HC Deb 09 June 1981 vol 6 cc301-38

'(1) Before exercising his powers under section 9(1) of the Industrial Training Act 1964 to amend or revoke an industrial training order, the Minister shall:—

  1. (a) publish criteria to define the activities of an effective training organisation as set out in sub-section (2) below;
  2. (b) ensure that an effective training organisation exists for each sector of industry covered by that Board, which is capable of fulfilling the criteria set out in subsection (2) below; and
  3. (c) publish an industrial training order, (as provided for in section 1 (1) of the Industrial Training Act 1964), to cover the activities of the effective training organisation in each sector.

(2) Each effective training organisation must:

(a) Establish a training body representative of employers and trade unions in the sector and of educational bodies closely concerned with the sector, which is capable of:—

  1. (i) representing their industry to the Manpower Services Commission and other Government Departments;
  2. (ii) being accountable to the sector, to Parliament and to the Manpower Services Commission for its activities;
  3. (iii) defining training standards for all occupational activities in the sector and identifying training initiatives, in consultation with the industry;
  4. (iv) collecting and maintaining manpower information for the industry; and
  5. (v) carrying out the agreed training strategies for the industry linked to overall Government training objectives.

(b) Employ a sufficient nucleus of professional training staff who can, together with appropriate administrative support, achieve the training objectives laid down by the training body;

(c) Undertake consultation with employers and relevant trade unions to seek a consensus in support of the implementation of training activities in the sector;

(d) Demonstrate that it has a continuing capability to raise finance to undertake and complete the agreed training strategies identified by the Training Body, to provide training advice consultancy and direct training services requested by the sector, and to act as an agency for channelling Government funds for training to the sector;

(e) Maintain the necessary manpower and financial resources to accredited company training schemes and assess company training achievements, and to operate systems for certifying existing and future training standards, where necessary;

(f) In conjunction with employers, the relevant trade unions, appropriate educational bodies and educational establishments, provide and monitor training programmes relevant to needs of the sector with nationally acceptable qualifications at the outcome of these programmes, guaranteed—

(i) by adequate links with local school and educational facilities, and

(ii) by access to physical premises of employers in the industry.

(g) Maintain adequate local, national and cross sectoral links to ensure the transferability of appropriate skills and to meet the skill requirements of new technologies. '.—[Mr. Penhaligon.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It will be for the convenience of the House if we take with this new clause 4—Alternative organisations.

Mr. David Penhaligon (Truro)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

It will be noted that the new clause, as well as being in my name and in the names of my hon. Friends, is also in the names of right hon. and hon. Members for almost every national political party in the House of Commons. The clause is about training, and my premise for proposing it is that I believe that we have a dramatically under-skilled nation.

One of the great ironies of the current position is that, of the 2 ½million registered unemployed, only a small percentage have any substantial skill to offer a prospective employer.

Sponsored training today is dominated by Government schemes, whether they be under the youth opportunities programme or work experience on employer's premises, to the extent of 440,000 places in the next 12 months. I do not believe that these represent real long-term training or that they will provide the people concerned with skills that will be useful to them for the rest of their lives, even if, in the current circumstances most of us will admit that they may serve some useful purpose.

As we see it from the Liberal Benches, the Bill without amendment gives the Secretary of State wide-ranging powers to tamper with the present arrangements for training. The industrial training boards are often too bureaucratic and there are too many of them, but they are in a unique position to identify manpower trends within each industrial sector. They can and do use their tripartite meetings to establish training programmes to meet training needs. We believe that they should not be simply swept away, and that we should not pass legislation that enables a Minister to sweep them away.

The Government say that they would like to increase the voluntary approach to training. We take the view that there is something to be said for that. Volunteers are always better than pressed men, but in area training pressed men are perhaps better than no men at all. The theory is that the powers given to the Minister in the Bill will lead to a substantial reduction in both quality and quantity of training. We submit that the nation cannot afford that, and cannot afford taking the risk that it may happen.

Mr. Hooley

I take the hon. Gentleman's point about volunteers being better than pressed men. Does he agree that professionals are usually better than amateurs?

Mr. Penhaligon

I accept that, although it does not seem to be relevant. One can have professionals under either arrangement. But I still take the view that pressed men in training are probably better than no men at all.

The new clause is not designed to stop reorganisation but to make sure that any reorganisation that takes place is as least as good as that which existed previously, and preferably better.

Before the Secretary of State can dismiss an industrial training board, he must, under the new clause, carry out several functions. First, he must define the criteria by which an effective training organisation—whether statutory or voluntary—is to be judged. Secondly, he must satisfy Parliament that there are good reasons for winding up the industrial training board and that an acceptable alternative exists in each industrial sector to oversee training to meet existing and projected manpower needs. Thirdly, he must ensure that Parliament maintains a means to monitor industrial training and to make adjustments in the national interest.

The remainder of the new clause defines a training organisation. Such an organisation must include employers, trade unions and associated educational bodies. It must be capable of representing industry to the Manpower Services Commission and to other Government bodies and it must be accountable to its own sector. It must define training standards and identify training initiatives in consultation with industry. It must collect and maintain manpower information for its own industry. It must carry out agreed training strategies for the industry, linked to the Government's overall training objectives. It must demonstrate that it has the continuing capacity to raise the necessary finance. In consultation with other relevant bodies, it must develop a nationally acceptable system of qualifications.

Given that those criteria are fulfilled, if the Secretary of State should choose to change to a voluntary system we would have no reason to oppose that. Indeed, it could be argued that such a system might be better than the present arrangements, because it would be voluntary and would, at the same time, maintain all that is good in the present system. One would hope that that would improve the situation.

To my knowledge, this is the first new clause to be tabled that has the signed support of members of the Conservative, Labour, Liberal and Social Democratic Parties. In itself, that is a reason for closely examining the provisions. Before I became a Member of Parliament I worked in industry. I served my time as a fitter and turner apprentice. Admittedly that was some years ago, but I have served my time in a factory. Those who have firsthand knowledge of unemployment and of its character fear that if the Government's prediction of an upturn in the economy is right—even if some of us think that such optimism is not justified, let us be optimistic for a moment —there is still no reason to believe that the level of skills among the unemployed will enable such an upturn to succeed.

Bad as the situation is, we fear that if the Bill is passed without the protection that I have outlined we might land up with an even worse system than the present one. The current Secretary of State is unlikely to approve of something that would make the situation worse. However, there is no guarantee that the right hon. Gentleman will hold that job for ever. Indeed, most of us read the newspapers regularly and find it surprising that he has held his job for so long. There is no guarantee that he will hold it for ever.

We seek a minimum level of protection in order to ensure that training does not deteriorate from its currently inadequate level. I commend the new clause to the House.

6.15 pm
Mr. Adley

I listened with interest to the speech made by the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon). My position accords almost entirely with the Government's thinking and not with the views of some of my hon. Friends, who would like a wide-ranging reduction—if not a destruction—of the function and role of training boards.

The hon. Member for Truro criticised the Bill on the ground that it gave the Secretary of State wide-ranging powers to tamper with the present structure. That is exactly what we need. There should be substantial tampering with some of our training boards. My concern about the new clause involves not its motivation, but its effect and drafting. I shall deal with a narrow point, because I should not like the House or the country to think that because the new clause has the well-advertised support that the hon. Gentleman has given it, it has gained automatic entry into the sunny uplands of industrial efficiency and harmony as we near the end of the twentieth century.

One or two phrases in the new clause show a laissez-faire attitude towards and understanding of, the establishment of the training boards and of training itself. I declare an interest as a member of the National Council of the British Hotels, Restaurants and Caterers Association and as marketing director of Commomwealth Holiday Inns of Canada Limited. I wish to restrict my remarks to the Hotel and Catering Industry Training Board and to the new clause's effect on it. The industry may not be a typical example, but neither is it untypical of some of the industries for which training boards have been created.

New clause 3(2)(a) states: Establish a training body representative of employers and trade unions in the sector". There is in that phrase a dangerous assumption that should be challenged—that only trade unions can represent the views of employees. That is not so. The hon. Member for Truro must have many small companies in his constituency for which that proposition does not hold good.

The HCITB is an example of a training board that suffers from unrepresentative membership. I submit that that situation would be enshrined rather than tackled if the new clause were accepted. The HCITB has 21 members. Two are from the General and Municipal Workers Union, two are from the Transport and General Workers Union, one is from the National Union of Railwaymen, one is from the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, one is from the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers and five come from the Government bureaucracy. By that I mean that three come from the Department of Education and Science and two from the Scottish Education Department. Thus, 12 of the 21 members are members of trade unions or of the bureaucracy.

I wish to consider the industry that the board is supposed to represent, to see whether there is fair and sensible representation. There is not. If one takes the organisations that are within the HCITB's scope, there are 1,709,000 employees in the industry, of whom only 85,000 are trade union members. That is about 5 per cent.

Many of that 5 per cent. are union members only because of the closed shop agreement that exists between British Transport Hotels, the NUR and the TSSA. That is a clear example of representation that is unrelated to the realities of the industry that the board is supposed to serve. The new clause would exacerbate a situation that some of us would like to change.

If the training boards are to function properly they must have the respect of the industries involved. Respect can flow only if membership of the board involved bears a relationship to the reality on the ground and to the extent and role of trade unionism in a particular industry.

I do not wish to raise the temperature of the debate, but for many years the trade unions in the hotel and catering industry have tried —but significantly failed —to establish a foothold. I understand that Grand Metropolitan Hotels, with 28 per cent. of its employees trade union members, has the largest percentage of trade union membership among companies in the British hotel industry.

Trust Houses Forte is the largest hotel group in Britain and it has a mere 4 per cent. of employees in union membership, despite substantial attempts over the years by the unions to obtain membership.

Mr. Harold Walker

The hon. Gentleman must not expect to get away with that. Will he confirm that many hotels and catering establishments have not only refused to recognise trade unions but have penalised and dismissed employees for membership of unions? One immediately thinks of the notorious Garners Steak Houses as one example. We could give more.

Mr. Adley

That accusation is frequently made but rarely substantiated. In my current working knowledge of the industry, most responsible companies believe that they have made a fair offer to the various unions, namely, "You prove to us that in a secret ballot you can obtain membership of 50 per cent or more of the work people at any establishment and we will regard the union as the legitimate body to negotiate."

My experience in the industry is that many people are more frightened of being in a union than of being out of a union. The picture that the right hon. Gentleman is trying to paint is not realistic. There may be a handful of rogue employers in this industry, as in any industry, but to suggest that that is a universal pattern is unsubstantiable and inaccurate.

I propose to the hon. Member for Truro and those supporting the new clause that it tries to enshrine rigid and old-fashioned attitudes towards the rights of employees. I will not weary the House by reading the clause, as it is a long one, but it sets up the Secretary of State as a corporate nanny for British industry. In all honesty, and with the greatest respect to the Secretary of State, I do not believe that he or any Government are necessarily best fitted to fulfil the role of arbiter on what does or does not constitute a good training board or a good pattern or model of training for any industry.

