HC Deb 17 June 1968 vol 766 cc688-9
17. Mr. McNamara

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what opportunities are given to professional and technical officers in his Department to obtain further qualifications.

Mr. Mellish

My Department encourages its professional and technical officers to gain further qualifications by releasing them for study at external institutions. They can attend a wide variety of courses in subjects relevant to their work and to improve their career prospects. Post-graduate training is also sponsored in a variety of specialist subjects.

Mr. McNamara

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Can he say what percentage of members of staff involved go for this further training, what the age range is, and what cost falls on the individual?

Mr. Mellish

I cannot give offhand the actual percentages. As regards costs, my Department pays the full cost of enrolment, tuition and examination fees. It pays half the cost of essential text books when these are retained by students. Also, we pay the regulated travel and subsistence expenses. I am referring here only to my Department and the public sector. Private enterprise itself does a first-class job.

Mr. Costain

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that some of the best training which these people can have, even the most qualified professional people, is on building sites themselves, and will he encourage them to spend some of their time on such sites?

Mr. Mellish

I hope that the hon. Gentleman, who represents an important building company, will agree that it is essential that this training should go on among professional and technical officers. It would be a sad day if that were not done.