HL Deb 06 February 1964 vol 255 cc308-48

6.14 p.m.

Debate on Second Reading resumed.


My Lords, I will be brief in concluding the few remarks that I wish to address to your Lordships on this Industrial Training Bill. The thrust in the centre which our Industrial Training Council has endeavoured to provide over the last few years must come from the Central Training Council, which will have not only a wider membership but a more extensive remit than we had in the I.T.C. But we hope that the new Council will continue to carry out much of the work on which we have been engaged in the last years. What I think is important is that there should be no vacuum at the centre between the eventual passing of the I.T.C. and the full emergence of the Central Training Council. With this in mind, my colleagues will be discussing with the Minister of Labour the best way in which we can help to achieve a smooth transition from ourselves to the new Council. We are also pleased to know that the Industrial Advisory Service of the I.T.C., about which I spoke a moment ago and which has done such valuable field work, will be continuing in operation under the new Council.

I would suggest that the success of this important measure will depend upon the good will of those whose ultimate responsibility it will be to translate the ability into practice. This good will has been clearly evident in the various discussions which employers, trade unions and others have had with the officials of the Ministry of Labour. As some little time ago, on another Bill, I passed some strictures upon the staff of the Ministry of Labour and their consultations with industry, I wish to say on this occasion that they have been most meticulous and accommodating; they could not have been more helpful to us and, I understand, also, to the Trades Union Congress in the discussions and deliberations about the Bill. We wish to thank them for it. I am sure this good will will continue right through the discussions that must be held with the various industries by all these training boards. Of course, it is true that the success of the whole exercise will depend upon the calibre of the persons appointed to the boards and the Central Training Council, and upon the quality of the staff, whose job it will be to advise and assist these new bodies. That will be in the hands of the Minister, and we hope that he will be able to choose the right men and women to serve this training idea.

The Government's legislation offers a great chance for our system of industrial training to be developed along modern lines, flexible yet systematic, and I hope that it will be fully capable of meeting the changing needs of the country for trained manpower. I am quite sure that our great industries will wish to take full advantage of the opportunity which this Bill offers to them.

6.19 p.m.


My Lords, first of all I should like to join my noble friend Lord McCorquodale of Newton in offering congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, on his well-informed and admirable speech this afternoon. I understand the noble Lord is a great authority on the subject. He is not only the distinguished Principal of the Manchester College of Advanced Technology, but he is also a very advanced engineer. I join with the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, in hoping that we shall hear the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, in this House on many occasions in the future.

I should like to refer to part of Lord McCorquodale of Newton's speech, when he mentioned those who denigrate the achievements of British industry on this question of training. I join with him on that. But I am sure the noble Lord will accept that while there are sections of British industry which can be proud of their achievements in training, there is a large field—too large—who have done no training at all. It was the Carr Report which pointed out that certain industries were training and then finding that the men they had trained were being seduced from their employment by firms who did no training at all; and that discouraged many firms who were trying to train their own technicians and craftsmen.

It is interesting to recollect that it is almost ten years since attention was focused seriously on the deficiencies of industrial training. In consequence, as has been pointed out, and as the noble Viscount knows very well, the National Joint Advisory Council considered this subject and appointed the Carr Committee, which commenced its work in 1946 and concluded its Report in January, 1958. But it was not until December, 1962, that the Government issued the Command Paper on Industrial Training. Therefore, it took five years to act upon the findings of the Carr Committee, with the one exception that there was the appointment of the Industrial Training Council, to which the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, has referred. But both he and, I am sure, the Minister will accept that the Industrial Training Council, because of its meagre resources, could only touch the fringe of the subject. However, I agree that they did what they could, and made some progress.

This is not the whole story of inaction and delay. The White Paper (Cmnd. 1892) admits in its first sentence that: Ever since the war industry in this country has been short of skilled labour. And as the noble Viscount quoted in his speech an important factor in holding back the rate of economic expansion … Therefore, since the end of the war, twenty years of neglect and inaction have resulted in a more serious situation to-day than in 1945. I apologise for inflicting this history on your Lordships, but I do so only to emphasise that we should try now to make up for lost time. It is for this reason that I hope the Bill, whatever may be its defects—and there is not much time to put them right—will not be unduly delayed in reaching the Statute Book, and that expeditious action will be taken to get on with the job. After all, there is a great deal to do, and even if we start right away, we cannot expect any tangible results for four or five years, at the earliest.

I have referred to the past delay, and to the urgent need for positive action. It would be much more serious if, as time goes on, it turned out that the methods of organisation, or the effectiveness of the proposals in the Bill, were wasteful in operation or less fruitful of success than we all hope will be the case. I do not believe that this Bill is the whole answer. But it is at any rate a start, and it would be prudent to accept in advance a degree of flexibility so that adjustments can be made in the light of experience when the boards begin to operate. It is for this reason that I think it would be useful to refer—I sincerely hope net critically, but in a constructive way—to one or two aspects of the Bill.

First of all, the industrial training boards. The noble Viscount was not very clear when he was questioned as to how these were to be set up. In Clause 2 of the Bill reference is made to "the industry", which suggests that separate boards will be set up for separate industries. I believe that is the intention, but it would be useful to know how many and which particular industries it is proposed to include in these proposals. If the proposals of the Bill are to be generally effective, they should, in time, cover fairly well the whole of British industry and trade. If it is the intention that this training project should be universal, is it envisaged that each industry and each branch of commerce will have a specific training board? If the answer to this is "Yes," the question arises of the colossal organisation that will be required, the cost in personnel, the duplication of administration and physical effects, such as buildings and equipment, properly to implement the proposals. There are scores of different industries, both important ones and many minor ones, whose operations are nevertheless vital to the economy. I think there are something like 50 or 60 industries which are supervised by wages councils. If, on the other hand, it is intended to have training boards only in the most important industries, and only in the important sections of commerce, a large field of industrial activity will be excluded from the provisions of the Bill.

This impinges, of course, on the question of the levy, and whether some firms only will be compelled to pay it. Apparently, those firms in industries for which training boards are not established will not be required to contribute. Are we to understand that all those firms engaged in activities for which training boards may not be established are to escape the levy, notwithstanding the fact that most of them, if not all, will be employing skilled per- sonnel, probably trained by someone else, or in some way or another benefiting from the training which is going on? Surely there would appear to be an anomaly there. Does this not suggest that the most fair, the most simple, and the most generally accented method would be to levy all firms, possibly by a small percentage on wages and salaries, so that they all make an equitable contribution to training, especially when those firms who are training can recover some or all of their expenditure by financial rebates or grants?

Next I should like to say a word about the Central Training Council. I welcome the provision in the Bill for a central authority, the need for which was emphasised by noble Lords in the debate in February, 1963. But the duties and responsibilities of the Central Council, according to the Bill, seem to be very narrow and restricted. Let me quote the appropriate paragraph in Clause 11(1): The Minister shall appoint a council, to be known as the Central Training Council, which shall have the duty of advising him on the exercise of his functions under this Act and on any other matter relating to industrial or commercial training which he may refer to it. So that the Central Council's function will be to advise the Minister, first, on his functions, or, secondly, on any matter that he may refer to it. So that the secondary duty will arise only if the Minister sees fit to make a reference.

I am sure that when, in the debate to which I have referred, noble Lords suggested a central authority, they had in mind functions very much wider and much more cogent. The noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, in the debate in February, 1963, suggested that the central authority might provide, among other responsibilities, general advice and guidance on responsibilities and activities, assessment of training, analysis of jobs and occupations in terms of skill, planning systematic training schemes, syllabuses, training tests, et cetera.

