§ 3.28 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORTFOLIO (LORD DRUMALBYN)
My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Drumalbyn.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The EARL OF LISTOWEL in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1 [Establishment of the Commission and Agencies]:
LORD JACQUES moved Amendment No. 1:
Page 2, line 3, leave out ("organisations representing employers") and insert ("the Confederation of British Industries and the Retail Consortium").
§ The noble Lord said: In the White Paper which preceded this Bill the Government said that in appointing the employers' representatives to the Commission they would consult with the C.B.I. The C.B.I. represents the employers in basic and manufacturing industry and it was therefore fit and proper that it should be consulted. But the C.B.I. does not represent employers in distribution. There are over 2 million workers in distribution. It is a substantial sector of the economy, and the employers in that sector of the economy are represented in the Retail Consortium. The purpose of this Amendment is to seek an assurance from the Government that, in addition to consulting the C.B.I., they will also consult with the Retail Consortium.2070
§ In Government statistics and other Government records it is well recognised that there are four kinds of retailer. First, there are the individual retailers, who are organised in the National Chamber of Trade. Secondly, there are the multiples, which are organised in the Multiple Shops Federation. Thirdly, there are the department stores, which are organised in the Retail Distributors' Association, and fourthly there are the Co-operative societies, which are organised in the Co-operative Union. Some years ago these four organisations, which cover almost the whole of retailing, formed the Retail Consortium so that there could be one voice for retail distribution. But the Consortium has never been a "closed shop". Shortly after its formation the wholesalers sought to join the Consortium. That was agreed, and they are now represented on the Consortium. A little later some of the specialist trade associations who are brought together in the Retail Alliance sought representation on the Consortium, and that also was agreed. More recently, the Scottish Retail Federation, which represents retailing in Scotland, has sought and secured representation on the Consortium. It can therefore be fairly said that the Consortium represents the vast majority of those engaged in distribution. It is certainly as representative of distribution as the C.B.I. is of basic and manufacturing industry.
§ Furthermore, the distributive trades have a worthy record in staff education and staff training. Long before the Government introduced the training boards the distributive trades had their own overall organisation for education and training. The Distributive Trades Education and Training Council was formed many years ago and was maintained by voluntary subscriptions from the trade. Its purpose was to initiate and to encourage in-store training and also, in collaboration with the local authorities, to organise technical education for distributive workers. Following the appointment of the distributive training board there was an examination of the position. The distributive training board was so pleased with the work of the voluntary organisation that it was decided that the voluntary organisation would be maintained and that it would be financed by the training board. So there is every 2071 indication that the voluntary organisation which has lasted so long in the distributive trades has done good work.
§ One of the elements in the Retail Consortium is the Co-operative Movement. The Co-operative Movement has a record in the education and training of employees which is not surpassed by any other organisation. It has been carrying on the education and training of its employees for almost 100 years, and for a long period of time it did the work which is now done by local authorities. It has had a residential college for employees for 49 years—in this I can be precise because I was a student at that college in the first year. I had in fact left school at the age of 13, a little earlier. It was the education department of the Co-operative Society that gave me a technical education—no such resources were made available by local authorities. The Co-operative Society went further than that: they gave me a general education up to university standard, and following that they gave me facilities to enter a university and take a degree. That is an example of the kind of work that has been done by the Co-operative Movement as one of the elements in the Retail Consortium. If the consultation is to be only with the C.B.I., then this is one of the funds of knowledge and experience that will be ignored.
§ Only recently the Prime Minister had to have consultations with industry and commerce on phases 1 and 2 of the incomes policy. He did not consult only with the C.B.I.; he consulted also with the Retail Consortium, and I find it inconceivable that the Retail Consortium should be consulted when its help is required in an emergency but should be completely ignored in circumstances which we are considering in regard to this Bill. At this stage I should say that I happen to be the President of the Distributive Trades Education and Training Council. As the President of that Council I press upon the Government that the Secretary of State should at least consult with the Retail Consortium and find out what talent is available in the distributive trades before making the appointments in question. I believe that it would be in the interests of everybody if the three representatives on the Commission from employers came from 2072 three quite different sources: one from the basic industries, one from manufacturing industries, and one from distribution in general. I believe that that would be a good thing. But I am not asking for that; all I am asking is that the Secretary of State should give an undertaking that, in addition to consulting the C.B.I., he will consult the Retail Consortium to find out what talents are available in distribution before making up his mind about the appointments. I beg to move.
§ 3.36 p.m.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I welcome what the noble Lord has said, and I should be the first to join with him in the tribute he has paid in the distribution industry. But one has to look at that in the perspective of the Bill. The Bill provides for the Secretary of State for Employment to appoint three members of the Commission after consultation with such organisations representing employers as he considers appropriate. The Bill does not lay down which organisations he must consult, and I suggest that it is right not to be specific. If we mention particular organisations in the Bill, the references may become out of date as time goes on; and we must remember that organisations, and especially their names, sometimes change. The Government have made it clear in the White Paper issued with the Bill, as the noble Lord has said, that it is their intention to appoint these three members after consultation with the Confederation of British Industry. Again I think that is right, and I shall say why.
The Commission has a very large and important executive job to carry out—the successful operation of the manpower services. We must enable it to carry out that job effectively. That means that the number of members must be restricted—we think to ten. Therefore, we must limit the employers' places to three, and I suggest that before appointing these three it is right that the Secretary of State should consult the Confederation of British Industry as the body which represents employers in industry and commerce generally; but we have deliberately not put that into the Bill. That does not mean in any way that we are ignoring the importance of particular sectors, such as the retail sector, and bodies such 2073 as the Retail Consortium which speak particularly on their behalf.
The noble Lord quite reasonably cited the fact that there have been consultations with the Retail Consortium over the Government's counter-inflation policy where the question of retail prices is clearly of the greatest importance and retailers have a very major part to play. But I think the situation is rather different as regards the Commission, which must deal with the whole field of employment and training. Retail distribution is of course an important sector of employment, but it is only one sector, and if we gave specific representation to the retailers on the Commission I think there are many other sectors which would have an equally good claim to their own representative.
Perhaps, to put the matter in a statistical perspective, it is worth while saying that in June, 1971, the number of employees in employment in retail distribution was 1,809,000. The figure for other major service industries amounted to nearly 8,650,000. The figure for total employment in manufacturing industries was 8,341,600 In those circumstances it hardly seems right to reserve one place on the Commission exclusively for retail distribution. I know that the noble Lord is asking particularly for consultation with the Retail Consortium, but if we put in the Retail Consortium we should immediately be asked to add a great many other bodies, and we do not particularly want even to put the C.B.I. in. Such an assurance would not be acceptable to the C.B.I. and it would be at variance with the Government's stated policy.
The furthest we can go is to say that we will take fully into account any views that they may submit, and of course if they do submit views those views will be considered, although I cannot say, of course, that their advice will necessarily be accepted. Because of the number of bodies that may also wish to submit suggestions it would not be right for me to say that. When a similar Amendment was discussed in another place the Minisster made it quite clear that if the Retail Consortium or other bodies want to put their views to the Secretary of State about the membership of the Commission he will, of course, take full account of them, 2074 but I simply cannot go further than that and it would not be right to give the Secretary of State a specific obligation in the Bill to consult any particular employers' organisation.
The real point here is that we must aim to have on the Commission people who are able to tackle the manpower problem of the country as a whole. We cannot hope to have members of the Commission who represent every sector of industry and commerce or every group of employees. A body which was fully representative would be too large and cumbersome to do the job of directing the country's manpower services; and what we need, I suggest, is a small but effective group of people who have wide knowledge and experience of manpower matters and who have the breadth of mind to survey the manpower needs of the whole community, future as well as present, and to ensure that manpower services operate in the right way to meet those needs.
It has been made abundantly clear that those who are appointed to the Commission will be answerable to the bodies on whose nomination they are appointed. This is the position, and I think it would be quite impossible to start adding representatives of particular bodies of the employers or of the other sections that are mentioned in the Bill, namely the trade unions and the local authorities. I am sorry, therefore, that I feel unable to accept the noble Lord's Amendment.
§ LORD JACQUES
I am even more sorry about the reply. A good deal of what has been said is not in dispute, and some of it implies that the Amendment is seeking to do things which it is not seeking to do. I am not suggesting that distribution or any other part of industry and commerce should be specifically represented. I am not suggesting that the number representing employers should be more than three. The Amendment does not do those things. The Amendment tries to be specific but only for the purpose of getting an undertaking from the Government, and it was the only way of getting that undertaking.
The Minister has said that there are 1,809,000 in retail distribution, but the Retail Consortium covers distribution generally and in total there are over 2 million. He also said that the other 2075 services accounted for something like 8 million, most of whose employers in the other services are, in general, part of the C.B.I. and will therefore be consulted. I am asking the Government to give an undertaking to consult with that element in industry and commerce which is not part of the C.B.I.
Would it be possible for the Minister to ascertain whether or not his right honourable friend would give an undertaking to consult with the Retail Consortium? To take into account their views is not the same thing. The C.B.I. will be in a greatly superior position if it is going to be consulted while everybody else can only submit their views. If I can have a verbal undertaking that the Retail Consortium will be consulted I shall be quite happy with that and will gladly withdraw this Amendment. I shall be glad to know if there is any possibility of the Minister consulting his right honourable friend on this question. If so, I will withdraw this Amendment and, without speaking at length, will raise the issue at the Report stage, to ascertain what the outcome may be.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
It would be churlish to say that I would not speak to my right honourable friend about a subject such as this, and I will do so; but I am bound to say to the noble Lord that I cannot hold out very much hope that he will change his mind, simply because it would mean that if this were done he would have to consult so many employers' organisations of one kind and another. There are many others involved. After all with less than 2 million out of over 17 million concerned it is a little difficult to give a priority to one particular organisation.
I feel certain, in view of what the noble Lord has said, that he will be making representations, and if he does so then of course those representations will be considered, as representations always are; but for me to undertake that my right honourable friend would consult with others would be out of line with this policy. All I can do is to say to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, that I shall report to my right honourable friend what the noble Lord has said and shall talk to him about it. I am afraid I cannot do more than that.
§ LORD JACQUES
May I just say that I shall not be making any representation. I am not a member of the Retail Consortium; I am merely the president of the educational part, which is quite divorced from the Consortium itself. There is a second misunderstanding which I should like to clear up. I am not asking that trade associations should be consulted; I am saying that industry and commerce are mainly covered by two organisations, the C.B.I. and the Consortium. The Retail Consortium, like the C.B.I., does not consist of individual members. Its members are the trade organisations, and the Retail Consortium covers almost 100 different trade organisations which have all come together into the Retail Consortium. The number of employers that are covered exceeds 2 million because it includes the wholesalers. I would suggest that if the Minister were to consult with both these bodies he would cover the wide spectrum of British industry and commerce without going any further. In view of the fact that the Minister will raise the question with his right honourable friend I will ask him to withdraw the Amendment; but I shall raise the matter again at Report stage, hoping that I may then get a more favourable reply.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 3.49 p.m.
§ BARONESS SEEAR moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 2, line 11 at end insert—
(Provided that of these members no less than three shall be persons with considerable practical experience of employment and training in industry or commerce who shall be appointed for their specialised knowledge.")
§ The noble Baroness said: Up and down the country many people are looking to the establishment of the Manpower Services Commission for a long overdue and extremely important change in the handling of manpower forecasting, manpower planning and training on both a national and a local level. As the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has said, the Commission has—and I quote his words—"a very large and important executive job to carry out". It is not only a very large and important executive job; it is also a job requiring a considerable amount of specialised knowledge, skill and experience.2077
§ It would in my view be disastrous if there were not on the Manpower Commission people who have themselves had considerable professional experience—I use the word "professional" deliberately to-day because that is what it amounts to—in this difficult field of manpower forecasting, planning and in the whole world of training. I am sure that the noble Lord will say to me in reply, "Surely we can rely on the employers' organisation to appoint people with just such expertise." I am afraid that I do not accept that and I reject it in advance, although perhaps he is not intending to say that, because all too often when employers' organisations are asked to nominate people they nominate what might be called the political figures in employers' organisations rather than the professional managers. Yet in this field it is essential that the professional managers should be represented. We arc not asking for a separate place for them, but are asking that this kind of expertise should be represented on the Commission and not only lower down in the Agencies. There are many reasons for that, not least that the Commission is going to make decisions about how money should be allocated and it is to have the ultimate power to approve or disapprove proposals put forward by people doing the training work up and down the country in this field, either in the training boards or elsewhere. It seems totally unsuitable that this kind of power should be in the hands of a body which does not include a high level of expertise based on personal experience and proved achievement in the field of manpower planning and of training, and therefore I beg to move that these lines should be added to the clause.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I do not think that I am going to say exactly what the noble Baroness predicted, but my answer is bound to be much along the lines of what I have already said to the noble Lord, Lord Jacques, because this Amendment seeks to ensure that at least three of the members of the Commissionshall be persons with considerable practical experience of employment and training in industry or commerceand that they should beappointed for their specialised knowledge".2078 It would be very surprising if the members of the Commission did not have very extensive practical experience of employment and training, in the sense of having had long experience of dealing with employment and training matters. One would expect this to be true of all six members appointed after consultation with the Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry. Those appointed after consultation with the local authority associations are also likely to be knowledgeable in this field—after all, local authorities are very big employers, and they have a major interest in the provision of education and training; and the member appointed after consultation with professional education interests is clearly likely to have some experience, particularly of education and training. So I think it is unnecessary to provide, as the Amendment proposes, that at least three members must have considerable practical experience in these fields. I have little doubt that in practice most if not all members will have such experience.
But the noble Baroness has gone rather further than that. She would like to see people appointed to the Commission who have specialised and professional experience in the forecasting of manpower and training, as I understood her to say, and expert knowledge of employment and, perhaps more particularly, of training—for example people drawn from the professional training world and also from the manpower forecasting world. No doubt there are people who have had experience of this and there are many bodies in that field.
I think there is a difference of view here about the function of the members of the Commission. Their job is surely to be responsible to the Secretary of State for Employment for developing the manpower services and for seeing that they meet the real needs of those who use them. The Commission will be concentrating on major issues, particularly on the two Agencies' forward programmes of work and budgets.
As members of the Commission, therefore, the people we shall need will, I think, be those who take a broad view of the major issues arising over the planning and development of the manpower services—the way in which those services 2079 must move in order to meet the changing social and economic needs of the communuity. Clearly they will need wide practical experience in employment and training matters. Clearly, too, they may include specialists in those subjects. It may well be that the members appointed after consultation with the C.B.I., for example, will include a training specialist, or if the member appointed after consultation with professional education interests was an expert in vocational education and training. But I do not think that any members should be appointed for their specialised knowledge. It is more important that they should have a wide understanding of the manpower problems of our society and of the way in which the employment and training services need to be developed to deal with them. If they need expert or specialist advice, they will be able to obtain that from the Agencies.
It is for those reasons and because of the concept we have of what the Commission will have to do and ought to do that I hope the noble Baroness will not press her Amendment.
§ BARONESS SEEAR
I very much regret that I am unable to accept what the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has said. In my view, we have suffered for far too long in this country from extreme amateurism in this field. There are now large groups of people who are developing the kind of specialised knowledge which needs to be fed into the discussions of the Commission. I submit that it is not good enough that after these discussions have been made by the Commission other persons are able to comment on them lower down the line. This professional component needs to be injected into the discussions at the time that plans are being laid and decisions are being taken. We all know the difference between coming in after a decision has been made and commenting on it, and being in a position to take part in the actual decision. I agree that you need to have people with a broad view about the total situation, the total movement of the industry in the country, and so on, but it is highly probable that people who are professional in the manpower forecasting and training field will also be able to take a broad view. These two things are not mutually exclusive and 2080 there will be seven people who will concentrate on having a broad view, if my Amendment is adopted, as well as three people who are able to contribute this professional expert knowledge.
I regret to say that I am quite unconvinced by the argument that they will be able to get the professional component from the Agencies, because we have been told that the majority of the staff of the Agencies is coming from the Department of Employment, which does not pretend to be a professionally qualified organisation. So where is the professional component to come from? I regret that I cannot accept what the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, has said.
§ LORD SLATER
I was very interested in the reply that the noble Lord gave to my noble friend on the first Amendment, and also in the reply he has now given to the noble Baroness, Lady Seear. It would appear that the C.B.I. is of such paramount importance, so far as the industrial life of this country is concerned, that if anyone has to be consulted at all in regard to industry it is the C.B.I. All other forms and sections of industry have to be placed on one side and practical experience has to be thrown out of the window as being of no value. When this Commission is set up I wonder whether the three individuals who will form the Commission have ever had what we would term inside industry practical experience on the floor? I have questioned this point. When I was in a particular Department I wondered how many of the hierarchy, of the people holding higher positions within the Department, had had service on the floor before they climbed the ladder and were put into the upper regions of the operation so far as the service was concerned. It can happen that the nominations submitted to the Minister through the C.B.I. are of people who have never had practical experience and who would not know the answers to the problems even in regard to the manpower that the Minister has already referred to, and which would be required inside an industry for that industry to be carried on.
I put a further point to the Minister. It is well-known to some of us who have travelled the country, who have had a look at big industries and who have seen 2081 certain individuals in managerial positions—yes, they have palatial offices to operate from—that even the manager in control of that particular sector does not know Dick from Tom working on the floor and producing the particular article that that company is interested in. These people are too far apart. This was one of the issues that arose when we were debating that most important Bill, the Industrial Relations Bill. The Government ought to give further consideration to the aspects that have been raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, and also by my noble friend Lord Jacques on the Amendment and on the approach that the Government ought to take, instead of taking the static role of defence of the C.B.I., as if the C.B.I. were of such paramount importance that even the T.U.C., which is an organised association of employees, need never be taken into consultation. Where in heaven we are travelling, God only knows! If that is the attitude of mind of the Government and the line they are going to follow, then if they want progress and better relations inside industry they will have to change their mind and their approach, because progress will not come their way. I warn the Government on that particular issue.
§ LORD AUCKLAND
I hope my noble friend will give some reconsideration to what he has said about this Amendment. This is a complicated subject. I should like to say one word about commerce. I have had nearly 20 years' experience in the field of insurance. There are many large insurance companies in which there is a definite lack of communication, not only between junior management and board level but between the same board levels. I think this has been due to the fact that there has not been a proper set-up in the training field. In fact, in the insurance industry, if I may call it that, training of any kind is something relatively new. Although this Amendment as drafted may be difficult to put into operation practically, because specialised knowledge can cover a very wide field, I hope the Government will take some of the points which the noble Baroness has made—she has very wide experience in this field—and will bear them in mind, and at least make sure that on this Commission there are people who have had experience of board level 2082 and of junior management level and if necessary shop-floor level. I think results will be much better, and industrial unrest and industrial problems could probably be solved much better in this way.
§ LORD DIAMOND
The last time I had the privilege of moving an Amendment in your Lordships' House the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, said that there was nothing further for her to say. I reciprocate the compliment. The only reason I am not putting further arguments in favour of the Amendment is to save your Lordships' time and because the noble Baroness has said so well everything there is to say.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I wonder whether I may bring the Committee back to what we are really talking about here, because there has been a certain amount of misunderstanding. What the subsection says is that the Commission… shall consist of ten persons appointed by the Secretary of State to be members of the Commission, of whom the members specified in each of the following paragraphs shall be appointed by him after consultation with such of the organisations mentioned in that paragraph as he considers appropriate, that is to say—(a) as to three members, organisations representing employers; …—and this is what we were talking about in the first Amendment—
That is the sort of pattern of consultation. I think I used the word "nomination" inadvertently earlier on; but in the course of consultation obviously suggestions will be made. This is the pattern, and it is difficult to fit into a pattern of that kind a requirement that three should have specialised knowledge of some kind. Is it to be one from each, plus the organisations concerned with education? It is not easy to do that. I am bound to say to the noble Baroness that what she is suggesting does not fit in easily with the pattern we have here.