I want the employees in industries that are not heavily unionised to be represented by people selected other than through the trade union establishment. I am told that that presents great difficulties, although I have never been able to understand why.

If one wants to find representatives of employees, it is not beyond the wit of man to find people either through advertising, in the case of the hotel industry through the Caterer and Hotelkeeper or the Catering Times. One could consult the trade bodies such as the British Hotels, Restaurants and Caterers Association or some of the smaller bodies which would be willing to make nominations. One can advertise, like anyone else, to find the right man for the job.

I oppose the wording, if not the spirit, of the new clause. It is old-fashioned and couched in old-fashioned language and would not be helpful to the general proposition that we believe in good training. Many of the present boards, to use the words of the hon. Member for Truro, need to be tampered with widely. For that reason I am not prepared to support the new clause.

Mr. Penhaligon

The hon. Member is unlike some of his colleagues, who would like to see statutory training abolished. But what protection is there in the Bill to maintain minimum standards? Secretaries of State come and go and attitudes change. We perhaps have not done it perfectly—that would be surprising—but we have tried to introduce a safety net below which standards cannot drop.

Mr. Adley

The hon. Gentleman gives his case away when he says that Secretaries of State come and go. No Government can legislate for their successors. I have the greatest confidence in my right hon. Friend. The Bill, as it came out of the Committee, on which I had the honour to serve, will enable industry generally to equip itself far better to cope with the problems of training than at present. The new clause may sound grand, as it does, but, for the reasons that I have given on this rather narrow point, I do not think that it would be helpful.

Mr. Hooley

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I understand that we are discussing new clause 4 with new clause 3. At what point may I move new clause 4?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman may speak to his new clause. I may call him in due course to move it.

Mr. Ronald W. Brown (Hackney, South and Shoreditch)

The hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) may have confidence in his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, but he must ask himself whether he thinks the proposals enshrined in the Bill will be of any value to industrial training.

I support the new clause, because I believe that it is correct. It attempts to ensure that proper training is given. As the House knows, I am concerned with the furniture industry. The Furniture Industry Training Board has been a shining example. It is an excellent board and has done tremendous work. It has the confidence of both sides of the industry. It would be a disaster if it were to be destroyed purely for political dogma.

Everyone is considering how to resolve the problems if the industrial training boards are destroyed. My industry has a history of danger. Few people working in it do not at some time have a bad accident. The industrial training boards have done a remarkable amount of work in helping to prevent such accidents by good training and ensuring that good practices are inculcated upon young people and that mature workers are trained. The result is that the accident rate has been reduced substantially.

That could have happened at any time; it did not need an industrial training board to do it. But for year after year, decade after decade, the private employer did not do it. There was nothing to stop his doing it, but he did not do it. Only with the advent of industrial training boards was this matter taken up, primarily because it needed organisation. It needed skilled manpower and, above all, resources. The private employer was not prepared to devote money to it, because he did not have the organisation and the necessary skills.

If the present system is destroyed, why does the hon. Gentleman believe that we have all learnt so much and that the employer who in past years has refused to take action will now be prepared to take it?

Mr. Adley

The hon. Member will recall that a Conservative Government set up the training boards.

Those of us who support the Bill believe that some of the boards do a good job and, by general consent, some do not do a good job. Therefore, there is a need for change. The Bill seeks to create a framework for that change.

Mr. Brown

The hon. Gentleman makes an important and excellent point, but why must he refer to political issues? We are talking about the importance and role of industrial training in industry. He has spoilt his case. I do not care who set up the boards—we are discussing their destruction.

Mr. Adley

indicated dissent.

Mr. Brown

It is no good the hon. Gentleman disagreeing. The whole ethos of the Bill is the destruction of industrial training boards. The furniture industry is so sure that a disastrous situation is upon it that it is seeking alternatives. That is disastrous.

The furniture industry is a small, cottage industry. There are thousands of small employers employing fewer than 50 people. One does not have to hold a BSc (Hons) degree to understand the problems of trying to co-ordinate proper training schemes, as is now undertaken by the industrial training board, if it is all handed over to the voluntary system. The voluntary system has always existed, but it has never worked.

I have read the reports of the Committee proceedings closely. On Second reading I intervened. Perhaps someone will give me an explanation now. If we destroy the value of what we have —albeit it may need improving —why is it argued that there will be a great opportunity to return to a voluntary system that did not work before?

I want the provisions of a voluntary system to be spelt out. Whoever does so should take the furniture industry as an example. I invite him to come to Hackney Road in my constituency and view the tiny hovels in which furniture work is carried on. It is impossible to establish trade unions in them, let alone voluntary training schemes. I have tried to get the public health inspector in so that he can do something.

6.30 pm

If Conservative Members believe that in such circumstances employers will be prepared to say "Marvellous; I have been waiting all my life to contribute to a voluntary scheme", they are living in a world of fantasy. They must therefore explain how this voluntary scheme will happen.

The British furniture manufacturers work closely with my own union, the Furniture, Timber and Allied Trade Union, which I represent. In that sense I declare my interest. There has been harmony. We have improved standards and safety, yet the British furniture manufacturers are saying that they will attempt to establish a regional organisation. It is possible to do that in High Wycombe or other areas where the furniture industry is concentrated, but it is not possible in the broad context of the furniture industry.

The furniture manufacturers are well aware of the problem that existed previously. The good furniture manufacturer has always attempted to carry out training. He has always attempted to share his benefits with others. They whole-heartedly supported the establishment of industrial training boards because it meant that everyone would pay his share. Previously the good employer undertook the training and the bad employer offered a halfpenny an hour more and took away the skilled worker. He cheated rather than paid his whack for the training. That could once again become a problem, and the furniture manufacturers know it.

Secondly, who will set the criteria? There will be problems arising on the criteria which the MSC seeks. There will have to be field personnel and statistical research and information. We shall have to identify the skill shortages and appoint administrative personnel. How will all that be carried out on a voluntary basis in an industry such as the furniture industry? It has taken that industry all its time to keep its head above water. We are trying desperately to retain a furniture industry in Britain, that must compete against cheap imports from Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and even America. Recliner chairs are now coming into Britain at a price which would not even pay for the materials used by the British furniture industry, let alone for the manufacture of the product.

The industry is desperately trying to keep its head above water, yet at this moment of crisis the Government are saying that they will get rid of the industrial training boards and make the employers responsible not only for the training but for the establishment of the organisation and the skilled personnel.

The skilled personnel employed by the industrial training boards are extremely worried. They do not know what to do. They are now looking for alternatives. The danger is not only that we shall fail to provide the means for training but, more importantly, that there will be no training at all. The Government must face that issue tonight. Unless the new clause is accepted, there is no doubt that training in industries such as the furniture industry will disappear. Only the good furniture manufacturer will be able to continue training, and that will be on a reduced scale.

I appreciate that the wording of the new clause may not be as good as wording produced by the efforts of the parliamentary draftsmen. Perhaps it needs tarting up, but there is another place in which that can be done. However, the Government should accept the principles enshrined in the new clause. The ethos of the argument is that someone must be resposible for the training and organisation and that everyone should share in the cost of training. Unless we accept that, the furniture industry in particular will go to the wall.

Mr. Jim Lester (Beeston)

I welcome the chance to explain why I support the spirit of the new clause and the way in which the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon) spoke. He made it clear that there was all-party support for the new clause, and he moved it constructively. It is designed to improve the Bill. In that sense, it is not a negative new clause.

The new clause is similar to a new clause tabled in Committee by my hon. Friends the Members for Chippenham (Mr. Needham) and for Dorking (Mr. Wickenden) which was not discussed. It is on that broad basis that one approaches it.

It is essential to establish two things as we go through the exercise set up two and a half years ago by the last Administration. First, it is essential to retain the confidence of the many people who work for the industry training boards and who have done much since 1964 to improve training standards. We all accept that standards vary, but we equally accept that training, while not ideal, is now much better than in 1964.

I pay tribute to the many people on the ground. Those hon. Members who have accompanied the industrial advisers have seen how they are accepted in the factories and welcomed for the contribution that they have made. I pay tribute to them. It is essential that we hold their confidence during this critical time of the final review.

The speech of the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Brown) showed that the Government must still convince many people that they are genuine in their desire to improve training and that they are not going for change merely for the sake of change or simply indulging in a negative financial exercise. It is important that the Government make it clear that they place as high a priority on skilled training in the future as they have in the past.

To retain the confidence of those involved in training and to hold the confidence of many people throughout industry who are concerned about training, we must establish criteria that are as objective as possible and which command the widest agreement and consensus both in the House and outside.

Although the new clauses may not be ideally drafted, they establish that principle. They reflect the importance of using criteria that are judged by all to be fair and progressive. That is the spirit in which I added my name to new clause 3. It is important that such a feeling should emanate from the House tonight. There is still wide distrust that concern that "voluntary" could mean a return to the very conditions that caused a Conservative Government to pass the original Act in 1964. None of us wants that. We all want to see things improve.

It is in that spirit that one recommends the principle of the new clause My right hon. Friend will have to exercise the wisdom of Solomon once he receives the report of the Manpower Services Commission review. The new clause is meant to be helpful to him in that it establishes criteria, which he knows have the widest support both inside and outside the House, on which he can make that judgment.

Mr. Hooley

I take it, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I am in order in speaking to the substance of new clause 4 even though the House is not formally discussing it. One of the curiosities of the Bill is that not long before its introduction the Manpower Services Commission, which was created by a Conservative Government, carried out a wide-ranging review of the operation of the Employment and Training Act 1973. It produced a report called "Outlook on Training", which discussed with great thoroughness what it thought were the strengths and weaknesses of the ITB system. The report contained 27 recommendations and a number of sub-recommendations relating to how the system should develop.

The last thing that one could argue from the report was that any power should be given to any Government to scrap industrial training boards. On the contrary, a vast number of recommendations suggested ways in which the operation of our training system should be strengthened. In case anyone believes that the proposals, in new clauses 3 and 4 are airy-fairy notions that hon. Members have produced without any reference to the actuality of the situation, I would point out that new clause 4–it is in many ways a slightly more succinct statement of new clause 3–spells out a great many of the recommendations which the MSC review produced.

I find it odd that the Government should askk the MSC to carry out another review, presumably to try to justify the provisions and intentions of the Bill. I should like to examine the review carried out by the MSC before this misconceived Bill was produced. I suspect that most hon. Members are already aware that the review body comprised highly experienced people from industry, the trade unions and education. They include Mr. Downing, Secretary of the CBI manpower services advisory panel, Mr. Berry, director of the Coventry and District Engineering Employers Association, leading trade union figures, the director of education of the metropolitan borough of Sandwell and other education figures.

