§ Mr. Prentice
I beg to move, in page 14, line 16, at the end to insert:and may include such other persons as may appear to the Minister to have relevant qualificationsWe are here returning to a point that we raised in Committee, and on which we hoped that the Government would have further thoughts. Apparently they have decided not to accept our idea. It appears to us that, as it stands, paragraph 3 in the Schedule is not flexible enough for the purpose which the Government ought to have in mind. It says:An industrial training board shall consist of a chairman…and an equal number of persons appointed after consultation with"—and it goes on to mention manufacturers' and trade union organisations and—persons appointed after consultation with the Secretary of State and the Minister of Education.It makes no allowance for any other appointments. We shall have the employer members, the trade union members and the educationist members, and that is all.
In Committee we said that if they wished the Government should have the power to make other appointments, and we suggested various types of people who might be appointed to these boards. One such group was youth employment officers. We had a debate about their appointment to the Central Training Council, and we cannot see why there should not be a case for appointing them to membership of the boards.
I suppose that there would be a possibility, under paragraph (b), of a youth employment officer being appointedafter consultation with the…Minister of Education982 but this is lot clear, and I should like some further information on it. For reasons that we gave in our previous discussion we feel that it would be a good thing for these officers to be members of these boards. The Government might wish to appoint a distinguished scientist to a board. A scientist might be working in one of the research associations connected with the industry, and he might be in a position to give the board information about the probable future shape of the industry and the way in which scientific advances would alter techniques in that industry and therefore affect the types of training programmes which should be started now in order to provide for manpower requirements in five or ten years' time. That kind of advice might be extremely valuable to an industrial training board, and the possibility of making such an appointment should be there.
Thirdly, there might be a distinguished training consultant who could give valuable help in relation to the activities of a certain board, and I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House could think of other examples. We simply suggest that as the paragraph stands it is too rigid. It does not seem to allow for the possibility of any appointments to the memberships of these boards except from the rather narrow categories laid down.
We were told in Committee—and no doubt we shall be told again—that the boards have power to establish advisory panels, and that they could make any appointments they thought fit to those panels, but I suggest that the Minister himself should have the power to make such an appointment to a board, so that persons in the categories that I have mentioned would have the maximum influence upon policy making.
One argument advanced in Committee worried me a little, and I should like further comments from the Government Front Bench on it. It was suggested that our proposal was not welcome because it would upset the balance of voting on these boards. Hon. Members on this side of the House hope that the deliberations of these bodies will not be dominated by an atmosphere created by people thinking of themselves as sitting on one side of the table, and obsessed with the relative votes on the 983 other side. This would be wrong. The members of these boards should think of themselves as having collective responsibility for training in their respective industries and not as representing employers, trade unions or educational institutions. The Government have been rather too sensitive about this voting argument.
The last-minute Amendment put down by the Government to introduce proxy voting was a symptom of an attitude of mind that worries some of us, as did their insistence that the educational members of the boards and the chairman should be excluded from voting on the levies. The Government should get away from this point of view, and should provide themselves with power to make appointments to the boards on the merits of the people concerned. They should not tie themselves to this rather rigid formula.
The membership of the Central Training Council, as contained in Clause 11, is now a good deal more flexible than the memberships of the boards themselves. This is a contradiction, which needs remedying. There is no reason why there should not be the same flexibility in the appointment of members to the boards as there is in the appoinment of members to the Council.
§ Mr. Bence
The Schedule refers to the appointment of industrial training boards by the Minister, in consultation with the Treasury. Why should it not be in consultation with the Secretary of State for Scotland? Scotland is an important nation. These training boards will be important institutions in Scotland. My hon. Friend's Amendment provides that a boardmay include such other persons as may appear to the Minister to have relevant qualifications.A person in Scotland who had relevant qualifications would be better known to the Secretary of State for Scotland and his minions than to the Minister of Labour, in Westminster.
I hope that we shall be given an assurance that the Minister will consult not only the Treasury but the Secretary of State for Scotland. I am glad to see that on this occasion a Minister from the Scottish Office is present.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I shall reply first to the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence). I wonder whether he has a different copy of the Bill from that which I have. If he looks at paragraph 3(b) he will see that persons shall be appointedafter consultation with the Secretary of State and the Minister of Education.The Secretary of State there referred to is the Secretary of State for Scotland, so Scotland's position is clearly safeguarded.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I think it does. That is its implication.
I now turn to the Amendment, which was very persuasively argued by the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice). We discussed this point in Committee, when the hon. Member and I approached it somewhat tentatively. I noticed that at the end he said thatnow that both the Parliamentary Secretary and I have argued against our original proposals, with a certain amount of success, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 12th December, 1963; c. 183.]There is no doubt that on that occasion we both saw that this was a point which needed further consideration. That was the result of our discussion, and I did agree to consider the point very carefully again.
§ Mr. Prentice
The hon. Gentleman will realise that the Amendment I have now moved is rather different from the one which I moved in Committee. It has the same general purpose, but it is drafted much more skilfully, as I have since taken advice from some of my hon. Friends on the best wording. All the doubts I expressed on that occasion were about whether my Amendment then would achieve the right purpose. I am quite sure that this Amendment does, and I invite the hon. Gentleman to have his second thoughts and accept it.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
That particular point had not escaped my notice. I knew that the hon. Gentleman had modified his original Amendment, and I was well aware that he argued on this occasion very persuasively in favour of it. As I said, I agreed that we would consider very carefully what I accepted was an 985 important point. We have just done that. As the hon. Gentleman has, equally rightly, divined, we decided against amending the Bill in the way proposed and accordingly did not put down an Amendment.
The reason which finally decided us in favour of this course is that we believe that the main boards are executive bodies and that they should not in any circumstances be too large. We believe, therefore, that it is right to keep them small and to allow them to draw on the experience and opinions of the various people to whom the hon. Gentleman referred through the committees which they will set up. We agree that there is a great deal to be said for the boards being able to draw on the knowledge, experience and advice of such people. However, we have concluded that the right way for them to do this would be through the committees which undoubtedly, they will appoint. This will mean that the boards themselves will be small executive bodies and that they will be able to get all the expert advice they need through the committees which they will appoint to consider the various and very different detailed points which will arise. We have decided that this is the right way to proceed, for the reasons, which I have given, and, therefore, persuasively though he argued, I could not agree to accept the hon. Gentleman's Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I beg to move, in page 14, line 29, at the end to insert:(2) If the Minister thinks fit in any particular case he may authorise the Iron and Steel Board to appoint one person under this paragraph in addition to the persons so appointed by the Ministers mentioned therein.I hope now that I should be able to meet the point which I mentioned earlier in response to the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch). This Amendment will enable my right hon. Friend to authorise the Iron and Steel Board to appoint a representative to attend the meetings of any industrial training board. Such a representative would be entitled to take part in the proceedings of the training board and to receive copies of documents but not to vote.
The Amendment is necessary because, under Section 3(1,d) and Section 12 of the Iron and Steel Act, 1953, the Iron 986 and Steel Board has the statutory duty both to keep under review the training arrangements of the iron and steel industry as defined in the Act and to promote training if the existing arrangements appear to the Board to be inadequate. At the present time, the Board discharges this responsibility by appointing one of its members to attend meetings of the industry's training and education committee. If an industrial training board were set up covering part or all of the iron and steel industry as defined in the 1953 Act, the Iron and Steel Board could then fulfil its statutory duty only if it were able to obtain full knowledge of what the training board was doing. We suggest by the Amendment, therefore, that the Iron and Steel Board should be given non-voting representation on such a training board in order that it may fulfil its statutory duty. We believe that this is the most appropriate way of doing it.
The Amendment leaves it to my right hon. Friend to decide on which boards the Iron and Steel Board may be represented. The intention is that the Board should be authorised to appoint a representative to any training board which covers a substantial part of the activities for which the Iron and Steel Board is responsible, but, of course, by implication, not the other training boards. I think that this is a reasonable Amendment in order to ensure that the Iron and steel Board can carry out the statutory duty laid upon it by previous legislation
§ Mr. Prentice
The Parliamentary Secretary has made out a case for this Amendment, which is probably acceptable to the House. I add only that, of course, the situation which he describes is temporary. He will be aware that, early in the next Parliament, the steel industry will pass into public ownership again and the present functions of the Iron and Steel Board will be changed. However, there is the possibility—I do not know the actual timetable of our legislation—that there might be meetings of a training board before the iron and steel industry comes under public ownership. Therefore, the Amendment may, for a little whole, fulfil a useful purpose.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Godber
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
This is a very important Measure, and I am very grateful to hon. Members on both sides for the help and support they have given in enabling us to get it through the House so expeditiously. I am particularly grateful for the constructive spirit in which the debates have been conducted.
The Bill marks a significant advance in our thinking about industrial training. It recognises the importance of a real partnership between industry, the education service and Government. It lays particular stress on the need for effective development of our manpower if industry is to expand at the rate which we should all like to see; and it will lead to a definite liability on every firm in an industry to make a positive contribution, in some form, to training.
We all recognise that the important thing now is to give practical effect, with the least possible delay, to the plans embodied in the Bill. We are agreed that the Bill provides the powers which are needed. Once it becomes law, it will be my responsibility to use those powers to good effect. I intend to press ahead as fast as possible towards the establishment of training boards for some of the leading industries. My officials will be ready to extend to the boards all the help they can in formulating and carrying out training schemes. It was quite clear to me from what was said at Question Time yesterday that the whole House is with me in this and is anxious to get progress as fast as we can. I welcome this very much.
I must emphasise, however, that it would be a great mistake for individual firms or whole industries to do nothing to improve their training arrangements until training boards are established. It is vital that we should not lose the momentum which has been gathering pace in the last few years. The more firms and industries "wait and see" the longer will it take a board in a particular industry to become fully effective. It will not be possible to get all the boards going at once. We shall 988 get what we think are the most important ones started, but there are bound to be some industries in which we shall not get them going as quickly as we should like. It is important in all industries that employers should use this as an occasion for going forward rather than holding back. The firmer are the foundations on which boards, once established, can build, the more quickly can the schemes of training become fully operative.
There is one particular way in which individual firms and industries can usefully prepare themselves for the establishment of boards, and that is in recruiting and training more training officers and instructors. I mentioned in Committee the vital need for many more training specialists equipped to advise management on, and to implement, effective training programmes. Hon. Members will recall that I have announced already that my Ministry will be prepared to pay the lion's share of the fees of those attending the course for training officers, sponsored by the British Association for Commercial and Industrial Education, the Institute of Personnel Management and the Industrial Training Council, which is to be held at Coombe Lodge, near Bristol, in May. I hope that industry will not be slow to support this course, and I would remind the House that the last course was not very well supported.
