HL Deb 11 April 1960 vol 222 cc839-40

2.44 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what their plans are for the training of apprentices at Government training centres.]


My Lords, I must ask your Lordships' indulgence in that the Answer to my noble friend's Question is a long one. It is, in fact, a statement which my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour is making in another place this afternoon. My right honourable friend is proposing to set up a small number of classes in Government training centres to provide first-year apprenticeship training. This training will be given only to boys who have been accepted as apprentices by their firms. Preference will be given to boys from firms which have hitherto found it impracticable to undertake apprentice training or to increase their present number of apprentices. No charge will be made for the training provided, but employers taking part in the scheme will be required to give an undertaking to pay the wages of apprentices during the year, and to continue the boys' training afterwards under the normal industrial arrangements. The normal provision for day release from the training centre will apply during the year.

This scheme has been approved as a whole by the British Employers' Confederation and the Trades Union Congress. The establishment of classes in engineering has been agreed by employers and trade unions of that industry. My right honourable friend proposes to extend the scheme to other trades, and he is already in touch with the building industry. The first training places will be available early this summer at eight Government training centres, and it is expected to set up classes at other centres later this year, making a total number of some 300 training places.

This scheme will not, in itself, make a large numerical contribution to the expansion of training for skilled occupations during the "bulge" years. It is intended primarily as a demonstration of a pattern of training which should appeal particularly to the smaller firms who have only limited opportunities for undertaking training themselves. The Government hope that in this way, the scheme will encourage industry to increase its intake of young people into skilled occupations.


My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for his Answer. I am sure he will realise that this experiment will be watched with great interest throughout industry.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl whether there is any proposal to extend this scheme so that boys from the Commonwealth can also receive some part of this training?


My Lords, I will let the noble Lord know that in writing, as I do not at the moment know the answer.


My Lords, will the noble Earl tell us the number of the Paper in which the details and conditions of this scheme are set out?


My Lords, I will find that out.


My Lords, whilst I welcome this really first-class scheme, which in my view is a good deal overdue, could the noble Earl say whether 300 places is regarded as being a pilot scheme, with much more amplification later on? Because otherwise the provision will be very small in relation to the demand. Also, could the noble Earl say anything about the geographical distribution of the training centres? For example, will there be one in Scotland, Wales or any of the other areas of rather heavy unemployment?


My Lords, with regard to the first part of the noble Lord's question I would say that this is a start. Naturally, much will depend upon the demand for apprentice places, and no doubt my right honourable friend will consider the position at the end of a given time. Places at which Government training centres are already established and will be operating under this scheme are: Aintree; Birmingham; Bristol; Cardiff; Hillington, in Scotland; Leeds; Letchworth and Long Eaton, in Nottinghamshire.