HC Deb 08 June 1964 vol 696 cc8-11


Educational Members

24. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Labour why he has decided not to invite the Association of Supervisory Staffs, Executives and Technicians to nominate a representative on the industrial training board for the engineering industry, in view of the fact that the Association organises foremen and others who are not represented by any other union.

25. Mr. Diamond

asked the Minister of Labour, in view of the desirability of securing a cross-section of representatives of the industry on the industrial training board for the engineering industry, if he will reconsider his decision not to invite a representative from the Association of Supervisory Staffs, Executives and Technicians.

Mr. Godber

There are 36 unions in the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions, and it would have been quite impossible to appoint a member from each union with an interest in the industry to the engineering board. In appointing the workers' members, I have tried to secure as fair and representative a selection of unions as possible. Unions which are not directly represented on the board will, I feel sure, have the opportunity of making then-views known through the various committees the hoard will need to set up.

Mr. Swingler

While I appreciate the Minister's difficulties and the impossibility of having all organisations represented on the board, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that this is the only organisation which specifically caters for foremen and supervisory staffs, that it is the only union which has an agreement with the engineering employers which caters for those grades, and that it also includes in its ranks very many training instructors? Would he not think that for these three reasons the union has a special claim to be represented and to be heard on the subject of industrial training at the topmost level?

Mr. Godber

I had in mind the very considerations which the hon. Gentleman has raised. I am sure he will realise that practically every union had special reasons for wanting to be included and I had to make a choice. It may be said by some that my choice was not correct, but I tried to arrange the broadest representation that I could. I believe that other unions can play a very useful part through the committee structure, and I hope that this particular union will be able to do just that.

Mr. Diamond

Has the right hon. Gentleman paid sufficient attention to the white-collar workers, who are an increasing proportion of the total number of workers and of union members in this country? Would he not agree, therefore, that to omit such an important branch of the white-collar workers is to be backward-looking instead of forward-looking?

Mr. Godber

I took this point into account, but there were many other organisations with claims from all sorts of conflicting angles. I would remind the hon. Gentleman of the existence of the Central Training Council, which will be particularly charged with looking at this aspect of the problem.

Mr. Dudley Smith

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that, with the best will in the world, it is impossible to give everybody representation on the board and, despite the criticism, would he not agree that it is most encouraging that the board is already working so soon after the passing of the Act?

Mr. Godber

As I have indicated, the difficulties about getting agreement were substantial. I think, however that I have the general good will of all sides, and I hope that we shall maintain this and be able to make rapid progress. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comment.