§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Debate continued.
§ Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos
My Lords, we on this side of the House are grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, for enabling us to debate the White Paper, Training for Jobs, and the whole field of youth training and for her interesting and thought-provoking speech which has set the scene for our debate. The noble Baroness speaks with great authority as a former chairman of the Manpower Services Commission in Scotland and I know that her record of service in the field of education is a long and distinguished one. We also look forward to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Forte, whose interest in training young people is well known. The noble Baroness clearly believes that the Government are on the right lines so far as youth training is concerned. I know also that she is a firm believer in central control, as was made clear in her speech in this House in the debate on 15th February. I am sure that she will not be surprised to learn that I have some reservations on both these points.
The debate comes at the right moment, a fortnight after the House debated the subject of universities and colleges of further education. Both subjects are closely related because the state of this country, the standards of living and the ability of Britain to compete in a rapidly changing world will depend more upon the education and training of our young people, and on the quality and numbers of our scientists, technicians and craftsmen, than on any other single factor. The noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, said that the White Paper is not the most important that the present Government have produced.
The Earl of Gowrie
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition for giving way. What I said was that, in my view, the White Paper very well might be the most important.
§ Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos
My Lords, I am much obliged and I apologise to the noble Earl; I thought 252 that he said otherwise. But if he said that, then I agree with him. I also think that it is a very important document, primarily because it proposes that the Manpower Services Commission should take over a quarter of some of the local authorities' further education activities. The preamble to the White Paper, as is often the case, is unexceptionable. I take paragraphs 1 and 2 as examples and I quote:Britain lives by the skill of its people. A well trained work force is an essential condition of our economic survival.But training is not an end in itself. It is a means to doing a good job of work for an employer or on one's own account. Training must therefore be firmly work-orientated and lead to jobs".Those paragraphs which deal with the objectives of training, with the role of central and local government again deserve support. We also note paragraph 7 and the expenditure on training. This we recognise as substantial and it must be welcomed.
But the White Paper's claws come out in paragraphs 45 and 46 where it is made plain that local authority is to be deprived of yet another significant responsibility. I must quote paragraph 45 because in my view it is the backbone of the White Paper. It says:For this purpose we have decided to give the Commission important new responsibilities by enabling it to purchase a more significant proportion of work-related non-advanced further education provided by local education authorities".The implication is clear; namely, that local authorities are being told that they are failing to perform the task of job training adequately. They are being told that they have failed to deliver the further education employers need and that the MSC will take over a large area of this work.
Again, and very importantly, funds which are at present allocated to the local authorities through the rate support grant will be transferred to the MSC. As I understand it, it is intended to transfer £65 million in 1985–86, rising to £110 million in 1986–87. The end result will be that the total funds to be spent in further education by the Manpower Services Commission will account for one-quarter of all spending on work-related courses provided by further education colleges.
This is of course a further step in the Government's ruthless drive towards centralisation. In policy after policy, in one Bill after another, as White Paper follows White Paper, the Government are concentrating more and more power in their own hands and in those of the Civil Service in Whitehall. It is a grim and frightening development.
Sir Jack Smart, the chairman of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, has summed it up. I quote him:The result will be a massive increase in bureaucracy, and an intolerable loss of democratic influence over the establishment of priorities".The power of Ministers, which in practice in many cases implies the power of small groups of senior civil servants, has been greatly increased under the present and the previous Conservative Administration. Legislation on housing, on local government, on planning, on mental health and on local government finance, which in turn produces secondary legislation, is slowly but surely eroding the functions of elected local authorities. This White Paper is yet another example of this authoritarian trend. I am sure of one thing: that if I know him aright it does not represent 253 the philosophy of the noble Viscount who is to wind up for the Government in this debate.
Given the significance of the step that the Government are now proposing, a number of questions arise which I must put to the noble Viscount. First, are the local authorities who are to lose another segment of their responsibilities satisfied with this new policy? Were they, through their associations, properly consulted on their views about it? It has become fashionable in high Conservative circles to say that this does not matter very much. "Local authorities", it is said, "spend too much; they must be taught, indeed compelled, to economise. We will teach them. We will also abolish them or make them toe the line in some other way. They must learn that the man in Whitehall knows best".
We need go no further than this House. Here I give the words of authority as spoken from the Dispatch Box opposite. I quote:Every Government, regardless of political colour, have the fundamental right to set the national framework within which local government operates. The Government are answerable to Parliament, to the electorate of the country as a whole; not to particular… sections of'it".—[Official Report, 26/10/83; col. 264.]That was the noble Lord, Lord Bellwin, speaking in this House on 26th October last. I can tell him and noble Lords opposite one thing: we have been fighting that sort of attitude in Wales for the last 700 years.
It is not by wielding that kind of big stick that one achieves efficient central and local government in Britain: it is by consent, by seeking to achieve co-operation between government at central and local level, by working to achieve the kind of partnership that the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, was advocating in his opening speech. As I have said before, there is a greater gulf today between local authorities in this country and central government than there has been since local councils were set up nearly a century ago.
This White Paper is a classic example of the cavalier and arrogant way in which this Government have come to deal with local councils, who have over so many years an admirable record of public service. Let us be clear on the facts. There was no consultation with local government prior to the publication of this White Paper. The scheme has been condemned by the Association of County Councils, by the Association of Metropolitan Authorities and by the Society of Education Officers; by councillors right across the political spectrum—Conservative, Liberal and Labour—by the Trades Union Congress and by very many others. I must, in fairness, say that the directors of the CBI and the Institute of Directors gave the White paper a welcome, but the representatives of elected bodies were united in their criticisms of the document's chief proposals and the way it was made public.
The general reaction of all local authorities is well summarised by Councillor Mrs. Harrison, the chairman of the AMA Education Committee, and these are her words:Authorities deeply resent the implications of the White Paper that their colleges are not responsive enough to the demands of industry. Our courses could not run without the tremendous involvement of employers. It's almost as if the Government is trying to make education authorities the scapegoats for unemployment.254 This Government, I am afraid, have a genius for setting one section of the community against another.
This leads me to the second obvious question. Are the deficiencies in the provision of training by local authorities proven? I did not, with respect, think that the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, made this case, or, indeed, sought to make it. The fact is that the local authorities generally have a good record, and there is no real evidence to support the contention that this transfer to the Manpower Services Commission is justified. Is the record so bad that it justifies this arbitrary action against the local authorities? My own experience is that local authorities and employers have worked well together in all parts of the country. But even if there are shortcomings—and there are bound to be failings in certain areas—if there is clear evidence of them then I hope we shall be told about them by the noble Viscount when he comes to wind up the debate.
Would it not have been reasonable to have had consultation both with local authorities and employers before embarking on so great a shift of responsibility? There is nothing in the White Paper itself, or in the 1981 White Paper, to support the implication that local authorities are failing to perform the task of job training adequately. Some fuller explanation is, therefore, required, and I hope that the noble Viscount the Leader of the House will supply it. For I hope there is no doubt in anyone's mind that local councils are deeply and genuinely concerned about youth unemployment and the urgent need to take advantage of every opportunity to provide training for young people. This is at least my experience in my own part of Wales, and we have suffered there more than most.
I now turn to the recipient of the Government's confidence, the Manpower Services Commission, and ask the third question of the noble Viscount: is it right and appropriate that the Commission should be given this additional task at the expense of local councils? I think that is a fair question in the context of the Motion of the noble Baroness. I must say at once that I have greatly admired the work of the Manpower Services Commission from its inception 10 years ago. As the noble Baroness has said, it has played an important role during a difficult period, and those who work in the MSC deserve our gratitude. My remarks are therefore not intended to reflect in any way on the contribution of those who work for the Commission.
It is the case, however, that this body, which is only accountable to Ministers, has grown enormously in size and in power during the decade of its existence. It is a large quango, and it is now to become a super-quango. There has been inadequate public discussion about the MSC, and this is another reason why prior consultation would have been prudent. I believe there was no discussion even with the commissioners themselves prior to the publication of the White Paper.
I think that these figures should be given to the House in this debate. The Commission started off in 1974 with a secretariat of 40, and operated through two agencies, the Employment Service Agency (that is, Job Centres and so on) and the Training Service Agency, which together employed a staff of about 19,000 in over 1,000 separate establishments. I note that the last annual report gives the head office staff as 255 908, with a further 1,268 in support services. In all, the MSC has a total staff of 24,184.
Perhaps the noble Viscount will give the House an estimate of the increase in staff of the MSC which will be required to meet the demands of the transferred functions. We are entitled to know the answer to this question. Furthermore, the two agencies to which I have referred have become three operating divisions: the employment division, the training division and the skill centre training agency. They have two support divisions, corporate service and manpower intelligence and planning, as well as the new technical and vocational education initiative. It is a very large, important and powerful public organisation.
The other point the House will wish to note is that there has been an enormous growth in annual expenditure by the MSC over the decade of its existence. To get this in some sort of perspective, we can compare the total MSC expenditure with the recurrent income of universities in the United Kingdom. In the light of our debate a fortnight ago, this is a relevant comparison to make. In 1974–75, the MSC cost £125.4 million; and universities cost £444.6 million. In 1983–84, the figures are; for the MSC £1,806.1 million, and for the universities £1,276 million. The estimates for the year which is now commencing, 1984–85, are: for the MSC £2,072 million, and for the universities £1,304 million. So in the current year the MSC will spend nearly £700 million more than the universities of the United Kingdom—a remarkable transformation. This is a figure which the House will wish to consider as part of the background to this debate. The other point is that, as we know, the University Grants Committee scrutinises university expenditure with an eagle eye, whereas the MSC has no such scrutineer.
It is true, however, that there has been political intervention. The dismissal of Sir Richard O'Brien from the chair in 1982 is one example, and it is a very disturbing example. It leads us to ask how much interference from the Department of Employment and the Treasury takes place in the MSC. The local councils are battered and criticised enough by this Government. Should there not be more public accountability and debate about the MSC, in whom the Government are reposing so much trust? I do not think anyone doubted the need for the MSC when it was first set up, but it has undergone a great change over the years. For example, the emphasis of the MSC on "job creation" has gone. In 1976–77 it spent £37 million on job creation. In 1982–83 it spent nothing on job creation. The tendency—and, indeed, the danger—is for the MSC to concentrate its now massive resources on training which does not lead to real jobs.
Of course, the MSC has rendered a vital service by drawing attention to that section of young people whom the world of education had previously neglected. However, the current danger—and it is a real one—is that the emphasis may move imperceptibly to the needs of employers. For example, the MSC's Youth Task Group report states on page 7:Our aim is to provide for what the economy needs and what the employers want—a better equipped, better qualified, better educated and better motivated workforce".256 The chairman's message to British directors, which was published in the periodical The Director in October 1982, puts the point much more clearly. The chairman said:In short… the YTS is attractive financially to employers. You now have the opportunity to take on young men and women, train them and let them work for you almost entirely at our expense, and then decide whether or not to employ them".It is a scheme which provides industry with free labour at the taxpayers' expense. At best, the good employer will behave honourably and retain as many as he can. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, that the involvement of industry is essential, but we must get the matter in the right perspective. We must get the balance right as between all the factors involved.
Of course there are many good employers, but unhappily the evidence is that the training record of the majority has not been good. The education system is often blamed for failing to produce trained personnel. The employers are at least as much to blame. I would say this to the Government: that local councillors are sensitive to the standards and attitudes of employers, and are also in a good position to persuade them to behave in an enlightened way. The councillors in my area are on excellent terms with the employers. They know about the local problems, they frequently see the local employers, and they do a good, conscientious job in relation to the young people in their area. They are concerned about them in personal terms, in a way that the MSC, however excellent they may be, can never be.
The Government are investing a large sum of money in training, and I commend them for that. We must, however, go one step further and ask what we are training our young people for. I believe that I can ask this question without being thought cynical. We are concerned about the Government's economic policies, and I must point out to the noble Baroness that we are entitled to ask questions about the Government's economic and industrial policies. The job situation still looks bleak, as the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, fully recognised in his opening speech. Over three million people are registered as unemployed, well over one million of whom are young people under the age of 25. Nearly one million people have been out of work for over a year. Another one million people are not registered as unemployed; and the 300,000 in youth training schemes are not registered. That is the background to this debate and to the White Paper. Training must never be an end in itself. It must be a stage, and the ultimate test of these schemes is whether they lead to long-term employment. It is only the Government, by a deliberate act of policy, which can create jobs. Training, however well meant, with no jobs in prospect, is not enough.
In his introductory analysis the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, described the overall economic strategy of the Government, and I am grateful to him for what he had to say. I repeat what I said a few weeks ago in our debate on the infrastructure; namely, that we believe the Government have gone too far with their monetary and deflationary policies, and that selective and public schemes involving capital expenditure would bring more hope and practical help than this White Paper. I hope the noble Viscount, Lord 257 Whitelaw, will persuade his colleagues to think again about the White Paper. A move towards the local authorities at this time would not come amiss. One of the great needs of this country at this time is to begin to mend the fences between local and central government, and to recreate the partnership which they enjoyed for very many decades. This is a time, I believe, for conciliation. It is a time for the healing of wounds in Britain. I hope that the noble Earl and his colleagues will appreciate that by the end of this debate, and that the noble Viscount will make the appropriate representations to his colleagues in the Cabinet.
§ 4.39 p.m.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
My Lords, we all owe the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, a debt of gratitude for giving us the first opportunity to debate a document that was produced behind closed doors without any open consultation, as the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, said. This is no way to go about an important matter which involves both central and local government, a number of different professions and the voluntary sector. Here I beg leave to disagree with the noble Baroness who initiated the debate. It cuts little ice for the Government to say, as they do in Section 53, that it is their intention that educational interests, employers and other interested parties shall be properly consulted and involved in the development of these new arrangements when, in effect, the shape and direction of these arrangements has already been laid down.
The White Paper envisages an enhanced role for the MSC, turning it in effect into a national vocational education and training agency. When the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, made the statement in this House launching the White Paper, I asked him whether there would be any change in the composition of the MSC to take account of this enhanced role. He said that there would not. Indeed, paragraph 51 confirms that the statutory composition of the commission will remain unchanged. This seems to me to be a pity. The noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, referred to the MSC as a facilitator and a catalyst. That seems to me to be all the more reason for widening its membership.
In one of our consultation documents, my party proposed a new department of education and training to bridge the increasingly artificial distinction between these words in the vocational field. Perhaps the time is not right for a shake-up on that scale but if the MSC is to become the paymaster of one quarter of non-advanced further education, there should be a greater educational presence on their main board. Paragraph 50 mentions the possibility of some secondments from the local education authorities but this does not go far enough. The commission, we learn from paragraph 45, will simply,purchase a more significant proportion of work-related non-advanced further education provided by local education authorities".In this relationship, the doctrine that the customer is always right is almost bound to prevail.
