HC Deb 20 March 1984 vol 56 cc892-3
2. Mr. Colvin

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is now satisfied with the safety provisions for those on the youth training scheme.

The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. Peter Morrison)

Yes, Sir. However, I can assure my hon. Friend that the safety provisions of the scheme are kept under review in order to ensure their continued appropriateness and effectiveness.

Mr. Colvin

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 adequately protects trainees, particularly in relation to inspections and inquiries? What arrangements is he making to ensure that the provisions of the Act are adequately checked and updated, particularly in the case of the youth training scheme, which is now becoming a permanent and valuable part of training provision for our school leavers?

Mr. Morrison

I agree with the latter part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question. In January this year my hon. Friend the Minister of State tabled the Health and Safety at Work (Youth Training Scheme) Regulations, which put all youth trainees on the same basis as employees.

Mr. James Hamilton

Is the Minister aware that my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) has raised on the Floor of the House the case of two lads who had fatal accidents? One of the employers was fined heavily, which made it crystal clear that he was to blame. In the other case the sheriff stated that in his view sufficient safety regulations had not been in operation. Is it not time that the Minister took action before there are more fatal accidents?

Mr. Morrison

The hon. Gentleman and I will agree that one accident—certainly one fatal accident—is one too many. However, I can assure the hon. Gentleman, as I have assured my hon. Friend, that, with the further tabling of regulations in January this year, everything possible is being done both by the Health and Safety Executive and by the Manpower Services Commission.

If any hon. Member in any part of the House has any constuctive thought to put to me on the matter, I am always prepared to listen. The health and safety of the trainees is of paramount importance.

Mr. Needham

No scheme is perfect, but does my hon. Friend agree that the youth training scheme is excellent and that it is high time it had the full support of all right hon. and hon. Members on the Opposition Benches?

If the scheme suffers at all, it is by its link with the youth opportunities programme, for which the Labour Government were responsible.

Mr. Morrison

Yes, I agree with my hon. Friend. It is regrettable that Labour Members do not back the scheme, as many of their supporters do. I also agree that the YTS is a training scheme, not a special employment measure like the youth opportunities programme. If only Labour Members talked to the trainees, they would be impressed by their enthusiasm for the training that they receive.

Mr. Martin

Is the Minister aware of a recent press report to the effect that the Government are to pay retired civil servants £90 a day to advise on safety on the youth training scheme. If the Government are serious about the safety of the young people on the scheme, surely they should not use retired people in that way, particularly as nearly 4 million people are unemployed?

Mr. Morrison

I am not aware of the press report or press release to which the hon. Gentleman refers. Nine specialist advisers have been appointed to the nine regions to consider health and safety—matters about which the hon. Gentleman and I are both concerned.