§ 4.13 p.m.
§ Report stage resumed.
LORD JACQUES moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 2, line 4, after ("employers") insert ("in particular the Confederation of British Industries and the Retail Consortium").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I moved a similar Amendment at the Committee stage. The purpose was to get an undertaking from the Minister that the Government would consult the Retail Consortium, which represents employers and distribution, as well as the C.B.I., which represents employers in basic and manufacturing industry. I argued the case in detail and I was given an assurance, without commitment, that the case argued would be considered. The purpose of this Amendment is to get the noble Lord's reply after the consideration.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for the brevity with which he has moved his Amendment. I have done as I said I would, but I am still afraid that I cannot go any further on this occasion than I did on the last occasion. My Lords, the difficulty is that such an undertaking cannot be given—I am sure the noble Lord would agree with this—without some implication being conveyed that at least one of the employer members will be someone put forward by the consortium representing distribution. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, made the very fair point in Committee that he was seeking only an undertaking that the Retail Consortium would be consulted, and not that distribution should be specifically represented on the Commission or for that matter any other part of industry or commerce. I accept that, but I do not think it would be right for my right honourable friend the Secretary of State to give an undertaking that he would consult the consortium unless it was likely, to put it at the lowest, that he would appoint at least one member in the light of that consultation. I regret that I cannot give such an assurance as I do not think it would be right for me to give such an impression.
851 I also feel that if I did give such an assurance other interests would feel that they had an equal right—possibly an even better one—to similar treatment. I also suggest to the noble Lord that it would be wrong to set about the selection of the members of the Commission in that way. We have already said to-day that we need as members people with knowledge and experience so as to survey the country's manpower needs as a whole. Obviously, it would not be, possible for every interested group to be represented, but what matters is the general calibre of members and their ability to provide effective leadership for the development of the employment and training purposes. I am not saying for one minute that the Retail Consortium could not offer anyone of the right calibre; I am only saying that for the reasons I have given it would not be right to give this assurance that the Retail Consortium will be consulted. All I can do is to repeat, which I do gladly, the assurance I gave last time, that if the consortium wish to put their views to the Secretary of State about membership of the Commission he will, of course, take the fullest account of them. I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to rest on that, and that in that way he, as no doubt will many others, will be sending their views to the Secretary of State.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 2 [Functions of the Commission and Agencies]:
§ 4.17 p.m.
LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 4:
Page 3, line 15, after ("persons") insert ("other than school leavers").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, may I suggest to your Lordships that it would be convenient to discuss with this Amendment Amendments Nos. 5, 6 and 11. I beg to move the first of those Amendments and will, during the course of my remarks, explain why I think it would be helpful if we took these Amendments together.
My Lords, the theme of these Amendments is, in fact, the happiness and satis-
faction at work of the whole of the working population—no less than that. In my view, every human being can make a useful contribution to the community and one that will give her or him great satisfaction and happiness throughout the majority of their waking hours. We must remember that the greater part of most people's waking hours is spent at work. We have discussed this matter on a previous occasion, and I was most moved by what the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, had to say then, with great depth of understanding and great felicity of expression. He said,
The really important division in life is between those whose work is part of their life and those whose work is a hostile and evil intrusion into their lives.
That is a very moving statement. It impinges precisely on these Amendments.
§ As to the suggested Amendment to Clause 8, I am privileged to say that I am by no means alone. What I am seeking here is to promote the best possible machinery for enabling a human being to find, through the right job, a unity between life and work. How is one to perform this enormously important and valuable task? I suggest that it can only be done by the truly sympathetic understanding and skilled advice of fully trained and experienced careers advisers of the kind that are provided by the local education authorities. It is in that way that the long-term benefit to the individual is given priority over the immediate cash gain. It is through that kind of service that the emphasis is placed on guidance rather than on immediate placement. It is the Youth Employment Service which provides the former; it is the employment services under the Manpower Commission which provides the latter.
§ I do not think there is any difference between the Government and those of us who would like to see the Bill amended in this way as to the kind of service that the local education authorities give through their careers officers, or the value of it. Our difference with the Government is that they believe that a choice should be given for a young person either to take the advice or consult the local education authority or to go to a job placement centre and be placed in a job which is no doubt needed. One can imagine at the moment, for example, 853 great pressure being put on an employment centre to fill vacancies in the digging of the necessary early work foundations of some building that is urgently required—it may even be required for a Government Department. One can well imagine the kind of pressure that will be put on the employment centre to find healthy young people to take their jackets off, roll up their sleeves and get on with the job, and, incidentally, earn a very substantial monetary reward immediately. One can well understand that. Whether that is in the best long-term interest of the happiness of the individual is an entirely different matter. One ought to be free of that pressure. One ought to be able to consider solely the long-term benefit and happiness of the young person concerned.
§ That is why I am saying in these Amendments that we ought not to have that kind of choice, an unreal choice, because one knows what kind of choice will be made; it is too easy. So I am suggesting a series of Amendments because we are now at the Report stage and I am anxious to do business with the Government; not to go on making speeches or indeed to go on winning Divisions in the Division Lobby, but to do business. We are getting very near the final stage and I want to try to find something that the Government will accept. Therefore, I thought it wise to put down alternative Amendments in ascending order of preferability, so far as I am concerned, and descending order of acceptability, I imagine, so far as the Government are concerned.
The first Amendment removes the choice by restricting the Manpower Services Commission in their work in respect of school leavers alone. Surely the Government would not want to duplicate their services so far as school leavers are concerned. They are at school; they have already no doubt been consulting careers masters, and are in the general ambience of school activities. So I repeat that there can be no administrative reason why that service should be duplicated so far as school leavers are concerned. Surely for them at least the best longterm advice is the only one that ought to be available, and not alternative short-term advice. But, if the Government would be willing to go one step further, I would prefer that we should exclude
from the Manpower Services Commission those persons who are looked after by the local education authorities in the Bill. In the Bill under Clause 8(1)(a) we find the services which the education authorities shall provide, and they make arrangements for persons
who are attending, either full-time or part-time, educational institutions";
and those are the persons who therefore should be looked after by the careers services of education authorities, not duplicated by the Manpower Commission.
§ If, however, the Government were prepared to go one step further to the ideal solution, that would be that the choice should be withdrawn from the categories of persons whom we have just discussed, and in addition from persons under the age of 18 who have been in full-time employment for less than twelve months. The argument there is simple and straightforward: if you have recently left school or some educational institution and you have obtained a job and it has not proved satisfactory—you have been in it for three, four or five months—and you are still under 18, you cannot, by virtue of having been in employment for such a short period, be able to know enough about your own qualities, about the opportunities of the world, about the long-term benefit, to make your choice unaided. Therefore, it is sensible that those persons as well should consult the careers officers of the local education authority alone; and in that case we should need Amendment No. 11 in order to add those responsibilities to the local education authorities. That is why I have offered the Government alternative ways, I repeat, in ascending order of preferability so far as I am concerned. I very much hope that the Government will accept, if not the third, then the second, and if not the second then at least the first of these Amendments.
§ There is no need for me to remind your Lordships that this matter was discussed on a previous occasion and that there was an equality of votes. The Amendment was not therefore made. But to an intelligent Government, such as we have, equality of votes means that there are wide feelings of all kinds in your Lordships' House, and of course there is very strong feeling outside your Lordships' 855 House. I understand that this exclusion of choice—in other words, that the responsibility should be that of the local education authorities alone—has recently been supported again by resolutions of the local authority associations and of the Education Committees Association, and by the National Youth Employment Council. I would remind your Lordships that the Bill as at present drafted provides the sole example in all our administration of a service's being duplicated at local level and at national level—so far as I know the only one: a most curious and wasteful and extravagant duplication. So I repeat: we have been over this ground before and I do not need to delay your Lordships further. It is a most important matter. It is clearly not a Party political matter. It is a matter affecting the happiness of all young people. I hope the Government will reconsider the position, and I beg to move.
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ BARONESS MASHAM OF ILTON
My Lords, I should like to support these Amendments because they assure that young people will have the very best service possible. I think that one really good youth service, which has people working for it who have a special interest and dedication for young people, is better than two services which, as I said at the Committee stage, will only confuse the less able people who will not know which to attend. Because no Hansard is available to read the answer the Government gave at the Committee stage, I now cannot recall whether they gave one to this question. I should like to ask the Minister what extra cost will be involved if careers officers are employed for both Agencies, the Manpower Commission and the Youth Employment Agency; also, what will be the extra cost of the duplication of files and information and telephone calls between the two Agencies.
In the Red Cross Society, to which I belong, we have always had difficulty in the transition of cadets to the senior members. Those branches which have good active youth officers are the most successful. I think I am right in saying that Britain is the only country in Europe which does not have national service. 856 This is a period during which young people can think what they are going to do with their lives when they return home. Also, while in most other European countries many young people stay at school longer, we seem to want to push our young people out into adult life in too great a hurry. Growing up will always be a difficult time. The Youth Employment Service is by no means their only way of obtaining jobs; they may answer advertisements and apply by private contact. Therefore I see even less cause for two Government agencies.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, I too wish to support these Amendments, although my name is linked with Amendment No. 11. There is little that I wish to add at this stage; I spoke at length during the Committee stage, and I am sure that if Hansard had been available all noble Lords would have been convinced by the argument put up by those who supported the Amendment, just as I am afraid I was not convinced by the argument adduced by my noble friend Lord Gowrie. So far as I recollect, he never answered my point about the dual provision of resources, and I cannot for the life of me understand why the Government are so keen to spend money twice over. Goodness knows! they were in a state last week when the question of spending £3 million on free contraceptives was raised, and I imagine that the dual services will cost a little more than that.
Much argument was made, as I thought it would be, about the question of freedom of choice. My noble friend, Lord Gowrie, went on about this at length. I am afraid I cannot see why there should be this choice for a tiny minority. We are speaking only about the age group, 16 to 18. There is certainly no choice before the age of 16, because we do not say to young people, "You may go to school, or you may not go to school, as you wish." Nor do I think there is a great deal of choice later in life: they will either have to go to the Manpower Services Commission or they will not. So I cannot see why for these two years there should be so much emphasis on the costly doubling of provisions.