It is in the nature of things that the Government or even the MSC cannot always be right about what is needed in every area up and down the country. Perhaps the main trouble with the White Paper is its 258 tone, which is so curt and dogmatic The noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, said that it was realistic and pragmatic. I prefer my terms. As in other areas of policy, it is not so much the Government's objectives as the style and tone of presentation which raises hackles and turns potential partners and supporters into opponents If the Government were to show greater awareness of voices and draw on a wider range of views, they would achieve their objectives more easily and serve the national interest better.
Some parts of the White Paper are better than others On adult training, the Government commit themselves—rightly, I think—to help for unemployed people needing training at a fairly basic level We find this in paragraph 40(b). But presumably such people would be unlikely either to qualify for or to burden themselves with the loan scheme adumbrated in paragraph 42 I should like to ask the noble Viscount when he comes to reply if he will say what form of income support or allowance is contemplated for such people, and whether they will receive any travel allowance.
I want to address the bulk of my remarks to the Youth Training Scheme. On 9th June 1982 I had the privilege of introducing a debate in your Lordships' House on the MSC's task group report, which led to the establishment of the present scheme. It is therefore of particular interest to me to compare those aspirations with what has happened since. First, I was glad to learn from paragraph 26 that the Young Workers' Scheme—which, as I understand it, contains no off-the-job element—is no longer to be available to those leaving school at 16 until they have been out of school for a year But it will be open to 17 year-old school-leavers. Is not the correct action, therefore, to build an off-the-job element into the scheme, and could it not then become the first building block in a second year YTS? I should be glad to have the noble Viscount's reaction to that plan.
I turn now to the areas that worry me, to the ways in which the Government seem to be moving away from the original concept less than a year ago after its inception. One of the strongest themes running through the 1982 debate in your Lordships' House was that the scheme would never get off the ground if it was compulsory. This point was eventually, if reluctantly, accepted by the then Secretary of State, Mr Tebbit. It is therefore with some alarm that one reads in paragraph 26 that,there will be a further review this year of the individual entitlement to supplementary benefit of young people, taking account of the extent to which they have the guarantee of a place under the Scheme and therefore need not be unemployed".There appears to be a threat here to the voluntary principle which I hope the noble Viscount will be able to deny—for it would undermine the spirit in which this scheme was conceived. This paragraph also raises the whole question of a guarantee of a "suitable" place A "suitable" place is one thing and any old place is another To refuse the former would be foolish and to refuse the latter understandable.
This question of suitability leads me to the balance of provision between Mode A and Mode B schemes to which the noble Baroness has referred. Your Lordships will recall that the original scheme had a target of 460,000 young people, of whom 300,000 259 approximately would be on programmes organised by public and private employers, including local authorities, under Mode A while 160,000 were to be catered for by the MSC acting as managing agents under Mode B. That is to say, there would be roughly half as many Mode B places as Mode A places.
There was to be a further distinction between Modes B1 and B2. Mode B1 places were to be provided mainly by local authorities and voluntary organisations in the fields of the social services and conservation, with some placements in small commercial and industrial undertakings. Mode B2 places were to be much fewer and education-based. It is important to recall yet again the Government's guarantee of a "suitable" place to all school-leavers because Mode B caters for many young applicants who would not be suitable for or suited by a Mode A place.
The balance between Modes A and B is being shifted quite dramatically towards the former—ostensibly on the ground that only 55,000 places out of the approved 90,000 Mode B1 places were occupied at the end of January this year after 20,000 withdrawals from the 75,000-odd who entered. That proves nothing. There was a leakage of 60,000 from the YTS as a whole. There is no research on whether early leavers obtained jobs or joined another scheme, or what they did. It is too early to draw any conclusions from those figures.
For 1984–85, the MSC requested approval for 85,000 Mode B1 places but the Secretary of State countered by asking them to plan for only 60,000 to 70,000 places. This is disquieting on a number of grounds. The YTS, not unnaturally, did not reach its target figures during the first year. The total numbers are likely to rise and fewer trainees will leave early as it improves—if it improves. At the same time, the capacity of the Mode B1 component to absorb them is being drastically reduced. This is at a time when there are 110,000 currently unemployed 16 year-olds who are eligible for the YTS. That figure was given in a debate on school-leavers.
If the Government insist that more Mode A places will solve the problem, Mode B will increasingly become a remedial scheme for "the sad, the mad and the bad", as they call them in the trade, which was not at all the intention of the original plan. There will also be immediate practical consequences of a very damaging nature. For instance, there are no fewer than eight Mode B1 scheme closures proposed for Liverpool alone, which is one of the areas of dire need. Have the Government no recollection of Toxteth? Incidentally, they did not even seem to be heeding their own paragraph 21 of the White Paper, in which they say,Mode B provision by local authorities and voluntary organisations is particularly important in areas, such as inner cities, where there may be a shortage of employer-led schemes.I want to clear up several misconceptions about Mode B1. It is usually said to be more expensive. That is true on a straight comparison of £1,950 for Mode A places with up to £3,500 for Mode B places. But the gap diminishes, and indeed largely closes, when the general application of the three-for-two formula to Mode A places is taken into account. The formula means that the MSC funds an employer for two 260 trainees he would have taken on anyway if he takes on three more under the YTS. The result is three additional trainees for the price of five, bringing the cost of the additional trainees up to £3,250, which is close to the Mode B figure. It is also the case that Mode B provides an adult supervisor for every five trainees. Many of these are taken from the unemployment register to which they will return if the scheme collapses. Thus, the disparity of costs between the two modes is less than commonly supposed.
The next misconception concerns relevance—Mode B schemes are said to be less relevant. But the training and work experience offered by community projects concentrate on providing skills, appropriate to the service sector—whether private or public—where employment growth is most likely in the future. If relevance is determined solely by the likelihood of getting a job there is no evidence as yet to compare the relative success of the two types of scheme. There is another important consideration here which is this: the demands of the Government's own policy of care in the community are becoming daily more urgent. The need of an increasingly elderly population for help to keep them out of hospital is growing. The mentally ill and handicapped are to be discharged from Victorian hospitals; but who will look after them? This is a very labour-intensive field and cannot be left entirely to untrained volunteers or harassed relatives. This means more trained carers. As much expertise is needed to mind a person as is needed to mind a machine.
The White Paper is called Training for Jobs. But it is only a very foolhardy person who would forecast the exact pattern of the labour market even five years, let alone 10 years, ahead. The last figures available—they come from September 1983—show that 19.6 per cent. of the employed labour force were in distribution, hotels, catering and repairs; 12.5 per cent, in metal goods, engineering and vehicles; 10.4 per cent. in other manufacturing; 4.9 per cent. in construction; 6.4 per cent. in transport and communications and 28.7 per cent. in other "services" which include public and voluntary sector services. The Government may wish further to reduce public sector employment, and they may succeed in doing so. But the problem area I have outlined above will not just disappear. However funded, there will be jobs. There will have to be jobs in that area if the fabric of any sort of civilised society is to be preserved. Therefore, I submit it is unwise to put all our training eggs into one basket, or even two baskets. There should be a fairly capacious basket marked "Mode B".
I want to revert briefly to the spirit in which YTS was conceived. It was a remarkable idea, pressed on us by necessity, but nonetheless remarkable for that. We on these Benches strongly supported it and in fact devoted our first ever debate in your Lordships' House to the Task Group Report of April 1982. But the idea secured unanimous support from all the interests concerned only through all parties yielding on something and giving way somewhere to accommodate others. The unions gave way on trainees' wages; the employers gave way on off-the-job training; the educators had to design a new package for the off-the-job element; the youth and voluntary organisations accepted lower allowances than they 261 wished. Everyone accepted that the scheme should be voluntary and even the Secretary of State came to accept that, too. It was a remarkable achievement and now that it is at last under way it seems nothing less than folly to say, "Thank you very much, your participation is no longer needed" to local authorities, voluntary bodies and others who rose splendidly to the occasion when they were implored to do so and are now seeing their schemes cut without consultation or so much as, "Thank you". This is to threaten the very delicate balance of interests and roles and sectors which was essential to getting the scheme off the ground and to undermine the commitment of some of its most valuable contributors. It is also to narrow the choice of those 110,000 school-leavers still unemployed. I urge the Government to think again.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Lord Forte
My Lords, it is not without some feelings of anxiety that any Member of your Lordships' House addresses it for the first time. I therefore ask for your Lordships' indulgence in listening to what I have to say. I speak not from knowledge of government but from some knowledge of industry. Such contribution as I can make to this debate comes from spending many years where the action is actually taking place. I support the Motion so nobly moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour.
I know from experience—sometimes quite hard experience—just how some jobs are won and some jobs are lost. I speak, if you like, from the sharp end. I have been concerned all my life in the business of hotels and catering. Such businesses are, of course, central and may be vital—in fact, are vital—to the tourist industry of the United Kingdom.
The tourist industry is not a luxurious indulgence. It makes an important contribution—some £4,500 million in foreign earnings last year—to the nation's trading account. It is, together with North Sea oil, a major earner of foreign currency for Britain; in fact, ahead of the more traditional invisibles. By 1987 the BTA (British Tourist Authority) predict currency earnings of more than £6,700 million.
The firm of which I have the honour to be the chairman makes a significant contribution to all that with a turnover last year of some £1,000 million and more, and employing, as we do, some 60,000 people throughout the world; 46,000 men and women—96½ per cent. British men and women—in the United Kingdom.
I wholly support the wording of this Motion. Industry, and not least the hotel and catering industry, depends for its existence and prosperity upon the skills of those who work in it: managers of establishments, sometimes with up to 1,000 staff; marketing executives and sales people; engineers; computer systems designers; laboratory technicians; accountants; surveyors; interior designers and decorators; reservations and reception staff; as well as the more traditional hotel and catering personnel. All have in common one thing—training.
Last year my company alone spent between £4 million and £5 million on training. Training is essential to the very nature of our industry. It is 262 essential that the people of our industry develop a pride in being part of a professional team in which the individual's success is inextricably linked with the success of the firm for which he works. It has certainly been my purpose, as I am sure it has been the purpose of many employers, to bring that attitude of mind about. It is training which is one of the major factors—if not the major factor—which inspire and create that environment.
Clearly, then, the hotel and catering industry is concerned for the kind of training indicated in this Motion and outlined in the White Paper. We are indeed, as I have pointed out, concerned with a very wide category of skills. It is necessary that we attract a constant flow of young men and women who either possess those skills or who can be taught them; and we do attract those young men and women. This is an industry in which neither microchip nor machinery can replace man. Admittedly, in many cases, even in our industry, man's knowledge of them of course increases efficiency.
My own firm alone recruits between 1,500 to 2,000 young people every year from schools, from polytechnics or from universities, and puts them through appropriate training courses. We have two residential training colleges, one at Eastbourne and another at Aston Rowant in Oxfordshire, and we put particular emphasis on training our senior staff in the art of training others. We try to teach the teachers how to teach the skills of our trade.
Our total intake last year was 1,800, including 640 from the Government's Youth Training Scheme and its predecessor; and I look forward to most of these young people staying on to take permanent jobs in the industry. We also took 550 direct from school and 250 graduates from hotel and catering colleges. The total of 1,800 was made up by 360 craft trainees.
We have responded enthusiastically to the Youth Training Scheme and believe it is an improvement on the previous Youth Opportunities Programme, bringing as it does a longer term and wider educational elements. We believe also that the "open tech" concept outlined in the White Paper is a valuable one, and we are working with the authorities on possible programmes for people in our industry based on that concept.
My company is of course not alone in these efforts, and I would respectfully suggest to your Lordships that the hotel and catering industry as a whole is making a significant and useful contribution towards solving the unhappy—very unhappy—problem of youth employment. In terms of employment generally, I would remind your Lordships that the tourist industry employs in total some 1,600,000 people.
From what I have said, I feel sure your Lordships will agree that success in business must depend upon the people that work within it. It must depend, too, on creating the right atmosphere within an industry. There should be the satisfaction of doing a job that is aiding the country's recovery and a total environment in which satisfaction is combined with stability and in which effort is properly rewarded at all levels. It is equally important to have the right atmosphere outside as well as within—the climate of the economy which surrounds the industry needs to be good. 263 Successful firms can, and do, create jobs, but jobs can last only when a demand exists which needs to be met. Inflation, high taxation, soaring rate demands and bureaucratic interference—these are the enemies of commercial success. They are certainly the enemy of profit and expansion. More importantly from the point of view of this debate, they are the worst enemy of jobs themselves.
§ 5.4 p.m.
§ Baroness Lockwood
My Lords, it is my pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Forte, and to congratulate him on his maiden speech. As I am sure he is fully aware, his is a household name throughout the United Kindom. There can be few of us who have not (if I may put it this way) experienced his hospitality on some occasion or other, either at one of his Trusthouse Forté hotels or at one of his service centres on the motorway. This afternoon we in this House have had the privilege of listening to the noble Lord talk about the experience of his company as an important contributor to the national economy and also to the training services of the country. We are very grateful to him for sharing that experience with us. We look forward to hearing him speak on a number of occasions in the future. If I may put it this way, we look forward to seeing his name on the speaking list as well as in neon lights.
Like others, I, too, am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, for making the debate possible this afternoon. In her opening remarks she referred to the words at the beginning of the Motion:Britain lives by the skill of its people".I think that all who have spoken so far, and no doubt all who will follow, will agree with that. But as the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, acknowledged, this is only one side of the equation. The other side is in employing those skills. The Motion then continues:to invite attention to the White Paper Training for Jobs".As the noble Baroness, I know, appreciates, I am not cynical about training young people, but we must all keep in the back of our minds today the fact that, unless jobs are available for all our people, the exercise of training will be meaningless.
I should like to make one further comment on the general economic background to training. While I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Forte, about the importance of the tourist industry—and the catering industry as part of that tourist industry—I think that in looking at the development of our economy and at training for the future we must not lose sight of the importance of the manufacturing sector. This is one of the things of which the CBI reminds us from time to time, and it is something which we have tended to lose sight of in recent years. That is on the demand side.
The White Paper, Training for Jobs, is on the supply side of skills. I should like to start by paying tribute to the work of the Manpower Services Commission. During its 10 years of life it has made an enormous difference to training provision and to the concept of training in the United Kingdom—differences in terms of overall strategic approach; acting as a catalyst in the provision and general availability of training facilities, as the noble Baroness said, and in terms of the 264 recognition of importance of up-to-date and relevant training as a means of economic survival.
The White Paper seeks to give the MSC an enhanced role:to discharge the function of a national training authority".I put it to your Lordships that the MSC has already been carrying out that function, and I suggest that it should continue to do so. For example, in the document, The New Training Initiative, we have what I hope is still an outline of the training strategy for the future. We should remain faithful to the new training initiative. I suggest that the White Paper which we are considering today is a somewhat weakened interpretation of that blueprint.
