HC Deb 31 October 1966 vol 735 cc17-8
25. Mr. Ridley

asked the Minister of Labour what proposals he has for the training of shop stewards to equip them for their industrial relations work.

32. Mr. Park

asked the Minister of Labour what action he is taking to promote industrial relations and training courses for shop stewards.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

The primary responsibility for the training of shop stewards is, of course, a matter for the trade unions concerned, but it is part of the work of our industrial relations officers to assist, where necessary, the promotion of suitable training for shop stewards.

My right hon. Friend is at present in touch with the T.U.C. and the C.B.I. about the part which industrial training boards might play in this matter.

Mr. Ridley

In view of the fact that as the trade unions, with the notable exception of the E.T.U., have done very little indeed about this, does not the Minister agree that the Government would be justified in trying to stimulate this, either directly or through industrial training boards? There is a very great need for more training as shop stewards.

Mrs. Williams

There is no question about the advantages to be gained from shop stewards' training. I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the fact that the Engineering Industry Training Board has already announced that shop steward training may be included in the grants scheme and the Construction Industry Training Board has made a grant in respect of a training course for shop stewards, so we are moving forward.

Mr. Park

Is my hon. Friend aware that many such courses, sponsored by the Workers Educational Association and university extra-mural departments, in collaboration with employers and trade unions, have been taking place for some time but that their expansion to meet the need is held up by a shortage of funds? Will she consult the Secretary of State for Education and Science about the way in which this difficulty can be overcome?

Mrs. Williams

Some excellent work has been done, not least by the W.E.A. and the extra-mural departments. My Ministry is concerned to try to increase the number of courses available under these schemes.

Dr. Ernest A. Davies

Will the Minister take note of the fact that courses of this kind are being mounted in more and more of our technical colleges in industrial centres? Will she urge her right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science to encourage this development?

Mrs. Williams

My Department will be quite prepared to get into touch with my right hon. Friend in order to make sure that he is aware of this development and does everything possible to support it.

Mr. Gwilym Roberts

Does not my hon. Friend agree that there is also a need to stimulate further management training in this field in order to arrive at a new criterion of "What you know", and not the other one of "Whom you need to know", or "Who your dad was"?

Mrs. Williams

My right hon. Friend is at least equally aware of that need.

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