As for instructors it is surely most important to prepare those who, in turn, will have the responsibility of instructing apprentices and others in industry. The best of craftsmen often lack the ability to pass on their skill to others, and that is something which has to be faced from time to time. Thousands of instructors from industry have been helped by the training at my Ministry's instructor training college at Letch-worth. But I believe that there are thousands more who would benefit from a short intensive course such as is provided there. It does a great deal of good and does not take long. I hope very much that a lot more people will take advantage of the course.
In anticipation of an increase in the demand for instructor training, I have expanded the college at Letchworth and opened a new college in Glasgow. The courses offered there last only two weeks 989 and provide instruction in teaching techniques. Now, I suggest, is the time for employers to take advantage of these expanded facilities, and I strongly urge them to do so. They will find it of great use in the development of plans as their boards come into being. The manager of the nearest employment exchange would be glad to give any individual employer the full details.
Some fears were expressed about the tax position of levies and of grants of industrial training boards. I should like to repeat the assurance which I gave when this matter was raised during the Committee stage. Section 140 of the Income Tax Act, 1952, has no application, but the levies would be allowed in the ordinary way as deductable expenses for both Income Tax and Profits Tax, being wholly and exclusively expended for the purposes of trade within Section 137 of the Act. Similarly, grants paid by the boards will be a trading receipt for Income Tax and Profits Tax purposes. I think that the position is quite clear. But I wished to reinforce it as this point has been raised on one or two occasions since the Committee stage discussions.
As I said during the Committee stage, I want to see training boards set up for the major industries as soon as possible. At the Ministry we have done a lot of work in anticipation of the Bill reaching the Statute Book in order to prepare the way for the establishment of boards for the engineering and construction industries. These two industries are, of course, of vital importance. The engineering industry is responsible for nearly half of our exports and the construction industry will be fully stretched in carrying out the Government's modernisation programme. It will have to carry out our programme for some years to come. Of that I am quite confident.
Not only are these the two most important industries, they are also likely to be the most difficult for which to set up boards. The problems of definition alone are formidable. But we are making good progress. My Ministry is also having discussions with a number of other industries though these are at a less advanced stage. Among them are the iron and steel and the wool textiles industries. Others are coming along 990 and we are having discussions with them.
The welcome which the Bill has received in the country is, I believe, a clear indication that its principles and objectives are generally accepted. It is also an indication of how far public thinking has moved in the last few years in relation to this matter. The degree to which people have moved forward in their thinking since the publication of the Carr Report is surprising. It indicates considerable disquiet about the amount and quality of the training now given. The comments of the Council for Wales and Monmouthshire which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government has brought to my attention are typical. The Council looks to the Bill to make possible an increase in the provision of training opportunities in Wales, and hopes that the Bill will be brought into operation as soon as possible. I have instanced the Council for Wales and Monmouthshire's comments but, with geographical variations, this has been the burden of the representations which I have received from many other sources.
It would be most ungenerous of me were I not low to express my genuine appreciation of the reception which the Bill has received from all quarters in this House. I am most grateful to all hon. Members for the help which I have been given. It would be invidious to single out any particular hon. Member. Almost without exception the contributions have been constructive and helpful. Clearly they have emanated from a firm desire not only to help the Bill on its way but to ensure that this major step forward in the sphere of training will accomplish our common aim, to give a major stimulus to training in every aspect of our industrial life.
Here we have a Measure which can play a major part in the developing and deploying of this country's manpower in a way best calculated to advance our position in the world-wide competition in industrial development. It is this which lies behind our constant endeavour to maintain and improve Britain's position as a major exporter of industrial produces in the markets of the world.
This Measure is of course, an important step forward. But its full success 991 will depend on the ability of those who man the industrial training boards and on the vigour with which they pursue their objectives. It will be my task to see that we get the right individuals on these boards and to assist them in any way that I can. But it is on them that the major burden of implementing our hopes will lie and I am confident that as each board is set up, it will carry with it the good wishes of all those who have participated in our discussions. It is on that note that I commend the Bill to the House and confidently ask for its renewed support.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Prentice
The Minister referred to the support which has been accorded to the Bill from hon. Members on both sides of the House. We on this side were anxious to do nothing during the Committee stage which would have retarded its progress. We co-operated in getting it through its various stages speedily. At the same time we suggested a number of Amendments, some of which the Government were wise enough to accept, but about others they were accountably stubborn.
The Minister also said that informed opinion in the country has undergone a considerable change in the last few years and is now ready to accept a Measure of this kind. I cannot resist saying that for some time the Government were lagging behind informed opinion. There was a period when a number of people on both sides of industry, particularly in the educational world, were anxious to see a strategic intervention in this matter by the Government and a departure from the old concept of leaving training as something to be decided within industry alone. Hon. Members on this side of the House were in tune with that advanced opinion. But until recently the Government had lagged behind. Therefore, although we are ready to give this Bill a Third Reading with unanimity, as I anticipate, there remains a considerable difference of emphasis between the way in which hon. Members on both sides of the House regard these problems.
We on this side look at them as being a great deal more urgent than the Government have so far indicated. We have been pressing for such a Measure as 992 this for some years, and we visualise the task before us as being greater than has so far been indicated by the Government. The fact is that this country faces a training crisis. There is a chronic shortage of skilled people in certain spheres. The statistics from the employment exchanges show that at many points in the engineering industry there is a shortage of skilled workers. There is a shortage in some of the crafts in the building industry and other industries, and we lack trained workers in the professions and jobs ancillary to the professions. This position has been chronic for many years. It has not been tackled with sufficient energy.
We face the shortage in relation to the present levels of production. Any serious intention to achieve a 4 per cent. growth rate or something of that kind in the years ahead will demand a much bigger expansion of training facilities to avoid the creation of bottlenecks even more acute than those which have occurred in recent years.
I remind the House of the deliberations of the conference called by B.A.C.I.E. in the spring, at which papers were read giving the results of studies by Professor Stone and his colleagues, who had applied their economic model to our manpower requirements in the years between now and 1970. I remind the House of two figures in particular which occurred in the paper read to the conference by Mr. Colin Leicester.
He said that the outstanding figures which emerged from applying this study were that we should need a net addition of 155,000 craftsmen each year in the period under review and a net subtraction of 151,000 unskilled each year. This is the scale of the problem facing us. The Bill is a step in the right direction, but by itself it will not produce an additional skilled worker or an additional trainee. Everything depends on the way in which it is implemented and on the kind of Government policies followed, both in relation to the Bill itself and to related problems.
At the same time as we face this chronic shortage of skilled workers we face a growing problem of youth unemployment in many parts of the country—a lack of jobs and a lack of training opportunities for young people. This is an absurd state of affairs and a chronic 993 waste of human talent when seen side by side with the shortage of skilled workers. If only the Bill had been in operation before the bulge started leaving school, we could have provided far more opportunities for these young people in the north of England and in Scotland, many of whom have lacked any job at all. Many others have lacked jobs with training opportunities in recent years.
Thirdly as a background to the Bill, we face in years ahead a growing problem of men who have been skilled becoming redundant through technological change. This again is part of the Bill. In our discussions on the Bill we have naturally concentrated—I have done this along with other Members—very largely on the problem of school leavers. However, the Bill also provides power which can be used in relation to the retraining of people for new employment. This is a problem we already face and one which we shall face to a growing extent as the pace of technological change quickens.
Replying to a recent Question of mine, the Minister said that at the moment in the Government's training centres he has just over 1,000 adult males in the whole country undergoing retraining courses, leaving aside special categories such as disabled men and ex-Service men being rehabilitated from the Regular Forces. In its Report on Conditions Favourable to Faster Growth the N.E.D.C. said this:…in 1960–61 about 15,000 persons took part in the Swedish adult training programme and in 1961–62 the figure was 20,000. The aim of the adult training programme"—that is, in Sweden—is to provide courses for 35,000 adult persons a year, about 1 per cent, of the labour force. The training programme envisaged under United States Manpower and Development Act of 1962 would provide instruction for about 750,000 workers (just under 1.4 per cent. of "the non-agricultural labour force) over a three-year period.This is what is being done in other industrial countries facing problems comparable with ours. So far our efforts have been absolutely puny by comparison with theirs. That is why we return to the point we have made several times, that in welcoming the Bill we do not exonerate the Government from having dithered about with the problem over the last 12 years. The Bill should have come, earlier. The proposals the Minister outlined just now should have 994 been in operation some years ago. The Minister said that he would face certain problems and would make appointments to the industrial training boards. He must forgive us if at this stage we think that he probably will not for very long be facing these problems himself. They will be faced by a successor from the Labour Party.
In welcoming the Bill we should say why we welcome it and how we see it being used to face the problems this country will have to meet in the years ahead. First, we would stress that Clause 11, which deals with the Central Training Council, is a crucial one, because under this Clause we have to consider the way in which a central thrust will be given. It simply will not be good enough to appoint industrial training boards and tell them to get on with the job. A great effort will be needed front the centre if the whole operation is to succeed.
A great effort is needed for these reasons. First, there will be a need to co-ordinate the work of the industrial training boards and fill in the gaps between them. Secondly, there will be a need to keep them up to scratch. Under the Bill the Minister has powers to review what the boards are doing, to exercise some control over them, and, indeed, as a last resort, to dismiss a board and appoint another. If he is to do this adequately, he must have the technical advice within his Department to enable him to understand the operations of all the boards. This will obviously require a variety of technical advice. Yesterday, replying to a Question tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden), the Minister said that at the moment he had a staff of eight officers who had been working for some time on this, that there had been one fresh appointment, and that some others were being considered. This seemed to us to represent a totally inadequate staff compared with the staff which will be needed to deal with the problem.
On the technical side the Minister will need not just one technical adviser but a variety of technical advisers with experience covering a number of industries. Great effort in publicity and propaganda in favour of training will be needed from the centre. The job we face is not merely that of establishing 995 machinery. We must make the whole country training-conscious. The need is to convince managers in industry and commerce that they ought to see work situations as training situations, that they must not wait for a new board to be appointed to give them instructions, that what is needed is a totally new outlook.
The passage of the Bill ought to become a catalyst for a new state of public opinion. I am not sure that this is happening. I am disappointed at the moment in the publicity the Bill has had. To some extent the Press has not given it as much attention as it should have done. What is dealt with in the Bill is at least as important as the abolition of resale price maintenance, certainly in the long-term effect it could have on the working lives of the people, if it is used adequately.
