§ 5.46 p.m.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
My Lords, I beg to move that the Employment and Training Bill be now read a second time. The Bill deals with three main subjects. First, it sets up a Manpower Services Commission which will be responsible for the employment and training services at present provided by the Department of Employment. It repeals the Employment and Training Act 1948 and incorporates the necessary provisions to take its place. Second, it makes certain changes in the industrial training board system, and transfers responsibilities for the Agricultural Training Board to the Agriculture Ministers by means of amendment to the Industrial Training Act 1964. Third, it sets a new pattern for the future of Careers Services for Young People. On the first two of these subjects, the Bill's proposals have evolved from the proposals put forward in the consultative document Training for the Future.
Noble Lords may remember that we discussed that consultative document a little more than a year ago, on May 3, 1972. On that occasion one or two doubts were expressed as to whether the document was really consultative or whether the Government had not in fact already made up their minds and were just going through the motions of consultation. But the ideas embodied in the Bill have been changed in a number of important respects since the original proposals of Training for the Future, and I shall be drawing attention to some of these changes. The fact that these changes have been made indicates the importance the Government attach to genuine consultations in matters of this kind. My right honourable friend would like me to acknowledge the willing and effective co-operation he has received from all concerned, including Members of your Lordships' House, before he came to final decisions on what should be contained in the Bill to be laid before Parliament. Parliament has been kept informed in a series of publications. Noble Lords will have seen that there has also been a White Paper, published in March of this year, when the Bill was introduced in another place. All this makes my task in introducing the Bill to your Lordships' House much easier.
240 Your Lordships may recall that Training for the Future proposed a National Training Agency, a hived-off body which would run the Training Opportunities Scheme and would also co-ordinate the work of the industrial training boards. There was a general welcome for this concept—but a number of noble Lords expressed concern that this would separate the agency dealing with industrial training from the agency dealing with employment and the employment services. I am sure that they will welcome the provision now in the Bill to set up a Manpower Services Commission which will bring the employment and training services together under its wing. At the same time the opportunity is being taken to involve representatives of those who use the services, and of other interested parties, in direct responsibility for them. The Commission will consist of a full-time chairman, three representatives appointed after consultation with the T.U.C., three after consultation with the C.B.I., two after consultation with the local authority associations in England and Wales and in Scotland (one each) and one after consultation with professional education interests.
The Commission will be directly responsible to the Secretary of State for Employment for the manpower services. It is in fact a new type of organisation. Clause 2 succinctly lays down its main duty:to make such arrangements as it considers appropriate "—that is, which the Commission considers appropriate—for the purpose of assisting persons to select, train for, obtain and retain employment suitable for their ages and capacities and to obtain suitable employees (including partners and other business associates) ".This duty relates to disabled as well as able-bodied persons, and so Sections 2-5 of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 are repealed. Its main functions will be:first, planning developing and operating the public employment services (except the careers services provided by local education authorities), second, promoting training for employment—both by running the Training Opportunities Scheme under which men and women may take courses of training and education related to employment at public expense, and also by co-ordinating the work of the industrial training boards, meeting their administrative expenses, and providing funds for selective grants to stimulate key training activities, and promoting training, where necessary, in areas not covered by training boards ".241 Responsibility for these functions will rest with the Commission, and the Secretary of State will not intervene in their day-to-day management. But the Secretary of State will continue to be responsible, and answerable to Parliament, for the strategic policy objectives of the Commission, and he will have the powers of approval and of direction necessary for that purpose. This is a new and potentially very interesting experiment in giving real responsibility to representatives of employers, workers and the interests most concerned with the effectiveness of the services, while retaining the ultimate accountability of Ministers to Parliament. Your Lordships will recognise that in the case of a body such as the Commission one has to strike the right balance between, on the one hand the Secretary of State's ultimate responsibility and accountability to Parliament for its activities, and on the other excessive interference in its day-to-day affairs. We believe that under the Bill as it is this balance can be achieved. The Secretary of State will be fully able to control the Commission. His powers—mainly under Clause 3 of the Bill—are very much wider than those in relation to a nationalised industry, and so the range of matters about which he can be questioned in relation to the use of his powers—or failure to make use of them—will also be wider. Moreover, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration will be able to investigate the Commission and Agencies, and the Secretary of State will be able to direct the Commission to comply with a Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration's report.
The intention is that the Commission itself will have only a small staff. Its executive arms will be the Employment Service Agency and the Training Services Agency. These two agencies at present exist within the Department of Employment, but will move out of the Civil Service and be taken over by the Commission. They will be responsible solely to the Commission and will carry out the functions the Commission assigns to them. They will have their own budget and a management structure designed to enable them to respond quickly to changing needs. The Commission will be responsible for putting forward the plans and budgets for the manpower services to the Secretary of State for Employment; 242 seeing that the approved programmes are carried into effect; and co-ordinating the work of the two agencies. Clearly the Commission will have a close interest in obtaining the best possible manpower intelligence, and it will have full power to carry out or commission research into all matters falling within its responsibilities. And, of course, it will be able to obtain information from the Department of Employment and other Government Departments, and from employers either direct or through the industrial training boards, who will retain their power to get information, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State, from the industries with which each is concerned.
Next, may I turn to the changes the Bill makes in the industrial training board system. The Government have found widespread agreement that some changes in the Industrial Training Act 1964 were necessary. Experience has shown up weaknesses in the levy/grant system which were making it a less effective weapon for promoting training, and to some extent even counter-productive. I need not go into this in detail, since we debated it fully last year. Annex 1 of the consultative document Training for the Future, contains a "Review of the Industrial Training Board System" and discusses the difficulties that have arisen. In particular, it said that the levy/grant system had tended to concentrate attention on money rather than on training, and that common standards of training set by a board did not fit easily with the particular and often unique needs of individual firms.
As I have said, the changes proposed in Training for the Future have been modified in response to the anxieties expressed in that debate and during the consultative period that they might be going too far. The changes proposed in the Bill are made by way of amendment to the 1964 Act. That, I recognise, is a rather complex way of legislating, but it has some advantages, from the point of view of the training boards, over scrapping the 1964 Act and starting all over again. After all, the training boards and those whom they exist to serve are familiar with the 1964 Act and amending the Act makes clear what the changes are to be. The provision of Keeling Schedules, one for the Agriculture 243 Board and the other for the rest of industry and commerce, helps to enhance the advantages while lessening any disadvantages.
The main changes are these: first, levy will be subject to a maximum of 1 per cent. of pay-roll. There is power to make a higher levy order subject to Affirmative Resolution, but the Secretary of State has made it clear that in normal circumstances he would not consider making such an order. Secondly, a training board's levy proposals must include provision for excluding small firms from the levy. This is in line with the recommendations of the Bolton Committee that small firms should be exempted from levy. The exemption level is likely to vary from board to board. It is being discussed with individual boards. Thirdly, the board must exempt from the levy any employer whose arrangements for training and further education it judges to be adequate, in accordance with criteria laid down by the board and approved by the Commission and the Secretary of State for Employment, criteria which may include release of workers for further education. So employers with adequate arrangements will be relieved from the complications of levy. There will be a right of appeal against refusal of exemption in the first place to the board or a committee of the board and finally to an independent body set up by the Secretary of State. Fourthly, the Commission will have power to make grants to boards. The Government have made it clear that they are prepared to make available up to £35 million a year for the purposes of paying the board's administrative expenses, providing grants to encourage key training activities, and the promotion of training in sectors of employment not covered by boards.
We believe that these changes will not weaken the boards' ability to promote training in their industries. They are necessary adaptations to make the system suitable for present conditions in industry. Indeed, they reflect the direction in which many boards have already been moving. The boards will retain the powerful weapon of levy exemption as a spur to firms to give adequate training. In addition, as a new element, public funds are to be made available for boards' 244 administrative expenses and for selective grants for key training activities. There will, however, be provision for a levy without the possibility of exemption, but only if this is what employers in the industry, taken as a whole, want.
