§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ The Minister of Labour (Mr. J. B. Godber)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
The object of the Bill is greatly to improve training in industry and commerce through the establishment of industrial training boards. The Bill gives effect to the proposals set out in the White Paper presented by my predecessor in December last year. I am sure that the House will join me in paying a tribute to my noble Friend, who brought a striking new sense of purpose to the activities of the Ministry of Labour. It is to his positive approach and to his drive and initiative that the Bill owes its origin and its presence here as the first Bill to be debated in this Session of Parliament.
In giving credit to my predecessor, I welcome and endorse this legacy which I have received from him. It is a privilege to take charge of the Bill in its passage to the Statute Book. I say this because I equally am convinced of the need for better industrial training and I look upon this as fitting completely into the pattern of modernisation for which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has called.
By improving and, in particular, by raising the general level of training in industry, we will be providing greater opportunity and security for those who are trained and a sounder basis for British industry as a whole to competein the markets of the world. That is what we all want.
As this is my first speech in the House as Minister of Labour, I want to say that I look upon my present task as an opportunity to assist both sides of industry to work together ever more closely for their joint benefit and for that of the nation as a whole.
The Bill is an excellent example of what can be done in that direction. Beyond that, however, there are other spheres, too. In particular, there is the important problem of communications within industry, of creating and ensuring greater understanding between employers and unions, between management 1002 and workers. It is oversimplifying the issue to say that the interests of management and workers are always the same, because they are not. The important thing is that it should be seen, and that they should see, that their interests are always complementary rather than divergent, for if they are divergent they hurt each and help neither. A greater recognition of this is needed on both sides and this is a theme to which I shall return on other occasions.
Since the publication of the White Paper, consultations have taken place with a large number of organisations on all sides of industry and also with representatives of interested education organisations. My right hon. Friends and I have been very encouraged by the warm welcome which the proposals have generally received. There have, of course, been differences of opinion on points of detail, and I shall refer to some of these as I go on—I shall be surprised if the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter) does not refer to some of them—but there has been universal agreement with both the aims of the White Paper and the means which it has proposed for achieving them.
In all this, there has been the closest co-operation with the Ministry of Education and with the Scottish Education Department. It could hardly have been otherwise, for further education and industrial training are essentially complementary to each other. It is difficult to draw any hard and fast line between the two. To be fully effective, each needs and must have the full support of the other. The Bill recognises this in the provision that it makes for educational representation on the boards and on the Central Training Council and for the attendance at meetings of the boards of officers of the Ministry of Education and of the Scottish Education Department.
Although the Bill provides that I, as Minister of Labour, shall bear the main responsibility, I need hardly say that in exercising my powers I shall work very closely with my right hon. Friends the Minister of Education and the Secretary of State for Scotland. This is a joint operation. It is, therefore, particularly appropriate that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education will be winding up the debate this evening, and I propose 1003 to leave him to deal mainly with the education implications that will arise.
The Bill is quite short. It would be wrong to seek to specify in detail in an Act of Parliament the way in which training should be organised throughout the whole of industry. Conditions differ widely between one industry and another and what would be appropriate in one case could be quite unsuitable in another. The Bill therefore provides a broad framework on which the training arrangements best suited to the needs of individual industries can be built.
Clause 1 empowers me to define an industry and to set up a training board for it. Before establishing a board, I shall be required to consult representatives of employers' and workers'organisations in the industry concerned. Following the precedent of the Industrial Organisation and Development Act, 1947, industries will be defined by reference to "activities". This includes commercial as well as industrial activities. The practical effect of this will be that the Minister of Labour will be empowered, although not obliged, to set up training boards to cover not only manufacturing industry, but also such activities as, for instance, retail distribution, catering and banking.
The Bill includes nationalised industries within its scope and it includes local authorities in so far as they or their employees may be engaging in an activity of industry or commerce. It does not apply to the activities of local government as such, nor does it apply to the Crown. I shall say more about that later.
If a firm is engaged in a variety of activities coming within the definition of more than one industry, it will be possible to secure that for the purposes of the Bill each of the various establishments of the firm belongs to one industry only and pays a levy to only one board. If this were done, a separate engineering maintenance establishment, for example, of a large firm primarily engaged in, say, the chemical industry might come within the scope of the engineering board. If, on the other hand, a firm in the chemical industry employed only a few maintenance fitters, these men could come within the scope of the chemical industry board. There must be flexibility. Clearly, there 1004 will be difficulty over lines of demarcation and we must have sufficient flexibility to bring all those working in an establishment within one board or another.
The composition of the training boards is set out in the Schedule to the Bill. All the members of the boards will be appointed by the Minister, although before appointing employer and worker members I shall be required to consult the appropriate organisations on the two sides of the industry. In appointing the education members, I shall have to consult my colleagues the Education Ministers.
Beyond specifying that there shall be an equal number of employer and worker members, the Schedule deliberately says nothing about actual numbers. It would be a mistake to specify in the Bill that boards should be all of the same size. It will, however, be my aim to keep boards as small as possible, although in some industries they will obviously need to be larger than in others.
By way of illustration, the general pattern which I have in mind is that if a board were to consist of fourteen members, five of them would be employers' representatives, five would be workers' representatives, three would represent the education interests and the fourteenth member would be the chairman, who, according to the Bill, must be someone with industrial or commercial experience. The line which I am taking concerning the chairman is that he could come from another industry, and in most cases it would probably be appropriate that he should. This, however, is not essential. It is a matter that can be settled in relation to any particular board. There will be power to pay the chairman, but the other members of the board will not be paid.
