§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Mr. R. E. Prentice (East Ham, North)
The tradition of the House is that the Third Reading of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill is an occasion on which Members from both sides of the House may raise a variety of topics. It has become customary for the first of these topics to be introduced from this Box and to be a subject chosen by the Opposition. On this occasion, we have chosen an immediate and critical problem.
I say that it is an immediate problem because we are concerned with unemployment among young people and, particularly, with the prospects of the young people who have bean leaving school in the last week or two, or who will leave school at the end of this week, and who will soon go out on to the labour market. I say that it is a critical problem because the school leavers of this summer face an employment situation worse than that confronting any other group of summer school leavers since the end of the war.
There are three reasons why the situation is particularly critical. First, there are more school leavers this year than usual. There is now the largest number of school leavers of any year since the end of the war, except 1962. We are, in fact, in the third year of the so-called population bulge. It has bean estimated that there will be 300,000 young people leaving school at this time, which is about 20 per cent. higher than the number leaving in 1960, the last of the three years before the so-called bulge in school leavers.
1486 Secondly, these young people are leaving school at a time when the general employment situation is worse than it has bean in July at any time since the end of the war. The July unemployment figures have not yet been published—I do not know whether the Minister will tell us anything today, since they are about due for publication—but the total of unemployment in the middle of June was 479,675, about 82,000 more than it had been a year before and certainly more than any June figure since pre-war days.
Thirdly, these young people are leaving school when there is a large number of young people, including some of the Easter school leavers, still unemployed. This makes the situation particularly critical for the large number who have just left school or who will be leaving in the next few days.
I draw attention to the fact that the youth employment situation has been steadily deteriorating over a number of years. During the first half of the 1950s, taking the whole period 1951–55, the average number of young people under 18 unemployed was 17,345. In the second half of the 1950s, from 1956 to 1960, the average number unemployed had risen to 21.816. The average number of young people unemployed in 1962 was 36,229. The average number for the first six months of this year was 51,323.
This year has been called National Productivity Year. It is a very sad reflection on that that, during the first six months of this year, before the summer school leavers have come on the labour market—we all know that this is the largest number of school leavers during the year—the average number of young people unemployed has been about 50 per cent. more than it was last year, two-and-a-half times the average number for the second half of the 1950s, and three times the average for the first half of the 1950s. Therefore, one can say, with regret, that our young people have, perhaps, been the worst hit victims of the economic failure of the Government and that this year's batch of school leavers are likely to be the hardest hit of all.
As we know, the situation varies from locality to locality. I expect that some of my hon. Friends who will try to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, will wish to draw attention to their local situations. At this stage, it seems to 1487 me, I am entitled to refer to one or two of the figures because, clearly, the areas where the situation is worse among young people and where there is the biggest hang-over from the Easter school leavers are also the areas where general unemployment is high and, therefore, the opportunities are very scarce.
The latest local figures I have are for the middle of May. On Merseyside, at that time, there were 3,704 young people under 18 unemployed, in a general situation of 5.7 per cent. unemployment. On Tyneside, there were 2,282 young people unemployed, in a general situation of 4.8 per cent. unemployment. In Glasgow, there were 2,220 young people unemployed, in a general situation of 5.6 per cent. unemployment. It is against that background that we have to reckon the prospects of those now leaving school.
I submit to the House that a young person is entitled to expect three things from society in this situation: he is entitled to a job; he is entitled to a choice of jobs; he is entitled to reasonable training prospects.
I do not think that I need labour for long the obvious point that he is entitled to a job. Any case of unnecessary unemployment of anyone is a tragedy, and unemployment among young people is a particularly bad tragedy from the point of view of society. We hear a lot of generalisations nowadays about the younger generation. I shall not touch on that topic very much because I think that generalisations are a bit silly and I believe that young people vary as much one from another as people of any generation do. But I try to keep in touch with young people.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is not the only Member who tries to keep "with it". I am president of a boys' club in my constituency. As a magistrate, I see young people in trouble. I try in various ways to keep in touch. Everyone with this kind of experience will agree that the most catastrophic thing we can do to a young person leaving school is to leave him or her in idleness for many months without the prospect of work.
1488 For years, the hopes and expectations of young people are built up at school. They are encouraged to work hard. They are encouraged in the idea that, if they do work hard, this will serve them well when they leave school and go to work. They are set essays—we have all seen them—on what jobs they would like and on what they hope to do in their working life. It is the most cruel thing if they then find that they are not wanted and that it will be months or even years before they can find work to do. All the expectations, hopes and ambitions which have been built up are then frustrated by their experience, and it is an experience which can scar them for life.
§ Mr. Prentice
To say nothing of the anxieties of their parents and families.
We are considering this subject in a situation which is fundamentally less secure than it was. In previous generations, a great many young people knew what they would do almost from the time of early childhood. In the country side, for many generations, a boy would walk past fields on his way to school and know that he would find a place to work in those fields when he left. He might know that in the local industrial area, the local mill, pit or factory he would be likely to find work, although, of course, there have been anxieties about unemployment in the past, too.
Now, however, we are looking at a situation of rapid change in which that element of security has gone. I do not regret it, because we are living in an age when the opportunities are greater, too, if only they are taken. Nevertheless, it is in this insecure situation that the fact of having no job at all is so catastrophic to the young people affected in this way. Therefore, our planning for full employment should pay particular regard to the needs of young people.
As my second point, I said that young people were entitled to expect a choice of job. As we all know, many a young person starts a job but it does not work out. There should be a state of affairs in which they have the right to choose, the right to learn from their mistakes, the right to change their minds. There is 1489 nothing fundamentally wrong in the idea that young people may want to try three or four different jobs before they decide what fits.
But a by-product of this situation today, a by-product of the figures but which is not apparent in the figures, is that many thousands of young people are hanging on desperately to jobs for which they are not fitted, in which they are unhappy, in which they are not giving good service to their employers, and are hanging on because they have to hang on to jobs for fear that they would have nothing at all if they lost those jobs.
Some years ago someone coined the phrase "over-full employment". I did not think much of the phrase at the time, but what we are suggesting, what, in particular, I am suggesting at this stage, is that we want, in a sense, a situation of over-full employment for young people so that they can have the chance of a period of experiment, in which they can get the help of the Youth Employment Service and others, and learn from their mistakes.
One of the things that we need in such a situation as this is a much strengthened Youth Employment Service. The unsung heroes of the last few years who have done a tremendously good job up and down the country are the youth employment officers, who have done their work generally in a situation in which they have been understaffed and generally underpaid, and in which opportunities for training in their own profession have been far too few. There are certain things in the Report of the National Youth Employment Council which demand action, but what we need is continued vocational guidance, and it should not stop for a youth aged 18, for if we are to raise the school-leaving age we ought also to raise the age at which young people are entitled to vocational guidance and advice on the opportunities for changing their work.
My third point is that young people are entitled to reasonable training opportunities. Here we are in a familiar position. On this as on so many urgent questions which face us at present we are told either that the Government have appointed somebody to examine and make a report to the Government, or we are waiting for the Government to act on a report which they have already 1490 got. In this situation we are waiting for the Government to introduce some form of legislation arising from their training White Paper of last December. The White Paper was debated in the House and I do not want to go over that at this stage. Indeed, it would take far too long, but there are certain observations that I could make now that the subject has been under discussion for some months since the publication of the White Paper.
First, I would press the Minister to give the House and the country, if he can, more information about the date of the publication of his training Bill. It is quite clear that up and down the country there is uncertainty in industry about this, and to some extent employers, unfortunately, and quite wrongly, are tending to postpone development of their own training plans because they are waiting to see what the Government are going to put into their Bill. About a week ago I asked a Question about this and the Minister gave me anon-committal Answer in which he said that it would depend on Parliamentary time and all that. I hope that he will take the opportunity to say more about it today. If he cannot, I urge him to say something publicly at the earliest possible moment in order to try to remove some of this uncertainty.
It is typical of the Government that they should be producing these plans at the end of the period of the bulge of those who are leaving school and coming on to the labour market. They have known about the bulge in the population ever since the children were born. They were warned about it with particular clarity in 1958 by the Carr Report—about the training situation, the shortage of skills, and the opportunity provided by this extra large number of school leavers.
The Carr Committee was absolutely right in saying that the bulge of the school leavers could not be regarded as an embarrassing problem, but as an opportunity, and, indeed, it has been an opportunity, a once for all opportunity, which is now passing away, to train quickly in a few years the extra large number of people in those skills in which the economy is deficient at present. Where the Carr Committee was wrong 1491 was in suggesting that this was essentially a problem which could be left to industry with the Government just standing on the sidelines. We have said this over and over again in the House.
I remember listening to Lord Robens, early in 1959, saying from this Box that the steps proposed by the Carr Committee were inadequate and that more positive ones were needed by the Government. We now have a situation where the Government are just beginning to lock the stable door some time after the horse has bolted.
This problem of training is a twofold problem, the problem of quantity and the problem of quality of training, the urgent need to modernise and improve its quality.
So far as the numbers in training are concerned, the position for a little while was that the Government are getting away with it. They relied, in our view, before the bulge left school, far too much on exhortation, but the response of employers in 1961 was better than some of us expected. We were delighted, and we were delighted in 1961 at the greater number of trainees, but in 1962 although there was a further increase, it did not catch up proportionately with the rise in the number of school leavers, and this year, looking at the problem of the school leavers, there has been a most critical slump.
I would remind the House of the figures which the Minister has already give us at Question Time. In the first four months, that is, from January to April inclusive, there were 29,000 boys entering apprenticeships, 10,200 fewer than the comparable figure in 1962. There were 5,600 girls who entered apprenticeships, 2.100 fewer than the comparable figure in 1962.
If the industrial training boards that the Minister has proposed in his White Paper were in existence now, and they were in operation now, they might be able to take emergency measures, but in fact, as we know, this year's school leavers, in training as well as in employment in general, are likely to find far fewer opportunites than there were in the last few years. This is a real tragedy for the boys and girls concerned and, indeed, a loss to the national economy.
1492 About ten days ago, I spoke at a conference in the West Riding of Yorkshire, organised by the Youth Employment Service, and attended by employers and educationists from all over the West Riding, and I did my best to repeat what the Minister had said, that employers this summer ought to have regard to the fact that there will be no school leavers at Christmas because of the new Education Bill, and that they ought to stock up with recruits and take as many trainees as they can. There was not a very great response to this, and this was in the West Riding, which, for many years, has been that place in the country where there have been more apprenticeships available and training opportunities than in the rest of the country.
Employers said to me that they had been frightened to do what they had been asked, partly for the reason which I have already given, because they were waiting to see what the Government would put in their training Bill, but to a greater extent because of the economic situation and their lack of confidence in the Government's plans to deal with it. Some said to me that in 1961 they recruited because they had confidence that the economy would expand but that since then there had been an economic crisis, which developed in 1962, with the unemployment figures of that year and early this year, and they felt that they could not now respond to the Government's appeal to take on more trainees.
It is in this situation that we on this side of the House feel we are entitled to say that the Government's training measures are like so many of their measures—that when they do manage to do the right thing they do too little and do it too late. That will be one of the epitaphs on the gravestone of the Government.
One matter which has hardly been tackled at all is the question of the modernising of our training schemes. I do not wish to anticipate what obviously will be the detailed debates we shall have on this when the Government's training Bill comes before us, if, indeed, the Government are still the Government, in the early part of next Session, but I want to raise straight away the point that it does seem to us that it is very likely that the White Paper was drawn far too narrowly and that the Government are 1493 trying to catch up with the position they should have reached about ten years ago. Instead of approaching the needs of the later 'sixties and the 'seventies and having a completely new look at the training situation, almost the whole of the Government's references to this subject have been concentrated on apprenticeships. I have probably made as many speeches on apprenticeships as anybody else in the House. I do not know whether that has anything to do with my surname. However, I have always taken an interest in the matter and it is one I have returned to more than once.
What has become obvious to me is that as the needs of the economy change we get further and further into the position in which we need change in the industrial labour form. We once divided the labour force; there were the skilled men who had served their time, and all the rest were categorised as unskilled or semi-skilled. Now we need to raise the levels of skills or all kinds in all kinds of jobs—to have, so to say, the spectrum approach towards training, considering raising the skills, and the relevance of skills, in all kinds of industries, and at all kinds of levels.
Part of this job is extension of apprenticeship training where it is needed and improvement of apprenticeship training. I believe that the best apprenticeship training in this country is as good as anywhere in the world. Indeed, I think that we can congratulate both the boys concerned and their employers—the boys who won so many prizes at the recent international competition in Dublin where they got four gold, six silver and six bronze medals in the international apprenticeship competition. The best is very good, but the average is not good enough, and there is far too much going on in the name of training which is not training at all. We have to tackle this problem with greater urgency. Besides talking about apprenticeship itself, surely we need now to have a tremendous increase in the number of training courses available to those who have traditionally been regarded as being in semi-skilled jobs.
We need an increase in training courses for operatives in our new types of industry; an increase in the training courses in our retail trade, and in agriculture. In agriculture, the Apprentice- 1494 ship Council has been going for some years, but still only 3 per cent. of the recruits to agriculture go through organised training in that scheme. We need a great increase in courses for the older school leavers who are to become technicians of one sort or another. Here again, the best of what we have done is very good and copied all over the world through the medium of the I.L.O. information service. The type of course in which a boy spends part-time in industry, part-time in technical colleges, and the various sandwich courses, are very good, but the small firms in this country are doing hardly anything about this because it is beyond their resources.
This is one of the first things that the training boards will have to tackle. They will have to think in many cases in terms of apprenticeship of young people to an industry rather than apprenticeship to firms. Just over a week ago, the House debated science and its application to industry. We have to realise that if we are to take advantage of the scientific revolution in our time, it will have to be tackled not merely in terms of training more scientists, developing research, and more development projects in industry, but in raising the level of skills of everyone in industry so that we can carry forward the ideas which the scientists are presenting to us.
The Government approach to all this seems to be far too timid. The timidity of their approach is characterised by two recent developments to which I should like to draw attention and which are within the province of the Minister. I see from a Press release that the Minister has just appointed a technical adviser on industrial training. When this post was advertised recently, I noticed that the Ministry were, for the first time, advertising one post as a technical adviser on industrial training—one post for the first time. They have made the appointment, and I am sure that we would wish Colonel Work, which is a very appropriate name, the very best in his new appointment.
I comment on the fact that the new adviser's experience is in the Regular Army, followed by experience as the assistant secretary of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, and does not appear to include any experience in industry. I say that not to criticise this gentleman or his appointment because I 1495 believe that experience of training in the military field, plus experience in the Institute, may make him a very valuable servant of the Ministry. I am putting to the Minister that what he needs and the country needs at the apex of a training scheme is a large number of technical advisers with diverse experience. He ought to have a group of these people. I want him to comment on whether this will be the only appointment or whether there will be others. We want a group of people providing the drive at the centre which will be followed up by the industrial boards that he intends to appoint.