The exclusion of more small firms from levy does not mean that training in small firms will be neglected, nor does it mean—and I stress this—that there will be no support for group training schemes. The Government fully recognise the importance of group training schemes. It remains the Government's policy that they should be maintained and the development of new schemes encouraged. We must remember, however, that by next year the Manpower Services Commission will have responsibility for policy about group training. We regard it as of the greatest importance that the training boards should continue to play a major role. They will prepare their own plans and budgets and agree them with the Commission.
It will be their responsibility to identify the training needs and priorities of their industries and to develop ways of promoting adequate training. This is an exacting task, and we shall need first-rate people as chairmen and members of the boards just as much in the future as in the past. The new arrangements in no way down-grade the boards. On the contrary, the removal of features in the present arrangements which some have found unfair, onerous and objectionable, should enable the boards to improve their relationships with their respective industries and so to achieve still better results.
Let me turn now to the new arrangements in the Bill for the youth employment service. It has been clear for some time that changes are needed in the present framework—under which some local education authorities provide this service but others do not—and there are obvious advantages in bringing them in simultaneously with local government reorganisation.
What are the new arrangements in the Bill? First, under Clause 8 it will be mandatory on all local education authorities to provide a careers guidance and job-finding service for young people attending or leaving educational institutions. This duty will cover not only schools (as at present) but all educational 245 institutions except universities, and in the case of universities the local education authority will have a duty to make its service available to students who wish to use it. I think this move to a mandatory duty for local education authorities to provide this service will be widely welcomed by the local authorities and by others concerned with youth employment.
Second, local education authorities will also have a power to provide the same service to young people who are no longer in full-time education—and there will be no age limit for this power. So a young person who wishes to use the local education authority service after he has left education and entered employment will be free to do so without any age barrier—in particular, if he loses his job or wishes to change it, even if, for example, he has remained in education up to the age of 21 or later. And the local education authority services on their side will be able to keep in touch with those whom they have helped.
The result of having no age limit is that any young person who, after entering employment, wants further help or advice, will have a choice between continuing to use the local education authority careers service and using the general employment service provided by the Commission through the Employment Service Agency. I am sure it is right to widen the area of choice for these young people. It is very important for young people, particularly those who have difficulty in settling into employment, to be able to obtain the guidance and the help which they need. By giving them this option we are increasing the likelihood of their seeking such guidance and help, and getting it in whichever way they themselves prefer. Nor do I think this will lead to any duplication. With good sense and co-operation between the local education authority service and the Employment Service Agency—which is obviously desirable in any case—I think the new arrangements will work very well.
Let me stress that there is nothing in the Bill which in any way impedes a young person in employment from going back to the local education authority service if he wishes to do so—whatever the age at which he completed his education. All the Bill does is to give those young 246 people the option of going on using the local education authority service longer than they can do at present or of using the Employment Service Agency instead.
With the repeal of the 1948 Act, the National Youth Employment Council and the Central Youth Employment Executive will technically come to an end. However, the Secretary of State will have power under Clause 5 of the Bill to appoint advisory bodies as necessary, and he is considering what form of advisory body should replace the National Youth Employment Council. As a first step, he is already consulting the members of the present Council on this question. The Secretary of State will also be thinking very carefully about the successor body to the Central Youth Employment Executive which he will be establishing under Clause 10, but the role of the new body will be somewhat different from that of the present Executive, as education authorities will have greater freedom to develop their services in ways which they think fit.
The main provisions for local education authorities will come into operation at the same time as local government reorganisation takes effect—April 1, 1974, in England and Wales, and May 16, 1975, in Scotland, if the Bill now before Parliament goes through. Over a period, unemployment and supplementary benefit work for young persons will be transferred from those local education authorities who at present do it to the Department of Employment. The total cost to public funds of implementing the policies in the Bill is estimated to be about £155 million in a full year. Of this sum about £120 million would have been expended under existing legislation, taking into account developments which would have taken place. The balance is due mainly to the sum of up to £35 million which is to be made available to the Commission for paying the administrative expenses of training boards, supporting key training activities, and promoting training in areas not covered by boards.
How will the changes made by the Bill affect the ordinary user of the manpower services? Let me take training first. I am sure we should all agree that for an individual to be able to get the training he needs is one of the most important factors in improving his career prospects 247 and his satisfaction in his work. Here, the industrial training boards will continue their work to promote training in their industries, supported by the additional public funds of up to £35 million a year which the Government are making available for the boards' purposes.
At the same time we are pressing on with the very substantial expansion of the Training Opportunities Scheme, which enables individual men and women to take full-time courses of training or retraining at public expense to prepare for new employment. In 1971, under the old Vocational Training Scheme, the number trained was less than 20,000. This year we aim to train 40,000 men and women, and by 1975 we expect to be training between 60,000 and 70,000 people a year. Moreover, about 90 per cent. of the trainees under the scheme are placed in employment in the trades for which they have been trained.
I have no doubt I shall be told that that is not nearly enough, especially when compared with the numbers trained at public expense in some other countries. Indeed it may well be that our national training needs will require a further large-scale expansion of the Training Opportunities Scheme. That is the kind of matter which the Manpower Services Commission will need to consider very carefully. But at least we can claim that we are moving in the right direction, and moving fast. We have not only more than doubled the numbers being trained under the scheme since 1970; we have also widened the range of courses available. Formerly, training under the scheme was mostly at craft level in Government Training Centres or residential training colleges for the disabled. Now, training is available also in employers' establishments and, in increasing volume, in colleges of further education. The courses range from semi-skilled through craft training to technician and management levels. Noble Lords may be interested to note that we are training more women under the scheme. Women may be trained on any course which is available under the scheme, but in practice it is found that many wish to train in clerical and secretarial skills. There are now about 5,000 women in training under the scheme compared with about 500 at the end of 1970. The Secretary of State will continue in 248 operation the Advisory Committee on Women's Employment under his powers under Clause 5.
Similarly, the number of disabled people being trained under the scheme has increased. There are now about 2,200 of them; there were 1,700 at the end of 1970. More disabled people can get courses nearer their homes. Wherever possible, the disabled are trained alongside the able-bodied. For more severely disabled people, the residential training colleges do a fine job in providing training. I am sure that the Manpower Services Commission will maintain the close co-operation with these colleges which the Department of Employment has always had. The resttlement services, including industrial rehabilitation, will be run by the Employment Service Agency and the training courses by the Training Services Agency. In short, so far as training is concerned, the training boards will be continuing their pressure for improvements, and the Training Opportunities Scheme will provide increasing opportunity for individuals to obtain training or re-training, whether they are fit or disabled.
Next, how does the Bill affect the employment services? The main way is by setting up the Employment Service Agency as one of the executive arms of the Manpower Commission, with its own budget and a new management structure. I will deal with this briefly, as my noble friend Lord Gowrie will say more about this later on. We want the service to play a substantially bigger role in the labour market, so that it can give much more help both to people seeking jobs and to employers seeking to fill vacancies; and also so that it can discharge more effectively its social responsibilities to those who have difficulty in getting or keeping jobs. And, of course, efforts are continuing to improve the other specialist services, not least the service to disabled people which is being thoroughly reviewed in consultation with my right honourable friend's National Advisory Council on the Employment of the Disabled and the other bodies concerned in this important field.
The Commission will be responsible for operating the specialised employment services provided for disabled people, and for training disabled people within 249 a policy framework agreed with the Secretary of State, but statutory responsibility for the quota scheme and for securing sheltered employment will remain with the Secretary of State. He will, however, use the Commission as his agent where appropriate, for example, in maintaining the register of disabled people. The Secretary of State will continue to be advised by the National Advisory Council on the Employment of the Disabled on all matters concerning the employment of disabled people.
