§ 4.3 p.m.
§ Mr. J. B. Godber (Grantham)
I beg to move,That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Industrial Training Levy (Agricultural, Horticultural and Forestry) Order 1969 (S.I., 1969, No. 155), dated 10th February 1969, a copy of which was laid before this House on 19th February, be annulled.I apologise in advance if my voice is somewhat less clear than usual. I hope that I shall be able to make myself heard.
This is an unhappy debate for me, because I was responsible for piloting the Industrial Training Act through the House. I am proud of the Act. There are many industries where I want to see its use expanded and increased. For instance, the first task given to any board set up was to concentrate on training the young people coming forward to their first employment in the industry concerned. I have always said that I look on this as only the first task of the boards and that, in due course, those industries which were expanding should undertake the retraining of those coming from other types of work.
I believed in the Act when I introduced it and I believe in it now. But what I have never said or believed is that it should be applicable to every type of industry or to every condition of employment. That is why, when I introduced the Act, I did not seek to get the House to make it mandatory. lit is permissive. That is made clear in Section 1 but there is one part of Section 1 which, of course, is mandatory. This is subsection (4), which the Under-Secretary of State is probably well aware of. It compels the Minister to consult any industry before setting up a board for that industry.
Thus it is clear that, not only is the Act permissive, but that careful attention must be paid to the wishes as well as 54 to the needs of any industry before a board is established. It is true that, at the start, both sides of the agricultural industry wanted a board. The hon. Gentleman made that clear in the debate we had last year. But if the industry wanted a board, we have no evidence to show that the present Government warned it adequately of the difficulties confronting such a fragmented industry in seeking to operate a board successfully.
While we were still in office, I made no secret of my doubts about the advisability of establishing a board for agriculture. These warnings should most certainly have been given again by our successors. If they were not, the Government cannot escape a major share of the blame for the difficulties which have followed.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity (Mr. Roy Hattersley)
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman so early. I am aware of his responsibility for the Act and of his experience in both training and agriculture. Can he quote the warnings which he gave about the difficulties of setting up a board for agriculture, so that I may examine them before I reply?
§ Mr. Godber
I gave my warnings in an interview with leaders of the industry when they came to see me about the matter. I have not sought to open the files which contain the records. They are there, as the hon. Gentleman knows. But my warnings were given to these gentlemen when they came to see me and they themselves have acknowledged that there is no question but that they were given.
The point is now that the present Government should certainly have given these warnings I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not merely address himself to what I have said but will tell us what warnings he has given. That is what matters now. The fact is that, under the Conservative Government, a board was not set up, but that under the hon. Gentleman's Government one has been set up. That is the issue which matters and the hon. Gentleman should attend to what he and his right hon. and hon. Friends have said about it.
The Government cannot, therefore, escape a major share of blame for the difficulties which have followed. I accept 55 the need for adequate training at all levels for those going into agriculture and so, I am certain, does the farming community as a whole. It is not the principle of training to which the farming community is opposed, but the methods, which it thinks wrong and wasteful. When looking at the problem of training in agriculture, four factors taken together seem to put the industry into a category of its own. Two of these factors emphasise the difficulties in the industry and the other two the way in which the objectives of the Act can be achived for the industry in what I believe would be a more sensible way.
The first factor is that, while this is a large industry in total numbers employed, it also has the widest possible geographical spread. There is no question of attempting to concentrate training in one area in this industry as there might be in some others. Secondly, the total number of agricultural manpower is broken down into the smallest possible units. Quite apart from self-employed farmers who employ no labour and do not come under the scheme, a very large percentage employ only one man.
The hon. Gentleman himself made that point on 29th January, 1968, when he pointed out that there were 46,000 establishments with only one employee. It could be higher today. He also made clear that, out of 140,000 establishments, there were at that time 130,000 with fewer than five employees, which meant that only 10,000 establishments had five employees or more. These are staggering figures in relation to any industry for which a training board is set up.
The third factor is that farmers and their workers are already provided, through the farm institutes and day-release courses and county technical colleges, with a more advanced degree of opportunities for training than many other fragmented industries. Fourthly, farmers receive a portion of their incomes direct from the Government. This means that it would be possible to ensure that they paid for training in their industry and thus uphold the main principle of the Industrial Training Act without the need for a levy.
In case anybody suggests that under Conservative policies this would no 56 longer obtain, because of a change in system, let me say that even under our proposals at least £100 million would remain of Government intervention in agriculture, which is far more than would be needed in this operation. While other industries may have one or two of those criteria, I can think of no other where all four obtain.
The first two emphasise the difficulties facing any board for agriculture and the second two point the way to an alternative. I will come to the alternatives later, but at this point I wish merely to establish the unique nature of the circumstances surrounding agriculture. The first two, the diversification of the industry and the extremely small units involved, stress in extreme form the problems confronting a number of other boards, although in agriculture there are virtually no large units to balance the small.
It is worth noting that in its last annual report, which was published the other day, the Industrial Training Council drew attention to this in paragraph 66, saying:The place of the small firm under the Act is a problem area of continuing sensitivity. Criticism … pictures the small employer trying to cope with a levy and grant system and an administrative network which he believes to be geared to the big battalions. Some of these complaints maynot be justified butmany undoubtedly do reflect a major problem which must be of concern to the Council and all training boards.The problem is acknowledged, but it is far more acute in agriculture than in almost any other industry, because in agriculture there are scarcely any large employers. That is the background.
Ever since the Agricultural Training Board was set up, it has been labouring under a difficulty. Some of those difficulties arise from the background which I have described and some from purely external matters which could not have been envisaged, such as the epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease which broke out 18 months ago and which caused the abandonment of many meetings called to explain the provisions of the Board. Some, of course, have been of the Board's own making, but it is not my purpose today to seek to apportion blame, but rather to consider the present state of affairs and whether the Order is likely 57 to lead to a more satisfactory position. If there is no indication that it will, the House would be acting irresponsibly in allowing it to pass.
A year ago, we were presented with a levy order which was originally for £6 per worker. It was subsequently withdrawn and replaced by an amending order substituting £3 10s. Twelve months later, I am told that 26,500 farmers owe £275,000 of levy which they have refused to pay. The organ of the National Farmers' Union, the British Farmer, on 15th February, after quoting the Parliamentary Secretary saying that the present Order was to be laid, reported him as saying:At the same time the brake would be taken off the institution of court proceedings to recover levy from 26,500 farmers who had not paid up for 1967–68".It is not a brake but an accelerator that he requires.
How can any board be made to function effectively when its relations with its members are as bad as these figures disclose? Farmers are normally law-abiding men. They are also keenly interested in training. How else can one explain the revolution in techniques in the industry in the last two decades? How else can anyone explain that, as shown in the National Plan, it has a productivity of 6 per cent. per worker rising more rapidly than in any other major industry? This is not a reluctant industry being forced to do its duty in training, but it wants to see value for its money.
No one could pretend that £3 10s. per worker on its own could cause great hardship to our farmers, but their complaint—and it is this, above all, which has caused them to refuse to pay in such large numbers—is that a high percentage of the levy goes not administration. This arises directly from the fragmented nature of the industry. I want the Parliamentary Secretary to tell us specifically what percentage of the levy goes on administration.
The Central Training Council's latest report refers in paragraph 8 to the problem of administrative costs. It says that about £3¼ million out of a total of more than £130 million represents administration on all the boards put together. After deducting what the Government have pro- 58 vided the report works that out as less than 2 per cent. of levy income being used on administration. The figure for agriculture, I think the Parliamentary Secretary will find, is not 2 per cent. or 10 per cent. but more than 20 per cent., and that is why so many farmers feel so indignant about it. That is one important reason for their criticism.
Secondly, farmers are well aware of the training facilities which existed before and feel that the Board is in danger of duplicating much of them. There were not only farm institutes, but county technical colleges, day-release courses and various other types of courses for particular purposes. To be fair, the Board claims and I do not question its sincerity and conviction in making the claim, that it is not duplicating and that it is working in close touch with existing establishments. But it has not satisfied the farming community as a whole that the additional facilities which it has provided justify the cost of the organisation which has been set up.
Thus we have this feeling of intense opposition expressed by a mass refusal to pay. In these circumstances, how can the Board carry out its duties effectively and how can the Government justify bringing forward the Order? To be fair, both the Government and the leaders of the industry for some time have recognised the difficulties and, apparently, discussions between them have been going on for some months. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will tell us something about those discussions, because all we know at present is what we have gleaned from the agricultural Press.
I understand that the hon. Gentleman has told farmers that the finance for the Order must be on the same basis as last year and that that is the reason for the Order. But he has also told them, it seems, that in future the Board could be financed through the Price Review. At first, we were told that this would be conditional on its being deducted from each farmer's fertiliser subsidy. A more fatuous or inequitable method it would be difficult to imagine. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to tell us whose proposal this was and whether it is still a serious proposal. If it is a serious proposal, I should like him to explain how he can pretend that it has equity. 59 Will he relate it, for instance, to the intensive pig and poultry units and say how much fertiliser his Department recommends should be applied to a pig and poultry unit to get the best results? What about the forestry side? The Parliamentary Secretary must think again. I do not propose to dwell on this aspect, because it is so absurd that it ridicules itself.
On 28th February, the Farmers' Weekly quoted the President of the N.F.U. as saying, after inquiring whether there was an ultimatum from the Parliamentary Secretary—and we should like some information about that:If we do not like the fertiliser subsidy we have a free hand to negotiate other ways of central funding.We should be told specifically what the present position is. The Government have had long enough to make up their mind, but they have no right to try to thrust on the industry a Board which would be a method of collecting money as an alternative to a levy. There are obviously other ways in which it could be done which would be more economic.
It is not good enough for the Government to expect us to pass the Order today unless they can show clearly that they not only recognise the need to offer an effective solution to this issue, which has aroused such bitterness in the industry, but also that they are in a position to propose definite moves to bring this about. Therefore, we should be told this.
That is why we are entitled to expect a clear indication of what sort of permanent solution the Government are now prepared to bring forward. This dispute has already done too much harm to the industry and Parliament cannot simply wash its hands of the matter by allowing the Order to go through.
The impression which many farmers have is that the Under-Secretary's Department and, in particular, his right hon. Friend the Minister have been too harsh and dictatorial in this matter. [An HON. MEMBER: "Obstinate."] "Obstinate", one of my hon. Friends says. That is probably a good word for it.
§ Mr. Godber
I will not take up that phrase.
I will merely quote from the letter which the right hon. Lady the Minister sent to the President of the National Farmers' Union on 19th September last, when she said:I must make it clear that farmers cannot simply opt out of statutory obligations laid on them by Parliament. Any basic change in the arrangements would require legislation and the final decision could only rest with Parliament.Very well. If the right hon. Lady says that the final decision rests with Parliament, I agree with that. That is why we here in Parliament today should be told precisely what the Government propose so that we may know. It is not good enough merely to threaten the N.F.U. with a diktat, as it were, that the levy is to be imposed through the fertiliser subsidy. Therefore, let us hear precisely what realistic proposals the Government can bring forward.
The Minister may tell us that if the House should refuse to pass the Order tonight that will mean that the Board will have to be wound up. In all the circumstances, would such a result be looked upon by the farming community as a total disaster? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I pose that question reluctantly—some of my hon. Friends seem keen on it—because I have consistently refused to have anything to do with those who set themselves up simply to destroy the Board. I want to look at it constructively and see what else can be done. I am sure that my hon. Friends agree in that.
Whatever our inclinations, however, we cannot ignore the facts. The Minister must come to terms with the facts of farming opinion. I say it reluctantly, but I believe that the Minister must now seriously consider winding up the Board unless she can reconstitute it in a way which will enable it to regain the confidence of the industry. If the Minister wishes to reconstitute it, let us have an announcement now that she proposes to initiate new discussions with all the interested parties. These should include not only the Board, the N.F.U. and the N.U.A.W., but also representatives of farm institutes and the county technical colleges as well.