There are other very important duties which will have to be carried out by some body. For instance (and I hope the Minister can give some answers to these questions because many people are vitally interested and are worrying about them), who will be responsible for inves tigating what is the extent of our skilled personnel now; in which fields are we deficient, and to what extent? What are to be the priorities for urgent action? Who is to consider and keep under review the type of training required; the volume of training; and the changes which may be required in the various categories from time to time? Where will the responsibility lie for correlating and co-ordinating the training objectives of the various training boards? How will one board know whether or not it is unnecessarily duplicating the training of other boards, and whose responsibility will it be to guard against certain skills not being catered for by any board? How are the boundaries of any particular industry, such as the chemical industry—which is an outstanding example—to be defined; and how will difficulties be sorted out where different boards claim autonomy over certain firms?

Surely these, or some of them, are matters which could usefully occupy the considerations of the Central Training Council. Or is all this work to be the prerogative of the Minister and his Department? Would it not be a good thing for the Central Training Council to meet representatives of the various industrial training boards from time to time, for the purpose of conferring and assessing progress, and perhaps to consider any problems which are certain to arise? Should there not be a link-up in this way?

The last matter to which I want to refer, my Lords—there are many speakers and I must not take too long—is the inspectorate. Again going back to the debate in your Lordships' House in February, 1963, the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Hailsham (as he then was), replying to questions raised by noble Lords on sanctions, said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 246, col. 815]: … the Minister will have power to appoint inspectors to see that the training arrangements … are satisfactory: and if they are not, he will have power to withhold the Government grant. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in replying, made the same point, but I will not weary the House by quoting it. But nowhere in this Bill, so far as I can see, is there any provision for an inspectorate as promised. Or is it the case that the Minister does not need specific powers in the Bill for this purpose? My Lords, I will finish now. As I said earlier, there ought not to be undue delay in putting into operation the intentions of the Bill, but I am sure that if some of the obscurities to which I have referred are not clarified now, the time will soon come when confusion will call for their solution.

6.36 p.m.


My Lords, in the past few months in this House we have devoted a good deal of time to the subject of education. We have had two major Reports, that of the Robbins Committee and, more recently, that of the Newsom Committee, and in my opinion this debate on the Second Reading of the Industrial Training Bill completes a trilogy. For industrial training surely cannot be divorced from general education. But whereas the first two debates were concerned with general principles, we now have before us a Bill which seeks to do something specific to improve our system of industrial training.

As other noble Lords have pointed out, it is an enabling measure and does not in itself produce one extra course of training, but it will set into being machinery capable of expanding training facilities, and it is significant in marking the first entry of the Government into partnership with employers and trade unions in this sphere. It is therefore most important that in considering this Bill we see that the framework and the machinery it sets up are correct, and that the responsibilities laid on the various people who have to carry it out, and particularly on the training boards, are clearly defined.

The Long Title describes the Bill as An Act to make further provision for industrial and commercial training". It is particularly on the aspect of commercial training that I should like to speak for a few moments. So far, it has hardly been mentioned, although I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Champion, refer to it at the end of his excellent speech. Certainly it is one very important aspect which I think your Lordships should not overlook. It is clearly no good producing the finest aeroplanes or the best of machine tools if we cannot sell them.

We have a current plan, as has been mentioned, to expand our economy by 4 per cent. per annum, and this, in turn, entails expanding our exports at a rate of 5 per cent. per annum. This, obviously, calls for skilled marketing and dynamic salesmanship, and our marketing managers and salesmen need just as much in the way of training facilities as our technicians and craftsmen. In fact, as I think has already been mentioned before, in this computer age there is a tendency for the manual working force to decline in numbers while the supporting force of the black-coated workers (as I think they have been called), the clerical and administrative workers, increases correspondingly. It is vital, therefore, that the training of this commercial type is proceeded with hand in hand with industrial training. Certainly many of our rivals do not neglect commercial training.

I expect that many of your Lordships will have read the excellent book by Lady Williams, under the title Apprenticeship in Europe, which was published last year, with a foreword by my noble friend Lord Blakenham, when he was Minister of Labour. Anyone who is interested in comparing systems of industrial training should certainly read this book, which is full of interesting facts and figures. I should like, with your Lordships' permission, to quote one set of figures relating to West Germany. There the Government, in conjunction with employers and trade unions, maintains a list of trades classified according to the skill and training required. For industry, there are 331 skilled trades, with 220,000 apprentices, and 138 semi-skilled trades, with 23,000 trainees. For commerce, the equivalent figures are 31 skilled trades, with 460,000 apprentices, and 5 semi-skilled trades, with 22,500 apprentices. As Lady Williams herself comments: … it is significant that commerce has the largest proportion of those undergoing apprenticeship training. From those figures your Lordships will see that commerce has, in fact, more than double the number of apprentices in skilled trades.

In this country over recent years we have made, I think, considerable progress with our commercial training, and there now exists a well recognised and well organised ladder of achievement. The bottom rung has only just been hammered into place, with the Certificate of Office Studies only recently introduced, open at minimum age of 16 and involving two years' part-time or evening study. At the next stage is the Ordinary National Certificate or Diploma in Business Studies, again open at 16 to people with certain "O" level qualifications and roughly equivalent to the intermediate stage of a professional examination. Then there is the Higher National Certificate or Diploma in Business Studies. The minimum age is 18, and it requires certain "A" level qualifications or an Ordinary Certificate or Diploma.

To crown the whole ladder a Committee has recently been set up by the National Advisory Council on Education in Industry and Commerce, under the chairmanship of Mr. W. F. Crick, to consider the need for a final award in business studies roughly equivalent to an Honours degree. This Committee, I understand, has made its report to the Minister of Education, and I hope in the very near future we shall be able to hear from the Minister that there will be this highest award on the commercial training side.

I would join with my noble friend Lord Amory in commending the efforts of the technical colleges and the contribution that they have made and are making to our industrial and commercial training, and I should like to couple with them the colleges of commerce. Your Lordships will remember that the Report of the Robbins Committee drew attention to the importance of the work these colleges, both technical colleges and commercial colleges, are doing in commercial as well as technical training. And that Report pointed out that less than two-thirds of their full-time advanced students were studying science and technology. The remainder were mainly studying commercial subjects. That Report recommended that some of the area colleges might be considered for designation as regional colleges and they specifically included in the recommendation some of the colleges of commerce as their advanced work grows in importance. I know it would be a great encouragement to these colleges and to commercial education if the Minister were to act on this recommendation and upgrade one or other college of commerce to a regional college as appropriate.

Also in the field of commercial education, I should mention, I think, the excellent commercial apprenticeship scheme which the Association of British Chambers of Commerce started some years ago and which has attracted wide support from manufacturing industry, although there is still scope for additional expansion. It seems to me that the material is there, the facilities are there; the colleges exist and are doing the training. But what is wanted is greater use to be made of those existing facilities.

I approach this Bill, therefore, with the object of discovering how much further it carries the development of commercial training. It is most satisfactory at least that in Clause 1, establishing industrial training boards, it is quite clear that their scope includes commerce as well as industry, and I know that when appointing the members of these training boards it is highly undesirable—I agree with the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton—to restrict the choice of the Minister. But I would just mention, in passing, that I hope in appropriate cases the interests of commerce may be looked after so far as appropriate industry is concerned when appointments are made to the training boards. I would also hope that the problems and the organisation of commercial education, which are very considerable, might well be a subject discussed by the Central Training Council at an early stage, and I would also hope that a member of that Council might be a person with considerable experience on the commercial side.