It was a substantial review body, and it took evidence from about 400 different organisations —employer organisations, trade unions, education organisations, training boards and many other organisations, including Government Departments. The document that it produced is substantial and authorititive. Nowhere does it suggest that powers of the kind that the Bill proposes should be given to the Secretary of State. Given the fact that the Bill will probably be enacted because of the Whipping power of the Government and the majority that they enjoy, it is proper that the House should endeavour to include a clause along the lines of new clause 3 or new clause 4.

I wish to point out ways in which the provisions of new clause 4 square with the recommendations of the MSC review body. An example is the proposal in subsection (2) (a) of the new clause to maintain and collect manpower information in a particular industry. The review body, in recommendation 5(f), say that it is necessary to secure the provision of reliable and consistent manpower intelligence. In recommendation 19 the review body says that it is necessary to ensure that information is collected on a common or compatible basis where a number of different industries are involved with training problems. That is sensible. However, if the statutory organisation of the ITBs is abandoned, or if some sort of organisation is not put in the place of an ITB, as new clause 4 requires, it is difficult to see how information on manpower can be collected on a common or compatible basis, as the MSC review body recommended.

It is not clear to me how any sensible statistics will be obtained for the Government on the need for skills and how to meet that need if the whole apparatus of industrial training boards is scrapped. It will be impossible to have sensible intelligence and manpower planning if the statutory apparatus is undermined or destroyed. New clause 4(2)(a) is four-square with the recommendations of the MSC review body. New clause 4(2)(b) deals with the need to represent industry to the Manpower Services Commission and other Government Departments. This matter was covered by recommendation 6 of the review body, which talked about the obligation to develop better ways of consulting interested groups in relation to training policies and suggested that work should be set in hand to devise the most appropriate means of achieving that aim.

I should have thought it was obvious that Government Departments need some established bodies that they can consult about training requirements. Obviously, the Manpower Services Commission is the central body. No one seriously suggests that the MSC can take responsibility for the entire range of industry and the 13 million workers covered by the ITBs. Clearly another tier is needed, represented by the ITBs. If, however, the ITBs are to be scrapped, something will have to be put in their place. The notion that employers voluntarily will race to put something in their place is nonsense. The Conservatives accepted that argument 17 years ago when they enacted the 1964 Act.

The question of funding to meet industry's training needs was covered by recommendation 8 of the MSC review body, which said: ITBs should continue to have powers to raise levy. I agree that the review body also suggested that the operating costs should be returned to industry, as the Government now suggest, although the proposal was not well received by the CBI. The review body indicated that there had to be some clear and consistent statutory means for raising the money to fund training schemes. That is the intention of new clause 4(2)(c).

Subsection (2)(d) deals with the need to carry out an industry training strategy linked to overall Government objectives and mentions the system of unified vocational preparation. This aspect is covered by recommendations 24 and 25 of the MSC review. Recommendation 25 states: In order to extend vocational preparation for young people, the MSC should pay key training grants to employers who participate in UVP-type schemes, and it goes on to talk about co-operation with colleges of education and so on.

Paragraph (e) refers to the provision of a nucleus of professional training staff. I suppose that the Government would argue that employers can do that. The big employers probably would, but then we are back to the old position that where large employers provide professional training staff and undertake training, the men and women they train are poached by other employers and there is no fairness.

Paragraph (f) refers to conducting full consultation and having the backing of a large majority of the employers in their industry". The Manpower Services Commission thought that that was necessary, because it referred to full consultation with both sides of industry about public involvement in training. If there is to be sensible consultation with employers in industry, there must be a framework for it. It is not possible to send a circular to 2,000 firms every three months to find out their views on particular training or manpower issues. It is much more sensible to have an industrial training board on which the employers can be represented and which can act as a channel for the employers to express their views to the trade unions within their industry and to the Government.

Paragraph (h) refers to creating a system of nationally acceptable qualifications at the outcome of their courses guaranteed—

  1. (i) by access to physical premises which are adequate fox the industry, and
  2. quote>(ii) by the provision of adequate links with local educational facilities".
That is extremely important. While training in a general sense is valuable in itself, unless there is an accepted level of testing, and unless there is a guarantee that at the end of the day the boys and girls will pass a test or take a certificate that is accepted anywhere in the United Kingdom, the system is inadequate. There must be an organisation to ratify the certificate or the test that is given and make sure that it is generally acceptable nationwide. If there is no industrial training board, another organisation must be set up to produce this agreed system of training, agreed certification and agreed validation of the qualifications that the boys or girls achieve; and we might just as well retain the industrial training boards for that and other purposes.

Paragraph (j) refers to the need to maintain close consultation with relevant trade unions. That is a matter of common sense. Certainly the MSC review body took the view that that was essential.

Finally, in clause 4, there is mention of maintaining local, regional and cross-sectional links, and this, too, is covered by the recommendations of the MSC review body.

If the Government go ahead with the Bill and use their powers to dissolve the ITBs it is essential, on all the evidence produced by employers, trade unions, education authorities and independent observers, that some organisation is put in its place to preserve the training for skills, which tie country desperately needs.

If the Government say that they do not intend to wind up the ITBs, what is the justification for the Bill? There is no justification for the Bill unless the Government intend substantially to attack the existing industrial training structure. It is nonsense that we should have hours of debate in the House and in Committee, a financial resolution and the whole authority of the Bill to change the entire system if the Government say that they do not mean it, that they do not intend anything drastic and are waiting for a review. If that is so, they should have not introduced the Bill.

If the Government are determined to take these wide-ranging powers for this Secretary of State or another one —we do not know how long the right hon. Gentleman will survive in his present post —the proposals contained in new clause 3 or new clause 4, or a combination of the two, are a fundamental and necessary safeguard. The whole apparatus of industrial training on a statutory basis enacted by a Conservative Government in 1964 and in 1973 and put into operation by two successive Labour Governments should not be swept away without safeguards such as those set out in these clauses, because if it is infinite damage will be done to the basic economy of the country.

Dr. Keith Hampson (Ripon)

My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) spoke of "tampering" with the industrial training boards. I would prefer to tamper with them, provided that we ended up with more efficient training, rather than to abolish them. I am sorry to say that the Conservative Party has a track record of abolishing systems, rather than remoulding them. Time and again we have gone in for massive organisational changes, regardless of whether those changes produced better quality. We have only to think of water, local government, and health. I would hate the Conservatives to destroy this training system, when it can be remodelled.

Companies and trade associations have bombarded us with criticisms of training boards. Some boards are much better than others; some training advisers are much better than others. There are bound to be criticisms of any system. If, in addition to asking companies whether they have criticisms of training boards and what they are, they are asked whether they want to fund the cost of training out of their own pockets, they will become hypercritical, and that is what has happened.

We have been deluged with criticisms of the training boards, because we have suggested that the companies pay. That fact has highlighted all the criticisms. Companies have, therefore, opted for voluntary systems. I am sceptical of that. If companies want a voluntary system so as to get training on the cheap, we must question the whole premise of the operation, because we are in the business of getting better training, not poorer quality and cheaper training.

Mr. John Townend

My hon. Friend is not putting forward the view that cheaper training always means inferior training, is he? In many industries training was adequate before the introduction of training boards. When they were introduced training continued, with the addition of a lot of bureaucracy, which put up the cost.

Dr. Hampson

I do not deny that there is a lot of bureaucracy. That is one of my major criticisms of the system. The great value of our training system is the cutting edge, the people who are out and about dealing with the companies, the training advisers. The bulk of the bureaucracy lies not in the training boards, particularly riot at that cutting edge; it lies with the Manpower Services Commission.

My worry is that if we have only voluntary boards and training is left to the industries and the trade associations we shall end up, almost inexorably, by giving the Manpower Services Commission a bigger job, because the commission will insist on more and more scrutiny of the voluntary system. How else can a voluntary system be held to the standards unless it is subjected to the scrutiny of the MSC? I would not like to see that.

If that happened, instead of training advisers and people from the industry going round the companies, the bureaucrats from the MSC would be going round, and that would be worse than the system that we have now. There is a danger that one would simply whet the appetitie of the Manpower Services Commission, which is, I agree, a menace from the bureaucratic point of view —apart from the special programme division, for which I have a lot of time.

7 pm

What I was going to add is relevant to my hon. Friend's point. Before this system was established, even before the '70s, many companies had effective training. Many big companies, such as ICI, obviously still do. The boards will not be able to contribute to the efforts and the stance taken on training by those companies.

Some companies tell us that they would like to see a change, on the basis that what we have is no longer relevant and has served its purpose. Many admit that there was some value in the system but argue that it is no longer relevant. Why not? The needs of the nation in terms of skill acquisition have grown, not diminshed. One has only to look at Japan, Germany and various other countries to see that they are developing more and more sophisticated systems. They are not leaving it to companies to do what they like.

We are in an internationally competitive market. We are competing not just for goods and market places for those goods, but for training. We are in competition for skills. If we cannot match the skills of our competitior nations we will suffer as a marketing and producing nation.

Those who attack the system may want voluntary boards, but if we are not careful voluntary boards will have no teeth. Nobody likes tigers with teeth. That is the relevance of the new clause, so I put my name to it, although it is too rigid and has important gaps. If we are to change the system, I want to see a mixed system with some statutory provision as well as some voluntary boards. There have to be guidelines and ground rules, or the boards will be tigers with no teeth and the training will be the poorer.

Two things are vital: first, the definition and the maintenance of training standards; secondly —there is a growing consensus on this —much more of a local dimension in training. The more we try to develop our youth programmes into semi-training programmes instead of having young people counting lamp-posts in Barnsley, the more important it is to have a localised operation to ensure that work experience is available for the numbers of young people involved.

We need that dimension, but we also need a matrix. We cannot get away with only a local dimension, because we must have national training standards. Therefore, a sectoral role is involved as well. So one key aspect is the setting and maintenance of those national standards.

The crux of some of the remarks that I have made is that the voluntary bodies must have field staff. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Beeston (Mr. Lester) I have gone around talking to boards, and not just to the bosses of the boards who sit in offices. The hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Brown) may be interested to hear that I went with a training adviser to a furniture company in Warrington, as it happens; this was before anything dramatic happened in that part of the world! I was impressed to see that it was not a policing role that the training adviser was engaged in but a partnership. He was helping a small company. He was invited to board meetings because he had proved himself to be of help.

When one talks about training, it is easy, as I have done many times, to focus on the training of apprentices or of people on the shop floor, but it is also about the training of managers, especially men who may have been in big companies and who have branched out to take risks on their own. They may not have the necessary skills; they need somebody to show them where the courses are and to give them help in their own companies on the basis of experience. That was happening in the company that I visited. There was a real partnership.