I am reluctant to see any industrial training board disappear once it has been 61 set up but the present state of affairs is bringing disrepute on both the agriculture industry and on the Industrial Training Act. Neither of them deserves it. If the Board cannot be enabled to secure the support of the industry which it was set up to serve, there are other ways in which the objectives of training in agriculture can be achieved.
In seeking a solution to this unhappy matter, there are two essentials to be kept in mind. I hope that the Under-Secretary will say that he agrees with them. The first is that training in agriculture is as vital as in any other industry. The second is that the industry itself should pay for that training in some way or other.
§ Mr. Godber
I am glad to have that agreement. There is, however, a third factor, and that is the co-operation of those engaged in the industry. If a reconstituted Board can satisfy those three requirements, it still can succeed.
I gather that the chairman of the Board would be willing to recommend to his members any changes on which the Government and the industry were agreed. If that is so, it is important that greater efforts should be made to get changes proposed of the type which would be realistic and acceptable to the industry as well as to the Government.
If necessary, however, an alternative could be found. This could be done by building on the existing facilities which are provided in the counties. What has held them back in the past has, in my view, not been lack of interest, but lack of funds. That could be overcome by recourse to the Price Review. I resist the temptation to expand on that theme, because I realise that to do so might be to go outside the bounds of order. I mention it merely to show that there are alternatives which could be used if necessary.
I summarise, therefore, by saying that we on this side are no longer ready to give our assent to a levy Order for the Board on the same basis and the same grounds as the Order was passed last year. It is evident that much more is needed to get training in the industry on to a sound footing. I have suggested ways in which this could be done. If the 62 Minister, when he replies, cannot satisfy us that the Government are at last taking effective steps to overcome the present difficulties, I must invite my hon. Friends to support me in opposing an Order which can solve nothing and which can make the present position infinitely worse
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Bert Hazell (Norfolk, North)
I regret that a Prayer of this kind has again been brought before the House on the second of the Orders which have been laid concerning the Agricultural, Horticultural and Forestry Industry Training Board. Before speaking about it, I should like to say to the right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) that I am sure that the House will sympathise with his roughness of voice, which must have made it extremely difficult for him to speak in the able manner which he has done this afternoon.
We recall that just over 12 months ago we had two debates on the question of the levy to be applied to the agricultural industry to enable the Board which had been established to carry out its proper functions. Those debates were debates in which a good deal of political bitterness was shown by hon. Members on the Opposition side. Indeed, one gathered the impression on that occasion that some Opposition Members were trying to get on the bandwagon of a Measure which, within an element of the agricultural industry, had not been approved.
The fact that today we again have a Prayer on the levy is particularly unfortunate, not because of what may be said in this House, but because the knowledge that these Prayers appear to be fairly constant will affect the morale of the staff of the Board, who are trying to do a job with efficiency and helpfulness to the agricultural industry. Nothing is more disquieting to the staff of any board or undertaking than to know that its future is under constant criticism, as is the case when these Prayers are before the House.
The job of encouraging training in agriculture is no easy one. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Grantham has pointed out some of the problems: the fragmentation of the agriculture industry, the wide areas to be covered and the smallness of the staffs on individual farms. The very fact of these difficulties probably 63 calls for a board such as the Agricultural Training Board, if it is to do the job properly and efficiently, to have to engage more outside staff than might be the case in many other boards which are established for other industrial undertakings. We must bear this factor in mind when considering the job that the Board has set itself to undertake.
No one denies the need for training. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Grantham emphasised that in his speech. What is denied is the type of tools required to do the job. In making his point on this aspect, the right hon. Gentleman referred to the work of the agricultural institutes and local education authorities, which have done a first-class job within their limitations, and are continuing to do a good job for the agricultural and horticultural industries. I hope to refer to this again in my speech.
We must bear in mind, when discussing the Prayer, the changes that have overcome agriculture in a relatively short period of time—technological changes accompanied by a very substantial loss of manpower in recent years.
In the past, a father used to pass on advice to his son or the older worker to the younger worker. But this system of training, which has stood in good stead for decades, no longer exists. There are insufficient skilled workers who have the time available to pass on training knowledge to the younger people. Farms that used to employ 10 to 20 workers probably now employ two to five workers, according to the type of cultivation or operations that are carried on. With this limitation of manpower on individual units there is insufficient time available for training those coming into the industry. The job is so urgent and the work so considerable within a limited period of time that the services of everyone have to be utilised to the full in the task of cultivation and farming operations.
The National Farmers' Union recognised this some time before any question of an approach to my right hon. Friend for the setting up of a trained board was considered. It spent many days with representatives of my own organisation, the National Union of Agricultural Workers, and others trying to formulate some policy for the purpose of training. 64 It eventually came down on the side of a properly established training board under the Industrial Training Act which the right hon. Gentleman takes pride in having pushed through this House.
It was no snap decision to approach my right hon. Friend for a training board. It was a decision arrived at after very great care and thought. Had it been a snap decision, I could understand the criticism and the opposition that has been expressed against the Board by an element within agriculture. Looking at the statements made in January and February, 1968, I gathered the impression that the Board was foisted upon agriculture by the Government. This just was not the case. Indeed, I think I am on very sound ground in saying that the Minister drew the attention of representatives of the industry to the problems and difficulties that would arise if such a board was established. However, the industry, through its representatives, was adamant that a board was the answer to the problem. Therefore, the Minister was asked to set up the necessary machinery.
I accept that an element within agriculture has not responded as we would have hoped. To what extent this has been influenced by debates, discussions and Press reports that were very considerable 12 months ago, no one can tell.
The right hon. Gentleman drew attention to the fact that about 26,000 farmers had not paid the levy. To what extent this number has been reduced in recent times, only the Board can say. I think that the majority of those who have not paid the levy did not do so because of views expressed subsequently by the Council of the National Farmers' Union. Nevertheless, despite the difficulties imposed upon the Board by a strong minority, it is interesting to note that of 37 area advisory committees planned—committees manned by volunteers—36 have been established. These area advisory committees are representative of farmers as well as workers and people from the educational realm.
The right hon. Member for Grantham posed four points. I want to emphasise two of the points of opposition to the Board. The first concerns the cost of the scheme. The levy is £3 10s. It was originally proposed that the levy should be £6 per adult full-time worker employed within the industry. Had that figure been 65 operative, it would have represented a charge of 0.3 per cent. to the industry. Compared with other industries that have established training boards, despite all the heavy liabilities of the Agricultural, Horticultural and Forestry Industry Training Board in needing a large outside field staff because of the fragmentation within agriculture, the smallness of the units, the number of employees per farm and the distance to be covered, the Board has been very modest in its demands.
Looking at the table set out in answer to a Written Question by the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Silvester) in the OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th February, 1969, Vol. 777, c. 201–2., of the many industries that have established boards, only two have demanded a figure of 0.1 per cent. less than the Agricultural Training Board. The vast majority of the others have 0.9, 0.75, 1 per cent., 2.5, 1.25, 1 per cent., 1.55 per cent., and so on. Looking at the amounts that other training boards have set as their requirements for training within those industries, appreciating the size of manpower within those industries compared with agriculture, frankly, the sum demanded by the Agricultural Training Board is minimal.
§ Mr. Paul Hawkins (Norfolk, Southwest)
Surely the point is not the size of the levy, but the amount of work which the Board does for it? Can the hon. Member point to any good schemes which the Board has introduced? The trouble is that people do not feel that the Board is doing any good.
§ Mr. Hazell
As I understand, the criticism of the Board is twofold—first, in terms of its cost to the industry, and, secondly, in terms of the levy. As for the point that people do not feel that the Board is doing any good—it must be remembered that it has not yet been in operation for 12 months. I am sure that the hon. Member, as a practical man with knowledge of what has happened in the industry in the past 18 months, will not ignore the fact that foot-and-mouth disease completely upset the work of the Agricultural Training Board in developing its services. I am sure that he is as conscious as I am of the degree to which the Board's task was upset because of that unfortunate incident.
The cost factor has to be considered, but if we compare the cost imposed on 66 the industry under the Act with that imposed on other training boards, we find that it is small. The table speaks for itself. I hope that those who follow me in this debate will obtain a copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT to which I have referred before they make statements which bear little relation to the question of costs.
The second factor was the fear of the Board's overlapping work done by other authorities. When it was set up the Agricultural Training Board was very conscious of the need to avoid overlapping with services already provided for the benefit of agriculture. It consequently appointed a special committee composed not of Board members, but of outside people, to advise it on the best way to create a close liaison with local authorities and to make sure that there was no overlapping of functions. This special committee was chaired by the Chief Education Officer of the Gloucester County Council, and with the exception of one farmer and two workers' representatives—one from each trade union; my own and the Transport and General Workers' Union—all its members were from the educational field.
I shall not give the names of the members; they are available in the report that has been published. The Milroy Report defined the terms of training to be provided by the board. That is clearly set out on page 4 of the report. I shall not read it, but I mention it because it is clear that the board has no desire to introduce facilities and services that might overlap those already provided by other bodies.
One thing that emerges clearly from the report is that the education authorities recognised that their scope was somewhat limited. The report shows clearly that there was a desire to co-operate with the training board. I know from experience that this co-operation is taking place under very cordial circumstances. Local education authorities had some difficulty in encouraging people to attend these classes. That is one of the problems confronting the industry. Of those who did attend the courses provided by local education authorities the majority were farmers' sons and daughters, and they probably still are.
But this is a type of training for all workers within the industry. Techniques 67 vary, and new methods and constantly being introduced. I recognise that my own organisation has a job to do in stimulating and encouraging young workers to take advantage of the facilities available. Refresher courses will be necessary, and if these are to be provided on a major scale it is essential that full-time people like the board's field officers should be available to interview both employer and employee, because with an ever-diminishing labour force—and I see no prospect of a halt in the outflow of labour from the land for some time to come—the need for highly skilled personnel becomes more and more important.
It will be recalled that the Agricultural Wages Board proposed an increase in pay which was subsequently referred to the National Board for Prices and Incomes, and that one feature of the Prices and Incomes Board Report was that before another wage increase was proposed steps should be taken to develop a wages structure within the industry. It is essential that there should be an adequate training of workers to fit into that structure. How this can be done purely by a voluntary system on the part of local education authorities, I do not know; they have certainly not been able to command the attention and support of the vast majority of workers within the industry in the past, although I am not denying the good work that they have done.
The Board is also taking over the Apprenticeship Council. This was a voluntary body, set up to try to encourage young people to become apprentices in the industry. Its success has been minimal, but the report shows that since the Board has accepted responsibility there has been an increase in the number of young apprentices. I hope that this trend will continue. It shows the need for a board, and also shows that substantial costs are involved in developing on those lines.
The right hon. Gentleman has said that both sides of the House recognise the need for training, and I am sure that both sides will also realise that training cannot be established without such a board as that which has been created. Under the Industrial Training Act, the industry 68 must ultimately meet the costs of training its own employees. If we are agreed on this basic need, I hope that we will recognise that a generally efficient industry can and will become more efficient. Indeed, this is essential.
I hope that, if the House is called upon to vote, it will defeat the Prayer, but, in the interests of agriculture and the recognition of the need for adequate training in agriculture as in every major industry, I hope that the Prayer will not be put to the vote but will be withdrawn, showing that, in spite of the imperfections of a new Board and the difficulties during its inception, when the first levy was announced, the House recognises that a training board is essential and will do nothing to impede its progress but will allow it to get on with the job for which it was created.
