HL Deb 17 October 1989 vol 511 cc862-901

House again in Committee.

Clause 18 agreed to.

Lord Wedderburn of Charlton moved Amendment No. 41: After Clause 18, insert the following new clause:

("Dismissal of employees in strikes or other industrial action

The following words shall be added to section 62(2) of the 1978 Act— or (c) that the complainant had taken part in a strike or other industrial action in respect of which a ballot had been held which satisfied section 10 of the Trade Union Act 1984, and that the employer had acted unreasonably in dismissing the complainant or (d) that the complainant had taken part in a strike or other industrial action at the end of which the employer had refused to reinstate the complainant and during which the employer had engaged one or more new workers to do work which was the same or substantially similar to that done by the complainant" ").

The noble Lord said: It was my fate during the 1982 &1984 Bills on employment law and trade unions to move the first post-prandial amendment and, once again, I rise after dinner to an excited and crowded Chamber to move the amendment.

This is another of the amendments that we have called the fairness amendments. They are, as I have already said, particular points upon which we believe that at this stage the Government should think again about their employment and trade union legislation. The amendment before us concerns the dismissal of employees who are taking part in industrial action or who are locked out. That is to say, it concerns Section 62 of the 1972 Act.

At the moment, if I may summarise it baldly, the position is that unless an employer selects or victimises one or more of those who are taking part, who are locked out or who have a direct interest in the dispute or lock-out, no jurisdiction exists for an industrial tribunal to adjudicate upon a claim by one of those taking part in industrial action who have been dismissed that the dismissal was unfair.

The two areas where we say that that provision should be reviewed and where some small amendment should be made are, first, where there has been a valid ballot and the employer has acted unreasonably, and, secondly, where there has been industrial action and the employer has refused to reinstate after the end of the dispute or the lock-out and has taken on a substitute workforce during the dispute.

One of the reasons why we put these points—I am sorry again to weary the Minister with this source of our concerns—is the report of the committee of experts of the International Labour Organisation of April this year. The report reviewed carefully, against the backdrop of the freedom of association convention, the present state of the United Kingdom law on this matter. Although the Minister was able to produce one other area of review that led to adverse criticism of one other member of the Community—namely, the Federal Republic of Germany, with regard to the law that we previously debated—I suspect that in the area of the dismissal of those taking industrial action, there is no equivalent case. The report begins with the committee fully recognising, that the reform of the law on labour relations is both legitimate and necessary in order to ensure that the industrial relations system operates in an equitable and efficient manner, and that it adequately reflects current social and economic needs".

There is a long passage where the committee accepts the need to review and reform the law on those matters according to the country's policies. The committee goes on to say that looked at against the background of the law on freedom of association, according to minimum international standards as set out in the convention, the dismissal of strikers to the extent that we allow it is inconsistent with that minimum standard. I quote part of the conclusions: The Committee considers that it is inconsistent with the right to strike as guaranteed by Articles 3, 8 and 10 of the Convention for an employer to be permitted to refuse to reinstate some or all of its employees at the conclusion of a strike, lock-out or other industrial action without those employees having the right to challenge the fairness of that dismissal before an independent court or tribunal".

The refusal to reinstate without right to challenge forms part of our amendment. I am well aware that that would lead to the tribunal in such a case having to review the reasonableness of the dismissal. In other words, I am well aware that the bipartisan policies of 1971 and 1974—I do not include the present Government because they have gone far beyond them—which said that we must keep all the merits of industrial disputes outside the tribunal's purview, would be put aside. I accept that in the two cases I have mentioned the tribunals would have difficult decisions to make.

If one looks at the ILO's report and at what is done in other countries, it seems to us that this is not an impossible task and that it is necessary to bring our law up to international standards. The committee of experts says that whereas the employer may lawfully treat the employment relationship as at an end without more ado, in English law it accepts: This happens only infrequently in practice. But it can happen, and the Committee is aware that there have been a number of situations in recent years where employers have used the fact that their employees were on strike as an excuse for dispensing with the services of their entire workforce, and recruiting a new one". The committee comments that that cannot be acceptable or consistent with any kind of right to strike. It concludes that Section 62 of the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978 as amended by Section 9 of the 1982 Act leads the committee to consider: that this latter provision does not provide adequate protection for the purposes of the Convention: (i) because it still permits an employer to dismiss an entire workforce, even where the employer has initiated a lock-out or has provoked a strike through entirely unreasonable behaviour"— the unreasonable behaviour is reflected in one part of our amendment, and— (ii) because an employer can re-hire on a discriminatory basis so long as there is a gap of three months between the dismissal of the 'victimised' workers and the re-hiring". That of course is one of the consequences of the Government's amendments to the relevant legislation in 1982. The committee continues: Consequently, the Committee asks the Government"— this is not just a comment— to introduce legislative protection against dismissal, and other forms of discriminatory treatment such as demotion or withdrawal of accrued rights, in connection with strikes and other industrial action so as to give effect to the principles set out above".

The amendment is more limited than the ILO's request in that last sentence. It does not deal with lock-outs. It deals only with dismissal and not with demotions or other disciplines. It does not make dismissal automatically unfair when exercised in retaliation or on provocation of the employer. It asks that two groups of employees should have an elementary right consistent, as the committee shows, with the international convention which has been ratified by this country, which the Government have not shown any signs of wishing to renounce. We all hope that they will never show any signs of wishing to renounce it as the basic international standard of freedom of association. It is true that that would alter aspects of the law as it has been in the past. We are not afraid to review what we have said in the past and find that part of it at least must be reviewed and, if necessary, amended.

There are two approaches to the other aspect of the amendment, ballots. One is to regard them as an expression of a democratic majority by which the minority must abide, at least in major respects, and to which it must owe some obligation. Of course the Government's approach is quite different. In their 1988 Act they have shown that ballots mean nothing as regards the minority if the majority is doing what the Government do not like. The ILO committee has declared this state of affairs to be a breach of freedom of association of the majority members of the union, as well as the other aspects which I have cited.

It would be very unwise for the Government to rely upon these matters not being decided the same way by the Freedom of Association Committee if the issue goes there in the ILO, because the committee of experts is able to rely upon the approach of that committee in the past in reaching its conclusions.

In consequence, I quite expect that the Government will not accept this amendment. It is not in a sense moved in the spirit of wanting them to accept it as it stands. Indeed, when one examines it again, there are drafting problems. But I put it to the Government that this is the way in which international standards move. This is the level below which this country now falls. It is the only country in the Community which falls below that level. The law in Greece has posed problems, but my information is that it does not now fall below the level in the way in which some people said it did. The Government will not be able to continue in the Community with this isolated stance on matters of this sort, even this difficult one where English law leads to the notion that strikers can simply be dismissed en bloc at will. I hope that the Government will show some willingness to re-examine the problem in these two areas of the amendment. I beg to move.

9 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde

I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Wedderburn, say that he did not expect nor even want the Government to accept the amendment. That makes my job slightly easier. Furthermore, the noble Lord spent a certain amount of time talking about the ILO. We have already touched on it so I shall not repeat what I said earlier. He also said that this country was now at the bottom of the international standard regarding employee rights. Does he not agree that if that is so, one of the reasons for it might well be that in the past we have had the most powerful, the most dangerous, the most ugly unions of any European country over the past 20 years? That has led us into the severest economic decline.

Noble Lords


Lord Strathclyde

It is only since that has been overcome that this country has begun to perform efficiently economically. The proposed new clause, if accepted, would create a gross imbalance in the law by significantly restricting employers' ability to dismiss or refuse—

Lord McCarthy

Will the noble Lord give us a single piece of evidence for the astonishing things that he said? He said we had one of the worst, most dangerous trade union movements in the world. What scrap of evidence will he adduce for this at five past nine? I know—nothing.

Lord Strathclyde

I do not know whether the noble Lord spends any time outside his office or whether he travels up and down the country. I have to admit that when the reign of the noble Lord's unions came to an end in 1979, I was still relatively young. However, I have certainly heard of the disgraceful antics of those unions. How much has changed today in a whole range of industries! The noble Lord was right: at five past nine perhaps we should not be getting into such an argument. However, the principle of what I said stands.

This new clause would create a gross imbalance in the law by significantly restricting employers' ability to dismiss or refuse to re-engage those who choose to take industrial action against them. Section 62 of the 1978 Act, as amended by the Employment Act 1982, provides that individual employees shall have the usual legal protection—through claims to an industrial tribunal—against unfair dismissal in cases where there has been selective dismissal during, or selective re-engagement following, industrial action. If in such a case the dismissal of an employee was found to be unfair, an industrial tribunal has its usual powers to provide a remedy.

At present an industrial tribunal may consider claims of unfair dismissal while taking part in industrial action—or refusal to re-engage following industrial action—only if an employer discriminates between those involved in the industrial action by dismissing, or subsequently offering re-engagement to, some but not others of those involved.

The new clause seeks to provide that a tribunal may, in addition, consider such claims if the complainant had been taking part in industrial action in respect of which there had been a proper union ballot producing a majority in favour of the action, or if the employer had taken on one or more workers to do the complainant's work or similar work during the industrial action. For employees to take industrial action—any sort of industrial action—is a serious matter. Employees who take such action know that they put their jobs at risk.

Provisions in UK law (Section 16 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974) specifically prevent a court making any order for the specific performance of a contract, or issuing art injuction to compel an employee to do any work or attend at any place to do any work. This guarantees employees' freedom to take industrial action.

On the other hand, our law in this country has always enabled an employer to take various measures up to and including dismissal against any of his employees who choose to take industrial action. To impose undue restrictions on an employer's ability to dismiss risks leaving him at the mercy of those who are prepared to continue industrial action indefinitely and thereby drive him out of business unless he settles the dispute on their terms. The new clause would impose just such restrictions and thereby create a gross imbalance in our industrial relations law as it affects the parties to a dispute.

Let me address each element of the new clause in turn. First, there is reference to, a ballot … which satisfied Section 10 of the Trade Union Act 1984". What is the purpose of such a ballot, and what does it require? The relevant law provides that if a union is to retain immunity for organising industrial action which would interfere with contracts it must hold a proper ballot in which a majority of those voting have answered yes to the appropriate question or questions. In requiring the union to hold such a ballot the law ensures that union members can expect to have a vote in a proper secret ballot before being induced to take industrial action by their union.