The real difficulty, it seems to me, about commercial training is that the skills cut right across all industries. Various noble Lords have mentioned problems in defining industries and the overlapping between them, and in the field of commercial training there is almost complete overlapping. The training required by people employed in accountancy, company law, marketing, clerical work, is common to all industries—engineering, building, chemical, textiles; it does not matter which. I think that this problem is likely to be best solved—at least I suggest this is a possible solution—only by establishing a separate board for commercial training; in fact, one of the industrial training boards should be a board for commerce. Only in this way do I think you can achieve the right amount of commercial training over the whole field with comparable standards throughout industry.

It might be thought as an alternative to having a specific board for commercial training that industrial training boards should set up a joint committee as envisaged in Clause 3 of the Bill. This clause is obviously useful where there is overlap between one industry and another—where two industries, for example, are both employing plumbers. But in the case of commerce I do not believe it is such a good or possible solution, for two reasons. The first is that I think it would be a pity to put commerce into a secondary rôle by delegating it to a separate and subordinate committee. But, more seriously as an objection, I see the fact that there would be great difficulties in that only where you had established a training board in an industry could a joint committee of those industries be charged with commercial training.

The result would be very unfair, because say the first two boards to be established were for engineering and building, and supposing they took their commercial education responsibilities seriously and established a joint committee for commercial education, then they would be paying a levy and training people in commercial skills who would then be available to other industries not paying a levy and not giving any training. This would result in a great deal of poaching, which has been brought up as a disadvantage in the present system, and I fear would not be fair and would not work well. I return, therefore, to what I see as the best solution, which would be to treat commercial employment as an industry on its own and to establish its own commercial training board at an early stage. Finally, I should like to give a warm welcome to this Bill, in the hope that it will stimulate increased industrial and commercial training, and to express the hope that in putting these provisions into effect the Minister will give at least equal consideration to commercial training as he does to industrial training.

6.51 p.m.


My Lords, as noble Lords from all quarters of the House have in general welcomed this Bill, I do not think that at this late hour I should abuse your patience by speaking of the general argument in favour of the Bill and of the provision of additional industrial training and commercial training in this country (a matter referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare), though there are certain matters of organisation to which I should like to call attention.

In introducing the Bill, the noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, explained, rather briefly, I thought—and he has been questioned on this point on one or two occasions—that the Government had come to the conclusion that a division of responsibility by industries was the right way to approach this matter. I think that the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has called attention to one great difficulty of doing that; and, indeed, the same applies—it has already been mentioned—to what I may call the common services skills: the engineers and the electricians, the people who serve in so many industries. I cannot conceive that it is going to be possible to set up training boards in every industry at the same time. The difficulties which the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, outlined, seem to me certain to arise. Some industries will be paying a levy, and others which have not yet reached that stage will be drawing the benefit of the training, and drawing away the people who have been trained at other people's expense.

Listening to the speeches, and particularly to that of the noble Lord, Lord Champion, it occurred to me that something on the following lines might be helpful: that in these common purpose skills to which I have referred, a man who had been trained should, as it were, carry a ticket with him, and when he went into other employment the levy in respect of his training would be recovered from his subsequent employer; so that the subsequent employer would pay back, per week or per month, so much to the industrial training board or to whoever had financed his training. It seems to me that that would be one way in which the burden could be fairly spread, and the advantages which we know have been obtained by firms snatching well-trained men from those who have spent money on training them, might be avoided.

Generally speaking, I think that the machinery outlined in the Bill is quite appropriate. I think that once this question of fixing the boundaries of industry has been settled, the industrial training boards will be soundly based. As your Lordships will remember, they have representatives both of the employers and of the employees, the trade unions; they have representatives nominated by what will now, I suppose, be the Department of Education and Science, who will keep in touch with the technical training facilities in the technical colleges, and so on. There is also (and I think this is a most important factor) a nominee of the Ministry of Labour who, although he has no vote, will sit on the industrial training board and, as I think, will be a link between the board, which is dealing with the particular industry, and the general body of expertise which will be growing up in the Ministry of Labour in the handling of these schemes.

It seems to me, too, that the provision that training can be undertaken beyond the confines of a single industry in part meets the difficulties which have been raised about this training of common service employees. It is specially laid down in the Bill that training can be arranged and approved with other parties. I must say that, on reading the Bill, I thought the intention was exactly that: that the textile industry could arrange to have its engineers trained by the engineering industry or by some other body set up for that purpose. To my mind, this gives great advantage. Not only is it the most economical way to train engineers, rather than having a number of different industries all training their engineers separately, but it also provides that the engineering employees in one industry are meeting their opposite numbers in other industries, and by the exchange of ideas we get this cross fertilisation.

That is, of course, of particular importance in management training. It is one of the great advantages that we already find in the systems of management training which have been started and which we look to see so widely expanded. In my own experience, I have found that young men who have gone into management training courses benefit enormously by meeting people who are engaged in similar activities in other industries. That is why I should have thought that a great deal of "crossing of the border" is really desirable in industrial training, and that to make the training too close within a single industry is probably not a desirable thing.

This brings me to one matter where, I am afraid, if your Lordships' House had closer rules of order I might be in danger of straying across the border. But I have a special reason for bringing this up, and I hope that I may be forgiven. It relates to the ports industry, in which I must declare an interest. The Government have put forward this Bill, which I think we shall broadly welcome, and they have at the same time introduced the Harbours Bill in which a quite different procedure is provided for industrial training. I do not know what the reason is. In the Harbours Bill which is now before another place it is provided that the National Ports Council shall be responsible for training—that it shall stand in the position of the industrial training board, and that it shall be under the supervision and, indeed, in certain circumstances, the direction, of the Minister of Transport, who, I venture to think, will not have in his Department advisers with nearly the same wide experience of these matters as has the Minister of Labour.

I cannot see why the ports industry should not enjoy the benefit of this Bill. I may be told that that is not prevented; and I know that I cannot ask the noble Viscount in his reply to deal with this matter, because it is not within his province. But I am asking him, if he would, to bring this matter to the notice of his right honourable friend the Minister of Transport. I do it to-day, risking being out of order, because of two things: one is that I think noble Lords will agree with me that fairly soon we shall reach that stage in the Session when Bills come from another place and we are advised that we should not amend them in case we lose the Bills. If Amendments are to be made, it is far better that they should be made in another place when Bills are under consideration there.

The second reason is that some small Amendment may be necessary to this Bill. Shortly before the Bill left another place, an Amendment was inserted which added words to paragraph 6 of the Schedule to provide that in any particular case the Minister, if he thinks fit, can authorise the Iron and Steel Board to appoint a member of an industrial training board. It seems to me that one might insert a similar Amendment to allow the National Ports Council to do that in appropriate cases. I believe that the National Ports Council has in some degree been moulded on the Iron and Steel Board, and I feel that that may be an appropriate Amendment to make. That is all the excuse I have for bringing the matter forward.

I should like to refer quite briefly to one other matter. I agree with Lord Champion that the financial provisions are extraordinarily vague; and, while I quite understand that the Minister wants to keep as free a hand as possible, it seems to me that in the interests of the industries concerned and in the interests of the industrial training boards there should be some indication of the circumstances in which loans and grants can be made. We do not, of course, want people trying to set their course so that they can get the maximum grant; but, on the other hand, it is a little unfair on the boards if they have not some idea of the sort of expenditure for which they can seek a grant. It would be unfair if grants were handed out to an industry on the basis of need, when that need had arisen, perhaps, from a lack of thrift in the past, whereas an industry which had set aside money for training was told that it did not have need and would not get a grant. That might happen unless the Minister were able to give some sort of guidance and perhaps write something in the Bill to indicate the circumstances in which grants might be given.