Paragraph 5 of the Schedule provides that neither the chairman nor the education members shall have a vote on matters relating to the imposition of a levy. This is important. The employers in the industries will have to pay the levy. The workers in it will be directly affected by the decisions of the board. Both the British Employers' Confederation and the Trades Union Congress have argued that decisions on the imposition of a levy should be taken only by those members of the board who have a direct interest 1005 and responsibility within the industry. My colleagues and I have thought it right to accept this view.
I have said that there will be equal numbers of employers' and workers'representatives on the board. This means that it will be possible for a deadlock to arise over the proposals to be made in relation to a levy. If this could not be resolved, I call attention to the reserve powers given to the Minister in Clause 7. These could come into operation, but both the British Employers' Confederation and the Trades Union Congress consider that the mere existence of these default powers should be sufficient in almost all cases to ensure that boards reach agreement on this point.
Some fears have been expressed by representatives of education organisations that the wordsany matter relating to the imposition ot a levyin the Schedule might be interpreted by a board so widely as to prevent the education members from having any effective say in the policies pursued by the board. I am advised that on a strict reading these words could not bear so wide an interpretation. I think that those fears are groundless. I would make it clear that it is certainly my intention that these members shall have the opportunity to play a full and active part in the deliberations of the boards. I say that deliberately because I want to make this point quite clear.
The White Paper suggested that Government Departments would need to be represented on the boards. I think that it would be more appropriate for them to attend board meetings but not as voting members. The Bill therefore provides that the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Education, the Secretary of State for Scotland, and other Ministers, where I consider this appropriate, may each appoint an officer to attend meetings of a board, but they will not be voting members. So much for the Schedule.
Clause 2 sets out the functions of the boards. A board will have two main duties—to ensure that the amount of training in its industry is sufficient, and to publish recommendations with regard to the nature and the length of training for different occupations and the further 1006 education which should be associated with it. To assist boards to carry out the first of these duties they will be empowered to provide training courses themselves and to enter into contracts of service or apprenticeship with their trainees. It has been suggested that some boards might wish to make themselves responsible for the initial period of training for all apprentices. The Bill will give them power to do this if they so choose. This is the flexibility of the Bill, which I think is important.
Two criticisms have been made of the way in which the second of the two duties to which I referred a moment ago which the Bill places on the boards has been formulated. The first criticism is that too much discretion is left to the boards. It has been suggested, forexample, that the Bill itself ought to specify that no period of apprenticeship should last for more than three years. I have every sympathy with those who think that the length of apprenticeship in many occupations is at this time too long; but there are many complications in this subject, as hon. Members will know. In any case, a statutory provision of this kind will, in my view, be far too rigid. Maximum periods, incidentally, have a habit of becoming minima and I see no point in making "three" a magic figure in place of the present five.
Changing industrial requirements and improved methods of training could well in some cases—I think that we must face this in due course—make even three years too long. Boards will exercise their functions in accordance with proposals submitted to, and approved by, me. I think that this will prove to be a more satisfactory and a more flexible arrangement than to include detailed specifications of this nature in the Bill.
Having indicated that I do not think that this particular problem is one to be met by legislation, I want it to be quite clear that in my view one of the benefits that should flow from the higher standards of training that we seek to establish is a fresh and a more flexible attitude by thoseconcerned towards the whole question of the period of apprenticeship. I very much hope that all those concerned will have a hard new look at their own thinking on this subject and will come to admit that what was 1007 relevant fifty years ago does not necessarily meet the needs of the present time.
The second criticism relates to the use of the word "recommendations". Boards should merely recommend, it has been said: they should have power to insist. I do not think that this argument attaches sufficient weight to the financial arrangements which the board will control. Under the terms of the Bill, employers will be free, as now, to train or not to train, though they will all contribute towards the cost of that training. If they train, they will not be obliged to follow a board's recommendations, for they are only recommendations.
The important point is that any employer who wishes to obtain a grant from a board in respect of training he is providing will have to train in accordance with the standards which the board has set. The financial sanction will be, and it is directly intended to be, a powerful weapon in the board's hands. I stress this point particularly to hon. Members, for it is really the centre of the Bill. I shall revert to it at different stages as we go through our more detailed consideration of the Bill.
The powers of the boards will extend to all occupations in their industries at whatever level. There will be no limit, either up or down, but I want to make it clear that the main purpose of theBill, as I see it, is to improve the supply and the quality of our skilled manpower and it is to this that I shall expect the boards to turn their early attention. The need to improve training for higher management is of first-class importance also; but,though this will not be excluded from the scope of the boards I think that most people would agree that the major contribution will have to be made by other agencies—though the boards may, for example, be able to help with the financing of such training. In considering the training of technicians and higher technical grades, the boards will need to work closely with the appropriate professional institutions and tc seek their advice.
The Clause requires boards in publishing recommendations to deal with the question of—the persons by …whom the training ought to be given".1008 This provision seems certain to lead to an increased demand for trained instructors. As the House knows, my Department has for many years now been running residential courses for instructors at its Instructor Training College at Letchworth. We have now increased the number of places available at Letchworth from 500 to 800 a year. We have also opened a new training college with 300 places a year in Glasgow.