Finally, the Manpower Services Commission itself. What difference will this innovation make, from the point of view of the ordinary user of the employment and training services? The Commission will involve, as I said, representatives of those most interested in the effectiveness of the manpower services—employers, workers and others—in direct responsibility for those services. It will be formed about the beginning of next year, and the Training Service Agency will be transferred to it later in the year and the Employment Services Agency not before that. The new arrangements for industrial training boards will come into operation on April 1, 1975, in accordance with the announcement which my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has recently made. It will be responsible for the twin subjects of employment and training, and will be able to take an overall view of our national manpower needs and of the programmes required to meet them. It will be able to carry forward the modernisation of the employment and training services, and the introduction of management structures fully suited to the work which has to be done. My Lords, on all these counts I believe that the Commission has a major contribution to make. Its setting up will mark an important step forward in the improvement of the manpower services, which on both social and economic grounds is essential to the well-being of the community. I hope that these arrangements will commend themselves to your Lordships, and I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a. —(Lord Drumalbyn.)
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ LORD DIAMOND
My Lords, it often falls to my lot to offer the thanks of your 250 Lordships' House to the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, for a clear and helpful explanation of legislation which he has the responsibility of introducing. It is a task which I carry out with the greatest ease because I find that courtesy and sincerity walk happily hand in hand, and on this occasion once again I am able to repeat the thanks of the House. The noble Lord has, if I may say so, made the structure of a long Bill extremely clear and your Lordships will, I am sure, permit me to say that we are very grateful to him for having done so.
Having now, I hope, put him in a very good frame of mind may I go on to say that there is one further comment which I must make at this point? That is, that we are engaged now, in a week when the other place is not even sitting, on the Second Reading of a Bill which came before your Lordships' House two days ago—a big Bill, an important Bill, affecting every worker in the country, as the noble Lord has made clear. I am not complaining, but I think it my duty to draw attention to it. I am quite sure that it is a matter which must have been discussed through the usual channels and agreement reached—I am not accusing the Government of any lack of courtesy in that respect. I think it right, however, to draw attention to the fact that this is one of the ways in which your Lordships' House is compelled to function at this time of the year.
I now go on to say that with regard to the substance of the Bill we on these Benches give it our general support. We do so not only because, if I may say so, the major idea in this must claim Labour parentage. It was as a result of work started when we were in office, and I am very grateful to the Government for having adopted this brain child when we were unexpectedly but thoroughly democratically denied the right of giving it further support and maintenance. It is indeed a most important Bill, dealing with what I must regard as one of the most vital aspects of our everyday lives. Its importance stems from two fundamental reasons; first, a job, which is a method of enabling a man—and I am sure a woman—to achieve satisfaction and the fullest expression of his or her potentiality, and indeed personality. One only has to think of the fact that most of us spend most of our waking hours at 251 our respective jobs to see what an important part in our lives they play. I, for one, would claim that a fundamental right of every man and woman is a right to a job. So it is of enormous importance that a man (and whenever I refer to a man I of course refer to a woman as well) should be trained to develop the innate capacity which is within him and should be guided so as to find a place where that developed capacity can be fully exercised.
But, my Lords, I have long since come to the conclusion that although it was the truth to say that every man is entitled to a job, it is not the whole truth. If one thinks of the fundamental right of a consumer, of an individual to purchase, to buy, to consume what he or she wishes to, and if one thinks of the changing fashions, needs and the pace of technological change, one is driven to the conclusion that there must be for many of us, if not for most of us, the need to learn new skills during the course of a working life. Otherwise, we shall be condemning ourselves to a situation in which for example, a man claims to be entitled to the same job for the whole of his life and therefore the manufacturer to manufacture ladies hatpins for at least a lifetime—and that makes it immediately clear how ridiculous it is to carry to its idealistic conclusion the statement that every man is entitled to one job. He is not; he is entitled to a job. but not the same job, for the whole of his life. Therefore the training and re-training and the understanding of his not superficial capacity but his inner skills is of vital importance.
The most important provision, that of advising him, is of vital importance, enabling him to continue to enjoy making his contribution to society. So for these two fundamentally important reasons this is, in my view, a most important Bill and we wish it well. But while one is engaged on such an important task one must examine all the provisions of the Bill to see whether it achieves in the best possible way the things which would be indicated by the background to which I have referred. Going through all the provisions one finds what I might call certain inadequacies, and I am going, if I may, to list for your Lordships, at not undue length, the kind of inadequacies 252 which I have in mind and which we shall seek to improve, or to remove, by Amendments at a later stage of the Bill.
First, the most important body, the Manpower Commission, has all the responsibilities to which the noble Lord referred, but it has one, I think, glaring deficiency: it is not sufficiently and specifically charged with the responsibility for forward planning and forecasting. The task before it has been referred to elsewhere—a very well defined reference—as a means of achieving the right skills in the right place at the right time. I accept that completely. In order to do that it will undoubtedly have to attempt the most difficult task, a task as difficult as planning our economy; the task of planning and ascertaining and identifying manpower needs—which of course includes womanpower—very well ahead. One only has to think, for example, of the time that it takes to produce a qualified doctor. Building the necessary establishments, training and so on, takes something like 12 or 13 years all told, and that is the time you have to make your decisions in order to be able to produce the right number at the right time. That is an extreme example, but it gives some indication of the forward thinking, estimating, and forecasting that has to take place in order to enable manpower to be used in the best possible way.
The answer that this is all too difficult is not an answer that I would accept, for the simple reason that these decisions are being made at all levels all the time; and without the information they are being made incorrectly or, at all events, not as well as they might otherwise be made. Careers advisers, schoolmasters, potential employers, parents, potential employees, school leavers, university leavers are all making these estimates all the time. They are not going to the universities to take scientific courses or engineering courses because they reckon that the opportunities for exercising their skills, once they have their degrees, will no longer be there. They have no idea whether they will be there in five years', eight years', or ten years' time. It is not their fault if they are coming to the wrong conclusion. I am not saying that they are; all I am saying is that these decisions are being made at all levels all the time. They have to be. Granted there 253 will be mistakes; granted there will be criticism; granted there will be people who will point the finger of scorn. But that matters not; the duty of a Government is to try to assist in the achievement of the right job for the right person at the right time. It is a very difficult task, but one which we are becoming more and more ready to accept. I would say that there is a major deficiency in the responsibilities clearly put upon the Manpower Services Commission under the Bill, and one which one needs to remedy.
May I introduce one further argument, and it is this. The Government are clearly moving at the present time, and so is public opinion, towards some form of incomes policy: that is to say, towards acceptance of the fact that it is proper for a Government to interfere with market forces which, if left alone, would determine in their own rough, cruel, but very effective way where jobs were available, where men must go to find work, and where men must go to find better remunerated work. It is right that that interference should take place, because a much more civilised way can usurp or take the place of this very uncivilised struggle of the market forces. But the corollary of that is that the Government must accept that if we are moving away from the philosophy of guidance by the market forces, we must move to the philosophy of guidance by planning and forecasting, and it is a difficult movement to make. The noble Lord said that the Government were moving in the right direction and moving fast. Certainly they are moving in the right direction, and certainly, when one looks back over two years, they have moved very fast. All I am saying is that the logical extension of the Government's own argument is that the Manpower Services Commission should be charged with greater responsibility than has been clearly laid upon it under the Bill. I am now referring to the inadequacies that I mentioned.
Secondly, I do not think that sufficient importance is attached to training. Let me say why, because the noble Lord has made it quite clear that the Government attach considerable importance to training. There are several things in the Bill which detract from that attitude and from its being made sufficiently clear to all concerned. First, there is a ceiling of 1 per cent. imposed on the amount of 254 the levy. That is wrong in amount and, more important, it is wrong in principle. It is wrong in amount because already in the engineering industry, for example —one of the most important—the figure is above that, and in these days one does not want to require engineering firms in this country, which lives very largely on its engineering exports, to reduce their training. There may be many more examples. It is wrong in principle because it invites industry to reach the conclusion that training is all right provided not too much is spent on it—" It is all right if you do not go above 1 per cent. in any circumstances unless, of course, you want the business of sending a petition to the Secretary of State, and he has the power to say: 'There is something very special here; we will go above the 1 per cent.' ".I think that reading the Bill, and reading the 1 per cent., justifies me in saying that this is a mistake and tends against sufficient importance being attached to training.
