HC Deb 16 July 1970 vol 803 cc1709-10
19. Mr. Eadie

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what steps he is taking to increase industrial retraining.

Mr. Dudley Smith

The Government are committed to an expansion of retraining facilities and my right hon. Friend will announce our proposals when we have completed our full review of industrial training needs. Meanwhile, existing plans to set up nine more Government training centres are proceeding without interruption.

Mr. Eadie

Can the Minister inform the House that there will be no cut-back in training in relation to any cut-back in public expenditure? May I take it from his Answer that he is telling the House that the promise in the Tory manifesto that there would be an increase in industrial training will be implemented by the Government?

Mr. Smith

Yes. I can give the hon. Member an assurance that there will be an increase in industrial training. In fact, there was a pledge to this effect in the Gracious Speech. That pledge will be implemented. But we need to survey the whole scene thoroughly before we announce our plans on the subject. By saying that, I think that I have answered the first part of the hon. Member's supplementary question.

Mr. Holland

In considering the future of training in this country, will my hon. Friend also look into ways and means of stimulating retraining within industry itself, and not merely in terms of expanding Government training centres?

Mr. Smith

Yes, and one of our proposals is that we should look at the operation of the industrial training boards. We said so in opposition; we said so in our election manifesto, and this will be carried out.

Mr. James Hamilton

Can the Minister give the House an assurance that the Government will not do what the Tory Government did in 1963, when we had 136,000 unemployed and they then closed two training centres in Scotland?

Mr. Smith

I was not personally responsible for that, but I cannot envisage any closures with the high rate of unemployment that now exists in Scotland.