In that respect I should like to ask one specific question of the noble Viscount. When he was talking about what I might call discipline, he suggested that a firm which did not follow the advice of the industrial training board in regard, say, to the giving of day release to apprentices, or whatever it might be, could have pressure brought to bear upon it by having its grant withheld. I could not find in the Bill any provision for either the Minister or the industrial training board to make a grant to a firm, except in the case of a board making a grant in respect of expenditure incurred on training. Will the noble Viscount explain when he replies what could be withheld as a sanction against a firm which did not follow the advice of a board? I do not want to detain the House any longer, and I apologise for bringing in that one extraneous point, but I felt that it was important to find out now. I join with all other noble Lords who have spoken in this debate in warmly welcoming this Bill.

7.5 p.m.


My Lords, the debate up until this moment has been concerned, quite naturally, mainly with urban matters and with the problems of great industries, and also with commerce. I hope your Lordships will not object if I ask you to turn your minds to the problems of the countryside as they are affected by this Bill. I say "countryside" advisedly, because there are many problems there which are not solely agricultural.

In the first instance I shall deal with agriculture and the need for increasing the facilities for the training of new entrants into the agricultural industry. I do not think there is any need to underline the fact that if we are to have the type of agriculture which will continue in the years to come to make the sort of contribution to the national economy which it h as made in the past, we need to have, to an increasing extent, trained workers. I a the not very far distant past—which many of your Lordships will undoubtedly remember, as I do myself—a farm had a certain number of skilled workers, stockmen, horse keepers, and possibly the odd tractor driver. They had their degrees of skill, and some of them considerable skill; but there were many men who were just ordinary farm workers.

That situation has gone entirely, and to-day there is scarcely a farm of any size where every man is not a skilled man—whether that skill is involved in looking after livestock or taking care of complex, expensive machinery, or whether it is in the newer techniques of controlling weeds and pests by chemical means. So it is manifest that, if we are to have a modern and up-to-date agricultural industry, we must have the means of training the new entrants into the industry so that they may become experts in their job. This need applies no less to agriculture than to the other forms of industry—matters which we heard so admirably described in a splendid maiden speech by my noble friend Lord Bowden.

When it comes to new entrants into the industry, if one looks at the statistics one sees that agriculture is not doing at all badly. There is in agriculture a larger proportion of young men under 20 years of age than, on average, in other industries. The average throughout the whole of the country in regard to workers under 20 is 10 per cent. of the total labour force. In agriculture the percentage is 16. Therefore, farmers employ a larger proportion of young men than do other industries. But the disquieting factor is not that agriculture does not attract young men, but that it does not retain them. If one looks at the figures one sees, as the men get older, something very different indeed. In the last eleven years the labour force in agriculture as a whole has dropped by some 30 per cent., but the age group between 25 and 44—in other words, the people who should be at their greatest productive capacity and becoming the specialists—has dropped, not as the whole agricultural force has dropped, by 30 per cent., but by 46 per cent.

It is manifest that although agriculture attracts a higher proportion than other industries attract at the younger ages, they drift away far more rapidly than they do from many other industries. That is something which should cause us grave disquiet. If we are not careful we shall be faced in another twenty years with an industry where the average age is far higher than it is in other industries. That cannot be good for the country or for agriculture itself.

I am glad to say that steps have already been taken, to remedy this to some extent. There is the agriculture apprenticeship scheme. There are many difficulties involved in it and there are many special problems of agriculture with which I shall not weary your Lordships, but I would pay tribute to those who have been interested in this scheme and who have given a great deal of time and effort to it. But, for all that, the results are lamentably small. Out of 18,000 in the age group 15 to 16 entering the industry there are only about 500 who go in under the apprenticeship scheme; in other words, something under 3 per cent. of the young men in agriculture are in any way formally apprentices. I know that there are a good many, and I have them on my own farms, who are in fact undergoing a period of training, and I think that is of some value. But it would be of far more value if the apprenticeships were more formal and coupled with the training on the farm itself, with the day releases or the week releases or whatever it may be, adding to the knowledge of agriculture by classroom work, by practical demonstrations, and by some academic adjuncts to the actual field work.

There are many reasons why this figure is so small, but it is quite apparent that one of the reasons is that there has not been enough push behind this scheme to get people into it. That is borne out by the fact that, where there are people specially engaged to encourage the farm apprenticeship scheme, the results are truly remarkable. The Industrial Apprenticeship Council made a grant, a very small grant but a grant for which the industry is grateful, of £3,000 a year for three years starting in 1961. That was matched pound for pound by the National Farmers' Union who, together with the two unions involved with agricultural workers, have put a great deal of very commendable effort into this apprenticeship scheme. So there has been between £9,000 and £10,000 over the last three years available to promote the scheme, and in three areas there have been organisers appointed to promote it.

The results are of very considerable interest and significance. In one area where there has been an officer appointed to promote this scheme, whereas in the year before he was appointed there were 53 apprentices per annum coming into it, there is now an average of 145 apprentices; in the second area the figure was 25 and has risen to 80; and in the third area it was 36 and has risen to 82. If your Lordships look at the various counties where these officers have been at work, perhaps you will find the figures are even more striking. I would remind your Lordships that the national average for apprentices in agriculture is just under 3 per cent., yet in Bedfordshire where there is an organiser the average is 26.4 per cent.; in Cambridgeshire—I am glad to see that my own county is second in the league table here—it is 24.7 per cent.; in Warwickshire it is 18.1 per cent.; in Huntingdonshire it is 16.2 per cent., and so on.

In every county where there is an organiser paid under this voluntary scheme, there is a very significant increase in the number of apprentices; and in those counties where there is no such officer they are well below the national average of 3 per cent. So I do urge upon Her Majesty's Government that they should learn the lesson from this very small field experiment and realise that, if they wish—as I believe they do, and as I believe we all do—to promote apprenticeship in agriculture, it is essential that money should be made available for encouragement and exhortation and advice, as has been done on this very small scale in the past.

I would just add one more small point, which I hope the noble Viscount, particularly in view of his past association with agriculture in a governmental capacity, and his present association with agriculture in a private capacity, will listen to with favour. This particular grant comes to an end in March. No matter how rapidly this Bill passes through its stages, it will not come into effect for some considerable time after that. I very much hope that means will be found whereby this very valuable work, which has been done in these past three years, will not go by the board during the interim period, but will somehow be carried on with Government finance, and, one hopes, also with finance from the industry itself. Because unless that is done, and unless it is pursued in a much more far-reaching way than has been done in the past, we shall find as the years go by that our agricultural labour force will not only decline in numbers—that has some good aspects to it—but alter in its constitution. There will be only the young and the old, and the really productive middle-aged will be absent, because the opportunities for the go-ahead type of young man, who is just the type wanted in agriculture, will not be there and he will look for his opportunities elsewhere.

When I started I said that I was going to deal with the rural question as opposed to the purely agricultural question. We must not forget that in the countryside there are very many industries in addition to agriculture. It is my contention that we should encourage those industries on social grounds, if for no other. We do not want to see this terrifying trend towards the cities, towards the conurbations, towards the industrial centres, continuing. We must do all in our power to see that in the countryside itself there are opportunities for employment, for earning good money, for having a good standard of living; opportunities for the ambitious, the interested, the skilled, so that they do not go away willy-nilly into the cities because there are no openings for them in the country itself.

If this trend, which is happening at the present time and has been going on for a long time, continues, we shall finish up with vast areas of urban employment, with all the horrors that Buchanan and others have described to us, with interspersed between them wildernesses of possibly uncultivated land, possibly ranched land, with just a few people living in isolated areas, who live there only because they have no alternative of going elsewhere, and who may in fact be forced to go into the cities, because all the amenities are there, where they find the schools for their children, the shops for their wives, the entertainments for themselves. That is a prospect to which none of us can look forward with any equanimity or pleasure. In order to combat that, we must in our rural areas encourage industries which are going to give opportunities for employment, valuable employment, and opportunities for the young men at present growing up in the countryside to develop the capabilities which are with in them.