Then again there is the exemption of small firms. That again is wrong in principle. It does not say in the Bill that small firms should be encouraged to train because it is very important and there are a large number of small firms in the country. It does not say in the Bill that small firms, if they find it completely impossible for a variety of good reasons to set up training schemes themselves, should join with others and set up group training schemes. What it does say is that every hoard shall have the power to agree a figure—presumably a figure of numbers employed—below which all employers shall be excluded on the grounds that they are, under that definition, a small firm. It shows a desire to exclude firms from the responsibility of training. The Bill should show the desire of the Government to include all firms so far as practicable.
It certainly may be the case that there will be some firms in some industries which are so small that it is quite impracticable to attempt to collect a levy or attempt to impose any training requirements upon them. If it were expressed in that form one would get a totally different impression. Expressed in the form in which it is expressed at the moment it again adds to what I previously said about the 1 per cent. ceiling on expenditure. It again adds 255 to that to give the belief that the Government are not sufficiently interested in encouraging training. They know from their inquiries—I think that it was the Secretary of State himself who said this—that there is a proven need to use the stick as well as the carrot in maintaining—not even in encouraging or increasing—the present interest in training in industry. Again, one has only to refer to the recent cuts in public expenditure—and I myself would be the last person to claim to be totally unused to or unaware of the possibility of Governments cutting expenditure—to realise that it is a mistake for training in industry to rely too much on the Government purse strings and too little on industrial resources. Therefore, the switch that has taken place is an unwise one. It would be far better to rely more on the resources within industry. So much then for training.
There are three more matters to which I must draw attention, and the first is the Youth Emplyoment Service. The noble Lord has made it clear that the Government pay great attention to the training of youth, and to the need for this to be done. What I am suggesting is that they have not gone far enough. They are moving fast, as the noble Lord claimed, but they have not yet progressed sufficiently far. There are many who are excluded from the services to which the noble Lord referred, and there are many who can take one or other who ought, in my view, to take only one. Let me say why. At this stage of a youth's entry into life's work, all the pressures will be on the short-term monetary gain and against the long-term advantage which accrues from training and from taking jobs which do not mature to their full repsonsibility and full remuneration for some time. The young man will find himself at a coffee bar, or wherever it is, thinking of apprenticeship or of something with a small remuneration, with a long period before he can stand his round. He will be mixing with those who have taken a job navvying, labouring in the local building firm, or whatever it is, and drawing very substantial rewards for work—
§ LORD DIAMOND
My noble friend agrees with me—which requires great muscle, with which a young man of 17 or 18 is fully endowed, but which is not work requiring organising ability and skill, with which he is totally unendowed. Your Lordships are very familiar with this pressure. In all walks of life, there is the pressure of the visible advantage against the long-term less visible advantage. Therefore, at this stage, the young man or woman is not a fit person to make that choice. It may sound a little undemocratic and a little heavy-fathered on my part to make that statement, but I believe it to be true that it is far better that this alternative should be withdrawn and that young persons should continue to be sent exclusively to the Youth Employment Service, where careers guidance and long-term benefit to the individual ranks higher than immediate placement and filling a gap about which some local employer is hammering at the door of the general employment service.
So I think, first, that there ought to be more concentration on the need for guidance as opposed to placement; secondly, that the alternative ought to be withdrawn in some of the cases where it is already provided; and, thirdly, that the present scope is too narrow. Full-time education is one of the definitions, and the Bill, or perhaps the White Paper—I do not think the House will criticise me for not having been able to read everything relating to the Bill in the course of the two days which have elapsed, so I feel brave enough to carry on—states that if you are only attending part-time education after five o'clock, then you are excluded from the benefits of the Youth Employment Service. I can see the argument for that, but I cannot see it fully on the part of a Government who want to go to the extent of using every facility they can to encourage those who are capable of being encouraged into long-term training, as opposed to immediate short-term dead-end jobs. I should have thought that a young person who had found, for some perfectly good domestic financial reason, that he could get vocational guidance only by means of night school on three nights a week, was a person to be picked on, encouraged and looked after, rather than excluded from the benefits of a scheme of the kind 257 which is provided for school-leavers and for those coming from university. So in scope, again, I do not think that sufficient importance has been attached to the Youth Employment Service.
My other two points relate to women and the disabled. So far as women are concerned, if I may permit myself an Irishism, I think it right to say that women are the most important source of skilled manpower remaining and one wants to make the greatest use of them. The noble Lord was good enough to give us some of the figures. He wisely selected the comparison of 50 to 5,000 over a short period, which leaves one with a very comfortable feeling that everything is fine, until one looks at 5,000 in relation to the total womanhood in the country and the total needs in the country, and until one thinks of the skilled women in industry. You can almost count them on the fingers of one hand in most large firms. There is no earthly reason why women—particularly as one is now accepting that they have an equal opportunity for every job with men—should not similarly have equal opportunity for training. I think this is something which cannot be left silent in the Bill. I am not saying that the Government are against this; I am saying that, so far as I can see, there is nothing in the Bill which says, "We realise that we are miles behind in the training of women for adequate skills and they could be used much more effectively. Therefore, one of the responsibilities of the Commission should be to have regard, in particular, to womanpower", or something like that.
Similarly, with regard to the disabled —and this is my last point—we are all very familiar with the quota difficulties; the problems of seeing that they are filled. Every Government is familiar with these problems, and it is because every Government is familiar with these problems that one is bound to conclude that they are very difficult indeed; that it really is very difficult for all willing large employers to maintain their quotas to the full. Therefore, I say that there is not sufficient sanction and not sufficient provision in this Bill to help in this difficult but necessary task. These are the areas in which, as I have already indicated, we shall seek to improve the Bill as we get to the appropriate stages. So far as the 258 administration of the Bill is concerned, I am not sure that the Government have got absolutely right the position with regard to the status of ex-civil servants, or indeed the status of those who are at present employees of the boards, and one may want to look a little more carefully at this point. But as to the general principles, I want to say again that our intention on this side is to help make this Bill one of the best possible instruments for training everyone who is willing to be trained to the maximum of his or her potentialities, and a Bill for increasing the sum of human happiness through the opportunities provided for every man and woman to engage in satisfying employment. That is the task to which we shall turn our hand and shall co-operate fully with the Government in doing so.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ BARONESS SEEAR
My Lords, as one of the critics of the proposals put forward last year, I should like to join with the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, in congratulating the Government on their successful use, in many respects, of the consultancy process. Nobody can deny that, as a result of consultation, the Bill now before your Lordships' House is substantially different from the proposals which came forward last year, and that is surely all to the good. Some of the changes are beyond doubt an improvement. I would particularly draw attention, first, as the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, has done, to the establishment of the Manpower Commission for which many of us pressed very hard 12 months ago; and, secondly, to the fact that a great deal of relief, which I share, is felt up and down the country at the continuation of the industrial training boards, and their continued right to exercise the power of levy and grant. But I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, that it is a pity the figure of 1 per cent. has been set as an upper limit, because that is bound to encourage industry to believe that when they have reached that figure they have done all that can reasonably be expected of them.
My Lords, having said that, it is perhaps somewhat cavalier of me to say that I am afraid I am still not at all satisfied—nothing like as satisfied, I find, as is the noble Lord, Lord Diamond. He said—and I should like 259 to say it with even greater emphasis—that it appears there is nowhere near a sufficient sense of urgency about this matter or about the importance of this Bill. Judging if only from the attendance in your Lordships' House tonight, it does not seem to be widely regarded as a matter of very great significance. But in my view this matter of training is absolutely at the heart of our economic problem. Here we are facing a boom, and we say "facing a boom" as if this was something to be feared. It is only to be feared because, once again, we are finding that as we move into boom situation, and as the unemployment figures fall, the shortage of skilled labour is emerging once again.
