HL Deb 20 March 1991 vol 527 cc623-5

2.50 p.m.

Lord Dormand of Easington asked Her Majesty's Government:

What has been the total cost to date of advertising related to the training and enterprise councils.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Employment (Viscount Ullswater)

My Lords, the total cost so far of advertising relating to training and enterprise councils is £11.1 million. This consists of £1.1 million spent in 1988–89 and 1989–90 for the initial launch of TECs; £5 million committed in 1990–91 for the current advertising campaign; and a further £5 million committed in 1991–92 to this campaign.

Lord Dormand of Easington

My Lords, why is there such a huge increase in TEC advertising at the present time? Is it not the case that many of the councils are not achieving their objectives and that the massive advertising campaign now being undertaken is little more than a cover-up of the Government's failure to deal adequately with training?

Viscount Ullswater

My Lords, I do not agree with the last part of the noble Lord's supplementary question. The timing is particularly appropriate in relation to the development of the training and enterprise councils. Approximately 51 TECs have become operational since April 1990 and a further 20 or so will become operational from Tuesday, 2nd April 1991. Therefore the timing of the campaign to advertise the TECs' existence and to promote training and enterprise could not have been better.

Baroness Turner of Camden

My Lords, is it not a fact that employment training is expected to lose 60,000 places this year as a result of cuts in funding? Despite the Minister's Answer, will that not result in redundancies among training staff, which will be disastrous for the future training programme?

Viscount Ullswater

My Lords, that is another question. The Question on the Order Paper relates to the cost of advertising TECs.

Lord Carr of Hadley

My Lords, does my noble friend agree that, since the TEC scheme has been perhaps the most important and valuable development in training in this country during my adult lifetime, this is the right moment to market it with the greatest possible force and with the maximum resources?

Viscount Ullswater

My Lords, I am happy to agree with my noble friend. The TECs have been most keen to be brought to public attention at a national level so that there is an awareness of their existence and their role, in particular among employers. There is no point in having such help available if people do not know about it.

Baroness Phillips

My Lords, is the Minister aware that many teachers believe not only that the advertising is colossally expensive, but that one advertisement is sexist because the woman is portrayed as being stupid whereas the man appears to be full of information?

Viscount Ullswater

My Lords, the noble Baroness has her own way of reading things into what the advertisement states. I am grateful to her and to her noble friend Lord Dormand for bringing the TECs to your Lordships' attention. I am delighted to think that, whereas the advertising campaign has made its mark with the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, other noble Lords may now become aware of it.

Baroness David

My Lords, is the Minister aware that we have known of its existence for some time. Is he further aware that we are surprised that so much money is being spent on advertising the TECs when they are complaining of being kept short of money? Would not some of the money be better spent on the training?

Viscount Ullswater

My Lords, research carried out following the launch of the TEC movement revealed a low rate of awareness. It showed that when asked a direct question 5 per cent. of employers knew about TECs. However, with prompting and after a description had been read out 34 per cent. said that they knew about the TECs. After the current campaign we expect awareness to be between 60 and 70 per cent.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

My Lords, does my noble friend agree that the TECs will welcome the announcement made yesterday by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget, that it will be possible for people undertaking training for vocational qualifications to set the cost of that training against tax? Does my noble friend agree that that will be of great help to TECs in developing their training base?

Viscount Ullswater

My Lords, I agree with my noble friend. The important point about the advertising campaign is that the Government, and from next year the TECs, are spending £2.7 billion on a training programme. It is important that knowledge about TECs should be improved.

Lord Hutchinson of Lullington

My Lords, the Minister referred to the knowledge of Members of this House. Is he aware that those Members who have been involved with the resettlement of offenders have heard, for instance, that NACRO has had to lay off 1,000 trained personnel since the establishment of the TECs and as a result of their failure to fund such organisations? Is the Minister aware that many noble Lords have learnt about TECs as a result of that information and not through advertising?

Viscount Ullswater

My Lords, that is an interesting question. 1f the noble Lord wishes to table such a Question on the Order Paper I shall answer it.

Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge

My Lords, does the Minister remember that we have corresponded about the subject for months and therefore it is not a matter of an extra Question?

Viscount Ullswater

My Lords, I return to the central theme about the cost of advertising TECs. It is important that the available help that they are giving nationally and locally should be well known not only among employers but among employees.

Lord Dormand of Easington

My Lords, is it merely a coincidence that a similar increase in the advertising of training—one might almost call it an explosion — took place before the 1987 General Election? Have not the Government now, as then, simply failed to convince the country, the unemployed and the employers about the importance of training?

Viscount Ullswater

My Lords, the department's expenditure on advertising and publicity material has fallen since 1987-88 from £42 million to £27 million, with a budget for £17 million in the next year.