Such a ballot, and the casting of such a vote, does not oblige any individual to take such action. What is that question or questions that must be put in such a ballot? The question is simply whether the voter is prepared to take part in, or continue with, industrial action—either a strike or some other form of industrial action. The result of such a ballot is therefore completely irrelevant to the merits of the dispute to which it may relate, and should give no special protection to those who may subsequently decide to take or continue with industrial action.

Secondly, a further element in the proposed new Section 62(2)(c) refers to the assessment of whether the employer has acted unreasonably. I am afraid that I cannot see how this really helps matters. The use of a term such as "reasonable" or "unreasonable" in this context is simply too vague to be meaningful. By what criteria is a tribunal to assess such reasonableness?

I believe, therefore, that the inclusion of this part of the new clause is little more than window dressing for the real intention of the Members of the Committee who put down this amendment. That intention is to make it impossible for an employer to dismiss those who take industrial action if that action follows a ballot. As I have already explained, whether there has or has not been a ballot is really quite irrelevant to the merits of the dispute, or to the choice which those taking industrial action have made.

If a claim of unfair dismissal may be heard by a tribunal, the tribunal will consider the claim on its merits. To intrude a new concept of reasonableness, which I presume would be in some way detached from consideration of the fairness or unfairness of dismissal, simply serves to confuse.

Thirdly the proposed new Section 62(2)(d) seeks to constrain an employer's ability to take on workers to do the work which is not being done by those who have chosen to take industrial action, or even to do work substantially similar. It is not difficult to see the stranglehold over the employer that this would give to those taking industrial action. They could place him in an impossible position simply by ending their action and demanding their jobs back—even though those jobs were being done by others who had not behaved so irresponsibly as they had done. Unless he gives way to their demands, the employer would risk being taken to an industrial tribunal and forced to pay out substantial compensation.

Baroness Turner of Camden

Why did the Government take the trouble to introduce a series of pieces of legislation requiring ballots before industrial action, and that such ballots should render unions able to claim immunity, if such ballots did not also give any kind of protection to the employees participating in the strikes? Does not the Minister appreciate that, without a clause of this kind, the employer is free to victimise people who take part in a quite properly convened strike following a quite properly conducted ballot?

Lord Strathclyde

What about victimisation of the employer? I think the noble Baroness misunderstands that the purpose of the ballot for unions was to prove that a sufficient majority within the unions approved of the executive's decision on whether or not there should be strike action.

Baroness Seear

The noble Baroness speaks from a considerable trade union background which might possibly be held to give her a biased view in favour of unions. However, I can only say that I am absolutely appalled—I do not come from a trade union background, although I have belonged to one—to hear what the noble Lord has to say. I have been frightened by some of the Government's trade union legislation although earlier on I backed it. The Minister appears to me to be saying that strikes are an improper action to be taken by trade unionists, even after a ballot. If it is never proper to take strike action, how can there be an appropriate balance of power between the union and the employer? That is what it is all about. Freedom of association, which is a basic freedom, is meaningless unless at the end of the day, if no satisfaction is reached through the negotiating process, members of trade unions or for that matter non-members of trade unions, have the right to withdraw their labour. If they do not have the right to withdraw their labour, the whole thing is a farce. If trade unions can be sacked wholesale because they have taken part in a properly conducted strike, the whole basis of freedom of association and all that it means is torn apart.

Lord Strathclyde

I think that the noble Baroness misunderstands the situation as it exists and always has existed. The law in this country has always enabled an employer to take various measures up to and including dismissal against any of his employees who choose to take industrial action. We are not introducing anything new here.

We have to consider the real world effects of this new clause, by which I mean the likely effect it would have in the context of our country's industrial relations systems and traditions. As such, it would in practice amount to a striker's charter, and completely distort the balance of our industrial relations law, particularly that balance that we have sought so hard to redress over the past 10 years.

9.15 p.m.

Lord Wedderburn of Charlton

Perhaps I should say more about the subject since, as could be seen from the interventions of the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, and my noble friend Lady Turner, the Minister's speech has turned into a major debate. If anything were needed to prove to the International Labour Organisation Freedom of Association Committee that the United Kingdom Government are not only below the international minimum standards on this matter but also insist on remaining there, it was the speech of the Minister. It is a most important document and will be pored over, I am sure.

It is no good saying, in a moving world, "These are the international standards and we think that you are below them". It is no good to say that our law has always been like that. The Minister said that half a dozen times. I appreciate that the Minister said that he had learnt about the horrible events of 1979 and that we could debate those on some other occasion.

Instead of talking about that the Minister ought to look at four other countries: France, where it is elementary that the employer cannot take on temporary workers to substitute for a workforce on strike; Italy, where there are more rights in terms of rights to strike and trade union strength than he or his grandfather ever thought of; Sweden, where unions and management manage the labour market in ways which this country could well look at, with a right to strike well in advance of the minimum standards (and when it comes to training we ought to keep that country in mind too); and Germany, which has a clear right to strike well above the minimum standards, with co-determination with trade union rights—and a great deal of antagonism at times between workforce and employers—and with a structure which is reviewed from time to time to keep it up to date.

It has been at the root of debate upon this subject for many years that some people take the view that amendments like this one cannot be accepted. They seem to believe that there is a peculiar vice in Britain—economic, social, cultural, trade union or industrial—which means that unless we beat trade unions into the ground and insist on remaining below international standards on freedom of association, we cannot survive economically. No wonder our competitors regard us as rather odd. We are very insular. We do not go and look at them. The Minister should.

The basic issue on which the Minister touched briefly, and on which I agree with him, is that this is the only country in Western Europe—and perhaps soon in parts of Eastern Europe (what a contrast between the Government's attitude to Solidarity in Poland and what happens here)—where industrial action is almost automatically a breach of the contract of employment and not a suspension of it. I do not say that the law in the other countries is the same, but in most of them industrial action is a suspension while in this country it is a breach. One day we shall have to face that. If that is what the Minister was concerned about he should take an even longer trip and look at all the other systems as well. I should like to go with him, because it would be rather nice.

That is not what the amendment is about. It represents a tiny step towards the day when we confront that issue. I am proud that my party has confronted that issue in its policy review. People talk about the policy review as though there were nothing important in it. It contains a most important matter in confronting that issue afresh. The Government will not confront it. The Government will not even look at our tiny amendments. The Government appear to be going to bring forward another Bill to make the matter worse, but we shall deal with that issue when we can. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 19 [Removal of requirement to notify local authority of storage of celluloid film]:

On Question, Whether Clause 19 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord McCarthy

We now turn from the unsubstantiated and offensive allegations of the Minister about the British trade union movement to the actual small-mindedness of the Government. We turn to Clause 19, which is all about the storage of nitrate film.

In some ways that is a strange matter to find in an Employment Bill. It has nothing to do with employment; even the Government do not say that it has. It has nothing to do with sex discrimination, training, trade unions, and it does not even have anything to do with Sikhs. No reason has ever been advanced for it, even in terms of our old friend the burdens on business.

In itself the clause is a modest one. It is a modest clause because it removes a very modest item. As the Committee will know, under the present position, as a result of the 1922 Act, if one keeps inflammable nitrate stock one is supposed to tell the local authority and to pay the sum of £2 in order to register it. There is a great deal of old nitrate stock hanging around. It is not used any longer and has not been produced since 1952. We know where most of it is. It is in the National Film Theatre, the Imperial War Museum, the London Transport Museum, the Yorkshire Film Archive and so on.

At the moment, if one sells such stock or if it is disposed of, the buyer who buys that stock, if he knows about the law, is under the obligation to inform the local authority, who inform the local fire brigade that some of that 189 million feet of explosive stuff which is lying about somewhere belongs to him.

We are told that the older it gets the more dangerous it gets, and in fact it is becoming increasingly flammable. Some of it is virtually a candidate for spontaneous combustion. The present law says that if you have it or buy it or know of it you should write to the local authority, register it and pay the sum of £2. Goodness gracious me! Why not? It has been there since 1922. In all, conscience, it is an insignificant enough issue.

We are not proposing to the Committee at twenty past nine that there should be a Royal Commission to go into this matter. We do not suggest that the Health and Safety Executive should be alerted. We simply ask why the Government cannot leave it alone. On what possible explanation can they base their position? How conceivably could it be a burden on business? Which civil servant had to list 17 ways of deregulating the economy and only got to 16, so that before he went out to lunch he had to find another one? What on earth are the Government talking about? Why cannot they take this away and forget it?

Lord Strathclyde

I have to say I was a little surprised when I saw that the noble Lord would speak against this clause. The plain answer to his question, "Why get rid of it after all these years?" is that it is simply to remove an outdated requirement from the statute book. Raw celluloid which contains cellulose nitrate is not now commonly used in industrial processes. It was used in the manufacture of cinematograph film, but this of course is no longer the case. The film which is manufactured today is of the non-hazardous cellulose acetate type, and action is being taken to copy archive material onto this type of film. Therefore, the present requirement to register is regarded as redundant.

About 90 per cent. of the old film in the country is in the National Film Archive and the Imperial War Museum. The National Film Archive was granted an exemption from the requirements in Section 1(1) of the Celluloid and Cinematographic Film Act 1922 by the Health and Safety Executive under Regulation 2 of that Act and its exemption regulations of 1980. Very few other premises, because of the small quantity of nitrate film stored in them, come within the scope of the 1922 Act. I think it is worth emphasising that we are not proposing to repeal the 1922 Act but only the redundant requirement to notify. There will thus be no diminution of existing standards of storage. These will continue to apply, as will obligations under the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974.

Maybe the noble Lord is right. Perhaps we should not tidy up the statute book as we go along and perhaps we should leave old statutes to lie around as long as possible; but I do not believe it is out of place. This Bill is concerned with getting rid of much unnecessary legislation in the field of operation of the Health and Safety Commission and it is sensible to take advantage of this opportunity to tidy up the law in this way. I very much hope that the Committee will approve this clause.

Lord McCarthy

I am glad that the noble Lord has explained to the Committee why the Government have not given any explanation. It is because there is not one. He says that this measure is outdated. He does not know whether it is outdated. He means that there has not been a fire lately. He does not know whether there has not been a fire lately because of the regulations. He has absolutely no idea. He does not care, anyway. He is going round the treadmill. He is on automatic pilot again. There are 16 regulations to be abolished before lunch time. That is what this is all about.

Lord Dormand of Easington

I support my noble friend in what he has just said. Perhaps I may remind him that he is a member of the Parliamentary Labour Party Films Group. I wonder whether he has remembered that.