If I may be forgiven for saying "I told you so", in the debates last year a number of us were pressing the point that during the time of unemployment is the time to launch large schemes for training. because once full employment gets under way there is naturally great reluctance to engage in training when jobs round the corner are very easy to come by for trained or untrained people. So to a large extent we have already begun to miss the bus because the Government are not yet moving fast enough. Nor, in my view, is the scale of the operation anything like large enough. It is perhaps not entirely fair to make the point that one of the first things which has happened as a result of the cuts in Government expenditure is that there has been a reduction for the current year in the £35 million to be put forward for training. I know that additional funds are being made available for the new opportunity scheme training, but the money to go in supplementation of the training board work has, I understand, been reduced. That does not seem a very good start for a progressive scheme of large-scale training; nor, in my view, are the numbers sufficient.
Perhaps I might just briefly turn from the general criticism of the lack of sense of urgency to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond—and, to my relief, he made it at some length, so I do not have to say very much about it —namely, the attitude towards the training of women, reflected not only in this document but also in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn. I would 260 make the point that it really is not good enough to say that these 5,000-odd women apparently prefer clerical training and training in the traditional feminine skills. It is surely one of the tasks of the new Manpower Commission and of the new Training Service Agency to take positive measures to see that there are changes in the attitudes of women and the people who advise them towards the work for which they are trained. Of course they go on in the traditional way when it is not made plain to them that in future their opportunities and the country's needs, indeed, lie in a completely different area. However, I do not to-night, for a change, wish to say anything more about women. But, unless we are able to have a large-scale development of training and a changed attitude towards training, then I believe we are missing the best opportunity we have for combining growth with low unemployment, with high employment, and without inflation; because what we need is to make the best possible use of the manpower we have if we are to achieve these difficult objectives—and this is not done by people going on in their traditional employment. Yet, of course, this, naturally, is what people want to do. Unless very positive steps are taken to make people see training and retraining as an opportunity rather than as a last resort, then they will go on in the jobs in which they now are and will continue to believe that they have an absolute right so to do.
I should like to echo very strongly what the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, has said; that a man has a right to do a job but not the one particular job for the whole of his life; and if we can get that point across, my Lords, then this debate will have been well worth while. But the forces in the country are against this. May I quote what a trade unionist at the headquarters of the Swedish trade union organisation said to me when I was discussing this with him last year? We were talking about the expense of their very extensive and expensive training and retraining programme. He said, "Yes, it does cost a lot of money, but this is the price we have paid to win our members' support for technical change". I suggest that if a union is successful in winning its members' support for technical change, there is no price too high to pay for that; and I do not see in 261 these proposals the scale of activity or the level of aspiration that we all have in approaching this whole question of training and retraining.
This, then, is a major task. To what extent are the new institutions, the new organisations put before us in this Bill, appropriate for the task that we are facing? In my view, what we need above all else is an organisation which is flexible and which is highly expert—and may we look at the proposals here having in mind those two criteria? In the first place, it seems to me that there are some odd things in the organisational structure put before us for the Commission, the Department of Employment and the training agencies, and the relationship between these three groups, which is very important if we are going to get the proper kind of organisational structures which we need to do this job. We are told that the Manpower Commission is to be responsible, as it were, for policy. In the Explanatory Memorandum it says:The Commission will thus be responsible for plannng, developing and operating employment and training services ",et cetera. Then, two or three lines later, it says:The Commission will exercise its functions in accordance with proposals approved by the Secretary of State and subject to any directions he gives".The noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, will no doubt say that he said in his speech that the Secretary of State could not interfere with the day-to-day working of the Commission, but the Explanatory Memorandum goes on to say:The Secretary of State will be able to arrange that any of the Commission's main functions should be carried out by himself or by someone else ".As an active organisation, to have a responsible board, the Commission, and to be told that any of their functions may be carried out by the Secretary of State or by somebody else, seems to be a rather odd way of determining the allocation of responsibility and authority. I suspect that running all through what has been put before us in this Bill is a compromise between the wishes that many of us had for a semi-autonomous body with a very great deal of freedom of action and the desire of the Department of Employment to maintain a considerable amount of control over what is 262 happening in this field, and that such a compromise—I see the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, shake his head. I hope he will be able to prove to me that I am wrong, but I detected such a development throughout my reading of the Bill.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
My Lords, if the noble Baroness will allow me to interrupt her for a moment, would she not agree that this is a difficult question of balance? Because I am quite certain that if we had made the Commission too independent there would have been an outcry about the lack of Parliamentary accountability.
§ BARONESS SEEAR
My Lords, I am sure that I accept that this is, as is the case with all organisational structures, a difficult matter of balance, and perhaps the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, will be able to satisfy us about what is meant by:The Secretary of State will be able to arrange that any of the Commission's main functions should be carried out by himself or by someone else".But as a description of an organisation it seems to me, to put it mildly, to be a bit odd.
Turning now from the organisation, the structure of the proposed new Commission, and its relations with the Department of Employment, to look in more detail at this question of flexibility, how much fredom of decision is it going to be possible to have made at local level? To what extent are the appointments within the training fields, for example, to be subject to Civil Service controls and regulations? May I give your Lordships a concrete illustration? There is no more important post in the whole of the training set-up than the post of instructor. It is a lowly post in many ways, but it is a key post. In the days before the 1964 Industrial Training Act it was discovered by investigation that one of the weakest points in training in this country was the calibre of instructors. There is no use in saying that you have to get instructors at a given price, if instructors are not to be had at that price—even if the Civil Service regulations say that this is the price at which you are to have instructors. Not five miles from where we sit there is in one of the new manpower job centres an advertisement for a bricklayer instructor at a price offered (at the maximum rate permitted, as I understand it) of £2,300 263 per annum, which is about £45 a week. The more elderly of us may say that that does not sound a bad figure; but if you step about six paces down the road you will find an advertisement for a bricklayer who is offered £51 for a 40-hour week. As your Lordships will know, no bricklayer in present times works a 40-hour week and he will easily knock up £70; so the bricklayer who takes on the job of instructor against a possible earning rate of £70 a week will be a "deadbeat"—and "deadbeats" do not make good instructors. Unless we have a flexible response to local conditions and realities, regardless of Civil Service controls, we shall have all the troubles that we have had in the past through the limitations imposed on Government training centres.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
My Lords, regarding the pay of bricklayers, the noble Baroness will realise that, to a great exent, they are temporarily employed and are not employed for the whole year round because of the weather and so on. I do not think it is a fair comparison with the conditions of a yearly salary earning instructor.
§ BARONESS SEEAR
My Lords, it is true that the bricklayer may not make £70 a week the whole year through, but if you try to recruit bricklayer instructors at a moment when they are likely to be able to earn £70 a week, I doubt whether you will get the kind of instructor you require. The point I am making is not so much about this but about the need to have flexibility in regard to the job which is required to be done. You cannot do it if you operate under Civil Service conditions. This is why we want a semi-autonomous body with a great deal of freedom of action. So much for flexibility and the need to make decisions autonomously at a low level rather than to satisfy the requirements of the Secretary of State, the Civil Service Commission and so on.
As regards expertise, I have doubts whether it is fully understood how much expert knowledge about training there is now among the training professionals inside industry. I had hoped that the training agency would be staffed in its more senior ranks largely by people who 264 are training professionals; because, unless you are going to allow this to happen, what right have such people who are not themselves experts to sit in judgment on proposals put forward by people who are? That is what is being proposed in this Bill. I know that certain key posts are being filled at the higher level for people coming from industry with industrial and managerial training experience; but it says in the Bill that the Commission must appoint the people that they are told to appoint by the Secretary of State, that they are to be taken on and that the majority of the 20,000 staff of the Agency will be filled from the Civil Service.