For many years —for centuries —the British nation has been obsessed with amateurism. It is felt that somehow we can all get by and "learn from our mistakes". This is a cliche in the English language. But most people do not learn; they go on making mistakes and they actually make worse mistakes. Therefore, help should be provided for managers in small companies. The sort of partnership relationship that I saw is fruitful and important, but it does not happen everywhere. Not all training advisers have that relationship with companies, and not all training boards work in that way.

Mr. Gary Waller (Brighouse and Spenborough)

Does my hon. Friend agree that the role of the training boards can be especially useful in some of the more traditional industries where things have always been done the same way? I am thinking particularly of wool textiles, a traditional industry. I recently visited the training board for wool textiles and was impressed by the progressive influence that it is exercising in that old industry, where things have been done one way for years.

Dr. Hampson

My hon. Friend reinforces the point I was making. What I saw in the furniture board was an ideal working relationship, but that does not mean that it applies across all boards. That is why we need something, such as these clauses which require that the system has training advisers and field staff who have been recruited from the industry, to help build up the necessary relationship.

The Bill will provide the framework for change. We have yet to see what the eventual system will be, but I should not like it to be as it is with some of the existing voluntary boards. The local government board and the insurance industry board do not have field staff or an effective relationship. Those boards hold plenty of courses —which are often simply junkets. No one can guarantee that what people learn on those courses, if they learn anything, will be of any relevance or use when they return to their jobs. It is easy to set up a system to produce hoops through which companies can jump easily by sending a handful of young people or workers on a course or two and so meet the requirement. That is not the provision that I wish to see.

I have one criticism. The new clause, like the debate, is too narrowly focused on ITBs. We should not think of the nation's training only in the context of whether we retain or abolish the existing industry training boards.

The new dimension, which all hon. Members increasingly recognise, is what is becoming known as vocational preparation. There must be not just specified skilled training, but a broader approach. Whatever system we establsh must take account of that. Many of the boards have moved into this area. Some have been very good with schemes that try to bridge the gap between industry and education. Other boards have been slower.

Attitudes vary within the boards. Some people accept the traditional view that the boards were geared and acountable to the industry and had to meet the skilled training needs, of that industry, and that was the end of their responsibility. I should like to believe that we have gone beyond that and that the Government are seeking to use the boards in the broader dimension of vocational preparation.

If we are to go for vocational preparation, providing work experience and related courses for the mass of young people after they leave school, what is the point of setting up an entirely new apparatus, more bureaucracy to run it and yet another system when there is a system already on the ground in the ITBs, however imperfect it may be? The nucleus is there, with people out and about in the companies. They must talk to the companies and get them to involve themselves with the vocational preparation programmes.

In whatever guidelines are established by the Government for a voluntary or semi-voluntary system the key must be that they are involved in the local matrix, interlocked with other boards and agencies in the area, such as the careers service and the local education authority, dovetailing in so that we get effective vocational preparation programmes.

As I said at the start, organisational change in itself means nothing. It cannot guarantee improved quality. We should look with flexibility and sensitivity at what we have on the ground and seek to improve it, rather than throw it all out of the window.

Mr. David Ennals (Norwich, North)

The test of the integrity of the Government's commitment to industrial training —I do not doubt the right hon. Gentleman's integrity —will be in their reply to this debate, because it has been interesting to see the way in which the new clauses have been framed and the course that the debate has taken.

I was involved in drafting a new clause, only to discover when I sought to table it that the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) had tabled a motion in similar terms. I discovered later that my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Healey (Mr. Hooley) had drafted another motion in similar terms. Moreover, there is little difference between new clauses 3 and 4. They deal with the same principles, the same commitments and the same types of guidelines that we believe are necessary and which I feel that the Secretary of State would want to see in operation.

It is interesting, too, to note that members of all four national parties have associated themselves with new clause 3. That is also true of this debate. The hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley), who properly declared his interest in the hotel and catering industries, criticised the new clause on what I feel was a very narrow basis. It is true that trade union representation in the catering industry is not as good as I or the Secretary of State would wish. The Secretary of State himself said that when workers are in difficulties they should be members of trade unions. He has never doubted that. Moreover, there has been a good deal of exploitation in the catering industry. Therefore, I view that as a narrow criticism.

The Government should say whether they are really committed to the vital principle that we must expand training facilities both now and during the next 10 or 15 years rather than contract it. I voted against the Bill on Second Reading, because it seemed to me that its objective —perhaps I was wrong; I was not a member of the Committee —was to undermine much of the good work done by the industrial training boards.

The purpose of the two new clauses is to set the record right. Of course, they have been criticised. Some hon. Members who support the new clause accept the principle of voluntarism. Others, like myself and Conservative Members, believe that it was right to have a statutory requirement in 1964, which has remained ever since.

It is important to lay down criteria concerning the nature of the co-operation, professionalism and structure of training boards at a time when we are faced with the highest unemployment rate that we have ever known. We should look forward to a time when the economy picks up —none of us knows when that will be or how quickly it will come —and new skills and industrial techniques will have to be developed so that our country can recover quickly from today's grim situation.

7.15 pm

It is strange that the responsibilities of ITBs are not set out in the Bill. Those who drafted the new clauses were determined that clear criteria should be established to guide the Secretary of State. That is what we sought to do. I do not mind if the Secretary of State says that the wording is not quite right. I want him to accept the principle of the new clauses and the arguments that have been presented by members of all parties in the House. If he will apply his mind to it and say that in another place there will be an opportunity to bring forward new wording that will satisfy both himself and us, I think that he will receive a warm response from the House, industry, employers and trade unions, and certainly from the unemployed people who hope that they will at some time have the opportunity of training for and participating in industry.

I make that personal plea to the Secretary of State. I hope that he will accept the principle of what has been argued, even if he does not accept the letter of the new clause.

Mr. Needham

I shall range somewhat widely over the new clause, because I think that the House is having some difficulty in understanding the Government's strategy on training, as the Bill deals with only one part of it.

I was honoured when the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley), in his usual gracious way, referred to the clause that I and my hon. Friend the Member for Dorking (Mr. Wickenden) tabled in Committee, which is similar to new clauses 3 and 4, but which, unfortunately, there was not time to discuss on that occasion.

If I may say so to my right hon. Friend, we are in danger of being in a bit of a "Prior pea-souper" with the present strategy for training. The Government appear to have two positions. One is to develop the youth opportunities programme into a traineeship for a year, with a unified vocational preparation element in it, and perhaps to extend that to a two-year course through the MSC. That will probably work most effectively at area, regional and at cross-sector levels. But, secondly, we need industrial training, which since 1964 has been in the hands of the industrial training boards.

I do not agree with the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Brown), who says that voluntarism does not work, or does not work well. It does work, and it can work well. I agree that before 1964 the level of training was not what it ought to have been. I believe, too, that the post-1981 level of training is not what it ought to be. We must all accept that in some instances—perhaps I could go so far as to say in many instances—industrial training boards have been a disappointment, when we consider the number and standards of apprentices.

There has been a lot of talk about setting standards. The industrial training boards have not altered apprenticeship standards significantly, nor have they altered their numbers significantly. They have been unable to change the old concept of time serving, instead of module training and standards. Thus, the record of the industrial training boards is not an altogether happy one.

In those circumstances, perhaps it is not a bad idea to review what industrial traininig boards are doing and find other methods, where applicable, of reforming the training structure. That is of great importance to the Government. I am sure that my right hon. Friend is determined to improve the standard of training.

In Committee I tabled a new clause because I felt that it was important for the Government, with the MSC, to spell out the criteria that they would use when the new system came into operation. In a letter to the chairman of the MSC on 26 November 1980 my right hon. Friend said: The criteria from which, as I see it, my final decision will need to be based would include the likelihood of shortages of trained manpower in the economic upturn, the emerging demand for trained manpower in new technologies and the need for adequate quality of training (including agreed standards) for opportunities for vocational preparation of young people at all levels, and for wide opportunities for craft apprentices and for adult training. That goes a considerable way towards setting out the criteria in the new clause, but it does not go as far as I should like. For example, it will be difficult to look into the future and determine where shortages might develop. It might not be wise to rely completely on voluntary systems, when unforseen shortages might occur.

Furthermore, the criteria for funding need to be more clearly spelt out by my right hon. Friend. Without proper criteria for funding there will be no guarantee of continuity. It is unlikely that there will be adequate staffing arrangements. The criteria that my right hon. Friend mentioned did not include the collation of information, for examaple, although that is of enormous importance. I hope that the Minister will expand on the criteria. Many of us, understandably, are worried that the Government have not been sufficiently specific.

I shall not be able to support the new clause tabled by the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon). For example, I cannot agree that the ITBs should define training standards for all occupations in the sector. It is not right for ITBs to decide the level of training in accountancy, management, marketing or selling. They have broader implications and have never been regarded as coming under the ITBs.

I cannot support the new clause tabled by the hon. Member for Healey. It differs from mine in one crucial respect. It omits the word "voluntary". It is not wise to exclude the use of voluntary training.

Unless the Government are careful, they are likely to fall into a credibility gap. They must make it clear beyond peradventure that their commitment to adult and youth training via industry and the MSC in the localties and regions is total. If they do that they will have the support of my right hon. and hon. Friends.

Mr. Dan Jones (Burnley)

For reasons that are different from those of my hon. Friend from Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) I support the theories that he has advanced. Imperfect creature that I am, I believe that I am in a position to do that with practical knowledge. I worked in a toolroom for some years. Consequently, I believe that I know what I am talking about from a practical point of view.

I am delighted that the Secretary of State is in the Chamber. He will remember when a deputation of hon. Members went to see him at Tothill Street. He will also remember that I asked him what he would do about skilled labour if there were a resurgence in the economy. He said that he did not know. Possibly that was because he was in the midst of deliberations.

I say sincerely to the Minister that if I were a member of the CBI today I should be afraid to invest a pound note. Let it be understood that unless we have skilled labour in abundance our competitive edge will disappear. Some hon. Members express concern about Japan. I am more anxious about Europe, because that is only across the water.

Caroline St. John-Brooks has written an article, which the Minister might have read. I shall read brief excerpts from it. She says: In West Germany 93 per cent. of young people stay in education or take up apprenticeships. In France 81 per cent. do. In Britain … 44 per cent. We are not in the running. These are facts.

She continues: There is a lot of catching up to be done, not least in persuading industry that it must take more responsibility for training the workforce of the future—a responsibility it has shirked so far. I am not sure that the dear girl is correct in saying that industry has shirked responsibility. However, I shall explain why it has not extended itself as well as it might.

Miss St. John-Brooks writes: Industrial training is declining. In 1979, 80,000 young people were on recognised apprenticeship schemes. Last year there were 60,000, and the MSC is worried that 1981–82 could see a further fall to about 53,000 if there is not a further injection of government cash. At the moment, about 22,000 apprenticeships get central government funding. That is hopelessly insufficient. The Minister realises that, because he is a highly intelligent man who is not without a good deal of moral courage. I pay that tribute sincerely. However, he must realise that unless money is spent to train people our difficulties will be compounded.