The noble Lord has not given an explanation to the Committee as to why this course is being taken except as a means of tidying up. Those are his words: it is to tidy up the legislation. Some of us believe that it is not simply tidying up. There is something of value here. I rise to my feet simply to remind the noble Lord of the old newsreels—both Pathé and Gaumont British—which are now stored at Elstree. Some of us visited the storage unit about six months ago. Television is now using those old newsreels more than ever in programmes, or to illustrate news which happens to be current. I believe that I heard the Minister state that one of the reasons is that the films could be transferred to new film which would not be capable of causing a fire.

When we visited the old newsreels store at Elstree I asked the director of the film library why it did not do that. He looked at me as though I were a simpleton, which I am on some things, and simply said, "There is so much film here"—there was millions of feet—"that it is too expensive". I hope that the Minister will accept that fact. Members on the other side of the Chamber are always talking about market forces. The director said, "We should love to do that, but we cannot." In those circumstances is it not part of the nation's heritage? We are a filmgoing nation. The Minister may shake his head. It happens to be one of my minor interests. The cinemas are now getting to the stage at which they used to be when I visited them two or three times a week.

Lord Strathclyde


Lord Dormand of Easington

The Minister agrees with that. There are millions of feet of early film which are part of the heritage of the country and which ought to have protection. The silly reason given is that this is about tidying up legislation. The Minister ought to consider the matter again.

Lord Strathclyde

I am amazed by the interest that has been taken in this subject. I know that it is important. I had no idea that the noble Lord had such a great interest in films. Nor did I realise that the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, had played a part in films in the past, as I understood someone to mention.

Celluloid is not now used to make films. It has not been used since 1952. The very few permanent stores which exist are known to the HSE, which is satisfied with the standards of safety provided. Because of its chemical nature, celluloid film eventually becomes completely useless as a visual record. Therefore images on the old stock continue to be transferred to safer, non-inflammable acetate films, which are more durable, and the old film is destroyed. Perhaps there is a confusion here. Perhaps the old film is not being kept but that what the noble Lord, Lord Dormand, is seeing is new film carrying old images.

The registration requirement does not achieve any particular health and safety purpose, therefore. The Health and Safety Commission has said that it is content for it to be removed. Yesterday we spent a great deal of time discussing whether we ought to accept recommendations from the Health and Safety Commission. We are accepting this recommendation. But noble Lords opposite are complaining.

Lord McCarthy

It is not whether the noble Lord agrees with the Health and Safety Commission; it is when it agrees with him. I see the position.

Clause 19 agreed to.

Clause 20 [Dissolution of Training Commission]:

9.30 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 42: Page 15, line 1, leave out subsection (2) and insert— ("(2) Subject to subsection (2A), all the property, rights and liabilities to which the Training Commission was entitled or subject immediately before that date shall on that date become property, rights and liabilities of the Secretary of State for Employment. (2A) Any liability in respect of pensions, superannuation allowances or gratuities which, but for the passing of this Act, would have arisen or existed on or after that date as a liability of the Training Commission to or in respect of the chairman or any former chairman of the Commission shall instead be a liability of the Paymaster General.").

The noble Lord said: We now come to the part of the Bill for which I know many Members of the Committee have been waiting. It is the list of amendments on the Training Commission and later the amendments on the industrial training boards.

In moving Amendment No. 42, I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 43, 47 to 54 en bloc, 62 and 69. The long list of amendments derives from a single simple primary purpose: to transfer land currently held by the Training Commission to the Secretary of State for Employment on the dissolution of the commission.

As noble Lords will be aware, most of the civil estate is held by the Secretary of State for the Environment through the Property Services Agency. This group of amendments in no way affects the general principles underlying these arrangements. They are simply consequential upon the dissolution of the Training Commission.

The commission has always had power to hold title to both freehold and leasehold land and buildings, which it has exercised, in particular, in respect of significant proportions of the skills training agency sites and of the Jobcentre network. These mainly specialised buildings have never formed part of the civil estate managed through PSA. When the commission is dissolved, this property must be transferred to a new owner, and pending decisions about its destination, the Bill was drafted to provide for a Minister to be designated by the Secretary of State to hold the land title.

Direct land holding powers within the department will provide more direct accountability and responsibility for the Secretary of State and facilitate greater operational and administrative efficiency. For these reasons we have concluded that the title to commission land should be held by the Secretary of State for Employment.

To enable him to hold land the Secretary of State must first be constituted a corporation sole, and that is the effect of the main amendment in this group, Amendment No. 49. The other amendments simplify the current drafting, which had to differentiate between property going to the Secretary of State and land going to the designated Minister. The amendments provide that everything, with all the associated rights and liabilities, will transfer to the Secretary of State for Employment. There is only one exception, which relates to pensions, superannuation allowances and gratuities due to the chairman and former chairmen of the commission. The second half of Amendment No. 42 and Amendment No. 53 ensure that payment for these will be the responsibility, as usual, of the Paymaster General, while administration of the pensions remains with the Secretary of State.

Finally, I should draw the Committee's attention to Amendment No. 69, which extends the incorporation of the Secretary of State's office to Northern Ireland. I beg to move.

Baroness Turner of Camden

As the Minister rightly said, this commences the series of amendments to which we took some exception yesterday when we protested that the amendments went far beyond what we thought was proper for a Bill of this kind and should really form the basis of an entirely separate industrial training Bill. That is still our position, although tonight we do not intend to oppose the amendments in the Lobbies. Nevertheless, I should like to take the opportunity to raise a few questions with the Minister and to make a few comments.

First, as regards Amendment No. 42 there is reference to steps to be taken to protect liabilities to the chairman or to any former chairmen of the commission. What steps are being taken to protect the rights, contracts and so on and the superannuation rights of members of the Training Commissions's staff, who presumably will be transferred under the new arrangements? I believe that the reference somewhere in the amendments to the transfer of undertakings' regulations will give some cover as regards employment contracts, but I am not aware that those transfer regulations relate to pensions. I should be grateful if the Minister would let us know what is intended there.

Secondly, when the amendments were first published we were puzzled about what was meant by corporate status. The Minister has explained that it is to enable land, property and so on to be transferred. We had a suspicion, which I voiced at the time, that it might perhaps be a basis for attempting at some future time to spin off the training arm into a private company. I should like to know more about the Government's intentions.

I should also like to make a few comments which may possibly be more appropriate in the debate on clause stand part. However, in passing I should say that the Opposition do not feel that it was necessary to do away with the Training Commission. We believe that it has performed a useful function and would have continued to perform a useful function had it been permitted by the Government to do so. Over the years it has been involved in a number of extremely useful projects. It had a tripartite nature. It had the support of all sections of industry and commerce and there seems no reason to have terminated it in the arbitrary and abrupt fashion adopted by the Government.

The commission had widespread support. It was engaged on a number of important projects including some for women with which I was personally associated and which were important. It did not have the support from the Government that it should have had. We on this side of the Committee feel strongly that the Government's actions will not assist training in this country and may well have a reverse effect. It is with great regret that we observe the Government persisting with their attitude towards training. They are doing so in this half-hearted and half-baked way through a series of amendments which should have formed the basis of a separate Bill. That would have enabled both Houses of Parliament to have a proper debate on training and properly scrutinise the Government's intentions in this important field.

Baroness Seear

I fully realise that there is little we can effect at this stage because once again we are being presented with a fait accompli. I wish to put on record my great disapproval of the way in which training is being and has been handled for more than a year. The Manpower Services Commission was set up by an Act of Parliament and it was abolished overnight while Parliament was in recess. Therefore, there was no debate, proper or improper, about its work or its successor body. That was a year ago. The way in which it was torn apart was disgraceful. I know as a fact that the change was made in such a way that the commission's staff heard about it on the five o'clock news because the people to whom they reported had had no time to tell them what was to happen.

Furthermore, it is an insult to Parliament when a body as important as the Manpower Services Commission, dealing with training and set up with great care by a Conservative Government, is abolished overnight thereby providing it with no opportunity to influence its successor body. Now the Training Commission is being abolished, and without proper discussion and opportunity to contribute we are given what I agree is a half-baked substitute. We are handing over training to people who in the past have shown that they do not take training seriously. Training in this country was never needed more than now in order to make up for our never having done anything about it in the past. This is a disgraceful performance.

Lord Dormand of Easington

I rise to ask the Minister for clarification. In moving the amendments he appeared to say that their contents would in no way change the principle or organisation of the Training Commission. Did the Minister say that? If so, will the whole of the employment training scheme be affected?

Lord Strathclyde

I do not know what I said that may have given the noble Lord that impression. The Training Commission will be dissolved. We are talking only about the transfer of land to the Secretary of State, who will look after it. The noble Lord and I may have misunderstood each other. If so, I shall write to him and explain exactly what I said.

Lord McCarthy

We may be talking only about the transfer of land in respect of these amendments. However, the Minister has tabled a vast number of further amendments which are even more complicated. There are Amendments Nos. 47 and 48; they go on for pages. In relation to those, is the Minister talking only about land? Will he tell us what he is talking about when he reaches the point; or will he rise and say that he has already done so? Are we to have an explanation of the rest of the amendments, and will it be about land?

Lord Strathclyde

In my opening remarks I said that I was speaking to all the amendments in the group. They are Amendments Nos. 42, 43, 47 to 54, 62 and 69. As I said, essentially these amendments derive from a single primary purpose; that is, to transfer land currently held by the Training Commission to the Secretary of State for Employment on the dissolution of the commission. There is nothing untoward or underhand about that.

The noble Baroness, Lady Turner, asked some specific questions as regards liabilities and about the civil servants who have worked for the commission. Because other members of the commission have never qualified for a pension, the chairman's pension and the past chairman's pension are covered by the provisions. Of course, the staff remain civil servants and continue to be covered by the usual Civil Service pension arrangements as well as other terms and conditions of employment.

Perhaps I could continue on the plans to sell land. I am aware that the noble Baroness was worried that land could be turned into separate companies and sold off. Within the Department of Employment there are a number of important initiatives under way including the sale of the Skills Training Agency. That is all public knowledge. The provisions which we are instituting today will help the efficient completion of that project by reducing the number of parties involved when the Skills Training Agency comes to receive parcels of land.

As to the general attitude towards training which both the noble Baroness, Lady Turner, and the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, mentioned, I think there is a temptation to believe that everything done in the past towards training was good and effective. I am not sure that that is entirely so. We have to look ahead, in view of the demographic changes we have already talked about, to see what can genuinely be done to help training in this country. The proposals which we have put forward, including the training agency and the new initiatives which are coming about, are a genuine step forward to help not only young people to become better trained but also to help people throughout their careers. I hope that that answers the general points.

