure the hon. Member for West Lothian that it is intended that representatives of the education world should sit on the boards as members with an official from one or both the education departments acting as assessors. I also note in this connection what my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport said about the value of careers mistresses in schools, a most important point.

In recent years, the technical colleges have extended their provision of pre-apprenticeship courses and some 3,000 are now undergoing those courses. A number of colleges have introduced also integrated courses of technical education and training for first-year apprentices, and some 3,000 are undergoing these. I should make it clear that these figures refer to England and Wales.

An important advantage of these courses is the close relationship that may be achieved between the practical trade training and the associated technical and general education. They have demonstrated the value of systematic training during the first year of apprenticeship. I can assure the hon. Member for East Ham, North and the hon. Member for West Lothian that I have noted what they said about day-release. I have nothing further to say on this occasion, but I have noted the importance that they attach to the subject, and I agree with them about it.

Courses of systematic basic training for apprentices in their first year are already given in the Government training centres run by my right hon. Friend's Department. There are not many of these. Only 361 boys are at present undergoing this training. But it is well known that numbers were not the intention of this effort. The idea was that an example should be given and that a pilot scheme—as one might call it—should be set up.

I am sure that it will be widely agreed that the success of these first-year courses in Government training centres has been remarkable, and has exceeded the expectations even of those who were most enthusiastic in starting them. Industry has shown a keen interest in them, and some employers who were considering the adoption of similar methods of training have received copies of detailed syllabuses devised by the Ministry of Labour. These courses have proved the value of really systematic training in the first year, and this is something the importance of which we must not overlook.

Mr. Dalyell

Although I agree with the Minister that, in the first place, numbers were not of crucial importance, if it is true that these courses have proved their value in the present employment situation, is it not time to get on with this in a big way?

Mr. Whitelaw

We must remember, as my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and many others have said, that the basic job of training must be one for industry. Anything that we say about training in the Government training centre for apprentices should be looked at against that background.

Mr. Dalyell

What is the point of putting up a pilot scheme in the first place, if we are not going to enlarge on it?

Mr. Whitelaw

The great value of it is that it sets a good example to many other people. This is exactly what it has done.

One effect of the White Paper's proposals will also be that it will undoubtedly lead to an increased demand for courses of this type. We have stated in the White Paper that extra courses of this type are a possibility, but the whole question must be looked at against the background of the fact that the job of training must, in the first instance, be one for industry.

Mr. Prentice

The hon. Member talked about an increased demand. How does he see this being fulfilled? Will it be done entirely by industry, by local education authorities, or by more courses in G.T.C.s—or perhaps a mixture of all three? He has not specified how it will be done. I should have thought that G.T.C.s had the biggest part to play in this task, and in applying and pioneering new ideas for the future, as they have done.

Mr. Whitelaw

The quick answer would be that where there is an increased demand it should be met by a combination of all the methods that we can think of.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

This is an important point. How can the hon. Member say that the retraining of adult workers from declining industries for new industries can be carried out by industry? How can he expect a firm to train people in somebody else's industry, in the expectation that they may transfer to its industry?

Mr. Whitelaw

I hope that the hon. Member will be fair. I was talking about apprentice training. I have not yet reached the subject of adult retraining. Indeed, if I do not get on I may not reach it. I want to make it clear that what I was saying referred to apprentice training.

I can tell the hon. Member for West Lothian that no matter where we set our sights in these matters there will always be a demand for more. What we in the Ministry of Labour regard as very encouraging is the fact that one-year courses have been so successful, and that there is this demand for more.

I turn now to what the hon. Member for East Ham, North said about timing. I cannot give any promise about when a Bill will be introduced into Parliament. How long it will take to pass through Parliament depends on a number of factors, but if, at a future date, as I very much hope, the hon. Member for East Ham, North is still in his place and doing his present job, and I am still in mine and doing my present job, then, no doubt, the speed at which it goes through will depend—as with other legislation with which we are both connected at present—very largely on him and his hon. Friends.

We must, however, make absolutely clear that the question of timing does not mean that nothing can be done in the meantime. I have seen it suggested that, because of the new approach in the White Paper proposals, other plans can be put into cold storage, plans such as the development of new group apprenticeship schemes or the setting up of joint centres for craft training. Nothing could be further from the truth. Under the new arrangements which the Government propose, there will be an even greater need for joint endeavours of this kind to raise standards and increase the numbers trained.