There is one other thing that worries me. I agree entirely with what has been 857 said by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, about the actual effect this will have on the young people, and also the effect it will have on the Youth Employment Service. I am sure it will weaken that Service, and I imagine that this may be one of the reasons for the Bill. I cannot believe that an employer will bother to go to two different agencies. If he is going to an agency I should have thought he was much more likely to go to the Manpower Services Commission than to the local authority agency. I also feel that there is bound to be a lack of feedback of information about young people who would leave the Youth Employment Service and go to the Manpower Services Commission. I do not think those records will get back to the Youth Employment Service, yet it is most important that such records are available—records of success and of failure in the placement of young people—because after all, it is only by knowing how young people get on that a better service can be provided for those who will be placed in the future. I hope the Government will give way on at least one of these Amendments, although I should like to see them give way on them all.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, may I first apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, for not being in my place when he moved the Amendment; I was under an irresistible physical compulsion to leave the Chamber for a few moments and during those few moments Lord Diamond rose to his feet so I missed his introductory remarks. I rather gather that he has put before the House a kind of Dutch auction, and I should like to associate myself with my noble friend Lord Swinton, who has just spoken. I very much hope that the Government can be persuaded to pay the higher price rather than the lower price and to accept the Amendment to Clause 8, rather than an earlier one. I very much hope that they will be able to meet in some measure the very cogent arguments that were put to them during the previous stage of the Bill.
It is not my intention, any more than it is of any other noble Lord or noble Baroness to repeat the arguments that were used at the Committee stage, except in this one respect. Two things seem to me to be apparent as a result of my experience as chairman of the Youth 858 Employment Council for five or six years. The first is that young people fresh from school need some help other than the help they can get from what used to be called the employment exchange. They need help from people who know their background, who know their circumstances and who know their families; and that is what the Youth Employment Service has provided until now.
The second point I wish to make is this. On the whole, the people about whom we are thinking to-day are those less well equipped to face the world. The abler children find a job and stick to it. It is the children who are less able who may encounter difficulties. They probably make a mistake in their first job: as the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, said, they go into a highly paid job, which in the long run will end only in their unhappiness. But it is these jobs which, unless special attention is given to them, can make a youngster into a sort of shuttlecock between one dead-end job and another. In such cases there is no chance for children to have socially satisfactory and happy lives, unless at this particular age they get special treatment.
The position to-day is that these boys and girls are going to a job; they lose that job, and they go for their unemployment benefit to the careers office under the local education authority. There they are dealt with by somebody they have always known from their school days. Under this proposal they will go to the employment exchange (or whatever it is now called) and get their benefit and will be sucked into the general stream of unemployment, as I am afraid in many cases it is. I think that all of us who have experience of the Youth Employment Service know what a very real job it has done. As my noble friend Lord Swinton said, the cost of maintaining it as it is to-day can be only infinitesimal, and it seems to me that to achieve a certain tidiness of bureaucracy—though in fact it is not so tidy after all—and to achieve probably a minimum of economy, we are throwing away an instrument which has in the past proved of tremendous value. If we do that, we shall be doing something that is both foolish and inhuman.
§ 4.39 p.m.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
My Lords, your Lordships have set an admirable 859 example of brevity at this Report stage and it rather embarrasses me that I am about to break this and make a speech which is a little longer than I should like. The reason for this is that obviously I failed to convince noble Lords in Committee—indeed, my noble friend Lord Swinton has mentioned this. I have gone over what I said during the Committee stage: I have tried to extend it, to make it more forcible and clearer, but I must tell noble Lords that I am convinced that these Amendments are misconceived. I believe that the Government's case in resisting them is altogether a case of merit rather than of policy commitment as such. I hope the House will bear with me if I try to justify this belief through careful argument. I just say at this preliminary stage that of course I share altogether the sentiments expresed by my noble friend Lord Coleraine in Committee and echoed by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, this afternoon. Indeed, I expressed the same sentiments myself rather less elegantly on Second Reading.
Perhaps I may touch first of all on the fourth of this group of Amendments which gives local education authorities a specific duty to provide a career service to all those under 18 years of age who have been in full-time employment for less than 12 months. This is identical with one of the Amendments we discussed in Committee. To recall briefly what I said then—I will try not to repeat myself—the Bill already gives local education authorities the power and duty, as far as the Secretary of State directs, to provide a service to these young people. No one, I think, has suggested that local education authorities will in fact fail to provide a service to young people, and the Government have made quite clear their intention that L.E.A.s should provide this service so that in the unlikely event of any L.E.A. choosing not to provide such a service, the Secretary of State would certainly use his power of direction to require it to do so.
It follows—and I do not think any noble Lord disputed this in Committee—that the Amendment would make little or no change in the effect of the Bill as regards the scope of the local education authority service. If I may say so, I think that my noble friend Lord Coleraine 860 came perilously close to suggesting this a few moments ago. I can assure him that that is not the case.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt my noble friend who is always so courteous, but if I did come perilously close to that danger which he described, it is simply because I disputed in Committee, and I still dispute, the theory that school-leavers, people within this age group, have freedom of choice. If one maintains the L.E.A. service, and at the same time makes such arrangements as will ensure in my opinion that it will never be used, this is not maintaining an L.E.A. service in any real sense.
THE EARL or GOWRIE
My Lords, my noble friend will be aware, so far as this side of the House is concerned, that the Government rest a lot of their case, or a considerable part of their case, on the issue of choice; but it would be quite wrong to think that this is the only consideration that we have been bearing in mind. Perhaps as I develop my argument the other, equally important considerations will come to the fore.
We feel that these Amendments have a quite different effect. They are directed against the proposed Commission; the purpose is to prevent the Commission from providing a service to certain groups of young people. The first three of this group of Amendments each seeks to exclude a different group of young people, and I should like to say a little more in a few moments about the differences between the three, particularly the one about excluding school-leavers. On reading the Amendment I was not initially quite sure what the intention was. But I should like to comment on the general question of excluding certain groups of young people from the Commission's services, and to explain why I cannot advise your Lordships' House to accept that approach which is implicit in the Amendment.
This Bill does not in any way restrict the activities which the local education authority service carries out at present. Indeed, as I have said, it extends the scope of the service by making it mandatory on all L.E.A.s, whereas at present there are some who do not provide it, and by enabling the service to deal with young people of 18 years old or over who are in 861 further or higher education or who have entered employment, whereas these categories are excluded at present. I hope noble Lords, and my noble friend particularly, will accept that extension. I will not repeat all I said in Committee about the present situation and the way this legislation proposes to change it; but I want to emphasise once again that the Bill does not place any restriction at all on the present scope of the L.E.A. service, just in case there is any lingering misapprehension that a young person who has entered employment will be denied the opportunity of continuing to be advised by the local education authority careers officer who advised him before he left education. He will have this opportunity. Under the Bill the L.E.A. has full power to provide such a service, and if it did not do so the Secretary of State could and would direct it to do so.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, I apologise to my noble friend, but surely the crux of the matter is tins. He has the opportunity to avail himself of the L.E.A. service but is under no obligation to take that opportunity; but if he does not have that opportunity, surely the L.E.A. service does not exist so far as he is concerned.
TIM EARL OF COWRIE
My Lords, I cannot but agree with my noble friend; but the issue here is that he is not obliged to use the L.E.A. service in any case. Surely the issue is whether young people who have left education should have the alternative, if they do not wish to continue to use the L.E.A. service, of going into the service provided by the Commission, or whether some of these young people should be prevented from using the Commission services at all. I think that covers the objection made by the noble Lord. I know that a number of your Lordships feel strongly that young people in employment should go on using the L.E.A. careers service. They feel that the L.E.A. careers officer knows the young person, knows his educational background, perhaps even knows his family background, and all his other circumstances. They feel the careers officer can give invaluable help, particularly to the immature young person who might otherwise fail to settle in employment or drift into a dead-end job—even a dead-end job, as the noble Lord, Lord 862 Diamond, implied, that was initially temptingly lucrative.
I do not for a minute disagree with this view, and that is why it distresses me to have to argue with my noble friends on this matter. We fully recognise the very great value of the work done by the L.E.A. careers officers and the importance of their guidance to the young people who receive it, whether they are in education or in employment. That is one of the reasons why we want to extend the scope of their service in this Bill. But these Amendments do not require young people who have left education to continue to use the L.E.A. service. All they do is to prevent some of them from using the Commission service. If we stop a young person from going to the Commission, it does not by any means follow that he will go to the L.E.A. service instead.
My Lords, I do not believe that those experienced in this field, including many of your Lordships, would really deny that there are many young people, particularly in the lower groups where intelligence or application or a general level of motivation is concerned—the groups which noble Lords have mentioned with concern many times—who are not willing to use the L.E.A. service. If they are not willing to use the L.E.A. service there are plenty of other ways of getting a job; they can turn to the jobs column of the evening newspaper, they can go to a private employment agency or go after vacancies which they have heard about from a friend.
My Lords, because of the powerful, if slightly emotional, arguments we have heard to-day, I think it is fair for me to imagine the situation that would occur if, as noble Lords would like, we accepted these Amendments. What would happen, surely, is this. Those young men and women who are not willing to go back to the L.E.A. service would not get advice and guidance from any public service at all. I really do not feel that that is what noble Lords, even noble Lords who have been critical of me in this respect, would really want.