§ 4.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine (Rye)
I have to tell the hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Hazell) that I should have no hesitation, on the information that I have at the moment, in voting for the Prayer. The Parliamentary Secretary's reply might change my views, but at the moment I would find it easy to vote against the Order.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) has gone over the arguments so carefully that I have little to add. Not only as a farmer, but also as the governor of an agricultural college, I support all he said. As a farmer, I have not known of a course required by someone working on my farm which was not available. From time to time, some of them have taken agricultural courses. As a governor, I have also not been aware of any great need for anyone to advise us what courses were necessary. The range of courses were such that most men could find what was required.
Therefore, in my part of East Sussex, the average farmer wonders what the House feels the Board could contribute. There has been an excellent relationship between the agricultural college and the industry. The Board's officer is well-known and there is an excellent relationship with him. But the way in which the Board has managed its affairs has led those interested in agriculture in the area to be less than enthusiastic about the levy 69 and to provide few supporters for the Board's programme. On suggestions that there should be a deduction from the fertiliser subsidy, what my right hon. Friend said was restrained and modest; on his visit to East Sussex the point might be expressed to him rather more forcefully.
A discussion between the two sides of industry is proceeding at the moment and it seems regrettable that, during that time, a large number of summonses should be going out to make the relationship between the farmer and the Board even worse. In my part of the country, the Board does not appear to have made any real contribution to the training which was already available. The solution in the Order appears to them to be doctrinaire and, therefore, we would have no difficulty in voting against the Order.
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Tony Gardner (Rushcliffe)
I am sorry that we have to go through all this business again. I must apologise to the right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) for having left during part of his speech. His words moved me to some hasty research in the Library. His language in moving the Prayer was very moderate, but we should recollect that some of his hon. Friends did not use such moderate language, and some came to the same conclusion as he on the very day that the Board was set up and before it had had a chance to work. It is against this background that we should consider the Prayer.
Everyone was agreed when it was passed that the Industrial Training Act was first-class and a credit to the party opposite which enacted it. Both sides of industry, not only agriculture but industry generally, welcomed it as a remarkable step forward. It was recognised as necessary because industry could not or would not provide the training.
The history of the Agricultural Training Board makes interesting reading in relation to the conclusions of the right hon. Gentleman. When it was first proposed, it was generally welcomed by most in the industry and there was broad agreement between the Ministry, the N.F.U. and the agricultural trade unions, but from that moment the rebellion started, in this House and the country. It certainly did not come from the Opposition Front Bench, who were committed 70 to the Act and the idea of a Training Board. With respect to them, they supported my right hon. Friends' moves. However, the N.F.U. came under pressure at the same time as we were having those debates. The momentum against this Board has grown—
§ Mr. Angus Maude (Stratford-on-Avon)
In fairness, the hon. Gentleman should not suggest that the opposition to the Board and the levy among rank and file farmers originated in back-bench pressure on this side. Although the national leaders of the N.F.U. approved of this, there was, from the beginning, a considerable feeling in county branches that they had not been properly consulted and that they did not want to go along with it.
§ Mr. Gardner
Of course, I accept that; I hope that I was not implying the contrary. Certainly, some hon. Members opposite responded to the pressures from their own constituencies, but what disturbs me is that, as this pressure grew, those who were committed to the idea of the Training Board and, therefore, of some levy, gradually gave in to it.
When we had the first discussion about setting up a Training Board, there was bitter back-bench opposition to it. The opposition was not from the Front Benches, who were committed to the idea. I will not go over the ground of that debate. I recall that the case made against the Board was not the case made by the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon. It was flat, outright opposition to it in any shape or form.
Next we had a debate on the revised levy Order, on which there was the same kind of discussion. The figure then was £3. There was bitter opposition to any kind of levy. I recall the debates which he had, altogether over three days.
We have reached a situation in which, apparently, the N.F.U. officially does not like the set-up and the Official Opposition do not like it, either. What worries me is the way in which the public outside will look upon this debate. In what is, unfortunately, its final Report, the Select Committee on Agriculture stressed in some detail the growing importance of farm skills and the need for a better wage structure and for higher wages in agriculture if we are to stop the drift of workers from the land.
71 As we discussed in the previous debates, any form of training for agriculture must involve a great many people on the ground—and that is not intended as a pun. With the nature of agriculture, it is more necessary to spend a much higher proportion of any money which is raised on wages and salaries, because it is not a question of bringing thousands of people from one large factory to one central place for training, but a detailed question of helping and advising.
Some of the criticisms made of the Board are, therefore, manifestly unfair. It is not as if my hon. Friend and his Department have been unwilling to consider some of the problems. In view of the difficulties of the industry, as a result of foot-and-mouth disease, there were reductions in the levy. There was a recognition that farming was carrying a very heavy burden—and that this extra burden was not at all welcome. In a Written Answer to me on 4th March, my hon. Friend said that he was quite prepared to listen to any proposals put forward by the various interest in the industry. If there is something wrong with the way in which the levy is raised, we ought to look at it again.
But I suspect that the debate is not about a particular method of raising the levy or a particular way in which the Board operates in conducting its training scheme. I maintain that this is part of an outright opposition to any formalised training scheme for the industry, and what worries me is whether we are doing the best that we should be doing on behalf of the industry. We ought to give the Government this Order tonight with a clear instruction that they must look at the way in which the Board is operating and must constantly be in contact with the industry discussing ways in which the Board might improve its work. If it is possible to find alternative ways in which the levy could be raised—
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
How do we give give the Government a clear instruction except through the Division Lobbies? I know of on other way of giving the Government an instruction.
§ Mr. Gardner
The instruction which the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) wants to give the Government is that they should abolish the 72 Industrial Training Board. I cannot possibly go into the Division Lobby in support of such a Motion.
I suggest that my hon. Friend ought to be examining ways in which the training in the industry can be improved and, if possible, in which ways of raising the levy can be improved. Hon. Members opposite are voicing an opposition to a levy in any form, and that disturbs me more than anything else. At the moment, the Press is debating a subject about farming which we cannot discuss this afternoon, and agriculture is rightly looking to all of us in the House for support in its efforts to produce more of Britain's food.
At a time when an argument about money is going on, and just before my right hon. Friend makes an announcement on the subject later this week, it is disturbing that in the House we are arguing about a measly £3 10s. I wonder what will be the effect on the electorate, to whom the farmers must look for support, of a vote in the Division Lobby tonight on this Order.
It disturbs me that we should have a debate on these terms. Having made some valid points about the peculiar problems of agriculture, hon. Members opposite should let my hon. Friend have the Order and see what we can do to give the Board a fair start and to improve its work as it goes along.
§ 5.7 p.m.
§ Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)
Agriculture is the only industry which has its own Minister and for that reason training within agriculture should be within the control and general knowledge of the Minister of Agriculture and not under an industrial training board. For that reason I have been an outright opponent of the Board from its inception, and I make no bones about that. The hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Hazell) seemed to think that it was wrong of us to have the debate today because it might upset the morale of the staff. That is the most feeble, wet and undemocratic argument I have ever heard. It might have come from the training board.
The hon. Member said that the decicision to set up the Board had been reached with very great care and after discussions with the N.F.U. and his own 73 union. But it was considered with very great care by a handful of men. The great bulk of the farming community had never heard of it and knew nothing of it—and when they did hear of it they did not want to know about it.
The hon. Member also drew attention to the excuse about foot-and-mouth disease which we have heard in every debate on this subject. This is a valid excuse why the Board could not publicise itself, but it is also a valid excuse why the opponents of the scheme could not get round the country stirring opposition up a little more quickly. He said that the Board has taken every precaution to avoid overlapping with the county colleges. Indeed, they have done so. They gobbled up the best staff of the county colleges and gave them a large rise in salary.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) said that he would not set out to apportion blame, and I do not want to depart from those words of wisdom, although I have little doubt where the bulk of the blame for this fiasco lies. The hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Gardner) rightly drew attention to the sentences in the Report of the Select Committee on Agriculture dealing with training, and I go the whole way with him in wanting some form of training—but not the sort of training provided by the Board. In common with 51 to 50 of the N.F.U. executives of my county—in that ratio—I believe that there should be agricultural training based on the county colleges. Time and again the present Chairman of the Board has made great play with the difference between the words "training" and "education". He has tried to ram this home at every turn, and we must accept his good intentions in this respect. But the fact remains that these educational establishments are far more training establishments than are many other types of educational establishment. It would not have been very difficult to graft on to them training of the sort which the farmers want.
My right hon. Friend rightly made the point that the great bulk of farmers have one employee or no employee. It is almost impossible for the one-employee farmer to release a worker. The no-employee farmer has no entitlement. If we had a completely new scheme organised between the Ministry of Agriculture 74 and the local education authorities, the one-employee man would do his best to release his man and the self-employed man would be in a position to take advantage of it.
One of the great objections to the Board is its extremely expensive headquarters staff. We are told that there are 184 people there. Hon. Members will have enjoyed reading two informative hand-out about the Board's activities. They came without tops or bottoms. They might have descended like the tablets found by Mr. Brigham Young. My eyesight indicates to me, however, that they were typed on the same typewriter as that used to produce publicity material coming from the Agricultural Training Board. I am not a specialist in typewriters, and I may be wrong about that, but it looks to me as if these hand-outs have come from A.M. Publicity Associates Limited. It may be that we shall have a debate on another day on spheres of influence, but it seems wrong that hon. Members should be pressurised with typewritten "bumph" without any indication of its origin.
I disagree with my right hon. Friend on one point only. He implied that the Board had not told us very much about what it was doing. The hon. Member for Norfolk, North followed my right hon. Friend on this point, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Rye (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine). We all feel that we have not heard enough about what the Board is doing. It may be that the secretaries of those right hon. and hon. Gentlemen must be keener on the waste-paper basket than mine is, because I am inundated with hand-outs telling me what a good man Mr. Basil Neame is and what good fellows the Board members are. They repeat themselves ad nauseam. I hope that we shall see a severe cut-back in the Board's paper output.
I want now to turn to this matter of the alternative finances which, after all, is the main theme of our Prayer. We have two hand-out from the Ministry, the first dated 10th February, and the second dated 19th February. In paragraph 5 of the first one we read:As soon as necessary legislation can be obtained, the Board's operations covering agriculture and horticulture will be financed by deductions from the fertiliser subsidy.75 I ask hon. Members to mark the words "will be financed".
Moving on nine days to the hand-out dated 19th February, we read in the second paragraph:These proposals, which are now under consideration by the parties concerned, envisage that the Board might in future be financed by deductions from the fertiliser subsidy rather than by levy, if this is more acceptable to the industry and commands their support.I want to repeat what has been said to me by the chairman of my county branch of the N.F.U., who knows me well and who knows the Chairman of the Board, Reporting the feelings of his executive he says:Further, they wanted nothing to do with the Board being financed from the Price Review. There is no doubt that in Kent at least the Minister wants the present Training Board set-up to continue. She will do it without any support from us until such time as the administration and control comes back to the local education authorities.That is what the farmers want. That is what serious and responsible men at the top of the industry in the County of Kent want. Because of our horticultural interests, we have more labour-heavy farms and, therefore, these men speak from experience and concern.
Finally, I wish to draw the attention of hon. Members to the Explanatory Note to the Order. According to that Note, one of the aims of the Order is to raise money towards the expenses of the Board. That is a fine situation. The Board will be empowered to raise the levy largely to defray its own expenses. I believe that we need some outside guidance in this matter, and that we should get back to a more simple and more acceptable method of agricultural training within the shadow of the Ministry of Agriculture and away from the present Department.
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ Mr. James Tinn (Cleveland)
I observe that there are still several hon. Members opposite who wish to speak and, therefore, I will be very brief. I can promise that because while Cleveland has a considerable farming interest, my own knowledge of the industry is very small. As a result, it may be that I am in the position of commenting on the debate so far rather than contributing to it.
76 I can, however, claim to approach the debate with a genuinely open mind, quite free from the constitutional pressures to which apparently, some hon. Members have been subjected. I have not been deluged by representations from farmers or farm workers in my constituency, indeed, not a single letter; and perhaps I might express the hope that that omission will not be remedied too heavily tomorrow, although I would have considered their representations had they been made.