However quickly we move, it will take some time before the necessary consultations can be completed, final proposals drafted, Acts of Parliament passed and the necessary training boards established. Even that will not be the end of the matter since it will take the boards themselves time to get really into action. It would be the height of folly if firms, or associations of firms, which had been planning new schemes were to drop them, saying, "Why need we bother to spend money in this way when, by waiting, we can let the levy take care of it all?".

I wish to make the Government's position on this quite clear. We believe that our new proposals will lead to more and better industrial training. We believe, also, that this is the view of most people in industry to an extent which would not have been there even as recently as two years ago. But, we must remember that, while it will take time to introduce these new arrangements, time is certainly not on our side. Industry, in its own interests, cannot afford to sit back and do nothing while waiting for the training boards to be established. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hallam said, the rest of the world, and particularly our competitors in the export markets, will not sit down and do nothing merely to suit our convenience. It is vitally important, therefore, that there should be no slackening in the efforts of the Industrial Training Council. That, I think, answers the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham.

It is important that those firms which have been asked by their industrial organisations to spend money on improving the training arrangements in their industry should not hold back. It is important that more group apprenticeship schemes should be established. My right hon. Friend has stressed that the publication of the White Paper should not be used as an excuse for failing to carry on the inquiry into the present training arrangements which he has urged upon the main apprentice-employing industries. Here, I welcome very much what the hon. Member for East Ham, North said about sacred cows. We must be prepared to look at the whole of our training arrangements against the background of the times in which we live. Here, I agree, also, with my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport.

As a result of the promptings of my right hon. Friend, the construction industry last year gave its regional committees authority to reduce the apprenticeship period from five years to four. So far, only three of the regions—one has to say this—have taken advantage of this. But the construction industry has decided, also, to commission a three-year study of its occupational requirements and the effect these will have on training. This, I think, will be recognised as a far-sighted move, and both employers and trade unions should be warmly congratulated on it. We are still awaiting news from the engineering industry, but we hope it will not be long before we are told what its plans are.

I turn to the second part of the Motion, that relating to the training and retraining of adults. The White Paper refers mainly to the training of young people, in particular the training of apprentices. School-leavers constitute by far the largest source from which our skilled manpower is drawn. I feel that it would be right for the boards to turn their attention first to the training of the young. The responsibility of the boards—here I give an assurance to my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland and the hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. Woof), who has had to leave and was kind enough to give me an apology—will, however, cover all forms of training from operatives to managers and all people in industry, whatever their age.

The hon. Member for West Lothian referred to the rather sobering thought that a boy who leaves school now may well be still at work in the year 2013. I am quite certain the hon. Member will be there to see him at work; I am equally certain I shall not. Nevertheless, it gives one an indication of the sort of problem one is facing in adapting training methods when one considers the type of changes that may take place during that boy's working life in industry. We have only to look back at what has happened in the last 50 years to realise the extraordinary changes which can take place in the working life of one man. The pace of technological development today is so rapid that we can expect even greater changes during the next half of the century.

This means that we have to accept that there is going to be an increasing need for the training and retraining of men and women during their working lives. Most of the training of adults, just as with the training of young people, is done by industry itself already. Retraining in various firms is going on all the time. One must not neglect this fact. My hon. Friend the Member for Clapham (Dr. Alan Glyn) referred to this. I agree with him that it is vitally important that both sides of industry should continue to do their utmost to keep their training in line with the changes and to carry out substantial retraining themselves.

Many hon. Members mentioned the rôle of the Government in this. The Government in their contribution to adult training have concentrated on those jobs which contain a fair element of skill, training for which cannot be given in the course of a few weeks' instruction in a firm. The Ministry of Labour gives training in about 40 trades in 13 Government training centres. We can also arrange for people to train in other establishments, including the technical colleges. I agree particularly with what the hon. Member for Swindon said, that the numbers concerned are at this time very small.

Mr. Dalyell

Will the hon. Gentleman give the figures, because this is rather important?

Mr. Whitelaw

If the hon. Member will wait a moment he will find that that is exactly what I am about to do. At any one time only about 3,000 men and women are receiving training in the Ministry of Labour establishments and about 2,000 of these are in Government training centres. About two-thirds are disabled and the remainder are mainly either ex-Regular Service men, or those who have been unemployed. In July last year my right hon. Friend announced his intention to set up three new small training centres in areas particularly affected by redundancies in the coal mining industry. He had in mind that there should be two in Scotland—one in Lanarkshire and the other in Fife—and a third in County Durham. His purpose was to enable suitable men who have been made redundant in the coal mining and railway industries to acquire a new skill which could be employed in the developing industries which we would hope to see established in those parts of the country.