There are many of these industries of a most surprising kind, and I think it would astound many people to realise what these industries are. It would probably also surprise many people to realise what a contribution these industries make not only to our home, domestic economy, but even to our export economy. Many of them specialise in types of products which have a very ready sale abroad, and that is something which should not be forgotten. We must not look upon rural industry as being purely a matter of thatchers and potters, and makers of hurdles and things of that kind. We have precision engineering as a rural industry; we have specialised brick-making; we have boat building—a rapidly growing industry; we have all types of plastic factories on a small scale, and many other industries of that kind which play a very important part in the whole of our national economy. I know that in some respects they come under the general ambit of the councils which we have already had described to us, but there are very special problems for them because of their comparative remoteness and mainly because of their very small size.

At the present time considerable effort is being expended in giving special help to these industries, and local education authorities, rural community councils in the different areas and the Rural Industries Bureau (with which I personally am very proud to be associated) have done a great deal to help the industries in every aspect, particularly in the apprenticeship side of their work. Great encouragement and assistance have in the past been given to apprentices in all these industries, and in many I have not mentioned, in the rural areas. I very much hope that the organisation as envisaged under this Bill—which I, also, in company with my noble friends, welcome—will pay particular attention to the very special problems of the rural industries; that they will not simply be lumped together with the vast industries in the cities, but will be treated, not entirely separately and specially, but so that their problems will be understood; and that they will be able to encourage into their own very small organisations the requisite number of apprentices so that, in the years to come, the industries which are situated away from the large cities—those in our country towns and in our villages—will be no less well placed than are the great factories and great industrial centres to obtain good apprentices and to carry on with well-trained young men and middle-aged men in order to promote their own efficiency.

My Lords, I think that this Bill has the beginnings of something very useful. How it will turn out depends upon how the powers which are in it are used. But, from the point of view of the countryside, both agriculture and industry, I sincerely hope that Her Majesty's Government will give particular thought and sympathy to the special problems which exist there.

7.23 p.m.


My Lords, my contribution to this debate will be very brief. I want to say one word about some of the machinery of the Bill rather than the principle: the machinery as it affects the carrying out of the principle. I share the general enthusiasm with which this Bill has been welcomed, and I need not say any more about that. But in the course of his speech, in passing, the noble Viscount, Lord Amory, emphasised the hope that local authorities, as large employers of labour, would be properly represented. That is the point that I want to elaborate in a few sentences.

The Association of Municipal Corporations has taken the closest interest in this Bill; but it is not, however, entirely satisfied with Clause 11, which deals with the establishment of a Central Training Council, and with whether that clause provides adequately for the representation thereon of local authorities, both as employers and as local education authorities. Paragraph (a) of subsection (2) of Clause 11 makes provision for consultation with employers' organisations regarding the appointment of six members, and paragraph (c) makes provision for consultation with the nationalised industries on the appointment of two members. No specific reference is made to consultations with local authority organisations as representative bodies of employers, but, prima facie, it might be supposed that the local authority associations came within the provisions of paragraph (a).

However, experience of the Ministry of Labour's practice when consulting representative employers' bodies suggests that the Association is unlikely to be consulted regarding the appointment of members under paragraph (a). I hope that the Minister can give a satisfactory assurance in this respect; but, if not, there seems to be every reason to ask for the Association to be placed in the same position as the nationalised industries, and that a new paragraph, relating to the local authority associations and analogous to paragraph (c), should be inserted.

The total number of local government employees is approaching 1½ million, excluding teachers, which is in excess of the nationalised industries taken separately and, indeed, is comparable with the nationalised industries taken together. The figures for the employees of the main nationalised industries are: gas, 126,000; electricity, 237,000; coal, 607,000; and railways, 530,000—in other words, a total of 1½ million. It may be mentioned that the interests of local authorities extend over a wide range of skilled workers in building, civil engineering, heating, ventilating and domestic engineering, electrical contracting and motor repairs. In addition, local authorities have a substantial, if not exclusive, interest in employees in parks and gardens, road workers and plant operators, street masons and paviours. The local authority employing interest in building alone is 150,000, which is probably greater than that of any single employer.

So far, I have been referring to the position of the local authority associations as employers' organisations, and I now want to say just one word in reference to their capacity as the representative bodies of local education authorities. The Association of Municipal Corporations has expressed the opinion that, having regard to the extent of the contribution which will have to be made by the education service to industrial training, the six educational members contemplated by paragraph (e) cannot adequately represent the educational interests. As the Minister of Education said in the Second Reading debate on November 20, the Bill is likely to result in a substantial increase in the integrated courses of education and training for first-year apprentices which have developed in recent years. Over 100 such courses are being provided by about 80 local education authorities in England and Wales, and they are attended by 3,000 apprentices, mainly from the engineering and construction industries. The Minister went on to say that he thought there would be a stimulus to their development as a result of the powers in the Bill, under which it will be possible for the Boards to pay grants to firms in respect of the cost of sending their apprentices to courses at technical colleges involving industrial training.

My Lords, the Association of Municipal Corporations is also anxious that the Youth Employment Service should be represented under paragraph (e), because of the link which that Service establishes between education and the industrial and commercial world. They regard the Youth Employment Service as primarily part of the education service, because throughout the greater part of the country it is administered by local education authorities; but should the Minister be prepared to give an undertaking that he will add a youth employment member under paragraph (e), apart from educational members, then, of course, the local authorities would be content. A further assurance is, however, still needed that the person appointed will be someone with practical youth employment experience. My Lords, those are the only comments I wish to make on the Bill; but I hope that the Minister will give the assurances which are asked for by the local authorities.

7.30 p.m.


My Lords, I regret that business connected with a subject that will later be under consideration by this House caused me to be absent from the Chamber when much of this discussion took place. At least in that respect the House will have the privilege of considerable restriction in the range of my comment on this Bill, lest I deal with matters that have already been covered by my colleagues. Like other noble Lords I welcome this Bill, even though it may represent only the first faltering steps towards a comprehensive industrial training. I think the greatest feature of the Bill is the recognition of the importance of manpower as an asset to this nation. Indeed, in presenting the Bill, the noble Lord did, to my great pleasure, lay great stress upon that fact. One is tempted to think that if that consideration to the manpower of this country had been given over the years, many of the industrial and economic problems we are faced with to-day would possibly not be so stark and important.

These are times when there is an increasing and justifiable interest in science; but I often think that there is a danger that people can come to believe that an army of white-coated wavers of test tubes can bring about conditions of unbounded plenty for this country. We welcome the development of science; but science alone is not sufficient to ensure the industrial development of the nation that we should like. There is need for the increasing application of science to the bench and the shop floor. That is why I welcome this Bill; because it will be a tangible step forward towards that end. We are living in a period of tremendous industrial and, indeed, commercial change; and our ability to maintain a decent rate of progress is dependent upon our capacity to adapt ourselves to new conditions. I believe that the facilities that could be, and I hope will be, afforded through this Bill will give greater encouragement and assistance in the rapidity of our adaptation to new processes and methods.

Reference has been made during the course of this debate to a system of apprenticeship. There is no doubt that in the past industrial techniques and skills were dependent on their being passed down from the old man to the young one through the process of apprenticeship. I know that it served a great purpose; and still does to-day. Nevertheless, there have been, and are increasingly to-day, considerable abuses within the system of apprenticeship. I know that many may be able to speak from practical experience of the appaling wastage that takes place because an employer uses a system of apprenticeship for the purpose of securing cheap labour for a period of years. It is necessary to develop a system of apprenticeship; but it must be a real one, one that will be adequate to meet changing conditions. The old-type apprenticeship might have been suitable in a static society; but the rate of change to-day is such that apprenticeship alone is not enough: there must go with it the facilities for providing these youngsters with technical training. I hope that it will be possible (I do not think it is within the compass of the Bill) to make the availability of such a system of technical training compulsory, so far as employers are concerned.