With respect to the right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber), I found his moderate approach attractive and persuasive. We all appreciated his difficulty with his voice, but, having noted the reactions of some of his hon. Friends to his moderation, I cannot help thinking that he would have been wiser to have passed today's task to one of his colleagues with less responsibility for the industrial training legislation, one consequence of which we are discussing today.
We accept the special factors which the right hon. Member listed applying to agriculture. There is the fragmentation of the industry, for example. However, another industry in a similar position, though perhaps it is not quite so fragmented, is the building industry. There, too, there was the problem of many small producers and, in the case of building, the industrial training boards are doing a useful and valuable job. It may be that it is when an industry is composed of so many small producers that the assistance in co-ordinating efforts towards training which a board can offer is so important.
The right hon. Member acknowledged very fairly the need for improved training facilities. However, that was one of the points on which I detected some disagreement among his hon. Friends. I believe that the hon. Member for Rye (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine), for example, considers that the existing courses are adequate. Presumably, he does not think that they require improving.
The right hon. Member accepts the need for training, as I think most of us do. However, if I understood him correctly, he concentrated a good deal of his criticism on the cost of the scheme and, more precisely, the way in which that cost is being raised. He is critical of the proposed further levy and of what 77 he fears will be a higher than acceptable administrative cost. I think that he envisages the figure of 20 per cent. I cannot comment on that point, but perhaps my hon. Friend can enlighten us. The very peculiarities of the industry may make some higher administrative costs inevitable.
§ Mr. Godber
I am listening to the hon. Gentleman with great interest. I am grateful for what he has said. I remember that, as Minister, the first board I set up was for the engineering industry. When that board was set up, there were discussions with its chairman about the problems of small firms within the industry at that time. It was the board's intention initially to exclude all those firms employing five or fewer workers. Whether it did so, I do not know. This is what has worried me in regard to agriculture, where hardly any farms have more than five men. In an industry so fragmented, the principles of the Act are very difficult to implement.
§ Mr. Tinn
While accepting the difficulty and recognising how great is the problem of overcoming it, I am very conscious of what my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Hazell) said about the importance of more highly-skilled labour. Great though the difficulty may be, it must be overcome, and I am not entirely convinced that the Board is not the appropriate means of doing this.
I found the contribution made by my hon. Friend very reassuring. I know that although he is a member of the National Union of Agricultural Workers his concern is equally for both sides of the industry, because he recognises that we cannot further the welfare of the farm workers without furthering the welfare of the farming industry. Overlapping seemed to be a risk, but he reassured us by his first-hand knowledge of the consultations that have gone on with education authorities with a view to avoiding that risk.
Having come to the debate with an interested and, I hope, a responsible and responsive frame of mind, I am confident that I shall find myself supporting the Government.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)
I enter the debate with some diffidence, 78 having only recently resumed responsibility in my party for agriculture, having given up that responsibility in 1964.
We debate this matter in an era when the country and this House have been virtually mesmerised by boards. Every industry has wanted a board of some kind; we have had a plethora of them. Having looked at the problem with, I hope, a rather detached eye, I think that few of the bodies or institutions concerned with the Agricultural Training Board fracas come out with any great credit. It is right to say that the Government were requested to set up the Board, and I think that all that has since followed has stemmed from that request.
There appears to have been inadequate consultation between the National Farmers' Union headquarters and the branches. The more I look at the problem, the more I believe that the instinctive reaction of the rank-and-file farmers against the Board was right. I do not say that in criticism of the Government—the Government only set up what the industry's representatives apparently asked them to set up. The problems of the industry and its set-up make it difficult for any Board of this kind to operate at all satisfactorily.
The farming industry is in an extremely dissatisfied state. Those working on the land know that they can produce much more food, if encouraged to do so, without any more training. They know that the work force has been declining at a rate of 2 per cent. per annum, no matter what may be the training and qualifications of those who leave the land. It very often happens that those who leave the land have been extremely highly trained and skilled, yet they have left the land because of inadequate remuneration. The problem is not that of having to train for other means of employment.
There seems to be something ludicrous about the Board starting up; taking lecturers from agricultural schools and institutes right, left and centre, with all the necessary regional committees and a large administrative staff at headquarters. Most people in farming in mid-Wales are self-employed. The few who do employ labour have only one or two men, and they find it very difficult to spare those men to go on courses. I 79 know that they wonder whether this is the best way to spend £½ million—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
Order. We cannot, on this Prayer, debate the issue of the existence of the Board.
§ Mr. Hooson
With respect, this issue affects whether or not we vote for the Prayer. If the Order is rejected, the Board has no money.
If there is need for a national Board, which I dispute, the industry itself must pay for it, and in many ways the levy system based on the number of men employed is the fairest way of paying. Such a levy gives us a far better and fairer way than is provided by deduction from the fertiliser subsidy. The real issue is whether the House and the Government have gone wrong in setting up the Board at all.
I am convinced that training is needed in the industry, but adequate facilities already exist and these could be further developed locally as the occasion required. I have encouraged some farmers in my constituency to let their men go on weekend courses advertised in the farming Press and run by farming education authorities in different parts of the country. They are very often extremely helpful, and such courses can easily be organised otherwise than by a ponderous national training board. Unlike other industries, farming is not set up to take a national board of this kind.
It is inevitable that in seeking to publicise itself the Board should send out a lot of advertising matter. The hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. John Wells), who complained about the amount of material he received, probably got it as a fanner rather than as a Member of Parliament. I, too, farm, and I have received some of this literature by means of which the Board is trying to impress itself upon the industry.
I do not dispute that the Board can do a lot of good, but what it can do is limited, and the money could be better spent in other ways. I do not criticise the Government for saying that if there is to be a Board it should be financed by means of a levy. I thought that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) rather wanted 80 to have his cake and eat it when he suggested that there was need for a training board, but that it should be financed by means other than that of a levy. I have little patience with that argument. If we are to have a Board, a levy is the fair way of paying for it. What is in dispute, and where the instinct of the agricultural community is correct, is the need for the Board at all. It means a further proliferation of boards. Every board is not necessarily for the great benefit of the industry concerned. That is why I have the greatest possible qualms about whether we should continue with the board at all, and that is why I shall vote for the Prayer.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Angus Maude (Stratford-on-Avon)
It would be unkind to make too much of the fact that hon. Members opposite who have spoken today have not produced what one could call an overwhelmingly enthusiastic defence of the Agricultural Training Board or the levy system. The hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) said that he was fairly confident that the Board was a not inappropriate medium for carrying out the job. That was scarcely an hilarous welcome to an organisation.
The hon. Member also said that he found the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Hazell) greatly reassuring. The hon. Member for Norfolk, North said that the Board had not been able to do much; time would show whether it was able to do much; it was a very expensive job that it had to do; and the only fair thing to do was to give it a chance to show whether it could do anything. How reassuring one could find that welcome I do not know.
§ Mr. Hazell
I said that the Board had not been able to do a great deal because it had been established for less than 12 months of effective working due to foot-and-mouth disease.
§ Mr. Tinn
One of the most reassuring parts of my hon. Friend's contribution was his disclosure of the low costs of this Board compared with others. As to the moderation of my welcome, I was trying to emulate the moderation of the right hon. Friend of the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude). Obviously I overdid it. I hope to do better next time.
§ Mr. Maude
I was coming to the question of cost, and I was about to suggest that the hon. Member for Norfolk, North was talking beside the point altogether. The point is not whether the costs of the Agricultural Training Board form a higher proportion of the income of the industry than others. The question is what proportion of the money going to the Board is being spent on useful, practical work and how much on overheads and administrative expenses. That is what we want to know. Unless we get a quite clear exposition from the Under-Secretary when he winds up the debate we shall all feel obliged to vote for the Prayer.
The hon. Member for Norfolk, North was himself not a very reassuring witness. I remember that during the last debate we had on this matter he justified the then proposed size of the levy by pointing to the enormous number of files which the civil servants co-opted into this organisation would have to shuffle around in their new headquarters. To levy farmers at £3 10s. an employee and to shuffle files around the headquarters with little as yet shown on the ground, and no doubt little to be shown in future, is not the way to encourage them to accept this proposition.
The hon. Member was perfectly correct in saying that this is the culminating point in a pile-up of boards and levies of which farmers are getting extremely tired. They are becoming disillusioned with the whole machinery of the statutory board and a levy on farming. The hon. Member was probably correct in saying that if we are to have a statutory board, a levy is the traditional and perhaps the logical way of financing it, but the question is whether statutory boards and their imposition on farmers are not becoming a quite excessive proportion of a farmer's outgoings compared with any good they do. One after another these boards are beginning to lose the con- 82 fidence of the farmers largely because they tend to become bureaucratic and top-heavy.
In the last debate I said to the Under-Secretary that we could perhaps accept what we were asked to pass with a little more enthusiasm if we were dealing with an inefficient industry, but in terms of increase in productivity since 1939 this, by a very long way, is the most efficient industry in the country. If we had had increases in productivity in manufacturing industries compared with what has happened in agriculture we should not have a balance of payments problem at all. When we have a system of agricultural education and training already in existence which is under-utilised in many places, it seems extraordinary to set up a large bureaucratic organisation to add to the provision.
When I mentioned this and some of my hon. Friends brought up this point in the last debate, the answer we had was, "Oh, yes, but the Board will act as a sort of middleman and introduce the workers who need courses to the vacant places which exist in farm institutes and other institutions." It does not need a board to do this. Not only local county branches of the N.F.U. can do a great deal towards this if they set about it, but any competent local education authority is capable of doing it through its elected and co-opted members.
This is something which proper cooperation between farmers and education authorities can cope with without any necessity for central machinery or a levy. For all the good that farmers see coming from it, the thing might as well not exist. We have to keep a sense of proportion about these things and ask whether in the economic condition of the country—above all in the economic condition of the industry, the parlousness of which we shall discuss later this week—this does not make complete nonsense.
I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) was right in saying that nobody who took part in debates on the Industrial Training Act and voted for it thought that agriculture was a suitable industry for treatment in this way. The engineering industry is a quite different proposition from the agriculture industry. The difficulties, as my right hon. Friend said, 83 of releasing farm workers from small farms where there is perhaps only one employee per farm and of getting self-employed farmers, with no employed labour, to take advantage of training facilities when they have stock to look after and cows to milk are overwhelming.
Unless we can be provided with something a little clearer in the way of advantages and the practical good that will come from the extra expenditure that farmers are asked to make, unless we can find something a little more encouraging than the ability to shuffle files around in national headquarters, the sooner we say goodbye to this Board the better.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Paul Hawkins (Norfolk, Southwest)
I has said on numerous occasions that I am vehemently opposed to the Order and to the setting up of a Board for the agricultural industry. I am sorry to say this, because it looks as though I am opposed to training. The fact is that I am very keen on training in agriculture. We must have it. The industry is getting fewer and fewer men. Because of the differential in rates of pay between agricultural and industrial workers, the industry is liable to lose some of the best and keenest of the younger men, whom we cannot afford to lose.
Although I am extremely keen on the training of farm workers and am on my own County Education Committee and was for many years on the Agricultural Sub-Committee, I agree with my hon. Friends that this method of training farm workers and farmers is not the right one for the industry. It is a very top-heavy and expensive method. I want to see the expansion of local education authorities' training colleges and schemes, which in some parts, certainly in Norfolk, are exceptionally good.
Though this point was laughed at when my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Mr. John Wells) mentioned it, the Explanatory Note rather reveals the dictatorial way in which the Board has gone about its business. It states:This Order gives effect to proposals… for the imposition of a further levy upon employers.… The levy will be assessed by the Board".84 This is the sort of thing which farmers—practical, hard-headed men—object to. The Board was formed as a complete bungle by the Government, who showed a lack of understanding of the way in which farmers and farm workers and the industry work. It is almost equal to the way in which the public relations over Stansted and the Land Commission have been handled.
