HL Deb 03 March 1964 vol 256 cc36-48

4.5 p.m.

Report of Amendments received (according to Order).

LORD SHEPHERD moved, after Clause 2, to insert the following new clause:

Provision for industrial training courses etc. by the B.B.C. or the I.T.A.

". Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in the Television Acts 1954 and 1963 or any other enactment an industrial training board may make grants or loans to the British Broadcasting Corporation or the Independent Television Authority to enable them to provide courses or other facilities for the training of persons employed or intending to be employed in the industry for which that industrial training board is established under the provisions of section 1 of this Act."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Bowden, who, I regret, is not able to be with us this afternoon, I beg to move the first Amendment on the Marshalled List. On Second Reading the noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, said that this Bill relates to men, women, boys and girls employed in industry and commerce throughout the country. The noble Lord, Lord Bowden, in his very notable maiden speech, drew attention to the estimates made by Professor Stone of Cambridge that by 1970 we should need approximately 1½ million more skilled men than we have to-day and, I thought perhaps more significantly in view of the fears of redundancy in industry throughout the country, that 1,400,000 unskilled jobs would disappear.

He drew attention to the fact—and I do not think there would be any dispute about it on any side of the House or on either side of industry—that if we are to achieve the major breakthroughs in industry which we all wish to see, and if we are to avoid large-scale and permanent unemployment, we must devise some system by which persons may obtain industrial training, whether it be in a factory or in an office, and this should be a continuing process. The noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, when he introduced this Bill, admitted that the previous arrangements for industrial training have largely failed, and now we have the Bill containing the Government's proposals. I believe, like my noble friend Lord Champion, that there is much in this Bill which will make it possible to achieve considerable industrial training.

But I wonder whether the figures that were given by the noble Lord, Lord Bowden, really showed the full picture. I believe that there will be a continuing demand by men and women, particularly as we have the growth of education—and I am sure there is a strong desire for young people to continue their education—that we should endeavour to provide a flexible and an interesting way of giving training and further education. Even if we take the figures of Professor Stone, it is obvious that the Government and the local authorities would hardly be able to provide colleges or schools sufficient for these numbers. It would be extremely difficult to find the number of teachers required. Certainly the capital cost for buildings and facilities would be beyond our present means, particularly when we consider the demands that Robbins and Newsom will make upon the Exchequer.

As my noble friend said on Second Reading, we have this medium of television and radio. Television is relatively new, particularly in the field of education; but it is an undoubted fact, and I think it has been fully accepted within the schools, that sound radio has played a very important part in education, and also in adult education. Television is a new medium. It is far more powerful than sound. What we seek in this Amendment is to make it possible—it is purely permissive—for the new industrial boards to have the opportunity to use this new medium of television for industrial training, and by industrial training we have in- mind not only the factory training and the use of equipment but also commercial training and the use of foreign languages.

As I understand it, there will be nothing between the noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, and ourselves in this matter. In fact, he said in his winding-up speech on Second Reading that he hoped the boards would take note of the wise words of the noble Lord, Lord Bowden. Nor do I believe that there is anything between us in regard to the use of television, whether it be the British Broadcasting Corporation or the Independent Television Authority. Here we have a modern method of teaching, and I think the Government themselves would wish it to be used.

But I think there are two difficulties in this matter. First, industrial training, whether it be for the factory or for commerce, will for us be relatively new. If it is to succeed, a considerable amount of research will have to be undertaken, not only by the boards but also by the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. As I understand it, the B.B.C. are already fully stretched in regard to their finances, and it will be difficult for them to put aside fairly considerable sums of money which will be required initially for research into this matter. In the case of the I.T.A., it might well be that they have a more flexible position because of the income they receive, but they may well be in a similar position later on. Therefore, having taken this step forward and having made considerable sums available to these industrial boards, we feel that if the boards wish to use this medium—and, of course, if the B.B.C. and I.T.A. themselves are prepared to co-operate and to develop these services—the boards should be in a position to make grants or loans to either body for research into the use of this medium.

But having achieved that, there is such a wide field for exploitation in television, particularly if available in the mornings, that in the mere putting forward and the compiling of programmes we should again be in the same position as in regard to research. The B.B.C. would not, within their own budget, be able to provide the large sums that would be necessary to make use of this medium; and no doubt the same could be said of I.T.A. Therefore, we have drafted this Amendment which would make it permissible for boards to enter into agreements with the two corporations, so that they can provide courses and other facilities for the training of persons within industry.