On the 22nd May, he gave me a reply on manpower research. I see that the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. K. Lewis) received a reply on the same subject yesterday from the Minister of Labour. The Minister has just appointed a two-man team to estimate the needs of this country in terms of skilled labour five years hence. They are proceeding by sending questionaires to firms, asking them to be good enough to give their estimates, to which the firms may or may not reply, and then they will build up the results which will be available some time next year. I would have thought that if one thing is clear about the training situation with which we are faced it is that we need rapid steps taken in the Ministry of Labour or in some new central training authority which ought to be created to form a budget of the manpower needs in this country for some years to come. The Minister is already in trouble in Scotland, the North-East and elsewhere over the plans for extending training centres because local trade unionists are not convinced that the training is the right training, or that there will be jobs available for the people trained in them. If he is to answer that sort of criticism with any confidence, he should have available an estimate of the future manpower needs of the country.
We need it right down the line; we need it for the universities, the technical colleges, the apprenticeship schemes and training schemes of all kinds. We dare not waste our scarce resources training people for skills which may quickly become redundant. At the moment we do it by a series of unco-ordinated hunches.
1496 That will not do. We need a plan at the centre. It may well go wrong and there may be mistakes, but there are more likely to be mistakes now when all the decisions are made without co-ordination through lack of central planning. It is vital that the young people of this country should get the training relevant to their task of earning their living ten, twenty or thirty years hence, and that means that all the training schemes must be flexible. We must get away from the idea of training people in a single craft and give people a more generalised training which will enable them to keep pace with the rapid technological changes in industry in the years that lie ahead.
I put it to the House that in considering youth employment generally and training in particular we need to have regard to the gathering speed of technological change. It is becoming routine for politicians and others in the perorations of their speeches to say that we live in a period of change. That has always been true, but what has not been sufficiently recognised is that we live in a time when the pace of change is faster than it has ever been before in the history of mankind. The pace of change is getting faster every year" and this has tremendous implications for the planning of our labour force.
The impact of automation in offices, the new mechanical coal cutting machines introduced into the Midland coalfields, the impact of automation in factories are all leading to changes much faster and more drastic than we have ever known before. We welcome that, but we can only welcome it wholeheartedly if there is real planning to take care of the effects of all this on human beings. In the past we have been able to muddle through periods of change largely through the process of wastage. When a particular kind of work has become redundant the employers no longer take on recruits. Gradually people are retired or die and the labour force is changed gradually by that process. The pace has now reached the stage when that will no longer do. We are faced with a situation in which redundancies will be much faster than before, when retraining schemes are needed and when a completely new approach to the manpower planning of this country is needed.
If that planning does not take place, the greatest victims of all will be the 1497 young people and the school leavers. We can see it happening now in the United States of America. In the United States, where technological change has proceeded faster than it has here and changes have come in earlier than they have here, we can read many lessons. Some of their successes we can try to copy; some of their failures we can try to avoid. But, above all, they have failed—let us recognise it and learn the lessons from it—to adapt their youth employment and training schemes to this period of technological change.
The latest figure that I have is that 18 per cent. of teenagers in the United States are unemployed. This is an appalling figure. It is a figure that we may well approach unless we take the measures which are needed to deal with the situation. The steady increase in youth unemployment today, to which I referred earlier, may be the first symptom of the threat, unless we can deal with the situation in time and in the way required.
The reason is fairly elementary: if there is a situation in which redundancy is being threatened, employers in general will stop taking on recruits before they make their existing labour force redundant. Therefore, school leavers are, clearly, the first victims and the hardest hit. This creates demands for a general full employment strategy, such as the Opposition have urged all the time, combined with a training scheme relevant to the needs of the future and planned in relation to the future needs of industry.
I do not wish to appear—I hope that I have not in any way appeared—to be regretting the prospects of technological change. The Opposition welcome it and want to expedite it. We want to devote more national resources to science and technology to speed up the process of technological change. But in relation to employment, particularly of young people, it simply will not do to create a situationin which they become the victims on the scale on which they have in the United States of America.
When people argue about who should drill the holes in a piece of metal or chalk the line on the side of a ship, what they are really arguing about is who should become unemployed. We must create a society in which people are not 1498 afraid of change, in which there are jobs available and in which training is available both for the older man who may lose the chance to use his traditional skill and also for the large numbers of school leavers coming on to the labour market. They are large numbers. The concept of the bulge in school leavers has to some extent been falsified by recent events. The number of school leavers is not going back to the old figures. It may go down a little from the figures of the last three years, but since the war there has been a birthrate higher than that between the wars. The result is that we are facing the prospect of having a working population in which the younger element will grow in the years ahead. All our policies have to match up to that.
I do not want to suggest that we must be on the defensive against change. I think that we must take the offensive with change, and raise the national product and use it to tackle our social problems. But if we fail, as we are beginning to fail now, and as we seem to be failing in relation to those who are leaving school at this moment, we shall suffer losses in the wealth that this country could accumulate with the aid of the new technology and we shall condemn hundreds of thousands of young people to the frustration of all the hopes and ambitions that they have developed in their school life.
§ 5.4 p.m.
§ The Minister of Labour (Mr. John Hare)
I certainly do not object in any way to the sentiment with which the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) ended up, that we should take the offensive with change. Where I probably have some quarrel with him is that he has painted a graver picture of the prospects of unemployment for young people than I would perhaps agree with. That is why I thought it right to intervene at an early stage in the debate.
I am very glad indeed that the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends chose this very important subject as the first item for discussion on the Consolidated Fund Bill. I would assure hon. Members on both sides of the House that the Government certainly are not complacent about the matter. We shall not be satisfied until every boy and girl has the opportunity due to them. What I am going to try to show now is that the situation as depicted by the hon. Gentleman 1499 is, I am happy to say, not as grave as he has made it out to be. I understand that a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House will probably wish to take part in the debate, and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will deal with the particular points which hon. Members may raise.
Taking the country as a whole, there has been a very substantial improvement in the employment situation for young people over the last six months. At the start of this year—in mid-January—unemployment among boys and girls reached a peak of 67,000. Some 21,000 of those had left school at Christmas.
§ Dr. Jeremy Bray (Middlesbrough, West)
Will the right hon. Gentleman quote comparisons not with six months ago, which he knows is a deliberately deceptive figure, but with a year ago? This is being almost dishonest.
§ Mr. Hare
I am not being dishonest. The hon. Member may make his own speech in any way he likes. I intend to make my speech on the basis of figures which are entirely accurate.
Even at that difficult period—mid-January—the absorption of school leavers into employment was still easier than might have been expected. Even in Scotland, in spite of the general unemployment situation there, which was a very grave one, school leavers found jobs quicker than, for example, they were found in the North-East, the North-West or Wales. Over the country as a whole at mid-January, barely a month after the end of term, the percentage of Christmas school leavers still registered for first employment was down to 14.3 per cent.
However, a total of 67,000 unemployed young people was, indeed, very high. Since then, I am glad to say, every month we have seen a fall in the number of young people unemployed—except for April, when the figure rose because of the Easter school leavers. In mid-June the figure was just under 33,000. This is—I say this definitely and without any qualification—still about 11,000 higher than a year ago, but it is less than half what it was five months earlier. What is even more important is that this fall has occurred despite the advent of about 143,000 Easter school 1500 leavers, and it is satisfactory that all but 4,200 of these 143,000 had obtained employment a month ago.
The July figures—the hon. Gentleman asked me about them—will not be available until tomorrow. But these will be affected by the start of the summer school leavers. The hon. Gentleman was quite right. But everyone realises that the decline in unemployment between January and June has not been on this scale everywhere. I am sure that hon. Members will make this point forcibly in the debate. I should like to say something about regional unemployment later. The first point that I want to make is that a substantial improvement has already taken place this year.
What is of great importance is that there has been an encouraging rise in the number of vacancies for young people, especially for boys. In mid-June there were 26,000 vacancies for boys compared with 19,000 boys unemployed. For girls there were 31,000 vacancies and 13,500 girls unemployed. But I would emphasise the boys because this was the first month since July of last year in which boys' vacancies exceeded boys' unemployment. Again, the picture varies very much from area to area, and there are real black spots. But this rise in vacancies is another good sign.
Now we are about to have the summer school leavers. I should like to correct an impression which the hon. Gentleman gave. It looks as if their number will be rather less than last summer's record figure of 365,000, but not very much less.
§ Mr. Harold Finch (Bedwellty)
Can the right hon. Gentleman give any idea of the industries and trades in which these vacancies exist?
§ Mr. Hare
I can give the hon. Gentleman details of that if he will give me notice; I am talking now of industry as a whole. But even in the worsening unemployment situation of last Autumn, about nine out of every ten of those available for employment had found jobs by the end of the summer holiday in September, and about 99 out of every 100 by December. This year, in contrast to last year, the trend of unemployment is very definitely improving.
As the hon. Member for East Ham, North mentioned, there is also the very important new factor which will affect 1501 summer school leavers, and indeed the whole unemployment situation for young people this coming winter. This is the change in the school leaving dates. There will be far fewer Christmas leavers than we have been accustomed to deal with. In the past there have been about 150,000 boys and girls leaving at Christmas but from now on this figure will be very much reduced.
This should have two encouraging effects. First, I trust that it will induce employers to provide more openings for young people this summer, including apprenticeships and other training openings. (I agree with the hon. Member that we are apt to talk a lot about apprentices and less about training on a wider scale than we should.) But employers should provide more openings because they cannot draw on another large exodus of boys from the schools until Easter. The Youth Employment Service is taking vigorous action to bring home to employers the implications of the change, and I am glad that this initiative has been strongly supported by the British Employers' Confederation and the Industrial Training Council.
I was glad that the hon. Gentleman described the officials of the Youth Employment Service as "unsung heroes". I join with him in paying tribute to their excellent work. Young people and their parents—indeed, all of us—owe them a very great debt of gratitude.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
My hon. Friend also said that they needed further professional training. What is the right hon. Gentleman doing about that?
§ Mr. Hare
If the hon. Member will allow me to continue with my speech I will answer his query. I agree that we want to make the Service better. The hon. Member for East Ham, North and I disagree rather on whether, at this stage, it should be expanded to deal with boys and girls over the age of 18. I want to improve the facilities it has for those under 18. I think that now that the peak of the bulge is over we have an opportunity to see how the quality of the Service can be improved. I am examining this with the help of Lady Albemarle, who is chairman of my National Youth Employment Council.
The second encouraging effect is that the change in dates should certainly help 1502 to reduce the peak winter unemployment among young people. Midwinter is a very bad time for jobs and, as I have shown, almost one-third of last January's peak figure consisted of school-leavers, so this is certainly going to help young people in future.
So far, I have been talking about the position generally and have mentioned the very real improvement in recent months. But this is not the whole story. We all know that the distribution of unemployment among young people varies considerably between different parts of the country. In the South, the South-West and the Midlands the situation is good. In general, there are ample vacancies for the summer school-leavers. But in other parts of the country the situation is far less good and this particularly applies to the North-East and Scotland.
In both of these areas, especially the North-East, the fall in unemployment among young persons between January and June has been significantly smaller than the average in the country as a whole. I do not want to dismiss the difficulties of areas like the North-West or Wales. Their problems must not be ignored, but Scotland and the North-East have the additional problem of structural unemployment caused by a more rapid decline of their basic industries and by the subsequent need to compensate for this by a more rapid diversification of industry than has hitherto been achieved.
It is, therefore, in these regions that my worries are greatest, particularly as I know that within them there are some especially bad spots, for example, Fife and Lanarkshire, Sunderland and Middlesbrough.
§ Mr. S. O. Davies (Merthyr Tydvil)
Would the right hon. Gentleman add to his list most of the valleys within the South Wales coalfield?
§ Mr. Hare
I have said that I do not ignore the problems of Wales but that, due to the structural nature of unemployment in Scotland and the North-East, they present particular problems in the long-term.
This, then, is the present situation. The Government are tackling it with two broad sets of measures. The first are those designed to increase training opportunities for young people and the second 1503 group are those intended to improve employment opportunities.
For training, there are the opportunities at technical colleges, which were not mentioned by the hon. Member for East Ham, North, where local education authorities are running pre-apprenticeship and first-year integrated courses. In all, there are about 8,000 young people attending these courses, nearly 1,000 in the North-East and about 2,200 in Scotland. These numbers will increase. Besides this, the Government are making a direct contribution through the first year apprentice classes in Government training centres. The number of places in these is expected to increase to about 560 this year, and as new centres are opened the number will go up to about 800.
In Scotland, when the programme is complete, there will be first-year apprentice classes in six areas. In the North-East the three classes at Felling G.T.C. are to be increased to five, and there is the new experiment at Tursdale in Durham. In addition to the G.T.C.s, there are for young unemployed the day courses which local education authorities are empowered to run. I am glad to say that local authorities have been making a special effort and that a variety of classes are now provided.
Moreover, we have given a special grant to the North-East Training Council to assist in the provision of a group training scheme on Tees-side, and we are prepared to make it a loan in addition if this is required. Under this scheme, advantage will be taken of eighty places offered by I.C.I. in its training school for boys and forty places offered by Messrs. Dorman Long. Already, fourteen firms have joined the scheme, with 110 boys to be provided for. The scheme shows good prospects of making a successful contribution to the special problems of Tees-side.
But, of course, most industrial training is given by employers, and here the hon. Member for East Ham, North, was quite right to draw attention to the drop in the number of boys obtaining apprenticeships. I am very concerned about this also. We started the year very badly. In the first six months only 29.1 per cent. of boy school-leavers secured apprenticeships as compared with 34 per cent. last year. But I am glad to 1504 say that there has been some improvement in the second quarter, so I am not as gloomy as the hon. Member about this.
In June, more boys got apprenticeships than in June last year, although the proportion was still down as compared with last June. I am not saying that it is good enough, because it is not.
Some employers may have been holding back to await the implementation of the Government's training proposals in the White Paper. To such employers I would say, as I have said already, that this would be a very foolish course. It will be in the firms' own interests to extend and improve the training they are doing so as to enable them to take full advantage of the new arrangements when they come into force. I cannot forecast future legislation, but the House knows where my heart is in this matter.
I am very glad that the chairman of the Industrial Training Council wrote last month to employers' and workers' organisations in industry stressing this point. In addition, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) knows, I have made a special appeal to employers and trade unions in the North-East and I take this opportunity to urge employers in all parts of the country to respond to this call for more action on the training front.
I now come to the real core of the problem and that, of course, is the provision of more jobs. We cannot consider unemployment among boys and girls in isolation from unemployment in general. It is part of the general problem of ensuring adequate opportunities for all, adults as well as young people. Despite what the hon. Member has said, there is no doubt that the economic outlook has changed for the better over the past few months. Ignoring seasonal factors, the underlying trend of unemployment is downwards and I hope that this month's figures will further confirm that. Business confidence has recovered. Production in May was above the highest level reached last year and demand is rising. The balance of payments has been developing favourably and hon. Members know that the recent trend in exports is particularly encouraging. The Chancellor is confident that his Budget and other measures to expand the economy are succeeding. He has made it absolutely 1505 dear to the Trade Union Congress leaders who came to see him about a fortnight ago that he is watching the situation closely and will not hesitate to take further steps should they prove necessary.
