HC Deb 10 December 1998 vol 322 cc477-8
14. Fiona Mactaggart (Slough)

What discussions he has had with representatives of business and industry about incentives to encourage them to contribute to education and training. [61759]

The Paymaster General (Mr. Geoffrey Robinson)

In recent months we have been engaged in discussions with a wide range of representatives of business and industry during our seminars, one of which in particular focused on skills. A clear consensus has emerged between the Government and industry leaders on the importance of skills to the economy, and we are working out a joint programme.

Fiona Mactaggart

Several companies in my constituency were excited by the Chancellor's statement in his pre-Budget report that, as an incentive to businesses to offer expertise and management help to schools and colleges, businesses will be allowed to claim tax relief when they second staff to schools and colleges. All those companies are involved in formal and informal ways in supporting education in Slough. They are anxious to ensure that they are consulted about ways to make the proposal work before it is implemented. If it is based on real experience, the results could be excellent; if not, they could be rather poor.

Mr. Robinson

I am pleased that my hon. Friend welcomes the initiative. We are keen to bring industry and schools closer together. Tax relief for companies that second high-level staff to schools is a good idea in itself. I can assure my hon. Friend that there will be the fullest consultation on that, as there has been on all other matters that involve industry.

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