- (b) as to three other members, organisations representing employees;
- (c) as to two other members, organisations representing local authorities; and
- (d) as to one other member, organisations concerned with education (excluding organisations mentioned in the preceding paragraph)."
I find it difficult to believe that in setting up a Commission of this kind and with these objects the sort of people that she has in mind will not be included—I do not say necessarily three; it might be 2083 two or four; who knows? What I am saying is that it is extremely difficult to write that into the Bill. I take her point that it may be that in the past we have confined bodies of this kind too much to the heads of industries and the general secretaries of unions. I can assure her that that is not the intention here. This is a Commission which is being set up for a particular purpose, and we want to
§ get the best people for that purpose. I fully take the point, but I am sorry that I cannot accept her Amendment.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 2) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 62; Not-Contents, 84.2083
|Airedale, L.||Fulton, L.||Ritchie-Calder, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Gardiner, L.||Royle, L.|
|Amulree, L.||Garnsworthy, L.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Archibald, L.||Gladwyn, L. [Teller.]||St. Davids, V.|
|Arwyn, L.||Hale, L.||Seear, B. [Teller.]|
|Avebury, L.||Hall, V.||Segal, L.|
|Beswick, L.||Henderson, L.||Serota, B.|
|Birk, B.||Hereford, L.Bp.||Shackleton, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Jacques, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Kennet, L.||Slater, L.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Leatherland, L.||Stocks, B.|
|Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Burntwood, L.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||Summerskill, B.|
|Champion, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Chorley, L.||McLeavy, L.||Wade, L.|
|Clancarty, E.||Maelor, L.||White, B.|
|Crook, L.||Masham of Ilton, B.||Wigg, L.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Morris of Grasmere, L.||Williamson, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Peddie, L.||Willis, L.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Phillips, B.||Wootton of Abinger, B.|
|Faringdon, L||Platt, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Aberdare, L.||Fortescue, E.||Porritt, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Garner, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Gisborough, L.||Rathcavan, L.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Gowrie, E.||Rhyl, L.|
|Balfour, E.||Grenfell, L.||Royle, L.|
|Berkeley, B.||Gridley, L.||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Bourne, L.||Grimston of Westbury, L.||St. Helens, L.|
|Bradford, E.||Hailes, L.||St. Just, L.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Saint Oswald, L.|
|Brooke of Ystradfellte, B.||Sandford, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Hanworth, V.||Selborne, E.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Harding of Petherton, L.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Hawke, L.||Sharples, B.|
|Courtown, E.||Hylton-Foster, B.||Strange, L.|
|Cowley, E.||Inglewood, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Ironside, L.|
|Daventry, V.||Killearn, L.||Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|Denham, L.||Lauderdale, E.||Swansea L.|
|Derwent, L.||Lothian, M.||Swinton, E.|
|Digby, L.||Loudoun, C.||Tenby, V.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Mar, E.||Vernon, L.|
|Dulverton, L.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Vivian, L.|
|Dundee, E.||Merrivale, L.||Wakefield of Kendal, L.|
|Dundonald, E.||Milverton, L.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Effingham, E.||Molson, L.||Windlesham, L. (L. Privy Seal.)|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Monck, V.||Wise, L.|
|Emmet of Amberley, B.||Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.]||Wolverton, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Wrottesley, L.|
|Ferrers, E.||Nugent of Guildford, L.||Young, B.|
Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ Clause 1 agreed to.2085
§ Clause 2 [Functions of the Commission and Agencies]:
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ The noble Lord said: In supporting what I regard as an important human issue I want to make it clear that I am not suggesting, nor would it occur to me to claim, that there is any lack of compassion on either side of the House; but it is an issue which excites compassion. Perhaps it would be better if I first of all described the problem which is referred to and what the policy of the Government is for dealing with the problem, and so reach a conclusion as to the necessity for the Amendment. The problem is the familiar one of dealing with the unemployment of the registered disabled, and the figure, as I understand it, is about 13 per cent. of the registered unemployed; that is to say, some 80,000 individuals. I understand also that there is a similar proportion and number of unemployed disabled who are not registered, so that all told there would be something of the order of 150,000 disabled unemployed persons.
§ The point which we must bear in mind is that the proportion of disabled unemployed is much higher—very much higher—than the national average of unemployment among able persons. Therefore we are accepting in the present state of affairs that those with disability should not only suffer the misery of their disability but should suffer the further misery of unemployment to a far larger extent than the average individual in the country. The Government policy for dealing with this is to rely on the quota provisions, with which your Lordships are very familiar—shortly, that firms with more than 20 employees are required to employ 3 per cent. of registered disabled. The Government implementation of that policy takes the form of persuasion rather than prosecution. The scheme is, in fact, quite a modest one if one compares it with schemes in Western European countries: yet even on that modest scheme of ours we are 2086 progressively falling behind, and have been doing so since 1961.
§ I underline the date to make it perfectly clear that, as I said at the start, this is not a Party issue; it is a difficult human issue. The position has deteriorated to the extent, so I understand, that last year no less than 60 per cent. of firms were not fulfilling their requirements. That did not involve a breach of the law which would have resulted in prosecution and penalties because, in order to be in breach of the law, so I understand, you have to be failing in your quota without the permission of the Secretary of State. Those who failed to do that as well, and were therefore in breach of the law, were some 15 per cent. of all firms, 9,000 firms all told, but, so far as I know, either no prosecutions, or virtually no prosecutions, were brought or are in hand.
§ That situation is bad enough, but it is likely to get worse as a result of the fragmentation of responsibilities brought about by the very Bill that we are to-day discussing. The fragmentation that I refer to is that the Secretary of State is going to retain responsibility for sheltered employment, for maintenance of the Disabled Persons' Register, and for application of the quota scheme, while T.S.A. (the Training Service Agency) is going to be responsible for training the disabled and the E.S.A. (the Employment Service Agency), is going to be responsible for employing the disabled. So the Manpower Commission is going to have, through those two agencies, those major responsibilities, and the Department is going to retain the three responsibilities I have referred to. With that kind of fragmentation it is inevitable that such priority—and my case is that it is wholly inadequate—as has hitherto been given to this problem will be reduced, and we are at present in a most unsatisfactory situation which is deteriorating.
In this Amendment I am not suggesting that the position is due to the scheme; on the contrary, I am saying that it is due to lack of implementation of the scheme. I would draw your Lordships' attention to some wise words of Robert Owen, which have been quoted in another context. He said:
Beneficial changes can alone take place by well digested and well arranged plans temperately introduced and perseveringly pursued.
It is this lack of perseverance, this lack of adequate priority which, in my view, accounts for the deteriorating situation and the present unsatisfactory position, and which we must do something to restore. This Amendment seeks to restore the position somewhat by making it clear that the employment of the registered disabled shall be picked out and regarded as a responsibility of sufficient importance as to be mentioned in the Statute, so that there shall be no doubt in anybody's mind as to how Parliament regards this matter.
§ I do not want to mention a single case. Everyone of your Lordships must know of many heartrending cases. I have had the kind of experience as an employer that I shall never forget. Nevertheless, I hope that I am dealing with this matter with a cool head as well as a warm heart. I think that the answer must be to accept that history shows that inadequate priority has been given to this problem, and we must upgrade the position by picking it out as a specific issue, placing responsibility on the shoulders of the new Manpower Services Commission, and saying, "You must see to it that the numbers of registered disabled unemployed are reduced." That is the purpose of the Amendment, and I hope that it meets your Lordships' hearts and minds. I beg to move.
§ 4.25 p.m.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
I must begin by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, for saying that in this case compassion is not a Party issue—as of course it is not. As he said so eloquently, it is a human issue, and we take it to be so. The position under the Bill is that Sections 6 to 12 of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944, are unamended. Thus the powers and duties of the Secretary of State for Employment relating to the Register of Disabled People, and to the quota scheme, and to the designated employment scheme for disabled people, remain unchanged. I accept entirely that it will obviously be sensible for the Commission, through the Employment Service Agency, to carry out many of the executive functions necessary for administering the quota scheme. For example, the Commission will clearly need to maintain the Register of Disabled People; to provide services for the district disablement 2088 advisory committee, which of course are closely concerned with the administration of the quota scheme, and indeed to take all practicable steps, through the disablement resettlement officer service which the Commission will be operating, to ensure that employers are reminded of their obligations under the quota scheme and are helped to fulfil them.
But, as the White Paper made clear, it is right the Commission should perform these functions as the agent of the Secretary of State; and that the necessary statutory powers and duties should remain with him. I should emphasise that this relationship should not cause difficulties, and that it is the intention of the Secretary of State to make sure that there will be effective liaison and co-operation between his Department and the Commission, and its agencies, in this field; and that the interest of disabled people will be fully safeguarded. I have every reason to believe that the Commission will be more than ready to carry out these agency functions. But in the unlikely event of its being necessary, the Bill provides the Secretary of State with powers of direction.
My reasons for believing that my right honourable friend's present duties and powers in this field should remain with him can be briefly outlined. First, it is surely right that the power to make statutory instruments, such as those determining the quota percentage, should remain with, and be exercisable only by, the Secretary of State as the man responsible to Parliament. If this is accepted, it follows that the powers contained in Section 10(3) of the 1944 Act should not be handed over to the Commission. I must remind myself at this point of caveats issued on Second Reading by the noble Lord about delegated legislation and the dangers of its getting out of hand.
Secondly, bearing in mind that the Commission will be primarily concerned with the provision of employment and training services, which will involve developing close and cordial working relationships with employers, it would seem undesirable to place on the Commission the duty of enforcing the quota provisions. Where the noble Lord and I perhaps part company—because I sympathise with so much of what he said—is whether this is a duty for the Commission, and should it be an enforcing agency. As I 2089 have said, the Commission will use the disablement resettlement officer service to remind employers of their obligations in this field, and to help them to fulfil them. But there are two other important aspects to the enforcement procedure. The first in the inspection of employers' records and the ascertainment of any facts which may be considered relevant to a possible infringement of the quota scheme. The second is that of considering the institution of criminal proceedings in respect of offences. The first of these functions is now the responsibility of the Wages Inspectorate, which will remain with the Department of my right honourable friend. It is clearly sensible that the wages inspectors should continue to be responsible for inspecting the records that employers are obliged to keep under the quota scheme. I also think it would be undesirable to place on the Commission the onus of deciding whether or not to prosecute employers who infringe the requirements of the quota scheme. It is surely better that this responsibility—the teeth, as it were—should remain with the Secretary of State. The fact that they are with the Secretary of State does not mean of course that, as teeth, they are not sharp.
§ LORD DIAMOND
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Earl, but this is exactly the right point. He is talking about sharp teeth. Will he kindly tell us how many times the sharp teeth have bitten in the last 12 months, for example? How many prosecutions have there been?
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
As your Lordships can see, my cuffs are blue rather than white and I do not have the figures written on them, though I shall try to find out. But if one is critical about the operation of the quota scheme—and I understand from the brief intervention of both the noble Lord and the noble Baroness that there is criticism—I think that my next point may answer the question: what are we doing about potentially contentious areas in the operation of the quota scheme? My point is not that all is well in the garden of this scheme, necessarily, but that this Amendment—and, indeed, this Bill generally—is not perhaps 2090 the best place to tackle the problem; and I shall be coming on to that in a very short time.
The last point I made was that we wish the responsibility and the teeth to remain with the Secretary of State. There is a third reason—I have given two—why it seems undesirable to disturb the present legislative arrangements at this stage. On May 22, a consultative document on the future of the quota scheme was published by the Department. This document is intended to form the basis of wide-ranging consultations about the future of the scheme with the Secretary of State's National Advisory Council on the Employment of the Disabled, and with all oher interested organisations and individuals. It seems only sensible not to make any changes in the present legislative provisions governing the quota until these consultations have been completed.
I think the fact that these consultations are going on will be sufficient indication to the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, that there is no sign of the priority in this essential and human field being reduced. Our contention is that one does not put this kind of priority into the Bill as it presently is. As I see it, noble Lords opposite want the Commission to be the executive, the operator of the quota scheme; and on this we certainly agree. But we feel that the Secretary of State should continue to be the statutory authority, using the Manpower Services Commission and its agencies as his executive arm. But I would say that the aims and objects—that is to say, better training and better employment opportunities for the disabled—remain the same. What I would ask noble Lords opposite to ask themselves is: is the Amendment itself necessary for these aims? I would say, No, and it is for that reason that I ask the noble Lord to withdraw it.
§ LORD SOMERS
I must confess that I find the noble Earl's reply very far from satisfactory. He said that the responsibility must remain with the Secretary of State. But Secretaries of State come and go, and although the present one may be very responsible in this direction, one does not know who will be Secretary of State in 10 years' time, and he may be far less sympathetic. The noble Earl also said that the Commission should remind employers of their 2091 duty to employ a certain number of disabled people. From my experience, they can be reminded a thousand times but they will not do so unless there is some legislation to force them. It seems to me that we should have this legislation to protect those who are unable to find work, not because of their own inability but because of a quite unnatural prejudice on the part of employers. So I hope that the noble Earl will think again.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
I was thinking very carefully while the noble Lord, Lord Somers, made his two points very cogently, and I think they can be answered. On the point about the Secretary of State having responsibility, regardless of whether it is my present right honourable friend or some future Secretary of State who may be less well-intentioned, the noble Lord, Lord Somers, can throw bricks at the Secretary of State, can ask him for information and can exercise his Parliamentary rights against him, which would be harder to do with the Commission direct. Secondly, the noble Lord said that there must be legislation. In my initial answer I hope I made it clear that of course there is legislation. All we are saying is that we are desirous that the Committee should not amend this legislation because the powers and duties of the Secretary of State for Employment, relating to the register of disabled people, to the quota scheme and to the designated employment scheme for disabled people, remain unchanged. They are there.
§ BARONESS MASHAM OF ILTON
May I ask the noble Earl whether he thinks that the disablement resettlement officers have adequate training and are all equal to the skilled job of finding suitable jobs for the disabled? Their job as a D.R.O. is just a passing step up the ladder.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
I recognise the feeling of the Committee about this issue, but I do not myself think that it is particularly well directed towards this Amendment. But because one recognises the feeling, and because of the remarks I made earlier about the consultative document on the quota scheme and its operation, I would certainly agree to consult with my noble friend the Leader of the House as to whether we could debate 2092 the consultative document and talk over this point of the training and employment of the disabled at a later stage. I am quite happy to give that undertaking. The only point I am making at present is that I do not feel that the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, is entirely necessary, because the Bill already contains most of the provisions that he requires.
§ LORD GARDINER
Can the noble Earl give us the prosecution figures? I apprehend that there has been time to obtain them from the usual place.
§ BARONESS SEEAR
I do not want to complicate the matter still further, but if my arithmetic is right we have had the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act on the Statute Book for 29 years, and some of us are not at all impressed with the results of this piece of legislation. We are hoping that if responsibility moves to the Commission, to a more expert body of people than have been handling it up till now, the results may be better. They could scarcely be worse.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
May I say to the noble and learned Lord that my information is that there has been one prosecution this year and seven, all told, since 1944. I would reiterate that if there is feeling—and I hope that this will answer the noble Baroness as well—about anything being unsatisfactory in the quota arrangements, I give my assurance that perhaps we may debate this separately.
§ VISCOUNT HANWORTH
I cannot see why both the Secretary of State and the Commission should not be able to prosecute. Why are they mutually exclusive?
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
The Secretary of State is statutorily responsible for the work of the Commission. It is therefore surely right that he should pass on the information to the Director of Public Prosecutions, if need be.
§ LORD DIAMOND
I do not know what your Lordships feel. I can only say what I feel, which is that the answer is unsatisfactory to a considerable degree. May I preface my reply by saying that the Government have replied to this complaint in a number of ways. The noble 2093 Earl's reply is not original, but it is different from the reply which the Government first gave. I just want to make the simple point that the Government feel they have to defend their position, and they have finally decided that the best method of defending their position is on the ground of the administrative convenience of the lay-out of the Bill.
I regret to say that the noble Earl has not fully taken our point. We recognise that the provisions of the 1944 Act remain and are unamended; and there is no Amendment down on the Marshalled List. The whole point of the argument is that we all have sufficient evidence before our noses to know that that Act as implemented by successive Governments—I repeat, successive Governments—does not work. I cannot put it plainer than that. I asked for the number of prosecutions because, of course, I knew the answer. Nobody asks questions in this House unless he has a very good idea what the answer is. I know it to be one prosecution for last year. I thought when there was a slight delay that I might have exaggerated and there was none, but in fact there was one. I am not sure whether the prosecution was carried out; I think it failed for lack of evidence, but perhaps I am going into too much detail there. The simple point has been made as a result of a question by my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner that in nearly thirty years seven prosecutions have taken place—an average of something like one per Government, I suppose it would work out.
Surely we have enough freedom of speech in your Lordships' Committee to let it be known that we are not satisfied with a deteriorating situation—a situation deteriorating every year since 1961, broadly—no matter which Government have to carry the blame. We are not seeking to place blame: we are seeking to find jobs for people who have enough problems to cope with without the further problem of excessive unemployment; that is all. No prosecutions are being undertaken because the policy carried out is such that the one consistent factor since 1944 is the Department's advice to the Minister concerned—and the Minister, and only the Minister, is responsible for accepting that advice—and has resulted in the position deteriorating.
2094 Here we have a Bill which provides an opportunity for a new influence to be felt and practised, and it is no use the noble Earl saying to me that I have the Amendment in the wrong place, which is all he is really saying. He is saying that I ought not to put it in a place where it is purely the responsibility of the Commission but I ought to put it in a place where it might be the responsibility of the Commission or it might be the responsibility of the Secretary of State, because, as your Lordships know from further provisions in the Bill, the Secretary of State has full powers to work with the Manpower Commission and to ask the Manpower Commission to act as his agent, and so on. But the noble Earl did not say that. The noble Earl said, in a mood as generous as his first response, that he is prepared to allow us to debate this Consultative Document which we are going to be allowed to debate anyway. The noble Earl would not, on behalf of the Government, say that there is going to be this important Consultative Document and that he is authorised to say that in no circumstances will Parliament be allowed to discuss it. So forgive my saying to the noble Earl that I am not accusing him or anybody in this Committee, no matter which way anybody votes, of lack of compassion. This is a matter of judgment. I am saying that my judgment is that at this stage, when we have the opportunity of a new organisation and a new start, we must not be bogged down by the old argument of administrative convenience. We must not continue to do what has been shown to be inadequate for thirty long years. We must help those people whom noble Lords on all sides want to help.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I wonder whether I could add a word to what my noble friend has said on this subject, because I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, that this is not in any way a Party matter. What we really need to do is to try to arrive at the best arrangement. What he is saying, if I can understand him, is that successive Secretaries of State, successive Departments of Employment, or whatever they were called before that—Ministers of Labour—have not done this job too well. Here was something on the Statute Book, and it was not being implemented. Might 2095 it not be that what is on the Statute Book is not quite right; and, if that were so, would it be sensible to put on to the Commission the job of trying to make a better job of something which might be out-of-date, because it went back quite a long time?
I do not know whether the noble Lord has had an opportunity to read this very interesting document, The Quota Scheme for Disabled People, but I very much commend it to your Lordships because it makes an extremely clean breast of things. It sets out the case absolutely; and I would say to noble Lords in all sincerity that what my noble friend said is right: before we start saddling a new body with this legislation it is much better for everybody to study exactly the proposals which are being made. Of course this is by no means the only step which is being taken at the present time. There are a number of papers. There was the first paper on the Resettlement Service Scheme out in July last year, and it led to two important developments. First, the Department has put in train four trials designed to find out whether it would be practicable to provide improved vocational assessment facilities for disabled people, and whether it would be desirable to broaden the scope of the resettlement service to cover socially disadvantaged people. Secondly, the Department is examining with the National Advisory Council practical ways of improving the disablement resettlement service within the framework of the wider proposals for modernising and improving the ordinary employment service, and a plan to improve the disablement resettlement officer service will be prepared as soon as possible. The Consultative Document about the quota scheme has only recently been issued, on May 22. A consultative document on the future of sheltered employment is in course of preparation, and it is hoped that it will be published later this year. The final stage of consultation will cover industrial rehabilitation and the vocational training of disabled people.