That is the broad front and it brings me back once again—one cannot help coming back—to Scotland and the North-East and their special problems.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
The right hon. Gentleman keeps referring to Scotland and the North-East and it is well known that the special measures in the Budget will be applied to those areas. But is he not aware that there is serious danger of many young people not having jobs at the right time in other areas, in other parts of the north of England and in Wales and other areas which are not scheduled as development areas and where there are certain black spots, such as Doncaster, which need serious consideration?
§ Mr. Hare
Development districts will naturally benefit from the Chancellor's measures whatever part of the country they are in. I know that the hon. Member is interested in Doncaster, which will also benefit from the general expansion of the economy.
However, returning to the problems of Scotland and the North-East, and hon. Members must consider these special problems, the Government have introduced a succession of measures which will have a considerable effect on the economy of these areas. There is a formidable list which I will not inflict on the House now.
§ Mr. Hare
I have already said that Wales has its particular problems and I have already said that development districts have the advantages of what has been done in the Budget and elsewhere. The general expansion of the economy under the Chancellor's general measures will help the country as a whole.
One must not minimise the problems of the North-East and Scotland. Among the main measures taken to improve 1506 matters there were the addition of Tynesideand Tees-side to the development districts, additional allocations for roadworks, an extra programme of short-term construction work, the programme of 28 advanced factories, 12 in the North-East and 16 in Scotland, and, finally, the £30 million loan to assist shipbuilding which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport announced this afternoon would be increased to £60 million. These are all additional to the general steps which have been taken to help development districts throughout the country. These include the introduction of a standard Government grant of 25 per cent. of the cost of buildings and 10 per cent. of the cost of machinery, introduced to induce firms to establish themselves or expand in the development districts.
I understand from my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade that there has been a great upsurge of interest in Local Employment Act facilities since Budget Day. In the three months following the Budget, the Board of Trade received 270 firm applications for assistance under the Act. This is five times the number received in the second quarter of 1962 and twice as many as in the period April to June, 1960, the first three months after the Act came into force. The Board of Trade has also received 225 provisional applications for the plant and machinery grant. I am sure that both sides of the House will find what I have said very encouraging.
As the House knows, the Government have gone further than this with Scotland and the North-East. We fully recognise that more fundamental measures are needed to deal with the structural unemployment which I have mentioned. That is why my noble Friend the Lord President of the Council was given special responsibility for examining the long-term economic needs of the North-East. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland undertook a similar study for Scotland. These studies have now been completed. They are very comprehensive. Among other things they take full account of the idea of encouraging areas of natural growth and they are now being urgently studied.
I have shown that I am much more optimistic than the hon. Member about the future holding out far brighter prospects for young people than the picture 1507 painted by hon. Members opposite. The Government are expanding the economy as a whole and paying more attention to the need to secure wider diversification of industry. It is on the success of these measures that the future of young people in all parts of the country will depend and I think that these efforts deserve the good wishes of all hon. Members.
§ 5.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Maurice Foley (West Bromwich)
In rising to speak for the first time, I am encouraged by the fact that the House traditionally gives kindness and indulgence to hon. Members making their maiden speeches. I rise to speak as the Member for West Bromwich, conscious that my illustrious predecessor, the late John Dugdale, was a respected Member of the House for many years. He served the House well and he served his constituents well. I sincerely hope that in time I shall be a worthy successor to John Dugdale.
My reasons for wanting to speak in the debate are two-fold. First, I have been involved in youth work, nationally and internationally, for a number of years and have been particularly concerned with young workers' problems. Secondly, my own background of the North-East gives me an insight into the needs and aspirations of ordinary working people.
West Bromwich is an industrial town. Fortunately, it does not have the measure of unemployment which one finds in Wales, in pockets of the North, in Scotland, the North-East and so on. At the same time, it has recently shown that it is concerned with the needs of other areas. A delegation from West Bromwich recently went to West Hartlepools to discusshow West Bromwich could assist another town, a town in need, with employment prospects and the possibility of training people in West Bromwich and finding jobs for apprentices. This is a manifestation of the humanity which is so typical of industrial communities.
As has been rightly said, we have to set the subject of youth employment in its proper setting. We shall never solve the problem of youth unemployment until we solve the problem of unemployment, until we have an economy which is dynamic and expanding. It is not sufficient to relate youth unemployment to the population bulge. Fifteen years ago 1508 we had the forecast on which to anticipate increased numbers leaving school and starting work. It is clear that we did not understand the dimensions of the problem, or that we were incapable of galvanising industry to meet its demands.
I want to deal with the social implications of unemployment and short time. In recent months, in many parts of the country youth organisations have been active forming councils to look at the problems and the phenomena of youth unemployment and its social consequences. On Tees-side, in Lancashire, in North Wales and in Scotland these youth groups have made surveys and inquiries of the needs of their towns and have tried to see how they could play a part in solving their problems. They have had a limited success for, in so far as finding work is concerned, there is little that youth organisations can do. What they have done is to highlight a number of problems which are the consequence of unemployment and which ought to be examined.
The first is that related to the choice of a job. For most young people in many parts of these difficult areas there is only Hobson's choice. There is no choice, and we are projecting the problem for years hence because, if we place a person in a dead-end job with no opportunity of change and no opportunity of choice, in years to come when that person wants to marry and so forth all the consequent problems relating to an unhappy industrial experience are with him. This is one very real problem, the absence of choice.
The second is a hidden problem, the problem of short-time. There are apprentices at Wallsend at the moment working only three days a week, youngsters of 16 and 17 years of age. There are many parts of the country where short-time is seasonal, but the consequences for young people with time on their hands and with nothing to do, healthy, able-bodied youngsters wanting work and not being supplied with it, are very grave indeed.
There is a third problem which is related to youngsters wanting a job and having to travel some distance to their place of work. The youth group in Oswestry made a survey recently of this phenomenon and found that young people 1509 were travelling for between six and 20 hours a week in order to get to work—an average of 12 hours. The implication of this, apart from the 44 or 42 hours which they work, is that they cannot be back in time for evening classes, so in relation to this there is a disruption of the normal educative processes which one would like to see going on.
I want to mention the psychological problem of a youngster leaving school full of idealism and hope who is thrust out into the world of work and who on the threshold of adult life finds himself an outcast. Instead of being an asset to society he is a liability. He cannot get a job and is thwarted. This makes an intolerable mark on a young person's personality. He feels that the community and society have let him down. These are social and moral questions consequent on a policy which doss not provide jobs for young people, a choice of job and proper educational guidance.
In conclusion, may I make the point that the wealth of our nation depends to a great extent on its working force and that the young people are an essential part of that? If we are anxious to see young people playing their proper rôle in industry and emerging as responsible citizens, then we must make sure that we give them the proper chance to start life in the best possible way. I should like to feel that the Minister, both in his thoughts and actions, will pay particular attention not only to the expansion of the economic policy of providing jobs but also to the social and moral problems facing young people today who want to work and who are denied the chance.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)
I feel that it is a real honour to have the opportunity today of following the hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Foley). I expect that before he got up to speak he perhaps felt as we all did and wished that we had the opportunity of Mr. Speaker himself, on the occasion of his maiden speech, when his first words were to urge the House to go into secret session. I feel that the hon. Gentleman need have no worry that the House did not go into secret session because we were all extremely interested in the sincere and deeply well-informed speech which he made.
1510 It is a big responsibility for an hon. Member to follow a distinguished and respected Privy Councillor such as the late Mr. Dugdale, and even though I have been in the House only two or three years the courtesy and personal charm of Mr. Dugdale have left a deep impression on me. The hon. Member for West Bromwich spoke with knowledge, having been, as he said, an apprentice in the electrical industry, and he has also taken, as many people know, a deep and active interest in youth work both in this country and in the international field. I am quite sure that in these debates on Ministry of Labour affairs we shall all welcome very much the opportunity of hearing further from him.
This is a debate on the unemployment of young people. I am speaking for a constituency and for a borough in which the unemployment of young people does not exist and presents no problem. I am sure that that statement by me must come as a welcome change to my right hon. Friend compared with those that other people may occasionally make to him. Nevertheless, I think that we in the prosperous parts of the country have got to set the standards for the employment of young people which we hope that all parts of the country will grapple with in the future. We have got to provide not only a job and not only training but a mixture of the two, a career in which the young person starts and in which he will find fulfilment during the rest of his working life.
May I perhaps go a little wider, though, I hope, Mr. Speaker, without being out of order, and say what I think constitutes the makings of a career at the start for a young person. First of all, qualification; secondly, adventure; thirdly, independence; fourthly, experiment, and, fifthly, service. Qualifications in all forms of business and industrial activity are essential in these days when modern technology is producing new detailed problems which we have got to face.
I think that the White Paper on Industrial Training sketches a very wise and practical line which we can adopt and must see is adopted by industry in the future in its training of young people. But may I in these few minutes discuss 1511 another aspect and another White Paper which I hope the Minister will be issuing in a few months' time and that is "Commercial training; the Government's proposals", because I do not believe that our business world and the world of commerce have begun to let the penny drop about their responsibility for training young people in the same way as have our industries. Young people entering industry are considered to be the responsibility of the firms which employ them, but it seems to me that young people entering the business and commercial world and the retail trade do not have the same impact on their employers.
In my constituency a great number of young men and young women are employed in business and commerce. Although I think that we have a responsibility for training girls, I do not think that it should be given the same priority as the training of young men to make their careers. I think that the training of girls must come lower down the scale. Luckily, no ladies are present to contradict me from a feminist point of view. I think that we must regard the training of young women for careers, with the exception perhaps of those with special qualifications and those who are dedicated to their jobs, as of less importance than the training of young men.
§ Mr. Page
Because young women who go into business, commerce, and industry, have their minds on marriage and bringing up a family, which they regard as extremely important, whereas the young man feels that it is his responsibility to keep the young woman of his choice in the state to which she has grown accustomed.
§ Mr. Wainwright
As the hon. Gentleman thinks Chat young women should not enter industry and commerce on the scale that young men do, will he state what proportion of young women he thinks ought to go into business, how many ought to go into industry, and how many ought to go into commerce, but who are not doing so because of the Government's failure to provide the necessary educational facilities?
§ Mr. Page
If I understand the hon. Gentleman's intervention correctly, the answer is that there are no young women in my constituency who are unable to get employment, though I think that there are some who are not able to get employment which provides them with the training they would like to have. I do not believe that it is possible to tackle the training of young men and young women on the same scale, at the same time; and if we have to do it bit by bit, I say that the training of young men is more important.
§ Mr. Page
I do not want to get involved in this, because I think that marginal cases are rather tricky to deal with. What about the young woman of 50, who has never married? She is also expected to look after herself. If a widow has no children to look after, I think that in many ways she is no less qualified than the unmarried woman who has been working for many years. As there are no hon. Ladies present I did not expect there to be this amount of heat and excitement, and I leave it there.
Very little training seems to be given by commercial firms to the young people who join them. Very few opportunities are provided for young people to take advantage of day-release schemes. It is interesting to note that in one year 255 people attended part-time day release business courses at Harrow Technical College, while 1,900 students attended the scientific and engineering courses. This shows that in my area, where many more people are employed in commerce than in engineering, only a very small proportion receive the kind of training they should receive.
The Government have issued a White Paper on industrial training. I hope that at some stage in the near future my right hon. Friend will introduce legislation similar to that envisaged in the White Paper in respect of commercial training, and will ensure that employers give their young employees the necessary training by means of day-release or sandwich 1513 courses. Evening classes could play a large part in providing this training, but there is a falling off in the attendance at evening classes and the wastage figure is sometimes as high as 75 per cent. at the technical college whereas the fall-off in the number of those attending day-release courses is almost nil.
I do not believe that the heads of many commercial undertakings and many office managers have a clue about many of the qualifications that are available to young people who are employed in a clerical capacity, and which, if possessed by these youngsters, would make them much more valuable employees. There is a great fear—and there always has been but it has to a large extent been overcome in industry—that a firm cannot afford to let a young man attend day-release courses to improve his knowledge of the business. This is an extremely short-sighted policy, and I think that firms should encourage their young employees to improve their business and commercial knowledge by taking advantage of these courses.
In September, there is to be instituted the Certificate of Office Studies, which can be taken by all young people whether they have any O-levels in the G.C.E. or not. Starting in September, training for this certificate will be included in the curriculum of many colleges, and I hope that commercial and business firms will encourage their young clerical assistants to go in for this certificate. There is also the Retail Trade Certificate which is extremely valuable to those engaged in the retail trade organisation, but very few firms allow their young people to take advantage of it. There is also the ordinary National Certificate of Business Studies, which requires three O-level passes, which is not out of the reach of many school leavers, and it is pathetic to think that the opportunities which these young people have gained at school are not exploited to the full by allowing them to continue their education through business courses.
People over 16 can obtain certificates in works management, marketing, work study, office management, and organisation and methods. These certificates are not appreciated nearly as much as they should be by employers and I hope that my right hon. Friend, when speaking to industrialists and those engaged in 1514 business, commerce, and the retail trades, will take the oportunity to tell them that they must raise their sights and improve the value of those who work for them.
I come now to deal with some of the things that go to make up a suitable career for a young person at a time of full employment, and I hope that hon. Members who represent constituencies where there is not full employment will not regard what I am saying as unnecessary. I said earlier that a young person must have qualifications and some adventure. I think that the first year after leaving school should be an adventure year for young people. They should be encouraged by their parents, and by their teachers, and to a certain extent by their employers, to take advantage of the freedom that they have and take part in some adventurous undertaking.
I would have thought that many parents with young boys in a place like Harrow would encourage their children to save, say, £50 and go off to America, Canada, or Europe to work in those countries and gain experience—because this kind of experience and adventurous outlook shown by young people improves them as employees of the future.
§ Mr. Dalyell
This suggestion has obviously not been thought out. As my hon. Friend pointed out, there is now 18 per cent. unemployment in the United States. Does the hon. Member known anything about the labour laws in the United States?
§ Mr. Page
I happen to know a certain amount. I know that it is possible to obtain short-term permits to undertake jobs, especially if one is a young person. I have personal experience of many young people who have done this. The 17-year-old son of a neighbour of mine worked his way to America, hitch-hiked across America to California, and worked for nine months as a caddie on a golf course there. He came back to England £200 richer. That is quite legal, and it is the kind of thing that I would have thought the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell)—from the speeches that he has made—would have wished to encourage himself.
Then there must be independence. To me this means that it is extremely unwise for young people to contract into a 1515 marriage before they are certain that their careers are on the lines they want them to be for the rest of their lives; othewise they are liable to find themselves with wives and children and unable to take advantage of the wish to experiment and change jobs, which the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) rightly said was so wise and important. A young man ought to be able to try a number of different jobs before settling down and finally deciding on the course he wishes to follow.
Finally, there is service to the community. Surely this should be part of the training for the career of every young person leaving school. The Ministry of Labour could co-operate—as it already does, in many ways—with the Ministry of Education in order to see whether young people entering a business life can contribute more than they are at present in voluntary service to the community. At present not sufficient facilities are available for them to find a medium in which to give this service.