Equally, along with the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, I would suggest that the youth training scheme should be redesigned more in keeping with the report of the youth group task force report and the original principles envisaged in that report. So that we can have a truly comprehensive training scheme—and I underline "training scheme"—on a modular basis. But having acknowledged those things, that does not mean that I agree that the MSC should take over the responsibilities, and now the resources, of the education services. I want to concentrate on two aspects in this area: first of all the colleges and then the training vocational education initiative.
First of all, the proposal to transfer, by 1986–87, £110 million for non-advanced further education from the rate support grant to the MSC. The rationale behind this is the need for education and training to get closer to industry. Again, I think all of us would agree with this. Certainly the educationists would agree with it; but I must repeat the question of my noble friend: what evidence is there that the MSC will do this better than the further education colleges themselves?
During the past year I have spent some time looking at our educational facilities and looking at the needs of industry. Indeed, as I think the noble Viscount will acknowledge, prior to that I spent some eight years looking at these services with a view to promoting equal opportunities. But to me a number of things are clear. First of all—and again this was acknowledged by the noble Baroness—there is a realisation of the need for industry and education and training to come closer together. I say "closer" advisedly, because I agree with what has been said by my noble friend that the colleges, as part of the community, are, in a way, closer to the local employers than the MSC could ever be. One of the problems has been that the needs of industry, as perceived by employers, were very often out of date. So it was not just the educational colleges that were providing facilities that were out of date; it was the employers as well, whose perceived needs were out of date. I think this problem is now being tackled with greater vigour on both sides.
Secondly, I would say that there is some doubt among the employers themselves about what they want from the education and training services. Last weekend I was at a consultation of educationists, trainers and industrialists under the auspices of the St. William's Foundation in York, which is the new northern equivalent of St George's, Windsor, and we were considering from the point of view of the educationists and the trainers, and also from the point 265 of view of industry, education for what? Again, it came out time and time again—as it does when one discusses this problem with either industrialists or educationists—that employers are not quite sure but they think they would prefer a broader-based, multi-skilled approach to education and training so that they themselves could top-up to meet their own special needs. But—and there is a very big "but" here—they are afraid to invest too much in training lest their trained people are poached from them.
This question of poaching—and I think it is especially so now in the engineering industry—seems to be becoming a very real bogy, and one that could inhibit training unless it is dealt with very firmly. My own response would be—and I know that this would not be the response of the major engineering industrialists—that the industrial training boards are becoming more essential than ever before, but that their financing could be reviewed.
This leads to my next point, which is that the pace of change in technology is going to make it increasingly difficult for training institutions to keep pace with equipment. At the top level, the advisory board for the research councils make the point in their recent report to the Secretary of State at the DES in relation to the universities. At polytechnic level, the same point was made by the HMI in their report on engineering departments. And now we have a further report from the HMI, who have been surveying our colleges providing day release education for the 16 to 19 year-olds. They all come up with the same problem. So clearly at all levels there has to be greater collaboration in the use of these resources.
My next point is on the TVEI experiments in schools. Again I would make a number of points. There are two schemes operating in Yorkshire, and I have had the privilege of seeing both at work. The first thing I would say is that my earlier fear that TVEI was catering for the non-academic stream was not well founded. The scheme in its totality is right across the board. But, of course, in each TVEI scheme there are several strands, and those strands are not dealing just with technology. Indeed, one school I visited only last week had technology largely for the academic strand—for the A-level pupils—agriculture, business studies and caring. This might seem rather stange in the light of what has been said about the YTS and the cutting back on Mode B schemes. So TVEI is not just concentrating on technology; it is covering a number of vocational elements, and I would applaud that.
I would say that I was very impressed by the entertainment that was provided in the way of lunch by both the boys and the girls who were involved in a catering course under the broad heading of catering. I was impressed particularly by the fact that some of the boys who had hitherto almost opted out of the education process were now not only taking a pride in their catering achievements but were also seriously studying maths and science from the stance of a caterer. So I can see some advantages in this scheme, and some advantages that could perhaps be transferred to other schools when we are reorganising the syllabus.
However, there are a number of points that we must bear in mind. First, for their maths these youngsters 266 had a teacher-pupil ratio of 1 to 10. One does not find that in many comprehensive schools. They had excellent computing equipment—and I give full marks to the head, who obviously in former days was able to get blood out of a stone but who was now taking full advantage of the generosity of the MSC in equipping his school as well as any school that I have seen. In other words, additional resources were available. Here I must say that I do not agree with John Cassels about there being sufficient resources available. There may be sufficient resources available at the Manpower Services Commission end, but there are not sufficient resources available at the educational end. It is this factor of additional resources that can make all the difference in terms of the youngsters getting the best out of the curriculum.
Secondly, teachers—I mean teachers right across the board, those who are involved in the TVEI schemes and those who are not—are equally worried about the shortage of teachers in craft design and technology, because they see more and more of them being concentrated in the TVEI projects. So in two ways we are creating a new divide in the system—a divide which I would suggest can be bridged only by the provision of new resources and not by a reshuffle or even better management of the existing resources.
Finally, I should like to make the point that TVEI is not fulfilling the admirable criteria written into the scheme in regard to providing equal opportunities for girls and boys. This deficiency is recognised and is worrying the teachers and the educationists who are involved in the schemes. But, unfortunately, the same pattern that exists in schools generally is evident in the TVEI projects. Indeed, it is even more pronounced because the courses are more geared to occupations, and therefore it is less easy to change direction on leaving school.
Here I would suggest that when the MSC, the DES, or anybody else is looking at new pilot projects, the EOC (the Equal Opportunities Commission) should be brought into the discussion at an early stage. The commission has accumulated much experience and expertise that could be built into the schemes from the outset. It is no good just including principles and relying on exhortation. We really must begin to anticipate the problems and build into the framework of the schemes the various alternatives for getting over the difficulties and thus ensuring real equality between girls and boys.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Baroness Lane-Fox
My Lords, it was certainly a reminder of delicious eating to hear my noble friend Lord Forte speak so sensitively of his staff training schemes, and I should like to add my congratulations on his speech. The ending of a familiar job can leave a yawning gap. It may come about not only through direct hire or fire, but through illness, disability, earlier than expected retirement or other factors. Such happenings leave such a sense of rejection which too easily develops into anguished bitterness and a soured attitude of mind. The result obviously is a waste of good material and talent, with loss of commitment and an urge to opt out. My personal knowledge of that 267 situation accounts for the very warm welcome that I give to the White Paper, in particular to its proposals for training in occupational skills and adult training.
Numbers of training schemes for disabled people have been embarked upon in recent years in both the private and public sectors, and now there are those through the MSC about which the initiator of today's debate is obviously so well informed. I would praise the MSC community projects, especially in regard to the double advantage that they bring to social endeavours. Among so much of this work I have had first-hand knowledge of the help provided in building adventure playgrounds for the handicapped, in both London and the country.
Many of the MSC training schemes in the field of disability—in electronics, micro-chip, and other trendy skills—are, as your Lordships will know, provided through well-known establishments, such as St. Loyes at Exeter, Queen Elizabeth's at Leatherhead, St. George's at Harrogate, as well as many more in Scotland and elsewhere in the United Kingdom.
Apart from all that, training and employment for disabled people has lately received a most welcome boost from another source. As part of a programme of activity undertaken by the Prince of Wales's advisory group on disability (of which I am a member) the Prince of Wales himself initiated a very successful event at the end of November. He led a discussion on employment for disabled people at a private, working luncheon held at Kensington Palace. Of the 18 guests, half were chairmen or chief executives of some of the largest employers in the United Kingdom, in both the private and public sectors. Each was responsible for over 100,000 jobs, and together they employed over 1½ million people. Other guests included Len Murray of the TUC, Sir Terence Beckett of the CBI, and David Young of the MSC.
The objectives aimed at by the Prince of Wales included a request to ensure that entire staffs are kept aware of the need to recruit, train and work alongside disabled people; to remain aware that disabled people are capable, conscientious and productive employees—as a matter of fact I feel that that is a little too smug, and perhaps I should say that most of them are; to ensure that those who become disabled while in employment receive every opportunity and encouragement to reintegrate into employment when rehabilitated; and that none is stuck in one deadly, boring job without being eligible to progress on the appropriate promotional and development escalator, depending on abilities, not disabilities. It was suggested that action was called for by the chief executive—right from the top down. He should be seen not only to support policies, but also to monitor policies and practices throughout all levels of his organisation.
The result of this enterprise is seen to be paying off. Chief executives, mainly, are keeping up with their intent to report back later in the year—at a conference, I believe. New suitability of training and jobs is being revealed, and surely that can be a godsend to society in the future.
I should like to tell your Lordships of another venture that is loosely in the field of training. The 268 two-year inquiry into arts and disability initiated by the Carnegy Trust (I believe that the founder was a kinsman of the initiator of today's debate), under the chairmanship of Sir Richard Attenborough, is not only studying access to museums, exhibitions and places of entertainment, but is also trying to study facilities where disabled people are themselves performers and participants. That will help to reveal training prospects for those who want to become artists, photographers, broadcasters, and so forth, as well as those who want to become concerned with lighting and other stage effects. I hope that the dedicated interest shown by Sir Richard at this very high point in his career may mean that his enthusiasm will prove infectious to others.
I realise that I have spoken about only a tiny section of the potential work force. Nevertheless, I hope that, in some ways, this encapsulates the message of the urgency of rescue, of rehabilitation and of redirection. The MSC's efforts, I believe, in every way are commendable but must be backed up by an awareness of other training schemes in all employment sectors. The wish to train for work is a delicate and precious quality. Given encouragement, it can avoid much sadness and can attain constructive results. For these reasons, I congratulate my noble friend for sponsoring the debate.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Lord Rochester
My Lords, from these Benches I should like to join in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Forte, on his maiden speech. It is always a pleasure and instructive when someone like the noble Lord is able to address us from a background of up-to-date industrial experience. Like others who have spoken, I am sorry that there was no consultation between the Government and the Manpower Services Commission, nor, consequently, between the commission and those mainly concerned, before the major decisions referred to in the White Paper were taken. I can only hope that this omission will not prove damaging to the implementation of the proposals contained in the White Paper.
I should like to return in as positive a way as I can to the discussions that we had in the House during the passage of the Employment and Training Bill in 1981. In that Bill, your Lordships will remember, the Government took powers to abolish industrial training boards where they deemed this desirable, and those powers have since been exercised in a number of industries. At the time, I moved an amendment to the Bill on behalf of my noble friends, in what we conceived to be the national interest, to guard against a return to the situation that obtained 20 years ago when the state of industrial training in this country was generally regarded as unsatisfactory.
The amendment sought to ensure that in all sectors of industry, irrespective of whether statutory boards continued to operate within them, there would be training arrangements which would have to be capable of conforming to certain criteria. The introduction of those arrangements was to be preceded by wide consultation and the criteria were so framed as to encourage an approach to training that would be of an organic, problem-solving kind, that focused on objectives and achievements.
269 The means proposed to achieve these aims covered the question of funding. They were flexible and designed to accommodate the requirements of large and small individual companies. Perhaps the most important feature was that they sought to ensure the maintenance of adequate local and cross-sectoral links and they thus recognised that, in practice, training needs are related to local labour markets and apply across sectorals rather than being identifiable only in respect of individual industries.
It would be fair to say, I think, that at that time the Government found the criteria acceptable but considered that it would be inappropriate to incorporate them in a statute. The Government's view prevailed, and because I am anxious, in returning to the matter, to do so as constructively as possible, I am not going to argue further about that difference today. The Government have now taken the further significant decision that the MSC should extend its range of operation so as to be able to discharge the function of a national training authority. Again, I do not propose to discuss the merits of that decision now, but I hope that it will be thought reasonable for me, after an interval of nearly three years following the introduction of the 1981 Act to which I have referred, to ask, in relation to the criteria on which your Lordships were then broadly agreed, where things now stand and what is planned for the future under the aegis of the MSC.
For example, paragraph 35 of the White Paper deals with training in occupational skills and states:In engineering, agreement has been reached to replace time-serving by agreed standards".That is a development that I very much welcome. But is it not true, even in that sector, that, although agreement has been reached between employers and trade unions that payment during craft training should be related to standards attained rather than to age, negotiations on a number of points have still to be completed, and the role of the Engineering Industry Training Board in setting standards and testing apprentices in sectors outside the scope of the board has not yet been resolved? Is there not also still much to be done to gain acceptance of the idea that the development of engineering craft skills should cease to be restricted to either electrical or mechanical skills but should instead combine both?
In paragraph 40 of the White Paper, which is concerned with adult training, we are told that the commission,intends to act as a catalyst for action by others, by such means as improving information on local training needs and sources of provision".Again, in paragraph 43, it is stated that,Public sector provision for training and vocational education must become more responsive to employment needs at national and local level".Indeed, it is against that background that the commission's resources for purchasing work-related non-advanced further education are to be increased substantially, with a consequent reduction in local authority expenditure.
In preparation for this debate, I took care to talk to the principal of the college of further education and also to someone bearing responsibility for training in a 270 large manufacturing company in the part of Cheshire where I live. My own earlier, first-hand knowledge of the close links that exist between industry and education in that area has thus been brought up to date. In the light of this knowledge, I should like very much to hear, even in the most general terms, how the MSC plans to deliver training and vocational education that is more responsive to employment needs at local level. Are the area manpower boards to be used for the purpose? If so, is the commission satisfied that its field staff in the areas are adequate in number? Much more important, do they have the training and particularly the management experience required to determine with employers, and then to achieve, agreed objectives? Or is the main thrust to be directed centrally by means of large companies operating through their subsidiary units? If so, how are local cross-sectoral and training needs to be identified and met? And what provision is to be made for dealing with relatively small firms?
I realise that it may not be possible for the noble Viscount the Leader of the House to answer such questions when he comes to reply to the debate although I hope that in view of their importance he may have something to say about them. But the fact that they need to be asked in this rhetorical way is an indication of what little progress has in practice been made in the last few years, and how enormous is the task facing us as we emerge from the recession and increasingly multi-skill shortages, arising from rapid technological development, are revealed.
In conclusion, I must support again from my knowledge of what is actually happening on the ground the pleas that have already been made by my noble friend Lord Kilmarnock that the Government should reconsider their attitude to training workshop and community project schemes—the so-called Mode B schemes—for young people. I hope that such projects will not be considered irrelevant to this debate—and I do not think that will be so—for they form an integral part of the youth training scheme and they are referred to at length in the White Paper. Indeed, in many cases I believe that people taking part in those schemes have been helped by them in the subsequent search that they have had to make for jobs. I have in mind particularly three such schemes that have, in my judgment, operated in mid-Cheshire effectively for some years now. The abrupt and arbitrary manner in which notice has been given of their termination has caused widespread resentment extending right across the political spectrum. I am not satisfied that in the locality of which I speak there will prove to be enough places in employer-based schemes—of which, incidentally, I am very much in favour—to make good the deficiency even numerically.