A tremendous effort will be needed at the centre in manpower research and looking ahead and trying to estimate the requirements in terms of skilled manpower in industries 5, 10 and 20 years hence. The Minister has started to do something in the last few months. At last he has a manpower research unit which will be at work in connection with these problems. He still has a staff of 14, I understand, which is almost certainly inadequate, but it is better than it was a year ago when there was no one in the Ministry working on this job. This is another example of where machinery should be built up quickly.
Training boards should be appointed quickly, particularly in the engineering and construction industries. None of us is likely to quarrel with the Minister's priorities here. Too much of the discussion about training has been in connection with training within the traditional industries where there are apprenticeships for certain craft skills. We should not be thinking just of these industries. We should be thinking ahead to industries which have not played much part so far in the discussion about training. We are concerned here not merely with traditional skills but with the whole spectrum of skills in the construction industry, the engineering industry, and others.
I have here a letter from some people interested in the Bill relating to the 996 standard of training in the fishing industry. I do not know what discussions have been held so far, or if any discussions have yet been held, about the establishment of a training board for this industry. I am told that there is a grave lack of training facilities in the industry, with no national scheme. I am told that certain ports such as Hull, Lowestoft and Aberdeen have their own training schemes to serve their own immediate needs. But this situation is peculiar to these ports. There is no national scheme, although one does work well for the Merchant Navy. The suggestion made to me is that a training scheme for the fishing industry might work in conjunction with the Merchant Navy's training scheme.
Let us remember that the fishing industry is the third biggest industry in Britain. It is one of the many industries requiring a training revolution, which, in turn, will present problems if we continue to think traditionally in terms of apprenticeships.
The Minister said nothing in moving the Third Reading about the great expansion we require in technical education to fulfil the training side of this operation. After all, the Bill is designed not merely to expand training on the workshop floor but, as was made clear in the White Paper which preceded the Bill, to improve the content of training and to enable people to spend more time in organised instruction.
Naturally this will make a greater demand on our technical colleges, which are already facing growing demands and which are finding it difficult to keep pace in many respects. We should see alongside an acceptance of the need for the Bill new proposals for the expansion of our technical colleges. My hon. Friends and I would attach great importance to this, because we see it not merely as an industrial and economic operation but as a way of improving the education of those who leave school without going on to further education.
If the Bill is to have the impact we desire, everyone concerned with the imposition of the training levy under Clause 4 must think in bold terms. I have already heard of firms in which it is being said, "We do no training now. If necessary we will pay the levy rather than go in for the costs of organising 997 our own training scheme." If the levy is small that is exactly what will happen. For this reason the levy must bite if it is to have an impact on these firms.
The intention of the levy should be stated clearly. We can no longer tolerate in industry the sort of firm which is not prepared to do its own training but is content to poach away skilled workers who have been trained by other firms. The operation of the Bill, particularly the imposition of the levy, must impose on firms a financial punishment so heavy that they will in their own interests take part in training.
Equally, the imposition of the levy must be accompanied by an inspection system under the operation of the boards so that training will mean real training. This will necessitate ensuring that training is kept up to the standards of the inspectors. We can, equally, no longer tolerate firms which employ apprentices as a form of cheap labour and do not provide genuine apprenticeship training for them.
The theme about which my hon. Friends and I have spoken on many occasions—and we make no apology for doing so again today—concerns the Minister's statement that he sees the first task of the training boards in terms of categories of skill. A great deal of the discussion has been about apprenticeships, but the right hon. Gentleman's remarks seem to imply, particularly in the engineering and construction industries, that he, too, is thinking largely in terms of apprentices. We certainly need to expand the number of apprentices and the standard of apprenticeship training. I do not quarrel with that, but my hon. Friends and I would add to that that we see this as part of a much larger operation, for we need to improve all training for all entrants in industry and, at the same time, to improve the standard of retraining of people who at various stages in their careers may find it necessary to adapt to new skills.
I hope that at an early date the boards will look at the standard of management training in Britain. Most of our competitor nations are taking management training more seriously than we are. They have more organised courses for management, from junior to senior levels, and a great deal of discussion is going on about this abroad. Discussion 998 is also taking place here on this topic and Lord Franks's proposals are an interesting example. However, the training boards must consider this matter of management training as of vital importance and must intervene if an industry is lagging behind, as many industries are.
Equally, the boards must look at all forms of training above the apprenticeship level—the training of technicians, technologists and others who will provide the mere advanced skills which our economy will need at an ever-increasing rate. I hasten to add that many of the existing training schemes are very good. Many of the sandwich courses and CA.T.s and doing excellent work, as good as anywhere in the world, but participation in this rests mainly with the best firms, usually the larger ones, while little provision for this kind of training is being made on a sufficient scale to cover the whole of industry. Thus the boards will have the task of considering not only duality but quantity. They should look at the requirements in their respective industries and, if necessary, use their powers under Clause 2(2) to improve the position.
As well as talking about training at that level we need to undertake a growing amount of training for those below the apprenticeship level. In this instance I use the word "below" to refer to operators; people who are at the moment receiving very little training indeed. I appreciate that in recent years some firms, particularly the larger ones, have been going in for new kinds of training schemes lasting, say, six months to two years for what have previously been called the unskilled or semi-skilled occupations, although that is often a misleading description. The boards must do everything they can to stimulate the growth of training schemes of this kind.
They must not think too much in terms of the traditional types of training. Although we may talk of training for engineering operators and other craftsmen, let us also think of training girls as well as boys. Let us think of training in terms not only of the engineering and allied industries, but of office employees, shop assistants, farm and dock workers and so on, because the changes we shall face in industry in the years ahead will require amore highly-skilled working 999 population than ever before at all levels and in all occupations. We need a more highly-skilled and more flexibly-educated population to enable people to change their jobs as technological changes overtake what they have been doing.
We see the Bill as providing the basis of what will be needed in the years to come. It will be used by the next Labour Government as part of our planning for economic expansion. We must think in terms of economic expansion as not merely demanding from the country greater capital investment, but a more imaginative manpower policy. The Ministry of Labour should grow in the next 10 years and take on other functions. It has the job of manpower planning, which is just as important as the one undertaken by Ernest Bevin in the war-time Government, but on this occasion undertaken on a voluntary basis.
The training of entrants to industry and the retraining of workers is an important part of this function. We also see it as part of the educational revolution which we need. A great deal of discussion has taken place in recent weeks about the Robbins and Newsom Reports, but the subject before us today is at least as important as the subjects raised in those Reports. It is part of a process of expanding education during a person's working life so that education is not something that finishes on the day he or she leaves school. It must be organised and stimulated in the early years of work, and people should be encouraged to continue educating themselves through their lives. This is the spirit in which we welcome the Bill and the spirit-in which we shall operate it when, very shortly, we get the chance to do so.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Jones (Northants, South)
I listened with great attention to the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice). It was interesting to follow his train of thought on the Bill and on the part he thinks it can play. The part of his speech dealing with that aspect was far more valuable than his venture into political prophecy, since he was on much surer ground. I am sorry that he fell for the temptation.
1000 The hon. Member dwelt on what he might have called the "sins of omission" in the Bill. I was glad that he referred to my right hon. Friend's comment in Committee that the success or otherwise of the Measure would depend upon the calibre of those serving the Council and the boards. I regret, however, that he did not give us his views on the part that the trade unions will have to play in implementing this great Measure.
I hope that this does not mean that he will not do everything he can to ensure that they play their full part. I am confident that he will, however, for I have been very impressed by the broadmindedness and fairness he has displayed on those occasions on which I have hadthe pleasure of listening to his views. We must have the full co-operation of the unions. They must show a sense of realism towards this problem, help to break down restrictions on apprenticeships schemes and also deal with the problem of demarcation.
I welcome the Bill as a very valuable contribution in the difficult and often disappointing field of industrial relations. I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his lucidity and thank him for the very careful consideration given to points raised by hon. Members during the proceedings of the Bill. As far as I can see, there is no material dispute or disagreement on the aims and the means which the Bill provides, and I know I speak for hon. Members on both sides of the House in expressing hopes for its early implementation and effectiveness.
The two matters with which I wish to deal concern the constitution of the Central Trading Council and are of such importance as to justify, I believe, reconsideration by my right hon. Friend. I was encouraged by his Amendment to the provision setting out the constitution of the Council, and I recall his reference to the greater flexibility which the increase of membership from 8 to 12 will give.
I want to draw attention particularly to the position of the local authorities. On Second Reading, my right hon. Friend said that the Bill…includes local authorities in so far as they or their employees may be engaging in activity of industry or commerce. It does 1001 not apply to the activities of local government as such…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th November, 1963; Vol. 684, c. 1003.]Will the local authorities, as employers, be eligible for membership of the Council? I feel that it is unlikely that they will be considered under Clause 11(2,a). Subsection (2,c) refers to the membership of two persons from the nationalised industries and I cannot see that the local authorities come under that heading either. Nevertheless, I cannot see why they should not be given the same consideration as nationalised industries.
The local authorities employ no fewer that one and a half million men and women in a whole range of skills in many trades. Some of these are exclusive to the local authorities. In the building and contracting trades alone there are 150,000 local authority employees, probably a greater number than is employed by any other single employer.
Many local authorities have their training schemes, but I was surprised to learn today from my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to Ministry of Housing and Local Government, in reply to a Question put by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden), that he was unable to give any details of organised training schemes by local authorities or give us any information on local authorities which have officers engaged full time in organising training schemes for their employees. Surely that reply is confirmation of my suggestion that there may be a lack of informed opinion between the activities of the local authorities on one hand and the Ministry on the other.
A large number of local authorities are progressive in the introduction of new machines and have, in fact, led the way with new techniques. In this context, the success or otherwise of our efforts in industrialised building lie in the hands principally of housing and education authorities. As such large employers, and being of such calibre, surely the local authorities have every right to a place on the Council. I accept the Government's view about representation of various other organisations, but surely some prominent member of the Council with wide experience in local government could play a very worthy part on the Council, since such know- 1002 ledge and experience would be valuable to its deliberations.
I now turn to the question of the Youth Employment Service. The change made by my right hon. Friend in the constitution of the Council enables a wider choice to be made. The Youth Employment Service is primarily part of education and is administered, over most of the country, by the local education authorities. What more effective and practical link is there between education and the industrial and commercial world?
Will my right hon. Friend consider recognising this service and these facts by an assurance that a place on the Council will be found for a person with practical youth employment experience? I say this with no intention of questioning the value of the excellent work of the Institute of Youth Employment Officers. I am sure there will be many of its members with the attributes I seek—practical experience.