Baroness Seear

It does not. The Minister has made an assertion. He says that things will be better but has not given a single reason why that should be. We need an analysis and information as to why there will be an improvement. The Government Front Bench are constantly doing this. They stand up and make assertions and hardly ever produce any factual evidence to support them.

Lord Strathclyde

We believe, and I think the noble Baroness will agree, that training in the past has not been as effective as it might have been. We are trying something new. We believe that industry should be more responsible for training because industry knows more about what kind of training is required and therefore will be in a better position to control the sort of training provided.

Baroness Seear

The noble Lord really cannot get away with this. There has been nothing to stop industry doing that for the past half century. It has not done so. That being so, what evidence is there—and we are asking for evidence—that it will now do something different?

Lord Strathclyde

Perhaps the noble Baroness has missed the fact that we are setting up the TECs organisations which are proving so successful. The whole focus on employment training and YTS are very genuine commitments to training for the future. The noble Baroness asks why industry has failed apparently to train people in the past. When we reach the next group of amendments on the industrial training boards, we shall no doubt be told by the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, why they have been so successful. Perhaps at that stage I shall be able to demonstrate rather more as to what is at the back of the Government's mind.

9.45 p.m.

Lord Dormand of Easington

We do not need to wait for anyone else because there has been a recent internal review. I have an article from the Guardian as recently as 14th October which states: The £1.45 billion Employment Training scheme faces considerable problems and has been launched 'in haste and uncertainty,' according to the first internal review". I presume the Minister knows about that.

The article continues: The report, commissioned by the Training Agency, reveals many people have left the scheme early because they are frustrated at the way it has been operating in its first year. The review … suggests the quality of the managers and agents running the scheme for the Training Agency leaves much to be desired. There was no adequate information on why people left the scheme and the reasons given by those in charge of ET 'showed a poor understanding of the seemingly legitimate concerns of the client group whom they serve' ". The report gets worse as it goes on. I said that was in the Guardian of 14th October. In the Guardian of 16th October it is apparent that someone has been taking notice because an article begins: A review of the Government's £1.45 billion Employment Training Programme has been launched by ministers after its poor record in its first year". The Government themselves are saying that.

Finally, the Minister correctly said that the new principle involved with training is with industry itself, and that is the case. Industrial training in the past has had its successes and its failures with government schemes, some supported by the Labour Party. There is no doubt that under the new scheme proposed by the present Government, and which they are implementing, some of the schemes will be successful. I cite the engineering industry. There is no question but that the scheme will be a good one. I also believe that the building trade scheme will be successful. However, I put this direct question to the Minister. There will be some sectors of industry which will simply not provide a training scheme. That is a fact of life. Will the Minister say what is to be done about training in those sectors?

Lord Strathclyde

I shall first speak about employment training. ET is the largest and fastest growing adult training programme ever launched in this country. It aims to provide a flexible package of high-quality training for longer-term unemployed people which is locally planned and delivered to help them obtain and keeps jobs.

Nearly 450,000 people have started training on ET since the programme began and 208,000 people are currently training under ET. The article cited by the noble Lord included a comment about the report which was commissioned by an area office to provide local feedback to help operate ET mere efficiently and effectively. It was undertaken in February and March this year when ET was only six months old and 42 trainees, three training agents and five training managers were interviewed. The research identified a number of early teething troubles where there was a need for, first, better communications; secondly, better understanding of clients' needs; and thirdly, better systems. In the intervening months those have been addressed and eliminated. Drop-out from the training programme, although unfortunate, is much less than in previous training programmes.

I know that the Opposition is obliged to pick holes in whatever this Government do and to view employment training with a great deal of suspicion. However, this is a genuine commitment to getting longer-term unemployed people back to work by offering them effective training.

The noble Lord, Lord Dormand of Easington, made a point that sectors of industry would not provide training. I am not as pessimistic as the noble Lord. I do not believe that in the highly competitive labour market of the 1990s any sectors of industry in this country will be able to afford to ignore their obligations to their employees in respect of training. As I said earlier, that goes for young people right through their careers, when training will have to be provided for them.

Lord Dormand of Easington

I ask the Minister to refer to an answer that I was given on the same point just before the Summer Recess. I regret I do not have the date to hand. His noble friend sitting beside him, who now has responsibility for Northern Ireland, will no doubt recall and confirm what I am about to say. He said then that he thought that was a reasonable view for me to take and he would investigate it. I believe the present Minister is bound to say that that is more than likely to happen. I hope he will take the matter seriously.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 43: Page 15, line 17, leave out subsection (5) and insert— ("(5) References in this Act to property, rights and liabilities of the Training Commission are references to all such property, rights and liabilities, whether or not capable of being transferred or assigned by the Commission.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 20, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

Baroness Turner of Camden

I do not want to repeat what I have already said as regards the preceding amendments, but we are given the opportunity of saying again that we are totally opposed to what the Government are doing regarding the Training Commission. I repeat that in our view there is little evidence that training will be any better handled under the arrangements that the Government are proposing rather than under the Training Commission.

On the contrary, it is my view that, despite the criticisms that have been levelled at it and at what has happened in the past, the commission has endeavoured to raise the standard of training in this country and has had some success in that regard. It has had to oversee some government schemes that have been far from adequate. ET has been quoted by my noble friend. In my view, it is being increasingly seen as a means of providing employers with cheap labour rather than providing high quality training.

The reason for the dissolution would appear to be no more than the Government's ideological opposition to anything tripartite. The Training Commission actually had trade union representatives on it as well as employers. The trade union representatives attempted to play a very full part in the work of the commission. I was a member of the TUC General Council at a time when the representatives of the council used to make regular reports back to the general council itself and attempted to involve the whole trade union movement in support for what the Training Commission was endeavouring to do.

Apparently tripartism is not acceptable to the Government. When there was a decision at the 1988 Trades Union Congress against some of the government schemes (although that decision was quickly reversed) that was made the excuse for closing down the commission and for taking into the hands of the Secretary of State all arrangements for future industry training. The decision had scarcely been made before the Minister's honourable friend made the public announcement that the commission was to be no more.

We have already said what we feel about the amendments. We repeat that we are very much in favour of a widespread effort in the training field. We know just how necessary that is from the standpoint of both industry and potential trainees themselves. We are particularly anxious that there should be suitable programmes for certain disadvantaged groups, for women and for women returners to industry. In that respect, and to my own knowledge, the Training Commission, in association with the EOC's WISE campaign—"Women into Science and Engineering"—was beginning to make some real progress.

We have grave doubts whether that progress will continue to be made under the arrangements now to be handled entirely in-house by the Secretary of State. For those reasons, it is our view that the clause should not stand part of this Bill.

Lord Strathclyde

This clause is an important one which provides for the dissolution of the Training Commission. As the Committee knows, the commission was established by statute under the Employment and Training Act 1973 and therefore can only be dissolved by primary legislation. Let me remind the Committee of the reasons why we are having to go through the process of dissolution and the very sorry and unhappy role that the TUC played in bringing it about.

It is just over a year now since the TUC decided to oppose the employment training programme. The programme was to be run by the Training Commission, and the commissioners, among them three commissioners nominated by the TUC, were to be responsible for ensuring its successful operation. Indeed—and what has not been said by the noble Baroness—the TUC commissioners, along with the others, had designed and agreed the programme. But when the TUC decided on its boycott it was clearly not possible for commissioners committed to opposing ET to sit on the body responsible for running that programme. The Secretary of State's concern was to safeguard the operation of the programme and he took immediate steps to remove the TUC's responsibility for a programme it was committed to oppose. That he was right to do so was demonstrated again only this weekend with three unions' irresponsible call on local authorities to withdraw from ET.

However, most of that is in the past; it is more than a year ago. We should leave the TUC and its negative attitudes and its failure to consider the country's long-term training needs. Let us look instead at the positive action the Government have taken and will be taking in ensuring that we have an adequately trained workforce. The Government have created a climate in which training and enterprise are flourishing. A survey in 1984 showed 1,806,000 people in training during the relevant four-week period. In the same period in 1988 the same survey showed 2,776,000 people being trained. The investment employers make in training is significant—£18 billion in 1986–87. But that is never enough and we need to do more.

Employers have the demand for skills. They must take the responsibility for training their employees. Training and retraining of those in work is crucial if we are to meet the challenges of the 1990s: eight out of 10 of the workforce in the year 2000 are already in work. The message that training is as important an investment as new plant or machinery is now widely understood.

The Government are playing their part in improving our training performance. In 1979 government spending on training was £458 million. It is now £3 billion. For young people, YTS has become the accepted route into employment. Currently 411,000 are in training. Seventy-nine per cent. of YTS leavers go straight into a job, further education or training; and 63 per cent of those completing two years' YTS get a vocational qualification. For adult long-term unemployed people, employment training is the largest and fastest growing adult training programme ever introduced in this country. Introduced in September 1988, it has already helped train nearly 450,000 people to acquire new skills which will help them to rejoin the ever growing numbers of employed people.

But our most radical and important reform is the creation of a network of local training and enterprise councils which will plan and deliver training and enterprise development locally—tailoring our programmes to meet local needs. The needs of Gateshead are not the same as the needs of Reading. The Government recognise this and are devolving the decision-making on training to local level where practical solutions are best developed. The Government also recognise that employers are the main customers for training and the main providers of training. Training and enterprise councils will give business leaders for the first time the chance to lead our nation's training effort. Business leaders are responding very well to this challenging opportunity. Already 28 TECs have been approved to receive development funding and plans for a further 50 or so are well-advanced.

Now let me remind the Committee briefly of the steps which have already been taken to transfer the Training Commission's functions, and the remaining steps by which this clause, together with Schedules 4 and 5, complete the process. In September last year, using his powers under the Employment Act 1988, the Secretary of State took back all the functions the commission had been exercising on his behalf—such as ET, YTS and TVEI—and transferred them to a new executive agency within the employment department group. This left the commission with only the few tasks assigned to it by statute to carry out. principally those concerned with the establishment, operation and winding up of industrial training boards. Later in this debate the Committee will be asked to consider new clauses specifically dealing with ITBs. In the meanwhile, Clause 20 gives effect to the amendments to the Industrial Training Act 1982 set out in Schedule 4 to the Act which transfers to the Secretary of State the functions of the commission under the 1982 Act. This will help ensure the continuity of ITB business.