But the social implications go very much deeper. The young people benefiting from these schemes are in many cases the unskilled who at a time of high unemployment are to be found in increasing numbers at the bottom of the pile. Surely what is needed at this early stage in the operation of the Youth Training Scheme is not the dismissal of devoted staff seeking to help these disadvantaged youngsters, but support and encouragement for the voluntary organisations which have been struggling valiantly to establish worthwhile 271 community projects on a sound basis. The task of making this country more competitive is vital, but it must be accomplished with compassion or it will not be achieved at all.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ Lord Prys-Davies
My Lords, this White Paper is a very short policy paper, but important and notable for all that. We are all grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, for bringing it to the attention of the House. The initiative, the sense of direction and the influence which the MSC has generated are, in my view, to be welcomed. The speed at which it gets things done is politically attractive, but—and there is a "but"—there is also considerable suspicion, hostility and bitterness towards the MSC by some of the local authorities as they see the commission usurping their powers. All this has not been helped by the high-handed manner, the high-handed approach, of the Government to local authorities as demonstrated by lack of consultation over this paper. Indeed, this has been referred to in a number of speeches this afternoon. It is also to be regretted that, although the MSC is building on the platform constructed over decades by the local authorities, this is not recognised in the White Paper.
Many of my noble friends argue with conviction that this policy paper proposes too great a transfer of power from local to central government. Others, such as members of the CBI, go along with this transfer. But it is a transfer that involves a delicate balance of principles between central direction and local democracy.
The balance which this White Paper proposes would be totally unacceptable for most of us if it is accompanied by coercion or compulsion which deprives individuals of their rights or which deprives communities of adequate further educational facilities. In two paragraphs of this paper we come across at least an innuendo of coercion, and I want to concentrate briefly on those two paragraphs—namely, paragraphs 26 and 45—and particularly on the former.
Paragraph 26 deals with the youth training scheme and the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, has already touched upon the element of compulsion which is to be found in this paragraph. The first sentence of the paragraph is reassuring and comforting. It tells us that:Participation in the Scheme is voluntary for employers and for young people and will remain so".But further on the paragraph doubles back on itself and declares:Any young person who unreasonably refuses an offer of a suitable opportunity under this Scheme may have his or her benefit reduced".But is not that a kind of double talk?
A number of questions come to mind. Who decides under the system whether a young person has unreasonably refused an offer of a place under the scheme? Who takes that decision? Who decides whether or not the opportunity offered is suitable? What is the test of reasonableness and what is the test of suitability? How much choice is in fact offered to a young person before a refusal is considered to be unreasonable? Is the MSC centrally, or in the areas, keeping meticulous records of all young persons whose 272 benefits have been reduced because it has been decided by somebody in the system that they have unreasonably refused an offer of a suitable opportunity under the scheme? Does it review that record periodically? We would like to know how many young persons received reduced benefits on these grounds during the last year. We would be very interested to know whether a young person has a right of appeal against an adverse decision. If so, how many young people appealed during the last 12 months, and with what results? If there is no appeal procedure, then we would submit that the Government or the commission should introduce the right of appeal.
I turn to the second paragraph which clearly involves a compulsion, with worrying consequences. This is identified in paragraph 45 of the White Paper, which has already been identified by my noble friend Lord Cledwyn. This paragraph is by any standard a powerful economic leverage which will concentrate the distribution of further educational facilities in the urban centres within easy reach of modern industry and modern technologies. By the use of these powers the commission—which, as we have heard, is a nominated body, and a powerful, wealthy body accountable only to the Minister—will support those courses which it wishes to advance and will insist on the provision of courses which it wants to promote. But as central funding available to the local education authorities will be reduced, then it is foreseeable that many courses which are now available will fall by the wayside.
It is also foreseeable that some of the colleges of further education in the eroded heartland of the old industrial areas—such as we have in South Wales—and in the rural areas—such as we have in North and West Wales—which are far removed and remote from modern industry and modern technology, will be driven out of business. I appreciate that the older industrial areas of the 19th century and the rural areas far removed from modern industry are the minority causes; but the White Paper nowhere recognises the problem, let alone addresses itself to the serious problems of these under-privileged areas.
In conclusion, many are hostile to the immense transfer of power to a central bureaucracy, which is proposed by this White Paper. But that hostility will grow even more if that bureaucracy is permitted to think that it can achieve its objectives by a reliance on coercion and compulsion.
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ Lord Seebohm
My Lords, first, may I say what a pleasure it was to hear my noble friend (although we are not sitting on the same Bench I think that I may call him my noble friend) Lord Forte make his maiden speech today.
The subject we are discussing is extremely important. I believe that it affects the survival of this country in the increasingly competitive world in which we now live. It is a world in which millions of people are prepared to work long hours for wages of perhaps one-quarter of those normal in this country. The problem is shared by all our partners in the EEC, and I should think by most, if not all, of those in the OECD as well.
273 To counter this competition the British workforce at all levels—and in this I include management as well—must be very much more efficient than it is today. But in addition to the need for greater competitiveness, there is also a need to provide an educational system that enables the young to have a far greater choice than they now have in the careers they wish to follow and in the way in which they wish to live. One of the saddest experiences that I have had has been to be told by a retiring member of my staff that if he could have his life over again he would choose a very different career. I am afraid that there are far too many people who end up with feelings of bitterness and frustration simply because they took the wrong road early in life.
We must not of course sacrifice the changes that we hope to see, or a sound grounding in the three Rs (and I do not think that two out of the three Rs is acceptable). But experiential learning, as it is now called, must start at an early age. I think that it is now generally accepted that education cannot be separated from training, which is a point that has already been made elsewhere. By putting more emphasis on the latter, we shall be preparing our youth for the year 2000, and not for the year 1900. I am not suggesting that nothing has been done in this field. I believe that the CBI's initiative, Understanding British Industry—UBI—has done a great deal of good work. Understanding Industry—UI—which was started by my own firm, Finance for Industry, when I was there, and TVEI are all making a major contribution.
The implication of what I have said for schools is two-fold. First, there must be a radical change in the syllabus and in teaching techniques. Secondly, the teacher himself or herself will have to be a different kind of animal; or, to express it more appropriately, the teaching profession must include a greater mix of skills and interests, which can only be acquired by those who have had some years in the world of work outside the teaching profession and outside the school environment.
It has been apparent for some time that teaching in schools has been too greatly influenced by the requirements of universities, although only a minority of pupils will ever get there. It would be an exciting innovation if schools rated their success by the number of old boys and girls who obtained leading positions in industry and commerce, rather than successes in university scholarships or placements. I remember an occasion while I was working in ICFC when I visited a factory in the north of England. I shall not say where it was because that might identify the school about which I am talking. At the end of the visit I was talking to half a dozen of the senior middle management, and this is what they said to me. "When we joined this company we never expected to have such exciting and rewarding jobs. We needed some more promising young school-leavers, so we went to discuss the matter with the headmaster of our old school. His answer was that we could expect no help from him as he considered manufacturing an unpleasant and risky business. He said that he would continue to get as many of his young people as he could into local government or teaching".
They then asked me whether I could help. I do not think that I have been able to help a great deal, except 274 possibly by relating this story rather too often. On the other hand, when I returned to my company I did put a great deal more energy into UI—Understanding Industry—and I visited certain schools to see how it was working. I may be exaggerating, but this seems to me symptomatic (if not in quite such an extreme form in teachers generally) of the attitude to work and society.
I have recently had another depressing illustration of attitudes to work from a survey with which I was connected, which was made simultaneously in the United States, Israel, Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Japan. A cross-section of people in each country were asked whether they worked, not so much for sustenance or material success but to develop themselves and their quality of life. The figures that resulted are as follows: Sweden, 23 per cent.; Germany, 19 per cent.; the United States and Israel, 17 per cent.; Japan, 16 per cent.; and the United Kingdom only 11 per cent. There is something wrong there. While we cannot blame the schools for this, I think that we can blame our very poor provisions and preparation for the young in the transition to the world of work and in the place of work in society.
I now turn to the White Paper, Training for Jobs. I give it my wholehearted welcome, although there is clearly trouble ahead if the proposal to transfer £200 million of the rate support grant from local authorities to the MSC is proceeded with. I shall not go into the political argument over this, but I have no doubt that it will be answered by the noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw. Although the problem of increasing youth unemployment may have been the stimulus for these proposals, they are just as pertinent in a period of full employment. My only criticism is that the White Paper does not go far enough, as a future system of preparing the young for life must continue right through to the age of 18 for all as a minimum, although the pattern cannot and should not be the same for all.
The great danger for many young people is that they are attracted by a job which provides an immediate reasonable wage but which creates no skill and leads to no career. It seems to me therefore that any employment taken up before the age of 18 must include a minimum amount of further education or vocational training. This is already a legal requirement in Germany, and would ensure mobility of labour and choice of a career. YTS is undoubtedly the first important step in this direction, but it should be followed by a second year of more specialised training or apprenticeship.
A further problem which has to be tackled, and for which there is lamentably little provision, is further training of the poor performer who leaves school without the necessary skills or knowledge to benefit properly from the YTS. It has been astonishing to hear how these poor performers progress when they have been taken for three-and-a-half months by Project Fullemploy, and how they turn out to have quite unexpected potentialities and are able to follow the normal pattern of employment. Although somewhat expensive, sooner or later there must be provision for these school-leavers, and it must be well away from the school environment, where they have clearly failed.
275 Finally, I believe we should have another look at the leaving age—that is moving from school to some vocational training. One hears too often how many children are bored stiff in their last year and become bad attenders. Until schools are able to make full use of this last year, much harm will be done and an invaluable year in the child's life is being wasted. Changes are clearly imperative if this country is to retain its place in the world and if its people are to enjoy a fuller life. May these changes come soon!
§ Lord Vaizey
My Lords, it is a convention of your Lordships' House that the speaker who follows a maiden speaker offers his or her congratulations, as did the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, to my noble friend Lord Forte. Thereafter, each of us tends to say much the same thing. I am going to venture to break this convention this evening because I was going to mention the noble Lord, Lord Forte, anyway, whether or not he had made a maiden speech. He has been a very generous benefactor to a charity with which I am connected, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth foundation, which is one of Queen Elizabeth's charities in Windsor. That charity—and I was there this morning—welcomed the chairman of the Berkshire County Council who had come to inspect two teams of the Berkshire Youth Action Group who were there under the auspices of the youth training scheme of the Manpower Services Commission.
I must say that the chairman—who is but one of a long succession of distinguished visitors to the scheme—was astonished by the work which these young people had been doing and by their exemplary bearing and manner. When you consider that these chaps are not the successes of the Berkshire education system, it is, I think, amazing. I know the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has also seen their work. Queen Elizabeth herself, the Prime Minister and Princess Margaret were all equally impressed by what these young people could do given adequate supervision, incentive and a warm welcome.
I am convinced that in the work which is now being done in the youth training scheme we have the beginnings of a major revolution in British life in the whole field of education and training for young people. I think we are in the midst of the third great educational revolution of this century. The first was connected with the 1944 Act (the great reformation of the secondary school system which took place as a result of that); the 1962 era of Robbins and all that—the reform of higher education which, for better or worse, has taken place and permanently transformed the world of higher education in this country; and now in the early 1980s this very great change which is going on in preparation for work.
Of course, there will be mistakes; of course, standards must be raised; or course, a great deal of training is not very good; but at least it is beginning to happen. We are, however, decades behind our European neighbours and allies. With the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, and others, I went to look at training programmes in Germany, and we realised it was like being in another century compared with what we were accustomed to in the United Kingdom.
276 I am very optimistic I had my name down to speak in another debate on higher education a couple of weeks ago when I realised there were 40 speakers and almost every one of them was a senior citizen. I thought then that we had to move on to the rather younger area which seems to be dominating your Lordships' House this afternoon, and that now the whole question of training was a much more up-to-date and important subject for debate than higher education.
I think that my noble friend Lady Carnegy, who introduced this debate, was perfectly correct in saying (as did the noble Lord, Lord Seebohm) that the significance of this is that it is bringing together the world of industry and the world of education which have been separated—at least south of the Border in this Kingdom—ever since the Industrial Revolution The situation has been so bad that I for long have advocated the lopping off of the top half of the Department of Education and Science (the post-16 and the training section of the Manpower Services Commission) and creating a new Department of Skills I felt that only with a new Government department and a very powerful Minister could we get the push to drag us into a new era.
My right honourable friend the Prime Minister rightly thought that too big an upheaval in Whitehall would retard progress rather than accelerate it, and she chose to operate through the structure of Government which she inherited. I think her judgment was correct and very remarkable things are happening. Instead of my Ministry of Skills—which I see the Alliance Party has belatedly picked up in its manifesto (I hope it is not for that reason that support for them, according to a poll conducted by the Evening Standard, is so rapidly declining and going back to the party of the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy)—the Manpower Services Commission are now spending £2 billion as opposed to just over a billion (as I think the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, rightly said) being spent by the UGC. This is a major shift and one which I think will accelerate. It is appropriate that we should on the initiative of my noble friend Lady Carnegy, have this debate this afternoon. I think we are in the midst of a very major change.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn—who made an admirable and interesting speech—that it is not necessarily a failure of education with which we are dealing I think it is a failure of business and industry There are far too few firms like that of the noble Lord, Lord Forte, who have been prepared to take training seriously. Those firms who have taken training seriously have, on the whole, been incredibly successful: take firms like Marks and Spencer, and the great firm of the noble Lord, Lord Forte. It is the sunset industries, which never took training seriously, which have been declining When I was a Fellow of an Oxford College I gather it was the policy of Morns Motors not to employ engineering graduates. No wonder British Leyland collapsed and had to be rescued by the Government. I am told that British Telecom has one qualified accountant and something like 500 public relations people. Public relations is no substitute for proper cost-accounting and proper business procedures. There are whole areas of British industry which are absolute catastrophes and lack 277 simple skills, which accounts for that state from which British industry needs to recover. I think the great training initiative which we are debating this afternoon is one of those modes by which the economy will be transformed.
Having said how much I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, said, if I may I slightly take issue with him over the whole question of the county councils and the local education authorities. Although I do not believe that the whole blame for the catastrophe of British training must be laid at the door of the education system, it would be foolish for those of us who over many years have been interested in education to deny that education must take its share of the blame. Much of non-advanced further education has been aimless and fairly pointless, as is seen by the attitudes and comments which are made by the young people who have passed through much of that system. I share very much what the noble Lord, Lord Seebohm, said about the last year in many of our secondary schools. The high rates of truancy and the lack of interest, turning into active vandalism at times, of so many of the students suggest that the system, for large sections of them, is not working. It seems idle to deny those plain facts. This is a problem that everybody concerned should be coming to terms with.