We believe that great opportunities are provided in this country. We do not say that it is necessary for young people to expect to find work on their own doorstep. Practically every young person in my constituency goes out of the area to his business. That should be encouraged. A little more adventure and experiment could be extremely helpful in enabling our young people to find jobs and better positions in the future.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
The reason why I applaud the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Foley) is that it envisaged the problem of unemployed young people as a moral problem—and a moral problem it is for our society.
The purpose of my contribution to the debate is to focus on some of the recommendations of the Feilden Committee on Engineering and Design. Mr. G. P. R. Feilden, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and his colleagues, Mr. S. H. Grylls, the Chief Engineer of the Rolls-Royce Motor-Car Division, Dr. de Malherbe, and Professor Saunders, Past-President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, have produced a heavyweight report which is of considerable consequence to British industry in general and to areas where 1516 school leavers may find it difficult to obtain work in particular.
Before offering any thoughts on the Feilden Report I should like to point out that if the Minister were able to wave a magic wand and say, "Tomorrow we will find work of a kind for all school leavers in this country", I should not be happy or satisfied. What Iask for is not merely a job for all school leavers, but a worth-while job. It is because it discusses the avenue to worth-while jobs that the Feilden Report is totally relevant to this debate.
There are two roads to the recruitment of designers, as paragraph 66 of the Report indicates. Half of the engineers who gave evidence thought that designers should go through a course for graduate engineers and another 50 per cent. felt that they should go through the traditional five years apprenticeship course. As for the graduate engineers, I shall confine myself to quoting the evidence which Sir John Baker, Professor of Mechanical Engineering in Cambridge, gave to the Feilden Committee. He said:It is unrealistic to expect academic institutions to provide the whole mass of students with proper instruction in design.Most, though, I am bound to say, not all the engineers to whom I have talked, have reservations about an academic atmosphere being the right atmosphere in which to train the majority of designers. Yet well-trained designers Britain must have, because exports depend on design, and the employment of school leavers bears a rather uncomfortably close relationship to the exports which we can maintain.
May I state concisely, first, what the Feilden Committee feels to be amiss? First, the Committee refers to the lack of attention to detail in British designing in almost all fields of mechanical engineering design. I refer, in particular, to the evidence given to the Committee by Sir Christopher Hinton. Detail work, thought Sir Christopher,is best done by engineering designers who have served a five-year apprenticeship, a great part of this being done on the shop floor…He stressed that he referred to those who had reached the design office by promotion from the drawing office. It was his opinion that the trouble arose from 1517 the fact that there were not now enough people who had had this training to staff detail design offices. Whatever we may think of Sir Christopher Hinton and the Central Electricity Generating Board, Sir Christopher's opinion is a heavyweight one. He is one of our leading mechanical engineers.
The second question that concerned the Feilden Committee is referred to in paragraph 41, which draws attention toThe incomplete education and training of draughtsmen and technicians who compose the staff of detail design offices.This can be said, fairly and squarely, to be one of the results of the shortage of teachers of mathematics and technical drawing in our schools.
At a later stage in the educational process the evidence of the Ministry of Education and the Scottish Education Department to the Feilden Committee was of the need for draughtsmen to have some understanding of the particulars of design. They said—this is the view of the Ministry of Education and the Scottish Education Department, it is not a propaganda leaflet—As yet, little is done in the courses of technical education which the students follow to develop such an understanding.The third thing which particularly worried the Feilden Committee is that much is left to evening classes and to day-release classes. For the last three or four years I have been extremely cynical about the value of evening classes. In the circumstances of the 1960s I do not think that they do very much good. And I am becoming very suspicious, from what I have read and, much more, from personal contact, about the value of day release. I think that day release is too often haphazard.
Perhaps Members of Parliament on both sides of the House are too often satisfied to hear satisfactory statistics about day release without going into detail about what happens on the courses. The view of many young people is that, somehow, they are very unsatisfactory.
Having said this, I find the Feilden Committee substantiated it. The Report states:It is already evident that the full value of the new courses cannot be obtained through evening work, or even through the orthodox forms of clay release.
§ Mr. John Page
Is that in connection with highly technical people or the less high level intellectual? Is the hon. Gentleman talking about top designers?
§ Mr. Dalyell
That is a fair intervention. I am not talking about the graduate engineer "high flyers". I am concerned with the average 16- to 18-year-old.
The Feilden Committee began to wonder about day release. I am talking about technicians in the design scheme and I think that hon. Members would agree that the technician is a critical link. He is responsible for the bulk of the work in successfully implementing designs and the details of them. How then does the Feilden Committee provide the remedy and make it possible to train the very large number of competent technicians that are required?
The first set of recommendations boil down to basic education, particularly education for change, because only one thing can be certain about the 15-year-olds of today, It is that over their working lives, which after all will extend to 2013 and 2014, they will have to retrain not once, but many times. This involves having a basic education to allow them to change several times.
The Feilden Report quotes the very sorry story of the North British Locomotive Factory, in Glasgow, with which I have considerable personal familiarity; the way in which there was delay in taking the necessary step from steam to diesel. When the change was actually forced on the factory there was no tradition and little experience in precision engineering because the staff and labour was "steam-minded" and had not the equipment with which to change. From this there are three immediate educational steps to be taken in areas of persistent unemployment.
First, there should be full-time courses in advanced institutes of designs, and for heaven's sake let us take the attitude that people are not "too old at 20" to have this sort of retraining.
Secondly, there should be very much more emphasis on sandwich courses. Here there is a difficulty. Not unnaturally, technical colleges wish to have most of their pupils during the winter months and, equally, firms are a little unhappy about taking those on sandwich courses—who will not contribute very much to 1519 the work of the firm—during the summer months because so many are an holiday. This is a physical problem which the Ministry might lookat because there are problems about sandwich courses. At this stage I come down heavily in favour of block release rather than day release.
Thirdly, I quote from the Feilden Report:As far as we are able to discover no effort is being applied to the development of visual aids and teaching machines to the teaching of mechanical engineering which, in view of the shortage of teachers, is surprising.I wish to ask the Minister, why not? Given that we have this shortage of teachers in this technical subject, why is not something being done to make use of the latest aids? I am not asking as an individual Member of Parliament. This is the opinion of the unbiased Feilden Committee and when such a Committee draws attention to the problem it is a weighty matter.
Another possible remedy is the very interesting suggestion of the Feilden Committee about development contracts, Government purchasing and Government development contracts of all kinds. The Committee wants the Government to give contracts to firms which undertake to train design teams and apprentices properly. This would give the Government an opportunity to influence firms, because if contracts are to be given, not on bankers' criteria, but on the criteria of which firm is really making an effort to train these young people for the future, that in itself would be a tremendous incentive to firms to run proper apprenticeship schemes.
It would mean setting up—probably at the Board of Trade—a small team to tour the country and discover which firms are in the lead in running apprenticeship schemes. Government Departments, from the Post Office to the Ministry of Aviation, which have to deal with purchasing could be told where they should place their orders on the criteria of which firm is doing the most to help young people and research.
I with to quote from paragraph 129 of the Feilden Report:The system of Government financial control makes it very difficult for the Admiralty 1520 to break the normal policy of accepting the cheaper tenders for a contract rather than that of the best technical solution for the operator's requirements. It would probably be to the benefit of the country as a whole for the Admiralty to support firms with comparatively high overheads resulting from their own research and development costs, apprentice training scheme, etc., rather than those firms who can produce the cheapest products because their contribution in the research and development field is small. In the light of this it might well pay the Admiralty and the country to give more for a product incorporating the fruits of research work and thus encourage better design.The fact is that the lowest tender is likely to be based on less research to allow for less development and to be more prone to failure and is, therefore, unlikely to be the best overall solution so far as Britain is concerned. Who is the source of the trouble? Why does this happen? It is an easy temptation to put the whole blame at the door of the Minister. Although I should say he is partly to blame for this sort of thing failing to happen, it would not be right to put the whole blame at his door.
Other candidates for blame might be the civil servants of the Treasury. Some of us are very unhappy about decision-making in the Treasury. Yet again, I think that it would be rather unfair to put any large portion of the blame there, but that is a point in our machine of Government about which I am extremely unhappy.
Some blame must reside in the activities of the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons. I feel able to say this because I happen to be a member of that Committee. I am as guilty as anyone of putting questions before the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Treasury witnesses to the accounting officers, to the permanent heads of the Civil Service, to this effect, "What are you doing to save candle-ends here? What are you doing to save candle-ends there?" I have been uneasily aware of this for some time.
Perhaps it is not the right question which one should be asking. The question which I think my colleagues and I on the Public Accounts Committee should be asking the Permanent Secretaries of the Civil Service when they come before us should be rather more like this, "When awarding such and such a contract, what inquiries did you make about the facilities for training young people properly in that particular firm?"
1521 That is a rather hypothetical question to put. It does not lend itself to the easy straightforward questions and answers which the Public Accounts Committee usually expects, but we have a situation where accounting officers and Permanent Secretaries can say to their Ministers, "We have to justify to the Public Accounts Committee that we save the taxpayer the most money we can. What else can we do other than go to the firm which offers the lowest tender? We cannot take other considerations, however worthy, into our thinking without breaking the rules."
This is a very awkward position into which to put the heads of the Civil Service, the capitalists who actually act as custodians of public funds.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)
I am obliged to the hon. Member for giving way. I would have raised this point had I been called, but it is important to get it right while the hon. Member is speaking. He is on an important point, but I wonder whether he realises this? If we were to suggest to the Government that they should give contracts only to firms which have good training facilities, in the present situation the only firms which already have good training facilities, and which would be getting all the contracts, or most of them, are the biggest and best firms. This would cut right across the diversification of industry and the taking of new industry to Scotland and elsewhere to help areas of high unemployment, because many firms in those areas are new and small and have not yet developed training facilities.
§ Mr. Dalyell
It would be rather difficult to deny that the hon. Member's intervention had any truth in it. Of course, it has some truth and force in it, but this is a matter of judgment. I think that one of the effects of my kind of question to the P.A.C. would be to make firms which can afford to do so to surge ahead with training schemes. I do not see any other way of getting many rich firms which are letting the community down, to fulfil their moral obligation to young people. I do not see how otherwise those firms could be forced to do what the community wants, in its best overall interests.
§ Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire. East)
Perhaps it would be as well if, with the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), firms making contributions to central research associations and to general scientific and technological research through their operations should also qualify.
§ Mr. Dalyell
It would be easy to give an unreserved answer of "Yes" to that point, but one would have to think through it. My only worry about that suggestion is that it might be very complicated indeed for the administrative machine. As I say, it is a suggestion which would have to be studied and one cannot give an answer in depth "off the cuff". In sum, to help school leavers I leave with the Minister three basic suggestions.
First, to look at education not only in mathematics but also in technical drawing, education for change, and particularly the use which can be made of teaching machines in a subject such as design and technical drawing, which lends itself to sequential steps. That is the important thing about teaching machines and why it is sensible to put them forward as a priority, in this context.
Secondly, I ask the Minister to look at the use of Government contracts to firms with perhaps the highest overheads but certainly doing the most research and with the best apprenticeship schemes.
Thirdly, I ask him to consider with some of his colleagues in the Government the function of the Public Accounts Committee, and to ask whether the members of that Committee are asking accounting officers the right questions. He should ask whether it may not be possible for the members of that Committee to put the sort of semi-hypothetical question which would allow accounting officers to justify themselves in terms of giving contracts to those firms which perhaps put in the highest tenders but which would take the interests of young people and their training to heart.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)
I do not wish to follow either the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) or my hon. Friend the 1523 Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page) in dealing with training and commercial matters, except to add to my intervention in the speech of the hon. Member for West Lothian, who was on a very important point. I think that we could influence training through Government contracts, but I should not do it in quite the way he suggested. Rather I should say to firms which are anxious to get Government contracts that there will be no question of them not getting contracts because they do not have a training scheme, but that the Government would certainly look with favour on any future contracts once they had such schemes and developed good training schemes, because there is no doubt that that is what we want.
This is an important subject. It represents the bloodstream of our industrial prosperity. I was interested the other day to notice coming from the Ministry a circular which pointed to British successes in an international apprenticeship competition. I suppose that if it had been a model competition it would have received a large amount of publicity, but in fact it got very little. I think the House would be glad to commend all those young people, four of whom were awarded gold medals, six silver medals and six bronze medals, in the international apprenticeship competition recently held in Dublin. That is an example of the kind of skill we need. We need quality of skill with quantity. This, without doubt, will be the means by which the country can go forward in the 'seventies.
The hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) referred to an Answer I had to a Question the other day, and also an Answer which he had to a Question, dealing with skilled manpower. I thought the reply of the Minister was well as far as it went, but I certainly support the hon. Member in his suggestion that we ought to be thinking in terms of a manpower budget. I wondered from the reply to my Question whether the Ministry was entirely on the right lines. I realise that a research unit looking at the metal industries—and then, as has been suggested, into the construction industries—isan undertaking which is quite formidable. Nevertheless, if one is thinking in terms of the expansion of certain industries and the 1524 contraction of certain other industries, one ought to take the research into industries across the board rather than deal with one, then another and then another, since one may find out at one and the same time both the industries which will expand and the industries which will contract. This is something which my hon. Friend might consider.
The hon. Member for East Ham, North has left the Chamber. I intended to take him up on what I thought was rather a critical speech. I thought that he had tried, and not succeeded very well, to prove failure on the part of the Government, and that he was led into much gross exaggeration. He said that it seemed that the Government were getting away with it up to 1961 and that we were being successful. I almost got the impression that he wished that we had failed.
If we look at the figures of the number of school-leavers since Easter this year, and the fact that at mid-June all but 32,000 of them, out of the 142,000, had found jobs, although there is no room for complacency, especially in the bad areas in Scotland, the North-East and the North-West, we get a better picture. In the bad areas, I realise, there is a problem.
Nevertheless, it is fair to remind the Opposition of one important factor which has not been mentioned today—that we no longer have National Service in this country. In 1948, 151,000 young people were on call-up. In 1952, it was 170,000; and even as recently as 1960 it was 55,000. The call-up is now at an end, and yet even in 1960 the number called up was greater than the number who are without jobs today.
The hon. Member for East Ham, North selected his figures, and it is very easy to select figures in support of my right hon. Friend and in opposition to him. The fact remains that we have the bulge and also the cessation of National Service, and this must have its effect. Yet we still have, on average throughout the country, a comparatively few young people who cannot find jobs. In 1950, when hon. Members opposite were hi office, we had the highest call-up figure in the whole of the post-war years—174,200; and yet, even then, there were 10,000 unemployed people under 18. Of course, the situation is one about which we have to concern 1525 ourselves, but looking at the nation as a whole we find that there are more vacancies for boys than there are unemployed boys; there are 57,500 vacancies and 32,900 unemployed. The situation as a whole is not as bad as it is painted.
In the northern part of the country 12 per cent. of our young people have not yet found jobs. I believe that this is concerned fundamentally with the mobility of labour. In the north of England the figure is 12 per cent.; in the London area it is 0.9 per cent.; in the eastern area and in the South, 1.2 per cent.; in the Midlands, 1.3 per cent.; and in Scotland, 3.4 per cent. How do we close the gap between the areas which have high unemployment among young people and those which have very low unemployment? It is a similar problem to the national problem of unemployment as a whole.
