HC Deb 05 August 1965 vol 717 cc1859-61
16. Mr. Lubbock

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he is satisfied that enough places will be available at technical colleges to accommodate the additional students who will be taking courses as a result of the Industrial Training Act; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Prentice

In so far as it is possible to foresee the additional demands for further education courses which will result from the establishment of industrial training boards, I think that it will be possible to meet them.

Mr. Lubbock

Has the Minister of State had an opportunity of studying the resolution passed at the Annual Conference of the Association of Education Committees stressing the importance of ensuring that adequate building resources are available to meet the developing needs of technical colleges in relation to industrial training? Therefore, does not the hon. Gentleman think that the restrictions recently imposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in respect of capital expenditure should not apply in this sector?

Mr. Prentice

I have seen the resolution and agree with it. Clearly, the restrictions recently announced are serious restrictions which will have some effect, although we are of the opinion at the moment that they will have less relative effect on this sector than perhaps elsewhere. Technical college building as a whole has increased recently. There is some difficulty in actually getting the projects started on the ground, so that the impact of the Chancellor's announcements will have less effect here in practice than one would think at first sight.

Sir E. Boyle

Following our debate 30 hours ago on this matter, may I put this question to the Minister of State? If in the case of some authority there is likely to be very heavy pressure of numbers following the Industrial Training Act, I ask the Minister of State not to rule out the possibility of advancing one or two individual starting dates before the six months has come to an end. Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that constantly in the past when a case for "roofs over heads" has proved overwhelming, whether in the case of schools or technical colleges, this has been done by advancing a project from one programme to another? It would be rather absurd to take too rigorous a view of this merely on economic grounds, bearing in mind that this is the aspect of education which most directly affects economic efficiency.

Mr. Prentice

I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman will expect me to make a unilateral departure from the Statement of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in answer to a supplementary question. It is true that the impact of demand for day release places resulting from the Industrial Training Act will vary locally. Therefore, the general confidence we have over the country may not be reflected in every locality. We shall watch this situation very carefully and do anything we possibly can.

Mr. Freeson

Would my hon. Friend consider another way of helping in this matter? In certain areas, instead of initiating new building schemes, could not the Ministry encourage the technical college authorities to purchase or to lease disused or for-sale factory premises and the like, bearing in mind that the Statement of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer was on this score directly related to the existing strains on the building industry and this would obviate the difficulty?

Mr. Prentice

Yes. The kind of arrangements my hon. Friend mentions clearly are second-best arrangements, but they will be necessary in relation to technical colleges and perhaps other educational institutions, and we rely on the authorities concerned to explore all these possibilities carefully in relation to the demand.