I am a member of three branches of the N.F.U. I admit that a contributory cause was the lack of consultation by N.F.U. headquarters of branches. I have spoken to practically every member of the executive of my branch of the N.F.U. There is no doubt that they never had an opportunity to discuss this in any detail. They had no idea that this was the sort of Board that would come about.
§ Mr. Hazell
Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that it is one of the responsibilities of delegates from his county branch of the N.F.U. to report back from headquarters of the N.F.U. what has taken place and what is taking place? Does he not agree that the Daily Mail of 30th January contained the statement from the National Farmers' Union that its members were informed through their journal in July, 1966, of the proposals when the full details of the Board's activities and forecast of levy were published? The N.F.U. stated that not a mumur of dissent was received from the present objectors. This was on the occasion of the last debate.
§ Mr. Hawkins
I am grateful for that second speech from my opposite number, the hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Hazell). I repeat that branches did not discuss this fully and that in my opinion the N.F.U. headquarters is to some extent responsible. As soon as practical farmers throughout the country understood what it was all about, they realised that they were having a scheme foisted on them which would involve the expenditure of far too much money on offices and people who would not do a job.
The result has been the building up of an enoromus and over-fat bureauracy, which has been almost the last word in the boards and extra personnel who seem to have to be paid out of agriculture. I read only the other day—I do not know whether it was in the Daily Mail or what paper it was in; I believe that it was in 85 The Times—that the Ministry of Agriculture's overheads per farm now amounted to about £800. This is another small straw. The point is reached at which people rebel. Those who do not understand the way in which the farming industry works will find themselves with rebellions on their hands.
I am absolutely convinced from examples that I have that the Board is duplicating services which were already much better provided, in my part of the world at any rate, by local education authorities, industrial firms, bodies such as the Sugar Corporation, and others. The Norfolk Education Committee has a first-class Easton College, which runs full-time, part-time and weekend courses in engineering, maintenance of vehicles, livestock care, and many other subjects. There is the Burlingham Horticultural Institute. We were the instituters of the Stockmen's Club and the Farm Machinery Club which farm workers, farmers' sons, and others from all over the county attend in the evenings in their own time.
This is the way education is carried out in agricultural districts where travelling distance are great. The education has to be done in people's spare time—in the evenings, at weekends, or, in the case of people young enough to do so, at full-time courses. However, as a general rule the education has to be undertaken out of working hours. Great difficulty arises in the case of a farm on which there is only a small number of employees: it is difficult to release a key man to undertake a training course.
Coming to some of the Board's activities, I think it is extremely unfair on horticulture. I want to read part of a letter from the managing director of a large horticultural firm in my constituency. This gentleman explained to me that he had asked a lot of questions at a meeting. We writes in this vein to the Information Officer, the Agricultural and Horticultural Training Board:I am sorry I did not make it clear to you that my object in gathering information from you is to try to get the entire scheme stopped as far as horticulture is concerned before it has gone too far. There are already 32 horticultuial training colleges in the British Isles, which should certainly suffice. If they are not large enough, some money could be spent by the Ministry of Agriculture to make more places available …".86 This is the way in which we should go to work. The most economical and best way of spending the money which is being raised would be, under the administration of the Ministry of Agriculture or of the Department of Education and Science, to give it to training colleges to enable them to run additional courses. We have wanted to expand at Easton in Norfolk for a long time. I do not believe that one farmer would object if the facilities which he has known and respected for a long time in his own area were expanded with the money which is being raised from him, because he would know that the money would not be wasted.
May I suggest the remedy? Let the Chairman and the Board resign now. The Ministry should waive all outstanding accounts and return all payments already made.
I want to mention a peculiar thing which the Board has done in another case. It has refused to allow courses to be paid for which are taken in the evening out of working time. It wants all the courses to be run in farmers' time. Yet men are keen enough to attend the Stockmen's Club and the Farm Machinery Club, to quote only two examples, in the evening in their own time.
With regard to the payment which 26,000 farmers are being dunned for at present, although I myself do not farm I act for about half a dozen employers who were being asked for this levy. I am afraid I left the matter until the last "three-line whip" came in, with the three red lines underneath, and then we paid up because we felt that we could not let the employers go to prison. Three months later we got solicitors' letters saying that the payments had not been made. I checked with my bank and found that all the cheques had gone through about two and a half months before. I wrote to the solicitors, who sent back a sort of round robin letter saying that they were very sorry but the Board's affairs were in such a muddle that they had sent out these notices by mistake.
Let the Board resign now. Let us wind up this Board. We want well-trained young men in agriculture; but I also agree that we want a small committee which can consider the local education facilities throughout the whole 87 of the country. If it is found, say, in Bedfordshire or Northumberland or Norfolk or Durham—in any county—that some facilities are lacking and that the next-door county has a good centre, let that centre be expanded so that the counties can be drawn together to it. Let the existing facilities be expanded, but do not let us go on wasting our money on a Board with headquarters up and down the country and with a lot of people who have to be paid large sums in travelling expenses.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)
I make no apology for taking part in this debate. I know very little, if anything, about agriculture, having spent my life in the engineering industry, but I am interested in this debate and I wish to pose a few questions for my own satisfaction.
Although I have been an industrial worker all my life, I was born in the country and I have great admiration and respect for the small farmer. He has enabled my family and myself, as well as many others, to enjoy some of the finest food in Europe. I am very grateful to the farming community, and especially to the Scottish farmers for their Scotch beef.
We all recognise that over the last 30 years every young man who has been conscious of his future has thought in terms of an industry with a career structure. The hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) mentioned the engineering industry. In the engineering industry, whenever a man is trained he is placed in a unit with a career structure. There are thousands of parallel examples of occupations where there is a career structure. Therefore, if one is contributing to a group apprenticeship scheme one is always conscious that if one fails to gain an apprenticeship in one unit one can try to get one somewhere else. There is this flow of interchange because of the nature of the industry. I should think that the smallest unit in engineering is 50 or 60 employees. I can understand every engineering employer supporting a training board, for here is a focal point from which can flow young trained men.
88 The small farmer, however, cannot provide a career structure. A farmer employing 50 or 60 men can do so, or he can join a group of farmers. But the small hill farmer cannot provide a career structure. Therefore, he feels that when he contributes to a training board he is contributing to a board which provides training to enable men to be fed into large agricultural units where there is a career structure. He cannot envisage how this can feed men into his small unit because he has no career structure. A man who is working for a tenant farmer is in the same position, for he knows that there is little likelihood of becoming a tenant farmer himself. Therefore, I have a great deal of sympathy for the small farmer who objects to paying this levy.
It has been said that the small farmer who employs one man cannot afford to release that man. What happens if he does? If a small farmer in the West of Scotland, North Somerset or Devon releases a man for training, the likelihood is that he will lose that man. The man will meet other people from big farms. He will learn that there are other opportunities which do not exist on the farm from which he has come, and, therefore, the small farmer will be paying to help provide trained material for the large farmer. I do not know whether farmers feel as I do. I do not meet small farmers. I am merely comparing the situation with that in the industry with which I have been connected, and I can envisage the sort of gulf to which I have been referring.
Although what I say may seem superficial, I hope that my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary can persuade small farmers that for everyone who is drawn into this net and who makes a contribution there is a second or third point of flowback to that individual. It is the duty of the Executive, whatever Government are in power, to show conclusively that that is so. The small farmer seems to be getting nothing at all out of this, and I hope my hon. Friend can persuade us that in the long term this is a good thing for the small farmer. I hope that the Board will be beneficial to the small farmer, because I am very conscious of what a blessing the small farmer is to us all.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Mr. R. J. Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)
I agree substantially with what the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) has said. So often when there are agricultural reviews it is profitability which is taken as the desirable criterion. Profitability is very desirable, but high output per acre is also highly desirable. The pattern of the two is substantially different. The small farm in this country often appears not to be very profitable, but when one looks at the figures one finds that its output per acre is high. We are losing 50,000 acres of land a year for road and house construction, and so on, and this tends to be the better than average land, for people do not usually build housing estates on tops of mountains or in areas which are frequently flooded.
It is in our interests that small farmers should be encouraged because they make such an intensive use of each acre of land that they have. I mention this point because I sometimes think that the contribution which the small farmers make in feeding this nation with an expanding population is underrated. A farmer who employs nobody will pay no levy under this Order. But if the Board is financed by siphoning off some of the fertiliser subsidy, the farmer who employs no labour will be paying to the Board. That must be borne in mind. An alternative scheme siphoning the money off at the source through the Price Review, to put it like that, would make everyone pay for the Board whether he benefited from it or not.
The Minister may say that if we do not want it paid for out of the Price Review money we, presumably, want it paid for by the levy or, alternatively, if we do not want the levy, we must have it paid for in some other way. But the real alternative is not to have it paid for at all, by not having the Board. There seems to be a horror of ever changing one's mind nowadays. It is thought almost disreputable or dishonourable to change one's mind, as though learning from experience was reprehensible. Perish the thought.
There is a theoretical argument for a training board. There is a theoretical argument for training boards in general, and good arguments for a number of 90 training boards in various industries. In the same way, there are spheres in which marketing boards carry out a useful function. But we can recall marketing boards which have gone. The Tomato and Cucumber Marketing Board was an example. It was set up, quite properly, and with the assent of the majority of producers—otherwise, it could not have come into existence—but after the experience of living with it, the majority of producers found that the cost of running it was disproportionate to the services which it provided. I trust that no one thought that there was anything dishonest, dishonourable or reprehensible in abolishing that Board, although it used the money which it was raising in levies to fight for its own existence. I fear that we shall see large sums of money raised in levy for the Agricultural Training Board consumed not in training people in agriculture, horticulture and forestry, but in public relations exercises the object of which is to protect the employment of people employed by the Agricultural Training Board.
§ Miss J. M. Quennell (Petersfield)
My hon. Friend is referring to the Cucumber and Tomato Marketing Board. He has not forgotten the Egg Board, has he?
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
How right my hon. Friend is. That is another example tending to confirm the view that we should never allow it to become doctrine, by implication or anything else, that we have a duty to perpetuate a board once we have set it up. If I understood him aright, the hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Hazell) believes that the House has a moral obligation to perpetuate the Agricultural Training Board because it has been set up, the fact of its being set up giving it a vested right to continue in existence even if a quite disproportionate amount of the revenue which it raises is consumed in winding its own clock rather than in performing its training function. The balance of opinion today is that that will be an inherent characteristic of the Board in the foreseeable future. My right hon. Friend the Member for Granthan (Mr. Godber) gave the reasons. The industry does not lend itself to this type of training structure. That is why we say that the time to alter the structure and get rid of the Board is 91 now rather than when it has collected and spent still more money.
If it is part of our national policy, as I believe it is, to go in for an import substitution programme in a large way, producing at home more of the food that we eat, and if we accept, as we surely must, that the greatest single barrier to that effort is lack of working capital within farming, we must recognise that by the amount which we tap off money for purposes like the Agricultural Training Board we sabotage the expansion programme.
We have, therefore, an objective test. It is not just a question of whether we feel in our bones that the money collected by the Board is being well spent. The question to ask is whether we are satisfied that there is no way in which the money could be better spent. What answer can we give? We shall be in a better position to know after Wednesday. No one will be more surprised than I if the answer after Wednesday is that such an enormous injection of cash flow has been put into the industry that it can meet the import substitution programme to the tune of £220 million a year at least, the figure set by the "Little Neddy", and that it will not be hampered by shortage of cash. If that is the position after Wednesday, I shall be delighted. I shall gladly write, in my own hand, a letter of fulsome apology to the Under-Secretary of State, saying, "I was completely wrong on Monday. I had no idea that the Government would make such a wise Price Review so that, at long last, the industry is adequately capitalised", and I shall mean every word of it.