I know that the noble Lord opposite referred to the fact—though this is not clear in the Bill—that the Bill itself is not confined to providing training facilities for youngsters; and he emphasised the opportunities for retraining. This point I would endeavour to underline. I believe that the provision of facilities for industrial retraining is vital to-day. Many of us who are concerned with large-scale business are often greatly disturbed at the very necessary changes that have to be brought about and at the volume of redundancy. We recognise that technological change does, of necessity, create redundancy; and it becomes a moral and economic necessity to provide rapid facilities for providing retraining to make people available for the new type of job that could come along. I am told that in the United States almost every year nearly half a million people are rendered unemployed solely out of the redundancy that flows from technological change. Technological change, in itself is of economic benefit to the nation; but all these persons, unless they are provided with substantial retraining to equip them for the new jobs, can carry the weight and burden of the technological change that is brought about.

I should like to know whether or not there is power within the Bill to provide the opportunity for substantial retraining along these lines. I know that only comparatively recently in the United States a Federal Bill to deal with this situation has been introduced to make retraining compulsory. I hope that as a result of this legislation, individual firms—many of whom are doing a good job in this respect—will not restrict their individual activities because of the increasing participation of the State. I know—and I speak from personal experience in this respect—that many firms that expend considerable sums of money in providing training facilities experience poaching. Other firms come along who are spending nothing at all in this way; but they give transient encouragement to a person to go into their employment after he has secured the benefit of costly training provided by some other employer.

I am a director of a concern that employs about 55,000 people in industrial and commercial fields and it has a comprehensive training scheme. Within it, a residential school provides training over a wide area of industrial and commercial activities. A considerable number of employees, immediately after training has finished, leave the firm. Well, we cannot object to that; but at least one virtue of this Bill is that it provides the possibility that the burden of the costs of such training may be more equally shared within industry and commerce.

I would also hope that in the development of industrial training we are not losing sight of the importance of providing training facilities in commerce and in distribution. When we are considering economic costs relating to the production and distribution of an article, we often lose sight of the enormous and increasing cost there is in distribution itself. I think that is a field of activity to-day which is desperately in need of the advantages of technical training that can be encouraged under these facilities. I agree with the comment that was made by the noble Lord, Lord Milverton, with regard to the association of local education authorities. These authorities, over the years, have been the greatest single force in providing industrial training. Although it is indicated in the Bill that the Ministry of Education will be represented, so far as I can see there is no specific association of education authorities at regional level. In my opinion, that is where it is needed, and I should be glad to have some indication of whether it is proposed to bring about this closer association and, if so, how this will be achieved.

I feel sure that there will be a great increase in the demand for training as a result of this Bill and I hope that the local facilities will be available when the demand comes along, because I doubt whether even in the large industrial towns there will be ample facilities. I look upon this Bill, with all its imperfections, as a prelude to a great advance in industrial training. I believe that industrial training is something that is dynamic and should be encouraged. It is something which can make a considerable contribution to the economic development of this country and to the welfare of its workers.

7.42 p.m.


My Lords, first of all I should like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Bowden on his maiden speech, on the quality, on the contents and on the manner of its delivery. As a clerical worker who at one time had to include shorthand in his studies, the only persons I was sorry for were the shorthand-writers. Because of the speed at which his mind works and of his delivery, my noble friend's oration was remarkable, but most difficult, I am certain, even for the most expert shorthand-writers to take down. Not only do I hope that we shall hear my noble friend very often in the House, but also that he will co-operate with us on the Committee stage of this Bill, because his technical and industrial knowledge will be of tremendous help to us.

My noble friend gave me some encouragement because, in his opening remarks, he said he had some misgivings about this Bill. I have misgivings as well. I am not quite so optimistic about the outcome of the working of this Bill as was my noble friend Lord Champion, who opened the debate from this side of the House. I would join with my noble friend Lord Champion in congratulating the noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, on his introduction of the Bill. As my noble friend said, he really is the father of the Bill and his interest in it is well known. My noble friend recommended the Bill as a step forward, but later on I shall try to show that whether or not this step is worth while taking will depend upon greater enthusiasm within industry itself than has been shown up to the present time.

In industrial training, we are almost at the same stage as we are in regard to the Factory Acts. The best employers are miles ahead of anything that this Bill will ever provide. What is needed is to look after the laggards and those who try to avoid responsibility in most spheres of industrial activity. My noble friend Lord Williamson, with his vast knowledge of trade unionism and of the organisation of those industries with which he was associated, was constructively critical of the Bill and asked some very pertinent questions. I hope that the Minister (I was just going to say the Minister of Labour, forgetting where I am and the changes that have taken place recently), the noble Viscount in charge of the Bill, will be able to answer these questions. Frankly, we want to get this Bill on the Statute Book, but whether the Committee stage is extended or contracted will largely depend upon the answers given to the points raised by my noble friend. Satisfaction on these points may make it unnecessary for Amendments to be put down.

I think we all tend to speak from our own experience and background, and I do so from this box to-night. My own experience is that of a youngster who left school before he was 14 and who has always been conscious of the lack of educational opportunities he has had. Therefore, for well over thirty years of my public life I have taken more than a passing interest, as a member of a local education authority, in trying to develop the educational opportunities that have been made available to everyone over that time.

I come to this Bill, I admit, with a bias towards education and training being under the Ministry of Education and local educational authorities rather than under the Ministry of Labour. The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and my noble friend Lord Peddie referred to the need for commercial training, my noble friend particularly emphasising this need in regard to the distributive trade. Both said that part of this work is already being done by the local education authorities, and I feel that it is a question of whether or not the development of technical colleges and colleges of further education would not be a better method of tackling this problem at the present time. There are the buildings, there is the organisation, the experience of dealing with employers and of providing the educational opportunities, schemes and courses suitable to industry. There is the teaching staff. And where the technical colleges do not exist and local education authorities have been prevented to date from providing colleges of further education, the local education authorities would be only too glad to provide the facilities if grants were given by the Ministry of Education in the form of loan sanction and approval. In spite of the excellent speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, I must say that he did not convince me that there had been, or was likely to be, sufficient co-operation with the Ministry of Education and the local education authorities.

I agree most emphatically with the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, on the value of cross-fertilisation. The segregation of people within particular industries and groups might be very well in its own small way, but I am certain that, to get the best advantage of industrial training, the mixing together of students or trainees of all types within industry is a much better method. I think that a bringing together in training schemes in sections of industry which cover more than one trade is more likely to be effectively and efficiently brought about by the local education authority than through the Ministry of Labour.

My noble friend Lord Walston brought a breath of fresh air from the countryside with his reference to agriculture. Here, again, the L.E.A. already have experience in the field, and they have their agricultural colleges. Even in the most rural of counties they have some further education colleges, and there is opportunity for adult education and training. If one is going to cover a field such as agriculture, surely one ought to make the greatest use of the existing availability of buildings and skills, and, where necessary, expand those facilities, rather than try to create new buildings, new staffs and new organisations.

The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, is not in the Chamber at the moment, but I thought he put up a little special pleading for the Association of Municipal Corporations. I say that as one closely associated with local government. If local authorities, as such, are interested in training, surely the answer has been in their hands for well over fifty years.