It really is essential that careful consideration be given to the problem before proposals are put forward, and that the review should be linked with the wider proposals for modernising the ordinary employment service and expanding training facilities. I would be ready to take 2096 a bet that not many of your Lordships here have read this document. The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, has; but before committing ourselves to a change in the law and giving the duties of administration entirely to the Commission (which would mean, I have no doubt, that they would delegate it in terms to the Employment Service Agency), surely it would be right for this to be studied and, I should have thought, also to be debated. It seems to me that that is the right way to go about things.
In conclusion, I would simply ask once again that due weight should be given to the argument that my noble friend put forward, that it is not always a very good thing that the body which is trying to work with industry, in order to place disabled people there, should also be the prosecuting body. My noble friend has said that much of this work will be delegated to the Commission. They will be charged with maintaining the register of disabled people and with providing the services for the district disablement advisory committee; but the wages inspectorate, which now comes under the Department of Employment and which is the body which actually looks at the books to see whether the quota is being fulfilled, is under the Secretary of State and will remain under the Secretary of State. My noble friend's point is that it is not a very good thing to have the same people who are given this enforcement job not only doing that but at the same time trying to get the maximum co-operation with industry in order to get the best possible service for disabled persons.
It is only right to say that it is not only the registered disabled we are talking about, it is also the many disabled who are not registered. These are matters which must be looked at carefully. It is not enough simply to take the argument: here we have legislation which has not been enforced by prosecutions, so let us give it to another body and see whether they will enforce it—which is what the noble Lord is saying. Even if the noble Lord were not saying that, one must remember always that the Commission operates under the direction of the Secretary of State.
§ LORD DIAMOND
I do not think that we want to continue this argument overlong. The noble Lord thinks it most 2097 important that the Government Department which has issued seven prosecutions in the last 70 years should continue to have this jealously guarded right. I do not think that there is a great deal of persuasion in that argument. Meantime the position has been deteriorating and a larger percentage of registered disabled become unemployed year after year. It is an unsatisfactory situation. The noble Lord has been courteous and has tried to be helpful; but he has given
§ Resolved in the affirmative and Amendment agreed to accordingly.2098
§ no indication that the opportunity of new legislation, of a new approach to employment and training, will put the registered disabled in that position of priorty that they deserve I therefore wish to test the feelings of the Committee.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No.3) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided; Contents, 66; Not-Contents, 65.2097
|Annan, L.||Henley,L.||Sainsbury, L.|
|Archibald, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.||St. Davids, V.|
|Arwyn, L.||Jacques, L.||Seear, B.|
|Beswick, L.||Kennet, L.||Segal, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Killearn, L.||Serota, B.|
|Brockway, L.||Leatherland, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Liewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. [Teller.]||Shepherd, L.|
|Byers, L.||Slater, L.|
|Champion, L.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||Snow, I.|
|Chorley, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Somers, L.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||McLeavy, L.||Stocks, B.|
|Diamond, L.||Macleod of Borve, B.||Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]|
|Douglass of Cleveland, L.||Maelor, L.||Summerskill, B.|
|Falkland, V.||Masham of Ilton, B.||Swinton E.|
|Faringdon, L.||Meston, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Foot, L.||Morris of Grasmere, L.||Wade, L.|
|Fulton, L.||Ogmore, L.||White, B.|
|Gardiner, L.||Peddie, L.||Williamson, L.|
|Gisborough, L.||Phillips, B.||Willis, L.|
|Gladwyn, L.||Platt, L.||Wise, L.|
|Hale, L.||Ritchie-Calder, L.||Wootton of Abinger, B.|
|Hanworth, V.||Rowallan, L.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Emmet of Amberley, B.||Reigat, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Ferrers, E. [Teller.]||Rhyl, L.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Fortescue, E.||Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.|
|Auckland, L.||Fraser of Lansdale, L.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Balfour, E.||Gowrie, E.||St. Just, L.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Grenfell, L.||Saint Oswald, L.|
|Berkeley, B.||Gridley, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Grimston of Westbury, L.||Selborne, E.|
|Brooke of Ystradfellte, B.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Selkirk, E.|
|Coleraine, L.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Hawke, L.||Shannon, E.|
|Courtown, E.||Inglewood, L.||Sharples, B.|
|Craigavon, V.||Ironside, L.||Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|Crathorne, L.||Lothian, M.||Tenby, V.|
|Daventry, V.||Luke, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Denham, L.||Merrivale, L.||Vernon, L.|
|Derwent, L.||Milverton, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Digby, L.||Monck, V.||Ward of Willey, V.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.]||Windlesham, L. (L. Privy Seal.)|
|Dundee, E.||Wolverton, L.|
|Dundonald, E.||Nugent of Guildford, L.||Wrottesley, L.|
|Eccles, V.||Rankeillour, L.||Young, B.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.|
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 4:
Page 3, line 44, at end insert—
("( ) include provisions for enabling women and girls to participate more fully in the skilled trades and professions").
The noble Lord said: I do not know whether I can start my comments on this Amendment by expressing my very great gratitude to the "sixty-fifth"—whoever he or she was. I do not need to detain the Committee long, I am sure, by demonstrating the unsatisfactory present situation. It is indeed lamentable. I understand that two-thirds of all the girls leaving school at 16 have no training in their new occupation. I understand that so far as apprenticeships are concerned 5½ per cent. of the girls leaving school are apprenticed to hairdressing and 2 per cent. to forms of employment other than hairdressing. Only 2 per cent. of the girls leaving school are apprenticed in order to learn some long-term skill. That is the present lamentable situation. However, the position is likely to worsen as the result of the provisions of this Bill. That is not merely my view it is the view of the all-Party Committee in the other place, the Expenditure Committee on the Employment of Women, which recently reported and expressed their concern that the proposed reduction in the levy grant system to 1 per cent. would:
adversely affect training opportunities of women.
So we have a quite lamentable situation and one that is likely to get worse as the result of this Bill.
§ I know that the Government are to some extent concerned about this situation. The noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, said on May 14 that the Government accepted that there was need for legislation to deal with unfair discrimination in employment, including training. He said that the Department of Employment had conducted an intensive inquiry to determine what action was required to improve the range and level of employment activities of women. Here is a Bill which gives an opportunity for this important issue, this grave lack of carrying out Governmental responsibility, to be remedied. I do not think that anyone in the Committee would disagree when I say that we shall always suffer 2100 from a shortage of skilled manpower and, as I said during the Second Reading debate, the greatest untapped source of skilled manpower is without question women. That is the situation. It is on skill and the development of skill that the growth of our economy depends, and it is necessary therefore to change the situation in a fundamental manner.
§ A figure of 2 per cent. going into training other than hairdressing on an apprenticeship basis is such a ridiculous state of affairs that nothing other than a fundamental change will affect it. I think it so fundamental that although I am well aware of the argument that the responsibility of the Manpower Commission should be expressed in general terms, it is not sufficient to exclude specific mention of the need for the training of women. That is why my Amendment provides for enabling women and girls to participate more fully in the skilled trades and professions. I do not think that I need to say more at this stage. I beg to move.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
Perhaps I should congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, on his victory in respect of the last Amendment. In this case, unlike with the last Amendment, the noble Lord does not seek to confer a new duty on the Commission but only to state that its powers include the power to encourage women and girls toparticipate more fully in the skilled trades and professions".No one on this side of the Committee, certainly no one in the Government, would quarrel with anything that the noble Lord has said, except for one thing. Is a Bill the place for this kind of encouragement? In the first place, surely the Amendment is unnecessary in the sense that the Commission already has in Clause 2(1) the duty (and I stress the word "duty") subject only to the approval of the Secretary of State,to make such arrangements as it considers appropriateto assist personsto select, train for, obtain and retain employment …".In my opinion that duty, rightly, does not differentiate between men and women, or older and younger people, or disabled and able-bodied people. We are dealing with the training and employment opportunities of all the people in the country. 2101 But it does mean that if they consider particular arrangements appropriate in connection with the training of women or girls, or with the training of any particular group, it is their duty, subject to the approval of my right honourable friend, to make those arrangements.
It seems to me that there are potential dangers in listing in legislation things which the Commission may do, as this could lead to the presumption that anything not listed is thereby excluded. It is surely far better to have a comprehensive approach and to rely on the broad and general duty imposed by Clause 2(1). In his speech on Second Reading, and again in moving the Amendment, the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, referred to equal opportunity for women in respect of training. In the debate in this House on May 14 on the recommittal of the Sex Discrimination Bill my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross announced that the Government are working on legislation of their own designed to assist in the removal of unfair discrimination on the grounds of sex and to promote opportunities open to women. That is part of the Government's platform. My noble friend gave an undertaking that the Government would carry out the necessary consultations and publish a consultative document, if possible this summer, which will serve as the basis for discussion with the intention of seeking an early opportunity to introduce legislation. As my noble friend pointed out then, it is at this stage not possible to say what form the legislation will take. It is anticipated that it will be concerned primarily with unfair discrimination in employment, including training, and cover measures to outlaw discriminatory acts and affirmative action to achieve equal opportunities for women by changing existing attitudes.
I think that the subject of discrimination on the grounds of sex in employment and training should be dealt with in the forthcoming legislation, and that it is right in this Bill to impose only a general duty on the Commission covering everyone, rather than to mention especially all the types of people which the Commission will need to have in mind. I do not think, therefore, that the noble Lord could charge me with not having the interests of women, and better training and employment opportunities for women, in 2102 mind; and with that I express the hope that he will not press his Amendment.
§ LORD GARDINER
May I ask the noble Earl whether I should be right in concluding from what he said that the legislation which the Government are considering instead of the Sex Discrimination Bill will not relate to education at all? Secondly, can he tell us what possible harm the acceptance of this Amendment could do?
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
I think I outlined the only harm that this Amendment could do when I said that mentioning one special category, albeit a vital category, of people could possibly lead to the presumption that categories not so listed might thereby be excluded. As to the point about the form in which the legislation will or might take, I said that it is anticipated that it will be concerned primarily with unfair discrimination in employment, including training. I would say that the phrase "including training" would cover education, but I will try to find out if the noble and learned Lord wishes to know more.
§ BARONESS PHILLIPS
May I ask the Minister whether the Government are happy with the figures of girls entering training, bearing in mind the fact that they are very small? If they are dissatisfied, would they not agree that an Amendment of this kind would strengthen the position?—because we all know that if the people at the top show that they believe in an idea, this gradually penetrates through both to the employer, on the one hand, and to the educator, on the other.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
I think that if the Government were happy about the position, either one of my noble friends or myself would not be standing up here to say that we planned to introduce a consultative document with a view to legislation. We should say: "Things are all right. We will leave well alone." What we are unhappy about it what seems to me to be a possible dangerous principle, which is to mention categories of people in a Bill, particularly when one is not by so mentioning conferring any extra powers or any extra duties on the executive body—in this case the Commission.
§ LORD DOUGLASS OF CLEVELAND
How can the Minister justify putting through a Bill to give equal pay for women if he does not put through a collateral Bill to give equal training for women? The obvious conclusion is that if the women do not get the equal training they will never earn the equal pay. Having done one thing, I do not see how the Government can possibly reject the other.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
I do not think I am rejecting it. I could not agree more with the noble Lord, first, on the count, as I have already said, that legislation will be introduced; and (secondly, and more importantly, that in this Bill, which deals with employment and training, we are covering all the categories and classes of people in this country. There can be no doubt about that.
LORD DOUGLAS OF CLEVELAND
In answer to that, I would say that if we talk about women as a category in the same sense that we talk of a category of skilled labour—fitters, turners and people like that—then the Government are heading for trouble.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
I really must come back on that. It is the noble Lord and the supporters of the Amendment who are suggesting that women be categorised in this way. The Bill does not categorise them, mainly for the reasons the noble Lord dealt with.
§ BARONESS SEEAR
Under the Industrial Training Act 1964 many people hoped that there would be an expansion of training opportunities for women, because we believed that a Bill covering training was meant to apply equally to men and to women. When we tried to follow up the idea to find out what the effect of the 1964 Act was on the training of women, we found that the answer was nil, and we were fobbed off by being told that it was not the business of the Board to take any action to see that women should get these opportunities. Having been once bitten in regard to that legislation, we are now asking that it should be made clear in the legislation now proposed that it does take action. If the same requirement is reproduced in the next Bill, then it does not seem to be dangerous if, not for the first time, you repeat yourself.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
I am the last one to complain of repeating myself. as I have already repeated my arguments several times this afternoon. The noble Baroness acknowledges our concern by inference, because she repeated my assurance about legislation. I think the onus is upon her to say what the effect would be if mention were made of the special case in a Bill of this kind.
§ LORD GLADWYN
Does the noble Earl seriously think that the acceptance of this Amendment would in any way prejudice the prospects of training of other categories of people, as they are called?
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
What I think acceptance of this Amendment would imply is that when there is some obvious shortcoming in society, by, as it were, mentioning it in a piece of legislation designed to improve shortcomings generally, or to reform and improve methods of training and employment opportunity, you can obviate the initial shortcomings. I do not think that is the case. I think it may have to be done by, if you like, legislation with more teeth in it.
§ LORD DOUGLASS OF CLEVELAND
I do not think the noble Earl can get away with the argument that we are categorising women. The fact is that practice has put them into a different category, and the purpose of the Amendment is to eliminate women being in a different category from men.
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ LORD DIAMOND
That indeed is what we are trying to persuade the noble Earl about, not very satisfactorily. There is not an issue of merits between us. The noble Earl recognises—and he has not contradicted any of my damning figures—that this is a serious situation, and that the percentage of women being trained for the higher skills, the professions and so on, is lamentable and totally against the interests of the women, in the sense that they are not enabled to pursue satisfying occupations and derive happiness from them, and lamentable in terms of the economy of our country. There is no doubt that these immensely important issues are at present under discussion, because here is the responsibility of a Commission to see to employment and training. The issue between us is as to how we alter 2105 an attitude of mind in Government, employers, employees, in girls leaving school and in the nation at large. This we have to do, because only 2 per cent. are getting the kind of training that 52 per cent. should be getting. How do we alter that? This is a matter of politics, not of neat draftsmanship.
It is very neat draftsmanship, if I may say so, to include the generality of cases in the way that this clause is drafted. I accept that completely. We are proposing to add nothing to the powers and responsibilities. We are proposing to let the world know that Parliament thinks it is not adequate that these responsibilities should be hidden and tucked away in general, albeit neat, draftsmanship, but that they should he picked out and explicitly stated for the benefit of public opinion generally. We shall not get this scheme moving unless we put all the steam behind it that we can. It is a political issue. There is no other issue between us.
I am saying, therefore, that here is an opportunity of getting the thing off the ground. We are all agreed in your Lordships' House that discrimination in employment should end, and we do not need to make points of that kind; and we are all agreed that the present position is totally lamentable. Here is an opportunity which can do no harm whatsoever, which cannot damage any future legislation, but can only demonstrate that Parliament and the Government, after consideration, believe it is necessary to say things twice over, if you like, but explicitly spelling out that it is the responsibility of this Board to see that more women are trained—and we are going to follow the Board's reports year after year. I am sorry, but I must insist that that is a reasonable point of view to put to the Government, and if they are not prepared to accept it, we must challenge them.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
The noble Lord, Lord Diamond, is an extraordinarily persuasive speaker, and it is difficult for me not to put myself in the light of being in some way anti-women or anti the idea that women should have opportunities in this way, despite the fact that, as he said, there is really no issue of this kind between us. I would say this. The noble Lord said that there was no danger in making an Amendment like 2106 this. This is a difference of opinion between the noble Lord and the Government, in that we feel, as I said earlier, that there are potential dangers in listing in legislation things which the Commission may do, as it could lead to presumptions that anything not listed might be thereby excluded. I do not think this would particularly obtain in this case but it is a potential danger, and certainly one to be thought about very seriously.
The last point I would make it this. The noble Lord said—and how much I agree with him!—that this was a political issue, though perhaps I might extend the definition of "political" to mean what some people would define as "Party political". I would rather say that it is a social issue: perhaps one might describe it as, in the jargon of our time, a major social dynamic. I must ask him whether he really thinks that the language of Bills, designed to provide just administration, is the right vehicle or the right place to make social and political provisions, however admirable they may be and however much agreed upon.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
May I make just a brief intervention? I have listened to the whole of this argument and it seems to me that here we have the Government proposing to deal with persons—and "persons" is the word used—on a level keel without any distinction being made between one person and another; and here we have the Labour Party, for political reasons (that was the word used by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond), suggesting that women should be included—as if women were not already persons. I ask the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, to think over that point, because it is not really worth making a political point which means absolutely nothing at all.
§ LORD BYERS
I think it is right that I, from the Liberal Benches, should say that we do not see this as a Party political matter at all. This is a matter of deep principle, so far as we are concerned, and, I believe, so far as the Labour Opposition are concerned, too.
§ LORD DIAMOND
I am grateful to the noble Earl for having made it perfectly clear that "political" means political and not "Party political". The point I was making is that this is a question for political judgment and action. The 2107 art of politics is the art of changing opinions at the right time, and I feel that the introduction of a Bill of this kind is the right moment at which to start. The noble Earl asked me whether I thought that the language of the Bill would affect this issue. Indeed I do. It is the experience of everybody set up in this way to refer almost daily to the Bill to see what are their responsibilities and the powers of their remit. There is no doubt that these words will mean to the body concerned that Parliament did not think it sufficient to use the word "persons" (though undoubtedly "persons" include women) but thought it
§ necessary, because the situation had reached such a pitch, to point out that half the population—and I understand it is the better half—are not having their talents fully used and are unable fully to exercise their opportunities. This will help it forward. I should have thought that any practised politician in your Lordships' House, or in either House for that matter, would recognise the force of what I am saying.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 4) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 64; Not-Contents, 70.2107
|Annan, L.||Henley, L.||Seear, B.|
|Archibald, L.||Jacques, L. [Teller.]||Scrota, B.|
|Arwyn, L.||Kennet, L.||Shackleton, L.|
|Beswick, L.||Leatherland, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Bly ton, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Slater, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||Snow, L.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Somers, L.|
|Byers, L.||McLeavy, L.||Stocks, B.|
|Champion, L.||Maelor, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Chorley, L.||Masham of Ilion, B.||Strang, L.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Maybray-King, L.||Strange, L.|
|Diamond, L.||Meston, L.||Summerskill, B.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Morris of Grasmere, L.||Tanlaw, L.|
|Douglass of Cleveland, L.||Ogmore, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Emmet of Amberley, B.||Peddie, L.||Wade, L.|
|Faringdon, L.||Phillips, B. [Teller.]||White, B.|
|Foot, L.||Platt, L.||Williamson, L.|
|Fulton, L.||Ritchie-Calder, L.||Willis, L.|
|Gardiner, L.||Rowallan, L.||Wise, L.|
|Gladwyn, L.||Sainsbury, L.||Wootton of Abinger, B.|
|Hale, L.||St. Davids, V.||Wynne-Jones, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Fortescue, E.||Rhyl, L.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Fraser of Lonsdale,||Rochdale, V.|
|Auckland, L.||Gisborough, L.||Ruthven of Freeland, Ly.|
|Balfour, E.||Glendevon, L.||St. Aldwyn, E.|
|Berkeley, B.||Gowrie, E.||St. Just, L.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Grenfell,L||Saint Oswald, L.|
|Brooke of Ystradfellte, B.||Gridley,L.||Sandford, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Grimston of Westbury, L.||Selborne, E.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Hailsham ofSaintMarylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Selkirk, E.|
|Conesford, L.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Hawke, L.||Sharples, B.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Hylton-Foster, B.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Courtown, E.||Killearn,L||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Daventry, V.||Luke, L.||Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|Denham, L. [Teller.]||Macleod of Borve, B.||Swinton, E.|
|Derwent, L.||Mancroft,L.||Tenby, V.|
|Drumalbyn, L.||Merrivale,L.||Vernon, L.|
|Dulverton, L.||Milverton,L.||Vivian, L.|
|Dundee, E.||Monck, V.||Ward of Witley, V.|
|Dundonald, E.||Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.]||Windlesham, L. (L. Privy Seal.)|
|Eccles, V.||Wolverton, L.|
|Elliot of Harwood, B.||Nugent of Guildford,||Wrottesley, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Rankeillour, L.||Young, B.|
§ Resolves in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.2109
§ 5.32 p.m.
LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 5:
Page 4, line 5, at end insert ("except in so far as they relate to the selection and placement in employment of persons under the age of 18 who have been in full-time employment for less han 12 months or of persons of any age who are attending, either full-time or part-time, educational institutions in Great Britain other than Universities, arrangements for which functions shall be the responsibility of local education authorities in accordance with the provisions of section 8 of this Act').
§ The noble Lord said: in moving this Amendment, I hope it will also be convenient to take Amendment No. 8. In fact this Amendment is really a paving Amendment for Amendment No. 8. May I reciprocate the compliment which the noble Earl passed to me earlier on?—May I congratulate the Government on winning the Amendment. The part of the Bill we are now dealing with in this Amendment relates to what is broadly known as the youth employment service and deals with the responsibility of education authorities, as opposed to the Manpower Commission which is being set up under the Bill, who have the task of looking after the long-term employment and training interests of young people who are in full-time education other than at universities.
§ I do not think I need waste your Lordships' time in developing the argument that it is essential that those who are young and therefore uninformed as to the labour market and every possible opportunity for employment, should have guidance as well as assistance in finding a job. Guidance of the right kind can make a vast difference to an individual's whole life in terms of getting the kind of employment which will exercise his or her abilities and talents to the full, and it is not necessarily the case that immediate employment opportunities are the best method of satisfying long-term vocational and character needs so far as the individual is concerned. It is of vital importance, therefore, that this advice and this method of giving advice should continue. The Government accept this in a measure, because Clause 8 provides that the duty of each education authority shall be, in short, to look after or assist those in full-time or part-time educational institutions other than universities. My complaint is not that that is not good, but that that is not the best arrangement. 2110 The best arrangement is that they should have this duty exclusively, because the bill provides that alternatively the Manpower Commission, which is not a body equipped or suitable for concerning itself with the long-term vocational needs of individuals but is a body concerned with job placement and training in a broad sense, equally with the youth employment service, can provide this service so far as young persons are concerned.
§ I know that there are many who would like to restrict youth employment opportunities to the local education authority service and thereby secure that the young person gets the right advice, the right guidance and the right priorities. That is what matters most. This matter was raised on the Second Reading. The noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, put forward the Government's answer. Should the power and the machinery for giving this advice be exclusive or not? Should it be shared by two bodies, one of which is concerned exclusively with the long-term educational and vocational interests of the person in question, and the other in finding jobs? I have no doubt that until young persons are knowledgeable enough to make a considered decision, they should have guidance from the expert. The expert is the local education authority and its careers officers. They are experts in this field. Therefore, it is not sufficient that the responsibility should be shared. On Second Reading I accused myself of being perhaps a little heavy fathered, and the noble Earl replied that people marry younger and that the way to get them to act responsibly was to give them responsibility. I ought to say that we are talking about knowledge of jobs, knowledge of employment opportunities, and not knowledge of other more personal and intimate matters.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
I have not the OFFCIAL REPORT of the Second Reading with me, but I was speaking then in a slightly different context. The reason I cited young people marrying early was not to make a direct point, but to say that it was not altogether true that the majority of young people were in a poor position to make choices. It was an illustrative point.
§ LORD DIAMOND
I am grateful to the noble Earl; that was exactly his point. His point was that because people knew 2111 enough about marital maters to marry at 18 instead of 19 or 20, they knew enough about job opportunities in the world. I simply do not want to be too personal, but these are rather different matters. In fact, it is not until a person is of the age to have had experience of employment opportunities generally that he is able to make an objective judgment instead of a subjective one; it is not until he has had sufficient experience in the employment world that he is able to do this. Therefore, these two Amendments are put forward in order to achieve these purposes; namely, to see that until a person has, through years of living or through years of working, amassed sufficient personal knowledge and experience to make a sensible judgment he should have the best guidance on finding a job. Therefore, the second Amendment—No. 8 in Clause 8—provides that the Commission shall have the responsibility of makingarrangements for the purpose of assisting persons under the age of 18 ߪThat is the first point. One expects that at the age of 18 young people are grown up and able to make their own judgment. The Amendment continues:… who have been in full-time employment for less than 12 months.In other words, if a person aged 16 leaves school, goes to the local education authority careers officer, is recommended a particular job after careful advice, takes the job and leaves after six months, aged 16½, in my view it is not true to say that by virtue of that six months' employment that person is able to make, unaided, an objective judgment about what is best for his or her long-term employment interest. If a line must be drawn somewhere, I think it is right to draw it at 18. It is also right to have regard to the core of this matter which is knowledge of the world of employment and jobs and job opportunities, which one learns by being among them, perhaps for 12 months, but certainly not for three months.
The mere fact of having got a first job and then lost it in no time, or deliberately resigned it in no time—that is to say, in a very short time—is not sufficient, in my view, either to exclude the individual 2112 from the benefit of this wise guidance, or to make it possible for him to avoid continuing having the benefit of help from the same person, who knows his background, knew it some time ago, knows the reasons why this particular job was chosen, knows the reasons why it has not been a successful experiment. He should not be denied the opportunity of contiuing to be advised by that same person and that same service. That is why the second Amendment puts the responsibility on to the local education authority of looking after people in that way through their careers officers; and the first Amendment takes that duty out of the powers of the Manpower Commission, which it would otherwise be able to exercise. What we are saying in these two Amendments together is that this choice which at present is available should not be available for people who are unable, by virtue of their youth or their inexperience in employment matters, to make on objective judgment for themselves. They still need the fullest help in their own interests. I beg to move.
§ BARONESS MACLEOD OF BORVE
Before the noble Lord sits down, I wonder whether he could tell us what part he envisages the parents should play in the employment of their children.
§ LORD DIAMOND
I was not assuming that we needed legislation to provide for that. I should have thought that any sensible parent and sensible child would discuss these matters together at length, and that if there is any doubt about this somebody such as a careers officer would want to inquire into the family background to see that the benefit of that advice had been taken. But if the noble Baroness thinks there is any doubt as to whether this would happen without legislation, then all I can say is that a careers officer, who is concerned with the family background and all the circumstances of the individual, is the one who is able to take the necessary time and trouble, rather than a member of the staff of the Manpower Commission whose task is merely to find a job.
§ LORD MAYBRAY-KING
I intervene for half a minute because this discussion gives me an opportunity of paying a tribute to the magnificent work of the youth employment services provided by 2113 education committees up and down the country ever since the war. It is because of the splendid work they do that I would not have any change made in the present arrangements, and I welcome this Amendment which will give a little more power to the local education authority to carry out and carry on what it has been doing.
§ BARONESS MASHAM OF ILTON
Because I am on the National Youth Employment Council I have had many letters from people in different part of the country expressing great concern at the confusion which may arise if young people, after changing their first job, can have the choice of two Agencies. With no doubt, this will affect the less able and immature young people who have difficulties of making relationships. They are far better off with people they know and trust. So much confusion has already arisen by the many Government agencies continually changing their name. I honestly think that many young people become confused with the many forms and official contact that they have to make. This may be one of the reasons why so many young people now prefer to get back closer to nature and away from the stress and pressure of officialdom. If one looks at who has supported this proposal in the Bill, one find that it seems to be "jobs for the boys", and this means civil servants. Will it not mean keeping duplicate files and duplicating everything? Will the young people not fall between the two—who may push the more difficult clients from one to the other? Everyone will be more confused, and therefore I support this Amendment.
It seems to me that even before this stage it is very important for the disabled young people to be in close touch with the youth movements so that they may be prepared by the people with whom they are familiar and have been working with. That certainly makes a very great difference to their opportunities of finding a good job and being properly looked after and encouraged in it.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ LORD COLERAINE
I should like to add my plea to those that have already been made and would hope that, even if the Government cannot accept the noble 2114 Lord's Amendment, they will at least give an assurance to the Committee that it will be considered. I think we are entitled to ask that, because I believe I am right in saying that this point was not considered at all in another place. An Amendment was put down to deal with it but it was not selected by the Speaker. The result is that this is the first time that Parliament has had time to consider it. For that reason alone there is something to be said for the Government's holding their hand, if they can do no better than that. I think I should declare my own interest, which is similar to that of the noble Baroness, Lady Masham, who spoke a few minutes ago. For some years, between six and seven years I think it was, I was Chairman of the National Youth Employment Council. It was a long time ago, between 1955 and 1962, but I have the most vivid memories of it and regard that experience as being one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. As noble Lords are aware, the National Youth Employment Council is a body which consists of employers' representatives, trade union representatives, educationists and social workers who confer from time to time with the Youth Employment Service and who keep a general surveillance, under the Minister of Labour (as he then was) of the work of the National Youth Executive.
A number of things remain in my mind from those days, but perhaps the most vivid is this. It struck me then, and it has always been in my mind, that the important division in life is not that division between the sexes which we were discussing in a previous Amendment; it is not the division between employer and employed; it is not even the division between rich and poor. The really important division, in my view, is that between those whose work is a part of their life and those whose work is a hostile and evil intrusion into their lives. Under any form of society that one can foresee, even the kind of society which we would live under if noble Lords were to cross the Floor of the House, that privileged minority must be a minority—those who get real enjoyment from their work. But the really striking thing about the Youth Employment Service, whether they came from the L.E.A. side or the Ministry of Labour side, was that they realised that and that they had an understanding and a contact 2115 with young people which the Ministry of Labour or the Manpower Commission or the Employment Service Agency I do not think could conceivably have.
My noble friend Lord Gowrie, in his Second Reading speech, to which the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, has already referred, said that these young people had a choice between going to the new service or going to the local education authority, and he said (as the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, pointed out) that they had a right to that choice. Do boys and girls between the ages of 16 and 18 have a right to their choice? We do not give that freedom of choice between 13 and 14 or between 14 and 15; we do not say, "Would you like to go to school?" or, "Would you like to go to work?". We say, "You jolly well go to school", and I can see no conceivable argument arising from any philosophical consideration that if a young person of 16 whose first job has been a failure is compelled to go to the L.E.A. rather than to the Manpower Commission we are depriving him or her of one of their essential liberties.
I may have got the position wrong, but, as I understand it, under the Bill a young person of that age who is out of work has to go to the new service to get his benefit. He has not the choice of going to either the L.E.A. or the new service for it. When he is going to what we used to call the employment exchange, can you really expect him to make another journey to the local education authority careers officer? It seems to me to be asking far too much, and I believe the danger is that a number—it may be a very small number of young people—who, if this Amendment or some similar Amendment were accepted might have a chance of being helped by the careers officer of the local education authority, who knows their background and who knows their families and indeed everything about them, may just become fodder for social security and spend their lives drifting between one job, social security, the next job and so on. From my experience, such as it is, of the National Youth Employment Council and what I know of the service, I believe that the Government are making a very serious and possibly very tragic mistake if they insist on this proposal. As I said at the beginning, I hope that if they are not able 2116 to accept the noble Lord's Amendment they will at least give a clear undertaking that they will consider this matter again between now and the next stage of the Bill.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
I rise to support my noble kinswoman, Lady Masham of Ilton. In case noble Lords think this is a family set-up, may I say it is not; we have voted differently on two occasions this afternoon and together only on one. However, I feel I must rise to support the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, in all that he has said. Also I think this may help the noble Baroness, Lady Macleod of Borve, when she asked whether parents are concerned in this matter. I should have thought that this was much more so with a local education authority service because, after all, careers advice at school usually starts at the end of the third year of secondary education and is carried out largely by L.E.A. careers advisory staff in close co-operation with heads and with teachers. This surely is where the parent should come in. This service continues not only until the young person leaves school at 16 but also during the ensuing two years if needed.
Of course the youth employment service is also available to assist school leavers to find employment, and it continues to be available for this purpose again for two years following school leaving. Thus, those who choose to leave school at 16 have the advantage of being served by a service which has known them for two years and has full information about them, their educational record and the employment which they have held. I am quite certain that the Employment Service Agency—the Manpower Commission—would at best have only a summary of the educational information, and I can only feel that dual provision by the local education authority and the Employment Service Agency will be uneconomic in terms of manpower, finance and other resources. Both services will have to keep a register of employers and vacancies; both services will require to have officers familiar with the needs of the young people aged 16 to 18, both services will have to familiarise themselves with the local employment situation for young workers, and of course 2117 both services will have to approach employers.
In the same way, employers will have to give time to answer queries from both services about the same groups of young people, or even about one particular young person, and they will have to inform both services about the vacancies which they have for young people. Furthermore, if an employer interviews young people passed to him by one of the services he can never be sure that he is looking at the whole field. Thus it is seen that the attraction of the flexibility and freedom of choice—and I think much emphasis may be laid on this by my noble friend Lord Gowrie—is far outweighed by the disadvantages to the people whom this is intended to benefit most. I could not agree more with what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine. I am sure in the majority of cases it is absolutely unrealistic to expect a young worker of 16 or 17 to make a reasoned decision as to whether he prefers to refer his problem to the Employment Service Agency or to the local education authority service. At that age I think he has enough problems, especially if he is unfortunate enough to be handicapped either physically or mentally, without having to work out which agency he goes to.
I am sorry that I was not here for the Second Reading debate but that happened to be the day of the elections for district councils in non-metropolitan counties, and I am afraid I, was not able to get here on that day. But I should like to quote what my noble friend Lord Gowrie said on the occasion of the Second Reading. He was again talking about the choice that should be given to young people, and these were his words as reported in Hansard: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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7/6/73, col. 275.]I take it that that surely is the very reason why we should not give them that choice. I think that they should have to go to the service which can benefit them most, the highly specialised one of the local education authority, the Youth Employment Service. In everybody's interests, and especially the interests of 2118 these very young people whom we are most concerned about, we should do that.
This is not in any way a Party political point of view. I was present at the Association of Education Committees' Conference at Blackpool last week where a resolution was passed unanimously by the members—and goodness knows! there is every conceivable shade of political opinion represented from the counties and boroughs that run the education committee. The Resolution that was passed without anyone speaking against it was:This Association generally welcomes the Government's proposals as expressed in their White Paper and in the legislation now before Parliament, save only as to the issues involving a dual responsibility for advising and placing young persons up to the age of eighteen. On this important matter the Association again declares its conviction that this should be the sole responsibility of the local education authorities.With that, I heartily agree, and I hope that the Government will see their way to accepting the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Diamond.
§ LORD LEATHERLAND
I am not always guilty in your Lordships' House of brevity, but I think I can distil the essence of what I have to say into two or three sentences. We are discussing the case of young people who, after leaving school, have had a job which they have kept for a few months. During those few months they have been associated with the local education authority's careers officer. They have learned to look upon him almost as a supplementary parent in the matter of finding a job and deciding upon a future career. They have looked upon him as a friend and wise counsellor, as somebody who is widely experienced in the employment affairs of the district in which they live. I believe that they are able to discuss their future with such a person in a very friendly, co-operative manner. But if you say to them that they have to go to a Whitehall official then the whole temper of the situation will be altered. Therefore I have great pleasure in supporting my noble friend's amendment.
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
I too shall be very brief. I just want to emphasise what the noble Baroness, Lady Masham of Ilton, said; namely, "do not let us confuse the young people any more". Even now they do not know on which doors to knock, and if you give them any more you will increase their disenchantment with what they now 2119 regard as a rather hostile, over-organised world. I hope that the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, will see his way to accept this Amendment.
§ LORD GISBOROUGH
I should like briefly to support the Amendment. I agree with what the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, said, that it would be administrative nonsense for two public services to compete for the same clients and a wasteful duplication of scarce resources and skilled advisers.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
I hope that the Committee will forgive me if I do not exactly follow the splendid example of the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, and if I speak for a little longer than he did because I acknowledge, not only the feeling of the Committee, but also the fact that these Amendments deal with a very important point indeed, and I want to answer as clearly and comprehensively as I know how the points that have been made in what I should like to describe as a very good debate indeed.
These Amendments seek to give the local education authorities a specific duty to provide a careers service to all those under 18 who have been in full-time employment for less than 12 months, and to exclude the Manpower Services Commission from providing a service to these young people. First let me describe the present position and how the Bill changes it. At present the Youth Employment Service deals with those under 18 or still at school. The service is provided by those local education authorities which have chosen to do so, which include the local education authorities covering the great majority of 15-year-olds in England and Wales and a smaller majority in Scotland: in other areas the Department of Employment provides that service already.
The Bill gets rid of the age limit of 18, and I think it is generally agreed that that age limit is an arbitrary and artificial one. It gives all L.E.A.s a duty to provide a careers guidance and employment placing service to all those attending educational institutions not just schools—irrespective of their age. The only exception to this duty is universities, which have separate arrangements but here the L.E.A.s are given a duty to 2120 make their services available to individual students from universities who wish to use them.
The Bill also gives all L.E.A.s a power, and a duty so far as the Secretary of State directs, to provide a careers service for other—persons that is to those who have left education and entered employment. Here again, there is no age limit, so young people who have entered employment but who wish to come back to the local education authority careers officer who advised them earlier, for further advice and help—or because they did not like the new service, as my noble friend Lord Coleraine described it—will have full freedom to return. That applies whatever their age, and the young person can continue to come back to the careers officer for as long as he wishes to do so.
So there is no question of the Bill restricting in any way the activities which the local education authority careers service carries out at present. I want to reassure noble Lords on all sides of the Committee on that point. On the contrary, the Bill makes the service mandatory on all L.E.A.s and also extends the scope of their service so that in future it will cover young people of 18 or over who are in further education or who have entered employment, who are excluded at present. There is no question of imposing a "cut-off" on the local education authority careers service after young people have entered their first job. They will be able to go back to the local education authority service for as long as they like.
§ LORD COLERAINE
I am most grateful to my noble friend, but surely we are talking of boys and girls of 16-plus who have made a mess of their first job. Can we really say that we are giving them a free choice between agencies when we compel them to go to one agency to get their employment benefit and then invite them to go to another? That seems to me to be a choice which in practice must be completely illusory.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
I am not at the present moment making an argument—and I note that my noble friend used my Second Reading speech in this context—about free choice as such, or the philosophy of free choice, although I shall be talking about choice in a moment. I have taken note of the point 2121 he made about obtaining benefit and will deal with it later in my speech. If my noble friend will forgive me, may I go on with the choice question and deal with the benefit point later?
The Bill does not prevent young people who have entered employment from using the employment services provided by the Manpower Services Commission, if they prefer to do so. The intention is and I acknowledge this—that young people who have left education and entered employment should have a choice between the local education authority's service and the general employment service, and should be free to use whichever one they feel is better suited to their needs. I believe that the Committee generally would agree with that point, where it deals with the generality of young people rather than with young people in particularly difficult cases; and I shall come to the argument on difficult cases a little later.
The Amendments before us would make little or no change in the effects of the Bill as regards the scope of the local education authority service. Noble Lords have taken time and trouble to praise the service, and I acknowledge and agree with their praise. The second Amendment gives local education authorities a specific duty to provide a service to young people under 18 who have been in employment for less than 12 months. The Bill, as I have mentioned, gives local education authorities a power, and a duty so far as the Secretary of State directs, to provide a service to these young people, and indeed to all those who have left education and entered employment. This, I suggest, is a distinction without a difference. I do not think anyone believes that the L.E.A.s will in fact fail to provide a service to young people under 18 who have been less than a year in employment. The local authority associations have been among the main supporters of young people's being able to go on using the L.E.A. service if they wish. And that is in fact the Government's intention, as we made very clear in paragraph 53 of the White Paper published with the Bill. If, therefore, any L.E.A. did choose—unlikely as it may seem—not to provide a service for these young people, the Secretary of State would undoubtedly use his power of direction to require it Ito do so.
2122 The change the Amendments would make in the effect of the Bill would be to prevent the Manpower Services Commission from giving help and advice about employment matters to young people under 18 who had been in employment for less than 12 months. I think we should take a minute or two to consider the consequences of such prevention. I can, of course, well understand the reasons which prompt the noble Lord to suggest this restriction, and the reasons which prompt many of my noble friends to support him. It is felt that settling into employment is a very crucial time for young people, and that the best person to help them through it is the careers officer who advised them when they were at school. It may even be felt, as the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, suggested on Second Reading, that at this stage the young person, because of lack of maturity, is not fitted to make a choice between the L.E.A. careers service and the general employment service, and the theme of the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, has been echoed in the Committee this afternoon. But we have to face the fact—and I would address these remarks perhaps particularly to the noble Baroness, Lady Masham of Ilton—that these young people, even now, under the existing system do have to make a choice of a sort, that is to say, the choice between using the L.E.A. service or not using any advisory service at all. The logical consequence of the Amendment is that a young person who, for good or bad reasons, refused to use his L.E.A. service would then be precluded from using the grown-ups service, so to speak.
The noble Lord opposite and my noble friends who have supported him wish to preclude the young person from using any public advisory service at all, and I cannot believe that that is really what they want.
There is another fact we must face, that there are some young people who are not willing to go back to the L.E.A. service. Do we abandon them, so to speak, because they are not willing? It is an education-based service, and young people associate it with school, which is where they first came into contact with it. However much we may regret the fact (and I might address this to my noble friend Lord Swinton, particularly), the plain truth is that there are many 2123 young people to-day who are desperately keen to be regarded as adults and who reject anything which they associate with their schooldays. I am glad that this is not the case with the majority of young people, but I said that I would move on to the difficult cases. As a result, once these young people have entered employment, they may fail to obtain any vocational advice at all and simply take jobs which they hear of through friends or through private agencies, or which they see advertised. Surely it is better, in these circumstances, that the young person should have the alternative of obtaining help and guidance through the general employment service provided by the Commission, through the Employment Service Agency. In other words, I will play down my stress at Second Reading on free choice and talk about a viable alternative. Perhaps I made too much of it.
If a young person who has already entered employment prefers to continue using the L.E.A. service, he will of course be fully able to do so. But if he is unwilling, for perhaps bad reasons, to go to the L.E.A., I think the Employment Service Agency does have a great deal to offer him. In some areas the Agency provides the youth employment service under the present system, and its occupational guidance service, which specialises in helping people who need to think again about their choice of career and provides guidance of a quality which has been widely recognised, does in fact now have a high proportion of its clients in the younger age group.
I therefore cannot accept that it is true that the Employment Service Agency places importance principally on immediate placing or on the needs of employers rather than on the needs of job-seekers. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, who said that the Employment Service Agency's job is merely to find jobs. I am sure that it is more considerable than that. In its advisory work the Agency always puts the interests of the client first, whether a young person or anyone else. No effective advisory work can be done on any other basis. In fact it is the function of any employment service to give people guidance as to the sort of job they should enter and to try to make the best possible 2124 match between their job aspirations and the jobs which are going. If the match is unsatisfactory on either side, whether to the worker or the employer, the result will surely not be satisfactory to either party.
My noble friend Lord Coleraine, in a very dignified and moving speech, echoed—or perhaps I should say extended—a point that I made on Second Reading. He said—and he certainly put it better than I had done that those of us who enjoy our jobs have a very considerable responsibility to those who do not, and a responsibility to see that they have the maximum chance to find fulfilling work. I completely agree with him there; but I want to niggle with him on his first point. It is not the case that this subject was not considered in the Commons. A similar Opposition Amendment was debated exhaustively in the Commons in Committee. It is true, however, that a similar Amendment was not selected in the Commons on Report.
I promised my noble friend that I would deal with the particular point about benefit. When and if the Bill becomes law, benefit will be paid at the specialist benefit offices. As a condition of receiving benefit, applicants must register for employment, but this registration can be done either at the careers office at the education authority or at the employment office of the E.S.A. So a choice, or, if you prefer, an alternative, is still open. This is, I think, a real choice, because the benefit office will be separate from the employment service office.
In sum, I suggest that it is entirely right that the Bill should allow young people who have entered employment to use either the local education service or the general employment service. By giving them this option we are not in any way discouraging young people who wish to go on using the L.E.A. service from doing so. All we are doing is giving those who are not willing another opportunity to obtain guidance and help; indeed, should that second opportunity to obtain guidance and help fail, the young person can again return, indefinitely, to the local education service. Surely this must be in the interests of the young people concerned. I cannot impress on the Committee sufficiently that there is no intention to inhibit local authorities in any 2125 way whatsoever from continuing to provide the careers advice service which has worked well over the years, and the continued success and effectiveness of which is crucial to that vastly important question raised in our minds by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, the launching of young people into employment. Nothing in the Amendment would, I contend, effectively add to our ability to answer that question, and nothing in the Bill precludes a continuing contribution by the local education authorities. In the light of that, I do urge the noble Lord to withdraw his Amendment.
§ BARONESS MASHAM OF ILTON
Before the noble Earl concludes, may I ask him a question? Does he know many young adolescent people who do not have problems, and is not their biggest problem that of indecision?
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
As an ex-teacher, I certainly know many adolescent people, and I know what the noble Baroness is talking about when she speaks of indecision; but I do not see that to have sensible alternatives and flexible arrangements adds to indecision at all.
§ BARONESS SEEAR
The noble Earl has not answered the very cogent point raised by his noble friend Lord Swinton when he said that there is now a duplication of services. Of course, we have had a duplication of services for a very long time. In the very depressing replies given by the noble Earl he totally overlooked—perhaps he is not fully aware—what lies behind all this, which is that there has been a 60-years-on inter-departmental battle between the Department of Employment and the Department of Education, fighting for the bodies of school-leavers as to who is going to advise them. There have been, to my certain knowledge, four committees of inquiry as to which Department ought to have this responsibility, and the reason why we are stuck with two Departments has, I submit, nothing whatever to do with the well being of the young; it is because neither party will get their teeth out of the body.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
I stand Corrected. I should have dealt with that point and I am grateful to the noble Baroness for drawing it to my attention. 2126 We dealt with the argument of confusion and duplication at Second Reading. I would at this point simply draw the attention of the noble Baroness to Clause 9 of the Bill, under which local education authorities must give young people either written statements of the vocational advice that they are given at the time when the advice is given or else a written summary of vocational advice which they have been given at the time when they leave school. If a young person, through indecision or carelessness or whatever, loses his summary or statement he can obtain a copy on request from the local education authority. That is the fact of the particular or basic point. But it is intended, naturally, that there should be the fullest co-operation between the L.E.A. service and the Employment Service Agency.
§ LORD COLERAINE
May I ask one further question, and in doing so may I apologise to my noble friend and the Committee for my being misleading about what happened in another place?—it was careless of me. Can my noble friend tell me what is the position to-day with a 16-year old unemployed boy or girl: do they go to the Labour Exchange or do they go to a careers department of the L.E.A. or a special careers department of the Ministry of Labour? Surely they are specially treated to-day, but under this measure they are going to be thrown in (unless they exercise an option, which I very much doubt if they will) with the general run of unemployed people.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
I think I said at the beginning of my remarks that the present position was that the youth employment service dealt with those under 18 or who are still at school. All we are suggesting is that this should continue to exist. It indeed should not continue in its present form, but this situation should be extended, so that there is no age limit as to the time at which they can consult their local education authority. We are simply providing them also with the alternative of being treated as grown-ups.
§ LORD COLERAINE
The situation continues to exist only if the young person exercises his choice. My argument, and I think the argument of a number of your Lordships, has been that in fact he will not exercise his choice.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
This perhaps would raise a very wide Second Reading point and I am a little nervous of doing so, but I would say that it would be very difficult for us, in legislating on something which is going to affect the adult life of young persons, to say that they are precluded from using adult services.
§ LORD DIAMOND
That is not what the Amendment provides. The Amendment stops at the age of 18. It is only for a minor and for a person who, being a minor, has been less than 12 months in employment and is therefore not aware of all the alternatives of employment. It is only such a person for whom we are suggesting that there should be the best guidance exclusively. The simple fact is—and the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, has made this as plain as a pikestaff out of his great authoritative knowledge—that people will not choose the best advice because of the reasons and the inducements for not doing so. There is the obvious one of the place to go and get the benefit, but the equally obvious one, which the noble Earl himself has mentioned, is that they may associate this with schooling, with teaching. The noble Earl is, as he says, an ex-teacher at a very high level, as he was at a very well-known university. He is not going to say, surely, that everything a teacher advises, merely because it is given in a classroom or lecture room, is ex hypothesi wrong. Young people may associate teaching with it, but it may be for their best interests and best for their future, and it should not be ignored. It is impossible for young people of 16 or 17, who have been in the outside world of employment at the most for less than 12 months, to have sufficient knowledge (I am not talking about individual brains or talent) of the outside world to be able to determine what is right for their future—and it may be a very long future indeed, if they get into the wrong job and get stuck with it for the rest of their lives.
The noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, has said, "Please do not make this a Party issue". I am doing everything I can not 2128 to. I repeat, we welcome this Bill; I said so on Second Reading. I want to give it every encouragement forward that I can. But all the noble Earl has done is to read out a speech, very well prepared in advance of the debate, dealing with the arguments made on Second Reading and dealing with the Amendment on the Order Paper. But since that speech was written, a number of authoritative speeches have been made, with knowledge and ex-experience, from various quarters of your Lordships' House. The noble Earl has not given the slightest indication that it would have made a whit of difference if those speeches had been made or not been made. That is the sorry position we are in. I am therefore in great difficulty. I do not want to win arguments in the Division Lobby. I want this Bill, which we on our side think is a good Bill, to be the best possible Bill. It is as simple as that. The noble Earl has not given any indication that the speeches made and the knowledge that has gone into them are going to make any difference to the Bill. If he maintains that attitude, all I can say is that one must give noble Lords who have made those speeches the opportunity of saying whether they want to follow up their voices with their votes. If the noble Earl could say that he has been impressed by the speeches, that he will seriously reconsider the matter and come back on Report stage with the best thing he can do, I should not wish to pursue it. I have been interested in the argument. I think the case has been made a hundred-fold, but the Government need time to think of the best way of handling it.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
I must confess that my feelings are a little hurt. I thought I had covered the points which had been raised by the debate. I think the noble Lord may have missed one or two of my points, but I do not intend at this stage to drone through them again. Perhaps the particular one—since he is making the point about inconsistency—that I think he has missed is when I said that the logical consequence of the Amendment would be that a young person who refused to use the local education authority service would then be precluded from using the other service. I cannot really see that that would be equitable or practical. But so be it. I did make the argument. Perhaps the noble Lord simply 2129 does not agree with me. I would draw his attention to a point of fact, that there are 31 areas, 31 places in which the Department does provide the youth employment service already, and no one I know of in the debate has raised any criticism of this or thought that the service was badly handled. I do not think the noble Lord at any point implied that he was dissatisfied with the kind of provision the employment services provide and arc likely to continue to provide.
Finally, I do not think that he really acknowledged that we are considerably extending the powers of local education authorities in this matter. Of course I gladly accept his welcome of the Bill.
§ THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (LORD DERWENT)
There being an equality of votes, in accordance with Standing Order No. 54,
§ I do not want to seem intractable but I simply do not want to be misleading. I think that there is a genuine difference between us on this question of exclusivity. The noble Lord has made a powerful argument for the local education authority service, but I do not think that he has made a powerful argument for exclusiveness, and it would he misleading of me to say, on that crucial point, that I could think again.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 5) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 58 Not-Contents, 58.2129
|Arwyn, L.||Henderson, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Auckland, L.||Henley, L.||St. Just, L.|
|Beswick, L.||Jacques, L. [Teller.]||Seear, B.|
|Blyton, L.||Kennet, L.||Serota, B.|
|Boothby, L.||Leatherland, L.||Shackelton, L.|
|Boyle of Handsworth, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.||Shepherd, L.|
|Brockway, L.||Lucas of Chilworth. L.||Simon, V.|
|Byers, L.||Lytton, E.||Slater, L|
|Champion, L.||Macleod of Borve, B.||Snow, L.|
|Chorley, L.||Maelor, L.||Stocks, B.|
|Coleraine, L.||Masham of Ilton, B.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Davies of Leek, L.||Maybray-King, L.||Swinton, E.|
|Diamond, L.||Morris of Grasmere, L.||Tanlaw, L.|
|Digby, L.||Mountevans, L.||Taylor of Mansfield, L.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Phillips, B. [Teller.]||Wade, L|
|Douglass of Cleveland, L.||Rankeillour. L.||White, B.|
|Foot, L.||Ritchie-Calder, L.||Wise, L.|
|Fulton, L.||Rowallen, L.||Wootton of Abinger, B.|
|Gardiner, L.||Sainsbury, L.||Wynne-Jones. L.|
|Abinger, L.||Drumalbyn, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Dundee, E.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Balfour, E.||Dundonald, E.||Onslow, E.|
|Beaumont, L.||Eccles, V.||Orr-Ewing, L.|
|Berkeley, B.||Elliot of Harwood, B.||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Bessborough, E.||Emmet of Amberley, B.||Saint Oswald, L.|
|Brooke of Cumnor, L.||Ferrers, E.||Sandford, L.|
|Brooke of Ystradfellte, B.||Glendevon, L.||Selkirk, E.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Gowrie, E.||Sempill, Ly.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Gridley, L.||Sharpies, B.|
|Conesford, L.||Grimston of Westbury, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebonc, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|Cottesloe, L.||Tenby, V.|
|Courtown, E.||Hawke, L.||Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, B.|
|Cowley, E.||Lauderdale, E.||Vernon, L.|
|Craigavon, V.||Lothian, M.||Vivian, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Windlesham, L. (L. Privy Seal)|
|Daventry, V.||Merrivale, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Denham, L. [Tellers.]||Milverton, L.||Young, B.|
|Derwent, L.||Monck, V.|
§ Which provides that no proposal to amend a Bill in the form in which it is before the House shall be agreed to unless there is a majority in favour of such 2131 Amendment, I declare the Amendment disagreed to.
§ Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 6.39 p.m.
§ LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 6:
Page 4, line 14, at end insert ("and
(d) to report annually to the Secretary of State on the changing labour requirements of industries and services and the changes in training which are needed to meet future patterns of employment").
§ The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 6. Page 4, line 14, is that part of the Bill which sets out the functions of the Commission, and subsection (3) particularises what shall be the duties of the Commission. This Amendment reverts to one of the major points made at Second Reading; namely, the lack of responsibility put upon the Commission for carrying out fully the function of forecasting the labour requirements, so as to achieve the end we all desire: that of ensuring that we have the right skills in the right places at the right times. That is the wording which was used in another place—I think by the Minister for Employment himself—and I adopt it as showing that we are all agreed about what is desired. It is desired in the interests of our economic growth; it is desired in the interests of the human happiness that will accrue to those who have been able to choose the right job and have been able to carry on with it, because they knew at the time they made the decision that the opportunities would be there when their skills were fully trained, and because they have chosen an avenue in life in which there is continuing and possibly increasing, employment.
§ I do not see how the function of looking after employment and training can be carried out unless somebody investigates and researches and reaches a conclusion as to what are the likely requirements for a certain kind of labour in different parts of the country. I freely admit that this is a very difficult task, but it has to be attempted; otherwise, people will make the wrong choices. They may accept training for an industry and, after perhaps five years or even less, when they are fully trained and fully committed through having a job in that field, they may find that the opportunities have 2132 terminated, although it may have been possible to forecast that situation, in round figures, five years earlier and to avoided that disaster. They may refrain from choosing something which they would very much enjoy doing, because stories are going around that a certain industry is running down and that by the time they are fully trained there will be no opportunities for employment whereas, in fact, the Government might know, because they have plans for revitalising a certain industry or a certain area, which they have not yet fully disclosed, that they will want labour in X years' time and they will want people to be trained for those skills now. So we cannot possibly avoid people making choices.
§ The only question is: will those choices be made on the basis of the best information available, or not? Clearly, they should be made on the best information available and therefore the Commission, which has the duty of find employment and seeing that people are trained in the right way with the right skills, should carry out this function, the responsibility for which the Amendment puts upon them. I do not think I need say any more. I believe that the argument as to the need for information and research is one which nobody would dispute. The form of the Amendment, namely, reporting annually, makes it clear that the Commission would have the responsibility not only for finding out, but for making a report; and the publication of that report would mean that everybody interested—the whole variety of employment agencies involved and those concerned with giving advice—would know the likely facts about the future, instead of proceeding on pure guesswork. It is for those reasons that the Manpower Services Commission, which we welcome, should have this duty expressed in this way put upon them. I beg to move.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I do not think that we are in any real disagreement as to the objective to be attained here. We all want to ensure that the Commission obtains the manpower intelligence it needs in order to discharge its responsibilities effectively. We also want the Commission to make the fullest contribution it can to making manpower intelligence available to all those other persons or bodies who have interests in it. As the 2133 Bill now stands, there is nothing to prevent the Commission from doing that in fact, it will have to do it if it is to fulfil its functions of making and submitting plans to the Secretary of State. It will be part of the working of its functions.
But there are two qualifications which I think I ought to make. The first is that neither this country nor other countries have, as yet, had very great success in the field of manpower planning and forecasting. Experience shows that it is very difficult, particularly in this age of rapid change, to achieve results which are both reliable and detailed enough to be useful for employment or training purposes. I say that only to stress that it would be unwise to expect too much from manpower intelligence. I certainly do not think we should be too pessimistic about what may be achieved, and I believe that we must make the attempt.
As to the second qualification, I think I am right in saying that the noble Lord believes that the Manpower Services Commission should have a virtual monopoly of manpower planning and forecasting. As the noble Lord knows very well, there are all sorts of bodies with legitimate interests and activities in this field—the regional economic planning councils, independent organisations such as the Manpower Society and the Institute for Manpower Studies, and bodies such as the National Economic Development Council, the industrial training boards and, of course, the Government. The Government certainly have to evaluate all their policies critically from the point of view of their manpower implications. This need is met by the Unit for Manpower Studies which will remain in the Department of Employment. The Unit is involved with questions such as the manpower implications of current and future Government policies; for example, on higher education.
The Government's needs for policy analysis in this field are bound to be different from the needs of the Commission in the manpower intelligence field. There are two different jobs to be done. However, the Commission could of course ask the Government to allow the Unit for Manpower Studies to carry out studies on its behalf, and it could ask anybody else to do that, too. I cannot agree that it would be right to take away the man- 2134 power intelligence field. There are two different jobs to be done. However, the Commission could of course ask the Government to allow the Unit for Manpower Studies to carry out studies on its behalf, and it could ask anybody else to do that, too. I cannot agree that it would be right to take away the manpower intelligence functions from all these bodies and give them to the Commission, if that is what the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, intends. What we want to ensure is that there is proper liaison and communication between them all. As the White Paper said, the Secretary of State for Employment will continue to be responsible for general manpower.
We also want the Commission to pay the closest attention to the changing labour requirements of industries and services, and we want it to give the fullest consideration to the changes in training which will be necessary to meet future patterns of employment. This it will undoubtedly need to do, in order to fulfil its main duty—the duty to make such arrangements as it considers appropriate for the purpose of assisting persons to select, train for, obtain and retain suitable employment. The Commission will have full powers to obtain the manpower intelligence it needs. It will be up to the Commission, in the first place, to decide on the best machinery for organising and co-ordinating its studies in the manpower field, but the Secretary of State will undoubtedly expect to see the Corn-mission's views on this question reflected in the proposals they submit under Clause 2(3)(a), for carrying out their functions.
I can therefore assure the noble Lord that the Commission will have fully adequate arrangements for obtaining manpower intelligence and for manpower planning and forecasting. These arrangements will undoubtedly play a major part in the plans and programmes that the Commission will have to submit annually to the Secretary of State—and the Secretary of State will expect them to do so. In any case, I am sure the noble Lord will have noticed that the Commission are obliged, under Schedule 1, paragraph 15, to submit an annual report on the performance of its functions, which of course include planning as well as past achievement. The Secretary of State could direct them to cover certain aspects of the performance of their functions in this report, which again could include planning if they were not disposed to do so; and this report, unlike the report which the noble Lord has in his Amendment, possibly inadvertently, would have to be laid before Parliament. 2135 I was not quite certain from the noble Lord's Amendment whether he simply wanted this as an advisory report to be submitted confidentially to the Secretary of State for his action or whether it was to be a public document. I rather gathered from his speech that he wanted it to be a public document available to everybody.
Once again, I think one would have to say here, also, that it is not good, on the whole, to pick out particular items and specify them in legislation. I recognise that this is extremely important, but I suggest we ought not to imply that the Commission ought to be under a greater duty to concern itself with these matters than with other important subjects in its submissions to the Secretary of State, or to submit a special report over and above its annual report on them, when it could quite easily include these matters in its annual report. In the light of the assurance I have given, that in our general approach to this matter these matters will unquestionably be covered in the Commission's submissions of plans and programmes to the Secretary of State, and hardly less certainly in their annual report on the performance of their functions, I hope the noble Lord will be prepared to withdraw his Amendment.
§ LORD DIAMOND
I can say with all sincerity that I am very grateful to the noble Lord for what he has said. Certainly we on this side took the view that there was a lacuna in the expression of responsibility put on the shoulders of the Manpower Commission. The noble Lord has made it clear that in the view of the Government they have broadly this kind of responsibility, and further and in particular that they have responsibility to report. I had not specified laying the report before Parliament because it occurred to me that certain of the information which was made available to them might be of a confidential nature, and having received the report it was for the Secretary of State to consider whether he will then want to publish it. He would probably want to publish it in most cases, but there might be occasions when he would want to publish it in part, or something like that; and therefore one respects the dis- 2136 cretion that the Secretary of State naturally wants to yield in the interests of the community at large.
The noble Lord has made it clear that there is not a great deal between us. The Bill has been rather too silent, but the noble Lord has made up a little for the silence of the Bill. In those circumstances, I think that what I had better do is, in the forthcoming years, to read what Hansard has to say about it and seek your Lordships' leave to withdrawn the Amendment at present.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause, 2 as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 3 [Control of the commission by Secretary of State]:
§ 6.55 p.m.
BARONESS SEEAR moved Amendment No. 7:
Page 5, line 23, leave out from beginning to ("make") in line 24 and insert ("he may, after such action as has been proposed to the Commission and the Commission has declared themselves unable or unwilling to authorise such action.").
§ The noble Baroness said: In moving this Amendment I recognise, of course, that the Secretary of State has the ultimate responsibility for what goes on inside the Manpower Commission. There can be no question of that because the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State only, is answerable to Parliament. Having said that, I would also argue that this Amendment really goes to the heart of what we are trying to do, and in my submission of our likelihood of succeeding in what we are trying to do. As I understand it, what we need urgently in this country is a highly-expert, unbureaucratic Manpower Commission, free to the maximum degree possible of red tape, capable of speed of action and untrammelled by Departmental interference except when it is absolutely necessary. It is, as I have bored your Lordships, I am sure, by saying on a number of occasions, this kind of semi-autonomous body which has been found so valuable in Sweden and which many of us were hoping would be imitated, with appropriate modifications, in this country.
We can only have an organisation to achieve the sort of results we want if it is fairly and squarely charged with the
responsibility for the job which has to be done, and is held ultimately accountable for doing it. I am sure all your Lordships will agree that that must be so. The split responsibility, the division of responsibility between the Commission and the Department, can only enfeeble the action which we all agree needs to be taken. Yet when we look at the clause which this Amendment seeks to amend, what do we find? It says:
If the Secretary of State considers that any action for the purpose so mentioned should be taken in pursuance of this Act otherwise than by or only by the Commission he may, after consulting the Commission"—
merely consulting them, I would point out to your Lordships—
about the matter, make arrangements for the action to be taken or taken also by himself or some other person",
et cetera. In other words, the Commission is responsible for the manpower services and the training services in the country, but the Minister when he sees fit, the Secretary of State when he sees fit, after merely consulting the Commission, can go ahead and take what action he likes; or, indeed, he can ask somebody else to do so. In any business with which your Lordships are associated, can you imagine organising a job in such a way that you give responsibility for it to a particular section or department, whatever it may be, and at the same time you say that somebody else can, when they see fit, take it upon themselves to go and do the very things with which that section is charged? There is a confusion of responsibility here, a split in responsibility, which can only enfeeble the Commission in a way in which we ail of us must hope, surely, it should not be enfeebled. It is for this reason—to make it absolutely certain that the Commission is fully charged with the responsibility, and that this responsibility cannot be watered down by intervention by the Secretary of State—that I beg to move this Amendment. I was told in the Second Reading debate that there was no desire in those responsible for the Bill to retain the maximum amount of responsibility within the Department of Employment. I am sure I was told this in good faith, but I am totally unconvinced. Instead of the streamlined organisation that we need, what we are in fact getting is a pantomine horse, with the forelegs
in the Commission and the back legs in the Department. I beg to move.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I would never accuse the noble Baroness, as she did herself, of boring your Lordships, and she certainly has not done so—she has been very brisk in what she has had to say—but I hope that when I have explained the need for the power here the noble Baroness will agree with me that it is desirable. There are two reasons for having the power in Clause 3(4), and for not amending it in the way the noble Baroness suggests. The first is that under the Employment and Training Act 1948 the Secretary of State for Employment carries out a number of functions, and not just the operation of the employment and training services. The Act is to be repealed by the Bill, but it is Government policy, as stated in the White Paper, that the Secretary of State will continue to exercise functions in the manpower field. For example, he will remain responsible for the manpower aspects of regional policy and of regional economic planning.
That does not mean, of course, that the Commission will necessarily be excluded from playing a part in the consideration of these matters. But the Secretary of State for Employment has a part to play also. He will no longer have authority to carry out these functions under the 1948 Act, when it is repealed, and instead he will have to derive his authority from the Bill. So this provision in Clause 3(4) will be used as soon as the Commission is set up, simply to empower the Secretary of State to continue to carry out these functions which he must continue to carry out. The legislation is drafted on the basis that Clause 3(4) is the best way to put this division of functions into legislative terms, rather than giving the Secretary of State separate powers, which might limit flexibility. I hope the noble Baroness will agree that it would be unacceptable for the Secretary of State not to have powers of this kind, and that they should not be subject to the veto of the Commission. It would be a very unusual position if the powers of a Minister of the Crown were subject to the veto of a body such as the Commission.
Secondly, this power is needed as a last resort power—and last resort powers 2139 are not uncommon—although I hasten to add that I think it is highly improbable that it will be used as such. All the same, the Secretary of State will remain ultimately responsible to Parliament for the provision of the manpower services. It is therefore necessary to consider what would happen in the unlikely situation of the Commission's failure to provide an adequate service, let us say for disabled people, and failure to obey directions to improve it. In that improbable situation, it would clearly be most undesirable for the Secretary of State to have to take the Commission to the courts to get them to improve the service. It might be equally undesirable for him to have to dismiss the Commission en masse. The proper course might well be for him, under the powers in Clause 3(4), to take over himself the service for the disabled, or to provide additional services for them.
But if the Amendment were accepted it would not be possible for him to do this in the last resort, unless the Commission were prepared to state that they could not provide the service. They would be unlikely to do so in the improbable situation which I have envisaged. I hope that has made it clear that this power is necessary, first in order to empower the Secretary of State to continue to take the action in the manpower field which it has been made clear in the White Paper that he will continue to carry out, power he will lose with the repeal of the 1948 Employment Act, and, secondly, as a last resort power which will enable him to fulfil his responsibility to Parliament.
I can assure the noble Baroness that it is in no way intended that there should be any duplication, for this would be bad administration. The purpose is to get flexibility as the thing grows up. There is no intention that these powers should be used to undermine the authority and responsibility of the Commission. Having given people a job, they should be allowed to get on with it. It is for these purposes and the purposes that I have indicated; namely, to enable the Secretary of State to carry on with his present duties and those that he is expected to continue, and, secondly, the default powers. The Government consultations with the T.U.C. and the C.B.I. 2140 about the Bill have not given rise to any adverse comment on this provision. In the light of the explanation that I have given, I hope the noble Baroness will appreciate that her fears are ill-founded and will feel able to withdraw the Amendment.
§ BARONESS SEEAR
I should be sorry to do that. I do not find myself satisfied by the explanation of the noble Lord. After all, in my Amendment it is still within the power of the Secretary of State to act. The Amendment makes it clear that he can act. It merely says he cannot act unless the Commission has first been given the opportunity to do the job which is clearly within the general scope of what they are required to do; and it is only when it is made plain by the Commission that they are unwilling or unable to do it—it is only when that happens—that the Secretary of State goes ahead. At the present time, as it reads at the moment, it will be possible for the Secretary of State himself to do things which should be the full responsibility of the Commission. It is this split responsibility which I find so alarming.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
May I put this question to the noble Baroness? If in the circumstances that the Secretary of State, who is responsible to Parliament, or that Parliament itself were to consider that the Commission were not doing their job satisfactorily, and the Commission were not prepared to declare themselves unable or unwilling for the Secretary of State to take over the job, what would she do?
§ BARONESS SEEAR
In any business, if you are delegating responsibility to a group of people they either carry out the job completely or, if they do not, you get rid of them. You do not jump in and do the job yourself.
§ LORD BYERS
The noble Lord is talking about duplication and my noble friend is taking about split responsibility. These are quite different matters. Will he tell us whether or not split responsibility could arise under the Government proposals in 2141 the Bill? As I read it, and as my noble friend reads it, there could be split responsibility which could lead to chaos in administration.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
This is precisely the duty of the Secretary of State. He can delegate anything he chooses to the Commission and then the Commission will be left to carry it out. To that extent there will be no duplication. But the Secretary of State will be responsible to Parliament to see that the Commission carry out their duties—both those laid down in the Bill and any further duties that the Secretary of State may delegate to them. The Secretary of State's job will be to undertake to be able to assure Parliament that the machine is working properly. This will be his main job. I think that is the right way of looking at it.
§ LORD BYERS
Does not that mean, in business terms, that the Department will be continually breathing down the neck of the Commission? Is it not the old question of "Why keep a dog and bark yourself?".
§ BARONESS SEEAR
If you are the managing director of a concern and the board of directors allocate responsibilities to a department with a manager in charge of it, then, if the manager in charge is not fulfilling his responsibilities the board of directors do not dive in and do the work themselves; they change the manager. It would be extraordinary to observe any other principle of organisation.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
The noble Baroness is right in the circumstances obtaining within one organisation. Here we have three or more organisations: the Government, the Commission, and the Agencies—and, below the training agencies, the industrialised training boards. It is quite a complicated organisation. The Secretary of State's responsibility is to see that the thing works. The noble Baroness may be right. As I said, it is one of the options that the Commission should be dismissed entirely; but, alternatively, it might be better for the Secretary of State to take over their function and it might well be that the Commission would agree that this would be the best solution. But it would not be right to place in legislation the need to get the Commission's permission to make a 2142 change which the Secretary of State and Parliament thought it right to make.
§ BARONESS SEEAR
The noble Lord is confirming my worst fears. He says that it is a complicated organisation; and that is plain. But the more complicated an organisation, the more important it is to be sure who does what, and to be sure that people do not take on other people's roles. This would lead to the wildest confusion. This is why I opened up the whole matter. If you go on in that way, nobody will know who is ultimately responsible for what and who "carries the can" unless you are going to have a Commission which is seen to be "carrying the can" and unless you have somebody who is answerable. That is the great weakness in all Government Departments: you can never pin down the person answerable for the failures in the Department. It is that that we want to alter in this situation by having people in the Commission who are responsible and to whom, if they do not stand up to their responsibilities, you may say, "Go!" It is because we have not had that that we have had all the matters we arc complaining about to-day in this House as regards the working of the 1944 Act. It is to avoid this that this Amendment is moved.
§ LORD BYERS
May I plead with the Minister? Here we are trying to help him. He has heard the voice of experience in these matters. This is a practical issue and not a Party political one. Would it not be much better to take it back and have another look at it with the Department; consult the people who have had that experience, and come back with some proposal on Report stage?
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I shall certainly take it back and have the discussions that the noble Lord suggests. But whether or not I shall come back with a better idea I cannot foretell. But I shall try.
§ BARONESS SEEAR
At this stage, and as a result of that reply, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment. But may I give notice that we shall raise the matter again on Report, if there is no satisfactory response from the Government.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 3 agreed to.
§ Clauses 4 to 7 agreed to.2143
§ Clause 8 [Provision of services by education authorities]:
§ 7.11 p.m.
LORD DIAMOND moved Amendment No. 9:
Page 12, line 31, at end insert ("is vocational in character; and").
The noble Lord said: We are now at Clause 8, which deals with the provision of services by the education authorities. This clause makes it mandatory for local authorities to do a variety of things, and one of the conditions which attaches is that the help which they are to provide is for persons who are attending part-time educational institutions. That is fine. It then goes on to define "part-time" in subsection (7)(a) as being attendance
where none of the relevant classes begins on any day before five o'clock in the evening.
So that, in short, evening classes do not count as part-time for the purpose of this clause which requires local education authorities to provide careers services.
§ I know that there is a further subsection which enables local education authorities to do a variety of things for people who are not covered in subsection (1), but I am concerned with subsection (1) and not subsection (2). I am concerned with the subsection which distinguishes between those who are in part-time education having their classes at half-past two in the afternoon, and those who are in part-time education having their classes at half-past five in the afternoon. This is the distinction made in this part of this clause, and I think it is unhelpful and indeed an invidious distinction. What one contemplates in terms of classes starting at half-past five is that you have a person who is in employment and anxious to take classes in something or other: but, because of his employment is unable to do so until the evening.
§ If those classes are classes in what is a hobby—some literary pursuit or something which is clearly a hobby, however an excellent hobby—one can perhaps understand that. But if the classes are of a vocational character and deliberately undertaken so as to enable the student to improve his capacity to undertake more responsible jobs or whatever the case may be, I fail to see why that person should not be enabled to get exactly the same treatment and be put in exactly the same category as those who do not have to earn 2144 a living and can go to a class starting at 2.30 or 3.30. It is an invidious distinction, and I think that the Government should remove it. For that reason I am moving the Amendment, which would mean that so long as you have a serious student at work, anxious to improve himself and his capacity to contribute to society by attending classes of a vocational nature when he has finished work, he should be treated in exactly the same way as his, perhaps, more fortunate brother or sister who does not have to earn a living and who can attend classes in the afternoon.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I do not think that there is anything between us here. Possibly the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, may be under a misapprehension. Paragraph (a) of subsection (1) reads:to make arrangements for the purpose of assisting persons who are attending, either full-time or part-time, educational institutions …It does not includepart-time attendance when none of the relevant classes begins on any day before five o'clock in the eveningas provided in subsection (7)(a). Then the noble Lord wants to put in:and is vocational in character.There are two problems. The first problem is that it is not at all easy to define which evening classes are vocational in character and which are not, for exactly the reason given by the noble Lord, Lord Diamond. We cannot say that some subjects are vocational and others are recreational. We have also to take into account the intention of the individual in taking the class. The noble Lord quoted a rather more esoteric thing, on the cultural side, a literary course. But what about a foreign language course? Many people take these courses for recreational reasons; others take them for vocational reasons—to get a better job which may require knowledge of a particular foreign language. Some people may take a foreign language course with a holiday abroad in mind, and with an idea that it might come in useful at some time in the future in their work. In principle, this difficulty applies over the whole range of courses. Even a course in flower arrangement could be vocational for someone who wanted to earn a living by arranging flowers, if they had a flair for it.
2145 Perhaps I should explain the situation as it stands. The noble Lord will appreciate that the local education authorities have full discretion under Section 2(1) and (2) of the Education Act 1962 to make awards to students attending classes at colleges of further education, including evening classes. Awards may cover the whole of students' fees and other items such as book grants or travelling expenses where appropriate, though the latter would be unusual. This is entirely a matter for the discretion of local education authorities. It is the normal practice of local education authorities to remit fees for such classes for students under 18, unless the course is wholly recreational in nature: for example, ballroom dancing, judo, if that can be called recreation, and so on.
The position is that local education authorities have a duty under Clause 8(1) to make arrangements for providing a careers guidance and employment placing service to all those attending educational institutions (other than universities) whether full-time or part-time. But under Clause 8(7) this duty does not require the local education authority to provide a service to part-timers who are attending only evening classes; that is, classes beginning after 5 p.m. The reason is that the great majority of "evening only" courses are recreational courses covering a great range of subjects. People attending these classes are in no particular need of help or advice on employment matters, and there would be no point in giving the local education authority a duty to provide them.
But besides its duty to arrange for the provision of services to those covered by Clause 8(1), the local education authority has power under Clause 8(2) to arrange for the provision of guidance in placing services for other persons. "Other persons" includes part-time students attending "evening only" classes. So where these students do need help and advice with employment matters—which they might, for example, in the case of an evening class in mechanical engineering—the local education authority has full power to provide it for them; and, indeed, the local education authority has a duty to do this if directed to do so by the Secretary of State. The Amend- 2146 ment would give local education authorities a duty to arrange for the provision of a service in the case of all evening only courses which are vocational in character. But for the reasons that I have given—that the local education authorities have these powers, have this discretion and will exercise it—I think this Amendment is unnecessary.
§ LORD DIAMOND
The noble Lord has been good enough to say that what I understood to be the case is the case; namely, that the local education authority has powers under subsection (2). But I can only repeat that I am not talking about subsection (2). I am coming back to subsection (1), and there is a distinction made there. I do not like it, and I am asking the Government to remove it. The distinction is the one that the noble Lord knows full well. Subsection (1) deals with a mandatory service provided by the local education authority.
Let us concentrate on that subsection alone and see why it is that those who are attending a class at 5.30 are not treated in the same way as those attending the same class for the same purpose at 4.30. That is the problem before the Government and, if I may say so, it is a difficult question to answer. What the noble Lord says is that it is difficult to define "vocational". Maybe it is difficult, but it is not too difficult for the noble Lord and his advisers, because "vocational advice" comes in several times and is defined on page 14:'vocational advice' means advice of a certain kind".So if the noble Lord is saying to me that his draftsmen are incapable of giving a definition to "vocational classes" which will stand up for whatever policy the Government finally decide upon, I find it rather difficult to be convinced of the sudden paucity of capacity on the part of all Government draftsmen, who are of course very skilled people. Do not let us put it on the draftsmen. Let the Government carry their own responsibility and say why it is they want to distinguish between the chap who has to work and wait until half-past five to go to the class, and the one who does not have to work and can go to the class at half-past four. That is the question on this one 2147 subsection where there is a mandatory provision by the careers service of the education authority.
I do not think there is a very good reason. The distinction is a very invidious one. If the noble Lord says that there might be difficulty, he can deal with it in two ways. One way of dealing with it is to say, "Vocational classes means classes of a kind to the satisfaction of the education authority". So if they are satisfied that the chap is studying judo because he wants to be a judo teacher, then it is vocational, and they can give it; and if they are satisfied that he is studying judo because it is purely recreational, and very good in case his wife attacks him one night after dark with a rolling pin, well and good; it is recreational, and he does not get the same facility. The first answer is: leave it to the discretion of the local education authority sensibly exercised. That is one way to deal with it. The other way of dealing with it is by the noble Lord asking himself what possible harm will come to this country if a young person is learning modern Greek in order to visit Greece or in order to be able to teach modern Greek if the wrong decision is made at the time and the local education authority treats this as vocational in character, whereas it turns out to be purely recreational because it turns out that he is going to Athens to look at the Acropolis? I ask the noble Lord, who is a Classics scholar, what is wrong with that?
The noble Lord has not satisfied me at all that there is any good reason for this invidious distinction. I hope I am making the point that I think it is very unpleasant that this distinction is made. It looks like pure class distinction, and I hope I make that clear. It looks like the Government deliberately trying to deny aid to people whom we on this side are concerned to assist. This is the first part of this Bill which has a distinct class smell about it. I hope I have made my point of view and my sense of indignation very clear. I repeat my request to the Government: will they be good enough to give this further thought? It can do no harm; it need cost not one penny more. It could help a vast number of individuals. It is in 2148 the interests of the country that those who have to work should be encouraged to study at evening classes after work, and it is a wholly unsatisfactory thing to deny to them the same facility that is offered to their more fortunate brethren. I am asking the Government to take that on board and to give it further consideration.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
Of course the Government are always willing to give something further consideration, but I think the noble Lord is positively wrong in this case. I am sorry that he has this subjective smell in his nostrils, but I can assure him that it is entirely subjective and does not arise from the intentions of the Government. I think he ought to take the point I have been making that it is difficult to say that a class is vocational. I realise that he probably does not attach too much importance to the actual wording of the Amendment and is trying to get over the principle, but I have to answer the Amendment.
Let us deal with the reality. In practice, people attending "evening only" classes will not be treated differently from those attending day classes. They will be able to get vocational advise if they want it, because the local education authority has a power to provide it, and a duty if so directed by the Secretary of State, just as those attending day classes will be able to get advice if they want it because the local education authority has a duty to provide it.
§ LORD DIAMOND
Can I say to the noble Lord that I listen to him most carefully. He understands that I am capable of taking his argument on board the first time, and he need not say it three times. The point quite simply is that under subsection (2) it is not mandatory. The local education authority may provide the service, but is not required to; and if it does not, the Secretary of State may insist on it, but is not required to. So we are back in the situation that the only case where the local education authority must—and you know this for certain—is in subsection (1), which says to the young man having his class at half-past five that he cannot have this service because it is given only to people who go to the class at half-past four.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
But the noble Lord has not read the rest of subsection (7). Subsection (7) says:The reference to part-time attendance in paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of this section does not include—What I am saying is that if this is not done the Secretary of State will direct that this shall be done; but the position I started from is that the whole point of the existence of the evening classes is that they are at the discretion of the local education authorities. They pay for the classes now under the existing legislation, and they pay for them on a discretionary basis. Awards can cover the whole of the student's fees and so on; but as this is on a discretionary basis, this is left on that basis because of the difficulty in sorting out those people who are attending classes for the purpose of training and employment and those persons who are attending them for recreational reasons. Because you cannot do that in the way that the noble Lord is trying to do it in his Amendment, I am suggesting to him that the effect in the end will be exactly the same. Somebody has to decide what the student's intention is—is he attending for vocational or recreational reasons? That is why discretion exists. If there is any doubt as to how the local education authorities are exercising their discretion then there is power of direction.
- (a) part-time attendance where none of the relevant classes begins on any day before five o'clock in the evening; and
- (b) any other part-time attendance as to which the Secretary of State directs that it shall he disregarded for the purposes of that paragraph."
§ LORD DIAMOND
The noble Lord now says there is a power of direction. A little earlier, after reading subsection (7)(b), he said that the Secretary of State "will" direct. I think that was a slip on his part: I do not think he meant to say that the Secretary of State "will" direct. I doubt whether he is authorised to say that the Secretary of State, in every case where I object to the distinction, will direct that the distinction is not held to be valid.
§ LORD DIAMOND
So that the noble Lord cannot say that subsection (7)(b) 2150 puts the matter right. If you did not want to distinguish between classes starting at half-past four and classes starting at half-past five, you would not have subsection (7)(a), which says "five o'clock." I did not draft this wretched subsection—the noble Lord takes responsibility for it, and he takes responsibility for putting in five o'clock as the dividing line. "Five o'clock" means only one thing—either you are at work and cannot go before five, or you are not at work and can. You get different treatment: in one case you get a mandatory service and in the other case you get the same service if the local authority gives it or, if they are unwilling to give it, the Secretary of State orders it. I do not think the noble Lord would quarrel with anything I have said, and we must get on—not only in the interests of the noble Lord, who loves sitting here listening to my arguments until a late hour, but in the interests of others of your Lordships who I am sure are wondering whether there will be another Division or whether they can leave.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I think the noble Lord is probably working up to the point where he will ask leave to withdraw his Amendment, and if he does so I will undertake to look at this again. I shall want, in any case, to satisfy myself that there is as little in his argument as I think. But the point really is that the five o'clock mark represents the distinction between those who can clearly be presumed to be attending classes for vocational reasons during working hours and therefore no discretion is necessary. In the other case, surely the noble Lord must agree that it is necessary to sort out the recreational from the vocational.
§ LORD DIAMOND
I think the noble Lord has understood the difficulty and that he has understood in particular that this definition has many overtones which are unsatisfactory. If he wants a definition that is more meaningful and which adds more support to his point of view, then he must get another definition that does not carry the same disrespectful overtones. As he has said that he will be good enough to consider this very carefully, I seek your Lordships' leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.2151
§ On Question, Whether Clause 8 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ LORD DIAMOND
I seek to address your Lordships for only a moment on Clause 8 because your Lordships will have observed that I did not seek to move Amendment No. 8 on page 10, which was discussed with the previous Amendment on which there was an equality of votes—and there having been an equality of votes the Amendment, which sought a change, was lost. It would have been possible to put this to the vote without further discussion and nobody can say what might have happened—it would have depended on how active the Whips had been on either side. I thought myself it would be much more responsible to assume that the noble Lord would have taken on board the fact that there was an equality of views and a marked difference of views at the earlier stage and that, rather than seeking to waste time on dividing the House and possibly giving the wrong impression that one was seeking for "lobby victories" rather than a better Bill, it would be wise not to pursue this matter at this stage, in the hope and belief—I do not ask for confirmation—that the Government would reciprocate responsibility for responsibility and that there would be a possibility of returning to this matter with perhaps a generally more acceptable series of provisions at a later stage.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I appreciate what the noble Lord has said. The rules of the game are the rules of the game. He need not take undue advantage of that, but of course we take note of the state of opinion of your Lordships as a whole and, although this has been very fully debated elsewhere and was very carefully considered—as the noble Lord may well imagine, this is not the sort of solution that is lightly arrived at—of course we shall have another look at it. I think that the noble Lord is bound to appreciate that the machinery involved here is very considerable, and I am almost tempted to say that at this late stage it might be rather difficult to shift it. But having said that, we shall be looking at the matter in that light.
§ Clause 8 agreed to.
§ Clauses 9 to 14 agreed to.2152
§ Clause 15 [Short Title, commencement and extent]:
§ 7.38 p.m.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 10:
Page 18, line 41, leave out ("and 4") and insert ("4, 8 and 12").
§ The noble Earl said: This is a very minor technical Amendment. It has recently been decided that where a provision in a Bill amends another provision which extends to Northern Ireland, the amending provision itself should be deemed to extend to Northern Ireland, despite the fact that the Amendment has no substantive effect in Northern Ireland. This Amendment brings the Bill into line with that decision, by providing that the technical Amendments to the Parliamentary Commissioner Act and the Superannuation Act 1972 extend to Northern Ireland. I beg to move.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 15, as amended, agreed to.
§ Schedule 1 [Additional Provisions Relating to Constitution etc. of the Commission and Agencies]:
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ BARONESS SEEAR moved Amendment No. 11:
Page 20, line 27, leave out from beginning to end of line 36 and insert:
("(1) It shall be the duty of the Commission, before such date as the Secretary of State may determine, to select such staff as it requires who shall be chosen from a list of names notified to the Commission by the Secretary of State and also from candidates with considerable industrial and commercial experience in the held of employment and training; and the terms of the offer of employment shall be such that in the opinion of the Secretary of State they are, taken as a whole, not less favourable to the person to whom the offer is made than the terms under which he is employed by the Secretary of State on the date at which the offer is made and such terms will also have full regard to the desirability of movement of staff between the Commission and industry and commerce:
Provided that not less than one quarter of the staff (excluding non-clerical and manual employees of the Commission) shall be persons who possess the industrial and commercial experience referred to in this sub-paragraph.")
The noble Baroness said: I regret that at this late hour I have to say that this Amendment raises a number of issues which, in my view, are not of minor importance. It raises two themes which
I have already raised under other Amendments earlier this evening. One is the question of responsibility of the Commission for the work it is charged with; and, secondly, the professional calibre of the staff to be employed. Both of these are of cardinal importance to the ultimate success of the whole enterprise. It is a well understood principle that if you are held responsible for a job of work you must have some say at least, and I would say the final say, in the staff whom you employ. Yet we find in Schedule 1, in the paragraph dealing with staff, this quite extraordinary statement:
It shall be the duty of the Commission to make, before such date as the Secretary of State may determine, an offer of employment by the Commission to each person who is employed by the Secretary of State and whose name is notified to the Commission by the Secretary of State …
In fact the Commission have to take on the people the Secretary of State tells them to take on. That is a most extraordinary way of manning an organisation for which the Commission are ultimately responsible.
§ The first purpose of the Amendment now before the Committee is to give a wider range of choice to the Commission in the staff they will ultimately employ and on whom they are going to depend for the success of the work that they do. It also seems essential in the running of the work of the Commission and of the Agencies that there should be a substantial number of people who have real expertise in the field of manpower planning and training. We have been told in the preamble to this Bill that the majority of the staff are to be employees, civil servants, employed by the Department of Employment, who will, we know, technically cease to be civil servants while in the employ of the Commission; but there is to be a transfer of staff from the Department into the Commission. These civil servants in the Department are worthy people but they are not experts in this field. This is not the way to get an efficient Commission to do the job which is so badly needed. You will only do this if you have a substantial number of people who have really done the job in the field, as these people in the Department of Employment have not done.
§ I know that there are certain—I am tempted to say "window dressing"— 2154 jobs that have been filled by people drawn from industry, and I know that I shall be told by the Minister that they are advertising a certain number of jobs. But that is not good enough. We need far more people in the Commission who have done the job and who will command the respect of people in industry who are doing the job. This is also extremely important. The Commission and the Agencies are going to have the veto in terms of the spending of money on programmes put forward by people, many of whom will be a great deal more expert and knowledgeable than the people who are going to judge the fitness of those programmes put forward for support and finance. This is no way to run a reformed Commission in this field.
§ If we are going to get the full benefit of it, it is essential that there should be a movement between people employed by the Agencies and people working in the industrial field. We want them to come backwards and forwards. If we do this, at the end of a decade we shall have people working in the Commission who understand the work in industry, and people working in industry who understand the work of the Commission and the Agencies. This single proposal will do more for the ultimate effectiveness of what we are trying to do than any other single provision we have in the Bill. If we are going to achieve this we must have regard to the levels of pay in order to attract people from industry to make this interchange between industry and the Agencies and the Commission a reality. The Swedes I am sorry to keep coming back to them—when I was discussing this matter a year ago, said it had been a vital part of their success that they were not staffed by career civil servants. We might as well not go on with this programme if we are going to staff the Commission and the Agencies to a large extent by civil servants. I beg to move.
§ THE EARL OF COURTOWN
I have a good deal of sympathy with the view put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, but I do not think this Amendment can be satisfactory in the way it is worded. I see the point of having some of the staff who have been employed in industry. I can see the advantages of moving people between industry and commerce. But the Amendment talks 2155 about the field of employment and training and I do not believe there is any such thing. I noticed that in her speech the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, described it as manpower planning and training. That is even more restrictive, because there are so few people employed in manpower planning. Maybe there ought to be many more, but there is not a large number employed in that function in industry to-day. What I think she means is that we need people, members of the staff, who have had experience in industry or commerce. I do not think you can define it farther than that.
You may say that you want people who have an experience of training for industry; but some of the people who are employed in training for industry are almost equally specialised. You want people who have been in industry but have had some responsibility for training; and in using the word "training" account has to be taken of the fact that much of the training within industry is best done on the job. Therefore you will find that the right people for the Commission are not people who are specialised training people. They may be people who have had the job of taking under their wing young people who were required to be training for industry. I have sympathy with the general purposes that the noble Baroness put forward; but I do not think that this Amendment, as it is worded, is at all satisfactory.
§ 7.47 p.m.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
I, too, have sympathy, because, like my noble friend Lord Courtown, I am conscious, as we must always be in this Committee, of the noble Baroness's knowledge of and experience in employment and training matters. But I hope to be able to show that much of what she wants can and will happen without her Amendment, and that also there are a number of things about it as it stands which could give rise to difficulty.
The Amendment concerns the initial appointment of staff by the Commission, and the two Agencies. I think it has two main points: first, that one quarter of the staff of each body should have industrial and commercial experience; and second, that the staff's terms of employment should have full regard to the desirability 2156 of movement of staff between the Commission and Agencies and industry and commerce. Let me first recall what was said in the White Paper published with the Bill. Paragraph 37 read as follows:The staff of the Commission and Agencies will be drawn largely from the staff of the Department of Employment, which is currently responsible for the employment and training services. The Commission and Agencies will, however, also be in a position, as are Government Departments, to recruit staff on a short or longer term basis from industry, from the education service, or from elsewhere.In other words, this is dealing with the groups of men who in America are known as "in-and-outs".
Many of the staff in these services at present have in fact been recruited after experience in industry and commerce. To take the Training Services Agency, there were some 4,000 staff (other than manual staff) employed on training work in the Department of Employment at April 1, 1973. Of these, more than half (nearly 2,200) had had actual industrial or commercial experience as a prerequisite for their appointments. In other words, these are not simply faceless bureaucrats; they have the features of their earlier industrial or commercial experience. They were mainly instructors or chief instructors in the Government training service (1,930 of them), but they also included staff in managerial or controlling positions (253) and a small number (15) of professionally qualified training advisory staff. In addition, some of the other staff have also had experience in industry and commerce, though this is not a condition of their recruitment.
This leaning towards people with industrial or commercial experience is expected to continue in the Training Services Agency when it comes under the Commission. Besides the substantial need for instructors arising from the continued expansion of the Government Training Centre network, other staff will be required from outside the Civil Service to maintain close touch with industry and industrial training practices. This could mean employing consultants on special projects, or having people with particular skills seconded or recruited from industry, industrial training boards, further education or indeed elsewhere. Conversely, there may be demand from outside the Agency for staff to be loaned or transferred from it because of their 2157 special abilities in training, and the Agency would expect to encourage this cross-fertilisation.
As the noble Baroness recognised in her speech on Second Reading, posts in the Agency have recently been advertised for open competition at very senior level. She anticipated that I would say this. Examples are Deputy Chief Executive (Industry) and Director of Training. For both of these posts candidates will need very considerable experience of industry or commerce and a previous training connection. Another senior post—Deputy Director of Training—will be advertised shortly, and similar experience will be required. I might just add here that we are anxious to learn from the noble Baroness's experience, and realise that she has learnt in her turn from the Swedish experience; but I would suggest that in a small and highly organised State such as Sweden there might be a greater feeling of relief, a greater desire to get away from bureaucratic life or Civil Service life, than perhaps exists in a somewhat more plural society such as ours. I put that in as my own opinion but it seems to me to be a possibility.
In the case of the Employment Service Agency it is important that the staff should have wide knowledge and experience, and so indeed they have. For example, two very senior managers reporting direct to the chief executive of the Agency—the Director of Marketing and the Director of Professional and Executive Recruitment—have in fact been recruited from industry. In the front line of the organisation many of the employment office staff dealing directly with the public have been in a variety of industrial and commercial posts before joining the Department. Looking to the future, the Agency will be considering in consultation with the Staff Side how best to meet its needs for employment advisers; and its plans for training staff will lay stress on occupational and industrial knowledge.
As regards the Commission, it is intended that they should have only a very small staff, but while the scale of the problem is very much less here than in the case of the Agencies the same sort of considerations will apply; and I mentioned that myself on Second Reading. This shows that the Agencies can and do 2158 recruit staff with industrial or commercial experience at present, and that they and the Commission will certainly be able to do so in the future. I hope the noble Baroness will agree that the right course in this matter is to ensure that the Commission and Agencies are able to recruit the sort of staff they will need, and thereafter to leave it to them to get on with it, as she suggests. If we lay down in the legislation that a particular proportion must be drawn from a particular source, that may prove to be too rigid and may inhibit flexibility of management—this was the point put over with great experience by my noble friend Lord Courtown. That applies particularly, I suggest, at the time of the setting up of the Commission and Agencies as statutory bodies. It will be a hard enough job for the management of these bodies to get them set up and into business in their new form without having to observe statutory quotas about the proportion of staff they can recruit from different sources. A provision of this kind could also very greatly increase the uncertainty and the possible unheaval which will be involved for the staff of these bodies.
To turn to the second main point of the Amendment, I suggest it is undesirable to write into the Bill that the terms and conditions of employment should have full regard to the desirability of movement of staff between the Commission and Agencies and industry and commerce. First, it is not surely the practice in legislation, when providing that terms and conditions should be subject to ministerial control—as these will be—to include provisions about particular factors to which Ministers must have regard. Such a provision does not, and should not, prevent Ministers from having regard to other factors. That is surely what ministerial responsibility is about.
But there is a more important point. The White Paper published with the Bill made it clear, in paragraph 37, that it is the Government's intention that Civil Service terms and conditions should continue to apply to the staff of the Commission and Agencies in order to facilitate free movement of staff between these bodies and between any of them and the Department of Employment and indeed other Civil Service Departments. The Secretary of State for Employment has given an assurance to the Staff Side of 2159 the Department's Whitley Council—and the Minister of State for Employment has repeated it in another place—that it is the intention that all new conditions of service and pay for civil servants would apply automatically to staff of the Commission and Agencies. This is not, of course, because we do not want free movement of staff between the Commission and Agencies and industry and commerce. Nor do I think this will prevent any such movement. As I have made clear, at present many of the staff of the Agencies have experience in industry or commerce. But freedom of movement within the complex of organisations and institutions for which the Department of Employment will be responsible is also highly desirable, and this is the reason for the policy which the Government have adopted on this matter. I cannot, therefore, advise the Committee to accept the noble Baroness's Amendment.
§ BARONESS SEEAR
The noble Earl has not in fact answered my first point, which is that it is laid down that the Commission must employ the people the Secretary of State tells them to employ. This seems to me a most important restriction on the right of the Commission to recruit the people they think most competent to do the job. This is how it stands in the Schedule we have before us. I will accept that there could be improvements in the wording of the Amendment—this has been put before me. I would not entirely accept, however, the comment of the noble Lord who spoke after me, that it would not be possible to find people with real expertise in the personnel field (if you like to use that word as an overall term) for employment and training who will contribute very greatly to the work that needs to be done. But the main point is that the reply of the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, turned largely on what was in the White Paper. What is in the White Paper is one thing, but what counts is what is in the Act. If more of the content of the White Paper was reflected in the paragraph headed "Staff", which is what is going to determine what happens, I should be a great deal happier; because the desire to bring about movement between industry and the Commission, which is reflected in the White Paper, is not reflected—and this is the point of my 2160 Amendment—in what we see in the Bill. And at the end of the day it is what is in the Bill that counts and not what is in the White Paper. If the noble Earl would look again at this Schedule and at the White Paper, which he has quoted with great approval, and will see whether before Report stage some of that more favourable comment in the White Paper could he reflected in the Schedule, then I should be glad to withdraw.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
The noble Baroness said that I had not properly answered her first point. If I have been remiss, let me try again. She said, I think, that paragraph 11 of Schedule 1 is extraordinary. It is based on a very similar provision in the Civil Aviation Act 1971 which set up the Civil Aviation Authority to which Department of Trade and Industry staff were transferred. So I do not think this is without any precedents. However, I agree with her that the rhetoric, so to speak, of my argument, the reasonability of it, depended on using the White Paper; and I will certainly undertake to make a careful correlation between the White Paper and what is in the Bill. I do not accept that there is a divergence, but I bow, as I said initially, to her experience and I will certainly go through it with a toothcomb again.
§ LORD BYERS
I am grateful to the noble Earl for that undertaking. May I ask him when he goes through it with his toothcomb to look particularly at paragraph 11 under "Staff", because the way I read it it means that it is mandatory on the Commission to accept only those people who are employed by the Secretary of State. It in fact says:may determine, an offer of employment by the Commission to each person who is employed by the Secretary of State and whose name is notified to the Commission by the Secretary of State.That does not seem to me to give much flexibility to the Commission, and I should be grateful if the noble Earl would look at that point when he makes his consideration.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Schedule 1 agreed to.2161
§ Schedule 2 [Modifications of Industrial Training Act 1964]:
§ 8.0 p.m.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE moved Amendment No. 12:
Page 25, line 39, leave out ("any of it") and insert ("levy").
§ The noble Earl said: With the leave of the Committee I should like to move Amendment No. 12, but at the same time I will speak to Amendments Nos. 14, 17 and 18. The purpose of these Amendments is to clarify the meaning of the provisions in the Bill of Section 7(1)(b) of the Industrial Training Act 1964, as amended, which enable a board to make proposals for having a levy from which there will be no exemption by certificate. The intention is, and always has been, that such a levy could provide that all the employers in the board's industry should be taken out of exemption certificate arrangements and would have to pay levy—it could also provide that only some of them should be taken out of exemption certificate arrangements. The construction industry may well want all employers in the industry to be taken out of exemption certificate arrangements. However, doubts have arisen as to whether or not this intention is secured by the wording of the Bill. These amendments seek to put the wording of the provisions beyond doubt.
§ It has always been the Government's intention, as was made clear in another place, that the Bill should enable a board to put forward proposals as I have itemised. Such proposals could only be made if the organisations were in favour, and these Amendments are designed to see that there is no ambiguity on the question. I beg to move.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 32, line 4, leave out ("all") and insert ("the employers").—(The Earl of Gowrie.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ 8.3 p.m.
§ LORD GLADWYN moved Amendment No. 15.
Page 34, line 5, leave out paragraph 16, and insert—
("16. Delete section 14(1) of the Act and substitute therefor—
An industrial training board may exercise such functions in connection with the training for employment in any activity of industry or commerce carried on outside Great Britain of persons temporarily in Great Britain as are exercisable by it under subsections (1) and (4) of section 2 of this Act in connection with the training of persons employed or intending to be employed in the industry for which the Board is established and in pursuance of its power under this section an industrial training board may enter into and carry out contracts—
§ The noble Lord said: Your Lordships will observe that this Amendment is a simplified and less complicated version of the Amendment which I originally tabled. Also it is no longer an Amendment to an Amendment but it is an Amendment to the actual Act, and I hope that as such it will prove acceptable.
In moving the Amendment may I say one word about the background against which it is advanced. As the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, remarked during our debate on Second Reading:
Section 14 of the Industrial Training Act 1964, which enables the training boards to make arrangements for such training, has not been strengthened.
He went on to say
As it stands, the Bill does not seem to provide either the incentive, or effective machinery, to create more training places for overseas students."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7/6/73, col. 266.]
§ I think it is true that the present draft Bill has not been strengthened, but apart from a consequential Amendment, presumably to bring it into line with the rest of the Bill, the effect of it remains exactly as it was in the original Act. This is a great disappointment to those unofficial agencies who for so long have maintained that it is often quite useless 2163 to give instruction to many overseas students, chiefly from the Commonwealth of course, in technical colleges and other worthy institutions of learning, without somehow arranging for them to have practical training in the techniques that they are so laboriously acquiring. Without such practical training, indeed, they frequently return to their homelands deprived of the necessary know-how and thus, as often as not, become discontented or unemployed instead of the unofficial ambassadors of this country which they otherwise might be. This point has been made several times in debates on this subject over the last few years.
§ As we all know, there are some young people from overseas countries who do receive practical training in this country. I think the figure was about 250 in the year 1972-73. But these are the favoured few, who are either sponsored by their own Governments or from other sources, or have large means of their own; and anyhow, nobody can maintain that 250 is a large number of people having training. There are undoubtedly far more who would like to have practical training to complete their education, and there is no doubt that the necessary facilities could be arranged if only the necessary finance were forthcoming and if the firms concerned would take them on, if they were paid to do so. It is the view of those unofficial organisations which I have mentioned, whose opinions the noble Lord. Lord Sainsbury, and I, have previously urged in this House, that the necessary money should be provided by the Government out of the Vote on overseas aid. This was seen to have great advantages, partly because, one would have thought, prima facie this was a more profitable way of dispensing aid from the point of view of all concerned, and partly because sums expended in this way would obviously put no strain on the exchanges. We therefore—and I speak for the unofficial agencies and people who have been doing this work for a long period of time, and know what they are talking about—live in hopes that the Government will see the force of such arguments and will produce the necessary cash. They have not done so yet, but the assumption is that they may well feel it is clearly desirable that this view of Section 14 in Schedule 2(2) 2164 should be so drafted as to facilitate this process. That therefore is the chief reason for moving a new Amendment to Section 14 and especially, of course, the new paragraph (i)(a).
§ Paragraph (i)(b) is perhaps less important than paragraph (i)(a) but I very much hope that the Government will accept it, or something like it, because it lays down that the boards are empowered to undertake training in agreement with certain outside bodies and notably, of course, with foreign Governments. Why should the boards not be so empowered, provided always, that the finance is forthcoming? The existing unofficial British agencies could perfectly well, as we think, advise boards on the suitability of candidates coming under this heading. I cannot see why the Government should be suspicious of such a proceeding.
That brings me to what I think is the most important change in the Act embodied in this Amendment. It is the proposed omission from the Act of the words "if the Minister so requests". To consult the Bill itself, paragraph 16 to Schedule 2 to the Bill, the Government amendment of the Act in this regard would substitute the words
If the Commission on the invitation of the Minister
so requests, or
if the Minister so requests".
Surely that is simply a consequential Amendment to bring the paragraph into harmony with the rest of the Bill. I do not suppose that would be disputed.
§ The effect of the clause as amended by the Government Amendment will remain exactly the same. Our point is that given the weight of the official machine the Minister is quite unlikely to take the initiative in getting the boards to move in the recruitment and training of other than sponsored candidates. Why not therefore leave the initiative to the boards, provided always that they have the necessary cash and that there is adequate machinery for the vetting of the candidates? Some boards may be more forthcoming than others—we would not deny that—but that would not matter. An argument for retaining complete Ministerial initiative, which I trust we shall not in any case hear of again, is that which has been advanced in the past; namely, that if all the boards 2165 were not willing to undertake the extra work involved, no board should be allowed to do so. Why should the unwillingness of, say, the Knitting, Lace and Net Training Board, which presumably would have to place very few overseas students from the Commonwealth, prevent the Engineering Industry Training Board from doing so if it so desired?
I realise that there will probably be objection by the Government to the omission of only the words "if the Minister so requests", or its equivalent proposed by the Government, because it might be thought—and perhaps the Government will so think—that this would not be in accordance with the spirit of the Bill as a whole, where the ultimate authority of the Minister is laid down in practically every paragraph. I understand that objection, although personally I do not share these fears. If by any chance the Government cannot accept this particular part of the Amendment, I wonder whether they would agree to say, perhaps:
An industrial training board may"?
and insert there—
with the approval of the Minister
and then go on
exercise such functions
and so on. The point of that would be that, although not as good as my Amendment, it would at least leave the initiative to the boards and it would no longer leave the initiative to the Minister. The Minister would have a power of veto but it would be up to the board to take the initiative, if they so desired—and I think they would—if the Government accept the general thesis that finance might be eventually available out of the General Overseas Aid Fund. It is in the hope that the Government will accept the spirit of this Amendment that I venture to put it forward and I shall be very interested to know what the Government think. I beg to move.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
I tried to show enthusiasm for this arena on Second Reading and, therefore, I am grateful to the noble Lord for raising the subject. While I say right away that I cannot advise the Committee to accept the Amendment absolutely as it stands, I am sympathetic to many of its ideas and certainly one could not fail to be sympathetic to the way in which the 2166 noble Lord has moved it. I should like briefly to consider some of his points and then see what we can do.
Let me take first the proposal that boards should be able to co-operate with the Minister of the Crown having functions in respect of overseas aid and the provision of technical assistance. Boards have already helped the Overseas Development Administration in this way on a small scale. For example, some boards have agreed to release staff at O.D.A. expense for advisory work in certain overseas countries. They have been able to do that as part of their power to employ staff.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
The point I was making was that boards have already helped the Overseas Development Administration on a small scale and as an example I said that some boards had agreed to release staff at O.D.A. expense for advisory work in certain overseas countries. They have been able to do that as part of their power to employ staff. I think that it is right that boards should be able to loan, staff to the Overseas Development Administration to give advice and technical assistance overseas. But it is unnecessary, and therefore undesirable, to amend the Bill to achieve that.
The other point I would make on this matter is that I think it is right that, formally, control over board activities should rest with the Commission and the Secretary of State for Employment. This would not, of course, preclude close working relationships between the O.D.A. and the boards, and such relationships we feel are highly desirable.
Secondly, I turn to the proposal that boards may enter into contracts, in respect of the training of people temporarily in Great Britain, with "other persons", including Governments, international agencies, et cetera. The position is that boards can already do this under Section 14 of the 1964 Act, and also under that section as proposed to be amended by the Bill, but only if the Secretary of State (and now also the Commission) so request. The main effect of the Amendment in this area, therefore, is to remove 2167 the requirement for ministerial agreement to board activities on behalf of foreign Governments and so on. I cannot advise the Committee to agree to this in toto. In all other aspects of boards' work, they have to act in accordance with proposals approved by the Commission, and in some cases, such as imposing a levy, also approved by the Secretary of State. Moreover, as I have explained, under the present Section 14 they can act only at the request of the Secretary of State. Against this background, there needs to be very strong justification for exempting any particular training board activity from some form of supervision and control. It is the Government's view that training boards' relations with overseas Governments and other similar agencies as regards training people temporarily in Great Britain are a matter in which, so far from there being no need for control, or less than in other matters, in fact it is there that we find governmental control is particularly desirable.
Let me turn now to the noble Lord's proposal to omit the words, "at the request of the Minister". Under the 1964 Act as it stands, and as it would be amended by the Bill, the initiative for action by a board under Section 14 must be with the Secretary of State. I am sympathetic to the view that it would be an improvement if in the case of any action under Section 14 a board could take action, with the consent of the Commission and the Secretary of State, instead of only at their request. I do not think a board should be able to act, in this field alone, without the agreement of the Commission, and I think that this is a matter where the consent of the Secretary of State should be required also. I think, too, that a board should continue to be free to decline to take any action at all under Section 14, and that if a board does take action, the existing prohibition on the use of levy money for this purpose should remain. Subject to these points, I am prepared sympathetically to consider introducing a Government Amendment on Report to enable a board to take the initiative under Section 14 of the 1964 Act, if the Commission and the Secretary of State consent.
May I turn finally to the proposal in the Amendment that training boards may 2168 enter into contracts of service or of apprenticeship with persons temporarily in Great Britain? Under Section 14 of the 1964 Act a board has power, subject to a ministerial request, to exercise certain functions in relation to people temporarily in Great Britain and intending to be employed outside Great Britain. These functions are those in subsections (1) and (4) of Section 2 of the 1964 Act. Subsection (1) concerns providing or securing the provision of training, and subsection (4) concerns paying grants to people providing the training, or maintenance allowances to the trainees. Section 14 does not empower a training board to exercise its functions under subsection (2) of Section 2 of the 1964 Act—namely, to enter into contracts of service or apprenticeship with trainees. I am not persuaded that it would make a very significant difference to give boards this power, as they already have the power to pay maintenance allowance to trainees (including overseas trainees), in a way that is helpful to the overseas aid programme.
To summarise, therefore; in conclusion I do not think that all Ministerial control should be removed over the relations between boards and foreign Governments. But I am prepared to consider tabling an Amendment on Report to provide that the initiative may come from a board, subject to the consent of the Commission and the Minister. I also doubt whether it would be worth giving boards a specific power to take into their employment overseas persons being trained in this country, as the board already have power to pay maintenance allowances. In the light of this, I hope the noble Lord will agree to withdraw his Amendment.
§ LORD GLADWYN
Certainly I agree to withdraw the Amendment, and I am very grateful to the advance towards our point of view which the noble Earl has made. May I draw him for a moment, on one point. I am very grateful that he has more or less accepted the major Amendment posed and will consider in the Report stage inserting the equivalent of the words, "with the approval of the Minister" after, "an industrial training board may", or words to that effect. I think he has admitted that principle and I am grateful that he did so. I am not quite certain, in regard to paragraph 1(a), 2169 which more or less provides for the eventuality of some funds being made available out of the Overseas Trade Fund, whether or not he accepts that principle. Does the noble Earl think that is a possibility? If he does, does he object to some amendment by legislation to paragraph 1(a)? I hope he does not.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
May I say what I originally said, which was that I should like to go over this carefully again. I am considering putting down a Government Amendment and if the noble Lord will leave it at that I will undertake to work as hard as I can in the meantime.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 8.20 p.m.
BARONESS SEEAR moved Amendment No. 16:
Page 34, line 35, at end insert (", and in exercising this control in relation to boards the Minister will have full regard to the desirability of movement of staff between boards and their industries.")
§ The noble Baroness said: I shall be very brief. In a way this is much in line with the previous Amendment and I hope that the noble Earl will agree to look at it again before Report stage. It is a matter of considerable concern to training boards that they should have adequate flexibility in the rates of pay that they can offer in the recruitment of staff. And now that their rates of pay are to be, with the approval of the Minister, given with the consent of the Minister for the Civil Service, it would help them very greatly if there could be added to that clause the words standing in the Amendment. It would reassure them that there would be the necessary degree of flexibility in the recruitment of training board staff, which is regarded as essential if they are to carry on the work of the training boards effectively, which we understand is the wish of the Government in the Bill now before us. I beg to move.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
It will not surprise the noble Baroness to hear that I am fully in sympathy with the intention of her Amendment. Indeed, I recognise the source of these words; as she knows, they come from paragraph 75 of the White Paper. The training boards are empowered to employ their own staff. How- 2170 ever, when the new arrangements relating to boards come into operation their administrative costs—which, of course, includes the salaries of staffs—will be met from the Exchequer. It is logical, therefore, for the Bill to provide that the terms and conditions of employment of board staff shall be subject to Ministerial control. There is nothing new in this; it is a long-standing practice to provide in the legislation establishing grant-aided bodies whose salary costs are to be met from the Exchequer that the pay scales and so on of their staff must he subject to prior Ministerial approval. Noble Lords will appreciate that control is necessary to ensure that Ministers are fully accountable to Parliament for the expenditure of public funds.
However, we recognise the special position of the boards, and that is why the Government gave the specific undertaking in the White Paper published with the Bill that Ministers, in exercising their control in relation to boards, would have full regard to the desirability of movement of staffs between boards and their industries. So the position is quite clear. The Government have given a specific undertaking in unambiguous terms, but it remains that the terms and conditions have to be approved by the Secretary of State with the approval of the Minister for the Civil Service.
The Amendment the noble Baroness proposes is that the specific undertaking given in the White Paper be now incorporated into the Bill. The Amendment goes no further than that, and in fact repeats word for word the undertaking already given. The point I wish to make is that an undertaking in the required terms has been given and it is quite inappropriate to include in legislation this kind of requirement on Ministers. I am advised that of all the Acts giving Ministers power to control pay and conditions of the staff of bodies of this kind not one includes a proviso of this type, although in many cases the same kind of consideration applies. For example, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Commission on Industrial Relations and the Tourist Boards are all in the same sort of position as the training boards, but in no case does the relevant legislation include considerations which Ministers must apply in exercising their approval of the staff's pay and conditions.
2171 Having said that, let me reiterate the Government's position in order that there may be no room for misunderstanding. Ministers will indeed have full regard to the desirability of movement of staff between boards and their industries. There is no intention at all to turn them into civil servants; the employees of the training boards are not intended to be civil servants. The Government fully appreciate the importance of boards' being able to attract good quality staff from their industries, and that is why the specific undertaking was made in the White Paper, in order to ensure the movement between the two which can be said to be beneficial. So I hope, in view of what I have said, the noble Baroness will withdraw her Amendment.
§ BARONESS SEEAR
I will withdraw it, but I must say that if the undertaking is unambiguous and specific I find it difficult to understand why it cannot be incorporated into the Bill. We are told that in previous Bills it was not done; but two blacks do not make a white and even ten blacks do not make a white. It would greatly reassure the training boards, which, as the noble Lords knows, have been extremely perturbed by the whole question of this reorganisation it would help them very greatly if it were written into the Bill. After all, it is what is in an Act and not what is in the White Paper that matters. It is really impossible between now and Report to see whether we cannot break with this tradition and incorporate these comforting words, apparently words by which the Government feel bound? Why not incorporate them into the Bill?
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
It will be unprecedented. Nevertheless, I am quite prepared to look into it and see if we can create a precedent.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Page 39, line 1, leave out ("any of it") and insert ("levy").—(The Earl of Gowrie.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.2172
Page 45, line 43, leave out ("all") and insert ("the employers").—(The Earl of Gowrie.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Schedule 2, as amended, agreed to.
§ Schedule 3 [Minor and consequential amendments of enactments]:
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
With the leave of the Committee, I should like to speak to this Amendment and to No. 24 at the same time. These are technical Amendments to tidy up the Statute Book by removing a provision which is no longer neeeded. I beg to move Amendment No. 19.
Page 56, line 28, at end insert:
§ 1. Section 80 of the Unemployment Insurance Act 1935 (which provides for payments out of the National Insurance Fund in respect of the attendance at certain courses of persons entitled to unemployment benefit) shall cease to have effect.")—(The Earl of Gowrie.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
THE EARL OF GOWRIE
With the leave of the Committee, I should like to move Amendment No. 20 and speak at the same time to Nos. 21, 22 and 23. These are drafting Amendments to remove a technical defect which has been found in the Bill as it stands. I beg to move.
Page 57, line 39, leave out second ("for") and insert ("after").—(The Earl of Gowrie.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 57, line 40, leave out ("substituted") and insert ("inserted").—(The Earl of Gowrie.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 57, line 42, leave out ("for") and insert ("after").—(The Earl of Cowrie.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.2173
Page 57, line 43, leave out ("substituted") and insert ("inserted").—(The Earl of Gowrie.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.
§ Schedule 4 [Repeals]:
§ Amendment moved—
§ Page 60, line 3, at end insert—
|("25 & 26 Geo. 5. c. 8.||The Unemployment Insurance Act 1935||Section 80.")|
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ On Question, Whether Schedule 4, as amended, shall be agreed to?
§ LORD DIAMOND
I intervene for one moment to say to the noble Earl that I am sorry if I hurt his feelings a little earlier. He has done an extraordinarily courteous, long and difficult task, and we appreciate everything he has done.
§ Schedule 4, as amended, agreed to.
§ House resumed: Bill reported with the Amendments.