HC Deb 25 November 1920 vol 135 cc668-9W

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the feeling among ex-service men at the delays and hindrances which are put in their way of obtaining either training or admission as apprentices in many industries; and whether he will take steps more effectively to combat this differentiation?


I am aware that there is dissatisfaction among ex-service men regarding the rate at which facilities for training are being made available. But I do not think that there have in fact been such delays as regards ex-service men whose apprenticeship was interrupted by their War service. As regards the training of disabled men, I would point out that when the Training Schemes of this Department were first initiated, certain delays were inevitable owing to the difficulties encountered in the acquisition, alteration and equipment of suitable premises. These difficulties have now, I am glad to say, been largely surmounted. As illustrating the progress made, perhaps I may say that the number of ex-service men, apart from men whose apprenticeships had been interrupted, awaiting training which stood at 28,000 on the 1st March last, has now been reduced to 17,000, and of these nearly 5,000 new names have been added to the list during the last two months. The number of men in training in January last was about 17,000, by the 1st May it had increased to 22,000, and now stands at over 25,000. Since the 1st May no fewer than 14,535 have been placed in training, i.e., the average rate of placing has been over 500 a week. Since August 1st, 1919, between 20,000 and 21,000 men have terminated their training. As regards men whose apprenticeships were interrupted by war service, of 44,827 agreements received, no fewer than 42,868 have been accepted, 1,809 having been refused. 29,391 apprentices are still in training, and the agreements in the remaining 13,477 cases have terminated in the great majority of cases satisfactorily. That the number of men in training has not further increased is due, not only to the causes I have already mentioned, hut also to the limited absorptive capacity of the various trades at a time of industrial depression like the present.

My hon. and gallant Friend is no doubt aware that in every skilled trade a national trade advisory committee, composed of equal numbers of employers and employed, has been set up. One of its functions is to advise the Ministry as to the numbers of men who can be absorbed into each industry with a reasonable prospect of employment upon the completion of their training. These committees have in turn set up local technical advisory committees to deal with each particular area in which training in any trade is carried out; and the action of such committees must tend to limit the rate at which men can be placed in training, especially during a period such as this, when unemployment is on the increase.