When we think in terms of 350,000 school leavers this summer, the position may get worse regionally, Nevertheless, I believe that in the short term it is a problem of mobility. Certainly, in the long term it is necessary to get industries into these bad areas and to relieve the pressures on labour in the South. That is necessary from both a social and an economic point of view. For it is not good that there should be areas which are prosperous and areas which are depressed. But we cannot put that right in a few months or even in a year or two.
§ Mr. Lewis
If the hon. Member looks back he will find that during the period in which we have been in office we have been taking action to try to get new industries into Scotland. This programme is going forward now. But we are dealing in the debate, in particular, with unemployment among young people, and even in Scotland it is only 3.4 per cent.
§ Mr. John Robertson (Paisley)
I have been trying to follow the hon. Member's argument. He told us that the problem was one of mobility and pointed to the low unemployment rate in London and the Midlands. Does he suggest that boys and girls aged 15, 16 and 17 should be sent down from the north of England and from Scotland to London?
§ Mr. Lewis
I am coming to that. In the long term we must get industries into those areas. But in the short term what must be done? We must get mobility, just as much among young people as among older people. While we are waiting for the factories and for the jobs, and for the board rooms to take action to go North, we must get these people jobs of skill. Hon. Members may disagree with this.
§ Dr. Bray
The hon. Member said that we must get young people jobs in Scotland. May I quote an example with which I had to deal in my constituency? A time-served instrument artificer, a highly skilled trade, was declared redundant on Tees-side and was offered a job in Slough. He went there and found a more attractive offer by Fords, at Dagenham, and he is now lost to skilled work altogether. Is the hon. Member satisfied with that?
§ Mr. Lewis
The hon. Member is suggesting that the Government are to blame because a young man goes from Middlesbrough to London, gets a job, and then decides to change it. I understood a few minutes ago that hon. Members opposite were arguing for a choice of jobs. The hon. Member's constituent had a choice, and made it.
§ Mr. Lewis
When young men cannot get jobs in their own areas, they should be encouraged to go to areas where jobs are available. My right hon. Friend knows that I have always said this. Boys who lose the opportunity to gain skills because of a temporary situation, because of a rundown in certain areas, will think ill of society, unless we do something about it. We often hear about people having chips on their shoulders. We do not often ask why they have got them. All kinds of social problems arise out of young men coming out of school and floundering about for a year being unable to get into jobs which will provide opportunities for them later in life. They become frustrated, through no fault of theirs.
I want to suggest a means by which this problem can be solved. The Minister is already doing a great deal. He has started Government training centres. He has 560 places up to the end of this year. I believe that next year there will be over 800 places. Hon. Members opposite may be surprised to learn that 560 places represent exactly one-quarter of the number of young people in Scotland and in the north-east of England at present looking for skilled jobs. This is not a bad contribution to the solution of the problem.
My right hon. Friend will have seriously to consider whether he should extend the period of training in Government training centres beyond a year. This may be necessary if young men leaving the centres are unable to continue their training elsewhere. On the whole question of mobility, I have already raised with my right hon. Friend the possibility of making weekend travel vouchers available to boys who come down to the Midlands from the North. It is understandable that 16-year olds are not easily released by their parents. If the parents knew that the boys would come home regularly at weekends, and if the boys were given grants for staying in a hostel, they might well get opportunities and 1528 jobs which at this moment would not be available in their own areas. If hon. Members opposite think that this is not a workable solution, I would remind them that not so long ago youngsters almost a young were entering National Service. I accept that if boys so young did leave home they would have to be properly cared for.
It is understandable in a free society that any Government find it difficult to compel action. However, I do not think that this in itself is a good argument for the Government doing nothing where industry is at fault or where trade unions are at fault. The people will not be happy if we accept such a situation. The Government are already doing a great deal, but when there are clearly faults at management or director level or where there are faults in the trade unions it is important that my right hon. Friend, sometimes using a little compulsion, should try to eradicate some of the faults.
If quality is desired in quantity of training, there must be penalties for those who fail in their duty. What are the duties as we go into the Seventies? There are many faults at both management and trade union level. They are the underlying reason why some young people have difficulty in obtaining jobs and also getting a choice of job. Too many industrial managements do not train anybody. They live on the training of others. They could well afford to train. Too many managements, when there is a rundown in prosperity, too easily shed young men who are training with them, or refuse to take on others and cut their apprentice intake. Too many firms which plan their finance, their advertising, and their future sales programme, clearly engage in no planning whatsoever for their skill.
The trade unions are not without fault. For years both sides of the House have accepted that many apprenticeships could be reduced from five years to four years, but little has been done about it. There has been a small dent. I hope that the House realises that, if five-year apprenticeships were cut to four, the intake would be increased by one-fifth.
§ Mr. Lewis
Not at all. It would mean that the apprentice became a journeyman 1529 more quickly. Within the firm's quota there would be a further inflow at the end of the period.
We hear from time to time that some parts of our society enjoy privileges not enjoyed by others. It is often said that it is difficult to get into Eton and that to get there a boy's name must be put down before he is born. It is as difficult to obtain an apprenticeship in the printing industry as it is to get into what is said to be the best public school in the land. For a number of years I sat on a youth employment committee. Year after year we were requested to submit names of young men to go into the printing industry. We always put forward a list of well qualified young men. None was selected. The truth is that in the printing unions there is a system of self-perpetuation. If a young man is a relative of someone in the printing industry, he gets in. If a young man is a friend of someone in the industry, he gets in. If he is not, he is not permitted to go in.
At management and trade union level there are impediments to getting more skill which are built up over the years. We all know them. For years we have been talking about dealing with that. There has been such talk as long as the Tories have been in office. There was such talk probably during the period of the Labour Government. It is time we did something about them. The Government are doing their best. My right hon. Friend has made a considerable contribution, and I believe that when his training Bill is introduced the country will appreciate the extent of the contribution he has made to the solution of this problem.
As a boy I used to spend some of my holidays fishing in Scotland, in a lake in a small village.
§ Mr. Lewis
—the loch—had more or less dried up. The lake—[Hon. Members: "No."]—the loch was a good deal smaller than I remembered it as a boy and very few fish remained in it. I mention this to illustrate that if we do 1530 not get the skill to project Britain into the seventies, if our stream of skill dries up, there can be no question that our lake of productivity will cease to flow and we will not get the productivity we so badly need. Today's debate will have been important if only for the fact that it has made clear to the Minister, management and trade unions the vital importance of making the best use of our young people and the skills they achieve.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Mr. John Robertson (Paisley)
I believe that the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. K. Lewis) has had a considerable amount of experience in industry as a labour officer. Having listened to his speech, I can understand why, on occasions, trade unions show signs of frustration and irritation. The hon. Member is so far removed from the realities, of the situation that it is hardly necessary for me to comment on his remarks. With only one point he raised will I deal; that of shortened apprenticeships, but I will come to that later.
It is unfortunate that the debate has tended to dwell too much on training rather than employment, and I will attempt to bring hon. Members back to the latter. I wish, first, to add my congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Foley) on making an excellent maiden speech. I look forward to hearing him frequently in future.
The Minister was right to emphasise that youth employment is of prime importance to north-east Scotland. Last May, there were more than 8,000 boys and girls under 18 registered as wholly unemployed in Scotland. This number did not include school leavers, so the number of wholly unemployed was much greater than 8,000. I was amazed to hear the Minister suggest that the picture was improving. "After all, look at the absorption of school leavers," he said, in effect.
The right hon. Gentleman knows that the problem of youth unemployment, particularly in Scotland, has never been one concerning the unemployment of school leavers. Unfortunately, unemployment mainly occurs after the first, perhaps temporary job. This aspect of youth unemployment appears to be 1531 beyond the understanding of the Ministry. I read the minutes of the meeting of a local youth employment committee the other day in which the importance of realising where school leavers fit into the unemployment pattern was brought out.
During the six months up to June this year the number of apprenticeships in Scotland dropped from 39 per cent. to 35 per cent. A remarkable figure is the number of young people under 18 who are drawing National Assistance. Unfortunately, the number is increasing and this pattern reveals the problem of youth unemployment in Scotland. But it does not tell the whole story. The kind of job and training given to a young person now is of supreme importance. We need to assess the future needs of industry, not only in terms of the number of staff required but the skill required of them.
While examining the details of apprenticeships, I discovered the other day that apprenticeships are still being given in wooden wagon building. These wagons are no longer being built and the apprentices in this trade, apart from repairing the existing ones, are serving an apprenticeship for a trade that, even from the repairing point of view, will not exist within five or six years. This shows how important it is to think of the future when considering the skills to be taught to young people.
When people talk in terms of there being a quick growth of industry in Scotland, I wonder whether they realise, particularly the Minister, what tremendous staffing problems such a growth would mean. I hope that that growth will occur, but I wonder how many skilled people we would have to import to man these industries; how much increased wages would be required to attract from London and the Midlands the skills we have unfortunately been exporting from Scotland over the past fifteen years.
The subject of training for industry has become a fashionable one in recent years, just as automation was a year or two ago. More nonsense is talked about it than anything else. It seems that everyone is an expert on the subject of training for industry, except the people who have been trained. Everyone has had his say, 1532 except those most vitally concerned. It is time that the balance was redressed. We must face the future both from the point of view of training and staffing and accept a fairly optimistic forecast of future economic productivity. I have in mind the rather staggering estimate which has been given by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition about the number of new jobs which will be required in the next ten years if Britain is to keep pace with other industrialised countries.
No one will deny that the method adopted so far to secure the adequate recruitment and training of a suitable labour force has been remarkably haphazard and inefficient. It has been related to present and not future requirements. Despite this, I would go so far as to say that the British apprenticeship system is not only unequalled in the world but, particularly in Scotland, has and will continue to produce the best craftsmen. It is not that training has been inadequate, but that aptitudes, abilities and skills have been squandered at an alarming rate. In my day, the moment a lad's time was out, he was finished. We got our books with our pay—we were out of a job. In Scotland, even today, thousands of time-served men are doing unskilled or semi-skilled jobs.
It is useless saying that there are jobs in Edinburgh that would suit a young Glasgow journeyman, unless there is housing accommodation for him in Edinburgh. I remember an Edinburgh professor of sociology saying that it was more difficult to transfer people from the west of Scotland to the east of Scotland than it was to transfer them from Glasgow to London. That was very true, because housing accommodation was more easily obtainable down here than it was in any part of Scotland. Mobility of labour and the jobs people take are often more related to circumstances outside industry than to the number of jobs available in other parts.
This squandering of skill is partly due to our educational system. We already have far too many examinations. We are doing away with the 11-plus, but we find that some people appear to be examination-mad, and want examinations for technicians, craftsmen and operatives. I sometimes think that the only fellow 1533 who has been able to escape so far is the fellow with the hod or the barrow—and we might even be getting examinations for him.
Is it really necessary to have all these status symbols? In my days in industry there were only two kinds of engineers—the good engineer and the one with a certificate. It was always thought that the one with a certificate needed something by way of proof, but the best proof of the pudding is in the eating, and a good craftsman was obvious as soon as he set to work. Let us ease off the examinations a little. If we get rid of the worry of the 11-plus, do not let us put something else in its place. Let us have some pity.
It is not easy to get the right school leaver into the right job, and I would not be happy if it were left to the educationalist to assess pupils before they left school and determined where they were to work, thereby denying anyone a choice or a chance. We want to get rid of that kind of thinking altogether. We should evolve a system by which all young people enter industry in a common stream and are then allowed to find their own level, becoming technicians, craftsmen, operatives, or whatever it might be.
That would mean a radical change in our present methods of recruitment. As things are, it is not the ability or wish of the young person that determines his employment. There is the question of location. No matter what his mechanical bent, a boy born in Oban, Inverness or Wick has a very slim chance of becoming an engineer. In the old days, provision was made for the apprenticeship of lads from the Highlands, and although there was not a mass exodus of unemployed Highland youth there were always plenty of Highlanders in the industrial belt of Scotland.
Location, the needs of industry at the time and, very often, the trade or profession of the parent will frequently determine the young person's job. It is wrong to suggest that boys and girls of 15, 16 and 17 are mobile and can be sent to jobs at the other end of the country. What we have read about and heard about in the last few months should have made the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford hesitate before suggesting that. For at least the first three years in industry, young folk require the home 1534 influence; they need guidance there as well as in industry.
As long as there are sufficient jobs, there is nothing wrong in local industry determining the kind of job a young person will lake, but in some areas there is no hope whatever of young people, irrespective of their abilities, finding suitable work or getting the training to fit them for skilled work. What chance has a boy or girl in the Highland areas of getting into a skilled job when more than 2,000 people under 18 years of age in Glasgow are looking for work?
The present situation in Scotland illustrates some of the nonsense talked about youth employment. During the current year, rather more than 80,000 Scottish boys and girls, will leave school, of whom about 68,000 will be under 16 years old and will not have gone beyond a third year in school. There will be 53,000 of them who have sat non-certificate courses. Of this year's school leavers, 25,000 will have attended senior secondary schools on 4-year and 5-year examination courses but will have left before the fourth year. During the next year, between 75,000 and 79,000 school leavers will be looking for jobs as manual cur clerical workers.
Last year, out of 83,000 school leavers, 72,000 entered employment. The remarkable thing is that that should represent 11 per cent. of the total number of school leavers entering employment in Great Britain, though the Scottish employed labour force is only 8 per cent. of the United Kingdom labour figure. That means that a much higher proportion of young people are being employed in Scottish industry than elsewhere, although the proportion may be as large in some parts of England.
It is worth pointing out also that 30,000 boys and girls secured employment leading; to a skilled job, and 4,400 entered employment requiring a minimum of one year's training; but 36,880 entered employment requiring no training whatever. This is a much higher proportion than in any other part of the country.
Moreover, the distributive trades absorbed 23,000 boys and girls last year. This was ore-tenth of the total labour force in this trade in Scotland. If we carry on at this rate, the labour force in 1535 the distributive trades will either double in ten years or be replaced in ten years. It is 15 per cent. of the number entering the same employment in Great Britain. It is noteworthy, also, that there were 48,000 people signing on as wholly unemployed who were registered as having been employed in the distributive trades during that period.
What does this mean? Of course, the expression "distributive trades" can cover a multitude of things—the boy who goes round delivering milk or newspapers, or almost anything. To give some idea of the figures of the other trades, 3,500 school leavers went into agriculture, that is, 14 per cent. of the Great Britain total. Textiles had 17 per cent. of the Great Britain total, the proportion for girls being 21 per cent.
In engineering, there is a different picture;2,478 boys and 906 girls found work in engineering, representing 7 per cent. and 6 per cent. of the total number entering the engineering industry in Great Britain during that time. Only the northern, south-western and Wales regions had fewer entrants into the industry.
In Scotland, engineering, shipbuilding and the vehicle industry took 9 per cent. of our apprentices, which means that Scotland was doing not too badly, but in all industries we had 11 per cent. of apprenticeships. Again, there is this rather peculiar disparity. It can be explained by the intake into the distributive trades and construction. In London, engineering took 3,301 apprentices and in Scotland it took 1,809 apprentices, but construction in London took 3,651 apprentices and in Scotland it took 3,603. The distributive trades, on the other hand, took 922 apprentices in London and 2,065 in Scotland. There is a tremendous difference there, and this is the reason why we can show a better figure, since so many more of those going into the distributive trades are given the title "apprentice". One wonders whether it is a real apprenticeship which they serve.
