HC Deb 10 March 1964 vol 691 cc391-4

Lords Amendment: In page 14, line 16, at end insert: and, if the Minister thinks fit to appoint as deputy chairman a person appearing to him to have industrial or commercial experience, the deputy chairman so appointed; and references in the following provisions of this Schedule to a chairman shall include a deputy chairman.

Mr. Godber

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

I deeply appreciate the way in which the House accepted the previous Amendment without demur, and I hope that I have not committed them irrevocably to something which they will deplore. It occurred to us that, particularly in some of the larger boards, there would be value in appointing a deputy chairman who could take some of the load off the chairman and who could do a considerable amount of the work.

We want to make provision in such a way that it would be possible for him, if necessary, to be paid. Therefore, the words in the Amendment …and references in the following provisions of this Schedule to a chairman shall include a deputy chairman. are inserted to bring into effect the subsequent words in the Schedule. I think that it is a useful provision. I do not know how many we shall wish to provide for but this would be helpful certainly in one or two of the larger boards.

Mr. Prentice

I again express support for the Amendment. I looked carefully at the Amendments in the hope that we should find something to criticise, but unfortunately I was not able to find anything. The Minister knows me well enough to realise that I tried hard. The Amendment is useful in the context that the chairmanship of the board is clearly of such importance that there may be occasions when it will be useful for him to be supported by someone else on a paid basis.

It is clear from the Bill that the success of this whole operation will depend on certain key points. One is the Minister and the work he does through his Department in consultation with the Ministry of Education and the Central Training Council. The board itself and its chairmanship are also a key point. The paid chairman and the board of unpaid part-time people will be entering on a big new job. A tremendous lot will depend on the chairman to get things moving quickly. We want to see the chairman acting in such a way that initiatives are taken quickly and he is able to have a large say in appointing the committees which will be needed, in instituting ideas, galvanising the board itself into action, and spreading new ideas through industry.

This job is so big that it will be essential, especially in some of the large industries, for the chairman to have a vice-chairman particularly because the Minister, as I understand, is rightly thinking in terms of a hoard operating on a broad basis. The Minister, for example, has resisted the wish of some people to have separate boards for different types of engineering. He has contemplated an engineering board covering 3 million workers with complex training problems and thousands of establishments throughout the country. There is a strong case for having a chairman and vice-chairman, each working full-time, partly because it will be necessary to have people with different qualifications and backgrounds who will complement each other in this work. I therefore think that the Amendment is a useful provision which it will be necessary to use more particularly in the larger industries.

Mr. Boyden

I also welcome the Amendment. I am sorry I did not think of it myself during the Committee stage. Obviously I ought to go to another place where one can think in peace and quiet. The Amendment meets in some degree the anxieties expressed in Committee about the balance of the boards. I hope that one way in which it will be used will be to get a good balance between a prominent employer and a prominent trade unionist in the chairmanship and vice-chairmanship, or vice versa.

10.45 p.m.

There might also be in the same way a balance between youth and age. We on this side of the House were somewhat in favour of having younger people —people with some established reputation but not too sere and yellow. The Amendment seems to give the opportunity of having a very experienced employer or trade unionist, perhaps on the point of retirement, as a paid chairman, with a younger vice-chairman who might be run into office in a year or two. We could thus have a balance of youth and age. Whatever may be the combination, I welcome the Amendment, because it gives flexibility as regards age, experience and balance in the industry, and a certain amount of flexibility to someone who perhaps at the time of appointment cannot give as much time to the task as he would wish but at a later stage would be able to, and who might be made a vice-chairman to begin with and subsequently promoted to the chair.

Question put and agreed to. [Special Entry].