The Bill will also increase the demand for industrial training officers—that is, men capable of planning and organising training at all levels. The British Association for Commercial and Industrial Education has this year organised two courses for training officers. Wide publicity was given to them, yet the first one had to run at half strength and the second had to be cancelled for lack of support. I am, frankly, disappointed at this. Training officers will be in short supply, and any firm that already has them will start off with a marked advantage. Further courses are being planned, and I most strongly urge firms to take full advantage of them.
Clause 3 will enable boards, in accordance with proposals approved by me, to delegate to committees any of the functions conferred on them under Clause 2. If boards are to be kept small, a power of delegation is obviously essential. Some boards, particularly in the larger industries, may wish to set up what one might call sub-boards to deal with particular sections of their industry. Most boards will no doubt find it convenient to delegate to specialist panels the work of preparing training syllabuses for particular occupations. Because the same occupations are to be found in different industries, some boards will need to work together in drawing up such syllabuses, and the Bill will enable them to set up joint committees for this purpose.
It has been suggested that there is no mention in the Bill of any local consideration in the planning of industrial training. Clearly, the boards, in determining the training needs of their industries and in deciding how these needs are to be met, will have to take the particular requirements of different parts of the country into account. I think that this is essential. Under 1009 Clause 3 they will be able to set up regional or local committees. I think that this is also very important. Except in those industries which are largely confined to one particular part of the country, I would think it is essential that they should do so. That fits into the concept of the regional problems that we are facing in our work. I do not see how an engineering board, for example, could function properly without a fairly extensive network of regional or local committees, as the board thinks fit.
Clause 4 deals with the levy. The purpose of the levy is to ensure that sufficient funds are available to enable the industry's training requirements to be met; to provide, through the levy-grant system, an incentive to employers to train, and to do so to standards set by the board; and to redistribute the costs of training more fairly throughout the industry. This, of course, is the centre of the provisions of the Bill. Each board vrill be required to submit to me proposals for imposing a levy on employers in its industry.
The White Paper commented thatThere would have to be power to exclude from the levy firms below a certain size,The purpose of this was to relieve boards of the obligation to collect a levy from the very smallest firms, if it was likely to prove prohibitively expensive to do so. The suggestion that some firms might be excluded has been widely criticised, and I understand the reason for it. It has been said that equity demands that all who benefit from training should be required to pay, no matter how much it costs to collect.
I am quite sure that the boards will bear the strength of this feeling in mind in framing their proposals, just as I shall in considering them. But I have taken the view that it would be unnecessarily restrictive riot to give this power to exclude employers from payment if circumstances made this desirable and if a board so wished to do.
I want to make clear that occasions could obviously arise where it would be highly embarrassing not to have this power. The point I am making is that, although it will not necessarily be used by all boards, yet the power will be very necessary in relation to certain boards dealing with very small employers 1010 of labour. The provision is there, and it will be for the boards to decide what to do in each case. It will be for the boards to propose the basis on which the levy is to be assessed and the way it is to be collected.
The British Employers' Confederation has urged strongly that different bases for assessing the levy might suit different industries and that the Bill should not specify a single universal system. I think that this is right. The Bill follows the precedent set by the Industrial Organisation and Development Act in this respect.
If I approve of a board's proposal, the Bill provides that I shall make a levy order accordingly. The order would be required to give employers assessed to a levy the right of appeal to a tribunal which will be appointed under the provisions of Clause 12. On the advice of the Council on Tribunals, the appointment and procedure of tribunals are to be provided for in regulations and not in the Bill itself.
My intention is that each tribunal should consist of three members. The chairman will be selected from a panel of legally qualified chairmen appointed by the Lord Chancellor, or, in Scotland, the Lord President of the Court of Session. The two other members will be appointed from panels of employers' and workers' representatives.
The Government are determined that training schemes for specific industries shall be speedily and vigorously launched, and will not allow lack of finance to stand in the way. The Government will expect a corresponding effort from industry, and to encourage this have it in mind that their contribution to the expenses of the industrial training boards shall be related in some way to their effective outlay. The precise arrangements will be discussed with the boards as soon as they are set up, and until this has been done it is not possible to forecast the rate at which the money provided for in the Bill will be spent.
The imposition of a levy and the provision of financial assistance by the Government represents the two-tier financial system on which the success of the new arrangements depends. An individual employer will be able to obtain a grant from a board only if the training he provides measures up to the 1011 standards the board has set. The financial assistance which the Government will give to the boards will be aimed to ensure that the standards set by the boards are high. There are those two deliberate checks on standards.
In view of the uncertainty surrounding the rate at which Government money will be expended, I thought it right to include in the Bill a maximum figure beyond which advances cannot be made without further authority from Parliament. That figure is £50 million.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)
Am I correct in understanding that the Minister said that if a firm had a scheme already in operation that had reached the standard laid down, it would be considered to be exempt from paying the levy, or would be exempt from the training suggested by the board? If that is so, would that also apply to a section of industry that was already organised in accordance with the standard laid down by the board?
§ Mr. Godber
No, the position is not quite as the hon. Gentleman puts it. I am sorry if I have not made it clear.
The position is that firms in this case will pay the levy, but, if their training is to the standard set down by the board, they will receive grants from the board. The board will have in its funds the money provided from the levy plus some money provided by the Government. It could be that the type of firm that the hon. Gentleman has in mind might get back more in the form of return from the board than in fact it has contributed.