The clause is a necessary and important step in setting up the new framework for training suited to today's and tommorrow's needs. I commend it to the Committee.

Clause 20, as amended, agreed to.

10 p.m.

Lord McCarthy moved Amendment No. 44: After Clause 20, insert the following new clause:

("Duty owed to trainees and employees.

.—(1) This section applies to

  1. (a) persons to whom section 26 of the Employment Act 1988 applies but who are not employees ("trainees"), and
  2. (b) to any other person employed under a contract of service or of apprenticeship ("employees")

(2) The duty prescribed by this section shall be owed

  1. (a) to a trainee by the person making or obliged to make payments within the meaning of section 26 of that Act, or
  2. (b) to an employee by the employer.

(3) The duty prescribed by this section is a duty to ensure that reasonable opportunities are available for suitable training for the trainee or, as the case may be, for the employee, having regard to the work.

(4) In this section "the work" means either

  1. (a) activities carried on under the arrangements made for the trainee to use the facilities, or
  2. (b) the work which the employee is employed to do.

(5) Where a trainee or employee claims that the duty prescribed by this section has been broken, he may present a complaint to an industrial tribunal and where the tribunal finds that the complaint is well-founded, it shall make a declaration to that effect and may award compensation to the complainant of such amount as it decides is just and equitable.

(6) If an employee is dismissed and one ground for the dismissal is alleged by the employee to relate to breach of the duty under this section, the tribunal shall treat the dismissal as unfair and it shall be for the employer to show that he has not broken that duty.

(7) In determining whether training is suitable the tribunal shall take account in particular of the opportunities afforded for the trainee or the employee to attend courses of instruction or education, to acquire new skills or to improve his or her knowledge of the technology or methods relevant to the work.

(8) The tribunal may, in any case in which it sees fit, require a member of a panel of experts to prepare a report with respect to the question whether opportunities are suitable within the meaning of this section.").

The noble Lord said: During the course of his defence of Clause 20, the Minister said several things which I tried to write down. I may have got them wrong, but I understood him to say at one stage that there was an obligation—I shall come back to the nature of that obligation—to provide training for their employees throughout their careers. That is the way in which I noted it down. The Minister subsequently said that employers must have a responsibility to their employees for their training throughout their careers, or words to that effect.

The Government's problem is that, having rejected the route of tripartism and having decided that they do not want to take the route of the levy—they raise the money from industry and then distribute it to those who do the training—they are in effect left with no mechanism through which to carry out the training policies which, to be fair to them, they know that the country needs.

That is where we come to the Government's aid. The amendment provides the mechanism that they require. It does not involve any trade union or institution per se, nor does it involve the Government in the spending of any money. That is just as well because we know that, although, as the Minister said, the Government are now spending £3 billion on training, the Secretary of State has said that a large part of that sum—the part that is spent on ET—is there because of the present high level of unemployment. Unless the Minister gets up—and if he does so, he will not be a Minister for very long—and says, "Don't worry. It will be £4 billion and £5 billion because unemployment will rise again", the Government are committed to phasing down expenditure on training as unemployment falls. So they have done away with the institutions and with any tripartite system and they do not want a levy. The greater part of the public subvention of training at the moment is related to the level of unemployment.

The Government must therefore come before us, as the Minister has done tonight, and rely upon the employer. As the noble Baroness said—and as, to my knowledge, she has been saying for at least 10 years—all the evidence suggests that, when one asks the employer to do that, he falls flat on his face. He has never done it before in sufficient volume and there is no indication that he would do it in sufficient volume in the future if we did not need an increase in training. But the Government know and do not deny that we need a substantial increase in training. We may need at least two-thirds as much training as we have now—I am not talking about the quality; we should feel the width—if we are to come anywhere near the level of training of our major European competitors.

We must therefore have some form of lever. In the clause we suggest an individualistic lever. One could not get more individualistic than this. This is micro-individualistic, right down to the individual worker. We suggest and this is the guts of the amendment—that there should be a right for trainees and individual workers (we want to bring everyone into this) to receive training, and a duty on their employers to provide it. The key part of the amendment is that which states: a duty to ensure that reasonable opportunities are available for suitable training for the trainee or, as the case may be, for the employee". The amendment is intended to be very comprehensive in terms of its coverage. It is intended to cover all employees and trainees covered by Section 28 of the Employment Act 1988; namely, all those on recognised schemes.

Unfortunately, those who specialise in criticising the minutiae of our amendments do not happen to be here this evening. It is always possible to say that the minutiae of amendments are wrong. It is always possible to say that we are wrong or that they could think of something better to motivate the sanctions—to put them, as it were, through industrial tribunals. We say that industrial tribunals should consider complaints from individuals—no collectivities because the Government do not like collectivities—and they should appoint experts to prepare a report on the training provided; in other words, we are taking a course which has been suggested by the Government. Similar action is taken in the area of sex discrimination and of fair treatment.

Those individuals should seek to enforce their rights through industrial tribunals, and the tribunals should consider the complaint. The argument in favour of that suggestion is that without some such impetus it is difficult to see how the country's training will compare favourably in volume and quality with that of our major competitors.

The recognition of the need for training is now reaching out to the majority of our population, as it does in Germany and in Sweden, where they have similar schemes. We know that we need increased training for the young, for those who are declared redundant, for those who need retraining and further retraining, for women and for the long-term unemployed. We know that we need improvements in the volume of training in some key industries, occupations and groups. We know that the congenital desire, as the noble Baroness so frequently reminds us, of the British employer to poach rather than to train has somehow to be set aside. If it is not to be done by a levy, or some system of tripartism, we suggest an alternative way in which it might be done.

There exist at the moment a set of institutions which the Government still have. Unfortunately, to judge by what the Minister has said this evening, they are thinking of privatising them (selling them all), but until they have all gone, the Government at least have a set of institutions. What they do not have is any kind of motivating force, anything to push people through the training process. That is what we suggest in the amendment. The Government may say that it is wrong in detail. We say that, whether it is right or wrong in detail, it is the right way forward and the only way forward for a government who have closed every other door. I beg to move.

Baroness Seear

Before the Minister tells us that employers will look after all this in their own enlightened self interest, I should like to ask him one or two questions. He has said that YTS is now the great recognised challenge for people going into employment and that it provides an excellent training. I was closely associated with YTS until the Minister arbitrarily abolished all the boards connected with it. Not that that matters; there are many other jobs to do.

We all knew then, and if the Minister knows anything about YTS he must know it too, that there was some extremely good YTS but there was some inferior YTS. What is perhaps more important even than that now, is that with rising employment opportunities for youngsters, a great many school leavers do not go through YTS; they obtain jobs directly, jobs which they still misguidedly call "real" jobs. The belief in training has not penetrated into their heads, their parents' heads or in many cases their school teachers' heads, and the fact that they can obtain rather more money in a job which is not in YTS has been the most enormous inducement not to go into YTS. That is what has been happening.

Some months ago, I asked the noble Viscount, Lord Davidson, who has just left the Committee, what proportion of those youngsters who went directly into employment rather than YTS were having day-time release. The answer was 5 per cent. That being so, I should be glad if the Minister could update the figure and tell us what is happening. It is a very important question: what is happening to the youngsters who do not go into the YTS? It is easy for them to avoid it now. I assure the Minister that a great many of them want to avoid it and are avoiding it. If employers are now so training-minded, we shall find that a great many of those youngsters are being given day-time release. If that is not now happening and if the figure which the noble Viscount, Lord Davidson, gave me months ago is still approximately the same, surely that is good evidence that not only the youngsters, their parents and their teachers, but also employers, are not convinced of the importance of training.

Lord Strathclyde

Perhaps I may respond briefly to the noble Baroness. I do not have at hand the information as to whether or not the figure of five per cent. on day release has changed. I am not at all convinced that the pure example of whether or not there is day release shows that there is effective or ineffective training in the private sector for young people. I am not sure that the noble Baroness has proved that it is not effective.

Perhaps I may turn to the amendment which we are discussing. It strikes me as a strange amendment. Not only is it radical, very novel and totally new; it also seems to go against current Labour Party policy as described in the policy review, Meet the Challenge, Make the Change. The noble Lord says "Excellent". That may well be.

Lord McCarthy

I did not say that.

Lord Strathclyde

It also seems to go,against the TUC retraining document, Skills 2000. That is a problem for the noble Lord and his party and not mine. I assume that the intention of this amendment is to increase the amount of appropriate training undertaken in this country. If so, I welcome and applaud the principle but have grave doubts as to its application.

We do not believe that compulsion is the answer. Employers are most likely to benefit from securing an adequate supply of skilled workers. They are also best placed to identify and meet emerging skill needs. This is why we have invited employer-led groups to set up TECs, to plan and deliver training at a local level.

Any regulation which sought to increase the volume of training investment, without taking account of these crucial factors, would be likely to result in training for its own sake with the consequent likelihood of increased employment costs and wasted investment. I have shown how much major investment the Government are making in training. I believe that this amendment would not further the cause of training.

Baroness Seear

I did not answer the noble Lord when he challenged me over day-time release. Of course I do not believe that day-time release is the be-all and end-all of training. It is not. Those of us who have been deeply involved in training in one way and another—and I rather wonder how involved the Minister has been in training—know that what we need is complementary training of a practical kind with some kind of day-time release in many cases, but not in all cases.

Because changes take place so fast in industry and people have to learn and be able to learn and learn again, there is a great deal that they need to know. The YTS experience, sadly, was that many of the youngsters who came from school were quite unprepared to cope with the demands which industry would make on them. They needed additional training outside.

Of course that training should be closely related to the training that goes on inside the place of work. But good training at the industrial level is not as common as I believe the Minister optimistically thinks. Some absolutely first-class training is going on but it is not just a matter of "sitting next to Nelly" and being told by someone what to do. It is a great deal more than that. A vast number of the smaller firms are incapable of giving that kind of training. They need outside assistance.

Finally I wish to ask the Minister this. With the new schemes that have been set up, what system of evaluation do the Government have to find out whether the schemes are working? Will we be told what system the Government have? How is this to be done? What will happen in a year's time? We are all deeply concerned about the development of training. We want to know how it will be checked and monitored, and that that process will be effective. What scheme has been set up for such monitoring?

10.15 p.m.