This is a Bill which all opinion in this House will welcome on to the Statute Book. Its success in the educational and industrial spheres will depend on the hard work and dedication of able men and women who will be called upon to man the Council and the training boards. I feel sure we shall find such men and women able and willing to serve so that this Bill may fulfil the high hopes we all have for its effectiveness.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Bradley (Leicester, North-East)
During our discussions on this Bill, there has been a remarkable and wide amount of agreement on both sides of the House. A great deal of that agreement has centred on the fact that industrial training has been grossly neglected in the past.
There is throughout industry only a patchwork of unrelated private decisions. That is why both sides of industry and the educational interests involved have welcomed the Bill, although I appreciate that many educationists have serious reservations about their rôle and status on the boards. After all our discussions in Committee, the Bill today is substantially in the same form as when it was published. We are left in the position in which very much 1003 will depend on the intentions of the Minister.
In itself, as my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) pointed out, the Bill will not add one new trainee to industry. Everything will hinge on the speed and effectiveness with which the Minister acts to set up the boards and the financial sanctions he decides should be levied on industry. Even then, I do not doubt for a moment that many firms will prefer to pay the levy and forfeit the grant than to initiate a training programme of their own. That is why some of us greatly regret that there is no provision for compelling firms to see that young people in their employment receive appropriate training.
On the question of the boards, I once again—of course, for the last time—implore the Minister not to afford a low priority to clerical workers, who are an increasing proportion of our working population. Throughout the Bill and in all the discussions and comment which has appeared in the Press and elsewhere, the emphasis has been on the skilled manual trades and apprenticeships, but there is a great need for the pattern of clerical and commercial training to be unified. A great deal of automation and mechanism is creeping into office procedures.
There is need for people to be taught how to use computers and for programming their operations. These matters of skill and training requirements must be extended if we are to have the kind of mobility of labour which N.E.D.C. has said is a necessary condition for growth. There are available in colleges of further education many courses in office and business studies. Some have been only recently introduced. I believe they fill a very big gap in the training arrangements which hitherto have existed for clerical workers.
What is needed is a board for clerical workers, since their skills cut across many industrial classifications. A board covering clerical workers throughout the whole field of industry would underline their importance and make recommendations to employers to arrange adequate day-release facilities for young office workers. I am quite convinced that no 1004 industrial training can be effective without compulsory day-release for appropriate further education. I fully expect the Henniker-Heaton Committee to arrive at that conclusion when it presents its Report. We are now relying on exhortation to employers, but with the industrial training facilities there should be a little more direct encouragement backed by the levy.
When the Act comes into force, success will depend to a large degree on the size of the levy and the weight which the Central Training Council will carry. The Central Training Council should be set up quickly. In addition to its work of reviewing industrial training needs, it should concern itself with a massive propaganda directed to many firms which are wayward in training matters. The gap between the very good and the very bad throughout industry is very large. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North, who indicated that a great public relations job remains to be done throughout industry and real efforts must be made from the centre to make industry more training-conscious.
Industries should not wait for these boards to be created. I agree with the Minister that they should begin now to expand and improve their schemes. Given the right kind of co-operation and a definite drive from the centre, I am sure that this Bill will help to improve industrial relations and create further opportunities for young people within industry.
§ 8.7 p.m.
§ Miss J. M. Quennell (Petersfield)
So far this Bill has enjoyed a very smooth passage through its stages. I believe that is a tribute to the anxiety which both sides of the House have expressed and to keenness and eagerness to do the best for youngsters rather than to make propaganda points.
It is certainly a matter of some satisfaction to me that my maiden speech in this Chamber was on employment and training apprentices. Many of the points I raised then have been covered by this Bill and in the Newsom and Robbins Reports. Then—three years ago—it was not so widely recognised that this country would have to make a radical alteration in its system and method of training industrial workers. 1005 Now it is widely recognised and accepted that we shall stand or fall by the quality and volume of our industrial production, and that quality and volume will depend on training.
Almost daily we see a fresh advance in the application of science to industry and an almost bewildering procession of new materials and new machines accompanying them. Even the concept of skill itself has changed radically in the last three years. In this context, the old empirical method of industrial training simply will not do. We have to provide our workers with a basic knowledge and understanding which alone enables a man to adapt himself throughout his working life of 40-odd years to a succession of technological changes and even more to accept change with confidence.
I hope that this Bill sees out the old-fashioned idea which allowed the main functions of an apprentice to be sweeping the workshop floor or fetching the tea. I think, too, that it will probably see out the old concept that envisaged that an apprentice could pick up knowledge of his work as he went along. I do not intend to criticise the methods of apprenticeship. That has now become the problem of the training boards. It would be unrealistic to expect that the completion of all stages of this Bill will see a miraculous and overnight change. It will take time for the changes envisaged to be effected. Nevertheless, that time can be greatly reduced if, wherever possible, industrial and educational bodies make preliminary arrangements in anticipation of the Bill becoming an Act. The time can also be reduced if my right hon. Friends do likewise.
In his Second Reading speech, my right hon. Friend declared that for the purpose of establishing the training boards he would define industries by reference to another Act, passed in 1947. I accept that it is difficult to define industries, but definition is crucial to the Bill's success. I was therefore perturbed to learn from a Parliamentary Question this week that, during the 16 years since the Industrial Organisation and Development Act was passed, only four Orders designating industries by activities have been made. My right hon. Friend has just said that he in-
1006 tended to establish the training boards with the "least possible delay". Had he not dons so, I would have had to urge him to apply a rather more realistic sense of urgency to the Bill; otherwise the outlook for the training boards would not have been very bright.
Further, the effectiveness of the boards will depend on the calibre of those appointed to them. My right hon. Friend has said that he will seek the right individuals. This, as we all accept, is an enabling Measure, and has been widely criticised outside the House on this score. It has been said that because it lacks power to compel industries to undertake a raining schemes, its whole purpose is vitiated. In a free society, it is hard to she how compulsion could be enforced without recourse to powers to direct workers to participate also—and that is detestable.
Industrial training is already divided in three ways— among local education authorities, unions and employers. In the past few years, the search for the perfect form of industrial training has produced a wide diversity of ideas. Various schemes have been tried. The boards will have quite enough to do to harmonise the unco-ordinated habits, practices and decisions of a large number of private, semi-public and advisory bodies over the whole range of training, and establish a reliable and recognisable pattern of skilled craftsmanship. In this, the boards' success will largely depend on the good will of the industries concerned, and it is therefore important that those appointed should be of the highest calibre, widely recognised in then: particular fields, and respected as such.
Again, it may prove helpful to the boards if at an early stage there is consultation between them and the various area advisory councils and committees for further and technological education, which must by now have almost unrivalled knowledge of the facilities already existing for industrial education. Liaison between the boards and the education authorities is essential; the boards must know what the L.E.A.S have to offer, and the L.E.A.S must know what the boards want them to provide.
Hon. Members opposite and my hon. Friend the Member for Northants, South (Mr. Arthur Jones) pressed in Committee 1007 for the addition to the C.T.C. of a representative of the Youth Employment Service. I am not convinced that their aim would have been achieved by such an appointment. It seems to me far more important that the boards should work most closely with the Youth Employment Service— they will fail if they do not. So there must be the closest possible liaison between my right hon. Friend and the Minister of Education. I raised this point at the very first sitting of the Standing Committee, and do not apologise for repeating it.
All too often, discussions about a youngster's post-school career are left to the last term of his school life. The careers master then brings out whatever literature he may possess, tenders such advice as he can, and the youth employment officers give a talk to the school. No wonder there is the problem of wastage! I should like to see the youth employment officer coming into consultation as a matter of course with the careers staff of a school— and this applies to boys' and girls' schools, and it does not make any difference whether they are grammar, secondary modern, comprehensive or bilateral, or what the school-leaving age may be—before the pupil's last school year begins. I should like to see the youngster's post-school life discussed, not only between them, but with his parents. His last school year can then be purposefully directed towards his chosen career, and he will find that year full of meaning and direction, and not, as so often is the case now, a period to be got through.
Next, there is the problem associated with the opportunities of training open to the country child. The hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) said that in his constituency young people were taken by the careers staff to see what industry was all about—how fortunate that there should be industry for them to see what it is all about.
Let us consider the position of the country youngster living, perhaps, five miles from a market town of 10,000 population, or under. The opportunities for employment are severely restricted, if they exist. Then there is the great distance he has to travel to a recognised craft centre. Railways are remote from rural villages and the bus companies 1008 are tending to reduce their less remunerative services. The youngsters' first expenditure invariably has to be on a motor bicycle so that he may travel 20 or 25 miles to his craft centre—if he has the temerity ever to think that he will become an apprentice. He has to make that journey once a week or twice a week for several years to acquire a craft qualification that a town youngster can get by walking down the street. I trust that my right hon. Friend will invite the C.T.C. to address itself to the solution of this disparity between youngsters caused purely by the chance of geography.
We accept that every child has a right to secondary education, and I believe that every youngster has a prescriptive and equal right to obtain a craft qualification, whether he is living in the town or in the country. The C.T.C. may eventually advise my right hon. Friend that the first, and, perhaps, the second year of apprenticeship should be devoted to a full-time course. If that is accepted, provision for this change would be the responsibility of the boards. But for those apprentices or trainees travelling considerable distances, residential apprentice centres would provide the solution. Alternatively, the C.T.C. may conclude that since training is a continuation of education, departments in existing secondary modem schools could be expanded and adapted to serve rural areas. The provision of additional equipment and staff could enable them to be recognised as craft centres for an area.
Local education authorities already possess the means of transporting to these schools, and I see no reason why this transport should not be used for industrial training as well.
As I said, I do not expect miracles overnight, but the Bill makes the chance of a miracle possible. I give it god-speed in its passage. I wish it well and I trust that my right hon. Friend has every success in the difficult, intricate and complex task which he has ahead of him.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Idwal Jones (Wrexham)
I welcome the Bill not because I am completely satisfied with its terms, but because here we have a Measure which is at long last a major step forward and 1009 which acknowledges the magnitude of the problem with which the country is faced.
Industrial training in this country has been grossly neglected and where training has taken place it has been patchy geographically and industrially, some areas having training schemes and others being poor in training schemes. It has also been patchy in time because of fluctuations from year to year.
Contrasted with academic education, we can see where we have been failing in the past. With all the shortcomings of our academic education, we can say that we have a national educational structure, by which I mean that boys and girls can go from the primary through the secondary school to higher educational institutions and to the colleges and universities. But this has not been so in industry where there has been no such structure. It is because the Bill is an attempt to set up some form of structure that it commends itself to me.
Industrial training has been unduly left to industry and to industrial firms. It has been left to industrial firms to decide whether to have an educational policy. Some have training schemes; others have not. It has been the firms which have decided not only whether to have schemes of industrial training but also the nature of the training—whether it was to be day-release or a sandwich course, or a more ambitious university training.