It is at the heart of my argument, quite frankly and with the greatest respect to the Civil Service, that they have not got the expertise and knowledge of the people in industry over whom they will sit in judgment. They have not themselves undertaken this work and the majority have not had the kind of training that is now increasingly common. We are emptying the staff of the Department of Employment into the Training Agency with a great loss of expertise. And it is expertise that we need if the agency is to run properly. I sum up by pointing out the lack of flexibility and ability to pay what is required to fill the jobs which are needed to be done and the fact that the people who are to be in control in the Agency, as they are going to sanction the grants and make decisions as to what is in the training, are going to be the people who are in a position to judge the work of those in industry, many of whom know a great deal more about it than the people who will be going into the Agency from the Department of Employment.
The final point is this. It is unreasonable of me to be critical of the composition of the Commission itself, but it is in line with what I have been saying that I should have doubts whether this was the occasion on which to set up a Commission which is representative of interests. This is a specialist and expert job, and the Board should be composed of specialist and expert people subject to the ultimate control of the Minister. I do not believe that we shall get specialist and expert people to run it on a representative basis when all except the chairman are to be part-time people. I 265 do not see where the professional expertise is coming from in the Commission as at present set up. It is said that it is representative of interests concerned. It is representative of the C.B.I., the T.U.C. and the local authorities, with one person representing educational interests; but nowhere do the professional training people figure in this. They are surely interested people. Nowhere does the general community interest figure on the Commission; yet the community's great need is to have training done far more constructively than in the past; and this should have been reflected in the manning of the Commission. People who are representative on this Commission are representative of the very interests who throughout all these years have been responsible for training and who have so woefully failed to meet the training needs of the community.
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ LORD SAINSBURY
My Lords, owing to the lateness of the hour and the thinness of the House but, above all, to the more than adequate way my noble friend Lord Diamond and the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, have covered very many aspects of this Bill, I am sure that your Lordships will be happy to hear that I have cut by at least half what I was going to say. I will restrict myself to the main object of my intervention which is to highlight one aspect of training which in my opinion the Bill fails to cover. It is the problem of providing adequate training facilities for overseas students, and especially those from developing countries.
My interest in this stems partly from the fact that I am Chairman of the Trustees of the Overseas Students Advisory Bureau, a charitable trust concerned with finding training opportunities for such students in industry and commerce. Your Lordships may recall that I raised this question last May when we were discussing the Government's consultative paper, Training for the Future. I also asked the Minister for an assurance that the interests of overseas students would be taken into account before any changes were made to the organisation of industrial training in this country. In his winding-up speech the Minister gave me such an assurance, and therefore it was with a sense of anticipation that I 266 looked forward to the Employment and Training Bill. However, my Lords, on looking through it I can find no reference to this question at all.
Section 14 of the Industrial Training Act 1964, which enables the training boards to make arrangements for such training, has not been strengthened. I think that here an opportunity for improvement has been lost. I understand that on the Committee stage the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, who is unable to be present this evening, will be tabling an appropriate Amendment which I am sure that we shall be able to support. As it stands, the Bill does not seem to provide either the incentive, or effective machinery, to create more training places for overseas students. As a result of a grant from the Overseas Development Administration, the Overseas Students' Advisory Bureau has been able to step up its efforts in identifying and making better use of the existing training opportunities; and I think that one also should pay tribute to some other organisations which are working hard in this field. However, making better use of existing opportunities can provide only a partial answer. Unless action is taken to create more training places it will not be possible to train more than a fraction of the students who come to the United Kingdom to study and for whom practical training is an integral part of their course.
My Lords, the justifications for providing training to overseas students are too numerous to mention. However it is, I think, important to stress that upon their return home these students will use their skills acquired in Britain to further their country's economic development. Training therefore is one of the most effective and cheapest forms of aid. It has also been shown that training is a powerful long-term form of export promotion, a fact that has been fully recognised by many of our competitors, especially West Germany. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, is fully conscious of these facts, and I should be grateful if the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, who is to reply on behalf of the Government, can give the House some indication of the Government's policy in this respect.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
My Lords, may I first set the record right by 267 telling your Lordships that my name was on the list of speakers but I think that the printing machine went into action a good deal earlier than it usually does. I want to make only four points. Of course, noble Lords will expect me to give a good welcome to this Bill. Like others who in the past have participated in debates on training and retraining, I share the reservations of the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, and the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, regarding the 1 per cent. static levy fee, or near-static levy fee, as I share also their disquiet at the exemption of small businesses. Your Lordships will know that basically I have my being in an engineering background and engineering workshops are made up of very small, highly technical, bodies of people. It is no secret that in the past there has been a good deal of skilled man "body-snatching". In fact, since there has been a reduction in levy and a cooling-off in the apparent need for retraining, the interest has waned very considerably. I should have liked to have seen included in the Bill measures to bring home more positively the need for training and retraining—in other words, the "stick" element that we have discussed.
In particular, my Lords, I should like to suggest that there should be no need to exempt the universities from the educational institutions; that is, exempting them from vocational guide and placing service. Certainly the universities provide an adequate service already, but it occurs to me that the value to the careers officer service would be greatly enhanced if the officer had full knowledge of why people went to university and what kind of position they were anticipating on completion of their education there. It has been described to me by one education officer that so often university is planned procrastination—" because we do not know what else we are going to do and we shall see what comes out of it". It has been suggested that many graduates suddenly find that there is nothing for them, and it would seem to me far better if their interests could be served by the same kind of people who are going to serve those who finish their education a little earlier.
268 I take up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, on the two offices, the Commission—the job centre—and the vocation guidance and placing service. I agree almost entirely with what the noble Lord had to say. I would add that there are other very good reasons why a young person should not be given the option, after the first placing, of going to a different body. I am going to suggest that a young person has tremendous problems in getting suited into a kind of job. There are traumatic problems, there are emotional problems, there are all sorts and manner of things. I can see that, after the first placing. he is likely, as it were, to turn to himself and say. "That careers officer was not much good. Look what he landed me in. I think I will go to the other people". So he goes to the other people and tells them a slightly different story. The other people have no background knowledge of what has happened at school and later on. They place him, and more trouble happens. Again, I understand in the Vocational Placing Service many young men and women already come back two or three times, if not more. They have problems, not always of their own making. Surely it would be far better if one person, one careers officer, could see them through from the commencement of their careers until they were reasonably placed. So I do not like this option; I think it will lead to trouble. There will be two similar bodies competing for the same customers —almost "body snatching"—and this cannot be good for the people they seek to serve.
I cannot see in the Bill the kind of emphasis I should have expected on the supply of the careers officer. In 1948, when the education authorities had the option of conducting their own service, only about 80 per cent. did so, and only about 40 per cent. of these have provided —largely because of finance—an adequate service. They pay lip service to the option they took up but very many young persons, and indeed older ones, are not adequately served because of the amount of money available. I understand from my reading of the Bill that the financing of this new extension is to come from the same sources as the rate support. I cannot see that we shall be able to find enough money, or at least the amount of money we are hoping to be provided, under this Bill.
269 The last point I should like to make concerns the Services. I returned from a visit to the Services on Tuesday night, having been with one of Her Majesty's ships for two days. I came away with a number of impressions, one of which (and a very strong one) was of the fear of those members of Her Majesty's Services who have entered upon a voluntary engagement of 21 years, that they are in isolation and will not be able to find a job when they finish their Service career at the age of 38 or 40. "Who wants a matelot?" I heard; "Who wants a C.P.O., unless you are a computer man?; or "Who wants a navigation officer?" In other words, all ranks had a great fear that after living on board ship or on an overseas station for some time they would not know what is happening outside or what will be available to them. I should like to suggest that the Manpower Commission make special provision for looking after the interests of those who live in this kind of isolation.