If it were only this narrow issue that was concerned, I do not think there would be any difference between us and the noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham. But on research into this matter we found that it was not sufficient just to amend the Bill to give the boards permissive powers to make grants. As I understand it, under the Television Acts and by their Charter, in the case of the B.B.C., these corporations are not allowed to receive sums of money in order to deal with programme content. I would submit that in this particular case there is considerable ground for breaking this principle. It is largely a question of one side of the State organisation for an important purpose contributing funds to another public corporation who can provide the service.

It may be said—and one must anticipate it—that in doing this we should be breaking a considerable principle for sound and television. But if we are to use this medium (and I think that on all sides of the House we recognise the power and strength of television for the good of the country) then we should find some way in which we can harness that power for the national good. It would seem to me that if we are to do that sooner or later this particular principle will have to be broken.

I should not subscribe—in fact, I would strongly resist it—to the idea of private capital or private funds being paid for programme content, either for the B.B.C. or I.T.A.; but I would suggest that this is rather different—indeed, quite different. Here is a case where, the State having decided that a particular service should be provided by, and not imposed upon, the corporations—because, of course, they would enter into it willingly and voluntarily—the funds necessary for that service ought to be provided. I hope that the Government will first of all accept the principle behind the Amendment. I do not suggest that the Amendment is word-perfect or will fully meet the case, but I believe that there is an overwhelming case for developing television for the national good, particularly when one takes into account the tremendous pressures for industrial training, not only in fitting people for new jobs, but also in trying to deal with great problems of redundancy which both Parties foresee following automation. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 2 insert the said new clause.—(Lord Shepherd.)


My Lords, I think your Lordships will have listened with interest and some sympathy to what the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has said. I am sure we are all sorry that Lord Bowden is not able to be with us this afternoon, because he spoke most effectively on this subject during the Second Reading of this Bill. Your Lordships may recall that I said during the debate on Second Reading that there was nothing in the Bill to prevent the use of television, correspondence courses or teaching machines in pursuance of the boards' objectives, and in the general sense that is true. A board will be free, if it chooses, to provide correspondence courses or other aids for those employed in the industry or to make payments to other organisations which will provide them on its behalf. The only limitations the Bill imposes are that courses must be provided for persons employed in the industry; and that they must meet the board's standards.

I cannot continue to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, in his argument, because in his Amendment he is seeking, as I hope I shall explain in a moment, to breach certain principles, which I could not advise your Lordships to accept without considerable thought and care. The particular proposal contained in the Amendment explained by the noble Lord was that the training boards should be able to sponsor B.B.C. or I.T.A. programmes which, in spite of what I have said, would not in principle be permitted as the Bill now stands. It is because there are two important reasons why this is so that I would advise your Lordships not to accept the Amendment that the noble Lord has put forward.

The first reason arises out of the regulation that the B.B.C. and I.T.A. are acting under certain principles which were laid down in the past, because when Parliament passed the Independent Television Act, the Government thought it right—this was agreed, I think, wholeheartedly by the Opposition at the time—to provide that the programme contractors should not be permitted to receive payments for programmes which they broadcast. One of the main purposes of this provision was to avoid what are known as sponsored programmes, that is, programmes controlled by organisations other than the broadcasting authorities, particularly under the Independent Television Act where we had advertisers in mind. A somewhat similar provision is included in the B.B.C.'s licence.

The noble Lord argued that an exception to this principle should be made in the case of the new industrial training boards. This would be a much greater step than perhaps the noble Lord contemplated when he first thought of this Amendment. There is nothing to prevent the B.B.C. or the I.T.V. from putting on a programme to teach a particular skill or to instruct in a particular subject: quite the contrary. Both organisations put out a number of educational or instructional programmes and would be perfectly at liberty to develop this side of their activities. What neither television authority can do is to receive instructions and cash payments for the programmes which it broadcasts. I suggest that this is a principle not to be lightly discarded. It is an important and possibly vital principle of broadcasting policy, even though it involves a marginal limitation of the powers of a training board.

The second reason, which is also important, why boards would not be able to make payments to television authorities is that in the normal way television programmes go out to all who are prepared to turn on their set. The noble Lord, Lord Bowden, made the point that the Americans were very impressed with the number of people who listened to educational programmes in preference to "soap opera". This means that any B.B.C. or I.T.V. programme for which a board paid would be likely to be received by large numbers not within the scope of the board; the board would therefore inevitably be spending money for purposes which it was not entitled to do. And even the new clause, as drafted by the noble Lord, would not give the board power to spend the money in this way.