However, I think, and the hon. Gentleman knows, that that will not happen and the industry will still, after Wednesday, be quite unable to meet the target which the Government have set it because of cash shortage. There is, therefore, a question of priorities involved. What is the best use we can make of this money?
I come now to one or two points of detail on which I should be glad to have specific answers. Under the heading, "Assessment Notices", Article 4(2) provides:Any amount assessed in accordance with Article 3(5) of this Order shall be rounded down to the nearest ten shillings.92 Presumably, it can be rounded down to 10s. below or it can be rounded off to the nearest 10s. For example, will 19s. become 10s. or £1? The wording is ambiguous, and I suspect that whoever drafted that Article used the expression "rounded down" instead of "rounded off" without appreciating that the result was ambiguous. I ask for a definite reply about that. I say that for an additional and altruistic reason. If there is ambiguity there will be a greater volume of appeals, and no one will be confident of their outcome. We should always be definitive in these matters, if possible, rather than leave area for appeal.
Thinking further on the question of appeals, I ask that the sensible thing be done at this point by dropping the thousands of applications to enforce the collection of the levy through the courts. Civil proceedings at the moment are constipated; the time lag for civil cases in our courts is far too long. This is common knowledge. It causes justice to be tarnished. If there are to be tens of thousands of civil proceedings for collecting debt under this pitiful Order and its predecessor, substantial inconvenience and injustice will result right across the board for people who are in no way concerned with the argument about it. Where there is a general feeling of injustice, as there is in this case, for heaven's sake let us not have the argument fought out to the disadvantage of everyone in the United Kingdom who is seeking redress of grievance through civil proceedings in our courts. That is what will happen unless an administrative decision is taken that those tens of thousands of cases should be put right back in the cause lists. If that happens, the Board will not get its money anyway as month succeeds month.
§ Mr. Gardner
If the House rejects the Prayer, is the hon. Gentleman arguing that the cases pending should all be dropped? Surely, that would be grossly unfair, not least to those who have accepted that this is now the law of the land and paid the levy?
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
That is a fair point. What I suggest is that the Board should be wound up and that all the outstanding uncollected levies should be written off, in the same way as a firm writes off debts. There is certainly an excellent case for saying that it would be 93 equitable that those who have paid levies should have them refunded. I agree that that logically and fairly follows, but I doubt whether it is a form of fairness that would appeal to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who has quite a substantial say in these matters.
Several of my hon. Friends are waiting to contribute to the debate, so I shall end as I began. First, standing on its own feet, the Board is not justified in collecting the sums that it collects, because the services it renders in respect of them is not commensurate to the effort of collecting them. Second, this is not the best use that can be made of the money when the industry is desperately short of working cash to carry out the Government's expansion programme. Third, there is no shame in a change of mind by people who once supported the introduction of a training board, any more than it was a shameful deed, which it was not, to dissolve the Tomato and Cucumber Marketing Board. My hon. Friend also rightly referred to the Egg Marketing Board. Let us not be ashamed to say that this is not a suitable structure for education and training for the agriculture, horticulture and forestry industries.
This is not to say, nor should it be represented as saying, that such training is not necessary. It is necessary and desirable, and the nation as a whole will benefit from it. But the general principle of economy is to make the best and most efficient use of existing resources. We should make the best and most efficient use not only of the resources for training and education which have already been mentioned, but, for instance, of the young farmers movement, which has not been referred to. Many bodies contribute to this, and what we want is a cohesive pattern of training which does not entail an extremely expensive central administrative organisation.
Let us not end up with a system which results in those who are worst off in the agricultural industry, the small farmers who employ no labour, having to finance training schemes from which they derive no benefit and which assist their competitors. This must be against all principles of equity., except in general taxation.
94 For those reasons, I shall have no hesitation in supporting the Prayer in the Division Lobby.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Miss J. M. Quennell (Petersfield)
My hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) began his interesting and constructive speech very tellingly with the valid point that although it may be less profitable per acre from the point of view of output the smaller farm managed and worked by the proprietor is very often the most intensive unit in our very varied agriculture.
I found my hon. Friend's contribution, following that of the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence), particularly interesting in that the hon. Gentleman, though he claimed to be a townsman with country yearnings, had highlighted the difficulty in which agriculture is placed. He said that the lack of a promotion ladder within the industry was very obvious, but that perhaps it was not such a problem for farmers employing 60 or so men. I have an agricultural constituency producing practically everything from hops to strawberries, but I do not believe that a single farmer in my constituency employs 60 men, or even half that number. I should be very interested to know how many farmers in the country employ 60, or anywhere near that number.
Here we return to the general difficulty brought out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) that the industry is one of the largest in the country with the widest possible geographical spread. No other industry has productive units of all sizes, stretched from Land's End to John o'Groats, on all sorts of soils, in varying climates and with varying levels of output, structure and organisation. That is the industry's difficulty, which my right hon. Friend foresaw in 1964 when he was responsible for the Industrial Training Act. I remember taking part in the Committee stage upstairs. Agriculture was then exempted from the provisions of that Act. It was recognised as being dissimilar from all the other industries, whose concentrated areas of output lend themselves to easier organisation for training purposes.
One or two hon. Members have suggested that the opposition to this and 95 the previous Order has been inspired to some extent. I do not think that that is entirely correct. It is true that the initiative for the establishment of a Board came from the N.F.U., but not all farmers are members of the N.F.U. Some counties did not feel that they had been consulted as fully as they should have been, and in any case where they were consulted I think that the full practical difficulty of implementing the structure was not really appreciated.
Most hon. Members have talked about small farmers employing only one man. In my constituency there are 250-acre farms run by the farmer and one man. Here one faces the problem of release. A journey of about 20 miles is involved, and public transport is not the easiest thing to get hold of.
Nobody in the industry really foresaw what would happen if there was a training board. With a board wedded to the structure of existing boards suitable for other industries, it inevitably followed that one had to have an administratively top-heavy structure. It is unfortunate that the existing Agricultural Training Board has developed as it has, but it is impossible to organise a board over such a huge industry, spread so disparately all over the country, without having a top-heavy administrative structure.
§ Mr. Gardner
The hon. Lady says that the industry is small-scale and widespread. Does she recall the setting up of a training board for distribution and one for food, drink and tobacco? Surely those industries are equally widely spread and also involve small units.
§ Miss Quennell
The hon. Member is right in saying that they are widespread, but they are concentrated in urban selling points. That is the difference. I do not accept his argument.
§ Mr. Hazell
Does not the hon. Lady agree that the majority of the training undertaken and to be undertaken by the Board is on farms and not at institutes 20 or 30 miles away?
§ Miss Quennell
That was one of the more unfortunate interjections, because the courses which the Board started in the early days failed dismally to impress the farmers. The hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Hazell) shakes his head. Per- 96 haps the situation is different in Norfolk, and I do not wish to join in that war. But it is a fact that in the early days of the Board the courses which the Board's officers put on failed dismally to impress the farmers who went to find out what it was all about.
The first levy was introduced at the time of the Selective Employment Tax, which farmers regarded as an interest-free loan for the Government. That was cut. So far 26,000 farmers have refused to pay the levy—about half the farmers in agriculture. The Board will not work in those circumstances. Unless it gets the support of an industry, a training board cannot work. None of the other training boards has had quite such an unfortunate reception.
§ Miss Quennell
I am sorry but I cannot give way again, for time is short, other hon. Members wish to speak and I wish to conclude my speech.
I am glad to see the return after some absence of the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. This is a debate on agriculture. Earlier we had a brief visit from one of the Ministers for Education, and we have a Minister from the Department of Employment and Productivity. It is unfortunate that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture has been absent for much of the debate.
This highlights one of the problems. Agriculture is the only industry with its own Minister, and it is wrong that its training arrangements are not supervised by the Minister responsible for it. Every hon. Member who has spoken has appreciated the problem of organising training for this particularly awkward industry. All the other training boards come under the Department of Employment and Productivity, and probably they have obtained the know-how to enable them to deal with the problem, but the formula when applied to agriculture fails dismally.
I want the Government to announce a complete rearrangement starting at the top. Agricultural training should be taken from the Department which hits the headlines whenever we have strikes and placed under the Ministry responsible 97 for agriculture. Training facilities are necessary, but the Board is unlikely to secure them and it will not meet the needs of the industry or of the country as it is constructed. The industry's training problems could have been solved if training had been offered to the industry on a county basis, using facilities which already exist in the many institutes, colleges of further education and technical colleges. We could have had a much more economical and effective form of training—far cheaper for the industry and for the country. I await with interest the Government's views on the subject. If they do not offer a solution along these lines, I shall have pleasure in supporting my hon. Friends in the Division Lobby.
§ 6.24 p.m.
§ Mr. James Scott-Hopkins (Derbyshire, West)
There is little time left for debate before we have the pleasure of hearing the reply from the Under-Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity.
First, I deeply regret that we have found it necessary to have such a debate, for I had hoped that the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary would have learned from previous debates what was the feeling not only in the House but throughout the country on this subject. The hon. Member has put himself in a very difficult position. It is obvious that the industry does not support the proposals which have been put forward by the Training Board. Moreover, the Board will before long have 26,000 summonses on its hands if it wishes to obtain payment of the levy. No Board can succeed which starts with such bad relations with the industry. I had hoped that the Under-Secretary would realise that some time ago and would not introduce another Order and another levy. It is a pity that he did not do so.
The solutions which have been put forward in the House for winding up the Board or changing its composition and the way in which it is run must be listened to very seriously by the Minister. The existing Board cannot and does not command respect, authority and confidence in the industry. Even the hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Hazell) must recognise that. That being the case, the Under-Secretary should cut his losses and start again.
98 My hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Hawkins) put forward a sensible solution of a committee or board examining in the counties, at local level, how money should be spent to improve the existing educational and training facilities to raise the standards of training of the farming community. Improving the training of the farming community is our common aim. Farmers accept it. They want their workers to be highly skilled and properly trained. But the present Board is not the way to do it. The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) and my hon. Friend the Member for Petersfield (Miss Quennell) rightly made a valid point about the small farmer who in many cases has one employee and will be paying the levy to improve the work force of the larger farmers.
I beg the Under-Secretary of State to realise that there is a great deal of un-happiness with the scheme, not only in the House but in the country. He must have the industry supporting him to succeed, which means that he must start thinking again. He need have no feeling of pride in the matter. The Prime Minister spends most of his time changing his mind, and there is, therefore, no need for the hon. Gentleman to feel shame if he changes his mind or recommends his right hon. Friend to change her mind.
Let us stop the nonsense which involves our having this type of debate through trying to impose on the industry a Board which is not wanted and, I must say, has people running it who are no longer acceptable to the industry. Let the hon. Member realise that he must start again. If he does, the industry and we on this side of the House will be behind him.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity (Mr. Roy Hattersley)
The opposition to the Order both inside and outside the House has ranged over a wide spectrum of proposals about what should happen to the Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry Training Board in the immediate future. At one extreme we have those who have criticisms of the Board and at the other extreme there are those with the simple proposal that the Board should be wound up.
99 The hon. Member for Norfolk, Southwest (Mr. Hawkins), if he will forgive me a biblical quotation, went so far as to ask me to organise things in such a way that it should be as if the Board "had never been ". The suggestion was that, somehow, history should be rolled back for 18 months to when the Board was contemplated rather than created.
The position of the right hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) on that spectrum is not exactly precise, and perhaps intentionally so. But I appreciate that his criticism of the Board was advanced along the lines of what I describe as the high argument against it: that is, the certain opposition to it in the industry, its apparent unacceptability to the industry; the need for all boards eventually to be accepted by their industry; and the problems that this Board certainly has, because of the structure of the industry which it serves, in obtaining that acceptability.