Even now, under the Bill, employers are not to be obliged to train the young employee. Most young people—and I hope that the Bill will correct this to some extent—have entered employment without any training. Nationally there has been no comprehensive structure of industrial training and this has been to the country's great disadvantage. In practice, training has varied from firm to firm, from place to place and from year to year. It is because the Bill seeks to meet this unsatisfactory situation and to try to improve upon it that we commend it.
It is generally agreed nowadays that we are in the middle of the greatest industrial revolution that the world has ever seen. Developments of new techniques of production are taking place at a speed which threatens to overtake us. Hence the need for a Measure which will enable us, if possible, to 1010 catch up with these changes. The range of training from now on will have to be very much broader than hitherto. At one end it will be necessary to train in the mechanical skills and dexterities. At the other will be the opportunity for the technician and the theorist.
But manual skill and manual dexterity will not be enough. Of far greater importance will be adaptability. The nature of in mechanical skills will change rapidly and will change more rapidly with the passing of time. As changes in mechanical skills occur, the need for adaptability will increase more and more with the passing of the years. Therefore, industrial training must be broad. I do not want to attach too much importance to certificates. This country is in danger of becoming examination-ridden. Industrial training must be broad and not confined to a single industry or single process within an industry. Nor should it be confined to a select few or small proportion of our people. The entire working population needs to be trained in some form of dexterity and adaptability and unless we can trail all our working people, the country has no real future.
I regard industrial training as a type of educational training. I know that it is not academic education, but it is education. Education in skill is education as much as education of the mind. That is why industrial education should form an integral part of our educational system. Perhaps I speak with a lonely voice, but that is my conviction. It should form part of the educational structure and just as a youth can pass through the secondary schools to the colleges and universities, so those boys and girls who do not go to colleges and universities should be able to go through the secondary schools to industrial training. Until we reach that position, we shall never find the solution to the problem of the industrial training of the people of this country.
Not only should this be mere training in dexterity and mechanical skill, but it should have a touch of further education, because we want a nation of working people able lot only to turn screws and to function machines, but to have the ability to think and to take an interest in the spiritual, cultural and moral affairs of the nation.
§ 8.28 p.m.
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)
Since I did not have the honour to serve on the Standing Committee which considered the Bill. I had not thought of speaking tonight. In case, however, my constituents might think that I was not doing my job, I should say that I have been on the Standing Committee considering the Police Bill, which we have been enjoying and with which we hope to continue until towards July, if not the end of the year.
Despite the new aspect of the Bill, the speeches to which I have listened this evening have followed very much the pattern of speeches on labour affairs of the last three or four years. I always feel that the speeches from the Opposition Front Bench on labour matters appear to suggest locking the stable door not only after the horse has bolted, but also after it has been brought back again.
Perhaps I may make two short points in connection with the Bill. The first takes up the point raised by the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) about how the country can be made training-conscious. In all matters of industrial relations—and industrial training falls into that general category—the important man in any industrial firm to be converted to the idea of industrial training is the managing director. Unless we get the chap at the head of the firm intensely interested in training, fringe benefits, longer holidays and new methods of production, we will not get quick action for any voluntary industrial ideas which the House of Commons may produce.
If we are to get a quick change, industrial training must become smart. Computers these days are smart to the manager. Europe used to be smart. The idea of shorter working hours is becoming smart. How is my right hon. Friend the Minister to make the ideas contained in today's excellent Bill those which industrial management wishes to embrace because they are the right thing to do?
I can make only two suggestions. The first is that my right hon. Friend should try to get himself invited to the next large meeting of the Institute of Directors and start propagating his ideas 1012 there to an audience which, we hope, would be fertile to them. Secondly, he might ask hon. Members on both sides to take up particular points of industrial training in industries in their constituencies and to follow them up for him. If I have any further ideas, I will let my right hon. Friend know.
As to the second point, which concerns the important aspect of apprentice training, there is a real shortage of capable instructors to instruct apprentices in industrial companies. There are many skilled craftsmen and workmen who can do their job efficiently but who are quite unable to instruct others and impart their knowledge to them.
I was interested to hear about the new course which my right hon. Friend has arranged at the Government Training Centre at Letchworth, but the fact that the last one was not exactly a success and there were insufficient applicants points to the fact that the penny has not yet dropped and employers do not realise that they have an excellent opportunity to have instructors trained for them.
I do not believe that anything like enough is known throughout industry of the work of the Government training centres, and until a fortnight ago I knew nothing about their work either. However, after the visit which my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary arranged for me to the Slough Government Training Centre, I am now completely converted. I was most impressed by the efficient programme and the great opportunities that training in a Government training centre can give to an apprentice, to a disabled man and to somebody undergoing retraining.
I only put the idea to my right hon. Friend that the Government training centres throughout the country might run from time to time short courses for instructors. It seems to me that they are a ready-made organisation to which skilled men should be sent from various firms to learn under absolutely ideal conditions the task of teaching. It was said of Archbishop Lang by someone that he was not much of a fisher of men, but someone else replied, "Maybe not, but he is a very good fisher of bishops." I believe that the Government training centres should be used for training a large number of those who will instruct 1013 Others, I hope that the various training boards and my right hon. Friend will bear this in mind in future.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Mr. John Page
My maiden speech followed that of the hon. Member three years ago on the same subject.
§ Mr. Albu
I am afraid that I made my maiden speech much longer ago than that.
The hon. Lady the Member for Petersfield (Miss Quennell), in an interesting speech, said that after three years of efforts since her maiden speech she was gratified that the Government now recognised the degree of training and skill which the country's industry would need. This made me think back over the long weary years, three or four times as long as that, during which some of us have been pressing the same point. Nevertheless, we are glad that it has been recognised at last—whether the Bill is tardy, just at the right time, ahead or behind, or just parallel with public opinion; and we all know the difficulties about public opinion in this matter.
The Bill, as has been said, is permissive. It will depend entirely upon the vigour with which the then Minister of Labour operates it. I have some doubt about the Central Training Council, which I expressed in Committee. I believe that the responsibility for getting the Bill launched and getting the training boards going on the right lines will be with the Ministry. I do not believe that part-time advisers, unless they are supported by very strong and adequate expert professional teams, can do jobs as large as the job which is required to be done in this area of activity. But the final execution of the intentions of the Bill will rest with the boards, and it is on the composition of the boards that some of us have doubts.
I am sorry that the Minister was unwilling to accept some of the Amendments put forward from this side of the House to enlarge the membership of 1014 the boards. In view of the history of British industry, there is a serious danger of the development of a degree of cosiness within the industrial training boards which would be a hindrance and a handicap to any vigorous action. The policing of the boards by the Ministry will have to be the answer to that. I wish that there could have been broader representation and that there could have been representation of technical college teachers as well as youth employment officers.
I want, mainly, to see the introduction on to the training boards of any persons who have particular skills connected with training or with the forward look about the shape that industry will have in the future. The danger may be that the boards will be composed of people who are conservatively minded and develop training schemes for industry as it is today. I hope that the boards will produce, as some industrial training schemes already have done, regional and area training committees with adequate authority within their areas to carry on the work.
The levy has been referred to by several hon. Members. I was a little worried about what the Minister had to say about the tax position, which I am sure is correct—that the levies will be business expenses and, consequently, relieved of tax, and that the grants will be income and, therefore, taxed. This emphasises the importance of both the levies and the grants being large enough. If they are lot large enough, they will not bite, as one of my hon. Friends said, and if in one case they are relieved of tax and in the other are subject to tax, they will have to be very substantial indeed.
The need for high quality of training staff has been emphasised and it is very important. How shall we get people to take up the occupations of industrial training officers and training instructors? I believe that people will enter these occupations if they see that the Ministry means business about getting this Bill going or that the boards insist, before they give grants for training, that whichever organisation is doing the training has properly trained staff to carry it out, and that no firm or organisation will be allowed to undertake training and receive grants for 1015 doing so unless it has a training officer in charge of the training and unless those who are carrying out the training are properly trained and instructed.
Here is the usual problem of the market and the supply. However, if it is seen very clearly that training boards will insist on high standards in their training officers and instructors, and that they will be supported by the Ministry in doing this, I think we can start to recruit people to train for these jobs.
I am glad to hear that the staff college for further education will be used. It has been developing fairly slowly. Obviously, a great deal of publicity will have to be given to the courses and to what is intended. It is not enough just to provide publicity for the courses if people do not think that there will be jobs for them after they have completed the courses. It is essential that men and women who would be inclined to take the courses should realise that by Act of Parliament there will be jobs for them in industry afterwards.
The responsibility of both the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Education is to plan the training not only for the jobs which are available now and the occupations which are available now but for the years ahead. My hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) referred to the very interesting forecast which has been made of the changes in skills which will be required—as far as I know, it is the only estimate of this type which has been made—by the department of applied economics at Cambridge, a group under Professor Stone. Reference was made to the great annual increase in the number of skilled workers and the great annual decrease in the number of unskilled workers which will be required over the next few years. Perhaps I may give some further figures which will break the situation down even more.
If one takes the managerial, professional, and technical classes, the proportion of the working population which they will represent over the ten years1961 to 1971 will rise from 21.6 per cent. to 26.6 per cent. There are problems here, because many of these occupations, particularly the engineering and technical ones, require practical training in industry, and there is increasingly a 1016 shortage of practical training places. If one considers those of the professional level, particularly those going to what are at present colleges of advanced technology—shortly to become technological universities—the National Council for Technological Awards, which has been responsible for the Diploma in Technology, has recently issued a statement drawing attention to the serious shortage of training places, particularly for those taking sandwich courses, and this is something to which the industrial training boards will have to pay attention.
However important it is to raise the academic level of training for engineering—and I am one of those who believes that this is very important—it will still be necessary for those people to have adequate practical training. I believe that the technicians will get a higher degree of academic training in future, but they will still need a substantial amount of practical training, and something will have to be done for these people, too.
The number of craftsmen is also going to increase. I have some doubts about the figures which have been given, because I think that they are too high and include a lot of people who are not strictly craftsmen. In this case the increase in the proportion is from 38 per cent. to 44 per cent., although in the case of the 44 per cent. is only a return to the 1951 figure.
We have to consider not merely the increase in numbers, but the higher standard of training required. This is one aspect of the Bill which we must keep in mind. The Bill is designed not merely to increase the numbers of those trained, but also to increase standards, particularly in those industries which have all along undertaken apprenticeships, but the standard of which has been far too low.