I think that that is the point, and that that is how it will work. There is a degree of flexibility. But, in general, the firms will pay, and then, according to what they are providing, they will be entitled to claim reimbursement from the board, if the board is so satisfied.
Clause 7 specifies the procedure under which training boards will make proposals to the Minister. It also gives the Minister power to dismiss a board and appoint a new one if the board fails to submit proposals after being directed to do so, or submits proposals which the Minister considers unsatisfactory. Such a power is clearly necessary and the fact that it exists is likely to act as a 1012 spur to the board. But, personally, I do not expect to have to use it. Indeed, it is my fervent wish that it will never need to be used.
Clause 11 requires the Minister to appoint a Central Training Council. This is a useful addition to the White Paper proposals. The council will be advisory. It has been argued that this council should be given executive functions and should exercise over the individual training boards the authority which under the Bill is given to the Minister. The T.U.C. urged this view strongly at one stage.
Such a body could have no influence unless funds were placed at its disposal; and I do not see how any Minister could remain responsible to Parliament without himself determining the way in which public funds were to be disbursed. Either responsibility to Parliament would have to go, or the Minister would have to exercise such control over the work of the central authority that the justification for its separate existence would disappear. I do not see any alternative to making the Minister responsible for the way in which public funds are made available to the boards.
Having said that, I wish to make it clear that this does not mean that the Central Training Council cannot perform a valuable co-ordinating function advising the Minister on the administration of the Act. I understand that the T.U.C. now accepts this view.
The presence on the council of a number of chairmen of individual boards will help to keep the council in close touch with the work of the boards and help to knit the whole process together. It will fulfill a valuable function in that way and I am grateful for the suggestion that such a council should be included.
The only remaining Clause to which I need draw attention at this stage is Clause 16. I do so particularly to explain that it has nothing to do with training boards. Section 3(6) of the Employment and Training Act, 1948, provides that a payment of up to £500,000 may be made each year from the National Insurance Fund towards the Minister of Labour's expenses in providing training courses for persons entitled to unemployment benefit. The amount of the payment is related to the 1013 assumed average saving to the fund resulting from the attendance of unemployed men and women at Government training centres. This year a payment of £425,000 has been made.
Increases in unemployment benefit and an expansion of Government training centres may soon make the upper limit too low. We propose, therefore, in the Bill, to raise the limit to £1 million and to provide for it to be further increased if necessary by Statutory Instrument. We have, in fact, taken advantage of the Bill to include this necessary and useful amendment. I am sure that it will commend itself to the House.
The provisions of the Bill do not apply to the Crown. Some people have said that they should and I understand that point of view. The Government employ, in their industrial establishments, a large number of people of the same skills as are to be found in industry. It has been argued that Government Departments, in their capacity as industrial employers, should be placed in the same position as other employers and be obliged to pay the levy and observe the training standards set by the appropriate board. I understand this point of view and I have given a great deal of thought to it, but we must remember that the Government are not in the same position as other employers. Each Minister is responsible to Parliament for his own Department.
It would be an unnecessary complication to place on other Government Departments the obligation of each paying a levy and claiming reimbursement grants if the objectives of the Bill can be achieved more simply in other ways. It is and will remain our firm policy to ensure that Government Departments will, in respect of their own employees, at least equal the standards set by training boards for industrial training and associated further education. Hon. Members always have the opportunity of bringing before Ministers any examples where this has not been done and this would appear to be a more effective way of achieving our aim than of bringing them under the boards. My Department will be ready to advise other Departments on the training it would be appropriate for them to provide, and I can assure hon. Members that my colleagues will see that their Departments make a fair and reasonable 1014 contribution to training in the appropriate industries.
I said in opening my speech that the Bill fits into the present theme of the Government, namely, that of the modernisation of Britain. The Bill provides the framework for modernising our training structure in industry. It is on the boards, which are to be established under the Bill, that the success of this policy will depend.
I have been encouraged by the favourable reception which the proposals in the Bill have met from all sides of industry and I look to its early passage on to the Statute Book and, thereafter, to the establishment of boards for certain key sectors of the economy as soon as possible. The opportunity will arise then for a real raising of standards of training in industry and this, in turn, should help to maintain and strengthen Britain's position as one of the leading industrial nations of the world.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Ray Gunter (Southwark)
I am sure that it will be the desire of the whole House to welcome the right hon. Gentleman upon his first speech as Minister of Labour. While I am able to wish him a happy stay in his new office, I cannot, of course, wish him a very long one. I join with him in expressing gratitude for the work of his predecessor, to whom this job was very dear indeed, and who did a tremendous amount of work on this subject.
The right hon. Gentleman said at the end of his speech that the Bill fits into the present theme of the Government, modernisation. We were told years ago that we were all Socialists. A few years ago we were all planners. Now the rallying cry from Kinross to Marylebone is that we are all modernisers and are adapting ourselves to the scientific age.
It is, perhaps, not inappropriate that the first Bill with which we are dealing this Session makes a substantial effort to translate the high-flown oratory of modernisation into reality and attempts to get industry geared to the great problems that lie before us today. I am sure that I take the Minister with me in saying that the problems that are with us are very grave indeed; they are not merely technical ones. The sense of 1015 purpose contained in Bills of this sort will bring us to the state of modernisation that we desire.