But as well as the high argument, we have heard the low argument. We have heard that the Board is superfluous because training is already adequate. We have heard that the levy is an unacceptable burden on farmers. We have heard that the existence of such a Board is almost an impertinence, an infringement of the farmers' right to make their own decisions about training and not pay for it if they so choose. The most extraordinary argument of all was that the Board should be wound up because it was extravagant and wasteful.
The hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West was the chief proponent of the extravagant and wasteful argument, and he typified other proponents of the same point of view. There is a tendency to make unsubstantiated allegations about the extravagance of the Board and to offer them to the House and the country as though they were Holy Writ. I can think of nothing easier to say of any institution, public or private, than that it is extravagant in its use of manpower, building and property. But it is not an argument which, in respect of this Board, I have heard substantiated either this afternoon or at any other time.
One of the other characteristics of these critics is their absolute obsession with trivia. One of the claims made by them 100 to justify the disbandment of the Board is that it writes to Members of Parliament to say what it is doing and how it is doing it. It is said that one of the Board's solicitors has made a clerical error and has issued summonses which should not have been issued. These typify the paucity of some of the arguments we have had not only this afternoon, but during the last year or 18 months.
§ Mr. Scott-Hopkins
Surely the hon. Gentleman does not say that the fact that the Board's solicitor issued a great many summonses to many people, and thereby caused distress, is trivial. He cannot really mean that. Surely he will think again.
§ Mr. Hattersley
I am not saying, and I do not think that the House has been told, that a great many summonses have been issued. We have been told that an error occurred. What I am saying is that if all institutions which made errors of that sort deserved disbandment, there would be very few institutions in Britain or Europe.
I come to the second argument which I regard as classified among the least legitimate criticisms of the Board—the financial burden which it places on farmers. Both the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) and the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) drew attention to the simple financial penalties involved in the Board's existence. The hon. Member for Tiverton went so far as to suggest that its existence might be imperilling the capitalisation prospects of the industry.
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop
I never said that. I said that the hon. Gentleman had to decide in an order of priorities whether this was the best use of that sum of money. I never suggested that the money collected by the Board would capitalise the industry for its expansion programme. If the hon. Gentleman had listened more closely to what I said, he would have heard the figure I gave as being necessary for that.
§ Mr. Hattersley
HANSARD tomorrow will show the relationship which the hon. Gentleman drew between those two elements.
Irrespective of that, let me give the exact extent of the financial burden we 101 are asking the House to allow the Board to impose on the industry. We are imposing no burden whatever on the farmer who has no employees. Some comment and concern have been expressed on behalf of those farmers, although they are in no way affected by the proposal. But from other farmers we are asking for a levy of £3 10s. a year per worker.
Let us assume, as is increasingly untrue, that the farmer receives nothing in return for that £3 10s. A substantial number of farmers are receiving training grants in compensation, but, even if we take the increasingly untypical farmer who receives nothing, he is asked to pay a gross sum of Is. 4d. a week for each of his employees. Since that Is. 4d. is deductible against tax, the burden that the Board imposes on agriculture is 10d. per week per employee. I would have thought that that was not a very great sum to pay in terms of the benefits which, as I hope I can show to the House, will accrue from the Board's existence.
I must deal with the suggestion that it is an impertinence that the Board should be imposed on an unwilling industry. What is meant by that is that it is an impertinence that the Board should be imposed on unwilling employers. But agriculture, like any other industry, is more than the employers; it is the employees as well. There is no doubt that the view of the workers, as expressed by their union and individually, is that the Board is needed and is providing for them services they are entitled to obtain.
§ Mr. Scott-Hopkins
The hon. Gentleman says that the National Union of Agricultural Workers supports the Board. Does he know the percentage of farmworkers in the union?
§ Mr. Hattersley
The hon. Gentleman would tell the House that that was hardly relevant, because he has said that the National Farmers' Union is not representative in all it does, because it sometimes disagrees with opinions at the grass roots, among the rank and file. The National Union of Agricultural Workers corporately has expressed support for the Board, and that is the best test we can have of the industry's opinion, in addition to the response to training courses, about which I hope to speak.
102 Before doing so, may I turn to another argument against the Board, which is that training in the industry is already adequate and that there is no need for a levy to finance the Board? Almost in-invariably, that contention is mounted side by side with the argument that somehow and in some way the Board was created to achieve the status of competition with agricultural colleges run by local education authorities. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The work of the Board and the work of the local education institutions, and the private colleges, for that matter, are essentially complementary rather than competitive. Between the numerous debates which we have had on this subject, I have visited a series of agricultural colleges, and I have yet to meet a principal who did not regard the Board as something which enhanced the work which he was doing. I have yet to meet a principal who did not believe that the encouragement which the Board was giving in terms of the advocacy of greater training and the incentive of the levy and grant system was encouraging farmers to take up places at colleges which had been vacant for far too long.
In previous debates, I have been told that many colleges of education and agricultural colleges of one sort or another had spare capacity. One of the things that the Board is certainly doing is to encourage farmers, by persuasion or by grant and levy, to take up these places, and that has been the message passed to me at a series of colleges.
There are other examples which I must give in an attempt to refute the argument that the Board is superfluous because training was always possible and already available. I have three examples of provision made by the Board for training facilities which did not exist before the Board was created and which do so now, with the enthusiastic support of the industry and its workers. I take the example of apprenticeships.
My hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Hazell) reminded the House that the Board had now taken responsibility for apprenticeships in his industry. He will know that the number of young men going into apprenticeships in England and Wales in agriculture was 103 almost static for four or five years. Between the time when the Board assumed responsibility for apprentice training and the end of January, there was an increase of apprentice intake of almost 30 per cent I have no doubt that the efforts of the Board's staff and the incentive of the levy and grant schemes helped to bring that about.
Similarly, the Board, meeting the demand of farmers, has been responsible for organising training schemes on the farms themselves, an essential element in an industry where it is naturally difficult for operatives to leave their work to go to courses. During the past year, the Board has sponsored 120 new schemes of that sort involving over 6,000 workers, schemes which would not have been there but for the existence of the Board.
I give a third example. I take the example of group training schemes, which the right hon. Member for Grantham rightly said in his Second Reading speech on the Bill was a particular necessity in industries with a large number of small enterprises. Group training schemes, 14 of which involve 102 businesses, have already been created in the industry and another 36 are at the planning stage-again, directly attributable to the work of the Training Board.
§ Mr. Hawkins
The hon. Gentleman refers to training schemes on farms. Does he not realise that it is just as far for 19 out of 20 of the workers to go to one farm as it is for the whole lot to travel to an educational establishment or college? The distance is just the same. They have to be brought together to that one farm.
§ Mr. Hattersley
If the hon. Member thinks about that, he will conclude that that might well be so, but, on the other hand, it might well not be so and, therefore, it does not make much of a contribution to our debate.
What, I hope, the hon. Member will accept as a contribution to our debate is that of the 900 short training courses which the Board has organised, 500, or rather more than half, have been organised in conjunction with colleges of agriculture and colleges of further education—again, I hope, a potent demonstration that the colleges do not regard the 104 Board as a competing force but view it as something with which they should work, to the betterment of the industry as a whole.
Having said those things, I could not deny, nor have I ever denied, that the acceptance of the Board by the industry, an acceptance which is at present notably absent, is something which must be achieved if we are to have a successful training scheme for the industry organised by the Board. The right hon. Member for Grantham regarded that as one of the three necessary principles, and, of course, he is right. One can only understand the relationship of the Board and the industry, however, if one considers the Board's origins and history.
The Board was begun at the request of the National Farmers' Union and the National Union of Agricultural Workers. It is quite wrong to say that having received that request, my right hon. Friend the then Minister of Labour created the Board in haste. As is usually the case when a new training board is set up, long discussions proceeded with representatives of the industry about its scope and extent, about who should be included and what should be excluded. In the case of the Agricultural Training Board, those negotiations went on for over a year.
It seems to me extraordinary that during that year when my right hon. Friend the then Minister of Labour was discussing these matters with the N.F.U., not a word should have got out to the county branches and to the individual farmers. I am sure that it did. I am sure, however, that the acceptance of the Board, which might well have come about, was in many ways hindered by the foot-and-mouth epidemic, to which the right hon. Member for Grantham referred and to which my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North also referred.
The foot-and-mouth epidemic came at a time when the Board intended to demonstrate what it was intended to do and what it could do. It came at a time when the Board should have begun its work of explanation and at a time which could not have been more to the disadvantage of the Board in making itself understood and accepted.
105 An acknowledgment of the special problems that the foot-and-mouth epidemic created for training in the industry was the additional grant which we made to ensure that the industry should not pay a disproportionate share of the costs of the Board at a time when the Board could not operate fully. It was undoubtedly that unfortunate beginning which, in many ways, prejudiced parts of the industry against its existence.
The right hon. Member for Grantham rightly drew the attention of the House to some of the inherent difficulties in organising a board for the industry. All boards organising in and for industries which have very many small firms within their boundaries, and certainly all boards organised for industries which have remote constituent firms, meet special problems. Agriculture is a concentration of those problems. All of us always knew that to be the case, but it never seemed to me or my right hon. Friends—
§ Mr. Hattersley
I have given way a lot and I have only a few minutes left.
It never seemed to us that that was a reason for not attempting to organise training in the industry. Indeed, one might argue that the special problems of the industry—for example, the number of small farms and the number of remote establishments—were an argument in favour of producing a system by which training could be provided on a group basis and on a common basis.
Certainly, one of the main objects that the Board has borne in mind throughout its existence is the special problems of the small company. It is in no small measure the problems of the small company which have caused some of the administrative expenses about which we hear so much. The decision to go out into the counties with a staff who could help the small farm and assist the small unit was an extra administrative cost. This is one of the things which, I hope, the Board's critics will bear in mind when I turn to the amount of money which the Board has necessarily had to spend on administration.
It has already been stated this afternoon that total administrative costs for 106 the Board in the year under review are likely to amount to rather than more than £400,000. The right hon. Member for Grantham asked for the estimated percentage by which that would be in excess of 20 per cent. I give a figure which initially will, I am sure, make some hon. Members opposite shy with counterfeit amazement. The percentage will, in fact, be about 30.
I have, however, to tell the House that that ratio of administration costs as a total percentage of income is a bogus comparison, for two reasons. First, a substantial part of that £400,000 spent on administration is spent on, on behalf of and as result of those defaulters who did not pay, who have refused to pay and whose every application for additional payment has meant additional expense to the Board. The expense of the corporate defaulting is estimated by the Board at something approaching £100,000.
May I remind the House that as a result of discussions held between the Board and the National Farmers' Union, part of which I chaired, the original levy proposal that the Board had in mind—£6—was reduced to £3 10s., yet very few reductions were possible in administrative costs.
Had the Board gone ahead with its original levy proposals, the percentage of levy used for administration would automatically have been cut by 50 per cent. and we would have been talking about a figure of between 10 and 15 per cent. rather than 30 per cent. What I am saying is that to compare the total levy with the percentage of that levy spent on administration is an entirely bogus comparison, because it varies with the nature of the industry and with the size of the levy, as well as the character of the prudence which, I am sure, the Board is exercising.
§ Mr. Hattersley
I think not. I have literally five minutes left to me and I must cover a great deal of ground. (HON. MEMBERS: "Ten minutes."] I assure the House that I have less than 10 minutes.
At that stage, when the Board was first issuing its levy, only a handful of extremists were proselytising against the 107 Board. They were basically the anti-training levy committee who, at that time, the N.F.U. was describing as the Luddites of the industry.
But there was a growth of opposition to the Board in this House. Therefore, in February last year talks began, initially informally, between the N.F.U. and my Ministry to find a basis on which the Board could become more acceptable. The principal result of those discussions was a reduction in the levy from £6 to £3 10s. That reduction, which I certainly sanctioned and in many ways promoted, was not promoted in the interests of training, but in the interests of industrial harmony. The reduction was made in the hope that the Board would thereby become more acceptable to the industry.