One hon. Gentleman opposite referred to the trade unions. The unions will play along with this Bill provided that their young members are not treated as cheap labour. They will play along with it if they feel that if their young members go into an apprenticeship they will get proper training, as they do in many firms, but there are far too many firms in which they do not. 1017 To continue with the figures about the changes in the proportions of the workers, I have given those that will rise in the next few years, I think that the hon. Member for Leicester, North-East (Mr. Bradley) was wrong in what he said about clerical occupations, because the forecast is a fall from 13.3 per cent. to 10.1 per cent. of the working population, and if one takes operatives and unskilled workers, the fall is from 27.6 per cent. to 19.3 per cent.
That faces us with difficult problems indeed, because this trend—and the figures that I have given are only to 1971—will continue and will accelerate with the growth of mechanisation of all sorts—automation, to use a misleading and rather horrible word—and the new devices that are coming into use in industrial and commercial activities. We shall be faced with a very serious problem indeed; the problem of a new sort of class division. We shall need an increasing number of people—in fact the majority of the population—with a much higher degree of education and training than they have ever had before, and unless we are careful we may find ourselves left with one-third of the population—a declining proportion, but still a substantial one—consisting of unskilled workers who will find it more and more difficult to get jobs.
I believe that a larger proportion of the population is capable of receiving a good secondary education and of receiving training to a greater degree of skill than has so far been thought possible. We can bring many more people into various forms of skilled occupation, but we must not forget that we shall then still be left with what in future will be a minority—perhaps a declining minority—who will be virtually unskilled.
The thought of what might happen is slightly frightening, and there are two responsibilities here. The first is for industry, which has to so organise its activities, its operations, and its jobs that it can provide employment for the whole strata of abilities within the population. It is no good creating an industry which is capable of using only honours degree candidates, or those with three A levels or very high degrees of skill. Industry must so organise itself 1018 as to be able to employ the whole distribution of abilities within the population.
Secondly, the Ministry of Education has to develop a system of education and training in which more responsibility is put upon education than on training for those who will not go into very highly skilled occupations. I have only begun to think about this problem, which will be a growing one, and which, unless we are very careful, may lead not only to difficulties in respect of shortages and surpluses in employment but to very severe social tensions. The gap will grow between those with a very high degree of skill and the unskilled, and we must think of this very seriously.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Boyden
If I am critical of some parts of the Bill, it is not because I do not wish it well. I speak more in sorrow than in anger. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the general atmosphere in Committee was constructive and that we all hope that the Bill will be a success, but this framework to the training scheme is so constructed that there is written into it discrimination against the educationalists. This is where I hope that we shall have action rather than words.
In Committee the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labour have sat shoulder to shoulder. The provisions of Clause 1(4) provide only for consultation between employer organisations and trade unions; other consultations are permissive. Then there is the extraordinary entrenchment in the Bill of the rights of vested interests. Paragraph 5 of the Schedule provides for voting on a levy to be confined to employers and trade unionists, and in paragraph 7 we have the most extraordinary provision, which was popped in at the last minute, under which the industrialists are allowed to vote by proxy.
I see that in the circular they have sent to us manufacturers are boasting of having achieved a triumph. I am sorry that they feel it to be a triumph. I would have thought that the success of this scheme depended entirely upon the co-operation of the three partners—employers, employees and educationalists in the two fields; those who teach and 1019 those who administer. By writing into the Bill this extraordinary provision the Government are doing damage to this partnership. From conversations that I have had with educationists, it is clear that they are very upset about this point. I know that the A.T.T.I. is.
I wish the Bill every success, but the two Ministries have to convince us in the next few weeks that they are sincere in their intentions that the educationists shall be equal partners. It may be slightly outside the scope of the Bill to say this, but one of the clearest ways of demonstrating this would be the announcement of a date for raising the school leaving age to 16. Such an announcement would help to satisfy educationists that the Government mean business. Much more important than the provisions of Clause 2 are the methods by which the Government deal with day release and block release. On Second Reading, the Minister of Education said:I think that I shall receive it"—that is, the Henniker-Heaton Report—before the Bill is passed through the House".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Official Report. 20th November, 1963; Vol. 684, c. 1120.]I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will now be able to tell us that he has received it and that the Report establishes and recommends—I am quite sure that it will—that day release or some form of release in working time for apprentices must be compulsory. It would be something of a sensation, and very acceptable to this side of the House, if the Parliamentary Secretary said that the Minister accepted such a recommendation.
There is a marked contrast between the eagerness with which the Government have accepted the general recommendations of the Robbins Report and the pace with which this particular industrial scheme is being pushed forward. Only today, the Minister of Labour was quite pleased to tell us that he had appointed an extra member of his staff on it and that he had got eight people working full time. He seemed quite smug and complacent about it, thinking that this was adequate for the great movement which is required from his Ministry, The indications are that the scope of activity which he envisages 1020 is far more restricted than we on this side feel that it should be.
He gave another indication of his attitude when he said that instructors need training and he hoped that lots of firms would send instructors to the next course, which, he said, does not take very long. A two-week course to instil into an instructor the art of teaching is really a very small thing indeed. At the height of the war, all the Armed Forces had courses for training instructors. For about three years, I was concerned with a three-week course to train flying instructors in some of the techniques of ground instruction. They were already instructors, well seized of the basic principles of instruction, yet the Royal Air Force, at the height of the battle, thought it necessary to devote at least three weeks to converting flying instructors into ground instructors. Yet the Minister of Labour now is pleased with a two-week course for converting quite raw people into instructors for this scheme. He will have to do very much better than that.
In Committee—I was very pleased to hear it—the Minister said that one of the purposes of the Bill is not only to increase the quantity of training but to raise the quality. I beg him to look at this key point in the situation. The quality of instructors should be raised as soon as possible by more attention being devoted to the actual methods of their training.
The Robbins Report said that there is no system of higher education in this country. It has been said several times that there is no system of industrial training either. One of our hopes is that a system will evolve out of the Bill. I put it quite squarely to the Government. If it should happen that the "flyers" in our education system, those who go to university and to the C.A.T.S, have more money and more care and attention devoted to them than is devoted to the rank and file in industry, this will make a mockery of democracy and do serious damage to the credit of the Government.
An announcement about the educational provisions and day-release ought to be made very quickly indeed. The Minister of Education has had two months since the Second Reading debate. He knew from the tone of that debate that we should do all we could to assist in furthering this Bill. It is extraordinary 1021 that we have not yet had these announcements in the realm of education to go parallel with the industrial training scheme so that we can construct a system of industrial training and education. I hope—Iam sure that both sides of the House are determined on this—that we shall construct a system of higher education. We must now proceed as fast as we can to construct a system of industrial training and education so that the three partners to which I referred earlier can march side by side.
I turn now to another basic theme to which neither Minister has, as far as I know, paid very much attention. I shall be corrected if I am wrong, because I wish to quote something said by the Minister of Education. I have referred to the importance of training the technician. Naturally, the first priority in this Bill is for the apprentices and those leaving school. That is right. But there ought to be a very close second priority for the training of technicians. During the Second Reading debate, on 20th November, the Minister of Education said:I am not sure that we yet give the technicians proper status in our scheme of things.A little later he said:…there is still a widespread failure in industry to recognise the importance of the technician and the need to give him education and training specially designed to meet his needs."—[Official Report, 20th November, 1963; Vol. 684, c. 1120.]By a coincidence, the very next day one of our leading people, I suppose the leading person in technology and technician training, Sir Willis Jackson, said, on the occasion of the Tenth Fawley Foundation Lecture at Southampton University, much the same as the Minister said in that debate. Perhaps I may be permitted to quote the most important part of it:The effects and the demands of technical change in industry and elsewhere are emphasising the growing significance of the category of manpower lying between the technologist and craftsman and operative—a category which in engineering is coming to be described collectively as that of the technician engineer.This is the heart of the matter:Regrettably, in our concern for our shortage of scientists and technologists, we have been inclined to overlook somewhat the importance of their supporting contribution and their needs in education and training, so much so that our greater present shortage may well be at this level.1022 The Minister of Education was speaking along those lines, and I hope that we shall have some indication tonight that this problem, which is so fundamental to our future is being given more attention than we were led to believe during the Committee stage discussions.
Sir Willis Jackson went on to talk of the need for public opinion to be pushed forward in this field. He said in relation to the television authorities and the B.B.C that very often when exemplifying matters of science they attributed to the research scientist what in fact had been achieved by the technician. He thought that the B.B.C. and the independent television authorities could make a contribution in this sphere of education and industrial training and the need to advance our industry by stressing the rôle of the technicians.
I know that the Lord President's Department is conducting a survey into the technicians' needs and the nature of their training. One of the things that this Bill will give us is an opportunity statistically to sort out the problems which beset us in industry and so provide industrial training to that end. The priorities of the Government in relation to the engineering and construction industries are right. But after that, there are a great many things which need to be established in order to get the right priorities.
I hope that any attempt to push forward apprentice and technician training, and all the other kinds of training which were referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice)—management training, retraining of adults and so on—will be given the support which it deserves. Nothing would be so fatal as to get the scheme so lopsided that it left out some of these elements. While we agree with the main priorities of the Government I hope that there will be formative schemes in all these fields. It is not a matter of spreading the effort too much. We on this side of the House have been criticised for that. But here that is not the case. It is necessary to establish growing points—a word which is popular in these days—in all these spheres of activity and to get the priorities right.
In being critical to this extent, I would say that those of us on this side of the House who have been active in these 1023 matters will do all that we can to further the cause of industrial training. If we can help with conferences and things of that sort, I am sure that we will. I should like to compliment the Ministry of Labour on some of the industrial relations conferences which have been held. I have had the privilege of taking the chair at conferences and have managed to keep the balance between the contending forces. This is the kind of work in which if we can help, we will, because we are all anxious in this field of industrial training to get the best quality and the maximum quantity.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)
Some Bills take an interminable time between Second Reading and Third Reading. By the time we reach the Third Reading of such Bills, all who have sat through the proceedings are bored to tears after having gone through Clause after Clause and Schedule after Schedule. This Bill has been a very pleasant exercise. It has had the virtue not possessed by many Bills, that there has been a great deal of agreement on both sides of the House about it. Those of us who had the pleasure of being members of the Standing Committee have thoroughly enjoyed it. We have come away with the feeling that we have provided something constructive in industry which in the future will be looked upon as a progressive Measure in keeping with the Government's programme of modernisation of the economy.
I want to deal with three points—the need for speed, the need for the right leadership at the top, and the need to give sufficient punch to this effort through publicity. On the need for speed, I hope that the Ministries of Labour and Education working together will be able to get this Measure working quickly so that within a few months industry will feel the impact.