Lord Dormand of Easington

A propos those remarks, will the Minister say what training is to be given to the trainers? The point that the noble Baroness made is absolutely crucial. We can talk in broad terms about training, but the man in the training centre or on the shop floor, or wherever it is, has to be good at training. It is not just a question of being a craftsman; he has to know how to teach. He must be able to get the message over. That is absolutely crucial. Will the Minister say whether the Government will introduce training for trainers?

Lord Strathclyde

First, I shall respond to the noble Baroness. The framework that the Government are working under was introduced by the White Paper of last year. I am sure that the noble Baroness has read that. The essential framework has three levels at which to work: the local level, which involves the training and enterprise programmes; the industrial level, which involves standards and quality monitoring; and the national level which involves developing policies for priority. That is a multi-faceted approach to training as a whole. There is no desire for this Government to allow training to be forgotten. I hope that that case is virtually proved by the number of new initiatives that are being and have been introduced by the Government, and by the amount of money that has been spent.

As to qualitative assessment of how training works, the department is responsible for spending Government money. I, as a Minister, am responsible to Parliament for finding out how that money is being spent. There are continual studies made on how money is being spent and how effective that money is. It would be quite wrong if that were not the case. We must know how our policies are working and whether or not they are succeeding in their original intentions. That process will continue.

The noble Lord, Lord Dormand of Easington, asked a question about the training of trainers. I have to say that the training of trainers is already a feature of training agency activity. Again that activity is continually looked at, and where it is found to be failing it will be improved.

Lord McCarthy

The noble Lord has had a long and exhausting time at the Dispatch Box. He has taken on the Committee stage of the Bill single-handedly and, quite understandably, he is tiring. Even his advisers are tiring. At this time of night to come up with such a reply is not very good. The Minister referred to three levels. The TUC will not like them, but leave me with the TUC. The staff on the Walworth Road site will not like them, but leave me with them. The TUC and the staff on the Walworth Road site are extremely flexible these days, and they will adopt something quite similar. In any case it is not much of an argument to come from this Government. The TUC will not like it, the Walworth Road staff will not like it and, God Almighty, it is 10 minutes past ten o'clock! The Government can do better than that, but they do not do so. When they have exhausted that new line, they go back to the old one. The Government say that the matter should be left to employers. It is not a matter of asking the leopard to change its spots, but rather a matter of asking it to change its skin.

All the tests in terms of volume, level, comprehensiveness and the key groups which need to be trained, show that British employers will not train. If they would do so, we would not be where we are. We would not be trying year after year to find new ways to tackle training. All that the Government can find to say is that the TUC and the staff at the Walworth Road site may not like the idea, but we must leave the matter to the employers. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 4 [Dissolution of Training Commission: amendments of the Industrial Training Act 1982]

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 45: Page 24, line 1, leave out sub-paragraph (3).

The noble Lord said: The purpose of the amendments that we have tabled to the Industrial Training Act is to enable us to carry forward our policy on the development of sector-based training organisations. The White Paper Employment for the 1990s set out the Government's views on the need for a radical reform of the present training system. A new framework is needed if we are to address the challenges posed by increasing technological change, greater international competition and demographic change in our workforce.

I remind the Committee that in paragraph 4.8 the White Paper set out six key principles for successfully establishing that framework. They were, first, that training and vocational education must be designed to help business success and economic growth. Secondly, employers and individuals need to accept more responsibility for training, including the cost, with the Government's role being to set the framework and provide funds for training unemployed people.

Thirdly, the qualifications being obtained through training must embody recognised, nationally validated standards of competence that are relevant to employment, drawn up by industry-led organisations and covering every sector or occupational group. Fourthly, the training must provide young people and adults with the opportunity to secure qualifications based on those standards. Fifthly, responsibility for delivering training must be devolved to local areas and bring together private and public investment. Sixthly, enterprises, individuals and local communities must be able to influence the shape of local training.

That new framework will operate at three levels—national, industry and local. The amendments that we have tabled concern the industry level and involve the majority of the six principles that I have outlined. The main task of industry level training organisations is to identify and set standards for training, to ensure that those standards are recognised nationally, and to monitor the quality of employers' own training efforts.

We believe that the key to success lies in generating and maintaining commitment by employers themselves on a voluntary basis. Our objective is to see standards-setting bodies established by employers with widespread support from within the industries concerned. We do not believe that industrial training boards, based as they are on statutory regulation, have raised or indeed can raise sufficiently the standard and quality of training provided by employers themselves, particularly for their own employees.

We therefore ask the seven remaining boards, which between them cover 20 per cent. of the British workforce, to bring forward proposals to develop independent, voluntary training organisations with strong employer support which will not rise to a statutory level. Our objective is that so far as possible those will replace the statutory boards.

The Secretary of State has been considering those proposals carefully and will shortly make an announcement on the future arrangements in the sectors presently covered by statutory ITBs. The objective of the amendments is to make it easier to move from the present position of statutory boards to the employer-led voluntary organisations envisaged in the White Paper. We want to enable the transfer of those existing board functions that the successor bodies wish to continue to take place with the minimum loss of momentum.

We have therefore proposed new powers for the board's assets to be transferred and have extended the protection available to board employees involved in a transfer. We also propose changes to the consultation requirements on orders affecting the scope of ITBs and changes to the composition of boards to create the employer leadership that we believe is necessary to ease the transformation of boards to employer-led voluntary arrangements.

The changes proposed will also enable any boards which we decide should remain in being in the longer term to address more effectively the improvements in current performance that we all desire.

There are three new clauses and a number of minor consequential amendments to take forward our policy on industrial training boards. The first clause deals with the requirements on the Secretary of State to consult before making orders affecting the scope of ITBs. At present he has to consult relevant trade unions and employer associations. We believe that in future employers should be the only group with a statutory right to be consulted, although others can be consulted if the Secretary of State judges it appropriate. The clause will create a consultation process which reflects the proper balance of interests in establishing effective employer-led training arrangements.

The second new clause enables the key activities of ITBs to be continued without disruption during the transition of boards to non-statutory status. It provides that, where a board is to be wound up or its coverage reduced, it can, with the Secretary of State's agreement, pass on assets to a successor free or at less than market value to be used for charitable purposes connected with training for employment.

The position of staff involved in such a transfer will be safeguarded by extending the application of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations to them. Their existing terms and conditions of employment will thus be preserved. The general purpose of the clause is to smooth the transition from statutorily based ITBs to a voluntary approach which the Government believe offers the best prospect of better and more cost effective training arrangements. Both the firms and the industries affected and the staff of the ITBs involved will benefit from the change to voluntary status being achieved with minimum disruption.

The third new clause changes the balance of interest represented on ITBs to create clear employer leadership. This will enable the move from statutory ITBs to employer-led voluntary successor arrangements to take place more smoothly. Boards can be reconstituted to reflect more closely their eventual non-statutory composition prior to being wound up.

If the Government decide that it is appropriate to retain statutory boards in any sectors, this amendment would also ensure that they would be employer-led. This amendment will thus give ITBs the employer leadership that we believe is necessary to improve their effectiveness.

Under the terms of the clause the Secretary of State will in future be required to undertake consultation only with employer organisations before making appointments to ITBs. The majority of board members will have to be employers or managers within the relevant industry. He will be free to appoint others to membership of the board as appropriate and I am sure that he will use that power to ensure that the most important interests are represented within the context of clear employer leadership. The overall effect of these changes will be to help create the basis for improved effectiveness in sector-based training arrangements. I commend these amendments to the Committee. I beg to move.

Baroness Turner of Camden

As the Minister said, this series of amendments covers the Government's intentions in relation to industry training boards. The Minister said when he presented them to the Chamber that a new framework was needed. I believe that he was quoting from the original White Paper. If so, is this the framework? If it is, it seems to me that it needs to be greatly fleshed out. Since we have not had a great deal of time to consider these amendments, we on these Benches intend to reserve our position on them and come back on Report.

In the meantime, there are one or two questions that I should like to put to the Minister and one or two comments to make. First of all, with regard to existing industry training boards, both the CITB and the EITB are in touch with me. They seem to me to have played a constructive and useful role in the past. What exactly is to be their position in the future?

I must say to the Minister that my information is that the staff at the CITB are particularly worried about the amendments. They approached me today and asked whether I would be good enough to send them a copy of the amendments. They were very worried about what was entailed in them. It looks as though there has not been very much consultation with the staff of those bodies before these amendments came before this Chamber.

Secondly, what happens to the statutory role which I believe not just the unions but also employers think should exist in construction? I gather that the EITB is concerned about its engineering construction role and believes that there should be some kind of statutory role in relation to construction. That is also the view of the CITB. The Minister has dealt briefly with the intentions of the Government in relation to the staff of those bodies by referring to the reference to the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations of 1981. As I said in my previous contribution, those regulations give some protection in relation to contracts of employment but no protection at all as regards pensions, which are not covered by the regulations. I should be interested to know what kind of protection the staff can expect in that regard.

As regards the existing projects of the two ITBs to which I referred, and the EITB in particular, as I said earlier the EITB has undertaken a number of special projects and in particular a special project about women. I was involved in one of these project earlier in the year and was very impressed with what was being done. I talked to a seminar of women aged between 18 and 50 on the EITB project. None had previously been involved in engineering. Some were aiming to come back into the workforce after a break. One woman to whom I spoke was over 50 and recovering from a broken marriage. She said that the opportunity offered to acquire skilled training in this regard was giving her an entirely new lease of life. The visit was quite a moving experience. One would like those projects to continue.

I should like to know whether the successor bodies will have the finance and general resources available to continue with the very valuable work. The assets of the EITB will be transferred to the successor bodies. But what happens after those assets have been exhausted? Where will the resources come from to continue with these projects?

Finally, I understand that the EITB made some proposals to the Government in June. When can it expect to hear from the Government in relation to those proposals? Was that covered by the statement of the Minister when, presenting these amendments to the Committee, he said that the Government were shortly due to make clear their intentions in regard to the future of existing bodies?

With those few remarks, I do not intend tonight to oppose the amendments from these Benches. However, I give notice that we shall expect to have the opportunity of scrutinising them in more detail at Report stage. These are very complicated amendments. We have had very little time to examine them. Until the Minister spoke we had not had the opportunity of hearing the Government's intentions. For those reasons, we may want to put down some detailed amendments at the next stage.

Lord Strathclyde

In moving Amendment No. 45, I should have said that I was speaking also to Amendments Nos. 46, 55 to 58, 61, 63, 65, 67, 68 and 70.