As I said, the nature of our problems is grave. It is no good imagining that we can set up boards or training councils and thereby overcome these great difficulties. In some places the locusts have already eaten deep holes and I can express this position no better than by repeating some words used by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, only five weeks ago when, in a speech at the Hilton Hotel, he said:We must all realise the extent to which sound economic growth depends upon the efficient use of our most valuable natural assets—manpower. Yet the truth is that far too many employers give little thought to the question of developing the potential of those they employ. Many provide no training at all; many provide training only of a most perfunctory kind; and many forget the important part which further education can—and should—play in the training of young people.The right hon. Gentleman went on to add these significant words:We all know only too well that the economy has suffered from shortages of certain kinds of skilled labour ever since the war; and I am sure that only a part of these shortages are revealed in the statistics which my Department collects.In other words, we have never had the true picture of the situation placed before us, not even as contained in the statistics of the Ministry of Labour.
The right hon. Gentleman continued:We can only guess how much the country as a whole has suffered because men and women at all levels in industry and commerce are not properly trained. What is certain is that the loss in terms of productive capacity must be considerable. And it is a loss we cannot afford.I apologise for this rather long quotation, but I doubt whether the situation has been summed up so well as in this speech five weeks ago. The right hon. Gentleman's predecessor added:…few industries have developed any means of ensuring that they get the number of trained people that they need; there is no way of ensuring that all employers play their part; there has been little control of the quality of training; and there have been few attempts to examine in a critical but constructive way methods and customs of training which have been in operation for several generations.That is the situation that we face, and when the right hon. Gentleman talks of 1016 modernisation as the general theme today, the Government cannot escape some responsibility for the fact that the nettle was not grasped five years ago.
I would in all fairness admit that there has been no unanimity amongst either employers or trade unions on the extension of statutory training, but that does not excuse the Government, which should have been seized of the position as it was then. Government alone can give leadership when sections of the public or of industry are warring, and the Government must accept some blame, after twelve years of office, for this situation. While no good purpose is served now in holding any lengthy inquests—if we are to get the nation into the right state, it is not inquests we want, but action—it should not be forgotten by hon. Members opposite that they cannot just run away from these problems six months before a General Election. They must bear some responsibility for the present position.
There has been a very big change in attitudes over the five years since the Carr Committee submitted its Report. Although I did not agree with some of the conclusions of that Report, I think it only fitting that this House should pay tribute to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr)—now Secretary for Technical Co-operation—for his attention and diligence in relation to this problem. At that time, there was a complete denial—and I do not say that the employers and the trade unions did not share it—that there was any need for State intervention. There was almost an absolute resistance to State intervention in training. The necessity for it has been proved in 1963. The Minister's predecessor in office painted the picture only five weeks ago. We know—some of us knew years ago—that this conflict of opinion within industry would not be reconciled until a Government themselves set up the machinery and supplied the necessary money. Therefore, the change goes deeper even than it is on training.
There will inevitably be greater intervention by the State in industry. I do not talk here of interference. It is inevitable, in the technical revolution that is about us and with the monolithic 1017 structures in industry that are being created, that we and the party opposite will have to accept State intervention if the national needs are to be met. This Bill is the background and it is in considering further measures that might deal with severance pay and redundancy that I again say to the Minister that he will have to do the job for them, because he will never get complete unanimity there.
That is where the leadership of Government should come in, and where the functions of the Ministry of Labour should be seen at their best. That is why some of us long for the day—and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will participate in the process—when we shall see the Ministry of Labour restored to a great place as a Ministry of State, speaking with authority.
Our task now is to find the balance, to decide how far the Government can intervene to provide the machinery for the reconciliation of the difficulties of industry. I have said before, and some people have not liked it, that I have never believed that the man in Whitehall knows what is best for industry—I do not, I never have, and I never shall—because he is never aware of the atmospheres and forces, and so on, that flow in industry. But, as I say, there is bound to be increasing intervention and guidance to ensure that those who are inevitably, and sometimes justifiably, in conflict in industry can find leadership and have their points of difficulty arbitrated on. I hope that the Minister, in the short stay he will have in his office, will bring that authority to bear.
The Bill purports to create machinery. As the Minister has said, it is a machinery Bill. How it works will depend on the personnel who man the machinery. The Bill gives the broad outlines for industry to get down to this major task. But, because it is a machinery Bill, because we are only setting the broad pattern of how we may bring together the separate parts of industry, coupled with our educationists, there are a host of questions that are not answered in the Bill, and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman.will know in his heart that most of the speeches this evening will be of an interrogatory character. Hon. Members will be probing, and trying to find out what is in the mind of the Minister about certain aspects of the Bill that are vague.
1018 I do not complain of the Bill's vagueness or of its flexibility—I cannot do that—but it is the duty of the Opposition to try to get out of the Minister as much information as is possible in order to discover how his mind is working. I am not at all critical of the Bill's seeming vagueness, because we are exploring a new area. I do not know how many centuries it took to build political democracy in this country, but when people talk of industrial democracy and of a happy state of reconciliation between unions and managements, we realise that that is a fairly slow process, too.
This is an area in which we shall have to feel our way, and adjust ourselves. I was glad to note that the Minister was not adamant on this, or dogmatic. It could well be that in a year or two we shall want to look at certain aspects of this Measure again in the light of experience.