One of the reasons why young people may be suspicious of using the local education authority service is that they want to be regarded as adult, and they feel that the L.E.A. service is associated with their 863 school days, where they first encountered the service. There are probably other reasons, but I think this one plays a big part, particularly in connection with the less favourably motivated groups I mentioned earlier. I am not saying that these young people are right in such a view; I think myself that it is a great pity that such an attitude should exist. But we must deal with the facts of the situation, and the fact is that the attitude does exist and nothing we can do or try to do in this Bill will change it. Surely it cannot be in the best interests of these young people who are not willing to use the L.E.A. service to deny them the alternative of using the adult service provided by the Commission instead. Undoubtedly the result would be that they would not obtain advice or guidance on employment matters from any public service at all, and surely that is not what we want.
§ LORD DIAMOND
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Earl, but just to get one fact right which is very material to the argument he is making, could he refresh our memories about the present position? In the present position is the school leaver able to consult either the employment exchange or the Youth Employment Service, or does he consult only the Youth Employment Service?
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
My Lords, the noble Lord has often pointed out to me that he does not usually ask questions to which he does not know the answer. The present position is that we want to extend the opportunities and the choices open to young people, both under the local education authority service and under the adult service. The noble Lord has not convinced me that it would be right to preclude young people from using the greatly increased and greatly modernised new adult service which the Bill proposes and which he himself has broadly welcomed on many occasions. It has been suggested that young people, particularly the less mature whom I mentioned, will be confused by having the choice between the L.E.A. service and the Commission service, but as I have said, they have a wider range of choice than that already; the choice between the L.E.A. service and such methods of finding jobs as private employment agencies, Press advertisements, word of 864 mouth and so on. And noble Lords, so far as I know, are not anxious to limit that area of choice. The option of going to the Commission, on the other hand, will give young people in employment the chance of getting vocational advice which otherwise they might not have obtained.
It was argued in Committee and here to-day that if both the L.E.A.s and the Commission offer services to these young people this will cause wasteful duplication. The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, certainly made much of this. But we have to remember that both these employment services will exist anyway. The Employment Service Agency under the Commission will be there to provide a general employment service, and the local education authority service will be there to advise young people attending or leaving education institutions. So it is really only a question of making these facilities which will exist anyway available to young people in employment who want to use them. There will be no duplication of staffing. Each service will be staffed to meet the actual demands made on it in practice, which is, of course, the basis on which both are staffed at present.
Nor will employers have to notify their vacancies for young people to both services; there will be arrangements for the circulation of vacancies so that suitable vacancies notified to one service will be circulated to the other. It is true that the Employment Service Agency will need to train some of its staff in the special problems of young people, but of course it already has staff with ample experience in this field in areas where the Department of Employment provide the Youth Employment Service now. I would remind noble Lords that the L.E.A. service is not universally available at present. In any case, I think that the additional training which will he needed is a very small price to pay for the chance to help some young people who otherwise might not get help at all with their employment problems. I must say to the noble Baroness, Lady Masham, that I think the extra cost of providing this alternative will be extremely small, if any cost at all, though I cannot in fact put a figure on it.
May I now say a few quick words about the differences between the first three of this group of Amendments. The 865 most thorough-going of the three is identical in its effect with the Amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, which we discussed in Committee. It would exclude from the Commission's service, first, young people under 18 who have been in full-time employment for less than 12 months. That clearly represents a significant group of young people who have entered employment. Secondly, it also excludes, if I understand the intention correctly, all those attending educational institutions other than universities, either full time or part time. Most of these are, of course, young people attending school or institutions of further or higher education part time. Let me make it clear that the Commission will not be going into these schools or other institutions to provide a vocational guidance and employment service. That is the duty of the L.E.A.s under the Bill, and in the most unlikely event of the Commission attempting to do this the Secretary of State certainly could and would use his powers to put a stop to it.
But the Amendment would also cover a great many people attending further education institutions part time, whether in employment—for example, young people on day release—or people seeking employment and taking a part-time course in the meantime. I do not think that there is any good reason why all these (and, incidentally, by no means all of them would be young people) should be prevented from using the Commission's services. For example, a young man of 28 taking a part-time course in work studies at an institution of further education would find it very odd to be debarred statutorily from the Commission's services, and surely he would be quite right.
The second of the three Amendments seeks to exclude this same group, those attending educational institutions other than universities, full time or part time, and the same arguments apply. The first of the three Amendments simply seeks to exclude school leavers. Reading the Amendment, I was not entirely sure of the intention here, and I am still not entirely clear. As I have said, the Commission's service will not go into schools. But I am still not clear at what point the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, wishes the service to come to an end. Would it be on the last day of the last term? Surely 866 that would achieve rather little. Perhaps the intention is to exclude school leavers broadly up to the time of their first placing in employment; until then they would be the exclusive preserve of the L.E.A. service. It is very likely that that is what will happen in most cases in practice. Young people will be advised by the L.E.A. service while still in school, and on leaving school many will go into jobs which the service has helped them to find, though, of course, others will find their jobs themselves in the light of the advice which the service has given them.
In other cases, if we wrote this into the Bill I think it could prove an undesirable restriction. A young person may have to wait a long time, perhaps a month, for his first placing, particularly in an area of high unemployment. If he happens to be one of those I mentioned earlier who are not willing to go back to the L.E.A. service once they have left school, where is the point of debarring him from using the Commission's services during this period? I stress that he may not wish to use the Commission's services either, but he should not be debarred from doing so. The effect would be simply to reduce the chance of his finding satisfactory employment at all.
There is one final comment that I must make on these three Amendments. I have concentrated on their exclusion of young people from the Commission's employment services because I think that is what the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, has chiefly in mind. But as these are Amendments to the Commission's main duty under Clause 2(1), the effect is that the young people concerned are excluded not only from the Commission's employment service but from all its services. For example, they would not be able to benefit from a course at an industrial rehabilitation unit, or from the limited skill courses which are provided for young people under the training opportunities scheme. I bow to the very considerable experience in this field in this House, but I have myself visited some of the new training opportunity schemes, and I assure noble Lords that they are full of young people who look very fulfilled and very well served by them.
There might also be difficulties over careers information produced by the Commission which might be useful to 867 young people concerned, including school leavers, even if it were not specifically produced with them in mind. If these young people were excluded from the Commission's duty under Clause 2(1) we might find that the Commission have no power to make such careers information available to the L.E.A. service for the use of the young people. I do not rest my case on these points because I doubt whether these effects were intended by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond. If so, it might be possible to avoid them in a revised Amendment, but I think they illustrate the difficulties which would certainly arise if we decided to limit the Commission's duty under Clause 2(1).
§ BARONESS SEEAR
My Lords, the noble Earl has raised an extremely important point Here perhaps I am stealing Lord Diamond's thunder. Is the noble Earl saying that if a youngster is advised by a local education authority to take a new opportunities course run by the Commission, he should not be able to do so? That is what I understood to be the implication of what the noble Earl said. If that is so, it is a most extraordinary state of affairs, because it will mean that those who have chosen to go to the L.E.A. and said that they are free to go to the L.E.A., will be debarred from using their services. That surely cannot be the noble Earl's intention, but that is what I understood him to say.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
My Lords, that is not the case. The point I was trying to make is that under the Amendment it would be difficult for the young person to go direct. Of course I accept the point that it would be possible to go under the advice of the local education authority, but I do not see why a young person who for some reason or other, and probably a bad reason, did not wish to make use of the local education authority, should not at some stage of his life make use of the services we are providing and plan to provide them. That is the issue of contention between us.
I must make an end. I cannot accept the Amendments, but in not accepting them I would finally emphasise three points. First, as I have said, the Bill does not in any way restrict the presents 868 cope of the L.E.A. careers service, and we welcome and endorse the tributes paid to it. Quite the contrary; it extends the service, and it distresses me that noble Lords, and my noble friends in particular, seem unwilling to recognise this point. Secondly, if we exclude any category of young people who have left education from using the Commission's services, that does not mean that they will use the L.E.A. service instead—however much it might be in their interests to do so—and these Amendments do not serve that effect. Those who do not wish to do so will simply use other channels or drift. Finally, it is surely wrong to deny to young people who have left education, and who are not willing to use the L.E.A. service, the alternative of using the Commission's services. To do so would be to remove one chance at least for them to receive the advice and guidance in this area crucial to their future lives, which we all agree that they should have.
§ 5.4 p.m.
§ LORD DIAMOND
My Lords, the noble Earl has certainly gone to great pains to explain the Government's point of view and to put it with courtesy and clarity. I hope that he will excuse me from going on to say that he put it with persuasion, because that is not the case. I think that the shortest way of dealing with his major points would be to go over them in the order in which he put them. First of all, he said that Amendment No. 11 added little to the Bill. That is absolutely right. The powers are there without Amendment No. 11, but it does emphasise—and that was the purpose of putting it there—that this particular responsibility will in future be a responsibility of the local education authority. But that, as the noble Earl said, is a minor point.
The essential point is whether or not young people are going to get the best possible advice. His argument about nobody being compelled to use the L.E.A. service does not persuade me in the slightest. The Bill is not about compelling individuals to seek advice in one particular area or another; it is about encouraging young people to go to the best place for the best possible advice. There can be no doubt what the view of the majority of your Lordships is about that; there can be no doubt about the 869 view of the most experienced people in this field; namely, the careers officers and the local education authorities. We all speak with one voice; we are anxious that this good service should continue. We are very fearful of what would happen if the choice were newly opened and young people without experience, without knowledge, went to what was the most immediately enticing opportunity, which is undoubtedly what would happen.
I am afraid that I must say that the argument about lack of compulsion does not affect the issue in the slightest. What we are concerned with, as the noble Earl rightly said later on, is the exclusion of the choice. I am grateful to him for what he indicated on my intervention, because, as I understand it—and I was not absolutely sure in my recollection—the present position is that there is no such choice for young people at school or in education. The Government's Bill proposes to extend that choice; that is to say, it says, "Do you want to go to somebody who will give you a good answer, the best answer, or do you want to go to somebody who will give you a much more acceptable bad answer?" I must be quite precise about it. The Manpower Commission is not trained to do this job. I will give way to the noble Lord in one moment. The Manpower Commission will be concerned with placement. The Manpower Commission will have one criterion for whether it has been successful or not, and that will be, "How many jobs have we placed at this branch". That will be the statistic that will be available to everybody; that, and that alone. Quality will not enter into the Ministry of Labour's statistics. I forget what they are called now, but they used to be called by that name. Quality will not enter into it and that is what we are concerned with. And what will be the effect on the local education authorities who are struggling in competition with the Manpower Services Commission to keep up their numbers? They will then be encouraged, as one noble Lord said, to go in for body-snatching. Of course that is what will happen. They will be encouraged to do that, and there will be competition for placing the maximum number of young persons, irrespective of where they are 870 placed. That is what the argument is about.
