HC Deb 22 January 1980 vol 977 cc177-8
2. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what discussions he has held with the industrial training boards with a view to easing bureaucratic controls over their activities.

The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. James Prior)

I have had discussions with the Manpower Services Commission and with ITB representatives to see whether the degree of control over the pay and other conditions of service of ITB staff could be reduced consistently with the statutory provision. I have recently written to the chairman of the MSC outlining our proposals.

Mr. Hooky

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that training boards have to deal with three separate bodies, namely, the training services division, the Department of Employment and the Civil Ser- vice Department? Is not the system rather cumbersome? Will he reconsider the rather similar statement that he made before Christmas about training board waste?

Mr. Prior

No, I do not want to reconsider what I said before Christmas. There are economics that may be made and should be made. I know that the way in which the boards have to seek permission before they can increase the salaries of individuals is an unsatisfactory statutory provision from the point of view of the management of ITBs. I am keen to put that right, and I believe that I have taken a good step in that direction. In the long run we should consider whether the ITBs should be responsible to industry, and perhaps be paid for by industry.

Mr. Thompson

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the best thing to do with industrial training boards is to scrap them?

Mr. Prior

No, I do not agree. Some boards are doing extremely good work. It is right for us to wait for the report on the ITB system and on training generally. The report has been commissioned by the Manpower Services Commission, and it will be available in July. I hope that it will enable the House and the Government to make far-reaching decisions on how we are to train our people for the last 20 years of the century, which is a matter of supreme importance.