For agriculture, forestry and fishing, one would imagine that England and the South would not do so well, but they are not doing so badly, with 143 apprentices. Scotland took 252 apprentices. Shipbuilding in London took 331 1536 apprentices and in the whole of Scotland it took 598. So we do relatively worse than any other part of the country in this respect, too.
I have risked boring the House with these figures to make one point. The problems associated with youth employment and training are so markedly different in different parts of the country that a uniform approach to them will not produce uniform solutions. Relative to the rest of Great Britain, Scotland has a disproportionate number of people in the important age-group from 15 to 21. Scotland does not have sufficient of the newer expanding industries to provide suitable jobs for young people.
Moreover, the usual pattern of learner-ship and apprenticeship means that thousands of young people who could reasonably be expected to undertake training for skilled occupations are condemned to unskilled work. It is particularly in this respect, the large numbers going into dead-end jobs who have the ability to undertake training for skills, that the great wastage of skill takes place. Once they have gone into dead-end jobs, there is very little hope of young people ever acquiring skills in any trade or profession.
The pattern of employment in Scotland is conditioned by one aspect of migration which has not been sufficiently recognised in connection with the employment of young people. During the past ten years, Scotland has lost annually about 50,000 insured workers and has taken in about 35,000 insured workers, but what cannot be assessed is the loss of skill during that time. If trade union records are any guide, the truth is that half the people going out are skilled and a quarter coming in are skilled. This leaves Scotland with a disproportionate number of semi-skilled adult workers.
It is probable that this accounts for the very low number of non-apprenticed boys entering engineering in Scotland. In London and the South-East, the total intake last year was 8,617 of whom 40 per cent. were apprentices. In Scotland, the total intake into engineering was 2,478, of whom 72 per cent. were apprentices. This does not mean that London was taking in too few apprentices, but it means that Scotland was not taking in 1537 enough boys to trades other than those requiring apprenticeship. The reason is that there are so many semi-skilled people available. The supply of adult semi-skilled labour is such that there is no need to train young people.
This illustrates the point that the number of young people which an industry can absorb is related to the employment situation generally and the character of the labour force. If, at a time when unemployment is serious, the Government plan to train adult labour to move from one industry to another, the result is that there are fewer jobs for young people, and, of course, this becomes particularly important at a time when the Government are proposing to build training establishments in Lanarkshire, for instance, where there are already unemployed engineering workers.
In engineering, the ratio of semi skilled and unskilled people to skilled people is 60 per cent. unskilled and semi skilled and 40 per cent. skilled. Why, then, is there such a low intake of young people into the semi-skilled sector of engineering in Scotland? The semiskilled sector of engineering, that which does not require apprenticeship, offers a way out of the dead-end job and gives a better chance to those who start, in the first place, in the distributive trades. If the Minister intends to proceed with training railway men and miners to go into industry, he is blocking an avenue of escape from the dead-end job. He must bear that in mind. There is considerable recruitment of men over 18 into the engineering industry in this way.
Now, a word about the period of apprenticeship. If industry can absorb any more people by way of a three-year apprenticeship, it can absorb the extra people even with a five-year apprenticeship. Of that, there is no doubt at all. Where industry is expanding there has never been any problem about the ratio of apprentices but where jobs are scarce, and the choice is between an apprentice and a tradesman, the trade union will start objecting. If the further employment of young people means that men will lose their jobs, there will be objection and, of course, the men will attempt to impose a limitation. But as long as industry has been expanding there has never been a problem.
1538 A problem which has arisen is that of reducing apprenticeship to three or to four years. There is no quarrel about the question of training. The quarrel is about cash. What shall we pay an apprentice after his three-year apprenticeship? Shall we pay him less than the journeyman? Is this not a five years' apprenticeship under a different name? Is that not what it is? What is the good of employing a journeyman and paying him a fourth-year apprentice's wages? We hear so much about the continental system. What we do not hear is that this is one of the features of it. There is the three-year training and then he has still to work for an apprentice's wages. The trade unions will not agree to pay a journeyman an apprentice's wages, but if the employers are prepared to pay the proper wages, then unionists are prepared—and they have said so—to reduce the period of apprenticeship.
Another thing which the unions have done—and more credit should be given to my own union—is the experiment at Stow College, where apprentices are serving the first three years entirely at the college. The unions are on the point of agreeing that one year beyond the age of 16 in any school will count towards an apprenticeship. I said that the unions are on the point of agreeing this. It is the employers who are making the difficulty about it, not the unions. It has been the employers who have been holding it up. Why? Because so many employers look upon an apprentice as one from whom they will get production at lesser wages. We say that it is not true of good employers, but there are very many employers who are not so good, and who very often influence the thinking of employers' associations. These are the facts.
In Scotland, we have always had an adequate number of apprentices. In fact, we have really been the training area for the Midlands and the South-East. The shortages of skilled people in Scotland have not arisen because of failure to train people, but because, having been trained, they have gone to look for work in the south of England. What we have got to ask ourselves in relation to training in Scotland is; should we train our young people for export? Can we give apprenticeships without regard to the employment position? Should we train our young people 1539 for skilled work which they will not find in Scotland? This is really the problem. Of course, the answer we give to this must determine what action we shall take.
We have got to make up our minds about this one point. What is to determine policy? Is it the needs of industry, or the best interests of the young people themselves? If it is the young people we are really concerned about, then we have to train them quite apart from the needs of industry and quite apart from industry itself. We have to look upon apprenticeship as a continuation of the period of education. We have got to provide full apprenticeship training completely out with industry.
Obviously, members of trade unions will not like that; in fact, they will resist it very strenuously unless they can be assured that such a system will not jeopardise the jobs of the journeymen. It can only be done in a period when industry is expanding sufficiently to take in everyone—when there are jobs for everyone.
I have said to trade unionists, and I say again in this place, that members of trade unions should remember that we are not discussing someone else's children, that the children we are discussing are their children, and it is necessary that everyone should be trained according to his ability and aptitude.
I know that it will be difficult for trade unionists to accept the word of this Government. I can appreciate their hesitation. I do not suggest that this will solve all our problems of unemployment and the frustration of dead-end jobs. The real solution lies in having a Government who believe in expansion and in a proper distribution of industry. I have always been convinced that the right hon. Gentleman is concerned with the details of his office, but I have found him less convincing when he has tried to argue the economic case, and I am afraid that we shall find no solution to this problem of youth employment till this Government clear out and let in another who believe in industrial expansion. When we solve the problem of unemployment we shall solve the problems of training and youth employment.
§ 7.16 p.m.
§ Mr. R. W. Elliott (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North)
I hope the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. J. Robertson) will forgive me if I do not follow him down all the avenues in this immense subject he has explored at considerable length. I am well aware—we all are—of the high importance of this subject. Having sat here all afternoon and knowing that other hon. Members wish to speak, having originally prepared a speech in two sections I shall discard one of them and say what I have to say as quickly and snappily as possible.
However, I should like to make a very brief comment on the speech of the hon. Member for Paisley. He asked whether we should serve primarily the interests of young people or of industry. I would say without hesitation that the interests of the young people and of industry are synonymous. He talked of the squandering of skill and rather deplored the fact that there were to be more examinations in future. I would not accept for a moment that examination is overdone. It certainly will not be so in the future. It will be an essential qualification for employment. We should encourage the young people to get the necessary qualifications.
The problems of youth employment, as the hon. Gentleman quite rightly said, do vary from one area of the country to another, and it is probably appropriate that I should follow a Scottish Member in that, as he quite rightly said, the two areas in the country where youth training is most important at this time are Scotland and the north-east of England. With 350,000 young people due to emerge from the schools this week, the problem of youth employment will be no greater anywhere than it is in my own area, the North-East. There are many things on which there is full agreement on both sides of this House, and there cannot be any subject on which there is greater agreement than this, that we do not wish to see our young people, particularly, standing against a blank wall idle, and we are all eager to see an end to the frustrations, irritation and the attendant evils associated with standing on the corner without any employment. The feeling of being unwanted in society is an awful frustration.
I have a proposal to make. Why not a special youth employment service for 1541 the development areas? Industrial training is the responsibility of industry primarily. The Carr Report made this point. I fully agree with it. It has been suggested over and over again during this debate that there should be centralised control of training, but it is primarily the responsibility of industry. I am convinced myself, having visited many industrial concerns on Tyneside in the past few years, that industry knows what it will require in the way of skills—the sort of skills, the sort of people, it will require—in the years which lie ahead. It has a better idea about this than anyone else. I am all for the encouragement of industry to train its own technical skills. I would suggest, therefore, that we might well think very seriously indeed about subsidising the training of skill.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), who has now left his place made the not unreasonable suggestion that there might be established in the Board of Trade a new section which could be sent out to industrial areas to find out what industrial concerns are doing most about training within their own concerns. I can tell him from my own experience that the industry that is doing the most training is the industry that can afford to do so. Training is extremely expensive. The hon. Member for East expensive in so much industry. He Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) said, quite correctly, that apprenticeship figures are falling. It is becoming more and more particularised agriculture. He is certainly correct there, but he would be correct in many other industries if he had said that apprenticeship is falling because of the high cost of instituting it and keeping it going.
Next week we are to receive Lord Hailsham's proposals for the North-East of England. Is it unreasonable to suggest that one of these proposals might be, in addition to the already inspiringly successful depreciation allowances for industry, financial inducements to firms willing to initiate training schemes? This would mean a very rapid increase of badly needed skills and many less frustrated young people standing on the street corner.
§ Mr. Elliott
I have no other knowledge of the date of the production of the plan than has the hon. Gentleman. This is my own idea. I believe that in today's Press there is the suggestion, and I hope that it is a suggestion of some substance. Perhaps he would make his own inquiries.
In making this suggestion, I am fully aware of the great amount already being done by the agencies of the Ministry of Labour. The Youth Employment Service has been extremely successful. The youth employment officers have received a very reasonable, very fair and justified tribute during the debate. Vocational training schemes and many others are doing a very good job.
It is also fair, in thinking of Government effort with regard to training in industry, that some one should mention the great assistance being given by the technical colleges. The development areas need special aid. It is urgent that they should have it. Since the Finance Bill was introduced, 270 applications have been made under the Local Employment Act. This is splendid. The depreciation allowances have had enormous success, but we must not underestimate the great need for training in this competitive age.
We must recognise that automation could be a monster. It could be the greatest blessing if we face it aright—but it could be a monster. We must face these various aspects fairly and squarely. We must go out for skill. I would conclude with this one request: can we have consideration of financial aid to those industries in development areas which would initiate, as I am sure that they would, given this aid, their own training schemes.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Dr. Jeremy Bray (Middlesbrough, West)
I am glad to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, immediately after the speech of the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott), because, as he said, this is a problem at its worst in Scotland and the North-East. For this reason, I was: personally, just as the House was, delighted at the speech made by the hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Foley). He served his apprenticeship in 1543 one of the works which has had vacancies on offer waiting to be filled for apprenticeships for the past year. The dilatoriness of the Ministry of Labour in taking up its offer has meant that 110 boys on Tees-side will never be trained for apprenticeships. It is that record of dilatoriness on which we on this side of the House are attacking the Government tonight.
It is on the basic figures for Tees-side that I would take issue with the Minister. He has been given by his civil servants figures of the fall in youth unemployment since January. Any Minister who was concerned to give a fair presentation of the case would have sent those figures back to his civil servants, with a flea in their ear, and asked them never to submit such a prejudiced case in the future.
The fact is that on Tees-side today, not counting immediate school leavers, there are 1,293 boys and girls unemployed, which is an increase of 80 per cent. on the figures for this time last year. The number of school leavers is higher this year than it was last year. The Parliamentary Secretary, in a recent letter to me, pointed out that there were only 40 leavers from Christmas who are now unemployed in the whole of Tees-side, but he did not take account of the fact, made quite rightly by the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. J. Robertson), that the problem comes after the first temporary job, and that between the ages of 15 and 18 we get figures of unemployment in Tees-side amounting sometimes to 30 and 40 percent., particularly in parts of Tees-side, such as Thornaby, which is part of my constituency.
The hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams), in a Parliamentary Question on 17th June, quite reasonably asked the Minister of Education for a forecast of employment in the North-East, three, six, nine and 12 months ahead. He also asked for a forecast of the total employment in shipbuilding, six and 12 months ahead. These are eminently reasonable forecasts. He was told by the Minister that no such forecast was possible.
I should like to remind the Minister of a paragraph from the White Paper, the great White Paper on Employment Policy, issued in 1944. This White Paper said: 1544The following are the principal classes of statistics which must be obtained for the efficient operation of an employment policy: Statistics of employment and unemployment, including quarterly or monthly statements of present and prospective—perhaps the Minister will note—employment in the main industries and areas in the country based on returns from employers.I have been looking into what has happened to those returns. They were discontinued in 1952. There is some significance in that date. The year after the Government took office the seeds of the present situation were sown. From 1952 to 1956 the returns were restricted to new and reopened premises and since 1956 there have been no returns of prospective employment at all until the present day when a two-man manpower research unit has been set up. Does the Minister not realise that his impotence dates back throughout the whole history of the Government which he is serving and is due to the whole philosophy and outlook which the Government themselves have now abandoned?
§ Mr. Wilfred Proudfoot (Cleveland)
Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that his party was in power immediately after the war and accepted, along with everybody else, the Beveridge Report? The Beveridge Report was based on 8½ per cent. unemployment, a shocking figure which I would never want to see.
§ Dr. Bray
I think that a fairer quotation would be the 3 per cent. unemployment quoted by Hugh Gaitskell. Perhaps the hon. Member feels that we are still living in the technological and economic world in which that was spoken. Have we not been able to make any progress? Has he not heard of the development of electronic computers?
§ Dr. Bray
I am not sure that the hon. Member would know how to use it.
We are today faced with the problem of operating the economy in the range not of 70–90 per cent. of capacity, as we did before the war but of 97–103 percent. of capacity, which is a very much more difficult job technically. Therefore, it is disastrous to have a man like the present Minister of Labour holding the post, for he has not the outlook 1545 needed to manage the highly complicated manpower system.
My hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) is, of course, right. We must have a manpower budget, and it must be most fully worked out in terms of the age structure of the population, the craft structure and prospective employment. The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North said that industry is in the best position to judge that last factor, and he is right.
None of this information is coming to the Ministry of Labour now. The Minister will not get it from his two men who are inquiring into the engineering and metal industries. If we are to get this entirely new outlook, much more fundamental reform is required than is within the power of the Minister of Labour. What has the Minister been trying to do with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade? He firmly believes, I am sure, that the local employment policy of the Government is so sweeping that no Labour Government could possibly have got it through the Treasury. That, I understand, is the view of the Minister. I think he is totally deluded about this; either that, or the Treasury is going to be an even tougher nut and in even greater need of cracking than most people think it is.