The Minister should have personal consultations with his staff. When I was in industry we found and trained staff to become thoroughly expert. They were pinched from us by neighbouring companies which did not have apprenticeship schemes. They were pinched from us because some companies offered inflated wages. Does the Minister want that? Does he really want vicious competition in industry? Does he not think that employers are entitled to stability? I believe that they are.

Some of my hon. Friends might chastise me for putting the employers' case. My hon. Friends can do what they like. When I am in the House I try to speak the truth. I do not want to be engaged in too many doctrinaire tactics. The situation is too dangerous for that.

Without reliability and stability in industry it is doubtful whether we shall have the skilled lablour to compete with others. We are hopelessly understaffed in terms of skilled labour.

7.30 pm

I am genuinely concerned about the number of youngsters who are conducting vandalism on a scale which, to anyone with even elementary compassion, is frightening. I am primarily concerned with my constituency, because that is my responsibility. Let us apply ordinary psychology. What are the youngsters to do when they sit on their backsides day after day with no hope for the future? They are, to use the vernacular, broke. I have extraordinary compassion for those youngsters. I know what a temptation it is.

That situation has arisen needlessly in our lives, and it is connected with industrial development. The youngsters should be working for their living, not being paid by the Government to sit on their backsides waiting for the passing old dear who, traditionally, has a bag on her arm. She is maltreated in the process of getting the bag off her arm so that the offender can obtain the proceeds of that bag. My widowed mother was similarly placed when she died in my arms.

Such a position must be the responsibility of the Government. I do not say that with glee. Indeed, I am deeply sorry to say it. But the problem is connected with our economy. Those who should be at work need to be taught the skills so that they can make a contribution to our society. I say with deep regret that those youngsters are being tutored to scrounge for everything and to commit themselves to callous acts of almost studied indifference. The issues are linked.

I make a sincere appeal to the Secretary of State to take the CBI into his confidence and ask it what it wants. Its members eventually will have to invest in industry. It is only fair that they should know precisely what they are investing in.

Mr. Michael Colvin (Bristol, North-West)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Jones) on his speech. It was delivered with the honesty, flair and drama which only those from Wales can achieve. My contribution to the debate will be brief.

I have a certain sympathy with the new clause. I understand what the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon) is trying to achieve. I appreciate that other hon. Members have tabled a further new clause that has similar objectives. These new clauses relate to alternative organisations for those sectors in which industrial training boards are to be abolished. I see a worried look on the face of the Government Whip. I assure him that I do not agree with the details of the new clauses. I shall not vote for them if the House divides. Nevertheless, will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State look again at the training information gap before the Bill reaches another place, and possibly bring forward a Government new clause?

The new clause assumes that the buck for our national training effort, if it is being passed, finally stops with the Government. When everything in the garden is rosy, and when training needs are being identified and properly met, there is no need for Government involvement. But even the most reactionary, free-enterprise fanatic cannot escape the fact that when things go wrong, when training needs are not properly identified, when gaps appear in our training provisions and the Government are not able to step in with the carrot or the stick, or both—as they are able to do now under the ITB levy grant system—Parliament should have the opportunity to say whether it agrees with the alternative arrangements for achieving our training objectives. At regular intervals it should decide whether the system, be it voluntary or otherwise, is working satisfactorily.

I do not understand why it is thought that when an ITB has been wound up it is either necessary or right to put a special new organisation in its place. We want to break out of the rigid sectoral structure. Often an existing organisation could replace an ITB. Sometimes a loose framework would be required. It all depends on the industry concerned.

If the Government stand by their objectives for training, as outlined in the Secretary of State's speech on 26 November, which include, first, a more systematic provision for vocational preparation for youngsters, secondly, a modernised and more flexible apprenticeship system and, thirdly, wider opportunities for adult training and retraining, then before any voluntary arrangements are accepted by the Government they must be shown to be capable of meeting those objectives. That is why the information referred to in the new clause and the points about training criteria raised by hon. Members are important.

Information is vital—both its dissemination and its collection. Those who take overall responsibility for our vocational training must have information related to what is needed, to what resources are available to meet the needs, and to how the resources can be utilised. It is important to provide information to employers and trainees. It is the lack of up-to-date information that helps to deprive our present training system of the flexibility required to cope with today's rapidly changing employment requirements.

The debate has given me the opportunity to highlight the importance of filling what I have called the information gap—a gap that could widen when some ITBs are abolished. I hope that my right hon. Friend will take careful note of the comments made in support of the new clauses and possibly consider bringing forward an appropriate Government new clause before the Bill goes to another place.

Mr. Foster

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Colvin) is unable to join us in the Lobby this evening. He has some worries about the legislation as presently framed, as he freely admitted. New clauses 3 and 4 go to the nub of the present business. I warn Conservative Members who are tempted to vote for them—I hope that they will do so—that they will be voting for a different Employment and Training Bill than that currently before the House.

From time to time, in my weaker moments, I have some sympathy with the Secretary of State. He has had to stand at the Dispatch Box month after month defending the indefensible—the rising unemployment figures. He is beleaguered by Conservative Members because of his softness on employment legislation. If reports are true, he is beleaguered by his Prime Minister because he will not stand up to the trade unions as an honest, strong, virile Conservative should.

The right hon. Gentleman is desperate for a success. In his desperate search he has come forward with the new training initiative. It is an initiative that I greatly support. However, in his euphoria at having found a desperately sought success he allows himself to be conned by his Right wing into introducing legislation that will make it impossible for him to implement the new training initiative.

Some of the more perceptive of the right hon. Gentleman's hon. Friends have recognised that and are prepared to put their names to new clause 3 in an attempt to rescue the right hon. Gentleman from himself. They recognise that if the Bill is enacted and if the right hon. Gentleman adheres to his intention to rely upon the principle of voluntarism, except in a few key sectors where wider training objectives may be necessary, he will have nothing left with which to achieve the success that he so desperately needs.

During our discussions on the Bill we felt that we were beginning to get through to the Under-Secretary of State. We treated him to a barrage of arguments. We asked him to persuade his right hon. Friend that he desperately needed to be able to implement the new training initiative. We asked him to persuade the Secretary of State to accept that he would need the boards and that if he abolished them he would need some industrial training organisations to perform the same functions as effectively. We were glad that it was reported in The Times Educational Supplement on 27 April that the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for the City of Chester (Mr. Morrison), seemed to be coming in our direction. It seemed that we had made some impression upon him. It is reported in the TES that the hon. Gentleman had said at Plymouth that the boards would only be kept 'where there is no adequate alternatives'. The article continued: Until now Ministers have been saying that the boards would only be retained in a few key sectors where they could be shown to be essential. However, the hon. Gentleman was quoted as saying: We are not going to let companies off the hook of statutory boards to slip back into inefficient training, skill shortages and poaching. I seem to recognise those expressions from the Committee. Indeed, some of those expressions have been used by my right hon. and hon. Friends this evening.

The words that the Minister used could have been drawn from our proceedings in Committee. I remember distinctly some of my hon. Friends advancing exactly those arguments. According to the TES, the hon. Gentleman said: We are not going to let companies off the hook". He continued: Any voluntary arrangements would have to meet essential needs which would include: monitoring skill shortages and other training needs and arranging to deal with them, publicising up-to-date training standards, working with trade unions and education. It seems that the Government Front Bench are moving in the direction of new clause 3. They are not going far enough, but they seem to be moving in that direction, especially judging by what the right hon. Gentleman said on 27 April. It is no wonder that the writer of the article to which I have referred headed it: Government ready to renege over axing of the training boards. I have no doubt that the Under-Secretary will have some suitable reply to the challenges to which he laid himself open. On the other hand, he may be reneging once again on his statements of 27 April.

If the Government are to get rid of the industrial training boards, they will need to put something in their place. If we are to have the substantial increase in the quantity and quality of training that I know the Secretary of State dearly wants to achieve, the replacement organisations will have to be effective. I do not understand how they can be effective organisations unless they perform functions similar to those undertaken by the existing boards. I have not heard one convincing argument that a voluntary set of arrangements and a voluntary board could fulfil similar functions more effectively. No doubt the Minister will be able to advance some plausible reasons for thinking that that can be done.

7.45 pm

The hon. Gentleman thinks that voluntary arrangements are prima facie more effective than statutory arrangements. We believe that the opposite applies. I do not want to go through all the subsections and paragraphs of new clauses 3 and 4, but the first line of subsection (2)(d) of new clause 4, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Healey (Mr. Hooley), states: The organisations referred to in subsection (1) above must be capable of"— and paragraph (d) provides: carrying out the industry's training strategy linked to overall Government objectives, such as unified vocational preparation. That is one of the laudable wider objectives set out by the Secretary of State and he needs the boards to enable him to achieve it.

As I said in Committee, we have a great opportunity. We all deplore the horrific proportions of youth unemployment. However, we have the opportunity of marrying the youth opportunities programme with the unified vocational preparation programme, which at present is small. I know that the Government would like to increase it so that it embraces about 20,000 young people. Even if they achieve 20,000, that will be less than one-tenth of the 300,000 young people who enter industries in which there is no training.

In my experience the industrial training boards have played a major part in devising the training schemes under UVP. How will the right hon. Gentleman be able to assure himself, the House and the training generally that he will be able to provide vocational training for all 16 to 17-yearolds who do not go into work or further education?

If the right hon. Gentleman is to do it by the marriage of YOP and UVP, how will he ensure that the vocational training programmes that are embodied in the new initiative will be directly relevant to industry? He must ensure that the young people who are now engaged in the work experience scheme have their training and work experience fully integrated with company training programmes. He must ensure that the young people who go on to UVP have their training programmes similarly fully integrated into the company's training policy.

The right hon. Gentleman has a great problem. First, he has to determine how to deliver the goods. His second problem is to get the necessary quality of training programme written into the vocational preparation programme for 16 to 17-year-olds.

The present youth opportunites programme is inadequate and the right hon. Gentleman must recognise that now. It has great potential, but unless he devotes a great deal of his time to ensuring quality of education and training in the programme, young people in large numbers will vote with their feet and the programme will lose all credibility.

How will the Secretary of State ensure the marriage of the youth opportunities programme and UVP and the quality of education and training in both those programmes without industrial training boards? If he feels that the onus of proof lies on the Opposition to prove that the ITBs are more efficient than voluntary arrangements, I shall throw that back in his face and say that the onus is entirely on his shoulders to show us how to achieve the education and training quality that we all expect in YOP and UBP without the industrial training boards.

Mr. Robert Taylor

In the eager anticipation that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will advise the House to reject decisively the two new clauses, I rise to give him wholehearted support.

