HC Deb 17 April 1991 vol 189 cc415-6
14. Mr. Watson

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what will be the effect of the reduction in Government funding to local enterprise companies compared with their bids on the number of training places they are able to provide in the next financial year.

Mr. Lang

There is no uniform link between the funds available to local enterprise companies and the number of training places that they are able to provide. The maximum number of training places that could be provided by each local enterprise company will be significantly influenced by the use that they make of the increased flexibilities available to them and the unit costs that they negotiate.

Mr. Watson

The increased flexibilities of which the Secretary of State talks are certainly not matched by increased funding. If Scottish Enterprise had been funded at the level promised by the former Secretary of State when it was first mooted, it would have approximately £150 million extra available for local enterprise companies. That money could be spent on much needed training schemes, which are now having to be cut. What would the Secretary of State say to my constituents—trainees as well as trainers—whose training schemes were cut at the end of last month because of the underfunding of the Glasgow Development Agency?

Mr. Lang

The hon. Gentleman underrates the substantial sums now being invested in training in Scotland. The budget for youth training in the forthcoming year is £103 million and the budget for employment training is £115 million. Those sums are substantial. When one compares them with the small sums invested in training by the last Labour Govermment —about six times as much investment is now being made in training—it is clear that the Opposition have a lot to learn from the Conservative Government.

Sir Hector Monro

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the £429 million allocated to Scottish Enterprise, plus the £15 million for the Training Agency, should enable most trainers and trainees to enjoy good facilities in the coming year? Does my right hon. Friend know whether there will be a drop in the number of people receiving training in the coming year?

Mr. Lang

My hon. Friend asks a sound question. The total amount of resources going into the Scottish Enterprise training budget and the Highlands and Islands training budget is more than £240 million. Provided that the local enteprise companies use the flexibilities open to them and take maximum advantage of their negotiating position, that money should enable them to provide a substantial number of training places and to meet the guarantees that the Government have given.