From the experience of the people in the field we are satisfied with the present position, under which the Government gives no choice as to whether you should go to school or not go to school, or as to whether you should get the right advice, if you are at school, as to your future career. The present system is the wise one, and that system should not be withdrawn. The noble Lord wanted to interrupt.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
My Lords, I am not quite certain whether I should interrupt at this moment, because the noble Lord has rather gone past the point. It might be more convenient if I came in after him.
§ LORD DIAMOND
My Lords, I was, as would be apparent, in full flow, and I did not want to stop at that particular moment. There is little more to be said about the points which the noble Earl put to us. I am most grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, who raised the point which put a red neon question mark in my mind the moment the noble Earl said it. It seemed to me quite absurd that any Amendment I could be capable of drafting would produce that extraordinary result. All the noble Earl is saying—and it is a pity that he overstated the argument because that always weakens the case; one does not have to overstate an argument if one has a good case and, I might say in this case, if you have a case at all—is that there will be two doors through which one can go for top training. One door will be the local education authority, and that is no bad door. The other door will be the Manpower Services Commission. So I do not think that that is a problem. If there is a problem, it is over the drafting. Nobody claims to draft better than the Government draftsmen, and the Government have a responsibility at this stage to say, "We agree the principle and we can produce our own draft at a later stage" If they do not say that, it is because they do not agree the principle.
§ LORD DIAMOND
My Lords, the noble Earl went on to say something 871 which I thought was similar to that, but he started by putting his argument about the number of defects that would arise from the drafting. That did not appeal to me, because the Government have the drafting facilities and the responsibility of governing. We think this is bad government and we have to decide now what is the wise course to take. As the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, said, I offered an alternative, because before he was able to come into the Chamber I explained—in addition to quoting with great appreciation exactly what the noble Lord said on an earlier occasion, because it seemed to me to put the matter so beautifully and in a nutshell—that at this stage we want to do business with the Government, and we want to get something which is acceptable to the Government.
I do not think that the first Amendment goes anything like far enough. On the other hand, the third Amendment involves the further Amendment, No. 11, which, as the noble Earl said, adds little to the Bill because the powers are there; the Amendment merely adds emphasis and declaration. But the second Amendment merely states that those people who are specifically described in Clause 8 shall be the sole responsibility of the local education authority, and we shall not have this duplication of services or this absurd choice between good advice and bad advice. We shall continue to concern ourselves with the happiness and satisfaction in work of young people, rather than with the immediate filling of an urgent vacancy. That is an Amendment which the Government ought to accept and I invite the House to show its feelings about it.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
My Lords, before the House makes up its mind, there are one or two points which ought to be clarified. The noble Lord spoke as if at present there were only local education authorities in this field. But he must know that at the present time, under the Employment and Training Act 1948, there is no duty on local education authorities to provide a careers service; there is simply an option to provide a service. There are some 31 education authorities in England and Wales, and a much higher proportion in Scotland, 872 which do not provide this service at the moment. So it is wrong to say that the Employment Service Agency has no experience in this field, because it has. It has experience in this field in those areas where the local education authority does not provide a service.
After this Bill becomes an Act there will be a duty on the local authorities to provide services in every area. They will be taking over the duties from the Employment Service Agency for those who are leaving school. As my noble friend said, they will have a virtual monopoly and they will be the sole people providing a careers service for youngsters leaving school, or any educational institutions other than the universities. As I said, it is now to be mandatory on the local education authorities to set up these services. Once a person has left school the Employment Service Agency will be in the field as well, and, quite rightly, the choice will then be open to the individual, with no age limit, to go to the local education authority service or to the Employment Service Agency.
Where the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, was perhaps a little unfair (I know that he does not mean to be unfair and he tries not to be) was in his bold assumption that the local education authority service is good and the Employment Agency Service is bad. That was extremely unfair. In the nature of things, the services must vary from area to area, and I have no doubt that in some places the Employment Service Agency will be excellent and the local education authority service will not be so good. But the fact is that some people in the Employment Service Agency already have experience of handling a careers service and they can be used for developing the service. The second point is that there is a transformation going on in employment services at the present time in this country. They are becoming much more human and much more oriented to giving advice, where advice is necessary, and leaving people to select their own jobs, from charts and so on, where appropriate.
So noble Lords ought not to make up their minds on the basis that local education authorities alone provide a special service. We all know that they do a splendid job, but they are not the only people who do a good job, whatever 873 may have been the case a few years ago. So far as the Employment Service Agency is concerned, it is not now the case that it is just providing statistics on the number of employed or unemployed. That is not its purpose. The Agency sets out to consider the interests of the person whom it is advising about the career which he ought to adopt. It is doing that in the interests of the person, and not just in the interests of the firm that is asking for an employee. Of course it is a question of matching the person to the job, as well as matching the job to the person; but I would ask your Lordships not to adopt the attitude on this Amendment that there is only one right course for our young people when they want to get advice and guidance about the appropriate training and so on. That is not the position now and it will not be in the future. The Employment Service Agency will be building up its services and meeting its responsibilities.
The duty is placed on the Commission under Clause 2 to enable people to select their jobs, to train for them and to find them, and this personal approach is extremely important. So I hope these two services will work in concert. There is no reason whatsoever why they should not. If a person indicates that he is looking for a particular job, his record and desires will be passed on from one Agency to another. In the same way, the notifications of jobs vacant that are given by employers will also be made
§ available to both the local education authority service and the Youth Employment Service in the employment agency services.
§ I hope, my Lords, that I have dispelled at least some of the missapprehensions that seem to be prevailing. The first was that the local education authorities are at present alone in the field so far as the young people are concerned; and the second was that there will be a sort of invasion of their present preserves by the employment agencies. I believe that the House would be very greatly underrating the capacity of the existing employment agencies if it were to write them off as inferior, and as not the sort of places to which young people should go.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Page 3, line 15, after ("persons") insert ("other than the persons described in section 8(1)(a)").—(Lord Diamond.)
§ 5.21 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 5) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 58; Not-Contents, 75.875
|Airedale, L.||Henderson, L.||Royle, L.|
|Amulree, L.||Henley, L.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Archibald, L.||Hurcomb, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Avebury, L.||Jacques, L.||St. Just, L.|
|Bacon, B.||Leatherland, L.||Samuel, V.|
|Beaumont of Whitley, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Secar, B.|
|Beswick, L.||Lloyd of Kilgerran, L.||Segal, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Loudoun, C.||Serota, B.|
|Byers, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Champion, L.||McLeavy, L,||Shinwell, L.|
|Chorley, L.||Macleod of Borve, B.||Snow, L.|
|Crawshaw, L.||Masham of Ilton, B.||Southwark, Bp.|
|Diamond, L.||Norwich, V.||Stamp, L.|
|Douglas of Barloch, L.||Ogmore, L.||Summerskill, B.|
|Faringdon, L.||O'Hagan, L.||Swinton. E.|
|Gaitskell, B.||Peddie, L.||White, B.|
|Gardiner, L.||Phillips, B. [Teller.]||Williamson, L.|
|Garnsworthy,L. [Teller.]||Plait, L.||Wise, L.|
|Greenwood of Rossendale, L.||Rankeillour, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Aberdare, L.||Ferrers, E.||Northchurch, B.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Ferrier, L.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Allerton, L.||Fortescue, E.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Ashbourne, L.||Gage, V.||Reigate, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Gowrie, E.||Rochdale, V.|
|Balfour, E.||Grenfell, L.||Rockley, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Grimston of Westbury, L.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Berkeley, B.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.)||St. Helens, L.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Erooke of Ystradfellte, B.||Hanworth, V.||Selkirk, E.|
|Caccia, L.||Harris, L.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Carrington, L.||Harvey of Prestbury, L.||Sharpies, B.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Howe, E.||Somers, L.|
|Conesford, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.||Strange of Knokin, B.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Ironside, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Courtown, E.||Jessel, L.||Strathspey, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Kilmarnock, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Limerick, E.||Tenby, V.|
|Daventry, V.||Mancroft, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Davidson, V.||Margadale, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Vernon, L.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Milverton, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Dulverton, L.||Monck, V.||Wakefield of Kendal, L.|
|Elles, B.||Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.]||Windlesham, L. (L. Privy Seal.)|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Wynford, L.|
|Emmet of Amberley, B.||Netherthorpe, L.||Young, B.|
On Question Motion agreed to.
§ 5.31 p.m.
LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 7:
Page 3, line 18, leave out from ("associates)") to end of line 20.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, if the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, and your Lordships agree, it may be convenient to discuss this Amendment and Amendment No. 13, which stands in his name, at the same time. As the Bill came to the House originally, Clause 2(1) laid a duty on the Commission to make such arrangements as it considered appropriate for the purpose of assisting persons to select, train, obtain and retain employment suitable for their ages and capacities and of assisting persons to obtain suitable employees, a term defined so as to include anyone engaged under a contract of service—for example, partners. This duty covers the responsibility for planning, developing and operating the public employment services and for promoting training for employment and running the training opportunities scheme. In Committee the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, moved a very persuasive Amendment to add to this subsection a duty to make such arrangements as the Commission considered appropriate for the purpose of securing the implementation of Sections 6 to 12 of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1954. The 876 Amendment was carried by the narrowest possible of margins. It is those words that the Amendment I am now moving seeks to remove from the Bill.