Let me, therefore, start asking the questions. We have no doubt that the Ministers'intentions are very honourable, but we are very curious to know how he will actually handle the body. I thought that the right hon. Gentleman skipped over the Central Training Council rather delicately, and rather suggested that the Trades Union Congress had now seized on it—almost with enthusiasm. Of course, it has not, and the Minister knows that. The T.U.C. has simply accepted the fact, as a body of good and loyal citizens, that the Minister will have his way, and good luck to him.
There is a lot of strange history about this Central Training Council. Almost up to the end of last year—after November, I think—there was opposition to the inclusion of any central authority at all. Then the Minister comes along, as I understand the situation—and I hear these things only secondhand—and suggests, "Well, we will start to define certain limited responsibilities." That was found very unsatisfactory, and I now understand that the situation is eased to the extent that the Minister has declared a large area in which responsibilities will fall on the C.T.C.
The House should know what those responsibilities are. It should know the area in which this council is to operate. It has been argued that the 1019 council should be given its own secretariat, and should exercise general supervision and guidance over the area boards. Frankly, I hesitate to be dogmatic about this. I cannot really tell the House where exactly my mind is on the subject; whether this council should have executive authority, or whether, as the Minister has explained, in view of the large sums of public money involved it is better that the council should be advisory.
I warn the Minister that some of us are a little weary of advisory committees that do nothing. I should like to hear further argument from the Minister why this central body could not have been mandated to carry out research and publicity and allowed to co-ordinate the work of the separate boards. In the few moments which the right hon. Gentleman spent on it today I did not hear sufficient arguments to make up our minds. It would be disastrous if the Central Training Council became just another advisory body. We have so many advisory bodies that have been futile because of their failure to attract men of substance. These men have felt that the work was largely unimportant.
We shall command the right men at this level of the operation only as long as it is seen that they have a tremendously important job to do and that their responsibilities are clearly defined. I understand that the Minister's first thoughts on this body were that it would not have made worth while the services of the right type of men. I repeat that the work of this Central Training Council and indeed of all the boards will depend upon the knowledge and ability and almost a sense of dedication which men can bring to all the boards.
The Minister has mentioned channels of communication in industry. Some of us have found in the field of joint consultation that we have written some of the finest rule books and constitutions on how men should consult and these have failed because there has not been the will and the spirit to make them work. Unless we can get the right people, with their responsibilities defined, to handle the machine which the Minister proposes to create we shall get nowhere.
1020 There is one important point which is related to the Central Training Council. It is rather strange that the Minister did not mention in his speech, nor can there be found in the Bill, suggestions about relating the end product of training to our overall manpower budget. There is no provision in the Bill for relating the nation's total manpower needs as defined by the boards to the needs defined by the long-term overall economic planning of the N.E.D.C. It would be absurd if the boards and the council were isolated from this essential piece of forward planning. We know from American experience that the automation of industry rapidly brings problems of structural unemployment which must be forecast so that retraining schemes can be made available.
I think that I understand what the Minister means when he believes that, somehow, there must be a direct link between the training boards and the body which is responsible for forward manpower planning. I imagine that the Minister has something in his mind on this point. Perhaps later in the debate, or in Committee, he can explain to us how it will work and how the overall national manpower planning will be seen in individual industrial context.
We are entitled to ask how many trainees in each age group the Minister intends to cater for. The Bill does not suggest how much adult training is necessary, nordoes it apportion or emphasise the relation between training centres and a number of schemes in private industry. These are questions which I fully understand will be answered only as the implementation of the Bill unfolds. Nevertheless, it is the duty of the Minister to be as open as he can, particularly in Committee, on how his mind works on these subjects. It should be remembered that the N.E.D.C, in its assessment of Swedish and American schemes in the document "Conditions favourable to Faster Growth", said that Britain will have to retrain each year over 100,000 adults alone.
This is the nature of the problem, and this is why I hope that the Minister will leave the mechanics and, in Committee, open his mind more and more to these fundamental parts of the problem. When we add to this the numerical problem 1021 and the enormous cost of revitalising training schemes for young workers, it will be seen that the eventual cost of a proper national programme will be exceedingly high. The Minister should, therefore, tell us how much of the £50 million available to him he intends to use for the essential pump-priming.
The Bill is imprecise on financial matters, for reasons which I fully understand, While up to £50 million may be granted or loaned by the Minister to the boards, the Financial Memorandum states that for the financial year 1964–65, during which the first boards to be established will begin to function, the cost is unlikely to exceed £500,000. There is, perhaps significantly,no breakdown of what proportion of the training expenditure the Government intend should come from the levy or what proportion of their own contribution the Government intend to recover. In any case, there is a built-in guarantee that little finance will be available before a General Election.
As the debate unfolds, the Minister no doubt will hear from his supporters about the criticisms made by the craft unions and about the restrictions placed upon the number of apprentices. I beg the Minister to remember that the objection of the craft unions is on the question of safeguarding employment and that it is not their intention to restrict training. In the North-East and in Scotland it seems something of a mockery to workmen that there should be a dramatic campaign to secure more skilled craftsmen for the training of these young men when the men who are already skilled at their jobs are out of work.
The boards will have to move with care and the Government will have to find more generous incentives for the mobility of labour than they have succeeded in finding so far. A great deal of success in this field, and of success in assuaging the fears and suspicions of craftsmen, depends entirely on what measure of confidence that this or any other Government can get over to the workmen in the belief that the Government are sincerely determined to work for policies of full employment and of growth in the economy. We must have this element of confidence if we are to diminish the present fears and suspicions of our people.