Having taken a great interest in the new training initiatives, I believe that the Manpower Services Commission is much more likely to be successful in using the employers' or the Mode B schemes than the education system itself. I strongly welcome the shift of financing of a quarter of the non-advanced further education on a demand or employer basis as is recommended in the White Paper. I think the White Paper is along the right lines in this respect.
If I may be a heretic, I am not opposed to centralisation. It has always been a great interest to me that the Labour Party, to which for many years I had the great privilege and honour of belonging, has always supported the National Health Service, which is the great example of centralisation in our society. On the whole, as opinion polls show, the National Health Service is immensely popular. I believe it is open to much criticism, but the great generality of the electorate clearly thinks that the NHS is excellent, whereas there is widespread criticism of the education system by students within it, parents and employers, although that has been a local authority service for a long time. I do not think that the evidence of what people say about things points necessarily in the direction of local authority control in much of this area.
In any case Mr. David Young, the chairman of the Manpower Services Commission, has pointed out that the reform which is taking place, and is mentioned from paragraph 43 onwards in the White Paper, will result in more resources being available for this section of non-advanced further education than is now the case. I look forward to these experiments and I feel that progressive local authorities will welcome them. The scheme offers a major opportunity for a change in attitude, a change in teaching, all of which is now going on.
We stand at one of those great watersheds in English and Welsh social life. I am less sure about Scotland 278 because the Scottish education system is so much more idiosyncratic from our point of view than our own. My noble friend Lady Carnegy of Lour can speak with authority and at length on that subject, but I speak with some knowledge of the English system. The English education system has been successful for children up to the age of 14. We have seen a major change take place since the end of the Second World War in English primary and secondary education—a change, on the whole, very much for the better. Children are happier and, on the whole, the teaching is fairly effective; but we do not have the system right at all from the age of 14 onwards. The criticisms which are levelled by employers, parents and the children themselves must be noted and taken seriously. The response of the Manpower Services Commission is correct. I favour its extension and development on an all-party basis. I hope that there is support throughout the country, and therefore I welcome the opportunity to take part in this debate and hope we shall have others, perhaps annually, to monitor the progress and to take the discussion further.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Lord Molloy
My Lords, I should like to join others of your Lordships' House who have proffered congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Forte. I know how he feels. He made a good maiden speech which we all enjoyed. Deep down I am sure he is glad that it is over and I hope he will understand when I say to him that because of his massive experience we are expecting to hear a great deal from him in the future, which I am sure will be very enjoyable and informative for us all.
I should also like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Vaizey. I know he may find that a bit shocking: nevertheless he is the only speaker up to now who has really concentrated on the one element which I believe we must all concentrate on—namely, the future of education. In this country we have never yet had a decent philosophy or ethic on which to build our education. I hope to speak a little about that later.
On the White Paper itself, it is interesting, it is succinct here and there, but we read about Training for Jobs, put the White Paper down, and in The Times, the Telegraph, the Daily Mirror and on ITV we see how many more thousands of jobs have been lost, how many more are on the dole, we hear the BMA's junior doctors shouting, quite rightly, that their numbers of unemployed are increasing and we wonder what sort of a nut decided that we should start training for jobs. Would it not have been much better if we had had an all-round composite grouping of people, that I have previously urged in this House—of bankers, industrialists, commercial people, trade unionists, members of both Houses—to consider what is involved in trying to create jobs? When one can think about creating jobs one can then leave it, by and large, to the apprenticeship system and sensible management to be concerned with the training for jobs. What I regret also about the White Paper is the fact that there was no consultation with anyone, no exchange of views and no encouragement for the principle of co-operation which we need so much today in our society.
We are witnessing contradictory statements by Ministers of other departments who obviously have not read the White Paper. It seems that some other 279 Ministers are leaping into the saddle and galloping off in all directions: there is nothing here to indicate that there has been any sort of co-operation whatsoever.
I said a moment ago that 1 would change slightly from the over-concentration in the White Paper, and here I thank and congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, on the introduction of this debate. We are not talking only about the White Paper—there is nothing much to talk about in that. If your Lordships need proof of that, you should ask the unemployed, ask the tens of thousands of bankrupts whether they can see any guiding star in the White Paper. There is nothing much in it for them and nothing much in it for the unemployed. It is suggested that if we carry on we shall slowly get out of the mire and perhaps in a year or two we shall be back to the economic level which this Government inherited from their predecessors. That Government was slaughtered and slain in the House of Commons because they were approaching one million unemployed. Then slowly, before the election of 1979, unemployment was coming down and production was going up.
Perhaps in four or five years' time, if the recommendations of this White Paper are adhered to, we shall crawl our way back to that situation which this Government inherited. That is the reality that the professional unemployed know; that is the reality which small businessmen who are now bankrupt know; and that is what we in this House have to acknowledge. While the White Paper exhibits some endeavour to get back to the level of 1979 that I was referring to, there has also been a blatant ignoring of vital educational documents such as Lady Plowden's Half our Future, not to mention one of the most magnificent endeavours that this country has seen for many long years, and that is the wonderful contribution that the University of the Air has made to the people of this country. I believe that that, by itself, is vastly superior to the MSC. Though people may not like it, I have said it; and those who have studied what has come out of the University of the Air and what is recommended in this White Paper will know that that one thing is really proved.
There is also the question—and this you cannot latch on to the University of the Air or on to the educationists or on to people who are deeply concerned about the future of our universities, but you can fasten it right on to the Manpower Services Commission—of that bleak, ugly shadow which is menacing local government, on which my noble friend Lord Cledwyn has spoken. May I say this to the noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw: I know he cannot give an assurance that this grim shadow will diminish and that our apprehensions will fade, but I would point out that, in so far as this particular point is creating grave anxiety among local government councillors of all parties—Conservatives, the SDP, Liberals, Labour and Independents—there is a certain unity about this threat that is coming from the Government and from Government-sponsored endeavours like the MSC with regard to the principle of our local government. I believe that what we have to hope is that the Jekyll of the White Paper will not develop into a hideous Hyde.
One noble Lord made the submission that we must see what the customers want. I do not think that that 280 is quite the question. What we have to ask ourselves is: what about the ordinary people, the people that Marks and Spencer or even the noble Lord, Lord Forte, would like to call, perhaps, working class people? When they start cutting down on children's clothes, when they start cutting down on going on holiday, when they start cutting down on travelling from one part of the country to visit a relative in another part, the suffering does not stop with them. It goes right the way through. I know sports shops and children's shops in the London borough of Ealing that have a record of 40 or 50 years of establishment handed down from father to son, and which used to be household names. Today, they are empty—and that situation can be seen all over Great Britain.
We get some wonderful details from the MSC. It seems to me that they know the exact number of spots on the industrial body politic (which is suffering from measles), but that does not help us much. Even when the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, gave us a list of foibles he left out the biggest one. He left out the one that has caused all the damage; the one that has really sunk us and that sank America in the early 'thirties, though they found an answer to it (and we were glad to copy that answer) and to the mass unemployment that flows from it. That foible which has been brought back to our nation is the adoption of monetarism; although it would now seem that Her Majesty's Government are doing away with it.
I should like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, for mentioning the fact that we live by the skills of a well-trained workforce. We cannot live by the skill of a half-trained workforce, and we cannot depend on the skill of those who have had no training whatsoever or those who have had training for a couple of months. What is the sense in children leaving school, becoming at once unemployed, and then being trained for some magnificent job which, when their training is finished, does not exist for them to go to? They know this. They are getting very angry about it; because all that has happened since 1981 by way of real progress—and it is not mentioned in the White Paper—is that the dole queues have become longer and the bankruptcies have become more in number.
Then there are the cuts we are suffering in education. The noble Lord, Lord Vaizey, hinted at this matter: I will say it bluntly. There have been disastrous cuts in education, appalling cuts in education. They are the most myopic cuts that the Government have indulged in to save money. What for? It is to reduce taxes for the rich. When you cut back education for that purpose, it is like feeding the healthy with the seed corn for next winter.
When we talk about the skills and inventions of the British people, let us acknowledge that we may not have done very much in the past half decade, but there was a time when education was not as formal, when great industrialists like Robert Owen trained their fitters, trained their engineers, trained their own glass-blowers. The did it themselves. From it has come a remarkable list of British inventions. Is it realised that we were the first nation to introduce a practical electric lamp in 1835; that we in Britain developed the colour film process, the pneumatic tyre, the first piece of plastic, the first lawnmower, the first helicopter, the 281 first gas stove, indeed—that will please Lord Forte, and there have been big improvements on that since—and so on down to even the ordinary rubber band? The first computer was British; it was called the analytical engine.
The world is now helping to clothe itself with man-made fibres. They were first produced in Great Britain, as was the first piece of carbon paper, Christmas cards, and the bicycle which the Minister of State for Employment is so fond of. The fact that we invented the bicycle is a wonderful thing; but I do not think the future will be with us pedalling like hell to get into it. We must find a more sensible method. The British also introduced the first underground railway, the penny post, polythene, the jet engine, Concorde—all these things came from our nation. I hope that the noble Baroness had these in mind when she spoke of skills. It was this sort of skill that made this nation the remarkable country it is.
Then, in the field of the humanities, we are tops—incomparable. It does not matter what Lord Vaizey may say about the health service; I know that in the judgment of every civilised person that I have spoken to in all the continents of this world it is considered the finest piece of decent human legislation ever put on the statute book of any nation. That was done by Great Britain. We must not be too despondent that the future is bleak. I do not believe it is. We have to have not so much a philosophy as an ethic about the future in education. Education is going to be the key.
We must dispense with some of the old things which are irritants and annoying. I believe that equality of opportunity and influence among all members of society is essential to any real democracy. The state has the duty, the responsiblitiy, to see that all its members are so placed as to seek their own best. You cannot seek your own best today in the slums of Hackney or the slums of Liverpool. In any case, these young people are too engaged in protesting at the appalling life they have to live. That is going on in my own county as well, and that is not a very nice thing for me to have to say.
Therefore we must so arrange matters as to bring to light each talent, skill and ability, wherever it exists. If we adopt this ethic, inequality, when it comes, will be justified because it will be sanctioned either by the mysterious power of nature or the deserving merit of volition. Democracy needs efficient equality at the starting point in order to produce at the finishing point that difference which gives the palm to the apter scholar. Achievement will not then be stained or debased by privilege or class. Nor will it be immobilised—this is much more important—by being the preserve of any group or class. Rather, it will be continually renewed from the living fountain of all the British people.
In conclusion, having studied the White Paper, I have to conclude, as does my noble friend Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, that it is inadequate. We have all been guilty of being too complacent in the debates which we have held in the past, on this and similar subjects. The writing is on the wall. It may be in graffiti form, but that writing has to be taken very seriously. It is in graffiti form now, perhaps, in Liverpool, Hackney and Islington. We can squash it with a couple of hundred police. Next week it will be a couple of 282 thousand police. Then we shall have to reinforce the police with soldiers. It will be Tonypandy all over again. Surely that cannot be good for Great Britain. If we do not find better answers to these education, unemployment and training issues, they may turn out to be the most explosive issues on the political agenda of the future. We have to give young people confidence and the feeling that this nation is still well worth fighting for. We have a magnificent past. I believe that we can have and that we shall have a magnificent future.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ Lord Perry of Walton
My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, for raising this very important issue. Like many other noble Lords, I find the objectives of the White Paper Training for Jobs wholly unexceptionable.
I have long been a severe critic of our educational system, often charging that it failed to provide most of our young people with an appropriate preparation for life in the modern world. I have also long been involved with bringing modern technology to the service of education. So at first sight I ought to welcome the White Paper and congratulate the Government on moving in the right direction. Indeed, I do congratulate them on having wakened up at long last to the fact that there is a very real problem—it has been there for a very long time—and that something had to be done about it. But I am not, I fear, at all sure that the things the Government are doing are necessarily the right ones. They are spending very large sums of money indeed—amounts that certainly are justified by the magnitude of the problem, amounts that certainly could have revolutionised and revitalised the educational system, amounts that are, many of us fear, not achieving as much as they could or should.
Great emphasis is rightly placed in the White Paper upon the need to ensure that education and training are a better preparation for work. The technical and vocational education initiative aims to do just this, and pilot studies of a four-year curriculum from 14 to 18 are under way. These studies could lead to admirable changes, but will they?
One problem with our school curriculum has been that it overstressed academic skills at the expense of practical ones, and many of the pupils found this unrewarding. No doubt the new initiative may remedy this. But the other problem with our school curriculum has been that it is over-specialised. What I am afraid may happen is that the new initiative will go overboard for an education which is purely technological and vocational, because this is seen as relevant and because the industrial consumer is being given too big a share in determining what that curriculum should be. This would simply mean replacing one kind of over-specialisation with another.
Two weeks ago in a debate in your Lordships' House on higher and further education I made the point that many young people need education in breadth rather than the education in depth that has been the hallmark of our universities. I believe that the same is true of the lower levels of educational achievement that we are discussing today. Jobs in the future will demand skills that are, as yet, undreamed of. People will have to 283 update their knowledge as well as update their skills. They will have to relearn as well as to retrain for new occupations. Furthermore, they will have to learn how to cope with much more leisure time, whether they want that leisure time or whether it is forced upon them. To do all this, the worker of tomorrow will have to have a flexibility of mind, a command of language and a skill in communication—all these in addition to technological comprehension.
I very greatly dislike the term "computer literacy" which is creeping into general use. There is no literacy in computer circuits or computer programmes. The accumulated wisdom of mankind is to be found in books. Even in the Open University, with its television and radio and other methods of technological communication, students spend 90 per cent. of their time reading for their degree. We can all too easily overdo the new concentration on technology. Even if we succeed in controlling technology so as to avert a nuclear holocaust and so as to solve the complex global problems of population growth, depletion of natural resources and environmental pollution and decay, we still run the very real risk that the pressures to conform to the demands of technological efficiency will cause us to lose sight of the essence of our culture and civilisation. Our protection against this is not vocational and technical training. It is, in fact, education.
This brings me to the fact that the White Paper says all too little about education. Indeed, the education service is plainly seen, as the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, pointed out, as having signally failed to be responsive to employment needs. Even if this is. in part, fair comment, it is still too narrow. It is not the same as saying, as I did, that it had failed to provide our young people with an appropriate preparation for life in the modern world. The White Paper mentions education with what almost amounts to contempt, as it puts all its faith in training programmes. The Manpower Services Commission is asked by the Government to discharge the function of a national training authority, not a national education authority.