§ If I understood his main argument, it was that Sections 6 to 12 of the Disabled Persons Act were not being satisfactorily implemented. He felt—and I think it was a genuine feeling of compassion—that their implementation would be secured better if the responsibility laid on the Secretary of State in those sections were to be transferred and laid squarely upon a new and more expert body and that this would improve the employment prospects of disabled persons. I hope I am summarising his arguments fairly. I think I should explain the purpose of Sections 6 to 12 because at an earlier stage it was rather a mistake that their purpose was not made sufficiently clear. These are the sections that require the Minister to maintain a register of disabled people who are considered capable of employment—a register which disabled people may, if they wish, apply to be put on—and to lay on employers employing 20 people or more a duty to employ a quota of those registered disabled people. It is not an offence for an employer not to fulfil his quota. It is an offence for an employer who is below his quota to recruit someone who is not a registered disabled person without having first received a permit from the Department, which is given if there is no suitable registered dis- 877 abled person available to fill the job. It is also an offence for an employer below quota to dismiss a registered disabled person without reasonable cause. Section 12 empowers the Secretary of State to reserve classes of employment for registered disabled if available.
§ Section 15 of the Act provides that proceedings for an offence under the Act shall not be instituted except by the Secretary of State or with his consent, or by an officer authorised by him. I mention that because the Amendment carried in Committee would not transfer this duty of enforcement to the Commission and because there was a great deal of criticism in the debate directed towards the fact that very few prosecutions had been instituted since the Act came into operation. Since the Committee stage we have been considering with the utmost care whether the Amendment which the Committee made should stand—or at any rate, something on the lines of that Amendment—and the noble Lord has just virtually said that it is the spirit of the Amendment rather than the exact wording to which he attaches importance. He said that of the last Amendment, and I am sure it is the case with this. I believe that what the Committee wanted in carrying this Amendment was a much more active and vigorous approach. What I shall try to do is to persuade your Lordships that that is precisely what we have been seeking to achieve, bearing in mind the very great changes that have taken place in the structure of industry, in the labour market and, in particular, in the provisions of the disabled since 1944 when there were a very large number of people disabled in two wars.
§ The problem to-day is very different. It is true, as the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, said, that in May, 1972, nearly 60 per cent. of employers—about 58 per cent.—with quota obligations were not fulfilling their quota. The fact is that there are not enough registered disabled people for all employers to comply with their quota obligations—certainly not enough in the right places. On the other hand, there are many unregistered disabled people in employment. They do not have to register; nor do they count against the quota. Moreover, a great majority of employers who are below quota are not infringing the scheme because they have received a permit from 878 the Department to recruit able-bodied workers—which they may do only if there is not available a suitable disabled person for the job. Nevertheless, there are 9,000 firms who are below quota and have not applied for permits. They might get them if they were to apply.
§ It is because the situation was unsatisfactory that since 1971 the inspection procedures have been tightened up. Inspection has been transferred to the wage inspectorate and there has been an increase in random inspections and not just where doubts were held about an employer's quota position.
§ The main point is that the Department are at present right in the middle of a period of consultation on the whole question of the quota scheme. As I said in Committee, the Government published on May 22 a consultative document on the quota scheme, asking for comments by the end of the year. Altogether some 70,000 copies of this document have been distributed, and copies are available in your Lordships' House. This document is one of a series of discussion papers issued on the employment and training services for disabled people. The first, on the disablement resettlement service, came out in July last year. A consultative document on the future of sheltered employment is being prepared, and it is hoped that it will be published later this year. The final stage of consultation will cover industrial rehabilitation and vocational training for disabled people. These discussion papers arise out of a wide-ranging review of the arrangements for helping disabled people with their employment and training problems. I am sure that your Lordships will agree that the fact that the Government have held this review and have embarked on this series of consultative documents shows that we are well aware of the importance of the problems that need to be solved.
§ We recognise that the present position is by no means satisfactory and we ate determined to find the right way to improve it. This is something which needs to be worked out in the fullest possible consultation with those concerned, the National Advisory Council for the Employment of the Disabled, and all the many organisations concerned with disabled people: the T.U.C., the C.B.I. and many others. Surely this is the right way 879 to settle future policy on these important and difficult issues; to have full consultation with all those concerned on the basis of published consultative documents and to give a chance to all those who wish to make their views known; and then, in the light of this consultation, to take firm decisions. When the time comes to take those decisions, the views expressed in your Lordships' House on Sections 6 to 12 of the 1944 Act will most certainly be given full weight. But surely the time to take the decisions is at the end of the consultative process and not in the middle of it. That is why I am sure it would be wrong to write into this Bill that the Commission must implement these sections. If we settle that now, long before the end of our consultations, and in isolation from all the other connected questions about the future of the quota scheme, it may well be that we should find later that it was not the ideal solution; but by that time it would be enshrined in legislation and too late to make a change.
§ Further, my Lords, we must remember that the Commission has not yet been set up. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State hopes to bring it into existence at the beginning of 1974 and to bring the prospective members into consultation on an informal basis before that. Surely the Commission should be consulted before taking a final decision to give it responsibility for implementing, or securing the implementation of, Sections 6 to 12 of the 1944 Act. After all, the Commission will be a major body of high standing and will have major responsibilities for disabled people for the provision of employment and training services for them. The members may well have views on whether or not these responsibilities, or any particular responsibility, may be combined with that of enforcing the 1944 Act.
My Lords, if it is decided that the Commission should be responsible for enforcing on employers their obligations under the 1944 Act—I want to make this point very clear—there is already full power under the Bill to give the Commission this function without any need for the Amendment made in Committee which I am asking your Lordships to remove. Clause 2(2)(a) of the Bill gives full power for the making of
agreements between the Commission and a Minister of the Crown for the Commission to perform, on behalf of the Minister, functions exercisable by the Minister … which are connected with employment",
excluding the making of regulations or other instruments having the force of law. I am advised that under this provision the Commission could perform any of the Secretary of State's functions under the 1944 Act, including the function of prosecuting employers for offences under the quota provision. The only exception is his power to make regulations or other instruments having the force of law. Since these regulations or order-making powers are matters on which a Minister must clearly remain fully accountable to Parliament, I doubt whether anyone would argue that they should be transferred to the Commission. So I can give your Lordships a categorical assurance that if, after the necessary consultation, the decision is that any or all of the Secretary of State's functions under the 1944 Act should go to the Commission, other than regulation-making functions, this can be achieved under Clause 2(2)(a) of the Bill, and the Amendment made in Committee is not necessary for the purpose.
§ My noble friend Lord Gowrie made clear in Committee that it is the intention that the Commission shall be invited to maintain a register of disabled people and to provide services for the district disabled advisory committees which are closely involved in the administration of the quota scheme. But the Act of 1944 lays these obligations on the Secretary of State, and it is therefore right that so long as that Act remains in force the Commission should act as the agent of the Secretary of State in performing these functions. It may be that, as a consequence of the consultative process already initiated, legislation may be required to improve the Act and to bring it up to date. But meantime, the statutory responsibility to Parliament should rest with the Secretary of State. It will be the duty of the Commission, as one of its own functions, to operate the Disabled Resettlement Officer Service and, through it, to keep in the closest touch with employers, and to obtain the maximum co-operation with them in fulfilling their quota obligations. My Lords, these are the officers who provide specialised employment services for disabled people 881 just as the blind person's resettlement officers do for the blind. The services will continue to operate within the framework of the general employment services; that is, through the Employment Service Agency and the Training Services Agency, so that disabled people will continue to be trained alongside the able bodied wherever possible and share the benefits of the Expanding Trading Opportunity Scheme.
§ My Lords, there are other points which I could make against the Amendment which was made in Committee. One which perhaps I should mention is that the Secretary of State has a number of duties under Sections 6 to 12 of the 1944 Act, so that if the Commission were to be given a duty to secure the implementation of those sections, one of the things which it would have to do would be to make sure that the Secretary of State carried out his duties. But the Commission will have no power to do that nor do I think that it would be constitutionally appropriate that it should have. I do not dwell on this or other technical points, which are matters which no doubt could be tidied up in a revised Amendment if the principle were acceptable. It is on the issue of principle that I ask your Lordships to approve the Amendment in my name. We really ought not to pre-judge the question of whom should be responsible for enforcing Sections 6 to 12 of the 1944 Act before the consultative process on the future quota scheme has taken place, and before the Commission had been set up. We should wait until the beginning of next year when it would be possible to take fully informed decisions on all these matters and not just this one aspect in isolation. If we decide to give the Commission this responsibility, the Bill, as altered by my Amendment, will give full power for this to be done.
§ I fully understand the deep feelings which caused noble Lords to support Lord Diamond's Amendment in Committee. I hope very much that I have succeeded in convincing your Lordships that there is no question of the Government being complacent and inactive in their attitude to the employment and training of the disabled, but that on the contrary we are tackling the problem vigorously. But we want to carry public opinion with us, particularly the opinion of those most deeply concerned, before making a final 882 decision. Therefore I strongly urge your Lordships not to insist on transferring the responsibility to the Commission now, but to allow time to work out how best the responsibility may be discharged.
§ LORD DIAMOND
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, started off by reminding us that we had a vote on this during the Committee stage where, he said, the Amendment was carried by the narrowest possible margin.
§ LORD DIAMOND
My Lords, according to my figures the Amendment was carried by 64 to 70—or perhaps I have got it wrong. Was it 64 to 65? If so, we will not dwell on the point. I was merely going to make the point that there was a substantial margin. Possibly I have got the wrong figures or the wrong Amendment; yes, my Lords, the figures of 64 to 70 relate to the Amendment regarding women and girls, and I apologise to your Lordships.
I am not surprised that the Government wish to alter, to reverse, the decision of the Committee; because, as I explained at that time, the Amendment was not very happily placed, and it was because it would not achieve what I intended on second thoughts to achieve that I put down Amendment No. 13 which deals with the same point but, I hope, in a more effective way. The noble Lord devoted a good deal of his speech to demonstrating why it is right that that should be in the Bill because that is exactly what the Government are going to do. But he went on to say something very different of which I had to take note and which amounts to this: that when the consultations are completed and the Manpower Services Commission has had a chance to consider what is the best way of serving the purposes of the Act, it may be that Clauses 6 to 12 will not be thought to be the best method by which to do it. I recognise, therefore, that it would be a little unhappy if this were written into the Statute at this stage. So I am not pressing the point.
The noble Lord has, I think, taken the general sense of the anxiety of the Committee as to the amount of unemployment that exists among the disabled. I was 883 surprised to hear him say that there are areas where there is simply no disabled applicant suitable for the vacancies which employers seek to fill. There must, on the other hand, be other areas where there are at least twice the average, because over the country as a whole unemployment figures for the disabled are nearly double those of able persons. So there is still a need, although it is perhaps not satisfactorily disposed of by the very broad provisions of Clauses 6 to 12.
Bearing in mind that the Government have now given the matter careful thought—and the proceedings in Committee were very helpful in enabling the Government to concentrate their mind on this issue—the best advice I can offer to your Lordships' House and certainly to noble Lords on this side, is that we should give the Government the opportunity they seek of completing their inquiries and consulting the bodies which will be charged with the general responsibility of finding employment in this country. As I have often said, we welcome the Bill and the setting-up of the Commission, and we want to do nothing to hamper it unduly. All our anxiety is to see that there is a change in the unsatisfactory situation with regard to the number of unemployed disabled persons. That being so, especially having regard to the assurance from the Front Bench, which the noble Lord was good enough to say was a categorical assurance and which is very clear language indeed, and in view of the fact that the Secretary of State will retain responsibility and will therefore continue to be liable to be harassed by any Member of Parliament who is not satisfied about the way in which the quota is being kept, I think that the wisest course would be to allow the Amendment to be agreed—that is to say for the earlier decision to be reversed—as what we shall be doing is enabling the Government to achieve in their own way what we desire to be achieved.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for what he has said. I hope we shall make the best use of the opportunities he has given us.
§ LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 8:
Page 3, line 29, at end insert—
("(aa) include arrangements for encouraging increases in the opportunities to women and girls for employment and training").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 8. In Committee, a similar Amendment was defeated by 70 to 64 votes. The present Amendment, which is at a different place, is nothing like so drastic as the earlier one but it does make the point. The point is of course that, although one would not normally wish in tidy drafting to refer to a particular category, the situation with regard to the employment opportunities and training opportunities for women and girls is such that it needs to be mentioned. Women and girls are half of the population and, as I said in Committee, the fact is that, apart from hairdressing, so far as I recollect the figures, the proportion of young girls leaving school who go into apprenticeship is only 2 per cent., compared with something like 50 per cent. of boys. It shows that opportunities are not being taken. I hope that, as we have now moved the Amendment to a very different place, where it merely refers to arrangements that may be made, the Government will feel we are not embarrassing them, or embarrassing those who have the responsibility of carrying out the provisions of the Bill—that is to say, the Commission and the Agencies—but are underlining a need which is a powerful and clamant one.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
My Lords, the Government have considered this matter further since the Committee stage, and I am happy to say that we are now prepared to accept that it is desirable for women and girls to be specifically mentioned in the legislation.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
Music to my ears! There was no disagreement at all in Committee that the present situation as regards the employment and training opportunities open to women and girls is unsatisfactory; and I certainly expressed my own agreement with noble Lords opposite, and some noble Lords behind me, that the position was 885 unsatisfactory. I do not think I need repeat what I said then about the Government's intention, for precisely that reason, to introduce legislation to help to remove unfair discrimination on the ground of sex and to promote opportunities for women.
Our only difference in Committee was over whether it would be desirable to make a specific reference in this Bill to women and girls. I drew attention at the time to the potential danger of listing in legislation things which the Commission may do, as this could lead to the presumption that anything not listed might be excluded. As against this, noble Lords put forward the argument that adding this to the Bill would not do any harm. The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, said:We are proposing to add nothing to the powers and responsibilities."—that is to say, of the Commission—We are proposing to let the world know that Parliament thinks it is not adequate that these responsibilities "—that is to say, the Commission's responsibilities to women and girls—should be hidden and tucked away in general, albeit neat, draftsmanship, but that they should be picked out and explicitly stated for the benefit of public opinion generally.On reconsideration, we are prepared to accept this Amendment. It does not add to the powers and duties of the Commission. What it does is to make sure that the Commission's responsibility to help women and girls to obtain training and to find employment cannot possibly be overlooked, because they are mentioned specifically in the Bill.
Moreover, the Amendment does so in terms which are not likely to encourage any interpretation that action to help other groups, who are not listed, is excluded. For example, it will certainly be part of the Commission's duty to encourage increases in the opportunities available to boys for training in industries where more training is desirable, as well as for women and girls. No one, I think, would suppose that this was precluded by the fact that this Amendment specifically mentions increasing training opportunities for women and girls but not for boys. So I hope it will be clear to all concerned that this provision does not imply any limitation to the Commission's duties and powers in respect 886 of other groups of people. I am glad to be able to advise your Lordships, in the spirit of the age, to accept the Amendment.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, I should like to have the honour of thanking the noble Earl, and I feel that I speak on behalf of all women workers in the country. This of course was a piece of discrimination which the Select Committee which has been sitting here and in another place carefully examined, and we were unanimous in feeling that any obstacle to the use of women's labour should be removed. Therefore I feel very happy that the Government have seen fit to accept this Amendment.
§ LORD DIAMOND
My Lords, may I echo those thanks? We are very grateful to the Government for doing what I fully recognise is unusual, but what I think is justified in the circumstances. It is most important. It will do the Government no harm; it will do the Manpower Services Commission no harm; it will do the Conservative Party politically a lot of good, and I congratulate them.
§ Clause 3 [Control of the Commission by Secretary of State]:
§ 6.0 p.m.
BARONESS SEEAR moved Amendment No. 9:
Page 5, line 23, leave out from beginning to ("make") in line 24 and insert ("he may, after such action has been proposed to the Commission and the Commission has declared themselves unable or unwilling to authorise such action,").
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, I am more concerned with the spirit of this Amendment than with the actual wording. I am all the more of that frame of mind because during the last ten minutes I have been looking again at the Amendment, and I realise that, owing solely, I am sure, to the horrible nature of my handwriting, one word is not correct in the Amendment as printed. The mistake quite seriously alters the intention and explains a comment made by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn. The word "authorised" should in fact be "undertake". The only resemblance between those words is that they both contain the same number of letters. I take full responsibility for this error. I cannot
always read my own writing, so I cannot really expect other people to do so. It was never my intention that the Commission should be "authorised" to do anything. It was, and remains, my serious intention that if there is work to be undertaken in the field for which the Commission has an overall responsibility under the Secretary of State, the Secretary of State should not be able to launch into that activity without the Commission's first having had the opportunity to do it if it felt itself in a position so to do. Therefore, the final words of the Amendment should read:
… and the Commission has declared themselves unable or unwilling to undertake such action,".
Since I moved this Amendment, I have had a most courteous letter from the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn—partly confused, understandably, by the mistake already made. I am sure we can be in absolute agreement on one point: that there was never any intention that the Commission should "authorise" anything that the Secretary of State (who must be the absolute ultimate authority) should in fact be doing. But I am afraid that the noble Lord's letter has not convinced me about the main point of my Amendment and what I said then. Incidentally, I appear to have so confused the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, that in his letter to me he said:
I do think that it would be acceptable to the Secretary of State to have to get permission from the Commission to carry out functions
et cetera. I am certain that he really meant to say that it would not be acceptable to the Secretary of State—so I think we are "quits" on that particular misunderstanding.
§ What we thought we were getting, with the establishment of the Manpower Services Commission, was a new piece of machinery of the greatest importance—a piece of machinery free from red tape and, as far as possible, free from bureaucratic control, able to take action quickly and not subject to the usual interference that is inevitable when matters are handled by a Government Department. It is surely essential that the Commission should have the maximum amount of autonomy. I cannot see that it can be said that the Commission has the neces- 888 sary autonomy to do the job—it is a new structure that we are wanting: I cannot underline that enough—if the Secretary of State is free to intervene and do certain things with which the Commission is really charged. The noble Lord explains in his letter that the Secretary of State has residual responsibilities in the field of employment, resulting from the fact that the Employment and Training Act 1948 has been repealed; but surely it is possible to make clear in advance what the responsibilities of the Secretary of State are as a result of the repeal of the 1948 Act, and what the responsibilities of the Commission would be.
§ It seems intolerable that the responsibilities of the two should be in any way confused and for responsibility not to be clearly laid on the Commission so that it can get on with the job with which it is charged. It is important that the Secretary of State should not interfere or take on himself any of the functions with which the Commission is charged unless and until there is a real dereliction of duty on the part of the Commission. We shall only get the new-style service that we want when we have this degree of autonomy and responsibility on the part of the Commission. It seems to me that there is a real organisational confusion embedded in this clause, and that is why I shall not press this Amendment—obviously it contains this error, but I had not intended to press the Amendment at this stage anyway.
§ I implore the Minister to look again at the division of responsibility between the Secretary of State and the National Manpower Commission and to reassure us that, having pressed so hard for a Manpower Services Commission with new-style powers, we are not getting—and I am becoming quite anxious about this—simply the old employment services dressed up again, with the responsibility resting where it always was in reality. We want the Commission to have power to get on and do the job, and we want the Secretary of State only to have ultimate reserve powers; because it is only in this way, in our view, that the vital work that needs to be done can be done. We do not think, frankly, that this is work for a Government Department. We want a different kind of organisation to do it. I am quite unconvinced that we are 889 getting it as long as we have this clause standing here which quite clearly gives the Secretary of State the power to intervene in a way which undermines the responsibilities of the Commission. My Lords, in view of what I have just said, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 6 [Restriction on charging persons seeking employment, etc.]:
§ 6.7 p.m.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 10:
Page 8, line 37, leave out ("and 12") and insert (", 12 and 14(1)").