That brings me to a further point. I think it is rather ironical that at the same time as the Robbins Report has been accepted in general terms by the Government, virtually establishing the principle that a young person should be allowed to pursue an educational course to the limit of his ability and it is the State's duty to provide the facilities, the Ministry of Labour produced this Industrial Training Bill for the "other half", as the Newsom Report refers to them, and despite the fact that there has been on the Statute Book for nearly fifty years provision for all young people to have educational facilities, at least up to the age of eighteen. For fifty years we have tried to get day release arrangements in industry accepted on a voluntary basis. My noble friend Lord Latham reminded me as I was sitting here during the debate that even a Conservative L.C.C. spent hundreds of thousands of pounds in the early days after the Fisher Act trying to educate employers in London to the day release of students.

All good employers, as I said earlier, have either made proper arrangements for the education and training of their young people or have co-operated with local authorities in doing so. But, let us face the fact now, the existing arrangements which the best employers have voluntarily entered into with local education authorities cover less than one-third of the young men and only about one in twelve of the young women. I admit straight away that there is a distinction between industrial training and day release arrangements. But one should be complementary to the other, and a firm that is prepared to co-operate in day release is the kind of firm which is watching carefully over the industrial training arrangements within its own organisation for the senior members of its staff, whether manual, technical or clerical. Legislation having failed for fifty years on a voluntary basis, I suggest it is not very likely that this Industrial Training Bill, which is only slightly more compulsory than the legislation already existing, will be such a rollicking success as the Minister of Labour thinks it will be.

The weapon which the Minister holds is that the local board should have the right to impose a levy. But here again the employer can pay the levy, but he still need not comply with any of the regulations which the board would like to impose. While he may pay, there is no guarantee, so far as I can see, that any member for whom training is desirable is likely to be released in order that training can be given. The Central Training Council have no power. Again, so far as I can see, it is only advisory, in spite of the fact that the Minister in his opening statement would have us believe that the personnel on the Council will be of quality and great notice will be taken of their opinion. I would say that the Ministry of Labour will be so anxious not to offend any employer who is defaulting that they are prepared to establish tribunals to determine appeals even against the assessment of the levy. To me, that seems to be a little weakening of the authority at the top and pandering to those who are grudgingly forced into the scheme.

I would agree that the Bill is only a framework for action. But no one knows how quickly things will happen, which industries will have boards, or when. I might put the question to the Minister: is it clear, for example, that whole categories of staff training are not envisaged for some time? En another place the Minister said that the scheme may eventually cover clerical workers. As an ex-clerical worker, I join with my noble friend Lord Peddie and the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, in asking why those associated with the clerical profession (if we may call it a profession) or those associated with commerce should not have the opportunities of training, as they have with the best employers today on the general basis for those engaged within those callings.

While there is some provision for independent members of the Council and the board, nevertheless, these disinterested parties are not allowed to vote on matters such as the levy. The Minister in his opening statement made reference to this and said, "No taxation without representation". I do not see how that applies in so far as the independent members of the board are concerned. I agree, of course, that it depends entirely on the personalities on the board how far the scheme is allowed to develop. Again, so far as I can see, it is not the duty of the Minister to get on with the job; he is merely empowered to do something, and if he does not want to be in a hurry he can make the process of consultation before making an Order as drawn out as likes. It is pretty clear that the Bill, as at present constructed, is not designed for speed.

It is not clear to me how such an industrial training board for an industry which is widely scattered over the country can possibly function effectively. Its problems and duties will be entirely local, and presumably it must have staff to carry out all its work, such as pay and allowances; to provide and plan for courses, and all the rest. One must ask the Minister (and the point was made by one noble Lord during the course of his speech this afternoon) whether or not, in view of the Ministry of Labour, plus the Ministry of Education, we are to have another bureaucratic organisation. Or will all the arrangements in regard to the Bill be in the hands of the local office of the Ministry of Labour?

With the greatest respect to the Minister of Labour, and to the Minister in charge of the Bill in this House, to me this is a half-baked scheme which has not been properly worked out with the Minister of Education, and certainly not with local education authorities who would normally, as I suggested earlier do this sort of job, and have had experience of it over a long period of time. By this I mean that not only are local education authorities doing the educational work normally expected in technical training, but in many instances they are carrying out industrial training as well. The note I made before coming into the House to-day was that I should give an example of my own home town. But as the organisation itself has already been referred to by my noble friend Lord Champion, we can show the example now. My noble friend referred to I.C.I. and to the wide range of various trades within the organisation. I.C.I., which is established at Welwyn Garden City, has arrangements with the local education authority not only for day release but also for the training of its apprentices. Of course it makes a large contribution to the cost of the scheme. I suggest that where the employer is willing and anxious that there should be a scheme, this type of organisation is much more likely to be readily adaptable throughout the country than the one set up under this Bill.

Having said all that—and there is a great deal more detailed criticism that I could add—I have to admit that the Bill can be regarded, as my noble friend Lord Champion said earlier in the debate, as a step forward. But that will be so only if there is the will and the determination to make it work. But what ought to be written into the Bill much more vigorously, I think, is that there should be the closest collaboration with the education authorities, and that it should be accepted by a board that part of its schemes should be for adequate release from industry of all young people under the age of 18 in order that they may pursue their educational studies, in addition to any industrial training that is carried on. Those arrangements could be within industry or by arrangements with the boards direct. If this is not done, it will be possible for boards so to construe their responsibility that we shall be back 50 years in our approach to the problem of education and the training of young people.

I was reminded, when making these notes, of the words of the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, when speaking in this House the other day. I have not his exact words, but I do not think that in paraphrasing them I shall do him any injustice. As I remember his words, they were that he had never met parents who took their son away from a public school at 15 and sent him to work. Parents who can afford the fees keep their children in full-time education until the age of 16, 17 or even longer. I would suggest that what is right for children from one kind of home is surely right for all children. After all, we are not asking to go as far as the noble Viscount, Lord Eccles, would go. We are asking only that those in industry under the age of 18 should have some consideration given to their educational needs. The basic educational needs are vital, because, although it is true, as the noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, said in his opening speech, that we are to have the school-leaving age raised to 16 in 1970, that is six years ahead, and a lot of water will go under the bridge before then. It has been my experience, in knocking around with youngsters in the educational field, that you cannot put old heads on young shoulders; and this is so often true. It is not until the youngsters, whether boys or girls, have got into the workshop that they really begin to realise what education means, and what they are missing in not having been able to continue their education. If they are to get the full value out of industrial training, then there must be that excellent grounding in normal educational subjects—and particularly mathematics, in engineering.

Here is this Bill, and here is an opportunity to insist, from this side of the House, that the Government have been shirking the issue. If this Bill goes through, we will try to get something worth while out of it, even if it is only to make the Government once again commit themselves—as many Governments have done since the Fisher Act of 1918—that the children under the age of 18 have a right to education for their own sake, and not merely to industrial training in order to satisfy the avarice of the nation. I must admit that I have been a little critical. We have become used, particularly with this Government, to being thankful for even half a loaf. But whether this half a loaf will be effective will depend on the power of the Ministry of Labour, and the organisation which is set up under it, to convince those laggard employers who over the last 50 years have failed to do so that they should take advantage of the educational opportunities that have been available on the Statute Book.

8.9 p.m.


My Lords, I must admit that the last speech, so far as I was concerned, was the most depressing speech concerning the merits of the Bill that we have listened to throughout this debate. The noble Lord finished his speech by saying that he had got used to accepting half a loaf, but he also talked about the whole Bill being "half-baked". I think I can confidently say that the Bill will prove far more digestible to him than he felt when he was speaking. I feel that it has been a good debate because many useful contributions have been made, and I think the fact that a vast majority of speakers from both sides of the House welcomed the Bill shows that it has more merits than perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, who wound up for the Opposition, indicated.

