HC Deb 27 May 1968 vol 765 cc1223-5
42. Mr. Blenkinsop

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity how many employers have undertaken off-the-job training schemes at semi-skilled level and for upgrading adult workers to skilled level in the North-East and in other development areas; and what Government assistance has been provided

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity (Mr. Roy Hattersley)

I regret that information is mot available to answer the first part of the Question. On the second part, a scheme of grants was introduced last year under which £2 million was made available to encourage off-the-job training schemes at the semi-skilled level. Applications to the value of £1,150,000 have been approved or are under consideration.

Mr. Blenkinsop

As this is a very important matter, will my hon. Friend follow it up with inquiries, since there seems to be evidence that employers are not taking as much advantage of these opportunities as they might?

Mr. Hattersley

At the beginning, there was that fear, but the scheme was extended as employers began to demand, or at least request, additional assistance under it, much of it stimulated by the beneficial effects of the regional employment premium.

Mr. Moonman

The first part of my hon. Friend's Answer will disappoint many of us on this side. Will he consider making a Paper available and also indicating the growth of off-the-job training schemes during the past three or four years?

Mr. Hattersley

I shall consider that; but to give an accurate picture we shall have to define the terms a little more precisely than they are in the original Question.

43. Mr. Blenkinsop

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity how many applications, up to October, 1967, and since that date, have been made by new or expanding firms in the North-East development area for Government assistance to help meet the cost of training additional labour; how many of such applications have been approved; and what has been the amount of the assistance for each of the two periods.

Mr. Hattersley

From September, 1964, to 30th September, 1967, there were 369 applications from firms in the Northern development area; 286 were approved. From 1st October, 1967, to 30th April, 1968, a further 158 applications were made, of which 117 have been approved. Ninety-nine applications were still under consideration at the end of April. Payments of grants totalled £400,000 up to and including September, 1967, and £294,000 from 1st October, 1967, to 31st March, 1968.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Does my hon. Friend regard that as a satisfactory response? Does it not show the willingness of the Government to give really practical assistance in this crucial respect?

Mr. Hattersley

Not only do I regard it as a satisfactory response, but I know it to be a response which is difficult to assimilate at a single hearing. What it means in simple terms is that the rate of application has more than trebled over the. recent past.