A common theme that runs through both new clauses is that it is possible to set up various bodies that can oversee every company and industry in the United Kingdom and tell the managers in those companies how they should train their staff. Clause 3 refers to assessing company training achievements. New clause 4 refers to certifying existing standards.

Who are those supernumeraries who will be able to advise the managers of industries in the United Kingdom on how they should go about training all the personnel whom they employ? I can speak from experience, because my company—I declared my interest on Second Reading—contributes to the distributive industry training board, which is one of the largest industrial training boards.

By coincidence, last Thursday, an officer from the distributive industry training board called at my company to talk to the training officer. I joined in the discussions, because I was anxious to find out how it was possible for my company to claim back some of the levy that it pays. That young man was a good employee of the board. Nothing that I say should adversely reflect on him. He was an able representative of the board. He told me that it was his job to advise companies on how to get back by way of grant much of the levy that they paid. He gave me a copy of a publication of the distributive industry training board called Levy Exemption Remission and Grants, No. 4". It is current, because it is operative from 1 April 1981 to 31 March 1982.

Under levy exemption criteria, heading No. 1 is "Policy" and paragraph a reads: newcomers to the firm will receive 'off-the-job' induction training supervised by a qualified instructor. I do not know what my right hon. Friend or other hon. Members understand by the expression "off the job". I have always believed it to mean going away on a course, on a seminar or having some training away from the place of employment. However, I was surprised, because the young man told me that that was not correct. If someone on the trade counter had a discussion in the manager's office, he would be receiving training off the job. Someone who works in the warehouse and who has discussions with a director is being trained off the job. Therefore, probably all companies could meet that criteria.

Mr. Dan Jones

I should like to know what possible training one should want in a warehouse.

Mr. Taylor

The hon. Member makes a splendid point. Much training is undertaken in every warehouse. The training is carried out by those who are experienced in working with those who join the firm. A great deal of training is carried out in the warehouse so that one may learn how the products are properly warehoused, packaged and despatched. However, it is difficult to quantify that training and to claim back the levy that is being paid for the employees in the warehouse.

I asked the representative from the distributive industry training board what was meant by the words "induction training", because I thought that that was important. He gave me another piece of paper, which is the suggested induction programme. Item No. 1 is: "Welcome to the firm". We welcome new employees. I believe that most companies do that. However, we do not note down that we welcomed the new man. We welcome him automatically.

Item No. 2 is: Show the cloakroom and personal locker". I believe that most new employees would be able to find the cloakroom quite quickly or they would ask one of their colleagues where it was.

Item No. 3 is: Introduce to other staff and also to 'Sponsor' who will take new employee to breaks.". Item No. 4 is: Explanation of meal breaks, times, facilities and geography of the building. That training board has been in existence for 16 years. It is assessing—as do the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon) and my hon. Friend the Member for Ripon (Dr. Hampson) and others of my hon. Friends—whether a firm is training properly. There is no other way in which to assess training in the distributive industry. The firms that make up that industry have different approaches. There are diverse parts of the industry. No training criteria can suit all the firms. However, those in the House who have had no experience of the industry say that one cannot do away with the distributive industry training board and that it must be kept in existence. They ask what will take its place. One does not need anything to take its place, because British management is capable of training its employees. If it does not, its companies will not be profitable and will sink. The climate in the United Kingdom today is such that training is essential. No good management will not train properly. My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) referred to the new clauses as being a corporate nanny. That is exactly what they are. Industry does not want such nonsense to be imposed on it.

Mr. Penhaligon

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has introduced computerised stock control in his company, but if he has he will know that the training for it is more substantial than simply covering where the tea room is and so on. If he put a number of employees through a complicated course of computerised stock control, which will come, whether or not it is in his company, how would he feel if the company down the road with which he competes saw that those men were excellent and well-trained, offered them an extra couple of hundred pounds a year and down the road they went?

Mr. Taylor

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. Only the efficient company can afford the investment of putting in computers. My company is putting one in now. Companies which are inefficient, which do not do their own training and which poach will never be able to afford to install a computer.

I am happy to face the fact that after we have trained our employees to use the computer some poaching may occur. However, if a firm has a happy relationship with all its employees, if they are paid well and are well looked after, they will not allow themselves to be poached. It is a question not just of training but of offering a better environment in industry and of inducing employees away not because they are trained, but because one can offer them greater reward or better facilities. That is fair and proper in a capitalist society. I do not mind competition on that score any day of the week.

As I said, my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch and Lymington called the two clauses a corporate nanny, which is what they are. They are not required by industry. I hope that the House will decisively reject what I regard as pusillanimous piffle.

8 pm

Mr. John Golding (Newcastle-under-Lyme)

I am under pressure from the conspiracy of Whips to speak briefly. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Harrison) wants me to keep my remarks to a minimum.

I cannot let pass the remarks of the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West, (Mr. Taylor). Any hon. Member who has entered Parliament through a by-election will know something about ineffective working through lack of training. No hon. Member should pour scorn on an employer who shows an employee the geography of the place. He should admit that his early months were not too effective because he was not shown the geography of this place. The effectiveness of hon. Members is less in their early years than it is later, because we have to learn as we go along. There is no effective training for the practicalities of the job. I am astonished to meet hon. Members who, even late in their careers, do not know the rules of procedure and are not precisely aware of how to achieve their objectives. The occupation of being a Member of Parliament illustrates better than any other the need for training and experience to make one effective.

Mr. Robert Taylor

The point is not so much whether management shows the geography. It is that one has to catalogue that one is doing so. One pays a levy and claims it back again, which is nonsense.

Mr. Golding

It is far from being nonsense. Many employers do not do so. It is a valuable service to an employee. It makes people feel at ease, at home and welcome to the firm, although it does not always happen.

My quarrel with the Government is that it is not clear why we are training. What is essential? One criterion is that training is essential if without it there would be no skilled workers to meet the market. I am at one with the Government on that. However, other training is highly desirable.

I disagree with the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West. Profitability does not automatically depend upon training. Each shop or restaurant in a high street can be equally inefficient. I could go into detail about the need to train not only technicians and craftsmen, but semiskilled workers in shops, offices and cafes. One reason why Britain is in an industrial decline is the lowering of work standards, due partly to failure of training. Employers have not felt bound to train people to work effectively at all levels. It is possible for a person to find a job or for a firm to make a profit without effective training. We have all had bad service in shops and cafes and difficulties in dealing with office clerks, not because they are unintelligent or do not want to provide the service, but because they do not know how.

Mr. Dan Jones

We cannot compare training in science and engineering with alleged training in cafes.

Mr. Golding

My hon. Friend may have been a craftsman. My dad was a cook. It is as important to be trained in the art of cooking and serving as it is in the art of turning and milling. I acknowledge to the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon) that it is as important to be trained to grow carrots as it is to repair machinery.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

The hon. Gentleman does the House a great service. We regard the catering trade and service industries too lightly. Anything that we can do to improve their status is welcome.

Mr. Golding

Training is not only a question of meeting industry's needs. It also serves the personal needs of individuals. We have not fully developed individual potential. We tend to concentrate on educating and training a small number of people at a relatively young age. We have not done as much as other countries to develop the full potential of individuals throughout their lives. We need a training system to enable people to work to their full potential.

Training is important for status, personal satisfaction and economic efficiency. The Government have isolated a small area of training as important and are in danger of not facilitating other training.

Mr. John Townend

I share the sentiments of my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon North-West (Mr. Taylor). He has put his finger on the point. Businesses cannot be successful without adequately trained workers.

I declare an interest. I have experience of training boards through my companies. I know three of the quangos—those involved in hotels and catering and food, drink and tobacco and the distributive training board.

We are all in favour of training, but what is the most cost-effective method? I oppose the new clause because it applies indiscriminately to all training boards. In practice it would make it very difficult for the Secretary of State to exercise his powers and wind up any of the industrial training boards.

That might be right and proper in a high technology industry such as the engineering industry, where it could be argued that an industry organisation was necessary not only for the industry but in the national interest. We cannot generalise, however. We have to deal with the industries individually. What about those industries in which there are good arguments for abolishing the training boards and leaving training not to some new voluntary body but to individual firms?

My experience is that the three training boards that I have mentioned could well be axed. The distributive board deals with the retail trade. The British retail trade is one of our most successful industries and compares with the best in the world. Marks and Spencer, having conquered the retail sector in this country, is now making great strides in France and moving into the new world. Sainsbury's is one of our leading companies, as are Harrods and Asda, to name but a few. Those firms will train within their own organisations If there is any decline in training, I believe that it will be only in those firms that will not succeed and will go out of business or among smaller firms.

I cannot understand the Opposition's attitude to what they describe as "poaching". I should have thought that they would welcome skilled salaried and manual workers being given the opportunity to improve their standard of life by accepting jobs at higher rates of pay. I see no problem at all in that.

If any businesses suffer, it will be the larger firms. If any benefit, it will be the smaller firms. But that is surely more than counterbalanced by the massive discounts that the large companies obtain through bulk buying as compared with the small firms. If there is one area in which the small firm has some small advantage, so be it.

Mr. Penhaligon

I think that the hon. Gentleman misunderstands the point about poaching. It is not so much that we begrudge a person the right to use his skills and to sell them where best he can. We are worried that if poaching becomes prevalent the number of companies choosing to undertake no training at all will greatly increase.

To cite an example, in my beloved county of Cornwall there is no need to train anybody to do anything throughout the entire county. One has only to put an advertisement in the newspaper and hordes of people try to get down to Cornwall to carry out the job and sell the skills that they have accumulated elsewhere. That is pretty bad news for all the youngsters in Cornwall who cannot look forward to any training.

8.15 pm
Mr. Townend

I cannot believe that, for example, all the catering establishments in Cornwall have top class chefs and top class food.

It is argued that training must be done on an industry basis. I cite the examples of two industries in which we dominate world competition—banking and insurance. Although professional bodies exist, training of computer and other staff is carried out by the individual banks and insurance companies.

The hotel industry is a classic case in which training is essential. But what kind of training do we need? In my own medium-sized hotel we pay a fairly substantial amount to the training board every year, which helps to subsidise the larger companies. We do very badly out of it, although we train. The managing director, who is a practical cook himself, undertakes training in the kitchen but cannot be bothered to keep records.

The same applies in my wine business. When the training started and the inspector came round, he asked what training we did. We explained that every month we had our managers in, gave them a tasting and explained about the various wines. He said that that was marvellous and asked to see the individual records of the managers. When I asked what he meant, he explained that after a tasting a card must be made out for each manager, recording the date, the time, the fact that the wine had been tasted and the cost. I replied that if I costed it I should probably never do it again.

One therefore cannot generalise about training. The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Golding)—in his, as always, poignant remarks—said that the quality of our work force had been declining over the 15 years during which industrial training boards had existed. I should have thought that that was a good argument against their continuation.