Talking about contributions, I know that the whole House will agree with me that the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, in his maiden speech, was something with which we were greatly impressed. I enjoyed listening to him, and he must not despair for one second that I do not agree with every word that he said. I do not wish to be controversial at this moment, and I hope that his contribution was the forerunner of similar speeches which I know will be heard with respect and interest by both sides of the House. I might make one comment on his speech. I would tell him that there is nothing in the Bill to prevent the use of television, correspondence courses or teaching machines or other modern teaching techniques, so that hope those who will be responsible for running the boards will listen to the wise words he used, and will see that, so far as methods are concerned, all the latest and most modern techniques are used.

The noble Lord, Lord Champion, who opened the debate, was kind enough to make a personal reference to my paternal position. I think I could be said to be part-father to some of the ideas behind this Bill, and therefore I am grateful to him and to other noble Lords for their kindly remarks. The noble Lord, Lord Champion, also asked whether the costs of the training boards would be met fifty-fifty by industry and Government. I did explain earlier that the main part of the cost would be met by industry. The amount of both the industry's contribution and the Government's contribution will have to be worked out, in consultation with each board as it is set up and as it formulates its plans.

The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, also raised this point: and he thought that more detail on this should be given at an earlier stage. But I must tell him that I cannot at this stage be more explicit, although, as I indicated in my opening speech, the £50 million limit is a broad indication of the Government's intention to make a significant contribution. The conversations for the setting up of the first boards are already in course of being arranged, and we shall be able to say more about them when the plans for these individual boards are agreed.

The noble Lord, Lord Champion, asked whether the Central Training Council would forecast the requirements and make sure that each board did suffi cient training to meet them. I am quite sure that the Council will, in fact, perform a very valuable co-ordinating rôle, but I think I must make it clear—and I hoped I had done so in my opening speech—that the responsibility for ensuring that sufficient training is done must rest securely with the boards themselves; and they will, of course, co-operate with the N.E.D.C. and the Ministry of Labour manpower unit in making the assessments the noble Lord had in mind.

My noble friend Lord Amory referred to the Training Council, as did the noble Lord, Lord Williamson. Although, for the reasons I mentioned in introducing the Bill, the Council will be advisory and not executive, it is intended that its functions should be wide, and (this is, I think, of particular interest to the noble Lord, Lord Williamson), that its influence should be made as effective as possible. Its views will be sought on the working of the boards of the various industries, and particularly on problems common to a variety of industries. Therefore, I think the Council will have a very useful effect in doing some of the co-ordination—a point which I think was worrying the noble Lord.

The noble Lord also referred to the question of inspection. Although the Bill does not mention inspectors as such, Clause 17 gives the Minister power to appoint staff. This will include the appointment of whatever inspectors are necessary to supervise the working of the boards. The boards themselves will be responsible for making sure that training given by employers for which a grant is paid is up to the standards the board has laid down.

I entirely agree with my noble friend Lord Amory, and also, I think, the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, that great care and attention must be paid to see that we are not setting up too top-heavy a machine. That is not the intention. Of course, the answer is that we must be very careful in the recruitment both of the boards and of the administrative staff. We must see that we get people of high quality—and this is certainly the intention of my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour.

As was said by the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, much of the success of this scheme will depend on the good will of both sides of industry. Right from the very start this measure has had the good will of both sides of industry, and I am certainly not pessimistic that that good will will not continue to be forthcoming. I should like to take up one point made by the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, which was that there had been a great lapse of time since the Carr Committee recommendations. And he referred to the change of mind and atmosphere which had made this Bill possible. The noble Lord is a good friend of mine and I am sure he will not disagree with me when I say that as late as 1960, when I was Minister of Labour, I dared to say that the Carr doctrine was not perhaps as perfect as it was made out to be; and when I dared to say that the Government did have responsibility for these things there were certain people on both sides of industry who told me that I ought to mind my own business.


You did not.


I did not—that is why we have this Bill.


I am sure you did not get that from the trade union side.


I do not want to mention names, but I think there were names very close to the noble Lord. I will not say to whom they belonged.

I think also that the House will surely agree with what the noble Lord, Lord McCorquodale of Newton, said: that we should not run ourselves down too much—the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, also made reference to this point—and that where our training is good, it is very good indeed. One can go to so much of industry—I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, who mentioned the Coal Board, and I could mention some of the great engineering firms and some of the major chemical firms and so on in this country—where we have an absolutely first-class training system which I think compares with anything else in the world. The whole problem is to try to level up the bad to a far higher level than they reach at the moment.

Perhaps I should have made this clearer in my opening speech, but I wish to pay tribute to the Industrial Training Council, whose powers are admittedly somewhat limited but who have done a very good job indeed. What is more, there is certainly no intention of curtailing the efforts of the training advisory service which the Industrial Training Council has set up.

The noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, I think was quite right to stress the importance of the commercial as well as the industrial side of training. He made it quite clear that he realised that the commercial side, as well as the industrial side, is mentioned in the Bill. I will certainly see that his suggestion for a separate board to deal with commercial training is put to my right honourable friend. I noticed that this suggestion had considerable support from the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, and one or two other noble Lords who spoke.

The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, asked me a specific question about what the likely arrangements were going to be so far as the ports were concerned. Should the Minister of Labour, in consultation with both sides of the ports industry, come to the conclusion that a training board should be set up, nothing will have been lost if the National Ports Council have been active in this field meanwhile. In fact, I would say that the more they do, the better it will be. On the other hand, it may prove to be the case that for the ports industry, with their very special characteristics, which the noble Viscount recognises exist, the National Ports Council and the National Docks Labour Board are the most appropriate bodies to deal with the matter. In that event my right honourable friend would doubtless be happy to see these two get on with the job. But I think, this is a matter which must be worked out and thought out, and the noble Viscount must not necessarily conclude that some special arrangements will not be made for the ports industry.

I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, who said that Lord Walston had brought a breath of country air into the debate. That, I naturally welcomed. He talked about the farm apprenticeship scheme. I think he was right to point out the fact that there had been disappointments as to the number of employers who had been taking on apprentices in the farming industry, and the figures he gave for certain counties showing that they were very much higher than the national average were very interesting, and I know they are truthful ones because this matter gave me considerable concern when I was Minister of Agriculture in a former age.


It cannot have been a former age.


It seems a former age, about five years ago. I cannot say much more at this time on agriculture because I think the noble Lord probably knows that at this moment the industry are discussing with my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour the future of the apprenticeship scheme. But I will certainly see that my right honourable friend's attention is drawn to the speech that the noble Lord made. I think the noble Lord would agree that the main emphasis in the last five years has been on the development of courses for young workers in the industry. Over that period the number of employees released one day a week to take classes has risen from 2,000 to nearly 7,000, and it is expected to rise still further as employers begin increasingly to realise the benefits of this form of education. I think this gives a slightly more balanced picture than concentrating entirely on the apprenticeship scheme, important as I personally think that is.

The noble Lord, Lord Milverton, and the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, raised the question of local authorities, and the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, was rather scathing in some things he said. I think it is right that a great many local authority employees are liable to be brought within the scope of the board, and that therefore local authorities will in any event have an important contribution to make on the Council. But I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Milverton (who regretted that he could not stay), and the noble Lord, Lord Peddie, that my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour will give very careful consideration to the points they have made.

I do not want to detain your Lordships any longer, except to conclude as I started by saying I think it has been a very good and useful debate. I am most grateful for the courtesy shown and the contributions that have been made, speaking as I do, both opening and winding up, for the Government. Quite generally, we feel on the Government side that there is going to be a far closer partnership between education authorities and the Ministry of Labour than I think the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, imagined. This is going to be a real partnership on the Government side, and having got the Government side right, I think that once we get these boards in action we are definitely going to see a real and proper partnership in industry between Government, education authorities and both sides of industry.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.