Looking back, that may have been a mistake, because one result of that reduction was that the Board was not able to do many things that it wanted and needed to do. One result was that hon. Members, like the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West, were able to come here and say, "We have heard far too little of the Board". Had that reduction not been made at the suggestion of the industry in the hope of making the industry more reconciled to the Board's existence, I very much doubt whether he would have been able to say that.
The £3 10s. package was recommended by the N.F.U. to its Council in May last year. That proposal for the future of the Board was carried by the council by a small majority. Notwithstanding that, the N.F.U. felt that the size of the majority made it impossible for it to support its continued existence and negotiations were reopened. The negotiations went on throughout the summer until, in the second week in September, the N.F.U. asked us to consider alternative methods of financing the Board. While that consideration was still going on, the N.F.U. notified my right hon. Friend that it wished the Board to continue no longer as it was sure that it should be suspended.
At that time my right hon. Friend sent to the N.F.U. the letter to which reference has been made, saying that her decision about the future of the Board must be based on a number of criteria, not the least important of which was the 108 attitude of the workers in the industry. The discussions which followed have gone on since, culminating with the meeting that I had with the N.F.U. on 10th February, about which the right hon. Member for Grantham has asked me specific questions.
The right hon. Gentleman has drawn attention to what he described as the inadequacies of the fertiliser subsidy as a means of paying for the Board. I accept that it has many inadequacies. It is certainly much less equitable than the levy and grant system and it is certainly much less related to manpower needs than the levy and grant system. If the industry wants a method of payment which is related to those things it has to choose the method designed by the right hon. Gentleman to be related to those things—the levy and grant system.
The fertiliser subsidy, with all its imperfections, was offered as something which the industry seemed to prefer, something which was more related to the proposals of the industry: that the money should be collected without applying the levy and grant system operated in other industries. The industry must decide whether that system of funding, with all its admitted imperfections, commends itself to the industry. If it does not, the industry can return to the levy and grant system which is in many ways preferable, which is in all ways more likely to encourage training, and which will only be suspended, if the industry wishes that it should be suspended with such enthusiasm that the introduction of the fertiliser scheme will mean that the Board becomes acceptable to the industry.
Finally, the right hon. Gentleman stipulated two other requirements of training in this industry as well as the acceptability of the Board to the industry as a whole. First, that there should be an expansion and improvement in training. The right hon. Gentleman has said that he is in favour of training. Of course he is. Secondly, there is the question of the obligation on the industry to pay for its own training.
I must tell the right hon. Gentleman something which I suspect he knows: that many of the critics of the Board do not subscribe to that third principle. One thing which bedevils consideration of the Board is the belief that what training goes on in the industry should in 109 some way be paid for not by the industry directly, but by the Government, by the education services or by local authorities. We cannot accept that contention. We can accept that the N.F.U., which describes itself as having gained a good deal of ground—and I do not argue with that contention—has the prospect of putting to its members that the fertiliser subsidy is in some ways a movement towards the method of financing which it prefers. It has the alternative of returning to the levy and grant system and it is discussing those alternatives now. It is discussing them against the background of a Board which has now collected 70 per cent. of its levy and almost 90 per cent. of its levy in Scotland—figures which I am advised compare almost, if not overwhelmingly, favourably with collection problems that other boards in agriculture have met since the war.
The industry must realise that the Government feel that they have obligations to expand and improve training within agriculture. Nobody this afternoon has offered a way of doing it which conforms to the right hon. Gentleman's three principles, yet does not involve an industrial training board, albeit by some other name.
I believe that the proposals we have now put to the N.F.U. may result in acceptance by it, and I certainly hope a growing acceptance by the industry. Knowing that a conciliatory manner is not one of my principal virtues, I say to the right hon. Gentleman that I am anxious to be conciliatory this afternoon, not because I should regret or be embarrassed by a change of plan and a change of direction, but because I believe that this Board is in the interests of the industry. I believe that we are at a time when the Board may achieve acceptance by the industry. We are certainly at a time when the N.F.U. is considering its attitude towards it. I believe that it would do the Board and the industry a great deal of harm if criticism of it was seen this afternoon to be split on something approaching party lines.
We have already made many concessions to N.F.U. opinion. We intend to
§ continue to do so. We certainly hope that the fertiliser subsidy, or the alternative of levy and grant, will result in N.F.U. acceptance. In that knowledge and in the assurance that our main objective is to get the Board working in harmony with the industry, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not feel that he must divide the House.
§ 6.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Godber
When I moved the Prayer this afternoon I hoped that the Under-Secretary would be able to respond to the appeal that I made to him. He has tried to answer a number of the points and he has told us he has tried to be conciliatory. I am grateful for that, but I fear that he has not gone far enough.
The hon. Gentleman has talked about administration and given the best possible presentation that could be given about that; but, even so, in whatever way we interpret what he said, the degree of administration is very high indeed.
The hon. Gentleman is still posing to the industry an impossible alternative: either it has the grant and levy system or the fertiliser subsidy. That is not necessary. Plenty of other ways are more equitable than the fertiliser subsidy. Even if he insists on everything else, he has no right to impose on the industry something which he acknowledges is unfair. It can be done through the Price Review, in other ways.
I will not continue longer. I must advise my hon. Friends that what the Under-Secretary has said is not sufficient to prevent me from asking the House to divide.
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Industrial Training Levy (Agricultural, Horticultural and Forestry) Order 1969 (S.I., 1969, No. 155), dated 10th February, 1969, a copy of which was laid before this House on 19th Febraury, be annulled.
§ The House divided: Ayes 185, Noes 261.111
|Division No. 119.1||AYES||[6.59 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Biffen, John|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Balniel, Lord||Biggs-Davison, John|
|Astor, John||Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Black, Sir Cyril|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Batsford, Brian||Blaker, Peter|
|Awdry, Daniel||Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.)|
|Baker, Kenneth (Acton)||Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Body, Richard|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Hiley, Joseph||Percival, Ian|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Hirst, Geoffrey||Peyton, John|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Braine, Bernard||Holland, Philip||Pounder, Rafton|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Hooson, Emlyn||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Hordern, Peter||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Howell, David (Guildford)||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Bryan, Paul||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pym, Francis|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Iremonger, T. L.||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Burden, F. A.||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.)||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Carlisle, Mark||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Kershaw, Anthony||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Clark, Henry||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Clegg, Walter||Kitson, Timothy||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Corfield, F. V.||Lambton, Viscount||Royle, Anthony|
|Costain, A. P.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Lane, David||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Crouch, David||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Scott, Nicholas|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Dance, James||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Silvester, Frederick|
|d'Avigdor-Goidsmid, Sir Henry||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Dean, Paul||Lubbock, Eric||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Speed, Keith|
|Digby, Simon Wingfle'd||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Stainton, Keith|
|Doughty, Charles||Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Drayson, G. B.||McMaster Stanley||Summers sir Spencer|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||McMaster, Stanley||summers, Sir Spencer|
|Eden, Sir John||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Elliott, R. W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne. N.)||McNair-wilson, Patrick||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Emery, Peter||Maddan, Martin||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Carthcart)|
|Foster, Sir John||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||Marten, Neil||Temple, John M.|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Maude, Angus||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Gilmour, lan (Norfolk, C.)||Mawby, Ray||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Glyn, Sir Richard||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Waddington, David|
|Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Miscampbell, Norman||Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)|
|Goodhart, Philip||Monro, Hector||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Goodhew, Victor||Montgomery, Fergus||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Gower, Raymond||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Wall, Patrick|
|Grant, Anthony||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Gurden, Harold||Murton, Oscar||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Neave, Airey||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Nott, John||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Onslow, Cranley||Wylie, N. R.|
|Hastings, Stephen||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian|
|Hawkins, Paul||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hay, John||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Mr. Jasper More and|
|Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Mr. Reginald Eyre.|
|Heseltine, Michael||Peel, John|
|Albu, Austen||Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)|
|Alldritt, Walter||Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Delargy, Hugh|
|Anderson, Donald||Buchan, Norman||Dell, Edmund|
|Archer, Peter||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Dewar, Donald|
|Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw)||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Diamond, Rt Hn. John|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Cant, R. B.||Dickens, James|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Carmichael, Neil||Dobson, Ray|
|Barnes, Michael||Carter-Jones, Lewis||Doig, Peter|
|Barnett, Joel||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Driberg, Tom|
|Beaney, Alan||Coe, Denis||Dunn, James A.|
|Bence, Cyril||Coleman, Donald||Dunnett, Jack|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Conlan, Bernard||Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)|
|Blackburn, F.||Crawshaw, Richard||Eadie, Alex|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Cronin, John||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)|
|Boston, Terence||Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Ellis, John|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||English, Michael|
|Boyden, James||Dalyell, Tam||Ennals, David|
|Bradley, Tom||Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)||Faulds, Andrew|
|Brooks, Edwin||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Ferryhough, E.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D, D.||Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Finch, Harold|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Pentland, Norman|
|Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir Eric (lslington, E.)||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.|
|Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)|
|Forrester, John||Lipton, Marcus||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)|
|Fowler, Gerry||Lomas, Kenneth||Probert, Arthur|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Loughlin, Charles||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Freeson, Reginald||Luard, Evan||Randall, Harry|
|Gardner, Tony||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Rankin, John|
|Garrett, W. E.||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Rees, Merlyn|
|Ginsburg, David||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Reynolds, Rt. Hn. G. W.|
|Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||McBride, Neil||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||McCann, John||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Gregory, Arnold||MacColl, James||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy|
|Grey, Charles (Durham)||MacDermot, Niall||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Macdonald, A. H.||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Lianelly)||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P'c'as)|
|Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Mackie, John||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Maclennan, Robert||Roebuck, Roy|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||McNamara, J. Kevin||Rogers George (Kensington, N.)|
|Hamling, William||MacPherson, Malcolm|
|Hannan, William||MacPherson, Malcolm||Rose, Paul|
|Harper, Joseph||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Harrison Walter (Wakefield)||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Harrison, walter (Wakefield)||Mallalieu, E. L (Brigg)||Sheldon, Robert|
|Hattersley, Roy||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.|
|Hazel, Bert||Manuel, Archie||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Mapp, Charles||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Heifer, Eric S.||Marks, Kenneth||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)|
|Henig, Stanley||Marquand, David||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Herbison, Rt. Hn, Margaret||Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Hilton, W. S.||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Silverman, Julius|
|Hobden, Dennis||Mayhew, Christopher||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Hooley, Frank||Meillsh, Rt. Hn. Robert||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Mendelson, J. J.||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Mikardo, Ian||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Millan, Bruce||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George|
|Hoy, James||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Huckfield, Leslie||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Tinn, James|
|Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Molloy, William||Tuck, Raphael|
|Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Moonman, Eric||Urwin, T. w.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Varley, Eric G.|
|Hunter, Adam||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Hynd, John||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Wallace, George|
|Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Moyle, Roland||Weitzman, David|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Murray, Albert||Wellbeloved, James|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Neal, Harold||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Newens, Stan||Whitaker, Ben|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St. P'cras, S.)||Oakes, Gordon||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Ogden, Eric||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Orbach, Maurice||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Orme, Stanley||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Oswald, Thomas||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)||Willis, Rt. Hn. George|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Owen, Will (Morpeth)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Padley, Walter||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Winnick, David|
|Kelley, Richard||Paget, R. T.||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Palmer, Arthur||Woof, Robert|
|Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Lawson, George||Park, Trevor|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)||Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.)||Mr. Ian L. Evans and|
|Lee, John (Reading)||Pavitt, Laurence||Mr. J. D. Concannon.|
§ It being after Seven o'clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of The CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND 114 MEANS, under Standing Order No. 7 (Time for taking Private Business), further Proceeding stood postponed.