I hope that during the ensuing stages we shall be able to make the Bill stronger. Those people who are involved in education and training would like to subscribe to something which is really effective, even if the subscription rate is slightly higher than their ordinary rates and taxes.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
My Lords, I apologise for intervening in this debate. but I shall be only about two minutes. I came here because I am specifically interested in the sections relating to industrial injuries. I know something of what rehabilitation meant to the mining industry. I will not delay the House to-night, but I should like to ask the noble Earl, when he replies, to bend his mind towards the repeal of certain sections of the Industrial Injuries Act. For all those engaged in heavy and skilled work in the mining and engineering industries and also for those who are quarrying and tunnelling and fighting to win raw materials from inside the earth, it is important that there should be a system of rehabilitation of which advantage can really be taken. Lastly, I have a caveat as well as a question. With all this talk of skilled women, I would urge noble Lords for Heaven's sake not to forget one of the most skilled women of all—the British housewife. The first? class housewife who can cook, look after 270 her family and see that her home is comfortable is as skilled a wench as anybody else; and I hope that this point will be appreciated.
§ 7.16 p.m.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
My Lords, although I do not speak "by leave of the House" in the formal and more usual sense, I feel I must seek your Lordships' leave in general terms, because it is not very often that we have a second Government speaker in a relatively short debate. I do speak, and am very glad to do so, because I have had some little experience recently of the services which will become the immediate responsibility of the new Manpower Services Commission if this Bill becomes law. I recently visited one of the new jobcentres—or "job shops" as they are coming to be known—and last Tuesday had the honour to open an annexe to a Government Training Centre in Kent. I hope that Members of your Lordships' House on all sides will take time, if they have not already done so, to see for themselves the immense change in atmosphere that has taken place and the new hopefulness which has been brought about by the physical and emotional environment of these centres. More and more in the future employment work will be carried out in jobcentres and modern training centres which are better suited, better sited and better equipped than the old labour exchanges. I hope especially that the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, will, if she has not already done so, take an opportunity to visit some of these establishments. If she wishes, I shall be very glad to give her names and locations.
Of course, there is a long way to go, but we are well on the way, and I do not agree with the noble Baroness—I am nearer to the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, in this respect—that we have altogether "missed the bus". As the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, told us—and I must say that if the list of speakers has been short it has been an experienced and distinguished one—the need to improve training, re-training and job opportunities in our country is as vital as, in principle, it is non-controversial. On the subject of re-training, the noble Lord will know that any Government Minister whose job is at the mercy of the electorate will have a special interest in this field of activity. These matters concern the present and 271 the future of our national economy and of the social life and responsibilities of the working place—the place in which a very great number of people spend a very great part of their lives. I am delighted that my words here will echo those of the noble Lord. Those of us who are fortunate enough to enjoy our jobs I think have a special responsibility to help to improve attitudes towards work and the working place. I believe that this Bill, which I shall shortly ask the House to support, consolidates improvements which have been made under Governments on both sides of the House in recent years. It bids fair, in fact, to extend them.
Before I ask your Lordships for your support, I should like to thank all those who have contributed positively and to try to give the Government's views on the detailed points which they raised, or at least on as many of the detailed points as I can manage. The noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, came up from the rear (so to speak) and I will look at his point about industrial injuries. As to the point about housewives, my noble friend Lord Ferrers gave some vigorous "Hear, hears!" on that. I think that speaks for itself.
The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, talked of his concern about the Commission's powers to obtain information and deploy it. He pointed out, and I agree, that they are in a crucial and commanding position—or they will be if the Bill becomes law—in the economy. I believe that if the noble Lord reads the very clear speech of my noble friend to-morrow he will find that this point is dealt with. If I may put it briefly in slightly different words, it could run as follows. Through the Employment Service Agency and the Training Services Agency, particularly the former, the Commission will have a nationwide network of offices which can gather manpower intelligence and information, and, indeed, this will be one of their most important functions. The Commission will also have power under Clause 4 to collect information for employers about manpower matters under the Statistics of Trade Act, subject to the Secretary of State's approval of their proposals. Equally, the Secretary of State has power to disclose such information to the Commission and Agencies. 272 Further, the Commission will be able to obtain information through Industrial Training Boards. It will have power to obtain the manpower intelligence which will be so vital to its work and conduct or commission research and studies of manpower forecasting and manpower planning. Perhaps it is to be hoped that in future the Commission will use the services of the noble Baroness in this respect.
The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, said it would not be sufficiently charged with forward planning. Obviously, the Secretary of State must retain the ultimate responsibility there but the Commission has the powers to obtain information for forward planning and relay it to the Secretary of State. I do not think this is a shortage of responsibility. The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, raised the question of the levy rate—
§ LORD DIAMOND
My Lords, I interrupt the noble Earl as he is apparently moving on to the next point. He dealt with something which is very important. I listened, as I always find it easy to do, to what his noble friend Lord Drumalbyn said. I also read carefully what has been said in another place. Am I not right in thinking that the all-important manpower unit is going to remain within the Department and that the powers given to the Manpower Services Commission are powers to call for and commission research? If we are to have two bodies commissioning all-important research, are we not going to get into the difficulty to which the noble Baroness referred? Is there not going to be a hopeless muddle with either one side leaving it to the other, or, more probably, the vital information not being obtained at all and falling between two stools?
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
My Lords, the noble Lord in his speech pointed out what a colossal arena of national life training and employment placing occupies. The Manpower Services Commission will be a very important and powerful body. It would be quite wrong for power not to remain under the direct supervision of the Secretary of State. Also the size of the Commission is envisaged to be reasonably compact and that should make for excellent co-ordination between 273 my right honourable friend's Department and the work of the Commission. I will carefully re-read—and I certainly did not mean to imply that the noble Lord was not attending to my noble friend's speech—what he has said, and I will relay it. I do not think there are liable to be great difficulties on this score.
I come to the question of the levy rate which was not only raised by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, but also emphasised by my noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth. The main question about the level of levy rate is: will it do the trick of influencing firms towards good training? Obviously there is room for different views here. If it is fixed too high the rate becomes resented; if it is too low the rate becomes an ineffective irritant. Most of the training boards have judged the rate of 1 per cent. of payroll, or rather less, to be an effective stimulus. At present, very few have levies above this figure, although I agree that the few who do are important industries. We concluded, therefore, that it would be reasonable to make this a general maximum and that it should offer sufficient stimulus to encourage firms to meet their own needs and thus secure exemption. The board's administrative costs, which were previously met from levy funds, will in future be met by Exchequer payments, and that should be a help.
Regarding small firms' exemption—another politically contentious area—the Bill contains a requirement that any proposal for a levy submitted by an industrial training board must include a proposal for the exemption of small firms. The Committee of Inquiry on small firms (the Bolton Committee) commented that the machinery set up under the Industrial Training Act 1964 was in fact inappropriate to the needs of small firms. Most industrial training boards have always excluded the smallest firms from levy. It has been Government policy since early 1971 that the level of exemption should be raised and there has been considerable progress since then. Small firms will also be eligible for Exchequer grants, and they will be encouraged to make use of group training facilities. There will be continued support for such schemes.
The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, and my noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth, raised the question of young people; 274 that is to say, whether local education authorities careers' services should not have exclusive rights in this critical first step in the employment world. I will deal with this at some length because it is important. The three main reasons why the proposal would be a mistake are as follows: first, any age limit on the local education authority's service to those who have left education will impose a restriction on the L.E.A.'s facilities to help young people who may still need guidance. If we introduce an age limit of, let us say, 19, what happens to the young person who leaves education at the age of 18 and wants to go back to the L.E.A. careers adviser who advised him for help with his employment problems? Once that young person passes his 19th birthday, the local education authority would no longer have power to help him. I realise that is an arbitrary case but it will serve as an example.