§ Dr. Bray
If the right hon. Gentleman would like to be more particular about what my illusions are, I shall be delighted to give way to him. Apparently he does not wish to do so.
Looking at the situation as we face it on Tees-side today, one obviouslyis bound to make positive suggestions. That is what all of us on Tees-side have been trying to do. We have had £3,000 from the Minister of Labour, which has not produced a single job yet. There have been apprenticeships waiting unoccupied.
Where one faces an employment situation where one has 1,300 boys and girls looking for jobs, one has to look beyond the training problem. I wish to maintain 1546 my pressure upon the Minister—it is the pressure of everyone on this side of the House—to increase the training places and to build Government training centres. But we must realise that such is the hopelessness about getting action out of the Government that we have now to move to another stage. We have to appreciate that the situation is now so bad that we must move on into providing emergency employment for the probable 40 per cent. of young people who will be unemployed on Tees-side within six months.
What can we do? We can create workshops. We can perhaps create pioneer camps. This is a difficult possibility. However, I talk to the young people in Tees-side in the coffee bars at the weekend. They are very fine young people, far better educated than any previous generation has been. They are finding just nothing at all to do except to go along on a Friday and pick up the dole at the youth employment exchange.
If only there were someone in the Ministry of Labour with a spirit of enthusiasm for doing something about this! The Minister clearly knows that it would be possible. I would ask him personally to come and meet some of these young people to make suggestions about what they might do and how they might organise themselves and to receive suggestions from them about the help which he could offer them. He would find them most charming, and they would be, I am sure, helpful to him. As it is, however, one knows that the Minister of Labour is regarded as a wet blanket, as a man who discourages people who want to do things to provide employment. Those who are enthusiastic about doing things find constant discouragement from the Minister. The right hon. Gentleman makes speeches and the Lord President of the Council makes speeches, but over and over again there is "some difficulty" which rules out the possibility of immediate, sweeping and imaginative action to cope with the situation.
There will definitely be a situation this winter in which we shall have perhaps 2,000 boys and girls unemployed—right through the winter. Last year I uttered a similar warning, but the Minister pooh-poohed it. He will no doubt pooh-pooh this warning. I accept his assertion that in the end the situation will improve, 1547 because we ourselves are going to do things even if the action which he has taken is not sufficient.
But what is the right hon. Gentleman going to do about the next six months? Is he going to do nothing at all about it? This is the problem which will shape the life of these youngsters for better or for worse, and the solution is in his own hands. The right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) on many occasions pointed to the power of the individual against the great forces of history and held nothing for the power of statesmen being determined by the circumstances in which they had to act. The Minister—I accept it—faces a difficult problem, but in the name of humanity and in the name of the well-being of these young people, cannot he do something for them as they face the bleak months ahead?
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Wilfred Proudfoot (Cleveland)
I thank my right hon. Friend the Minister for his recognition of our problems on Tees-side. I believe that he is facing them squarely. It is a comfort to the people in that quarter of the country to know that he is aware of the problems.
The most perishable commodity in this world is labour. Once a day's work is lost, it is lost to the whole of the society of this world for ever. That is something of which we are all conscious, no matter no which side of the House we sit.
I want to pose a question to my right hon. Friend—it was mentioned by the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray)—about the possibility of training more apprentices at I.C.I, and Dorman Long on Tees-side. The offer was made a long time ago. The Government reacted promptly, but still nothing has happened. I should like to know the reason why the offer has not been taken up. My right hon. Friend mentioned it in his speech, and said that the matter was now under way. I should like to know the date when apprentices will start to be trained.
I also thank my right hon. Friend very specifically for having lifted a corner of the veil from the Hailsham Report. He referred to growth points, and I think that he will concede that he said that the Hailsham Report says that growth 1548 paints are required. Here my right hon. Friend has my absolute and full support, and I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House will support the idea that in an industrial area such as the whole of the North-East there must be growth points, for new industry cannot be taken to every village and hamlet.
§ Mr. J. Robertson
I wholeheartedly agree with the hon. Member, and I hope that he will be able to convince his right hon. Friend. But will he not agree that the Minister who will largely determine whether there shall be growth points or otherwise will be the President of the Board of Trade, under the Local Employment Act? If so, will he try to convince that Minister?
§ Mr. Proudfoot
I am confident that the problem in the North-East, or this challenge to the Government in the North-East—let us be more vigorous about it in this respect, and not call it a "problem", which is a negative approach—is being faced squarely by the Government. I have lived in the area all my life. I am absolutely confident that the future beckoning the North-East at present is better than it has ever been in my life.
That does not mean to say that there will be jobs there in three months' time, but I am convinced that the right things will be done. We must get the size of the problem in perspective. In the North Riding County Council area, in which my division lies, there are 16,000 youngsters between the ages of 15 and 18 and a current figure of 697 unemployed. This represents 4.4 per cent. and it is too high. That figure is not good enough, and it should be brought down.
§ Mr. Proudfoot
In football terms, this is a needle match. The hon. Member represents a neighbouring constituency. But it is also part of the North Riding County Council area.
I was referring to conditions in that area as a whole. The hon. Member gave detailed figures for Tees-side and I do not want to repeat them all. But the 1549 figures from my constituency show that 16 school leavers are still unemployed from last summer—that is too many—22 from Christmas—that is too many—and 90 from Easter—and that is too many. But the great bulk of those who have left school during the past year are in work.
I shall not be dismal about the prospects of the area. I am delighted to follow the hon. Member in this debate. He painted an extremely gloomy picture of Tees-side, but it is one at variance with the truth. The truth is that Tees-side is going to be a growth area.
Last October, at my party conference, I said that the areas which, in the 1930s, were called distressed areas should now be thought of as areas of opportunity for economic growth without inflation. I am delighted to say that the N.E.D.C. copied me. I do not know who thought of it first, but the N.E.D.C. said it afterwards, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd), who was Chancellor of the Exchequer, used my terminology as well. I believe that my prediction was absolutely accurate. I have lived in that area all my life and when I look at Tees-side today I see enormous prospects.
One more name very much heard of in this post-war world was that of Lord Boyd-Orr. By now, according to his predictions, the world should be starved to death. That was what he prophesied after the war, Of course, much of the world is hungry, and I hate that, but, nevertheless, we are producing more food in the world than ever before. We have heard these "dismal johnnies" making forecasts before.
We have been told that there has been no growth in Britain this century. My father is 72 years old and in his lifetime the country's population has doubled. I suppose that this should be surprising in view of what Britain is supposed not to have done this century.
§ Mr. Brian O'Malley (Rotherham)
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that the gross national product has not risen this century?
§ Mr. Proudfoot
The hon. Gentleman has got me wrong. I said that the population had doubled in my father's lifetime. I remember that during the 1550 1930s it was said that our population would not grow. But only recently the demographers have decided that we will have 7 million additional people by 1981.
§ Mr. Proudfoot
I will come to that. I will startle the hon. Member. There has been a terrible assumption in this debate. That assumption is that everybody should work in factories. A stranger listening to hon. Members would assume that there are no jobs outside factories. But there are such things as service workers. As the economy develops, more and more people will work on services. Another underlying assumption in the debate is that there is a caste system between skilled and unskilled—the skilled being identified by five years' apprenticeship and a union card. That is wrong. There are skills in all kinds of jobs which must be considered as well.
I welcome the Government's White Paper whereby firms with a small number of employees—a minimum of five—will be levied for training purposes. Thus, whether a firm has 500 or five employees, training will be as good as anywhere. That is very important.
I have said that not everyone works in factories; and that there are service workers—many of them. Most of us here are service workers. We do not produce any tangible goods to sell. I am staggered to hear what the hon. Members for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) and the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West say on this. If they look through the first Report of the N.E.D.C. they will see the broad outline of what should happen—which industries should expand in employment and which should contract.
For instance, in the steel industry nationally, it is expected, by 1966, that 22,000 fewer workers will be employed. In chemicals, however, the picture is different. At Wilton, I.C.I, will have the biggest factory in Europe when it is finished; it is in my division. That does not sound like a gloomy picture. The factory will be one of the most automated 1551 in the world. That is an achievement to shout about. The chemical industry as a whole will have 34,000 more workers by 1966.
Then there is the trade which is often scorned in this House—the distributive trade. In the next five years, it is expected to need 220,000 more workers, more than any other. Who is to train the cobblers and beauticians? Recently, the Daily Mail said that 36 per cent. of girl apprentices were apprenticed to hairdressers.
In the United States there are barbers' colleges on Third Avenue, New York. One can get a free haircut in the back shop. When the apprentices have more practice one can get it for 10 cents in the front shop. When they are fully trained it costs a dollar. We have to train people for all these jobs. I believe that there is a school for barbers at Hull.
Think of the policemen, teachers, petrol filling station attendants. They are all service workers. The community will demand more and more of them. If the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West, looks around Tees-side, he will see it happening. I know that it was so before the war. Any hon. Member can check that this is so in his own home town. Walk along the main street of any town and see how many hairdressers there are. They have multiplied and they are all creating work.
Tonight, I was talking to a salesman who sells washing machines. There is nothing wrong in that. He employs 30 supervisors and 270 service men. That is a considerable number of jobs. Where have all the television workers come from since television started up? That was another big creation of jobs.
I have said that my father is 72 and that the country's population has doubled in his lifetime. Look at the opportunities we have as our population grows. The old myth was that a machine was supposed to put a man out of work. But it never really did in practice. It might put him out of a job temporarily, but, as conditions changed, more and different types of jobs were created. For instance, if we are to make our way in the world we must automate and sell more goods overseas.
§ Mr. S. O. Davies
Where will this expansion in our productive efforts come from? Where will we get the wealth to keep all these distributive and service workers alive and comparatively free from starvation?
§ Mr. Proudfoot
I am delighted to be asked that question. Let us sweat machines, not men. With the same number of men let us produce more goods and sell more efficiently overseas. In that way we can earn all these better services—and that includes better education, better health services, more and better roads. That will be the case with both public and private enterprise services.
That is the prospect if we get back to "good old commercialism". That, in reality, is what we mean when we talk about increasing exports. We mean that we must get out and sell, because it is only salesmanship which will put us right. Without salesmen there would be a lot fewer jobs. By 1981, there will be 7 million more people in this country, and 20 million more on the West coast of the United States. I am in the grocery business. Seven million more mouths to feed is a lot of business. If these people have one haircut a month, that is 84 million haircuts a year, and that is a lot of hair.
The fact of the matter is that this expansion will happen and, what is more, we will have freedom of choice with it. The hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West challenged my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. K. Lewis), saying that jobs should have been provided on Tees-side for instrument makers, but where is the freedom of choice for the manufacturer and for the industry? He suggests direction of industry.
§ Mr. Proudfoot
Of course not, but only one person in 20 is a productive worker. Hon. Members opposite always talk about productive workers, but school teachers, housewives, children at school, doctors, lawyers and politicians are all service workers who produce 1553 nothing, but they are essential to the running of our community.
Let me go on with what I was saying about choice. The hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) talked about the choice in apprenticeship, but the choice stops dead at a certain physical age. The present Government did not do that and nor did the previous Government The people responsible for the restrictive practice of keeping down the number of apprentices are the trade unions. That is an absolutely unavoidable fact.
§ Mr. Proudfoot
It is a fact. The number of apprenticeships is unnaturally curtailed for protective reasons. There are trade associations as well as trade unions with the same restrictive outlook. I do not like that outlook in either, but it exists.
§ Mr. Prentice
I have listened to the hon. Member with great amusement and interest. He is very entertaining, but he must not be so deliberately unfair about the trade union movement. He knows that trade union leaders are playing a great part in demanding an extension and modernising of apprenticeship training. Lethim look at people like George Lowthian, who was the chairman of the Industrial Training Council for several years, and the speech of Frank Cousins, at the B.A.C.I.E. conference in January. One trade union leader after another has taken the lead. Becausea very small minority of trade unions have this restrictive outlook, as do a proportion of employers, the hon. Member is not justified in making these generalisations.
§ Mr. Proudfoot
I am prepared to agree that that is the view of the leaders, but when it gets down to local branch level it is not carried out.
§ Mr. Proudfoot
I am convinced that this is the case. I am sure that this is one of the restrictive practices which we have to get rid of. Hon. Members opposite talk about planning without saying that it is not 1554 always necessarily 100 per cent. right. Steel production has been planned since the 1930s, but there is now surplus capacity in the heavier end of the industry. This capacity was deliberately planned; the capacity not the unemployment. Over the years, the Governments have been a party to this planning, but planning does not always work, and the greatest worry in my constituency now is about the heavy steel industry, which is, rightly, installing modern equipment to meet world competition.
It is grossly dishonest for Socialists in the North-East to say that if they had been in power they would have done better. Their methods are nationalisation and the direction of industry, and I do not believe that those methods will help our nation at all. I very much doubt whether they would help the areas concerned.
We often hear talk in the House about the need for the President of the Board of Trade to be tougher about the granting of industrial development certificates. These views come from hon. Members on either side of the House who have constituencies with unemployment problems. But if one goes out of the Chamber and meets hon. Members, from both parties, who have constituencies where proposals for building a factory have been stopped, even if they have full employment or over-full employment, one finds that they say that they are being made a black spot of the future. Both sides of the House owe a debt of gratitude to the President of the Board of Trade for his attitude towards I.D.C.s.
§ Mr. Dalyell
There is a concrete example. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham. Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) reasoned with his own constituents as to why a branch of the British Oxygen Company should go to Dunbartonshire.
§ Mr. Proudfoot
I am delighted to hear it and I applaud it.
Let me try to remove some of the gloom from Tees-side. Tees-side is one of the country's natural growth areas. It just cannot help it. The Government have laid out the money to deepen the river and a £3,500,000dock, the first since the war, in this country, was opened a few weeks ago. Within two miles is a £3½ million electronics railway siding. It is true that the connection with the A.1 1555 motorway needs improvement and that we want a better road to the North, but alongside this big area are thousands of acres of completely flat and recoverable land, a "natural" for industrial development. Tees-side, in the long run, cannot help but succeed and I, for one, have great faith in its future.
§ 7.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Brian O'Malley (Rotherham)
Having sat through the whole debate, I found it particularly pleasing to hear the light-hearted contribution, and I think I should say the light-weight contribution, from the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Proudfoot), who apparently shares the optimism of his right hon. Friend the Minister in believing that the future is well in hand. I should like to try to get back to some reality, a reality which has been noticeably missing from many of the contributions which have emanated from hon. Members opposite.
For example, the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page) talked about adventure, about people saving £50 and going to America to work as golf caddies. In my constituency there is unemployment among young people. In his, there is no such unemployment. He lives in a different world and his realities are different from those which I know in my constituency. The only adventure, if it can be called adventure, which is open to so many young people, unemployed and living in the back streets, is the adventure which can be found in the back streets and in the corner cafés, and which so often finishes in the police courts.
Another hon. Member talked about the need for labour mobility. We all entirely agree about that if this country and its industry are to meet the challenge of the second half of the twentieth century, but we have to take into account the fact that in the last decade the North has stagnated and declined while there has been a tremendous inrush of population to high cost areas, the south Midlands and London particularly, and this is something which we have to attempt to prevent.