1022 A point which was mentioned almost only in passing by the Minister, but one on which I have pondered in the last few days, is the need for regional or local machinery and for joint arrangements between boards. The T.U.C. has quoted a relevant case to the Minister. What does the right hon. Gentleman think about a situation where plumbers are engaged in the engineering, shipbuilding, chemical and gas industries? What will happen about a training school for plumbers on Tees-side? This point of detail and of planning and coordination might well be gone into in Committee.
I was interested in the Minister's reflections on the training of management. It is no secret that employers did not want the training of management, and I can understand why. I am very glad indeed that the Minister has rejected their blandishments, but his words created a little doubt in my mind. It was as if it was a matter of secondary importance and as if the training of management should be dealt with by the boards at some later date. Management is in need of training today just as much as the workmen are.
Most of our problems in this respect arise because management has not handled the situation which it could see was arising. I am not going to talk about the higher executives and that level of management. As I have said before from this Box, one of our biggest problems in industry has been the lack of trained personnel in the lower levels of management. It is here that the crunch is always felt in industry. It is by the training of these men who come from the workship floor that we can provide a stratum that can pour a lot of oil on the wheels of industry.
The man in the workshop does not often think of the boss as the managing director. He has probably never heard of him. It is the level of management who issue the instructions with whom he is concerned. I beg of the Minister to dismiss any thoughts of pushing away this problem. I should have thought that the boards would attach as much importance to the training of management as they would to the training of our skilled mechanics. There is an urgent need for the boards and others.
1023 including the Minister, to give a measure of priority to the training of the lower and middle levels of management.
I know that many of my hon. Friends wish to speak in this debate and, like the Minister, I shall leave matters of education to be discussed by others. I am always a little frightened of entering the field of education, for I find that in such matters nobody agrees with anybody. At least, in trade union matters we agree sometimes.
§ The Minister of Education (Sir Edward Boyle)
I think that the hon. Member will find one consolation at least. People agree on one thing as a rule in educational matters, and that is in disagreeing with the Minister.
§ Mr. Gunter
They have my blessing.
I should now like to say a word or two about women in industry. We shall be faced with an extraordinary situation, perhaps in ten years. We could be faced with a shortage of women in industry. We need not go into the reasons, but I believe that the turnover of women in industry is inevitably greater than that of men, and there is a great purpose to be served by including as many girls as we possibly can in the training of skills in industry. In my gloomy moments I have ruminated on the desirability of women in public life, but the necessity for them in industry is becoming increasingly obvious each day.
We on this side of the House welcome the Bill, and we shall do all we can to expedite its passage on to the Statute Book. Whatever I have said in criticism of the Bill can be followed up and probed in Committee. I believe that there will be searching questions. I am sure that the whole House will be glad that, however belated this Measure may be, this great step forward has been taken and the nation itself now becomes involved in the training of our skilled personnel.
I wish the Minister well. I hope that the educationists, the unions and the employers will try to strip themselves of much of their traditional vested interests and inhibitions, and that they will regard this task, in which there is a great sense of urgency, as a great step towards making our industry dynamic 1024 again, towards making this nation powerful in its material life so that the standards of life of our people may be improved as a result of supplying the basic needs of industry, namely, the skills and techniques of our people, which are the highest in the world.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)
In the short time that I have been in this House, I have been constantly surprised at the fact that, while outside the House from time to time—fortunately, not too often—industrial relations have become the subject of battles between one side and the other, when we come to debate these subjects across the Floor of the House there is a great deal of unanimity between us, not only on legislation but on what should be done to get a better spirit in industry.
I therefore welcome this Bill. In doing so, may I join with other hon. Members in welcoming my right hon. Friend in his new post and pay tribute to the work of his predecessor, now Lord Blakenham, who did a great deal while he was at the Ministry to make it a live Ministry. The Ministry made an impact upon industry through the Contracts of Employment Act, and I hope it will do so again by means of this Measure.
There has been a good deal of delay in dealing with this subject of industrial training. This was mentioned by the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter), who spoke of the years that the locusts had eaten. He gave the impression that there had been a delay on the part of the Government. He admitted that there had been some delay caused by hesitation on the part of the trade unions—I believe that to some extent there has also been delay on the part of the employers themselves—in accepting the implications of the Government's intervention in training matters.
The Government having finally decided that something ought to be done, it is not surprising that this Bill is acceptable to both sides of the House. Whenever the Government take a firm line on something, those people who have opposed it, whether at management or trade union level, are inclined to say, "Very well, we will agree", despite the fact that for a long time they have been holding out against it.
1025 There is one question that I would put to the hon. Member for Southwark. I wonder whether the trade unions and the Labour Party would have supported this Measure, say two years ago, quite so freely as they support it today. I do not wish to be too controversial, but I wonder whether they sense that there is to be a General Election in the not very distant future.
§ Mr. Gunter
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I myself for certain, and many of my colleagues, would have supported this Measure five years ago.
§ Mr. James Boyden (Bishop Auckland) rose—
§ Mr. Lewis
I do not wish to give way again; I have just done so.
