§ 4 p.m.
§ Debate on Amendment No. 1 resumed.
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (LORD DRUMALBYN)
My Lords, perhaps I may now return to the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Coleraine. This Amendment would lay a fourth duty on the Commission under Clause 2(3) of the Bill, the first being for the Commission—to submit to the Secretary of State from time to time particulars of what it proposes to do for the purpose of performing its functions;the second—… to ensure that its activities are in accordance with proposals approved by the Secretary of Stateand the third—to give effect to any directions given to it by the Secretary of State.My Lords, the first part of this Amendment gives the Commission a duty to co-operate with the careers services of local education authorities. I am sure that we all agree that it will be essential for the Commission to co-operate closely with the local education authority services, and indeed vice versa. We shall succeed in providing the best possible services for young people only if these two services work very closely together. My only doubt is whether it is necessary to specify this as a duty in the Bill. It is true that Clause 8(4) gives local education authorities a duty to consult and co-operate with one another for the purpose of performing their careers service functions; but I think this is really just a continuation of a standard provision in the schemes under which local education authorities operate the youth employment service at present under the Employment and Training Act 1948. These schemes have invariably included 1387 a requirement to consult and co-operate together. So far as co-operation between the Commission and the local education authorities is concerned, I think in practice we could rely on the good sense of those concerned, and of course if this did not prove enough there are always the Secretary of State's powers of direction and of guidance. Throughout the passage of the Bill through Parliament up to this stage it has, I think, been generally accepted that this would be enough.
The second part of the Amendment gives the Commission a duty to encourage young persons to use the local education authorities' careers services. We have discussed at length, at previous stages of the Bill, the question of school leavers and other young people who choose to use the Commission's employment service. I can certainly give a full assurance—and I am glad to have this opportunity to do so—that there is no intention that the Commission's service should set out in general to compete with the careers service in dealing with school leavers who have not yet got a job, or for that matter those who have left school and have fallen out of a job in the early years after leaving school. And if these young people come to the Commission's service they would normally be advised that the facilities offered by the local education authority service might be more suitable for them. To that extent therefore, the Commission certainly will be encouraging these young people to use the local education authority service. Of course, if such a young person makes it quite clear, despite this advice, that he simply does not want to use the local education authority service, then there comes a point where there is no purpose in encouraging him to do so, and he ought then to be allowed to make use of the adult service rather than going without any service at all.
But the Amendment goes well beyond those who have recently left school, and requires the Commission to encourage young persons to use the local education authority services. The term "young persons" is not defined, but for the sake of argument let us take those under 18. I do not think it would be right to give the Commission a duty of this kind under the Bill. The fact is that there are young people under 18 who may have been in 1388 employment for the best part of two years and whose needs may best be met by the adult service. In other cases, of course, a young person may need continuing careers guidance which he can best obtain from the local education authority careers officer who advised him earlier, and he should be referred back to him. But surely these are matters which should be decided on the basis of the circumstances of the individual case—not on the basis of a general rule laid down in the Statute that everyone up to a certain age must be encouraged to use the local education authority service, whether it is best suited to his needs or not.
I have been assuming that "young persons" means those under 18. But the Amendment does not define the expression, and I think that defining it would create real difficulties, for there are very genuine differences of view about what the definition should be. Some say it should be those under 18. On the other hand, the Opposition Amendments in Committee in another place sought to ensure that the local education authorities would provide the service to everyone up to the age of 19. The Expenditure Committee, in its recent report on the youth employment service, recommended the age of 21. I might add that the E.E.C. programme for the exchange of young workers defines them as "aged as a general rule between 18 and 30 years". This illustrates, I think, the difficulties of defining this expression in the Amendment—and it would be essential to define it as the Amendment lays a duty on the Commission. At this very late stage of the Bill we just cannot embark on an attempt to define "young persons", and without such a definition I do not see how the Amendment could stand. Apart from that very important objection, I suggest to your Lordships that we should refrain from writing a duty of this kind into the Bill but rather should rely on the good sense and co-operation of the Commission and of the local education authorities, backed up if necessary in the last resort, as I have said earlier, by the Secretary of State's reserve powers of direction and of guidance.