I generally welcome the words of the noble Baroness. I understand exactly what she is saying: that she has not had time to read what I have said and to consider the comments that I made in what I know was quite a lengthy introductory speech. I shall welcome the chance to discuss some of these issues again when we reach Report stage.

Pehaps I may make a general comment about the future of the ITBs because I know that this is a matter about which many Members of the Committee are concerned. I made the point in my speech—and I shall do so again—that the Secretary of State has been considering very carefully a variety of proposals. He will shortly be making an announcement on future arrangements in the sector presently covered by the statutory ITBs. It would be wrong of me to try to pre-empt that decision now. I hope that the noble Baroness and Members of the Committee opposite respect that view and see that the amendments are enabling amendments to carry forward our policy on the development of sector-based training organisations as laid out in the employment White Paper.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

10.30 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 46: Page 24, line 11, at end insert— ("( ) In subsection (7), for "section 3(2)" substitute "section 3(1)(b)".").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 4, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 5 [Dissolution of Training Commission; supplementary provisions.]:

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendments Nos. 47 to 54: Page 26, line 36, leave out ("and"). Page 26, line 37, at end insert ("; and the relevant Minister" (subject to paragraph 4(3) of this Schedule) means—

  1. (a) in relation to any function of the Commission, the Secretary of State; and
  2. (b) in relation to any property, right or liability of the Commission, the Secretary of State for Employment.").
Page 26, line 37, at end insert—

("Incorporation of Secretary of State for Employment

1A.—(1) The person who on the date on which this Act is passed is Secretary of State for Employment and his successors shall be, by that name, a corporation sole, with a corporate seal.

(2) The corporate seal of the Secretary of State for Employment shall be authenticated by the signature of a Secretary of State or of a Secretary to the Department of Employment, or by a person authorised by a Secretary of State to act for the purpose.

(3) The corporate seal of the Secretary of State for Employment shall be officially and judicially noticed, and every document purporting to be an instrument made or issued by the Secretary of State for Employment and to be sealed with that seal authenticated in the manner provided by sub-paragraph (2), or to be signed or executed by a Secretary to the Department of Employment, or a person authorised as mentioned in that sub-paragraph, shall be received in evidence and be deemed to be so made or issued without further proof, unless the contrary is shown.

(4) A certificate signed by the Secretary of State for Employment that any instrument purporting to be made or issued by him was so made or issued shall be conclusive evidence of that fact.

(5) Any document made or issued at any time before the date on which this Act is passed—

  1. (a) by the Secretary of State for Employment (whether as such or as the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity), or
  2. (b) by the Minister of Labour in connection with matters which, on that date, fall within the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Employment,
shall, if effective immediately before that date, have effect as from that date as if it had been made or issued by the Secretary of State for Employment as a corporation sole; and where the document was sealed or signed as mentioned in section 11(2) of the New Ministries and Secretaries Act 1916 (as in force at the time of the sealing or signing of the document) it shall have effect as from that date as if it had been sealed or (as the case may be) signed as mentioned in sub-paragraph (3) above.

(6) Accordingly any document to which section 11(2) of that Act applied immediately before that date shall be treated for the purposes of sub-paragraph (3) above as if it were a document purporting to be such an instrument as is mentioned in that sub-paragraph; and the repeal by this Act of section 11(3) of that Act shall not affect the validity of any certificate issued before that date in pursuance of that provision.").

Page 26, line 42, leave out ("Secretary of State") and insert ("relevant Minister").

Page 26, line 45, leave out ("Secretary of State") and insert ("relevant Minister").

Page 27, leave out lines 26 to 32.

Page 27, leave out lines 33 to 37 and insert—

("4.—(1) The power of the Secretary of State to make determinations under paragraph 6 of Schedule 1 to the Employment and Training Act 1973 shall, notwithstanding the repeal by this Act of that paragraph, continue to be exercisable by him in relation to preserved pensions.

(2) Any function which immediately before the date on which this Act is passed was a function of the Commission in relation to preserved pensions (other than its function of making payments in respect of such pensions) shall on t lat date become a function of the Secretary of State.

(3) References to the relevant Minister in paragraphs 2 and 3 of this Schedule shall, in the application of those paragraphs in relation to—

  1. (a) the Commission's function of making payments in respect of preserved pensions, or
  2. (b) any liability in respect of such pensions which is transferred by section 20(2A) of this Act,
be construed as references to the Paymaster General.

(4) In this paragraph "preserved pensions" means pensions, superannuation allowances or gratuities in respect of which liabilities are transferred to the Paymaster General by section 20(2A) of this Act.").

Page 27, leave out lines 38 to 41.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 5, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendments Nos. 55 and 56: Before Clause 21, insert the following new clause:

("Consultation in connection with industrial training orders.

. In section 1 of the Industrial Training Act 1982 (establishment of industrial training boards), the following subsection shall be substituted for subsections (4) and (5)—

"(4) Before making an industrial training order the Secretary of State shall consult—

  1. (a) such organisations or associations of organisations appearing to him to be representative of substantial numbers of employers, and such bodies established for the purpose of carrying on under national ownership any industry or part of an industry or undertaking, as he thinks fit; and
  2. (b) such other organisations, associations or bodies (if any) as he thinks fit." ").

Insert the following new clause:

("Transfer of assets or staff of industrial training boards. 1982 c. 10.

.—(1) The following sections shall be inserted after section 3 of the Industrial Training Act 1982

"Transfer of assets on revocation or amendment of industrial training order.

3A.—(1) Where an order has been made under section 1 above which—

  1. (a) revokes an industrial training order, or
  2. (b) amends such an order so as to exclude from the scope of operation of an industrial training board some of the activities in relation to which it exercises functions,

the board concerned—

  1. (i) may with the consent of the Secretary of State, or
  2. (ii) shall if he so directs,
transfer all or any of its assets to any person on trust to be used for charitable purposes which are related to or connected with training for employment.

(2) A transfer under subsection (1) above may be made for a consideration which is less than the market value of the assets transferred or for no consideration; and different assets may be transferred by a board under that subsection to different persons.

(3) It is hereby declared that a transfer under subsection (1) above may be made in a case where an industrial training order is revoked even if the assets of the board concerned are (or will be after the transfer) insufficient to meet its liabilities and the expenses of the winding up of the board in pursuance of section 4(1) below.

(4) Subject to subsection (5) below, the provisions of section 15(5) to (9) below shall apply in relation to any direction given by the Secretary of State under subsection (1) above as they apply in relation to any direction given by him under section 15(1) or (2) below.

(5) Where any such direction is given in a case where an industrial training order is revoked, those provisions shall so apply with the omission from section 15(6) below of the words from "during such period" onwards.

Transfer of staff employed by boards.

3B.—(1) If arrangements are made (whether in connection with a transfer of assets under section 3A(1) above or otherwise) for any activities of an industrial training board to be carried on by some other person ("the transferee") as from a particular date, this section shall have effect in relation to any employee of the board who, immediately before that date, was employed wholly or mainly in connection with those activities.

(2) The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 shall apply in relation to any such employee of the board in accordance with subsection (3) below.

(3) For the purposes of the application of those Regulations in relation to any such employee, the activities referred to in subsection (1) above shall (whether or not they would otherwise be so regarded) be regarded—

  1. (a) as constituting an undertaking within the meaning of those Regulations which is transferred from the board to the transferee on the date referred to in that subsection, and
  2. (b) as being so transferred by a transfer to which those Regulations apply and which is completed on that date.

(4) A certificate issued by an industrial training board, in connection with any such arrangements as are referred to in subsection (1) above, to the effect that a person was, immediately before the date referred to in that subsection, employed by the board wholly or mainly in connection with the activities to which the arrangements relate shall be conclusive evidence of the facts stated in the certificate."

(2) In section 4(2) of the Industrial Training Act 1982 (winding up of industrial training boards), the following provisions shall be substituted for paragraph (b)—

"(b) for any assets of the board which are not required to meet those liabilities and expenses to be transferred to the Secretary of State and for those assets to be applied for purposes specified in the order.

Any reference in this subsection to the assets of the board is a reference to the assets (if any) held by it after the making of any transfer or transfers under section 3A(l) above." ").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 57: Before Clause 21, insert the following new clause:

("Constitution of industrial training boards.

.—(1) In Schedule 1 to the Industrial Training Act 1982 (constitution etc. of industrial training boards), the following paragraph shall be substituted for paragraph 3—

"3.—(1) An industrial training board shall consist of—

  1. (a) a chairman and, if the Secretary of State thinks fit, a deputy chairman, each of whom shall be a person appearing to the Secretary of State to have industrial or commercial experience;
  2. (b) such number of persons appointed after the appropriate consultation as the Secretary of State thinks fit; and
  3. (c) such other persons (if any) whom it appears to the Secretary of State to be appropriate to appoint in addition to those appointed by virtue of paragraph (b) above.

(2) A person appointed by virtue of sub-paragraph (1)(b) above shall at the time of his appointment be a person appearing to the Secretary of State to be concerned (whether as a director, manager or sole proprietor or otherwise) in the management of the activities, or any of the activities, of an employer engaging in the industry; and the reference in that provision to the appropriate consultation is a reference to consultation with such organisations, or associations of organisations, representative of employers engaging in the industry as appear to the Secretary of State to be appropriate.

(3) The Secretary of State shall not make any appointment by virtue of sub-paragraph (1)(c) above if to do so would result in the number of persons for the time being appointed by virtue of that provision being equal to, or greater than, the number of persons for the time being appointed by virtue of sub-paragraph (1)(b) above.

(4) References in the following provisions of this Schedule to a chairman include a deputy chairman."

(2) Subject to subsection (4) below, the Secretary of State may reconstitute the membership of an industrial training board as from any time after the passing of this Act—

  1. (a) by terminating such of the appointments of its existing members as would otherwise expire after that time, and
  2. (b) by making fresh appointments to it, as from that time, in accordance with the provisions substituted by subsection (1) above.

(3) The termination of a person's appointment to an industrial training board in accordance with paragraph (a) of subsection (2) above shall not preclude him from being re-appointed to the board in pursuance of paragraph (b) of that subsection.

(4) The power conferred on the Secretary of State by subsection (2) above shall not be exercisable in relation to an industrial training board if all of its members were appointed to it in accordance with the provisions substituted by subsection (1) above (whether they were so appointed in pursuance of subsection (2)(b) above or otherwise).").

Baroness Turner of Camden moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 57, Amendment No. 58: Line 19, in the proposed new paragraph 3, at end of sub-paragraph (2) insert— ("(2A) The Secretary of State shall consult with those organisations which appear to him to be representative of the employees in the industry concerned and shall seek from them nominations of suitable persons to serve on the Board, the final decision on appointment to be left with the Secretary of State.").

The noble Baroness said: The reason for the amendment is fairly clear. The Minister has given plenty of evidence during the course of the debate that the Government are not keen on the tripartite nature of much of our industrial training arrangements to date. He has said some rather unkind things about trade unions' attitude to training. I have an opportunity now to refute some of what he said. He said that the TUC's attitude has been negative. That really is not the case. The trade union movement in my experience—I was a trade union official for a large number of years—has always been very keen on training. The opposition from the TUC General Council arose only when it believed that some of the Government schemes were not proper schemes at all, or were not what we regarded as quality schemes, and could lead to the exploitation, particularly of young people, by employers who would see those schemes as an opportunity to use young people as cheap labour.

It was the quality of the schemes, rather than opposition to training as a whole, which led the unions to take the view that they did. They have always been in favour of a tripartite approach. Until relatively recently, previous governments have been in favour of a tripartite approach because the original industry training Act, under which the industrial training boards were established, was introduced in 1965 under a Conservative administration. We see no reason why that tripartite philosophy should be departed from.

Amendment No. 58, as an amendment to the Government Amendment No. 57, provides that the Secretary of State should consult organisations which appear to him to be representative of employers in the industry concerned and should seek from them nominations of suitable persons to serve on the board, but the final decision on appointment would, of course, be left with the Secretary of State. That seems to us to be entirely reasonable. We do not see how any scheme of industrial training can possibly succeed unless there is involvement of representatives of the workforce. That is especially important at work place level. It is important for the people who are asked to co-operate at work place level with training schemes to understand that their unions are involved at a higher level and that their unions are committed to the schemes. Where that has happened I know from my own experience that there has been support at work place level for schemes that have been introduced.

Certainly during my period as a union official, my own unions supported YTS where it was felt that they were genuine schemes which would genuinely lead to proper training and work opportunities for young people. We have never adopted a negative attitude. Indeed it does a disservice to all preceding generations of both employers and trade unionists to give the impression that that has been the case in the past. That has never been the case and it is wrong for the Government to attempt to lay at the doors of the tripartite philosophy and system the past failures of training in this country. That is not the right place to lay blame. It can more easily, effectively and rightly be laid at the door of many managements which have not been prepared to take training seriously or to participate effectively in training operations. I beg to move.

Lord Strathclyde

I apologise for the mix-up over which amendment we had reached. It was entirely my fault. Our approach to sector-based training organisations is to encourage, where possible, the creation of voluntary employer-led bodies to attract the commitment of senior management within the relevant sectors. The government amendment is designed to assist in this process by providing for employer-led statutory boards either as a step towards employer-led voluntary arrangements or, if we decide that it is appropriate, any continuing statutory boards.

As I noted in moving the new clause we would expect boards to contain representatives of all those interested in securing adequate training arrangements—and, in particular, industries—and the Secretary of State will be free to consult and appoint as he considers appropriate. We do not believe that it will assist the task of attracting greater employer commitment to sector-based training to impose further obligations on the Secretary of State as regards consultation and membership of the ITBs. However, we recognise the interests of employees and their representatives in the matter.

I hope that in the light of that explanation the noble Baroness will withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Seear

The Minister must realise that there is an age-long tradition of trade union involvement in training. The trade unions have taken an active part. Sometimes they have been obstructive; I do not agree entirely with the noble Baroness, Lady Turner. Not all unions in all areas have been favourable. But many have. Good training cannot be carried out inside an organisation unless there is active support from employees.

This is a modest little amendment. It does not ask for any powers for the representatives of labour; simply that they should be consulted. The Minister's hatred of trade unions has appeared this evening. Surely he is not so doctrinaire in his refusal to understand that in any enterprise it is essential to have the backing of the workforce for anything of this kind. The knowledge that representatives have given their support filters down. Otherwise rumours and stories develop and there will be antagonism towards new kinds of training. By refusing this simple little amendment the Minister is making it unnecessarily difficult to get new training under way. It asks simply for consultation and not for powers.

Lord Strathclyde

I do not hate trade unions. I think that there is a time and a place for everything and that trade unions provide a valuable service at the right time and in the right place. However, this is not it. I understand exactly why the noble Baroness speaks about trade unions in such glowing terms and I know that she really believes it. However, we have already tried with trade unions and it has not worked. They have not always proved themselves to be entirely responsible.

The noble Baroness said that this is a minor amendment. It is so minor that it is almost unnecessary. We have said that the Secretary of State will consult and I believe that that is good enough.

Lord Rochester

Paragraph 3(1)(c) of the new clause in Amendment No. 57 states: An industrial training board shall consist of such other persons (if any) whom it appears to the Secretary of State to be appropriate to appoint in addition to those appointed by virtue of paragraph (b) above". Can the Minister assure us that people who are professional trainers will be considered as possible members of such boards?

Lord Strathclyde

We are generally looking at that sort of proposal in a positive way.

10.45 p.m.

Baroness Turner of Camden

The Committee will not be surprised to know that I do not find the Minister's response to this amendment satisfactory. As the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, said, this is an extremely modest amendment. I drafted it thinking that perhaps it was so modest it might commend itself to the Government because it says: shall consult with those organisations which appear to him to be representative of the employees in the industry". That gives the Secretary of State a great deal of latitude as to the organisations which he considers suitable and which he will approach. Of course, the final decision on appointment is left with the Secretary of State.

I really do not understand how this amendment can be opposed except by a government who are quite oblivious to the views of the workforce and in opposition to any views which might be voiced by trade unions or organisations representative of the staff and employees concerned.

I believe that this is a quite incredible response to a very modest suggestion. Although I shall not press the amendment at this hour of the night, I believe that we shall have to think about this matter again. As the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, said, the involvement of the workforce and its willing participation and co-operation as regards training at workplace level is terribly important. If the organisations representative of the workforce are being deliberately excluded by the Government, it is quite likely that the schemes will not effectively get off the ground no matter what the Government may tell us about them. I shall withdraw the amendment but we really must look at this matter.

Amendment No. 58, as an amendment to Amendment No. 57, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Amendment No. 57 agreed to.

Clause 21 agreed to.

Clause 22 [Power to make corresponding provision for Northern Ireland]:

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 59: Page 16, line 36, leave out ("10") and insert ("6, 7(1), 8 to 10, (:Exemption of Sikhs from requirement to wear safety helmets on construction sites)").

The noble Lord said: I shall speak also to Amendment Nos. 60 and 64. The amendments in this group are purely technical or consequential on other amendments, making some minor changes to parts of the Bill which relate to Northern Ireland. Amendment No. 59 is intended mainly to ensure that the new exemption we are giving turban-wearing Sikhs from forthcoming requirements to wear head protection on construction sites can be implemented swiftly in Northern Ireland on a par with Great Britain. Similar requirements on safety helmets are to be introduced in Northern Ireland, and it is desirable in principle to provide a similar exemption for turban-wearing Sikhs.

I understand that at present there are believed to be relatively few Sikhs in the construction industry in Northern Ireland, but of course this may change, and in any event it does not seem to be a point on which a geographical distinction should be made. The amendment therefore enables corresponding provisions to be made for Northern Ireland in the quickest and most convenient way.

Amendment No. 60 corrects a technical error in the definition of Northern Ireland subordinate legislation; and Amendment No. 64 removes a potential ambiguity in Schedule 7 (Repeals) which might have led people to misinterpret the Northern Ireland legal position. I reiterate that these amendments raise no new issues of principle and I commend them to the Committee. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 60: Page 16, line 46, leave out from ("any") to end of line and insert ("statutory rule for the purposes of the Statutory Rules (Northern Ireland) Order 1979 made under such an Order as is mentioned in paragraph (a).

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 22, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 23 and 24 agreed to.

Schedule 6 [Minor and consequential amendments]

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 61: Page 33, line 41, at end insert—


28A. In paragraph 6 of Schedule 1 (persons entitled to vote in connection with a levy), for the words from "sub-paragraph (a)" to "that sub-paragraph" substitute "sub-paragraph (1)(b) of paragraph 3 above".").

On Question, amendment, agreed to.

Schedule 6, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 7 [Repeals]:

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendments Nos. 62, 63 and 64: Page 34, line 5, at end insert—

("1916 c. 68. New Ministries and Secretaries Act 1916. The whole Act.").
Page 36, line 25, column 3, at end insert—
("Section 29(1) so far as relating to the Industrial Training Act 1982.").
Page 39, line 7, column 3, leave out ("subsection (5)") and insert (", in subsection (5), the words from "except for the purpose" onwards.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 7, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 8 agreed to.

Schedule 9 [Transitional provisions and savings]:

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Lockwood)

Before calling Amendment No. 65 I must draw attention to the incorrect wording of paragraph (1) which should read:

("Appointments to industrial training boards

.—(1) The amendments by this Act of paragraph 3 and 6 of Schedule 1 to the Industrial Training Act 1982 shall not apply to an industrial training board during any period during which any member of the board appointed before the passing of this Act remains in office by virtue of that appointment.

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 65: Page 41, line 39, at end insert—

("Appointments to industrial training boards

.—(1) The amendments by this Act of paragraph 3 and 6 of Schedule 1 to the Industrial Training Act 1982 shall not apply to an industrial training board during any period during which any member of the board appointed before the passing of this Act remains in office by virtue of that appointment.

(2) Sub-paragraph (1) above shall not be taken as precluding the Secretary of State during any such period from making appointments to the board in accordance with that Schedule as amended by this Act where they are to take effect at any time after the end of that period.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 9, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 25 [Short title, commencement and extent]:

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendments Nos. 66 to 69: Page 18, line 5, at end insert— ("( ) section (Exemption of Sikhs from requirement to wear safety helmets on constructions sites) and (Protection of Sikhs from racial discrimination in connection with wearing of safety helmets);") Page 18, line 6, at end insert— ("( ) sections (Consultation in connection with industrial training orders), (Transfer of assets or staff of industrial training boards) and (Consultation of industrial training boards);") Page 18, line 10, leave out (", 27 and 28") and insert ("and 27 to 28A") Page 18, line 43, at end insert— ("( ) pararaph 1A of Schedule 5 and section 20(4) so far as relating thereto;").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 25, as amended, agreed to.

In the Title:

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 70: Line 11, after ("Commission;") insert ("to make further provision with respect to industrial training boards;").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Title, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.