HL Deb 03 February 1982 vol 426 cc1291-2

2.45 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consider giving full financial assistance to the setting up of a craft apprentice training college/training workshop in West Cumbria, which would provide appropriate training to full apprentice standard.

Lord Lyell

No, my Lords. The existing facilities for apprentice training in West Cumbria are under-utilised, and the Government could not therefore give financial assistance in order to provide additional facilities.

The Lord Bishop of Carlisle

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that Answer. Is he aware that most of the apprenticeships in that area are connected with one large employer—British Nuclear Fuels; and does he agree that this makes the district dependent on the fluctuating demands of a single employer? As a consequence, their training is only in the skills which that one employer requires.

Lord Lyell

My Lords, the right reverend Prelate is perfectly correct to state that some of the apprentice opportunities are with British Nuclear Fuels. He is correct in what he stressed on that particular plane. I am sure he will also be aware that at the West Cumbria College in Workington as well as at the British Steel Corporation there are 110 training places for apprentices of which at the moment 45 are filled. I am sure that the right reverend Prelate will appreciate that there is spare capacity not just at British Nuclear Fuels but also in West Cumbria in this field.

Lord Peart

My Lords, will the Minister appreciate that this is one of the hardest hit areas in the country? There is high unemployment. The project that the right reverend Prelate has mentioned here today will help in some way. Will the Minister have another look at the situation, because things are very bad in this lovely part of the county of Cumberland which I used to represent.

Lord Lyell

My Lords, I shall certainly undertake a further examination of the point raised by the right reverend Prelate so far as British Nuclear Fuels are concerned. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Peart, will bear in mind the figures that I stressed to him of the apprentice opportunities available in West Cumbria in other industries.

Lord Rochester

My Lords, the right reverend Prelate referred to a large employer. Is it the intention that under the new training initiative more financial help should be given to large employers willing to give training to more skilled people than they themselves will later be able to employ?

Lord Lyell

Not necessarily, my Lords. I am sure that the noble Lord will be aware that our programme set out in the White Paper merely outlines the plans of the Government for the return of skilled training. This has to be carried out in association with employers. The Government can do only so much. We look for support from other employers as well as the major employers that were referred to by the right reverend Prelate.