I am very glad that I can give an absolute assurance that it is the Secretary of State's intention that the Commission should not in general set out to deal with those who have recently left school and 1389 have not yet entered employment, but should advise them to go to the local education authority careers service. As I said, the same applies to those who have fallen out of employment since leaving school. We are entirely in sympathy with encouraging young people to use the local education authority service, but we do not think it would necessarily be in their best interest that they should do so in every case. For that reason, and for two others, namely, that the Amendment does not define what is meant by "young persons" and that there are likely to be strong differences of opinion as to what that definition should be, I urge my noble friends not to press the Amendment at this stage of the Bill.
§ LORD DIAMOND
My Lords, your Lordships' House will be indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, who speaks with such authority and experience, for having raised this matter yet again and obtained from the Government what I think is the clearest undertaking we have had so far—a very valuable undertaking and well worth the exercise and the trouble to which the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, has been put. Frankly, I must say to the Government that some of the anxieties which have been expressed to me, and possibly to the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, as well, arise from statements made on behalf of the Government in another place which were not at all clear, statements which at first indicated a likelihood of non-interference—let me put it at that as a minimum—and then seemed to withdraw somewhat from that. Therefore the anxieties were due in part not to the wording of the Bill but to the interpretation which has been put upon it by statements made in another place as to the way in which the Government conceived that the Bill should be operated.
The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has now made a most important contribution. He has given the clearest of assurances—indeed, one could not use words more precise than those which the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has used. If I may underline it again, he has added of his own accord, on his responsibility, that this would include not only those who are at school but those who have left school, taken a job and fallen out of employment very early—I think those were the words which the noble Lord used. That, I think, is a very valuable addition; it is 1390 the way in which one hoped that this Bill would be operated and we all owe the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, a great debt for what he has achieved.
§ LORD COLERAINE
My Lords, I should like to echo what the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, has said. I feel that what my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn has told us represents a real advance on the previous attitude of the Government, particularly in regard to what occurred in another place. I realise, too, that while he has met, effectively, I think, the purposes which I sought in moving the Amendment, the Amendment in its present form, as he pointed out, is impracticable. On both these grounds, therefore, that he has given us the reassurance we sought and that the Amendment in its present form is not entirely practicable, and as there is no time to make further Amendment, I would ask your Lordships' leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Schedule 2 [Modifications of Industrial Training Act 1964]:
§ 4.10 p.m.
LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 26, line 10, after ("emoluments") insert ("and payments intended to be disbursed as emoluments which are").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I would speak to Amendments Nos. 2, 3, 4, and 5 together. These Amendments are somewhat technical and are directed at a situation which is particularly likely to arise in relation to the construction industry, where part of the workforce of employers may be engaged by them through the agency of labour-only subcontracting firms. In such cases it ought to be possible, particularly in the construction industry, to impose a levy on the employer in such a way as to take into account not only what the employer pays members of his workforce who are directly under contract to him but also what he pays as remuneration in respect of those who are indirectly employed under labour-only sub-contract arrangements. It is therefore important that for the purpose of calculating the 1 per cent. ceiling on normal levy it should be
possible to take into account emoluments paid indirectly under such arrangements. If they were not taken into account, then because of this technicality, a large number of levy orders in the construction industry might technically impose a levy of over 1 per cent. on certain employers, if the 1 per cent. was calculated on the basis of direct employees of theirs alone without including labour-only sub-contractors. The present wording of the Bill would have this effect because of the reference to,
emoluments paid and payable by that employer to employees of his
in the new subsection 2A(d)(i) of the 1964 Act, on page 39, line 22 of the Bill. The purpose of these Amendments is to enable the 1 per cent. ceiling to be calculated not only by reference to emoluments paid to direct employees, but also to labour-only sub-contracting firms, as I have described. I beg to move.
§ LORD DIAMOND
My Lords, I only rise to say that this is a very familiar situation, and we are quite content.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 26, line 11, leave out ("employees of his") and insert ("or in respect of persons employed").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 39, line 22, after ("emoluments") insert ("and payments intended to be disbursed as emoluments which are").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 39, line 23, leave out ("employees of his") and insert ("or in respect of persons employed ").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Moved, That the Bill do now pass.— (Lord Drumalbyn.)
§ On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons.