HC Deb 26 April 1990 vol 171 cc478-9
26. Mr. Tracey

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from employers' organisations on his proposals to assist TECs.

Mr. Lilley

The measures announced in the Budget to provide tax relief for business contributions to TECs have been widely welcomed by a number of employers' organisations.

Mr. Tracey

I am sure that my hon. Friend will accept my view that the training and enterprise councils are the best possible means of improving training in our respective areas. We have a thriving TEC starting up in my borough of Kingston upon Thames. I hope that my hon. Friend will consider other means of assisting TECs in future.

Mr. Lilley

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. The development of training and enterprise councils is extremely important because they harness the private sector and the public sector to improve training, which is one of our most important objectives. The Opposition pay lip service to that objective, but in general they oppose every constructive measure that the Government introduce.

Mr. Fatchett

Given the cuts in training budgets announced in the Government's expenditure White Paper, does the Financial Secretary envisage that business will be expected to fill the gap in those budgets? What will happen to the voluntary organisations providing training for people with special needs, for which budgets are being cut at the moment? Will they have to face those cuts themselves or will business, and passing the hat round, be expected to save that important training work?

Mr. Lilley

Business is responsible, and recognises that it is primarily responsible, for training people and it has increased substantially the amount that it spends on training. It has been able to do that because of the improved profitability of British industry. I believe that it is far better to rely on that than to do everything through the state. I am certain that British industry does not want a payroll tax to be imposed. The Opposition have been proposing such a tax vigorously, although they now seem to be getting cold feet. I am sure that the House would like to know whether the Opposition are going to renege on that policy proposal.