In this respect I very much agree with much of what the hon. Member for Blaydon said. I also noted particularly what the hon. Member for Swindon said. He was good enough to let the Ministry know that he wished to raise the particular question of Swindon. I can therefore tell him that the management has said that it does not expect any further discharges from railway workshops before 1st April. Most of the decline seems to have been taken up by natural wastage. For example, during the last quarter only 27 men become redundant. We have, in fact, had no application for training from redundant men, but of course if we had they could certainly be considered for training at the Government training centres. As the hon. Member knows, the nearest is at Bristol. Trainees from Swindon could be found lodgings, and the Ministry would pay for them, in addition to the training allowances. Perhaps I should turn to the training allowances, referred to by the hon. Member for Swindon and the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes).

Mr. Dalyell rose—

Mr. Whitelaw

I hope that the hon. Member will not continue to interrupt. I am trying to give one of my hon. Friends the opportunity to speak to another Motion, and I think that it is fair that I should do so.

The hon. Member for Swindon referred particularly to the question of redundancy which was discussed at the National Joint Advisory Council. I noted what he said; it is somewhat outside the scope of the debate, but every effort is being made to improve the voluntary arrangements.

I wish to say a word about training allowances, because there seems to have been some misunderstanding about them. The training allowances paid to men in Government training centres have been substantially increased since those referred to by the hon. Member for Swindon. A single man now receives £7 10s., against £5 10s. previously, and a man with a wife and two children now receives £9 against £8 previously. These allowances are not subject to tax or to reductions for National Insurance contributions. When that is taken into account, I think it will be agreed that they compare reasonably favourably with the wage rates for unskilled work.

We have to face a problem in this adult retraining which was touched on by both the hon. Member for Swindon and the hon. Member for Blaydon—the fact that an absolutely vital feature of adult retraining is the placing of the man in employment at the end of his training. Nothing is more disillusioning to a man who has undergone training than the realisation that he has no new job as a result of it. As the hon. Member for East Ham, North fairly pointed out, it is this problem of subsequent employment which worries those trade unions which so far have felt unable to agree to plans for expanded retraining. Understandably, when they see some of their own members unemployed they feel reluctant to admit more adults into a trade after a comparatively short time. One appreciates the difficulty, but it seems to me to be vital to base all our training plans on the prospects for an expansion in the economy, otherwise the expansion will, as in the past, find some areas short of skilled labour, and these may be, as before, absurdly enough, the very areas in which unemployment is traditionally high. This was underlined by the figures given by the hon. Member for Swindon both about shortage of skilled labour and about mobility.

For this reason, despite reluctance in some trade union quarters, my right hon. Friend has decided that it is his plain duty to go ahead and to open the new training centres. He also intends to introduce new classes in the building trade in centres in other parts of the country. I was very glad to know from their speeches that in this action he will have the strong support of the hon. Members for Blaydon, South Ayrshire and Swindon. I very much hope that now that this decision has been taken, the unions—as I am sure they will—will give all the assistance they can in placing the men on the conclusion of their training.

I have only one other point on retraining to mention, and that is to assure my hon. Friend the Member for Hallam, who referred to the work done by the National Training and Technical Society, that we welcome any voluntary work on adult retraining. This clearly should be encouraged. I know that this society has worked in close co-operation with the Ministry of Education. My right hon. Friend will naturally consider the information about this body which my hon. Friend gave to the House today.

In what I am afraid has been rather a long speech, I have done my best to reply to as many as possible of the points which have been raised in a very useful and important debate. I would end on a general point. Since the breakdown in the Common Market negotiations, much has been said about the need for us in this country to achieve industrial expansion by our own efforts. Why should we not say, for we know that it is true, that in this endeavour British men and women are our greatest asset? Their potential is second to none in the world. But if we are to use it to the best advantage we must provide them with opportunities of training in skill. That is the clear purpose in the Motion, and it is in this determined spirit that on behalf of the Government I commend it wholeheartedly to the House.

Question put and agreed to

Resolved, That this House welcomes the Government's proposals for improving industrial training outlined in Command Paper No. 1892 and urges an expansion of the facilities for training and retraining adult workers to meet the changing requirements of industry and to enable men and women whose jobs become redundant to acquire a new skill.

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