The great failure of the training boards is surely in the apprenticeship system, in which there has been no reform. The real problem is not that we do not have training boards or that we are not spending enough money. We have simply got the wage rate for apprentices wrong, so that they have priced themselves out of the market.

I know that time is short. I therefore urge my right hon. Friend not to listen either to the apparently persuasive arguments from some of his hon. Friends or to the blandishments of the Opposition. I urge the Government to throw out the new clause.

Mr. Harold Walker

We have had a useful debate on an important proposal which I believe goes to the heart of some of the differences between the two sides of the House. We have now been debating it for nearly two hours and, unhappily, the hopes of many of us of finishing our business at a reasonable hour are fast receding.

I wish to state briefly the position of the Opposition Front Bench in this matter. In Committee we were pressed hard to table a clause similar to this, but declined to do so. When the clause was put on the Amendment Paper we were pressed to attach the names of Opposition Front Bench spokesmen, but again we declined. We did so because we felt that this matter should come before the House on Report to be debated by the whole House and that we might not have had that opportunity had we dealt with the matter in Committee.

Secondly, and much more importantly, we have no intention of retreating from the firm commitment that we have given to and our strong support for the existing statutory system as the basis for our training arrangements. We have made it clear that we share and support the view expressed in "Outlook on Training", the review of the Employment and Training Act, particularly in chapter 8, paragraph 7, which states: Radical changes in the existing structure would involve massive disruption. Any new bodies would take time to win credibility and influence. There would inevitably be teething problems and mistakes due to inexperience. Alternative structures would have to have clear advantages indeed to justify risking a major hiatus in training effort in a decade in which training will be of great importance. We have not been convinced of the reality of those advantages: nor, it is clear, have the great majority of those who submitted evidence to us. We accept—indeed we emphasise—that a better approach to local and cross-sector needs can and must be devised. But we consider that the existing statutory framework, within which the MSC can work in collaboration with industry training bodies, can be developed and adapted to meet these needs". The review concludes: We therefore favour building on existing foundations. That has been our position and we do not resile from it. New clauses 3 and 4 do not do that either. They seem, in fact, to provide a blocking mechanism to prevent boards that are abolished from providing the opportunity for a lapse into voluntarism.

In view of what I have said about the time, I wish at this hour to avoid becoming over-involved yet again in a philosophical discussion about voluntarism and the statutory system. Nevertheless, I cannot resist drawing the attention of the House to a page in the May issue of the journal of the British Association for Commercial and Industrial Education, which provides chapter and verse, and quotations, for the horrors, weaknesses and failings of the voluntary system over many years right up to the 1964 Act. They are all set out there, so I shall not take up the time of the House in citing examples, except just to give the flavour.

It starts with a preamble referring to arguments which have been and are continuing to be advanced by the protagonists in what it calls the present ten-yearly ritual of pulling up the plant to see why it is not conforming to the description in the seed catalogue". It goes on to say that that shows a distressing lack of originality. It lists many of the statements made by Ministers, mainly Conservative Ministers, and by other people who have been professionally involved in one way or the other with industrial training over many years. It illustrates the pitfalls of the system that we hoped the 1964 Act had put behind us.

Since our early debates on the question our view has received further reinforcement from the Manpower Services Commission. We all know the composition of the commission and the tremendous amount of professional and disinterested expertise on which it can draw. It has published a further consultation document entitled "A New Training Initiative", which says in paragraph 36 on page 6: There are three major questions to be resolved: who should bear the costs, what organisation is required; and by what means should we seek to make progress? There are no simple and obvious answers to any of these questions but three things are clear. First, there will have to be a significant increase in the resources devoted—whether by Government, industry or both—to training … Secondly, we must look to develop or reinforce institutional arrangements which are robust and effective, and in which all partners in industry can have confidence. We need machinery, for example, to set and monitor appropriate standards of skill achievement; to promote training practices which will ensure that high standards of skill are achieved; and to help the work force to adapt to changing demand". I very much doubt whether the voluntary arrangements of which the Government are so enamoured will meet those targets. The document then says: Thirdly, we must have the statutory underpinning which is essential to ensure that adequate resources and machinery are available". Then in paragraph 44 it says: With the Manpower Services Commission we already have a statutory framework which provides for the establishment of Industry Training Boards; and there are a number of industries where non-statutory organisations do much to stimulate training provision. What we have now to decide is how to use this framework of statutory and voluntary approaches to maximum effect". That reinforces our view that the existing institutional arrangements and statutory framework are right. It is a view that is shared by the MSC and by the review body that produced "Outlook on Training", and we do not resile from it now.

I was delighted to see that the Secretaries of State had welcomed the consultation document entitled "A New Training Initiative", but what caused me some qualified anxiety was that the Secretaries of State, led by the Secretary of State for Employment, said that they would consider with the MSC what could be done within the available resources to advance the objectives.

I hope that the Secretary of State will tell me that I am wrong in assuming that the reference to available resources means the present resources, which he has already slashed again and again. In the MSC's corporate plan it was made quite clear that the cuts that he had imposed so far would reduce public expenditure on training by a further £77½ million by 1984. I still have not yet heard, despite the number of times on which I have put the question, whether that £77½ million includes, or is additional to, the £50 million that is being withdrawn from the boards by the Bill. Is the figure £77½ million, or £127½ million? We still do not know the answer.

It seemed all the more incredible that on the same day the Secretary of State could put out a press notice saying: Investing in people is as important to the future of this country as investing in new plant and machinery". I hope that we would all say "Hear, hear" to that. The Secretary of State went on to say that we do not do enough of either. We do not get enough investment in people or in new plant and machinery. But he is the one who is cutting back the investment for all he is worth.

Mr. Prior

That does not mean to say that it all has to be Government investment. We also go on to say that industry has a part to play.

Mr. Walker

The Secretary of State is ruining the very instrument by means of which he can ensure that industry is able to play its part. He is not only withdrawing the money, he is withdrawing the instrument. What have we been debating for the last two hours? The right hon. Gentleman should have taken out his earplugs. This is what the debate has been about.

The Secretary of State, in the same notice, went on to say: Training is simply not given sufficient priority in Britain". but he is the one who is ensuring that its priority is being diminished. The press notice continued: Like other investment, it requires sacrifice now in return for future gains". That is marvellous stuff. That is the sort of thing that I could say with real pleasure, but it is the Secretary of State who is cutting back on public expenditure, cutting back on training, and removing all the disciplines, sanctions and coercions on industry to do precisely what he says needs to be done. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the pay-off is rarely immediate, and individuals' and companies' perspectives tend to be short". That is what we have been saying. Of course industry will stick to the short-term advantage in the present circumstances. Who can blame industry for doing that when it is reeling from the impact of Government policy after Government policy, and when it has its back to the wall? Of course it will cut back on research, investment and training. Of course it will regard those things as overheads, and chop and prune in the hope that sooner or later times will change. But the damage will have been done by then, and the damage will be irreparable. This is the very time when the Secretary of State needs the power to make industry fulfil the long-term objectives to which he looks forward.

I found it even more incredible that the Under-Secretary of State, who added so much to our debates in Standing Committee, should have said, only on 3 June, during a visit to the construction industry centre at Bircham Newton, that there was no doubt that over the years many industry training boards had made a major contribution. Is this double-talk, double-cross or just muddle? Perhaps it is a combination of all those things. Ministers are saying one thing in the House of Commons and saying entirely contradictory things up and down the country. I do not know whether they are trying to con people, but they are putting themselves into an absurd position, and it is an absurdity that they are seeking to inflict on the House.

If there was one statement in the course of the last week from professionals in the training industry that riveted me it was the statement from the chairman of the Engineering Industry Training Board. He is not a person with a vested interest, and he is not lacking in knowledge of the engineering industry. He said that apparently this year's intake of engineering apprentices would be down to 12,000. We all know that the usual annual intake can be measured in the twenties of thousands. This year it is estimated that we need 20,000 apprentices, but we shall have only a little over half the necessary intake.

Ministers may say that that is a condemnation of the existing arrangements. They may say that that shows the weakness of the existing arrangement and the need for an entirely different approach. Given the logic of the right hon. Gentleman's argument and the bleak forecast for the supply of skilled manpower in the engineering industry, the right hon. Gentleman should tell us that he will abolish the Engineering Industry Training Board. He should leave the engineering industry to satisfy its manpower needs by voluntary arrangements. That is the logic of the right hon. Gentleman's position. The right hon. Gentleman should say that the EITB has failed and that the industry should rely on voluntary arrangements for its skilled engineering needs.

8.30 pm

I lay a £5 wage with any hon. Member who is willing to take it that the right hon. Gentleman will do no such thing. He knows that if the engineering industry can reach only half of its targets with the EITB, it will meet only a fraction of its targets without it. The EITB and the other boards should be given the Government support that they need and the financial assistance that they need in present-day circumstances. We should revert to the original principles of the 1964 Act—the carrot and stick principles—and apply them with a vigour that has never been seen before. That is vital.

The right hon. Gentleman says that where training needs are not being met by statutory arrangements, voluntary arrangements might be better. If that is so, he should abolish the EITB as soon as he has the power to do so. As yet, I have had no takers for my wager. The wager will be open all evening. I wager £5 that the EITB survives. I have spoken for longer than I had intended to do. The new clause is essentially a blocking mechanism and a line of defence, which will prevent the worst when the Secretary of State has the power to implement his plans.

I hope that it will not be thought that we are resiling from our commitment to the statutory arrangements. However, having regard to the argument put forward in support of the new clause, and given that although it is a bad second best it may still provide some form of defence, I urge my right hon. and hon. Friends to divide the House and to support the new clause in the Lobby.

Mr. Peter Morrison

As the right hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Walker) said, the two new clauses are the nub of the Bill. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State also holds that belief. As those who served on the Committee will know, the question is whether voluntarism can work or whether one must follow a statutory route.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend) rightly pointed out, a voluntary approach works in some industries. He cited the example of banks and insurance companies. If the success of training is judged by the success of the industries concerned, it would seem that training in those industries has been successful.

My hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Needham), the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Jones) and the right hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Ennals) understandably asked whether my right hon. Friend and I took training seriously. Of course the answer is "Yes". There can be no question about that. We would not be considering training boards, we would not have involved ourselves in such a Bill and my right hon. Friend would not have given his name to the new training initiative if we were not seriously concerned about the future of training.

The right hon. Member for Doncaster quoted back at me something that I said last week at the CITB at Bircham Newton. I paid tribute to that board. However, I pay tribute to all statutory boards and particularly to their employees. My hon. Friend the Member for Beeston (Mr. Lester) was at pains to point out the successful approach that they had—I emphasise "had"—taken in the past. I accept that that is so.