I, too, have a high regard for the achievements of the MSC, but it has but one member representative of professional educational interests. Even more striking is that the White Paper in paragraph 50 actually asks the MSC to give attention to using, both at head office and in the field, staff with direct experience in education. It would appear that this will be a new move. Who have they been using so far? The educational system may have failed in the past to be responsive to employment needs, but surely it could have been given another chance—and this time with adequate resources. I am aware that the Department of Education and Science could not have administered the Youth Training Scheme without enabling legislation and that the Treaty of Rome covers vocational training but not education, but these were not insuperable difficulties. In the event, the dichotomy in responsibilities for education on the one hand and for training on the other tends to emphasise the difference (only an apparent one) between them. Training which is adequate to meet the challenges of future work and future leisure is, as I have tried to 284 show, really just education. Education itself should be so broadly based that it encompasses training in selective specific skills The two ought to be one and indivisible.
The current administrative structure makes this difficult to achieve The newest move—to pass control of one quarter of the expenditure on non-advanced further education from the education departments to the MSC—will exacerbate the problem It shows, as paragraph 48 of the White Paper makes plain, how little the Government trust the education service to gear non-advanced further education to labour market needs I have never been a great admirer of education departments but I still think that the Government have got it wrong; and it will take a very long time to put right.
I have been very critical, but let me conclude by saying that it is a very great relief that the Government are taking the problem seriously at last. What is being done is very much better than doing nothing We must all hope that the efforts which are being made to improve the overall quality of the training provided in the YTS scheme (which is still very patchy) will be successful, and that the pilot schemes of the Technical and Vocational Educational Initiative will be followed by sensible, balanced changes in the school curricu-lum It would be nice to receive a reassurance on these points We have a very long way to go to provide our young people with a preparation for life that is anything like as good as that achieved in most other developed countries.
§ 6.41 p.m.
My Lords, may I first congratulate my noble friend Lady Carnegy of Lour on her excellent speech, and for raising this topic at all. As all the noble Baronesses have congratulated my noble friend Lord Forte, I should like to do so, too.
I should like to comment first about education because we are guided by the Further Education Unit under the able chairmanship of Dr. Owen. He has representatives of county councils, the Trades Union Congress, the Welsh Joint Education Committee, the Schools Council, and others. They have just put forward as one of their objects that,We must develop skill training including apprenticeship, in such a way as to enable young people entering at different ages and with different educational attainments to acquire agreed standards of skill appropriate to jobs available and to provide them with a basis for progress through further learning".That is only one of their objects They are now working well with the Manpower Services Commission and I believe we should support what they have to say.
I should like to add how pleased I am to see in paragraph 29 of the White Paper that the Government have accepted a proposal by the Health and Safety Commission that trainees on work placement under the scheme should be treated in exactly the same way as employees. I believe this will make a great deal of difference to those in various trades joining the scheme.
I should like to refer now to the point that Britain lives by the skills of her people It was interesting to read letters published in The Times on 24th March from two very knowledgeable gentlemen —Professor 285 Peter Stott of King's College and Dr. R. A. Smith of Queens' College, Cambridge, asking for action to be taken in regard to engineering, which subject has been mentioned several times today. Dr. Smith wrote:Today I have conducted an open day for schoolchildren interested in admission. In discussion with them it was clear that the schools were only interested in the short-term place rather than the long-term career. Not one of the children I saw had any possibility of informed advice about engineering as a career from their school".I therefore feel that the objective stated in the White Paper that important steps have to be taken to improve the preparation of young people for their working lives is one that should be pursued very quickly.
There is still a weak link in preparing young people because all too often those responsible themselves have no real knowledge of the various trades or professions and the opportunities which may exist in them. Another weak link occurs in relation to parents—especially in rural areas. Parents are very nervous about what is going to happen to their children and are often not very co-operative. They might not let their children go to the best college or for the best instruction. I hope therefore that we will study the excellent document Research and Development Services No. 14 which is an example of how young people can be prepared for change in their lives.
I try to help if I can with any schemes, and so I let part of my garden for use by gardening traineees. I took no part in the exercise; I did not interfere and I did not charge rent. All I did was to say that I would be pleased to take one of them on, my own gardener having retired due to ill health, for he is in his late seventies. None of the trainees wanted to join the scheme. It has now been altered and so I hope that in future the scheme will be more attractive. At least they have had the experience of trying the scheme, which has taught them a great deal. I was therefore compelled to engage a man working in the fire service to cut my grass and another man employed by the Forestry Commission to do my gardening at weekends. However, another young man who was trained as as chef and who even went to Switzerland from state school with a grant, returned and secured a good job as a chef. Unfortunately, his place of work closed down. He went and laid bricks at Greenham Common for the Americans for £100 a week, but he now has a very good job as a chef again.
One of the difficulties, according to the excellent Nelson and Potter Report published in 1982, is that business people are apt to recruit people from outside their local area. There is also the question of very limited opportunities for girls. For older people, there are some extra jobs coming to country districts. This arises with more people living longer and owning their own houses. We can have more home helps now and more community workers, because they may continue working until they are aged 60. This is proving very successful.
There is also the craft system which is starting in a number of rural areas. In Yorkshire, they have an excellent scheme for knitting. There are 40 women knitting and one man at the present time, and there have been 500 applications to join the knitting group. Those knitted products are being sold to tourists and they are even receiving orders now from America.
286 Another aspect which is seldom mentioned is that of foreign languages. It is quite possible to get a very good job now if one has foreign languages, whether one lives in the country or in a town. In rural areas, where people have great difficulty in receiving tuition, lessons in languages and in any other subjects can be taped and taken to those who wish to learn by mobile libraries which visit rural areas. That is a good way of learning. Another scheme we would like to see in rural areas is one for young farmers' co-operatives. There are many people who would like to take up farming but who have had no experience of the subject. Co-operatives would give them an interest in farming.
I will not say anything more about county councils because that topic has been very adequately discussed already. I should like to conclude by emphasising that we should like to see many more occupational skills in the rural areas and also further communication. It is not possible for them to learn very much, at the age we are discussing now, in the Open University. Therefore, I think we have to rely purely on help from very many people in encouraging the young to be venturesome and to go out to the colleges and schools. We must also, as I said, take some learning to them.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ Lord Blease
My Lords, I agree wholeheartedly with the noble Baroness who has just spoken on the need to encourage and support young people to learn new skills and to participate fully in the availability of training and education in our community. She mentioned that some of the rural communities were at a disadvantage—a disadvantage, I believe, because of communication and lack of information that may be available about the schemes that are operating. However, I should like at this stage to join with other noble Lords in complimenting the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, on initiating this important and timely debate on the White Paper, Training for Jobs. I am sure the noble Baroness will have found pleasing and encouraging, as I have, the number of noble Lords with considerable knowledge, expertise and practical experience in the field of productive employment who have participated in this debate; and there are those who have yet to speak. I apologise to the House for not being present during the whole of the debate because of other business to which I was committed.
I propose to deal with one aspect only of the numerous separate issues involved in Training for Jobs. I hope that because of my unavoidable absence from the House I shall not repeat what has perhaps already been adequately covered by other noble Lords in their speeches. I wish to invite attention to the important need for a suitable and effective educational guidance service for adults. This is a service—a necessary facility—by which any training programme for jobs requires to be firmly supported; a programme that has to be realistic and along the lines of the declared objectives in the White Paper. This service and this facility must be provided to bridge that particular gap.
The objectives which are firmly declared in the White Paper are to acquire and improve the skills needed for work in a fast-moving economy. Those are objectives which I welcome. Indeed, I support the 287 general statement contained in the White Paper. It is important that we place those objectives on record in the Official Report. I am not sure whether anyone has yet put this on record and for that reason it is important that the objectives are clearly stated on what is attempted in this White Paper. The White Paper states:Britain"—and I include Northern Ireland—lives by the skill of its people. A well trained work force is an essential condition of our economic survival.But training is not an end in itself. It is a means to doing a good job of work for an employer or on one's own account. Training must therefore be firmly work-oriented and lead to jobs".Later, referring to the programme, the White Paper states:This programme of further action sets out the lines on which national effort must go forward in the field of training for jobs. The Manpower Services Commission has a central part to play. But the responsibility for success goes far wider. It rests above all with those involved at specific practical levels—with employers, with those who provide education and training for work in schools, colleges and elsewhere, and with all the individuals who are seeking to acquire or improve the skills needed for work in a fast-moving modern economy".I make no apology for quoting at length from the White Paper because I think it underscores the principles and objectives to which the White Paper does not cease to lend support in its achievement.
There are a number of matters related to the programme arrangement in the White paper which, in my opinion, are confusing. They are confusing because of the failure to explain in more detail the precise role of the educators and trainers—and this has already been mentioned in much greater detail and with greater expertise than I can possibly do.
It is my view that the White paper fails to make a clear distinction between education and training. Education in its broadest sense is concerned with developing a rounded personality and an informed and critical mind; whereas training is involved with the teaching and acquiring of specific skills. We have already heard mention of the need for education if we are to build up our young people and build a new economy and outlook on the possibilities of competitiveness and reaching the goals of the new technologies that are coming along. That cannot be done merely by training. We must provide the educational background for the people who are to participate in the training. Unless these particular roles and functions of the educators and trainers are closely and clearly understood in the programme arrangements, the necessary co-operation and co-ordination of the schemes in Training for Jobs will continue to be the subject of conflict, confusion, overlapping and deficiencies in educational resources and training facilities.
I believe this is dealt with, in some degree, in the 1982–83 annual report of the Further Education Unit. I quote from the foreword by the chairman, Mr. J. G. Owen, who states:This year the Unit has also made marked progress in its work on new technologies. These are often the field where the mature adult as well as the younger student needs the opportunity to learn and relearn. Adult education is taking on a new importance and the Unit is heightening its efforts—not least in its readiness to support new training strategies for adults.".288 That underpins the need for education in any forward move in an economy.
It appears to me that the rogramme as outlined in the White Paper adds to the multiplicity of schemes which are already confusing the consumer—or the customer, as has been referred to by some noble Lords. To the customer and those who are seeking to acquire educational qualifications there is confusion about obtaining these skills and who will provide them. There are those who need the new skills. There are those who wish to be retrained and there are the young and the adult unemployed for whom we wish to do something realistic. The existing confusion makes more difficult the task of those working to help in the educational training need of the nation.
The noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, mentioned the role of education in her speech—I believe she referred to Professor Hamilton. I think she said that education was in a mess. She also quoted at length from John Cassels; that it is not a question of resources but a question of the management of our resources. Therefore, in my view the White Paper does not attempt to clear up this area of confusion about resources, education needs and the management not only of education but of training facilities. My view is that the providers of education and training require a bridge to reach the needs of the customers. I believe that that bridge is an effective educational guidance service for adults. The Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Education and Science, Mr. Peter Brooke, speaking at the annual conference of the National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education, held on 23rd November 1983, said in his speech:One of these topics"—a number of topics were mentioned in the report—which seems to us to merit further examination is the question of educational guidance and information for adults. Since the Advisory Council highlighted the importance of this subject in their report 'Links to Learning' interest has tended to focus largely on the development of independent Education Guidance Services for Adults of which there are now about 50. I greatly welcome these developments and the establishment of the National Association which has recently been formed. Nevertheless, I think we have to recognise that an effective guidance service is not particularly cheap to run and that the development of a really comprehensive network—one in every High Street—is as yet a fair way off. What needs to be explored in these circumstances is what practical steps can be taken in the meantime to improve the quality of the information and advice available to adult students and prospective students.".Mr. Peter Brooke said that the service could not be provided particularly cheaply. I hold that it is more costly to be without this particular service or bridge. Facilities within the community are being lost or ignored.
A pioneering scheme was initiated in Northern Ireland 17 years ago called the Educational Guidance Service for Adults. It gives professional guidance and information on further education, training and qualifications required by men and women over the age of 19 who are anxious to embark on a new career or to develop their educational potential for personal fulfilment. The aims of the service are to help those who made a mistaken educational or vocational choice when they left school; those who have not been able to complete their first choice of further education or training course; those who later in life wish to equip 289 themselves through further education for a career; those who wish to take advantage of new forms of further education or training; those who are having difficulty in finding or keeping suitable employment because of lack of appropriate educational qualifications at whatever level; and those who feel generally unfulfilled because of undeveloped educational potential.
Here is a small service run in Northern Ireland. It is independent of the Government, although it is supported to some 75 per cent. of its total annual budget, which this year amounted to only £40,000. The value of this service is inestimable in terms of human happiness, personal fulfilment and promoting productive employment in the Province, and the cost is minimal compared with that.
I close with these few remarks. A bridge is required. As has already been said, the proposal in the White Paper is intended to bridge the gap between the needs of industry and training. I say that much more is required. There is a need for a bridge between what is provided and what people want; between the resources already provided for education and training and the needs in the community. The White Paper fails to mention that.
§ 7.4 p.m.
§ Baroness Seear
My Lords. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, and the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, that this White Paper is one of the most important which has been debated in your Lordships' House. In it, the Government are attempting to tackle a problem which is very complex and greatly important both for individuals in this country and for the present and future health of the economy of the country. Hardly anything could rank as of greater importance than that. In the White Paper, the Government are attempting to draw together into a comprehensive whole a number of different initiatives which have been taken. Just because there are so many, and the initiatives have been taken at different times, they are often very confusing for people and they do not fully understand the overall objective or the route by which we are to try to achieve that objective. For the strategy which lies behind the White Paper the Government rate Alpha-plus, but for their tactics in putting it over they rate Gamma- minus.
It is almost impossible to imagine any other ways in which the Government could have presented the White Paper which would have ensured it a worse press than the press that it has had or which would have inspired a more hostile reaction. In the first place, there was no consultation. It is almost as if the Government had said, "If we consult, they probably will not agree, so we will not consult and they will have to put up with it". That is one way of trying to do things but it is a way that most of us have learnt is apt to backfire.
I understand that the Manpower Services Commission itself was only partially consulted, and not on all the matters which have been included in the White Paper. Since the MSC is charged with the task of implementing these plans, both through the commission at headquarters and throughout its 290 organisation in the country, it seems quite extraordinary that it did not fully understand and back the programme before it was put over.
This scheme is very far reaching, comprehensive and really imaginative in what it is trying to do. To introduce into it such irritancy as the question of whether supplementary benefit should be reduced if people do not go on the scheme is to ask for opposition and to make it more difficult to get the kind of acceptance which is necessary if this scheme is to be successful.
The scheme is being introduced at a time when the little matter of rate capping is under discussion—in the very week when rate capping, with the reaction from the GLC, and all the other issues involved, are being seen (in my view, rightly) as a battle between centralisation and local autonomy. Introducing the White Paper at this moment, with the section about the MSC's powers in relation to colleges—which I believe in itself could be a good thing if handled properly—has inevitably produced the result which we have heard today in which the argument has moved away from discussion about what we are trying to do over this tremendously important question of training into a sterile battle about centralisation and decentralisation and central government against local government. That is entirely peripheral to the issues which we are supposed to be discussing. As I say, for tactics, Gamma -minus.