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, I think it would be for the convenience of your Lordships if we were to discuss Amendments Nos. 10, 16, 18 and 19 together. The main Amendments are those to Schedule 2, Parts I and III. The others are consequential.
§ In discussion in Committee of Section 14 of the Industrial Training Act 1964, I said I was prepared to consider tabling an Amendment on Report to provide that the initiative for training trainees from overseas temporarily in Great Britain could in fact come from a board, subject to the consent of the Commission and the Minister. The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, was good enough to indicate in Committee that such an Amendment, while not going quite as far as the Amendment he put down in Committee, would be acceptable to him. These Amendments achieve this effect, while also preserving the present position that money raised by a levy on industry may not be used for the purposes of Section 14. This, in our view, would be quite wrong.
§ The Amendment to Part III of Schedule 2 achieves the same effect in the case of the Agricultural Training Board, except that it will need to get the consent of the agricultural Ministers, rather than that of the Commission and of the Secretary of State. This is in line with the other provisions in the Bill which transfer responsibility for that Board to the agricultural Ministers. It has also been suggested—and I think there were some words on this point in the Amendment first tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, though not in his revised Amendment which was discussed in Committee—that it is unnecessary to restrict 890 board activities under Section 14 of the 1964 Act to "industry and commerce". It seems to me there is force in this and that the present Section 14 of the 1964 Act is probably a little unduly restrictive of possible action in respect of overseas trainees. The boundaries of what is technically "commercial" may be different in another country from those here, but that does not seem to be a good reason why a training board should not be empowered to provide or arrange for the training in this country of people intending to work overseas in "noncommercial activities, if the board or its industry has the necessary expertise. The Amendments therefore seek to remove this limitation.
§ So far as the provision of funds from the British aid programme is concerned, as the House may know, the Government reserve a considerable sum for training nationals of developing countries in a variety of ways. This means that we are able to offer a stated number of training places to individual overseas Governments; and we rely on them, in consultation with our overseas posts, to decide on their training priorities. This is in line with our general policy on aid matters, which must take account of the priorities of the overseas Governments. They have in fact so far put forward rather few candidates for industrial training, but we have been very successful in placing these. A number of other industrial trainees in this country are financed by the firms which employ them. The Government have not hitherto sought to use Section 14 of the 1964 Act for un-sponsored trainees, because it would involve us in an unknown commitment outside the normal scope of Government-to-Government aid. However, the question of increasing help for industrial training of overseas nationals will be further reviewed in the near future by the O.D.A. I beg to move Amendment No. 10.
§ Clause 8 [Provision of services by education authorities]:
LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 12:
Page 12, line 34, at end insert ("except that the said reference does include part-time attendance by persons who satisfy the local education authority in question that their attendance is with a view to employment").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 12, and I think I can move it fairly shortly. This gives me the opportunity of apologising to your Lordships for the fact that I have an aeroplane to catch which will not permit me to listen to the whole of the rest of the discussion. My noble friend Lord Jacques will be looking after our interests.
§ This Amendment again refers to an Amendment which we dealt with at the Committee stage, where I felt I had impressed the Government with the fact that the Bill, as drafted, draws an invidious distinction, although they did not wish it to appear invidious. It was made clear that if a man had to earn his living and could not go to an educational institute until after 5 o'clock he was not to be put in the same category as those who could go at 4.30 p.m. because they did not have to earn their living. The difficulty is that if a man is going to an evening class after 5 o'clock how does one know whether—and the Minister asked me this —the purpose of the class attended is to improve the capacity to be employed and make a contribution to the nation rather than to indulge in a perfectly pleasant and innocuous hobby? The answer I suggested at the time was: let us satisfy the local authority. If they are satisfied then surely everybody should be happy.
§ It would be very unfortunate if a young person was excluded from the services to which he would otherwise be entitled merely by the fact that he could not get to the classes until after 5 o'clock. This Amendment seeks to put in the kind of satisfaction which is really the maximum satisfaction. It says that if the local education authority are satisfied that the attendance at the classes is with a view to employment then the young person qualifies. If that is not so, then the young person does not qualify. The Government ought to accept that kind of Amendment which does nothing but improve the Bill. It removes a very unpleasant and invidious distinction.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
My Lords, I said at the Committee stage, when the noble Lord moved a comparable Amendment, that I thought there were powers for local authorities to provide a service to a young person attending an evening 892 class for vocational reasons which they could exercise, and I thought they would in all normal cases exercise them. I see the noble Lord's point that it might be felt invidious that the local education authorities' duty should not extend to these young people attending classes beginning after 5 o'clock. I promised on the previous occasion to consider further whether local authorities should have a specific duty to make arrangements for careers guidance in respect of people attending evening classes with a vocational purpose. My Lords, I am very happy to accept the Amendment that the noble Lord has moved. It may serve to avoid any misunderstandings and it makes the Bill a little clearer.
§ LORD DIAMOND
My Lords, I should like to express my gratitude to the Government for doing what they have done, which is extremely valuable and improves the Bill. I am most grateful.
§ Schedule 1 [Additional provisions relating to the constitution etc. of the Commission and Agencies]:
§ 6.17 p.m.
§ BARONESS SEEAR moved Amendment No. 14:
Page 20, line 27, leave out from beginning to end of line 36 and insert—
("(1) It shall be the duty of the Commission, before such date as the Secretary of State may determine, to select such staff as it requires who shall be chosen from a list of names notified to the Commission by the Secretary of State and also from candidates with considerable industrial and commercial experience in the field of employment and training; and the terms of the offer of employment shall be such that in the opinion of the Secretary of State they are, taken as a whole, not less favourable to the person to whom the offer is made than the terms under which he is employed by the Secretary of State on the date at which the offer is made and such terms will also have full regard to the desirability of movement of staff between the Commission and industry and commerce:
Provided that not less than one quarter of the staff (excluding non-clerical and manual employees of the Commission) shall be persons who possess the industrial and commercial experience referred to in this subparagraph.").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this is in some ways a continuation of the previous Amendment which I moved. It is the same subject moved from a different angle, an Amendment which I 893 withdrew too swiftly before the noble Lord the Minister could reply. I raised this matter at the Committee stage and I had a courteous letter from the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, in reply to the points I then raised. I am afraid that the noble Earl confirmed my worst fears: as this House will now be all too well aware, my worst fears are that we are getting very much the mixture as before. Regarding the staffing of the Manpower Commission, it is required in the Bill that the Commission must take on the persons already employed in the Department of Employment whom the Secretary of State tells the Commission they must employ. The staff of the Commission are largely predetermined by the Secretary of State. That is not the way in which to get a new styled organisation going. This is going to be very largely manned—and it says so both in the Preamble and in the Bill —by existing civil servants. The noble Earl replied that Civil Service terms and conditions should continue to apply on the Staff Commission and Agencies in order to facilitate free movement of staff between the Department of Employment and other Civil Service Departments. He went on to say that it will be possible to take on people from outside on long or short-term contracts. It leaves no doubt at all that to a large extent the Commission is going to be run by civil servants.
§ I do not wish to be discourteous, but one cannot put too fine a point on this. The employment services in this country have been run by civil servants ever since the Department of Employment, the then Ministry of Labour, was set up. It has not been a success. The House must know that the labour exchanges up and down this country have been used to a small extent. They have been white elephants in many areas so far as meeting labour market conditions and helping people to find employment are concerned. The manpower forecasting exercise of the Department of Employment was admittedly a failure. Although much good work has been done in Government training centres, it has been on far too small a scale to begin to meet the country's needs. This has gone on for three generations. It is not unreasonable to say that what we need is something basically different. I said on the previous Amendment that the organisation 894 and the control needed to be different. In this Amendment I am asking that, to a large extent, the personnel should be different. So far as clerical staff and that level of employees is concerned, there is no reason why they should not be civil servants, but the people Who are going to make decisions, who are going to be executives in this field, should not be civil servants. We should not have the amateur approach that we have had for three generations. We should have a far more expert approach to this problem, which seems to me to be absolutely vital if this change in the Bill is to mean anything at all.
§ Can we have from the Minister a clear remit that it is not intended that the Commission should be run by the Civil Service as in the past, largely on the same lines with a little window-dressing to make it look like something different. On all sides I get clues that this is what is going to happen and that it is very largely a waste of time in bringing this Bill in.
§ It is not exchangeability with the Civil Service and the Department of the Employment and with other Departments of the Civil Service; it is interchangeability with people in industry. And, let me add, we shall not get interchangeability with the people we need if we pay Civil Service rates, for the simple reason not that the Civil Service is underpaid but that the people you want to get are people who take heavy responsibility, take risks and, if they fail, can carry the can. That is not true within the Civil Service. I beg to move.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
My Lords, in consideration in Committee of the subject of the staff of the Commission and Agencies, I said that I would compare carefully the Bill and the White Paper; that is to say, the White Paper, Employment and Training Government Proposals, Cmnd. No. 5250, and that I would try to make sure that there was no divergence between them. I have done this and satisfied myself that there is not. As she has said, I have also written to the noble Baroness about this. It would be wrong for me to get into a general debate about this. The noble Baroness knows my views as I, if I may say so, know hers, but I should like to say something to her. The Commission is not going to be run by civil servants. The 895 Manpower Services Commission's executive arms, the Training Services Agency and the Employment Service Agency may, and most likely will, contain many people who either are civil servants now, are members of my right honourable friend's Department or who have been brought in from outside, but the Commission, which the noble Baroness has on so many occasions told us she welcomes, will be in charge. They will also be correlating the work of the Industrial Training Boards and other bodies, so I cannot accept that this is the old matter as before with a little window-dressing.