This will require the right leadership. It will require leadership in three places. The first place is at the Ministry, for the enthusiasm and the punch that the Minister and his team of civil servants give to this will set the trend for what happens throughout the country. 1024 Secondly, it will require the appointment of a dynamic chairman of the Central Training Council. We want in many ways a Beeching for training. He must be someone who can galvanise both employers and trade unions. There has been much holding back on training development by both employers and trade unions. He must be someone who can get them to co-operate, for the days of talking about training are long past.
We can judge what is required from the fact that in the engineering industry, with about 4,500 firms, there are less than 400 training schools. My hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) said that this country has had a failure on training because many small firms have not made a contribution. This is an old criticism. To some extent I agree with it, but not entirely. I am not sure that small firms are the right firms to initiate training programmes.
The Bill will provide something which has been lacking—the opportunity for the larger firms, the Ministry and the L.E.A.s, through the technical colleges, to help the small firms so that they can make a contribution through their personnel and by providing the levy. Many small firms have not been able to train apprentices. It is not a question of a lack of will but, fundamentally, a lack of resources. British industry is to a large extent made up of small firms and this has led to a burden being placed on the larger ones. I hope that the Bill will put that right.
I agree that publicity and a general pushing of the objectives of the Bill will be required at employer and trade union level. It has been suggested that we have not seen a great deal of publicity in the national Press for the Bill. We tend to sometimes overrate the value of publicity in the national Press. Perhaps this is a common failing of politicians. I want to see more publicity given to the Measure, the work of the training boards and so on, through the technical Press. I hope that my right hon. Friend will use this section of the Press to its full extent.
I should also like to see employers co-operating by giving the fullest information of what is happening through their works journals. The trade unions, through their excellent magazines, which 1025 reach right across industry, can also do much to publicise the need for training and the opportunities that will be made available.
I spoke on Second Reading about the need for co-operation between the L.E.A.s, the technical colleges and Government Departments. I have in mind a new type of team effort that will be required on the education-industrial front. This is something new, although I appreciate that there is always the danger that something new is slow to develop. The leaders of industry, chairmen and managing directors of industries and firms, can play a considerable part in this. Some of them will doubtless be appointed to the industrial training boards. Some are already members of local employment committees. I hope that some of them will play their part educationally, both on local education authorities and as managers of technical colleges.
The same kind of co-operation will be required from some trade union leaders. It is only by getting educationists, industrialists and trade unionists together that we will get the kind of sharing of opinions that will set the pattern of the future of industrial training aright and give it the best that is available in terms of organisation and brains on both sides, industry and education.
There is a great need for more apprentices and there will also be a need for an increase in the number of people who can train them. One will not easily man the Government training centres unless the right people can be found. Industry will have to provide some of these people. It will have to be prepared to sacrifice some of its best foremen and supervisors who, in turn, will need to be trained either through short, crash courses—and my right hon. Friend mentioned that one of these is already available at Letchworth—or through longer courses to enable them to train apprentices.
If there is a belief in the objectives of the Bill I am sure that it will make a considerable contribution to both an increase in the efficiency of British industry and a greater opportunity being available for our young men and women to become craftsmen and well-trained.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. A. E. P. Duffy (Colne Valley)
Like the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. K. Lewis), I, too, am glad that I was able to play a very modest part in the passage of the Bill, not merely because it afforded me my first experience of Committee work here, but because I relieve we have laid the foundations of a system of occupational training which in years to come may be without rival in the world.
However it will be developed in this direction—and here I part company from the hon. Member—only if we approach it in the spirit expressed by my hon. Friends the Members for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) and Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) and if we recognise its limitations as well as the very real advance it represents.
As my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North said, of itself, the Bill will not guarantee that provision for industrial training will be improved. It is an enabling Bill, and I do not believe that that can be said too often. It creates machinery for inaugurating industrial training boards and confers certain powers on them. But upon too many important issues of industrial training it has nothing to say simply because it is an enabling Bill.
The onus for the success of the Measure will devolve largely on the boards and the committees which they will be required to set up. They will be required to impose a levy so that those employers who have evaded their responsibilities in the past will be able to do so no longer. They will be empowered to approve training courses, to apply tests, to undertake research and to obtain information.
Clearly, the Bill has more bite than the White Paper. There is also the inducement of £50 million in grants. Finally, the Minister has reserved to himself certain powers. But are those sanctions sufficient. Has the Bill been given enough teeth? For example, the boards will consist in the main of representatives of those employers and unions who have partially failed in the past. They will, however, have the responsibility for fixing the levy. What a cosy arrangement! I wonder if it has occurred to the Minister that the size of levy may be an inarticulate premise in certain industries 1027 in the process of collective bargaining. Certainly some employers and union leaders have more in common than is generally supposed. Is it likely that they will always fix a levy large enough to compel attention?
Provided a firm pays its levy, it can still go on ignoring the responsibility to provide training. It is to be regretted that the Bill does not make provision for any form of compulsion of firms to see that young people in their employ receive training. The payment of a levy should not be allowed to excuse a firm from responsibility for permitting its young employees to be trained.
I cannot see how industrial training can be provided on the scale our economy and society require without compulsory release for appropriate further education. Moreover, the Minister has given no indication as to what he regards as a desirable minimum figure for a levy expressed as a percentage of the wages bill for a particular group of craftsmen.
There is great concern in education circles over this matter of restricting the voting of the levy to the employer and worker representatives, despite the Minister's assurance. There is also fear elsewhere that, with equal numbers of employer and worker representatives and no casting vote by the chairman, there is very real danger of constant deadlock—again despite the Minister's reserve powers.
Another widespread reservation about the boards is that the representatives will be made up only of employers, trade unionists and educationists. Are there not others, such as consultants, who could make a valuable contribution at this level? I appreciate the Minister's desire to keep the boards as small as possible but his present intention seems unnecessarily restricted.
If the composition of the boards is to be an exercise in balance between the employers and the unions, and if we are to see representatives of education achieve parity in the committees, then I fully expect to see the early dynamism coming from the educational members.
Years ago there should have been a pilot scheme of this nature in an appropriate town—for example, Huddersfield. The hon. Member for Huddersfield, 1028 West (Mr. Wade) would not, I think, disagree with me when I say that it would have been a perfect town for such a pilot scheme. It is not merely next door to my constituency, but it is famed for its engineering, chemicals and textiles—a nice spread of industry.
It has a well-established tradition of trade union organisation which goes well back to the nineteenth century, but it is distinguished also for its technical teacher-training. I have no doubt that it would have been on the latter group that the success of such a pilot scheme would have depended. This takes nothing away from the employer and trade union representatives.
They may well recognise that it is from the teachers that the requisite thrust and imagination for the launching of a scheme of this kind must inevitably come. It is on the teachers and educational representatives that the responsibility for a balanced approach to training will largely devolve. It will be up to them to see that the functions of the training boards are not carried out in terms of minimum and narrow technical requirements. I welcomed the Minister's recognition that training and education are complementary, just as I was partly reassured by the presence of the Minister of Education during Second Reading.
I still do not think, despite my complaints during Committee, that the importance of further education, both on industrial and further educational grounds, can be over-emphasised, given the Minister's forgivable anxiety—which is widely shared—to get some kind of scheme started. On industrial grounds there is an urgent need to give young people that training which will help them to acquire a sufficiently high degree of adaptability to face the industrial future. This will call primarily for imagination in order that they can see the relevance of new techniques and designs and patterns of work as they affect them as workers and bring a changing demand for their labour.
On this point one has to bridge the gap between technical and liberal studies, not merely because of the inherent danger in the widening gap between the two cultures, but because of the type of people with whom we are dealing. The workers are whole men and need to be treated as such. 1029 The hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Idwal Jones) said that he felt he was a lone voice in this respect. I wish to assure him in his absence that he is not alone in his concern. It will not be easy to bring the need for liberal studies in technical education home to our young workers. I fully recognise that just as it will not be easy to convince them that mastery of a subject requires critical thinking as well as knowledge of a craft. The achievement of both will call for breadth of interest and sympathy as well as experience on the part of the teachers.
I hope that when the Minister is setting up the boards and Central Training Council he will consult various bodies such as the A.T.T.I. which have long experience in this matter. Some, such as the A.T.T.I., were mentioned on Second Reading. Some, such as the Workers Educational Association and the extra mural departments of our universities, were not mentioned. Yet they have a lengthy experience in teaching liberal studies in the context of technical education, as well as in the development of seminars helping young and older workers to think critically. I do not know of any bodies in this country which have done more research into the theory of adult education and which have shared more genuine concern for education than some of the extra-mural departments of the universities.
The Bill is certain to prove inadequate unless the Minister gives the Central Training Council a more positive rôle. It is difficult to resist the thought that it was forced on the Minister and now he does not know what to do with it. He may be content that it should be limited to advising him on industrial training functions. He may think it is enough for it to be confined to co-ordinating, collecting and disseminating information. But if it is to assist in the establishment of standards of training—if it does not who will?—it will have to indicate possible lines of research and provide the nucleus of an inspectorate. If it is to provide the Minister with advice of the requisite quality, he will have to bring together those specialist and experts able to deliberate on the total training problem for all industry at all levels. If it is to have made available to it the findings of the 1030 Ministry's new Manpower Research Unit, it will have to help to lay the foundations of a national manpower policy.
If it is to remain independent of the Ministry, as the right hon. Gentleman desires, he will have to attract to its chairmanship a person of such calibre that, taken with the other requirements of the Central Training Council, it will be very difficult to deny it a growing number of initiatives. By then, the Central Training Council will have evolved into an organ fundamentally different from that now envisaged.
Nevertheless, everything considered, the Bill is probably as much as the Minister can get away with at the moment. That does not mean, as my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) said, that it should not have come years ago, and especially before the school-leaving bulge reached its maximum. Nor does it mean that it will prove adequate in its present form for very long and that stronger powers will not be needed. Nevertheless, I wish the Measure well, and I am grateful for having had the opportunity of playing a very small part in its passage. I hope that it receives the speediest possible implementation and the widest possible publicity, for I understand that the number of school leavers recently entering apprenticeship has fallen substantially compared with last year. Presumably, industry is also waiting for this legislation.
§ 9.28 p.m.
§ Dr. Jeremy Bray (Middlesbrough, West)
I was not a member of the Standing Committee, but I was quite happy the Bill should have been in the capable hands of those who were. It has been said that opinion has moved on this subject in recent years, and I have certainly seen it move in the eighteen months that I have been in this House. I should like to pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) for his part in shaping opinion on this side, and amongst these whom we represent in the country.
We are all very anxious to see this Bill get going and, in getting it going, nothing will be more important than securing the co-operation of the unions. This co-operation has been secured in 1031 the agreement on principles on which the Bill is based, but it will have to be secured in much greater detail as the boards and committees in the regions, areas and districts get to work. One essential in securing the co-operation of the unions is to give them a credible basis for seeing what the future demands for their trade will be. This point was raised in Committee, and the Parliamentary Secretary dealt with it by referring to the Manpower Research Unit.