We need mobility of labour, but in the North, where so many traditional industries are contracting, new industries are needed. Nor is it a matter only of industries for the present development 1556 areas. There are other areas which are having difficulty and which have high rates of unemployment. New industries must go to the people of the North in the areas where traditional industries are employing declining numbers.
I think that it would be as well if I harked back to one of the sentiments expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray) when he dealt with the human problem of adolescents who are out of work or are working short time. Not enough has been said about this today. It is something of a truism to point out that unemployment has a cancerous effect on the people who suffer it. One has only to look at pictures of people who stood on the street corners in the 1930's and then look into the eyes of people who are unemployed now to see the effect that unemployment has had on them.
I think that we must give a great deal of weight to this tremendous human problem of unemployment, but if there is this terrible effect on the adult section of the population, how much worse must it be for adolescents, with all their questionings, their worries, and their complexes, when they come out of school into the world of industrial reality and find that there is no place for them?
One of the great problems of this society and of the age in which we live is the apparent lack of purpose, the Jack of design, the lack of any end, other than personal ends. The cancerous effect of unemployment on young people—and at the moment unemployment exists to the tune of 33,000—is leading to, and is another factor in, the moral disintegration which has taken place, and is taking place, in the second half of the century.
My hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Foley), in a notable maiden speech, if I as a comparatively new Member may so describe it, dealt with some of the social effects of unemployment among young people. We all know that unemployment affects people, and one has only to look at the literature of the last century and that of the early decades of this century, when unemployment figures were at their highest, to realise that this is so. To my mind comes the picture of the young unemployed mill operatives who stood as prostitutes outside the Royal Exchange in Manchester during the last century.
1557 The problem that we are dealing with now is nothing like so severe as it was then, but it would be a foolhardy man who said that unemployment does not have some effect not only on young people but on all sections of the population. I have recently been looking at some of the statistics published in respect of my constituency. The Chief Constable of Rotherham, in his report for last year, makes a special note of the alarming rise in the number of indecency cases concerning youths and girls. One also notes that the number of young people taken to court almost doubled from 1961 to 1962. The Medical Officer of Health for Rotherham reports that the number of illegitmate births in 1962 was the highest since 1957, and particular emphasis is put on the fact that young people are here concerned.
It seems at least arguable that there is some connection between figures of that kind and the present widespread unemployment amongst young people. It is not possible to demonstrate definitively that there is a connection, but any sociologist will agree that there is a connection between crime, misbehaviour and unemployment, and I think that we should have due regard to this when we are considering the effect on young people of unemployment which is largely the result of the economic policy pursued by the Government in recent years.
Young people in my constituency are undergoing the same kind of difficulties in attempting to find employment as are those in many other parts of the country. The situation in my division is perhaps better than it is in some, but I should like to illustrate some of the problems, and some of the deep related causes of the situation in which we find ourselves, by reference to some constituency points. One of the weaknesses, perhaps a necessary and inevitable weakness, of the Ministers' speech this afternoon was that many of the things that he said were in general true, but they bore little relation to the situation one finds in particular parts of the country.
In my constituency, 144 young people who left school some time ago, and who are now 16 or 17, are out of work. To this number will be added a further 580 when the schools close. In addition, some of the young people in the town
1558 are on short-time, in answer to a Question I asked a few days ago, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour said—and I accept his point—that the youth employment officers do all that they can to help. Nobody disputes this, and I pay my tribute to the good work done by these officials, but whatever they do they cannot solve the problem, because the jobs simply are not available.
It is not a bit of good running careers evenings and having careers libraries in schools if the jobs are not there for these youngsters. Even if youth employment officials work sixteen hours a day, they will get nowhere, and this situation is to be found in many areas. They are doing magnificent work, but the jobs simply are not there because of the prevailing economic climate which has arisen directly from the policies pursued by this Government.
We are coming into the pre-General Election period, and a considerable amount of money has been injected into the economy by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, so we shall no doubt see an improvement in some areas, and perhaps over quite a large section of the economy, but the fact remains that at the moment we are faced with a situation in which, for example, girls are finding it extremely difficult to obtain employment in the retail trade. I have an example of this in my constituency. In the very near future a large department store in my constituency is to lose five women who are leaving either to get married or to have babies. The firm does not intend to replace these women, and similar situations are to be found in many areas of the country. The jobs are just not available,
The young people who are finding it particularly difficult are those with lower educational attainments and it is to these people that I should like to pay attention for a few moments.
I want to point out to the Minister one fact which emerges from the situation in my constituency. I should like to know how widespread this situation is. In 1957–58, there were 21 young people on five-year courses in one type of school or another who left before the end of their courses. In 1961–62 this number rose to 69, and apparently it will be higher for the next year. Once again it 1559 could be argued that there is a direct connection between the volume of unemployment and short-time working which my constituency has experienced as a result of the under working of the steel industry and the waste of this potential for the future. These young people, who have the ability to undergo a five-year course of education and to do the General Certificate of Education and all kinds of things like that, are leaving before they have received the full benefit of those educational courses, owing to the economic circumstances that surround them.
It is to the position of the young people with lower educational abilities, attainments and qualifications, and to the problem of—if I may use the term—technological unemployment, that I want to turn. As a result of the introduction of automatic and semi-automatic plant—and hon. Members on this side of the House have repeatedly stated that we welcome its introduction—many traditional "boys" jobs either no longer exist or are disappearing. The most worrying thing is that the number of available jobs is decreasing and will tend to decrease still further in the future.
I want to quote two examples from my constituency which arise from the modernisation of plant in the steel industry and the glass industry. In the glass industry this modernisation has had the effect of reducing the requirement for young boys. In 1953, 15 boys were employed as takers-in, performing the simple operation of carrying bottles from the semi-automatic blowing machines to the ovens. The modern fully automatic machines not only blow more bottles in a given time but automatically convey those bottles into the ovens without human aid. There are fewer male operatives, and the minimum level of intelligence required for this new type of job is considerably higher than was required in the past.
The figures of intake are interesting. In 1954 it was 16; in 1957 it was 1; in 1958 it was nil; in 1959 it was 1, and there has been no further intake since that year. This is a small example of what is happening and what will continue to happen with the introduction of automatic and semi-automatic plant. We welcome the introduction of this 1560 plant, but the Government should have been taking note of this kind of situation as it has developed in the last six or seven years, and should be in a position to cope with the problem. It should have created new jobs, so that these people-especially those at the bottom of the educational ladder—should have the basic right and privilege of any individual in a modern civilised community of being able not only to have a job but a choice of jobs on leaving school, as my hon. Friend has said.
The second example, which is more extensive in my constituency, is connected with the steel industry. The firms of Steel, Peech and Tozer and the Parkgate Iron and Steel Co. are two large iron and steel producing works which provide employment for many of my constituents. Nowadays these firms seem to be recruiting most of their operative trainees from the top half of the secondary modern streams, with an occasional opening, in the older mills, for boys who do not enter under the normal training scheme.
A few years ago, the number of openings for such boys would have been greater, but these openings are constantly being reduced. At Messrs. Steel, Peech and Tozer's modern electric arcfurnaces are being installed, capable of tremendous production—the Spear project—and when this work is finished it will cause a reduction of about 1,000 in the demand for labour. This is not only a question of young people; it concerns the whole prosperity of my area. Nevertheless, young people and especially those with the least educational qualifications and ability, will experience tremendous difficulties in the next few years.
A similar situation exists in the coal industry. Outside my constituency, but in the area of south Yorkshire, a number of pits have closed in recent years. We all know that manpower in the coal industry will tend to contract over a period. The indication is that there will be fewer employment prospects in this kind of area than there were in the past. It is this problem that the Government should have been dealing with in the 1950s. They should be dealing with it now. As my hon. Friend said earlier, they have tended to do too little too late.
The question is
how are we to attempt to cope with the problem? The problem of finding employment for the young 1561 people of this generation is perhaps almost a hopeless one, but we must do two things. We have to bring into operation an emergency crash programme for this bulge from the schools—for the people who will be coming from the schools in the next few years and for whom, at the moment, employment will not be available because of technological developments.
Secondly, we must indulge in long-term planning on a scale that we have never before had in this country. It has been said that we have a two-man team. What we should be doing is looking forward into the 'seventies with regional and national planning. We should be considering the question whether an inherited Civil Service is in a position, from the staffing point of view, to be able to deal with the intricate problems of labour, not to mention other matters. One revolution that we have not yet had in this century—but one that we must have—is the transformation of the Civil Service into an organisataion or machine capable of dealing with the problems of the second half rather than the first half of the twentieth century.
Next, in thinking of how we can cope with the problem, we must realise that in many areas traditional industries predominate and that if something is not done for those areas now or in the near future they will be development districts in ten years' time. The situation cannot be dealt with only by looking at the existing development districts. We have a twofold job in the performance of which the Government have fallen down. It is necessary also to look ahead to deal with the problems which will arise in the second half of the 1960s and in the 1970s when so many areas with traditional industries may become new development districts.
The third thing which we have to do in order to cope with the problem of unemployment among young people, which goes beyond the scope of the Ministry of Labour, is to look at the whole educational system of the country. I have some experience of the secondary modern school system, and it is my opinion that in many of the secondary modern schools, because of the size of the classes; because we have not the teachers and because of the appalling 1562 lack of scientific and other kinds of: equipment in those schools—which have tended to become the poor boys of the education system—many of our young people leave school without having had their capacity for development extended to the full, as it would have been had we the necessary buildings, staff and equipment.
We must look again at the problem of apprenticeships. In my own area and beyond there is a decline in the number of apprenticeships available. I understand that the English Steel Corporation Ltd. recently offered 30 craft apprenticeships compared with 50 offered in normal years. Davy and United Engineering Company have cut down their intake of apprentices. The south Yorkshire youth employment committees recently sent out a questionnaire and letter to 259 engineering firms and works, and of the 80 firms which have answered to date only 31 have shown any interest in discussing methods to improve the standard and variety of training given in the engineering industry.
In my opinion we need more positive guidance and action from the Government. It is impossible to run the economy with a complete lack of planning and the kind of disregard of the interests of the individual region shown by this Government. We need a Government who realise that the young people of the country are an essential part of our social capital. Until we have such a Government, which will take the necessary steps to implement the policy which is needed, there will be no prosperity for this country.
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. William Whitelaw)
In accordance with the undertaking given by my right hon. Friend I will now try to answer some of the points raised during what I think may be described as a valuable debate. My right hon. Friend dealt fully with the general position and in the interests of the House I shall seek to avoid covering any of the same ground.
I wish to start by congratulating the hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Foley) on what I think was widely regarded as a very good maiden speech. The hon. Gentleman spoke with great 1563 personal knowledge of his subject. I agreed with him that youth employment is linked with the problem of general employment and that we have the responsibility of seeking to offer not only a choice of job, but the right job.
The hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) asked about the appointment of a technical adviser on industrial training. The hon. Gentleman will realise that already we have a technical advisory staff concerned with the Government training centres. They are fully stretched at present on the expansion of the centres. Under these circumstances it was necessary to make a new appointment in connection with the White Paper and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will welcome this as evidence of the urgency with which my right hon. Friend is seeking to implement these proposals. I can assure him that the needs of the Ministry for technical advice of this sort will be kept very carefully under review.
§ Mr, Prentice
Can the hon. Gentleman say whether any other appointments in this sphere are in prospect in the near future? Without wishing to cast any reflection on the staff to which he referred, it seems to me that their experience is narrow and one would think that a whole range of experience is needed in order to plan an attack on the problem generally.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I note what the hon. Member says, but I shall confine myself now to the point I have made. If there is anything further I can add, I shall send it to him in writing.
The hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch), in an intervention during the speech of my right hon. Friend, asked for some details of vacancies for boys and girls, by trades. For boys the figures for June, 1963, were: in engineering and electrical goods, 2,547; in construction, 2,165; and in distribution, 5,811. The hon. Member is particularly interested in mining, so I also inform him that in mining and quarrying the number was 941. For girls it would probably be best to quote distribution, in which the number was 9,150. I hope that that gives the hon. Member some of the information he wanted.
I agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. John Page) said about the importance of train- 1564 ing in commercial firms. He asked for a White Paper on this subject, but I assure him that that is unnecessary as the legislation which my right hon. Friend has in mind will apply to commercial as well as to all other forms of industrial training. The hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) made some very important points arising out of the Feilden Committee's Report. I assure him that what he said will be carefully studied, not only by my right hon. Friend, but by other Ministers concerned.
§ Mr. Dalyell rose—
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I cannot give way, because the time is short. I am sorry, but in the interests of other hon. Members, I have undertaken to be very brief, and it seems right that I should do so. My hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. K. Lewis) referred to the need for assistance for young people willing to do training away from their home areas. I think that he would be the first to agree that this must be seen against the background of the paramount need to develop industry in areas where opportunities are needed, and this is the Government's policy. I remind him, however, that under the Government's Training Allowances Scheme the Government help to find opportunities for young people under 18 outside their home areas and to provide for their expenses, including maintenance, travel and pocket money.
The hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. J. Robertson) made a very well-informed contribution—as one would expect—on the problems of Scotland. It underlined the need for special measures for Scotland, which was recognised very fully by my right hon. Friend, but, I thought, was disputed by some hon. Members opposite. My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) suggested that it would be right to have a special youth employment service in development districts. The existing service is a national service, and I think rightly so, designed to give vocational guidance and placing to all who seek them. What we must do is to see that the service is adequately staffed to meet the differing workload in each area. This may well call—I agree with him—for more staffing in the difficult areas. He will find an answer to his 1565 other main point in the Government's training proposals.
The hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray) indulged in a lot of personal rudeness in which I shall not seek to follow him. Even if I tried to do so, I like to think that I should not be capable of it. I refute absolutely what he said about delay and lack of drive on the part of my right hon. Friend. He knows that it is untrue and denied by many hon. Members in this House and people outside.
0 I turn to the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Proudfoot). He asked—
§ Dr. Bray rose—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Robert Grimston)
It is not out of order to say that a statement is untrue It may be untrue because of an hon. Member's ignorance. What is out of order is to call another hon. Member a liar.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
If I said anything which reflected on what the hon.Member believed to be true, I would withdraw it at once. I am not seeking to cast aspersions at all on what he said, but I say that some of the remarks the hon. Member made about my right hon. Friend were not strictly accurate and he knew it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland asked what had happened about the training places offered by I.C.I. and Dorman Long. The Government have made a grant and have offered a loan towards developing a group scheme. With this assistance, the North-East Training Council has organised a scheme which at present covers 14 firms and has enrolled 110 apprentices. The first apprentices have already started their training in the I.C.T. school, and the numbers are expected to increase steadily.
I have done my best to answer those hon. Members who referred to matters with which my right hon. Friend had not dealt. In addition, some hon. Members 1566 made special points about their own areas. Where necessary I will write to them. The debate has produced different assessments of the extent of the problem with which we are faced. My feeling is that some hon. Members, and, with respect, the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. O'Malley) was one of them, have been too despondent. There has also been some disagreement about methods. But we are: all united in our determination to see that boys and girls have the best possible start to their working lives. That is the clear objective of the Government's policy.