This is sad, because what we are trying to do is of the greatest importance. There is a link—a very close link—between the issue of unemployment, to which the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, directed most of his speech, and the issue of training. The long-term unemployed are overwhelmingly the untrained. Adult education and training opportunities may do something to reduce the size of that appalling pool of long-term unemployed. More hopefully, the training on which we are now embarking for the young may prevent them from falling into that group of the unskilled for whom there is no employment future.
Training should make it possible, if it is done correctly (and the White Paper recognises this), to provide those skills which are in short supply—which are already in short supply and will increasingly be in short supply—in the new industries which are creating jobs and indeed in the old industries on which we shall be drawing as recovery increases. There is a close connection. If you do not have the trained people, not only can you not do those jobs; but the trained people, when they are employed make jobs for the less well trained, the semi-skilled and the unskilled. There is a close link between tackling the problems of unemployment and promoting training and education.
But why it is so sad that the Government White Paper has aroused the hostility that it undoubtedly has in the educationists, is because the subject is so important in human and economic terms and also because, whether we like it or not, there is no way in which the purposes of the White Paper can be achieved unless both industrialists and educationists collaborate wholeheartedly to work out what has to be done. To alienate the education people—I agree they can be extremely tiresome; we all know that; I have 291 worked with them; I was part of them so I can say it—at this stage is folly of a high order. We cannot do it without them. Neither, of course, can the educationists do it without the industrialists. What has happened, it seems to me, is that the educationists are fighting a defensive battle instead of coming forward to collaborate in a great enterprise.
It is absurd to suggest that all is perfect with education. Of course it is not. In no occupation, in no activity, is all perfect; there is always room for improvement and the more you know about it, the more true you know this to be. Only yesterday in the Financial Times there was a report of inspectors pointing out the inadequacies of colleges in relation to non-advanced further education. Those of us who are closely connected, as I am, with the youth training scheme know that it is true that the youngsters on the youth training scheme do not find their day release in many cases—I have talked to them; I have discussed it with them personally and with the people who are organising the schemes—to be relevant. They may be wrong about what is relevant, but they have not been convinced by the educationists.
I have a case in the area in which I am concerned in which a boy who was doing well in his industrial placement was told, "You must go to the college". He said, "I won't go to the college. I'll leave rather than go to the college. I was made to feel a fool at school and I am not being made to feel a fool at the college. The nights before I had to go to college I would lie awake all night". That is just one boy. It is an incident, but it is typical of a certain section. And this is not surprising. The colleges tell you themselves, when they are not on the defensive, that they are being required to deal with a level of youngster that they have not had to deal with before and it is very difficult for them to adapt what they have to teach to the kind of youngsters who have not come there because they want to—you have to remember: they are going there because it is part of a scheme.
I do not consider that the colleges have been given an adequate time to prepare for what is difficult and new work. After all, when we raised the school-leaving age, we had I forget how many years but quite a long time for the schools to prepare themselves for the additional year. Some schools did it well; some did not but they had a long time to prepare. The youth training scheme came along and said, "Next year, you in the colleges are going to take on a whole lot of youngsters who will not want to come to you, of a kind you have never taught before, and you have got to teach them something". Well, you know, it is a bit of a tall order. So what is needed, I think, is acceptance, all round, of the difficulty; acceptance all round of the importance of what we are doing—it is of quite central importance—acceptance that none of us either on the industrial side or the educational side have got the answers at present. We have got to find them. We have got to find them and we have got to find them together.
I do hope—and here I am very much an anti-centraliser—that we shall not hurry to establish national standards for this and that. References to national standards always run through White Papers. I believe that what is needed at the present time is that at local level—and I mean really at local level—local 292 colleges with their local employers, with the appropriate people in each institution, working with the line management and those people in the colleges of education who are interested and want to do it, and whose task it is to do it, will get together inside the enterprises and do a real analysis of training needs for the people for whom they are to provide training and will work out, area by area, what is really appropriate in those places.
We do not want great schemes from the top which will then come down with programmes, syllabuses and curriculums and papers at the end. We have not done this training for this level of people all these years. We do not have to do it the day after tomorrow. We try to do it the day after tomorrow, but we get it wrong. If we take our time, we get collaboration at local level. I have seen a bit of this starting, but it takes time. Get them in and work out what training needs there are and devise programmes which are appropriate. Of course, they will be different in different parts of the country, but that is fine, because out of that you will learn a great deal about what works and what does not work.
Then, when you have done that, when at local level you have really built up a lot of knowledge and know-how, experience, goodwill and understanding, and the industrial people find that the education people are not impossibly anti-industry, and the education people find that the industrial people are really often quite intelligent and even rather well educated sometimes, and that they can work together—when you have done that and have amassed a lot of experience, then and only then can you begin to say, on a national scale, "We can do this, that and the other". I do beg you: take time; work it out locally; get local collaboration, face to face contact with people who have got to do this job, and then we shall win, and it is a battle worth winning.
§ 7.16 p.m.
§ Lord McCarthy
My Lords, I should like to begin by making three preliminary remarks. I should like to join with the rest of the House in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Forte, on his maiden speech. I, too, like most others here have put my trust in the House of Forte in the past; and when you travel by British Airways you have very little alternative. I only hope that the noble Lord, Lord Forte, will find it in his time to give us still more food for thought in future.
Secondly, I should like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, for putting this Motion on the Order Paper today and for the very well-argued speech with which she introduced it. I especially agree with her when she said that young people today do not see the difference between school and life and cannot relate to school life when they go out of school. I would only say that what she said about school life and life could be said about university life and life.
The third thing I would like to say in beginning is how refreshing it is—how very refreshing it is—to have a debate of this kind in which for so long this afternoon there has been so much that is agreed on all sides of the House. How nice it is to discuss this nice area of relative agreement. How much nicer than the usual rows about the role of public spending and the PSBR and the volume and direction of investment and the 293 place of the nationalised industries and so on—all those things on which we conflict now in almost everything we say. Is it not worth spending just a moment or two wondering why it is that we can have this area of general agreement—though, of course, it is not total?
It is, I would suggest, because in this area of education and training there is no basic argument between us about whether or not this is an area of Government responsibility. The Government accept that they are responsible in the end for the adequacy and performance of education and training. So we can talk to them, we can suggest things; they can make proposals because they accept responsibility. In the other areas they do not accept responsibility: they say it has got nothing to do with them. So in this area we have a wide measure of agreement.
But we have not just got agreement over its being the Government's responsibility; we have got agreement, most unusually, from this Government that you can contribute to the solution of some of the problems—if I can use words of the Prime Minister that she is very fond of—by throwing money at the problems; by actually expanding the provision from the Exchequer you can make some kind of progress. Of course, you have to be careful how you do it—we do not mind that—but you can throw money at the problem. So we have the unusual spectacle of the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie—and I wish he were here now; I am sorry he is not—waxing lyrical about all the public money spent on glassworks and waxing lyrical about the substantial increase from £960 million to £1,100 million which the Government are to provide this year for spending on education and training, and in particular training through the MSC. That is as much of an increase in one year as would be raised by a penny on the standard rate of income tax. It is an amazing rate of increase from this Government; and when they say that you can throw money at the problem, then of course we can agree with them.
Also there is agreement that when we take action, for the most part, with one area of exception in the White Paper, which has been much debated today, we do so in a representative, consent-based kind of way, by having close links with local authorities, close links with industry, and even close links with the despised old TUC through the MSC. We do it by consent. We do it through local government, and if we do not do it through local government, we do it through quangos. So here again is an argument which we can have with the Government where a great deal is agreed about the method through which it is going to be done. We also have agreement about our immediate priorities. There has been no disagreement in this House this afternoon that I have heard on the three major priority areas put forward in the White Paper. The first is that there must be preparation, and better preparation, for entry of school-leavers to the labour force. Secondly, there must be a transformation of skill training, so that it moves from a system based on periods of study to a system based on objective standards, and that must be done, if possible, by 1985. Thirdly, there must be an increase in opportunities for adults to acquire new skills.
All these points we can agree about, and yet of course we must not exaggerate the area of agreement. 294 There are three matters on which I think we disagree, and most of the time in this debate this afternoon has been spent on the first: the new arrangements for vocational education, which the critics of the White Paper have said are unproven, autocratic, and divisive. The noble Baroness, Lady Seear, says that the Government get Alpha-plus for the ideas themselves and Gamma-minus for the way in which they have introduced them—their tactics. Well, I do not know what they do in the LSE, but Alpha-plus over Gamma-minus is not a pass mark. So we have that criticism regarding the new arrangements for vocational education.
I should like briefly to mention two other areas of disagreement on this side of the House. There is the fact that the plans for the extension of the youth training scheme, good though they are, are still ad hoc and still ill-thought out; and put in the way that the Government put them, they could be potentially divisive, too. Secondly, there is the contrast—I would even say the pitiful contrast—between the amount of money which is thrown at the Youth Training Scheme and what is still being proposed by the Government for the long-term unemployed; there is the refusal to expand the Community Programme despite the proposals put forward by the Manpower Services Commission to do just that.
I do not want to spend much time on the first of these questions because it has been very much the central argument of those who have today criticised the White Paper. I just want to make clear what I think is the difference between us. Most of us are not saying that we know that there is no role for the MSC. Most of us are not saying that the local authorities, the colleges of futher education, and the existing education establishment should be left alone to do this job. What we are saying is that the Government have not proved the contrary, that the Government have assumed the contrary, that there is a little bit of evidence from the recent report of the HMIs suggesting that certain things go wrong. But then, as the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, says, certain things go wrong in every institution; and it has not been proved that those things will not go wrong if we put them under the Manpower Services Commission.
As many speakers on this side of the House have said, and as the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, has said, what we need is some evidence that the MSC would do the job better, and would do it cheaper. There is even the case, I think, for some evidence—and I should like to ask the noble Viscount whether he can help me on this—that the MSC wants to do it. As I understand it, the commissioners themselves had no prior knowledge of the White Paper. Certainly the trade unionists on the MSC have said that they had no prior knowledge of the White Paper, and since then the MSC, very properly, I suppose, has kind of gone to ground. I should like to know what is the state of play. Can we be certain that the MSC wants this job? Can we be certain that it wants the job, in the light of what we now know: that there is massive objection from the local authorities, from the education authorities, from those involved with NAFE, from all the institutions with which it will have to co-operate? So we are saying that the case has not been proved.
295 Secondly, we are saying—and speakers on this side of the House have made much of this—there was no case for doing it without telling the MSC, the AMA, the ACC, those involved with NAFE, or anybody else so far as we could see, except the Government themselves. There was no case for doing it without an expanding budget. Here I am afraid I must take issue with the noble Lord, Lord Vaizey. If I understood him correctly, at one stage he said that he had gained from the White Paper the impression that there would be an expanding budget, that what was being proposed for vocational education would not be a simple question of a finite sum, so that moneys that were taken from the local authorities would equal moneys that were given to the MSC.
I must direct the noble Lord to a reply on 31st January (reported at col. 568 of Hansard) which the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, made to my noble friend Lord Dean. The noble Earl said:The noble Lord, Lord Dean of Beswick, asked me about finance. Broadly speaking, this should be neutral in its overall effects, as planned local government expenditure will be reduced by £110 million and Manpower Services Commission expenditure will be increased accordingly".We say that that is ridiculous. We say that if one is making a major change of this kind, one produces maximum unrest if one tries to do it within a nil budget. There must be some kind of oiling of the wheels in a major change of this kind. So that is what we are saying about the first area of disagreement.
Let me pass on to my second area, which is about the future of the Youth Training Scheme. It is true that I for one, and I think my noble friends on this side of the House, are very glad to see—because until the publication of the White Paper it was not really clear—that the Government are extending the scheme for a further year. We always said that it had to be a permanent scheme, and we are very glad that they are allowing it to operate to place 17 year-olds as well as 16 year-olds. We always said that that is what it would have to do. I for one am particularly glad that in order to make this work effectively the Government are sitting on the crackpot Young Workers' Scheme and, I suppose, confining it to 16 year-olds.
So much of what the Government are doing with the YTS we accept, we welcome, we are glad to see there. I must say that I agree with all the remarks that were made by the noble Lords, Lord Rochester and Lord Kilmarnock, about the way in which Mode B is being treated, and the remarks which were made by other noble Lords about the passages on compulsion or quasi-compulsion, which appear in paragraphs 26 and 45 of the White Paper.
I should like to emphasise in addition the lack of any announcement in the White Paper about the intentions of the Government in relation to the review of the training allowance that is due in June this year. The training allowance of £25 has been at the same rate since the YOP scheme in 1982. I should like the Government to say whether they believe that they can have another year of the youth training scheme at £25. If the YOP had been updated to take into account movements in the RPI, it would now be not £25 but £34. If it had been updated to take into account 296 movements in earnings rather than the RPI, it would, of course, have been significantly above that.
Even more significant, I would say, is that it is time that the Government got round to calculating some objective way in which it arrives at the youth training allowance in the first place. If noble Lords remember, we began with the last Secretary of State for Employment who wanted it to be £15. It was the result—I say this to the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy—of very long consultation, negotiation and argument that the CBI and the TUC in the MSC got the Secretary of State to move it to £25. If it had been done autocratically and automatically at the rate at which the then Secretary of State had wanted it, we should not have had the youth training scheme at all—a case for consultation, negotiation and taking things quietly and gently and taking one's time. But we still do not know on what formula and on what basis—whether it is to be indexed, when it is to be indexed and how it is to be arrived at—the Government propose that the allowance for the youth training scheme should be fixed. I should like to ask the noble Viscount whether he can tell me something about that tonight.
I should like to deal finally with the contrast between what the Government are proposing for the youth training scheme and for vocational education and what, in fact, they do not propose in respect of the long-term unemployed. I find it difficult to disagree with John Cassels, quoted by my noble friend Lady Lockwood in a context that I do not know. It is therefore possibly unfair to say that I disagree. I understand, however, that John Cassels said that there are sufficient resources and all we need is to have the management of those resources put in effectively. That cannot be said to be so, so far as the long-term unemployed are concerned. The only part of the Government's programme which affects the long-term unemployed really is the Community Programme mentioned in the White Paper. This pitifully provides for 80,000 or so jobs—a variety of jobs, extremely useful jobs, shopping for old age pensioners, care of the elderly, urban renovation and so on, but still 80,000 jobs. The MSC proposed last December an expansion of the community programme and the inclusion of training and work preparation within the programme. The White Paper says that there should be no action on this until the MSC has completed a review of the programme. It is in this context, of course, that we are told that any expansion might have to be made dependent on a loan scheme as against an allowance. I believe that this is the central area where the Government must advance. I know what the noble Viscount will say, if he will forgive me, because it is what the noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, said in introducing the debate. He will say that proposals of this kind to spend volumes of money which approach the volumes of money spent on the Youth Training Scheme on training for the long-term unemployed and even jobs for the long-term unemployed through the community programme, will be much too expensive and that all such proposals which increase the overall cost of public expenditure will do something terrible to the PSBR and that, anyway, once you start doing this on a sufficient scale and once you provide jobs through public investment or public expenditure for the long- 297 term unemployed, you are on the slippery slope of permanent job creation. You are beginning to reflate the economy by direct Government intervention. Most awful of all, because this is what the community programme really means, you are reflating the economy by direct intervention with public expenditure actually increasing jobs in the public sector. Woe, woe, woe!