A great deal of weight has been put on the importance of this unit, which it cannot at present bear. It is rather as though the accounts department in a firm were suddenly convinced that it would be good to start preparing a budget, and that budget was hived off to a separate section of the department which was told to get on with the job on its own. The Manpower Research Unit has sent out questionnaires on two different subjects. One—perhaps rather a sideline—was on the impact of computers on office employment. This is a very valuable and well-conceived investigation, and has obviously been put in hand by someone who knows something about the subject. The results will certainly be very interesting.
The much more difficult inquiry has been on future demands for employment in the metal-manufacturing and metal-using industries. This is a very much larger problem. Forecasts have been asked for in very considerable detail of employment, by trade, for May, 1968, with retrospective records for May, 1958. and May, 1963. Following up these forecasts, an account is asked for, only in the broadest terms, of the assumptions upon which the forecasts are based. That is to say, having been asked for firm figures for its labour requirements by trades, five years ahead, the firm is asked very broadly on what major assumptions the forecast is based. I very much hope that the firms will do their best with these forecasts, but I am sure that the Minister does not need to be told that if a lot of bad guesses are added together, one does not necessarily get a very good answer.
Perhaps it was wrong to ask firms for forecasts in this way. If the Manpower Research Unit had had a little more time in which to do its work, the Minister might have been advised that the proper 1032 question to ask was, "What manpower will you require if in five years you are asked to increase production from your present industrial plant by an appropriate unit, say, 5 or 10 per cent,? What would be the requirements for manpower for additional production with a particular new investment? Firms should be asked to state what those investments might be.
In dealing with the metal manufacture and metal-using industries we are dealing with enormous things like blast furnaces, or the steel mills in which my constituents work. At present the steel industry is not asked for the labour requirements of particular units of plant. But this affects questions such as the employment or unemployment of thousands of men. It is not a very big advance in method nor a lot of fiddly detail for which one is asking. In those industries where it is, this must obviously be dealt with on a sample basis.
The relating of production to manpower requirements is a matter of putting together the Census of Production form, and the manpower forms which are sent out by the Ministry of Labour, and to do the job properly a reorganisation of the statistical machine, not only in the Ministry of Labour but in other Ministries, is necessary. The Minister may feel that it is probably better to leave this until we come to power, but it is a matter of urgency and I hope that his advisers, if not the Minister himself, will undertake the study of what would be involved in putting Professor Stone's projections on to a sound measure of present data. At present Professor Stone has achieved interesting results with the inadequate data available to him. If inside the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Labour there was a supply of the basic data from industries on which such projections could be based, we would have the beginnings of a sound manpower policy.
This is important and it is not a sideline. If the Minister gets down to talking details with the men on the shop floor and with trade union branch secretaries and the district organisers and the others on whom will depend so much of the practical implementation of the Bill, he will find that they will respond to this kind of physical approach, relating actual production which they can achieve in the plants which they know so well with the prospects of their 1033 own employment and that of the young men coming into their trades. I hope that we shall see these major advances in the thinking of the Ministry of Labour in the implementation of the Bill.
§ 9.34 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education (Mr. Christopher Chataway)
Every hon. Member who has taken part in the debate has given the Bill a welcome I very much agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. K. Lewis) that the Report stage was a pleasant one in which to work. There has been a broad measure of agreement and on that account one may not have seen as many fireworks as on occasions in Committee. It has undoubtedly been an interesting experience for those of us who have been privileged to serve on the Bill. Clearly, improvements have been made as a result of the contributions made by hon. Members, on both sides.
On Third Reading, however, criticism has been directed at a number of points. I do not take as gloomy a view of the Bill as the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Duffy) seemed to do until he said at the end of his speech that he supposed that the Bill was as much as the Minister could get away with at present, which I took to be at least a grudging tribute. The hon. Member is, however, unduly pessimistic when he envisages that training boards may not set sufficiently high levies. The fact is that if the levy proposals of the training boards were not satisfactory, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour would not approve them.
The hon. Member showed undue gloom in taking it as a bad sign that my right hon. Friend had not yet stipulated what should be the cost of training in different firms. At this stage, it would be impossible to specify the scale of the levy that industrial training boards should set.
The hon. Member for Colne Valley, together with the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden), referred again to day release and block release. I must tell the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland that in view of the excellent progress which has been made with the Bill, it is not now the case that my right hon. Friend has re- 1034 ceived the report of the Henniker-Heaton Committee. He knows that the Report is expected shortly, and I assure the House that my right hon. Friend will be considering the recommendations of the Henniker-Heaton Committee and recommendations that may be made irrespective of the Bill. Having said that, I must again stress that one of the very welcome results to which we look forward from the Bill is an increase in the numbers taking day release and block release.
§ Mr. Prentice
The hon. Gentleman has said that it the report of the Henniker-Heaton Committee is expected shortly. How soon is "shortly"? Can the hon. Gentleman give any indication of the date and when the Minister will be able to tell the House the Government's conclusions or the subject?
§ Mr. Chataway
All I can say at this stage is that my right hon. Friend would hope to make a statement before Easter, having received the Report of the Henniker-Heaton Committee. One effect of the Bill will undoubtedly be an increase in the numbers taking day release and block release, irrespective of any action that may also be taken as a result of the Report of the Henniker-Heaton Committee.
My hon. Friend the Member for Peters-field (Miss Quennell) expressed concern that the problem of training facilities for rural children should be considered as well as those of urban children. In that respect, I would be surprised if some industrial to training boards do not recommend block release instead of day release. It may well be that those in seasonal occupations in agricultural areas will have block release recommended for them, because experience seems to show that in many of these occupations block release is more suitable than day release.
Another criticism which was levelled against the Bill by the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland and others was that the consultation required by the Bill is not sufficient with the educational interests. I, too, have had the opportunity of recent discussions with the A.T.T.I. I would not claim that I was able entirely to alky their fears, but I stressed to them, as I do again to the House, that my right hon. Friend will consult the educational interests very fully.
1035 Hon. Members should not attach too great importance to the different wordings that appear in this respect in Clause 11. If there is reference to consultation with organisations representing employed persons and to consultation with the employers, whereas in the other parts of the Clause one finds only a reference to consultation with the Secretary of State and the Minister of Education, this is not meant to imply that there will not be the most thorough discussions with educational representatives. There will be. The form of words in the Bill, after all, is primarily concerned to describe the type of people who will be appointed to the Central Training Council and to boards under these different categories.
A number of hon. Members have referred to the importance to our economy of the training of technicians. I would certainly underwrite the comments that have been made on that score. I should like to say something about technicians and technician training, both because a good deal of discussion resulting from the publication of the Government's proposals in the Bill has concentrated upon the improving of craft training and because considerable steps forward are now being taken in the education and training of technicians to which technical colleges would have a major contribution to make.
Apart from the larger electrical engineering companies, few firms even now recruit people specifically for education and training as technicians. Technician posts sometimes tend to be filled in a haphazard way by promoting craftsmen and craft apprentices who have done well academically at technical college. But, as is said in the interesting publication by the A.T.T.I. of which the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) spoke, it cannot be argued that all technicians must first have served an apprenticeship. It is not at all certain that apprenticeship is the best training for this kind of work. A great many firms have not reached the stage of distinguishing technicians as a separate category from craftsmen and technologists and therefore giving to them special education and training.
As a result of the reconstruction of technical college courses which has been 1036 carried through in recent years, we already have several of the diagnostic general courses which ought to help distinguish those youngsters best fitted for training and education. No doubt the education members of the boards will have a valuable part to play in ensuring that the boards are fully aware that facilities are available for this category of employee who, I entirely agree, is of growing importance. It is worth noting that the Fielden Report on Mechanical Engineering Design recommended that boards should consider the training of technicians as soon as possible. I have no doubt that the appropriate boards will take note of that recommendation.
The Bill will undoubtedly be of the first educational importance. A firm duty is laid upon the boards by Clause 2 to make recommendations about the further education that is to be associated with training. The numbers in the technical colleges have, of course, been increasing very rapidly in recent years, and the House will know that my right hon. Friend has recently announced a 50 per cent. increase in building starts for the technical colleges in 1965–66, with a figure of £24 million.
I do not believe that, as the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland has charged, the education representatives upon the boards will be seriously inhibited by the fact that they may not vote upon financial matters. All members of a board will be entitled to vote on the boards' proposals for the exercise of its powers. That means that the education members will have an equal voice with others in deciding such basic questions as the number of training courses needed, the relationship of further education to training and the standards of training to be recommended.
§ Mr. Chataway
The hon. Member will probably accept the notion of no taxation without representation. I put to him the thought that in a very real sense the employers and the trade unionists will be footing the Bill since it will be the firms which will be paying, and if "no taxation without representation" is an acceptable slogan, it is hardly distorting that principle or carrying it 1037 too far to suggest that where there is no taxation there may not be the right to vote upon financial matters. I give the hon. Member one further thought. The training boards will not be able to dictate to local education authorities—which will, of course, continue to be ultimately responsible for the education that is given under these courses—on financial matters. Therefore, I do not believe that the education world will on this account be in any way under-represented.
§ Mr. Chataway
The Minister, and in the Bill the Minister's powers are considerable. As I have already suggested, some of the fears that have been expressed by the Opposition should be allayed by the powers which the Minister has.
The Bill will undoubtedly be of importance to young people in many different jobs. The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) regaled the House with one of his anecdotes. If he were here, I would tell him that I hope that the Bill will be of value to the stockbrokers' clerk in time as well as to the electrical apprentice. The Bill may be of especial importance to many young people whom the Crowther Report described as being in the second quartile of ability.
Discussion in the education world in recent months has centred, very naturally, on the Newsom and Robbins Reports. I happen to think that it is a happy thing that the two Reports were published so closely together, because they have been considered together. We are at the moment embarked upon the routes of educational advance that were mapped out by those two important Committees. But it should be remembered that they do not cover the whole educational spectrum.
The Bill may be of most immediate help to many who fall outside the terms of reference of either Committee. There are those of above average ability who will not go on to institutions of higher education. For them, as for many others, the Bill will produce training and further education in greater quantity and of a higher quality. The 1038 Robbins-Newsom discussion has served to emphasise the inter-dependence of education at all levels. It has been stressed that what we need is a balanced educational advance, and in that respect the Bill will make a most important contribution. It is with the educational implications as well as the economic and industrial reasons which have been stressed in this debate in mind that I commend the Bill to the House.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.