HC Deb 16 December 1986 vol 107 c1046
12. Mr. Terry Davis

asked the Paymaster General if he will make a statement on the progress of the new training initiative.

Mr. Trippier

The new job training scheme pilots are now in operation in nine areas around the country. There has been an enthusiastic response from training providers, and unemployed people are coming forward in significant numbers.

Mr. Davis

But does the Minister agree that there is less adult training now than when the new initiative began? Is that what the Minister calls success?

Mr. Trippier

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman had prepared his supplementary question prior to hearing the substantive reply that I have just given, because I referred to a scheme that is being piloted in nine new areas. Substantial numbers of people are coming forward as a result of this new initiative and we are very pleased with it.

Mr. Dorrell

Will my hon. Friend speculate on the likely effect on companies' training efforts if the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) were ever successful in securing the endorsement of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) for a 1 per cent. training levy to raid company coffers and reduce companies' own resources to fund their training efforts?

Mr. Trippier

I query whether the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) would get the endorsement of the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley). Certainly it has been calculated by the Department of Employment, where I work, that the percentage levy that a future Labour Government would impose on industry and commerce would mean a substantial increase in the corporation tax rate, which would cripple them.

Ms. Richardson

Does the Minister accept that the proposed closure on Friday of this week of the women into manual skills course at Deptford skillcentre will be a disaster for women wanting to train in non-traditional skills? Is he aware that there is a lobby at this moment in the Central Lobby protesting about that? Will he give me an undertaking that if the meeting which has been arranged between the three funding boroughs and the Manpower Services Commission does not come up with a solution which allows the course to remain open he will personally intervene and show his commitment to training for women?

Mr. Trippier

I have already given my commitment to the training of women. I gave it to the hon. Lady at a meeting which she attended in my Department only last week. I was pleased to intervene on her behalf, asking the MSC to co-operate fully with the consultation exercise which is going on at the moment. I cannot give her the assurance that she seeks in the latter part of her question. The MSC in no way intended to reduce the training provision for women. It will simply be transferred.