I do not think the noble Lord need feel too discouraged. There are two reasons for saying this. First, the B.B.C. and I.T.V. have already shown considerable interest in educational broadcasting. The broadcasts form part of the general duty placed on the broadcasting authorities to provide programmes of education and information as well as programmes of entertainment. It will be up to the boards themselves, with these new important functions in their hands, to encourage broadcasting authorities to continue the good work which they are already doing and to persuade them to expand and do more.

Secondly, there will be nothing to stop the boards from developing the use of closed circuit television. This is an important development. Some interesting experiments in the use of this medium for teaching purposes are going on at the moment. At Kidbrooke Girls' Comprehensive School and at Warbling-ton Secondary Modern School, Havant, closed circuit television is used for giving lessons as part of the general curriculum. Mathematics is taught in this way at both schools, and at Kidbrooke geography, science, pottery and dressmaking as well. An interesting feature at both schools is an arrangement for two-way communication so that pupils can both ask and answer questions. This possibility of two-way communication would seem to make closed circuit television an appropriate means of adding these modern techniques of instruction to the curricula of the new training boards.

I would end by saying to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, that his general objectives will be achieved within the terms of the Bill as it now stands; although, for the reasons I have given, I am afraid it would not be possible for me to accept the Amendment and his suggestion that the boards should be able to finance the two authorities for the purpose he has in mind.


My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, made a strong case against sponsored programmes, but I think he also indicated that the B.B.C. and I.T.A. are not able to radiate programmes for very limited audiences. I do not think this is correct.


I am afraid the noble Lord entirely misunderstood me. What I said was that the training boards are allowed to provide money only for training people within their industry. If a particular programme were on B.B.C., the training boards would be providing money for training people outside the particular industries for which the boards were responsible.


That is a rather sad thought, because in Glasgow the ordinary commercial television service is used for post-graduate medical education one night a week late at night, with great success. Here we have an extremely limited audience being instructed by the Glasgow Post-Graduate Medical Federation over the ordinary commercial television service. I should have thought that this was a very good way of doing precisely what it is the aim of the Minister and my noble friends to do. I hope that this would not be precluded. If, for example, the boards were to set up a small unit to produce training films for radiation over the television service, I hope there would be no objection to this being done late at night in the same way that post-graduate education is given to doctors late at night.


My Lords, the suggestion made by the noble Lord is a good one, but some of us would surely take strong exception to any form of sponsored programme—a programme which was paid for. Many films for training purposes are already being produced by various bodies. A body to which I am attached, connected with hospitals, produced one the other day. Unfortunately, the B.B.C. made an awful mess of it. But such films can be produced and there is nothing against them. Provided that no fees are charged, I hope that the B.B.C. and the I.T.A. will be encouraged to put on films connected with industry and prepared by the B.B.C. or by the training boards or whoever it may be—and provided that the films are of good quality and useful to industry.


My Lords, as I suspected, in principle there is nothing between us in this matter, and I fully acknowledge the considerable work which both the I.T.A. and the B.B.C. are doing in the field of education and other matters of general interest, and from which I am sure the country as a whole benefits. If we are to make a considerable break-through in the use of television and sound radio in the national interest, taking into account the tremendous demands that will be placed on education, I consider that the resources of the B.B.C. in particular are inadequate to provide the sums required for such a service to be provided on the proper scale and of the requisite quality. I recognise the difficulties of trying to get an Amendment into the narrow scope of the present Bill, but this is a matter Parliament will have to come back to—I hope after the next Election, when, perhaps, we shall make a great stride forward in having a university of the air. I beg leave to withdrawn the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 7 [Proposals for exercise of board's functions and for levies]:

4.30 p.m.


My Lords, at the Committee stage an Amendment was moved by the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, to require the Minister to appoint new members of a board not later than six months after the Minister had made an order declaring a board to be in default. The noble Lord said at the time—and I warmly agreed with him—that we all hope the Minister will never have to use such default powers. But the noble Lord was concerned that, since the Bill does make provision for a default order and a caretaker period in certain circumstances, it should not allow that caretaker period to continue indefinitely. I think that was the point of what the noble Lord had to say. In answer to him, I agreed with his suggestion that there should be as short a period as possible before the appointment of a new board, and I offered to consider this point further. As a result of this consideration, my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour has decided that an Amendment to limit the caretaker period is desirable, and that six months is in fact the right period to fix as a maximum. This Amendment takes a rather different form from the Amendment which the noble Lord tabled at the Committee stage, but I think it does what he wanted to do.

Amendment moved— Page 7, line 15, leave out from ("board") to end of line 16 and insert ("during such period, not exceeding six months, as may elapse before new members are appointed").—(Viscount Blakenham.)