In a particular case the careers officer might have a heart of gold and might turn a blind eye and give the young person advice without inquiring too closely about his or her age. But I do not feel that we ought to frame legislation in such a way that careers officers are obliged to turn blind eyes to the limitations of their powers. If we want the L.E.A. careers services to be able to help young people who have left education but still want to return to their careers officers without restriction of age we should surely give them the power to do so. Secondly, there is nothing in the Bill which in any way restricts the activity which the L.E.A. careers service should carry out at present. Indeed, the Bill extends the scope of their service in respect of the over-18s who are in further education, or who have already entered employment.
There is an impression in some quarters that there will be some sort of cut-off at the point of entry into the first job, and that after that young people will not be able to go back to the L.E.A. service. Nothing could be further from the truth. Young people who have entered employment, and who want to go on obtaining advice from the L.E.A. careers officer, will still have full freedom to do so and the L.E.A. will have full power to provide them with a service. If we put in an age limit we shall not be strengthening in any way the L.E.A.'s 275 power to go on providing the service that it provides at present. All we shall be doing is restricting new powers which this Bill gives L.E.A.s for the first time to help the over-18s who have entered employment.
Thirdly, I am sure it will do nothing but good for young people who have entered employment to have a choice between the L.E.A. careers service and the general employment service provided by the Commission. There I am glad to echo the words of my noble friend who introduced the Second Reading. I know that there are those who feel that the L.E.A. careers officer is the right person to advise young people and who would prefer not to encourage young people to go elsewhere for help. But we have to face the fact that some young are unwilling to go back to a service which, because it is education-based, they associate with their schooldays. The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, talked about pressures on someone to "stand their round" when they are young. Against that, I simply say that the evidence is that more and more people are marrying young and the best way to get responsibility from young people is to give them responsibility. As a result, once people have entered employment they may fail to obtain any vocational advice and simply take jobs which they hear about through friends or through private agencies or which they see advertised. Surely it is better in these cases that the young person concerned should have the alternative of going to the Employment Service Agency for guidance. I believe, as I said, that by offering young people this option we will be genuinely increasing their range of choice and improving the opportunities for guidance which are available to them.
The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, referred to the exclusion of part-time students whose classes start at 5 o'clock or later from the mandatory duties of the L.E.A.s. I think the word to stress there is "mandatory"; that is to say, it is not a duty for L.E.A.s to provide the service, but they may if they wish, and it is fully expected that they will. It allows simply a certain flexibility to them.
276 The noble Baroness, Lady Seear, expressed herself less satisfied than the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, and as an old employee of London University of course it gives me great pain that that should come from her. As a Whip I must say, however, that high attendance in your Lordships' House is not in my experience necessarily an indication of the urgency of a Bill under discussion. I have not been here long, but in my experience the greatest attendance has been reserved for questions dealing with animals or your Lordships' own procedure. So I think we in fact are doing the Bill more than justice tonight. She mentioned the reductions in public expenditure recently announced by my right honourable friend the Chancellor. This will mean that Exchequer funds to training boards' administrative expenses and grants for key training activities will not now be available until April 1, 1975, instead of August 1, 1974, as proposed in the White Paper on the Bill. But there is no reduction in funds now being made available to boards; only a deferment, therefore, of the date when additional funds of up to £35 million a year will be made available.
She was bothered by the structure of the new proposals. She was bothered, I think, perhaps that the Manpower Services Commission might lack real powers because of the overriding presence of the Secretary of State. But surely when we are dealing with a Bill in Parliament we nearly always on all sides of the political spectrum write in, as it were, default powers to the Secretary of State, not necessarily expecting that he will use them, but making sure that he has the power to use them if something should go wrong. I cannot accept that the Department of Employment has been exercising what Robert Ardrey calls a "territorial imperative" here; and I would point out that the Department officials, or those who move to the Agencies, will be moving to the arms, as it were, rather than the head, though of course my friends in the Department have heads as well as arms. The noble Baroness talked, too, about expertise. I think the analogy I gave of a head and arms will do. The Manpower Services Commission is in control; the Agencies are executive agencies particularly.
277 Mention has been made by the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, of the question of training assistance for overseas students, and I certainly agree with him that providing overseas students with training needs no justification at all. Certainly I would not be prepared to contradict him. He mentioned that training to overseas students was one of the cheapest and most effective forms of aid. There I think he puts his finger on the matter, as one might expect from someone who is Chairman of the Trustees of the Overseas Students' Advisory Bureau. But the operative word again here is I think "aid". If this were written into the Bill in the way he would like, training for overseas students would become part of the Manpower Services Commission, which is specifically designed of course to provide training and employment in this country. Therefore, I propose, if I may, to take what he said to my right honourable and noble friends at the Foreign Office and "ginger" them up about it.
My noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth mentioned universities. Again, this is something of the same answer that I gave to Lord Diamond in that the stress here is on the word "mandatory". The mandatory duty on local education authorities to provide a careers guidance and placing service to those in and leaving educational institutions will not apply, admittedly, to students attending universities, who already, I may say, as an ex-university teacher, are very well served by the university appointments boards. But L.E.A.s will be required to make their services available to the university students who wish to use them under Clause 8(1)(c) of the Bill. I am sure that it is right that the help available to university students should be widened in this way.
He mentioned the placing of people leaving the Armed Forces, particularly I think the Royal Navy. There are in existence arrangements for the resettlement of former members of the Armed Forces, and I feel sure that the Manpower Services Commission will not neglect this aspect of their work. But I will in any case ask my noble friend the Secretary of State for Defence to ensure that the services available, and the improvements in them, are given appropriate publicity in the Armed Forces. I 278 go on to say that if the noble Lord has in mind any particular cases in which he feels these arrangements have not worked satisfactorily, perhaps he will be so kind as to bring them to my attention and I will arrange to have them looked into. He spoke about dead-end jobs and training. This is, I agree with him, a real and understandable dilemma which young people have always faced. But both adult and youth services will have details of training, both long-term and short-term, available to them. These officers of both services, will be trained to recognise problems and to give advice. Staff of the Employment Service Agency and the local authorities will certainly cooperate together.
My Lords, we have many late nights, I suspect, ahead of us and I must make an end. This is, as noble Lords have recognised, a very important measure indeed. Complex as it may appear in parts, it sets out to achieve something quite straightforward: a fundamental reform of the arrangements for promoting employment and training in this country. Responsibility for the manpower services is given to representatives of those organisations most directly concerned, and practical experience too with their operation. It is real responsibility, for while the Secretary of State will continue his responsibility for policy objectives, the members of the Manpower Services Commission will form an essentially executive body—executive where taking of decisions is concerned. The Bill deals mainly with the organisational arrangements for employment and training. It sets up the Commission and Agencies; it puts education authorities under a duty to provide a careers service; it provides for changes in the operation of industrial training boards. But of course changes in organisations are finally only means to an end. We hope to see the public employment services improved and developd so that they attract an increased share of the employment market, which means more help to people looking for jobs, more help to employers in filling vacancies and, very important, more help to the disadvantaged—to those who, for whatever reason, have difficulties in finding and keeping jobs.
This increased share of the market does not mean that the primary responsibility for training will not continue to be the 279 responsibility of the employer. But the Manpower Services Commission, representative of both sides of industry and of the education authorities, will be specially well placed to make progress in the difficult areas of broad planning and thinking on manpower matters. We can all recognise the economic benefits to individual and nation which can flow from expanding manpower services in an expanding economy. Just to give one example, we hope to see continued successful expansion of the Training Opportunities Scheme planned to come under one of the executive arms of the Manpower Services Commission. I am glad to say—it has already been said, I think, but I am glad to repeat it—that in another place the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that an extra £6 million was being allocated to the scheme in order to sustain the expansion. This is especially welcome in the light of a 280 general programme of cuts in public expenditure. It is a measure of seriousness about training. My Lords, on what I hope is an upward note, or rather 6 million notes, I have great pleasure and confidence in asking the House to support the Bill.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.