In certain sectors it has been possible to turn the industries round so that they point in the direction that will lead to better training. To suggest that if a sector takes the voluntary route it will mean a return to pre-1964 is to prejudge the review of the MSC and the points of view on voluntary arrangements that will be put forward by the industries concerned.

I listened carefully to the speech of the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Penhaligon). He said that the nation dramatically lacked skills. He may not have meant that in that way, but if it is so it does not say as much for the training boards as some Opposition Members would have us believe. The hon. Gentleman and I are working on the same lines. We wish to ensure that there is as flexible an approach as possible to training. If there is a potential skill shortage, it can then be quickly plugged.

In my postbag I often get complaints to the effect that industrial training boards tend to be too bureaucratic. The hon. Gentleman made that point and said that there were too many of them. He said—I hope that I am quoting him correctly—that there was something to be said for voluntarism.

The hon. Gentleman and I would not disagree on any of those points. Where we would disagree is on his new clause and that tabled by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley), which is on similar lines. If we were to accept either new clause, when my right hon. Friend came to decide whether a statutory training board should be retained he would be bound and gagged and it would be impossible for him to make a decision about the abolition of a given board.

The hon. Member for Heeley maintained that in the review of the Employment and Training Act there was no recommendation for us to consider each training board. I refer him to recommendation 16, which says: The Manpower Services Commission should undertake an examination of the scope of existing ITBs, and the boundary between industries in scope and those not in scope to Boards. This should be done in full consultation with both sides of industry. That recommendation means that there should be a further review what the boards were doing, on a sector-by-sector basis.

As the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Foster) said—he was honest in his approach—if we were to accept either new clause we should be gagged and bound. That was what my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. Taylor) said, and it is true.

It would be wrong to attempt a single blueprint for all the industries, which the new clauses attempt to do, of which boards may be abolished or which industries may be removed from the scope of boards. Before we have the MSC sector-by-sector review it is difficult to know for certain, but it seems possible that in some sectors training arrangements could exist without a national organisation. That might be so where the bulk of training was done by a few large firms, which could be relied upon to plan and provide enough training of high quality without supervision.

That would not satisfy the criteria laid out in the new clauses. It seems likely that some industries that have been brought together under a board would want to organise themselves separately under a voluntary regime. Thus, there might be several voluntary organisations, each providing adequate training, where once there was one board. That would not satisfy the requirements of the new clauses.

To take another example, it seems possible that a voluntary organisation could make use of commercial or educational facilities to provide professional training expertise or to set and certify qualifications. That would not satisfy the criteria in the new clauses.

I could give many different examples, but the Government believe, prima facie—the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland is correct—that a voluntary organisation can be just as good as a statutory board. That is the difference between the two sides of the House. I quoted the banks and the insurance companies. We shall see what programmes the different sectors of industry produce if they wish to go voluntary.

In the light of the review my right hon. Friend will be able to judge what a voluntary organisation will be like and he can take decisions as a result. If we were to accept either new clause he could not take those decisions as freely and easily as he can now. As I said before, he would be bound and gagged. For that reason, I hope that the House will reject the new clauses.

Mr. Penhaligon

I am disappointed with that reply and I shall force the new clause to a Division. What the Minister has said is not true. The Secretary of State would not be bound and gagged if the House accepted new clause 3, and the Minister has not said that he will produce something similar in another place. We have not had one iota of progress on this subject.

We are seeking an assurance that the new set-up, whatever it is it will not be less effective in providing training than the previous system. That assurance has not been given. I am thereofore delighted that so many hon. Members will vote for the new clause, and I hope that those Conservative Members who have added their names to it will vote with us as well.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 174, Noes 231.

Division No. 213] [8.40 pm
Allaun, Frank Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Anderson, Donald Haynes, Frank
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Bennett, Andrew (St'kp't N) Heffer, Eric S.
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Home Robertson, John
Bottomley, Rt Hon A.(M'b'ro) Homewood, William
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hooley, Frank
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Howell, Rt Hon D.
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Huckfield, Les
Brown, Ronald W. (H'ckn'y S) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Buchan, Norman Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P) Janner, Hon Greville
Campbell, Ian Johnson, James (Hull West)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Johnson, Walter (Derby S)
Carmichael, Neil Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cohen, Stanley Kerr, Russell
Coleman, Donald Kilfedder, James A.
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Conlan, Bernard Lamond, James
Cook, Robin F. Leighton, Ronald
Cowans, Harry Lestor, Miss Joan
Craigen, J. M. Lewis, Arthur (N'ham NW)
Crowther, J. S. Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Cryer, Bob Litherland, Robert
Cunliffe, Lawrence Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Dalyell, Tam McCartney, Hugh
Davidson, Arthur McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) McKelvey, William
Davis, T. (B'ham, Stechf'd) MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Deakins, Eric McNally, Thomas
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) McTaggart, Robert
Dempsey, James Magee, Bryan
Dewar, Donald Marshall, D (G'gow S'ton)
Dixon, Donald Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Dormand, Jack Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Douglas, Dick Martin, M (G'gow S'burn)
Dunn, James A. Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Maxton, John
Eastham, Ken Maynard, Miss Joan
Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E) Meacher, Michael
Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're) Mellish, Rt Hon Robert
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
English, Michael Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Evans, loan (Aberdare) Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen)
Evans, John (Newton) Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Ewing, Harry Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)
Fitch, Alan Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Flannery, Martin Morton, George
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Moyle, Rt Hon Roland
Ford, Ben Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Forrester, John Newens, Stanley
Foster, Derek O'Halloran, Michael
Foulkes, George O'Neill, Martin
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
George, Bruce Palmer, Arthur
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Parry, Robert
Golding, John Pendry, Tom
Gourlay, Harry Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Graham, Ted Prescott, John
Grant, George (Morpeth) Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)
Grant, John (Islington C) Richardson, Jo
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife) Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Rooker, J. W. Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Ross, Ernest (Dundee West) Wainwright, E (Dearne V)
Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Wainwright, R.(Colne V)
Sheerman, Barry Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)
Sheldon, Rt Hon R. Welsh, Michael
Shore, Rt Hon Peter White, Frank R.
Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford) White, J. (G'gow Pollok)
Silverman, Julius Whitlock, William
Skinner, Dennis Wigley, Dafydd
Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark) Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Snape, Peter Williams, Rt Hon A.(S'sea W)
Spearing, Nigel Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Spriggs, Leslie Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H.(H'ton)
Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles) Wilson, William (C'try SE)
Stoddart, David Winnick, David
Stott, Roger Woodall, Alec
Strang, Gavin Woolmer, Kenneth
Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley Young, David (Bolton E)
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth) Tellers for the Ayes:
Thomas, Dr R (Carmarthen) Mr. David Penhaligon and
Tilley, John Mr. Tom Bradley.
Alexander, Richard Eden, Rt Hon Sir John
Ancram, Michael Eggar, Tim
Arnold, Tom Elliott, Sir William
Atkins, Robert (Preston N) Eyre, Reginald
Atkinson, David (B'm'th,E) Fairbairn, Nicholas
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Fairgrieve, Russell
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Faith, Mrs Sheila
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Farr, John
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Fell, Anthony
Best, Keith Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Bevan, David Gilroy Fisher, Sir Nigel
Biggs-Davison, John Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)
Blackburn, John Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles
Body, Richard Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh
Boscawen, Hen Robert Fraser, Peter (South Angus)
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Fry, Peter
Bowden, Andrew Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)
Braine, Sir Bernard Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bright, Graham Glyn, Dr Alan
Brittan, Leon Goodhart, Philip
Brooke, Hon Peter Goodlad, Alastair
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n) Gorst, John
Bruce-Gardyne, John Gower, Sir Raymond
Bryan, Sir Paul Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Greenway, Harry
Buck, Antony Griffiths, E.(B'y St. Edm'ds)
Budgen, Nick Griffiths, Peter Portsm'th N)
Bulmer, Esmond Grist, Ian
Burden, Sir Frederick Gummer, John Selwyn
Butcher, John Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Cadbury, Jocelyn Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Hawksley, Warren
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hayhoe, Barney
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n) Henderson, Barry
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Hicks, Robert
Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Chapman, Sydney Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Churchill, W. S. Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Hooson, Tom
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hordern, Peter
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)
Cockeram, Eric Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Colvin, Michael Hunt, David (Wirral)
Corrie, John Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Costain, Sir Albert Hurd, Hon Douglas
Cranborne, Viscount Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Critchley, Julian Jessel, Toby
Crouch, David Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Dean, Paul (North Somerset) Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Dickens, Geoffrey Kaberry, Sir Donald
Dorrell, Stephen Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Kershaw, Anthony
Durant, Tony King, Rt Hon Tom
Dykes, Hugh Knight, Mrs Jill
Knox, David Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Lamont, Norman Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Lang, Ian Rifkind, Malcolm
Langford-Holt, Sir John Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW)
Latham, Michael Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Lawrence, Ivan Rossi, Hugh
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Rost, Peter
Le Merchant, Spencer Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Scott, Nicholas
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Loveridge, John Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Lyell, Nicholas Shelton, William (Strtmtham)
MacGregor, John Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
MacKay, John (Argyll) Shepherd, Richard
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. Shersby, Michael
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Silvester, Fred
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Sims, Roger
McQuarrie, Albert Skeet, T. H. H.
Madel, David Speed, Keith
Major, John Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Marland, Paul Sproat, Iain
Marlow, Tony Squire, Robin
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Stanbrook, Ivor
Mather, Carol Steen, Anthony
Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus Stevens, Martin
Mawby, Ray Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Stewart, A.(E Renfrewshire)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Stokes, John
Mayhew, Patrick Stradling Thomas, J.
Mellor, David Tapsell, Peter
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Taylor, Robert (Croydon NW)
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Moate, Roger Temple-Morris, Peter
Monro, Hector Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Moore, John Thompson, Donald
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Thornton, Malcolm
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Mudd, David Trippier, David
Murphy, Christopher van Straubenzee, W. R.
Myles, David Viggers, Peter
Neale, Gerrard Waddington, David
Nelson, Anthony Wakeham, John
Neubert, Michael Walker, B. (Perth)
Newton, Tony Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.
Normanton, Tom Wall, Patrick
Onslow, Cranley Waller, Gary
Osborn, John Ward, John
Page, John (Harrow, West) Warren, Kenneth
Page, Rt Hon Sir G. (Crosby) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Page, Richard (SW Herts) Wells, Bowen
Parkinson, Cecil Whitney, Raymond
Parris, Matthew Wickenden, Keith
Pattie, Geoffrey Wilkinson, John
Pink, R. Bonner Williams, D.(Montgomery)
Pollock, Alexander Wolfson, Mark
Porter, Barry Young, Sir George (Acton)
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Younger, Rt Hon George
Price, Sir David (Eastleigh)
Prior, Rt Hon James Tellers for the Noes:
Proctor, K. Harvey Mr. John Cope and
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.
Renton, Tim

Question accordingly negatived.

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