My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, has pretty fairly and fully set out the history of this Amendment during the Committee stage. He has fully met the undertaking that he gave during that stage, and I should like to place on record my appreciation of that consideration and the outcome of it.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

VISCOUNT BLAKENHAM moved, after Clause 13, to insert the following new clause:

Power of industrial training board with respect to training for employment overseas

.—(1) If the Minister so requests, an industrial training board may exercise such functions in connection with the training for employment in any activity of industry or commerce carried on outside Great Britain of persons temporarily in Great Britain as are exercisable by it under subsections (1) and (4) of section 2 of this Act in connection with the training of persons employed or intending to be employed in the industry for which the board is established.

(2) An industrial training board may delegate any power exercisable by it by virtue of this section to a committee (which need not include members of the board) appointed for that purpose or to any committee appointed under section 3 of this Act.

(3) An industrial training board shall keep separate accounts—

  1. (a) with respect to its functions under this section; and
  2. (b) with respect to its other functions under this Act;
and no money raised by a levy imposed under this Act shall be carried to an account kept in pursuance of paragraph (a) of this subsection, and any expenses and liabilities incurred by the Board under this section shall be disregarded for the purposes of sections 4(1) and 9(3) of this Act.

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, the purpose of this new clause is to enable industrial training boards, at the request of my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour, to exercise their functions in respect of overseas trainees who are not employed or intending to be employed in industry in Britain and are therefore not covered by the provisions of Clause 2 of the Bill. This clause would not in any way affect a board's duty to provide or secure the provision of training facilities for those, whether British or overseas, who are employed by firms in its industry. Of course, the great majority of overseas trainees are in fact employed in the ordinary way while undergoing training in this country, and the provisions of the Bill therefore apply to them. Boards will be able to make grants for training overseas employees, just as they will for British trainees. To that extent, overseas trainees who are employed will benefit from this Bill just as much as British trainees.

This clause deals with trainees from abroad for whom the boards have no responsibility as the Bill stands. The sort of trainees we have in mind are those who receive maintenance allowances for example, under the Colombo Plan, other regional technical assistance schemes or under the Federation of British Industries' scholarship scheme. I hope your Lordships will agree that it is very desirable that the Government should be able to use the machinery of the boards where appropriate to secure training facilities for these people and similar groups of overseas students, particularly those from the developing countries. The effect of this clause will be to enable a board, at the request of the Minister, to exercise certain of its functions under Clause 2 in respect of the sort of people I have just mentioned. This means that a board would be able to secure training facilities, and approve courses, for trainees in this category. They would also be able to make grants or loans to firms providing training for them.

There are two important points about this new clause at which I would ask your Lordships to look. First, the power is to be exercised only at the request of the Minister. A board will not be required as a matter of course to make special provision for training this category of overseas trainees; nor will it be able, on its own initiative, to propose a scheme of training for these people. The Minister, at the request no doubt of the Secretary for Technical Co-operation or the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development, would have to take the initiative in asking a board to make special arrangements of the kind that I have mentioned. This is in contrast to other provisions of the Bill which require a board to secure provision for training and to submit proposals to the Minister. That is the first point of difference.

The second point concerns finance. Where a board provides or secures training facilities for overseas persons who are not employed in the industry, the expense it incurs—including any grants it makes to employers—will not be met from the levy. These expenses will be accounted for separately and will be met by the Minister, who will in his turn be reimbursed under arrangements made with the Department of Technical Co-operation, the Board of Trade or whichever other Department may have requested the training.

My Lords, I think this is a useful Amendment. This country undertakes a great deal of training which is of great value to our friends in the developing countries, and frequently, also, to the host firm in this country. The boards will be in a good position to assist with schemes of training of this sort, and it would be a great pity if the Bill were worded in such a way as to prevent this from being done. I therefore beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 13, insert the said new clause.—(Viscount Blakenham.)


My Lords, I am sure that, certainly on this side, we all welcome this new clause. The only fault I have to find with it is that I did not think of it myself. I think it is a very good clause, and I agree with the whole intention behind it. It is certainly desirable, in relation to the emerging countries, that we should be in a position to give this training for skilled manpower which they so urgently need—even more than we do in this country. I must admit that, when I have looked at the students coming over here from some of these emerging and developing countries, it has seemed to me that they tended too often to be taking courses intended to make them lawyers, rather than scientists, technologists and skilled men in the technician grades. So we certainly accept this clause as being a very desirable and worthwhile one.

The point I had intended to ask has already been adequately covered by the noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham; that is, the amount of the levy. Clearly, there is to be a separate account, and clearly, too, as I understand it, the Minister himself, or some Ministry, will pay the board for the work that it does in this connection. If that is so, we will certainly support this Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.