HC Deb 30 June 1981 vol 7 cc683-4
3. Mr. Haselhurst

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what initial response he has received to the new training initiative.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Peter Morrison)

I have received a number of generally favourable responses, including several from hon. Members.

Mr. Haselhurst

Is not this the most relevant document on the subject published since the manpower crisis came upon us? Does my hon. Friend agree that he and his colleagues should take a lead in persuading employers and trade unions that only a radical initiative such as this will enable us to overcome our economic and industrial problems?

Mr. Morrison

The answer is "Yes, Sir" to both questions. The new training initiative has drawn together strands that have floated around during the past two years, which is a great advantage. I hope that the Government and industry will capitalise on it.

Mr. Barry Jones

Will the Under-Secretary of State concede that, if the initiative is to be successful, he must guarantee large additional sums? Will it not also require statutory underpinning of industrial training? Will he especially bear in mind that 17.7 per cent. of youngsters under 20 are unemployed?

Mr. Morrison

It is not necessarily correct that there must be a guarantee of more money. The Government are already spending £253 million on the TOPS programme and just under £50 million on supporting 25,000 apprentices and others, so they have a major commitment. However, the matter is up for debate.

Mr. Needham

Is not one underlying cause of the need for a new training initiative the ludicrously high wages that young people receive, which is a direct result of trade union collective bargaining? Should we not put a stop to that?

Mr. Morrison

The difference between the earnings of adults and young people, for example, in Germany, is far greater than in this country, and that fact could have a bearing on the matter. However, we want to make apprenticeship training more flexible, not time serving.

Mr. Foster

If the new training initiative is to have any value, do we not need to consider the funds required to underpin it? If employers are not prepared to chip in, does that not leave the bill with the Government? Will the money needed to make the initiative viable be forthcoming, particularly for vocational training for all 16 and 17-year-olds?

Mr. Morrison

As I explained, the Government are already spending a substantial amount on training. I agree that employers and trainees will also have to contribute.