The other point I would make is that the Civil Service itself is not static; it is open to change and innovation under successive Ministers. As I think I said to the noble Baroness in Committee and certainly on Second Reading, I beg her to look for herself at some of the innovations which the Department are at present bringing in under the Employment Service Agency, the new job shops and the like, and also under the Training Services Agency with the training opportunity schemes, the Government training centres and the like. Her argument rests on the mixture as before. I have already dealt with the fact that I do not think that is right but, in addition, the mixture as before has itself changed.
The noble Lord, Lord Byers, suggested in Committee that the Bill makes it mandatory for the Commission initially to appoint only people currently employed by the Secretary of State. This is not so. It is true that initially the Commission and Agencies must offer employment to existing staff of the Secretary of State nominated by him, and I think this is right. There is no evidence that the performance of such large-scale redundancies is deserved or would be welcome. But in spite of this, nothing in the Bill requires the Commission and the Agencies, even requires them initially, only to employ those nominated by the Secretary of State. I would also add my point that the existing staff liable to be transferred also contain many men and women with valuable outside experience, so I do not think the noble Baroness and I really disagree about this and I hope that she will withdraw her Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Schedule 2 [Modifications of Industrial Training Act, 1964]:
§ 6.27 p.m.
LORD JACQUES moved Amendment No. 15:
Page 26, line 9, leave out ("one") and insert ("one and a half").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, we on this side of the House attach a great deal of importance to training. We believe that the economic future of this country depends substantially on the training programme. We are dismayed to find that there is a ceiling of 1 per cent. We believe that this is wrong in principle and wrong in amount. It is wrong in principle because it invites firms in industry to assume that training is all right provided they do not spend more than 1 per cent. on it. It is wrong in amount because substantial industries are already spending more than 1 per cent. on training. That is so in the case of engineering, which is an important exporting industry. We believe that the very minimum that is required is an increase of this maximum from 1 per cent. to 1½ per cent. We realise that in a later paragraph in the Bill the Secretary of State has powers, in exceptional cases, to authorise an amount of levy in excess of the ceiling. We feel that that by itself is not enough and that the maximum ceiling should be increased from 1 to 1½ per cent. I beg to move.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, indicated that in his view the imposition of a normal levy limit of 1 per cent. suggested that the Government do not attach sufficient importance to training. I must say that I wholeheartedly reject this suggestion, and I think I can fairly say that what we are doing in this Bill is clear evidence that the Government do attach considerable importance to training. We do not believe that a normal levy of 1 per cent. will result in a diminution or scaling-down of the activities of training boards. It is certainly not the Government's intention that that should happen; this is not 897 how we see things working out under the new arrangements, and I will say why.
To substantiate the Government's view that the new arrangements in general, and the 1 per cent. limit in particular, will not have an adverse effect on the Board's influence or scale of effort I should like to make two points. The first is that at the present time only a small number of boards have a levy of more than 1 per cent.—and this number will be reduced even further in the period of the run-up to the introduction of the new arrangement. Out of 28 Boards—because the Foundry Committee counts as a board—only six boards including the Foundry Committee have rates of over 1 per cent. at present, although I admit that those six do include the largest body, the engineering training board, and I quite agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, said on Second Reading about the importance to the economy and the country of that board. The second, and perhaps rather more important, point is that when the new arrangements come into full operation, up to £35 million in a full year will be made available to the Commission to cover the administrative costs to the boards of the training grants and to promote training in the non-board sector. This will be a very substantial new contribution from the Exchequer.
It really is wrong to assume that reducing the levy in itself reduces the amount that firms spend on training. Levy does not by any means cover the full cost of training in industry. I think most firms which take training at all seriously spend much more on training than they are assessed at for levy purposes, even without taking into account the grants they may earn which can be offset against levy. Many people in the training world would argue that the purpose of levy is rather to make firms aware of the importance of training and stimulate them to do something about it. Most boards have found a levy rate of 1 per cent. or less is adequate for this purpose.
It is true that the total assessments for levy amounted to about £200 million, but only about £40 million of this was actually received by boards, because grant is set off against levy due. Nobody can tell what the levies will be in future, since we cannot forecast the extent of exemption and exclusions. It is true that 898 the boards which have to reduce their levies to come within the 1 per cent. limit will have less money available for their activities and for grants to stimulate good training, but that is where the Exchequer contribution of up to £35 million a year will come in. It is going to pay their administrative expenses and provide the key training grants. The introduction of levy exemption will also tend to reduce the hoard's funds, but levy exemption will also be a means of giving firms an incentive to maintain good standards of training.
It simply is not part of the Government's policy that boards should exempt from levy firms whose training is not adequate. Levy exemption is intended to be a method of enabling boards to fulfil their responsibilities for securing and improving standards of training in their industries, and of doing so in a way which enables firms which have sound training arrangements to avoid the administrative complexities which have become associated with the levy grant system. The general principle of exemption should be that boards will grant exemption to employers if they are satisfied that the firm is carrying out training adequate to its needs.
Pressure for good training will be maintained by the criteria which boards will set for exemption. These will relate to what a firm can be expected to be doing in order to be regarded as carrying out training adequate to its needs. The criteria should represent standards of good training practice which boards have worked out with their industries. The important thing to realise is that as the standard of what is accepted as good training practice rises over time, so the exemption system can apply its pressure for these improved standards. It is entirely appropriate that the standards qualifying firms for exemption should be progressively raised.
I have said this to show the very point that so many firms are spending more on training than they are assessed for levy; the very point that training boards are even now, so many of them, below 1 per cent.; the fact that the engineering training board itself has reduced its levy from 2 per cent. to 1.5 per cent. already, and will be coming down in due course to 1 per cent.—all these factors I think indicate 899 that it is only in exceptional circumstances that the Secretary of State should have power to impose a levy over 1 per cent. After all, when my right honourable friend the Secretary of State first announced the scheme in another place last August he said that the maximum limit on levy would be 1 per cent., and in the White Paper, Cmnd. 525, published with the Bill, we explain that any levy in excess of 1 per cent. would be applied in only quite exceptional circumstances which make it necessary, and would be subject to the Affirmative Resolution procedure.
In fact, we have even been criticised from the other side for saying that we would allow exceptional circumstances and would go beyond what we originally stated would be the maximum of 1 per cent. We think that, in the light of all these considerations, it is only in exceptional circumstances that it would be necessary to provide for levies above 1 per cent., and we feel that we must stick to the maximum levy of 1 per cent. in normal circumstances. We believe that this is the right amount and that within it will be possible, with the assistance of the £35 million I have mentioned, for the training boards to supervise the training services and to make their contribution to the raising of their standards.
§ LORD JACQUES
My Lords, in view of the hour, we will consider the reply by the Minister and reserve the right to come back at the next stage. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Page 34, line 5, leave out from ("words") to end of paragraph and insert ("from the beginning to "carried on" there shall be substituted the words "An industrial training board may, with the consent of the Commission given with the approval of the Minister, exercise such functions in connection with training for employment" and at the end of section 14(1) there shall be inserted the words "; and the board may enter into agreements in the making of payments to the board n respect of the exercise in pursuance of this subsection of functions by the board." ").—(The Earl of Gowrie.)
§ 6.36 p.m.
BARONESS SEEAR moved Amendment No. 17:
Page 34, line 35, at end insert ("; in exercising this control in relation to boards the Minister will have full regard to the desirability of movement of staff between boards and their industries; and").
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the purpose of this Amendment is to give industrial training boards the maximum freedom of action to recruit the calibre of staff they believe to be necessary in order to do the work which the training boards will still have to do, and still ought to do, in the new set-up. I am sure that the noble Earl or the noble Lord will tell me that, as the Bill now stands, there is nothing in it to stop them from paying the higher rates they will need to pay to get these people. It would, however, be a great help and reassurance to some training boards, at least, if this qualification were inserted in the Schedule, so that they would know that they were not going to be tied by the Minister to Civil Service rates in the employment of their staffs. I beg to move.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
My Lords, at an earlier stage of the Bill the noble Baroness moved the same Amendment and I undertook then to have a look at it. I pointed out that there were other Bills under which the same conditions had arisen before, and that we should in fact be creating a precedent if we did what has not been done before and wrote into the Bill words which had appeared in the White Paper. I am afraid that, having looked at it, I still find that the arguments against taking the unprecedented step of writing such an assurance into the Bill are convincing. In any case, I am bound to say to the noble Baroness that, although it might have a comforting effect, it would not have much more than a comforting effect, because all that the Minister has to do, according to these words, is tohave full regard to the desirability of movement of staff between boards and their industries".This has already appeared in the White Paper and, while I must again advise the House not to accept this Amendment, I will repeat the assurance one more time: that, in exercising his control in relation to boards, the Minister will have full regard to the desirability of move- 901 ment of staff between boards and their industries. I wholly agree with the noble Baroness that this is something desirable to happen and therefore it would be necessary to provide the means for it to happen; and I hope she will rest content with that assurance.
§ BARONESS SEEAR
My Lords, I deeply regret that the Minister is so bound by precedent. After all, there is no precedent for industrial training boards, which are sui generis. However, I take it there is no point in pressing him further, and therefore I ask the leave of the House to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 6.40 p.m.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
My Lords, with the leave of the House I should like to move Amendments Nos. 18 and 19 together. They are consequential:
Page 48, line 48, at end insert:
Power of industrial training board with respect to training for employment overseas
("14.—(1) An industrial training board may, with the consent of the Commission given with the approval of the Minister, exercise such functions in connection with training for employment 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; and the board may enter into agreements for the making of payments to the board in respect of the exercise in pursuance of this subsection of functions by the board.")
Page 51, line 39, at end insert—
("7A. In section 14(1) of the Act for the words from the beginning to "carried on" there shall he substituted the words "An industrial training board may, with the consent of the Minister, exercise such functions in connection with training for employment."") —(The Earl of Gowrie.)
§ BARONESS SEEAR
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Gladwyn asked me, in his absence, to convey his thanks that this Amendment, which originated with him, has been accepted.