HC Deb 18 February 1975 vol 886 cc1084-5
2. Mr. Woodall

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he can now say what provision is to be made for training in oil drilling technology.

Mr. Harold Walker

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that a drilling technology training centre is being established in Scotland with the aid of funds from the Manpower Services Commission. The centre will provide courses in drilling technology for graduate engineers and senior rig crew. The initial phase will be located at Livingston and should become operational this summer.

Mr. Woodall

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Will he now say what sort of numbers he expects to be able to train and who will be meeting the cost?

Mr. Walker

When the centre becomes fully operational we expect that it will have an annual throughput of about 600 trainees a year. The capital cost is estimated at £255,000 for the initial stage. That is being met by a grant from the Manpower Services Commission and by a loan which the Training Services Agency has been authorised to make. My hon. Friend asked about operating costs. Our eventual aim is to make the centre self-supporting. The Manpower Services Commission has authorised the Training Services Agency to offer a grant to meet any shortfall until the build-up has reached full occupancy.

Mr. Sproat

Will the Minister confirm that the site at Livingston will not necessarily be the permanent long-term centre for oil drilling technology training and that the Government's mind is still open about where the major development should be sited? Does the hon. Gentleman accept that many people regard it as crazy that the centre of oil drilling technology training should be relatively far removed from the centre of oil activity and where oil personnel are situated—namely, Aberdeen and the North-East?

Mr. Walker

The hon. Gentleman will recognise, as I said in my original answer, that this is the initial phase. The permanent site is primarily a matter for the Petroleum Industry Training Board. The board is considering a number of sites for the permanent centre.