HL Deb 19 March 1987 vol 485 cc1515-6

3.7 p.m.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans to improve the quality of training and education available to the meat industry.

The Secretary of State for Employment (Lord Young of Graffham)

My Lords, the Manpower Services Commission will continue to work closely with both the Meat Industry Training Organisation and the Institute of Meat to help these organisations to improve the quality of training and vocational education available to the meat industry.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, will the Minister accept that the spirit of this Question is not to decry what is being done either by the Minister or by central Government but merely to ask for more, so that the best interests of the consumer, the trade and indeed the nation can be served? Would the Minister agree that a powerful central body capable of playing a pivotal role in training and maintaining standards in the meat industry could be a national asset and that such a body could well be the Institute of Meat?

Lord Young of GrafTham

Yes, my Lords, I am very grateful for the work which the Institute of Meat, of which the noble Lord, Lord Graham, is president, has done. Indeed, I am also aware of what the Institute of Meat is now doing and that there is contact with the National Council for Vocational Qualifications to see whether they can fulfil the criteria for the national vocations qualification kite mark, which perhaps could even be used as an exemplar for other industries. Discussions are also taking place with the Manpower Services Commission on what could possibly be, to coin a phrase, a joint development which could be used to define standards within the meat industry.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

My Lords, is it not the quality of the meat that needs improving?

Lord Young of Graffham

My Lords, the quality of the meat is in the eye of the consumer and we are talking about the training.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, if the Minister can speak about "joint agreements", I can certainly try to make both ends meet! I am grateful to the Minister for his general support for the aspirations of a great many people to ensure that the meat industry and those who work in it have access to the kinds of opportunities which the Minister is aware are provided in Japan and in many European countries. I wonder whether the Minister could say anything about the possibility of access to EC funds, in order to make sure that the responsibilities which the Government have placed upon bodies like the Institute of Meat are capable of being fulfilled.

Lord Young of Graffham

My Lords, there are many, perhaps, in your Lordships' House who consider I have quite enough responsibilities at the present time. Europe is not one of them. I can however tell the House that since 1985 the Manpower Services Commission has advanced some £52,000 to the institute to help to develop and extend its modular standards based training scheme, and we are very satisfied with that. I have no doubt that work will continue with the Manpower Services Commission. Europe is quite another matter.