Nevertheless, the White Paper is called Training for Jobs. We have to have jobs for the trained. As the White Paper itself admits:It does not make sense, however, for either industry or Government to train people who will have no foreseeable opportunity to practise their skills".That is the position for large numbers of the long-term unemployed. Of course they need training. Of course they need vocational training. But they also need jobs. Unless the Government can complement what they are doing for training at least in respect of the unemployed with something done for jobs, they are not really dealing with the problem.
The noble Earl, Lord Gowrie, made one or two references to songs of the Beatles—a bygone era. He ended up by saying that what the Government needed was a little help from their friends. I would remind the Government of another Lennon and McCartney song, "Give peace a chance". If the Government continue in this way of introducing what are admittedly, so far as they go, good policies, they will find themselves in an endless war with local government and the education authorities, and even certain members of the MSC and will find that they have no friends left.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ The Lord President of The Council (Viscount Whitelaw)
My Lords, there is a certain nostalgia for me in taking part in a debate on industrial training. Some 22 years ago, as Parliamentary Secretary to the old Ministry of Labour, I helped to pilot an industrial training Bill through the House of Commons. It was one of my first ministerial acts. We thought then, and many people agreed with us, that it was a bold measure towards government involvement in training. It imposed a requirement on employers who did not train themselves to contribute financially through industrial training boards. It was indeed a first step, and that is why it was thought to be a bold one. Today, of course, after the years that have elapsed, it looks a puny and inadequate measure. It was, however, something that went some way at that time, and for the first time, to meet the chronic shortage of skilled manpower from which this country has so often suffered and, if we are not careful, may very well suffer again. Since that time, I am glad to say, the requirement for skill training and the national responsibility of the Government and of employers for its provision has been increasingly recognised.
It gives me very real pleasure to congratulate my noble friend Lord Forte on his excellent maiden speech. It gives me pleasure particularly because, as he will recognise, he is not only a political friend of mine but has also been a friend in other ways to me. I much welcome his friendship. To have this opportunity to congratulate him is very special for me. My noble friend spoke of the contribution that the hotel and catering industries make to our national economy. He 298 spoke, too, about their value to the tourist industry, and of its contribution. He gave us some welcome figures in relation to what he does in his own industry, with 46,000 people employed in the United Kingdom, 96 per cent. of them British. I thought that a remarkable figure.
It has often been one of the accusations levelled at the hotel and catering industry that it has always sought to employ more people from overseas at the expense of our own people in this country. It has also been stated from time to time that our own people have not been too keen to take up some of the jobs in the hotel and catering industry. Both these criticisms seem to be belied by what my noble friend said in his speech. What my noble friend did not tell us—his normal modesty forbad him to do so—is that his concern was built up by himself in his own lifetime, and basically by him alone. He has all the credit, surely, for what he has done for this country in doing just that.
My noble friend also told us—and this is an important point to which I return—that he has done it by having the utmost co-operation from all the people in that concern, and he has done much to train the managers in that concern. If there were perhaps more of our industries which could say that, and more of our employers who could say that, then perhaps we would be more successful than we have been.
I should like to thank my noble friend Lady Carnegy for her excellent initiation of this debate, and indeed for choosing this subject for debate this afternoon. My noble friend has very considerable experience in this field as the Chairman of the Manpower Services Commission in Scotland, so she knows what she is talking about. Therefore, I am very grateful to her for welcoming the White Paper so strongly and for pointing out that the MSC is the most likely catalyst to bring together all those people who have to be brought together in this field—the industrialists, the educationists and, indeed, everyone who is going to deal with education and training for jobs and the training of our young people for the life in front of them. Criticisms have often been levelled that our education system has not done that, and there have been such criticisms this afternoon. My noble friend pointed out that she thought that the Manpower Services Commission was in the best position to produce that catalyst result and so help to promote the situation in future.
I turn now to what has perhaps become the central feature of the debate as far as criticism is concerned. However, before doing so I should like to thank all those noble Lords and Baronesses who have welcomed the White Paper, or indeed some parts of it. It is fair to say that nearly every speaker has welcomed some parts of the White Paper, and, therefore, before turning to the criticisms I should like to put that on record. I should of course say that when I hear that the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, is likely to agree with me I am always a little suspicious of where we are going. However, we seemed to go quite well for a bit, but then we came off the rails, as I expected, before the end of the noble Lord's speech, and I shall return to that later.
An important and serious point was made by the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, and the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, and it is a point to which I think I should 299 address myself directly, not least because the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, is the Leader of the Opposition and because the noble Baroness, Lady Seear—and I very much welcome the first time that I have to say it publicly—is the Leader of the Liberal Party in this House. The point they made was that the White Paper was introduced without proper consultation on that, therefore, it has greatly upset the local authorites. It is said by the noble Baroness. Lady Seear, that of course it has been introduced at a time when the local authorities are particularly touchy—perhaps I should not say "understandably touchy", but at least they are touchy and I have to accept that fact. However, I think that I can answer some of these points, but if I seek to do so I hope then to move on very quickly because I want to talk about the future. While I accept that if there have been mistakes they can make the future more difficult, it is on the future that we should all be concentrating our minds at this stage.
The Government took the view that they had the responsibility for deciding the general direction of policy. That is what was announced in the White Paper. I come back to what the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, so wisely said about the question of how this is going to work. The noble Baroness, with her experience of a manpower board and the Manpower Services Commission, will be the first to say that there has to be time for working it out, there has to be co-operation, and there has to be discussion. So when the Government announce what they believe to be the right basic policy, of course they will wish, and the MSC will wish, to consult very carefully with the local authorities and everyone else on the best way forward and the best way of implementing the proposals. I know that those noble Lords who have criticised the lack of consultation will say that by doing it this way, and in view of the feelings that have been aroused in the local authorities, that co-operation will become more difficult. I have given the reasons why the Government proceeded on that basis. It would be quite against my character and against my purpose to labour the point, because I believe that now the need is to heal any wounds that have been caused and to make sure that everybody concerned co-operates for the future.
If I were asked why the MSC were the right people to have the lead in this I would come back to my noble friend Lady Carnegy and her belief that the MSC is the main catalyst and the most likely catalyst. I should have thought that that was true, and I hope that that will be recognised by the local authorities. I hope, too, that it will be recognised by the local authorities that, when they come to co-operate with the MSC, the MSC will seek to take them with them. I am sure that that is the purpose; it certainly must be so. If the MSC were to proceed, as some noble Lords have suggested, in an arrogant way, as if it were detached from the many other people who have to take part in training, then the whole scheme would not work. I am sure that that will not be the case. It will certainly be the determination of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Employment to ensure that that is not the position.
The noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, also asked me about the staffing implications. The Government do not plan any overall increase in the Civil Service or the 300 LEA staff. There will no doubt be a modest increase in the MSC staffing, but again as far as that is concerned it is likely to be the result of some reduction in the staffs previously engaged by the local authorities, and it would be reasonable if the MSC were able to discuss with the local authorities the possibility of sending to the MSC some people from the education service. I hope that that is the type of co-operation that we shall achieve. On that basis I hope that it will be felt, even by those who think that there were mistakes—and I have answered the reason why it was done in the way it was—that the need now, as the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, has said, is to make sure that we get the best advantage out of these proposals and that all those concerned co-operate very closely to that end.
The noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, also raised some of these points and the question of the extra staff, which I hope I have answered. The noble Lord asked about the form of increased support for the training of unemployed adults, as set out in paragraph 42 of the White Paper. The MSC's new training programmes for the unemployed might take two forms. The first is the short work-preparation type of course which is already provided under the training opportunities scheme, and for which training allowances, allowances for dependants and other support are provided. The second has been proposed by the MSC in conjunction with the existing community programmes. This will be considered by the Government later this year when the results of the survey of the community programmes (which the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, mentioned in another field) have been carefully considered.
I turn to the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, who asked me why the Manpower Services Commission was preferred to the local authorities. I have sought to give that paticular answer already. The noble Lord also complained about lack of consultation. I am sorry about that because he has considerable knowledge as regards his own county of Cheshire and he has made a considerable contribution to this work. I hope, therefore, that we can get over the particular problem that he mentioned.
I now turn to the noble Baroness, Lady Lockwood, who said that she was impressed by the progress of the TVEI schemes. I am very glad about that, and I hope that we can show that it will improve. I understand that another scheme will begin in September 1984 and that, indeed, Scotland will also be entering the scheme. It was therefore gratifying to hear what the noble Baroness had to say, and it was also gratifying to know that there has been widespread acceptance of the idea and a readiness to take part in the scheme. The noble Baroness also mentioned the position as regards equal opportunities, and asked whether the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) had been consulted in developing these schemes. I shall certainly pass that on to my right honourable friend. As the noble Baroness will know, I. of all people, in view of my association with the EOC when I was Home Secretary, would wish to see that happen, and I hope that I shall be able to persuade my right honourable friend accordingly.
The noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies, asked me about the problem of the compulsion, which has also been referred to by other noble Lords. He particularly referred to the problems of the benefit sanctions. In 301 fact, young people refusing the offer of a suitable YTS place or leaving a scheme early without a good reason may have their level of benefit reduced in just the same way as applies to anyone turning down the offer of a suitable job. They also have the normal right of appeal against that decision to the independent adjudicating authorities.
The noble Lord, Lord Seebohm, with his very considerable knowledge of the industrial field, spoke about the need for putting more emphasis on training and. in the education system, on getting people to work in our industry. He told us the story of the headmaster who was not in favour of industry and commerce at all. I suspect that many of us have met similar people in the education system and have always much regretted it. When I first went to the Ministry of Labour many years ago I met many people who took that view. I also met many employers who took the view that it was quite unnecessary to do any training at all. Indeed, in some cases we were laughed at for making suggestions that we should even start on the basis of there being some co-operation to this end between Government, employers and, indeed, the education system. That attitude has changed today, and the noble Lord, Lord Seebohm, is one of those who has made a considerable contribution to that end.
My noble friend Lord Vaizey spoke about the co-operation between the MSC and an education authority urban youth in action programme. He very much welcomed the White Paper and hoped that it would lead to co-operation between education and the MSC. I trust that he will be proved right; I feel sure that he will.
The noble Lord, Lord Molloy, is not present and therefore I shall not have to engage with him in some of his wilder arguments. They were only wild in that they were somewhat outside the White Paper. Perhaps I thought that they were a little wild as well, but in any event perhaps I can engage with him on another occasion because I do not wish to delay the House too long.
The noble Lord, Lord Perry of Walton, welcomed the White Paper. He said that over the years he had been a critic of much in the education system. He has great experience, and he acknowledged that we were spending large sums of money. He hoped that—and I think we can say that we are doing this—we are seeking to ensure that the money we spend is spent cost-effectively. I hope that the measures in the White Paper will go some way towards satisfying what he regards as a need for the future, which clearly is extremely important.
My noble friend Lady Vickers spoke about the craft schemes in the country districts; about encouraging people to go into employment but at the same time keeping older people in their homes. I must say that that struck a chord with me, for I live in a country district and perhaps at some stage my wife and 1 might reap the benefit of some of these schemes, which we shall certainly increasingly need as time goes on. My noble friend also spoke about foreign languages. I would very much agree with her on that.
The noble Lord, Lord Blease, referred to co-operation and building a bridge. I have never had a chance to say this publicly before, so perhaps I could 302 say now that when I was in Northern Ireland there was no one more helpful in seeking to build bridges in that situation than the noble Lord, Lord Blease, in his position in the trade union movement at that time. So when he made that comment today, it struck a chord with me and I fully appreciate what he said.
I hope that I have dealt with what the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, said in the main parts of her speech. Lastly, I come to the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy. I shall not enter into an argument with him about the long-term unemployed. The noble Lord said that he knew what I would say. I shall have at least the satisfaction of proving him wrong, because I shall not say it. I shall simply say that I have nothing, to add to what my noble friend Lord Gowrie said. Of course, that is exactly what the noble Lord thought I would say, but I did not say it in that way. I note also what he said and I was very glad that he felt that so much was right in the White Paper, although he questioned me about the training allowances. If he was seeking to draw me out about something in the future, I must say that I do not know the answer, so he will not succeed in that. If there is anything that I can tell him at this stage which will help, I shall write to him and let him know.
I hope that I have answered many of the points that have been made in this debate, and in doing so I hope that I have not taken up too much of your Lordships' time. Once again, I should like to thank my noble friend Lady Carnegy for having introduced this very important debate. I should like to thank noble Lords in all parts of the House who have said that, despite their criticisms and their doubts about how this was introduced, they believe that the White Paper is on the right lines for training for skill in our community in the future. If we succeed in doing that, if we succeed in getting past some of the hurt feelings, and if we all co-operate together, that indeed will be the best for our country, and I trust that that is what will happen.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
My Lords, before the noble Viscount sits down, will he write to my noble friend Lord Rochester and myself about the points we made concerning the balance between the Mode A and the Mode B schemes, and in particular the cutting of the Mode B scheme in Liverpool?
§ Viscount Whitelaw
My Lords, yes, certainly. I apologise to the noble Lords and to others who raised this matter. It was one of the points on which I thought I might cut down for lack of time, but I shall certainly write to the noble Lords.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
My Lords, as I personally felt it surely would be, this has been a most useful debate. The breadth and depth of experience that your Lordships have brought to the discussion has been enormous. The problems that we have in Britain as we struggle in education and training to bring about the great changes which every developed country has to bring about at the present time—and, because time is not on our side, we must try to do it reasonably swiftly—have been reflected in your Lordships' debate. As several noble Lords have said, there have been enormous areas of agreement.
303 The seriousness with which the Government take the training enterprise is reflected in the fact that the noble Viscount the Leader of the House has been on the Front Bench throughout the debate and has replied on behalf of the Government. I am sure that we are all very grateful to him. I thank my noble friend Lord Whitelaw and my noble friend Lord Gowrie on the Front Bench. I thank noble Lords on the Front Benches opposite who have spoken. I thank my noble friend and, if I may say so, compatriot, Lord Forte, for his contribution, and all noble Lords who have spoken.
I am sure that the debate will be widely read and will give encouragement to all those who are working on the ground to forward education and training in Britain. My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.