HC Deb 20 April 1964 vol 693 cc879-80

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:


To ask the Minister of Labour whether he will make a statement about progress in implementing the Industrial Training Act.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. J. B. Godber)

I have already announced that Mr. Norman Longley has accepted the chairmanship of the Construction Training Board. I can now add to that the names of the chairmen of three more of the Industrial Training Boards which I intend to set up as soon as possible.

Mr. Arnold Lindley, Chairman of the General Electric Company Limited, has agreed to become Chairman of the Engineering Training Board, Mr. Peter M. Shepherd, Chairman of Shepherd Holdings Limited, to be Chairman of the Wool Textile Training Board and Mr. Charles T. H. Williams, Chairman of the Park Gate Iron and Steel Company Limited, to be Chairman of the Iron and Steel Training Board.

I am sure that the House will agree that I have been very fortunate in securing the services of these leading industrialists for these posts, which will be of vital importance to the improvement of training in British industry.

Discussions are taking place with those concerned about the scope and membership of these four boards.

A Guide to the Act has now been printed and copies have been placed in the Library and in the Vote Office. Copies have been sent to all the main employers' organisations and trade unions, as well as to other interested bodies. Further copies of the Guide can be obtained, free of charge, from any regional or local office of my Ministry.

As I informed the House on 16th March, Sir John Hunter has agreed to be Chairman of the Central Training Council and I hope to announce the names of the other members shortly.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

In congratulating my right hon. Friend on an encouraging statement on a matter of great importance to industry in general, may I ask when he thinks that these boards will be set up and when they will be working?

Mr. Godber

I attach particular importance to getting these four boards going as soon as possible. I very much hope that we shall be able to get them set up in the early part of the summer.

Mr. Gunter

The Minister has drawn attention to the fact that it was on 16th March that the appointment of the Chairman of the Central Training Council was announced. Five weeks have passed. The right hon. Gentleman now says that we will know the other names shortly. Can he be a little more specific?

Mr. Godber

This has entailed a good deal of consultation. A considerable number of people are concerned and, naturally, it is not always possible to get the first choice. However, I have had an agreeable response and I hope that I will be able to announce the other names very soon.

Mr. Dudley Smith

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied with the response so far shown by industry towards the Act's proposals?

Mr. Godber

Yes, Sir. It is early days yet and it will take some time to get these various boards into operation. My main interest at the moment is to see that industry carries on with its existing plans for training during the interim period. Generally speaking, however, industry is showing a very satisfactory interest in the proposals and I hope that we get off to a good start.

Mr. Albu

What steps has the Minister taken to strengthen the specialist staff in his Department in view of the obvious need for such staff?

Mr. Godber

We have considerably increased the staff in my Department since we started on this objective. What we want to do is to get the boards started on their own and we are giving them all the assistance we can. If I think that there is need for any more staff, I shall not hesitate to ask for them.

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