In recent debates, there have been references to the Robbins and Newsom Reports, and I believe this Bill follows on effectively from those Reports. If, arising out of Robbins, we get all the scientists and administrators we need in industry as the hub of thewheel, and if the Newsom Report gives us, through an improvement in secondary education, the supervisors and higher technicians as the spokes of the wheel, we shall still depend on good training of the worker, the artisan in industry, to provide us with the rim of the wheel. If we do not have that training and skill, at worst the wheel will grind to a halt and at best it will wobble along. I think it is generally agreed that we can no longer afford to wobble along.
It is a very long time since the Carr Report and since the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) indicated to the House that he himself felt that there was a need for Government intervention on training in industry. I am sure that this must be for him, at any rate, a Bill about which he feels completely happy and with which he is glad to have been associated in advance.
Because of the delay that has taken place during the last year or two, there is all the more reason why the Government should now proceed with as much speed as possible, and I hope both that we shall get the Bill quickly through its Com- 1026 mittee and other stages on the Floor of the House and that after than the Minister will set up the boards as soon as possible. There is a speeding up of technical education throughout the country. Therefore, it is necessary that there must be a speeding up of training in industry which must be linked with that speeding up of technical education.
I find that the most gratifying feature of the Bill is the new and quite unique link—legislative wise—that is going to take place for the first time between industry and education. It may be that the Bill is in some respects permissive and that after it becomes an Act many things will have to be done to get results arising from it. But one thing is certain, and that is that the Bill is going to force industry and education to work together as never before.
There are, I suppose, three reasons why people get educated, and I give no order of priority. The first is because they have to acquire a skill and have to learn to do a job. Secondly, they have to learn how to behave towards one another. It is not only a question of good manners but of how to treat one another, because it is important that we learn how to deal with each other as citizens and also play a part as individuals towards the Government's activities in the world at large. Thirdly, people have to be more and more educated for the right use of their leisure. We cannot keep education in a watertight compartment. It cannot be something which is monastic, which deals with things not related to day-today life and which has nothing to do with industry or how we live.
Indeed, one of the reasons why—I suppose I could always be told that I am prejudiced on this, but my views are quite well known about it—I think the public schools should have young people brought into them from the State stream is not because I believe it would help anyone in the State stream. They are well able to look after themselves today and can go to the top in industry or commerce and the professions and can get into any of the universities.
I believe that the great advantage of opening the public schools to people from outside would simply be that doing so would take those schools out of a monastic state in which they may not be in touch with the general stream of 1027 life. That is why I cannot agree with the party opposite which wants to destroy these schools altogether. I would prefer to follow the Fleming Report on this matter. I may be asked what this has got to do with the subject we are debating. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] It has a great deal to do with it, because, for the very first time, we are dealing with a Bill that is linking education with industry, that is bringing closer together the education of the nation and its working life on which we depend, because we have to make things to sell abroad.
I should like to ask the Minister if, when he winds up, he could, perhaps, give us a line on the part the Youth Employment Service will play in this matter. The Youth Employment Service is probably the one part of the Ministry of Labour which has had both connections with industry and links with the schools. It seems to me that this service ought to be represented on these training boards both at the top and the area or industrial level.
The levy was mentioned in the White Paper, and I think that the Government have been generous in providing something like £50 million, part of which is going to be retrieved by the levy. I would hope that industry itself would be prepared to provide and be enthusiastic about providing the money for the purposes of training under the Bill. I hope most of the money will be given by industry and not by the Government. I do not want to see the Government providing more than 50 per cent, of the cash, because I want industry to remain independent in providing its own training programmes.
The Bill, of course, as was suggested by the hon. Member for Southwark, is certainly not going to solve all the problems of training in industry. We have the 11-plus as the barrier for many children in the educational field, but we have also a barrier in industry—the 16-plus barrier, a situation which I think we really ought no longer to accept. It is quite wrong that a young man cannot enter upon an apprenticeship if he has got beyond the age of 16. This restriction at a time when the raising of the school-leaving age is called for—and hon. Members opposite are very anxious about and are constantly 1028 pressing for the raising of the school leaving age—is not really acceptable.
§ Mr. Austen Albu (Edmonton)
The hon. Gentleman is really out of date. It is simply not true. There are a number of agreements made by unions, including one by the Confederation of Engineering and Shipbuilding Unions, with the employers in which apprenticeships are permitted to be entered into after the age of 16 and even later.
§ Mr. Lewis
That may be so, but it is still not generally the accepted practice, and the unions which accept apprentices after the age of 16 are the exceptions.
Then, of course, there is the question of the number of apprentices which the unions permit to each tradesman. I think that the average in the country is something like one in four. This number could be increased in many industries. It certainly should be increased in firms which are prosperous and busy at a time when there may be high unemployment in an area. This is something which has been talked about over the years, and yet the trade unions have done nothing about it.
Then there is the old vexed question of the period of apprenticeship. The Minister touched upon this thorny problem and then said that the Bill was not intended to deal with it.
§ Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)
Before the hon. Gentleman replies to the question of the ratio of apprentices to craftsmen, may I point out that, while I appreciate the point he is making, I am sure he will understand that one of the big problems is that if the ratio is raised it produces an increasing problem in the event of any recession in a particular industry? In the light of automation, which is inevitable, this increases the problem. Will the hon. Gentleman devote a minute or two to that aspect of the matter?
§ Mr. Lewis
I do not think that it will create a problem. I think that, training being accepted, it must follow that if there are too many trained at a given period, then 20 or even 10 years after it may be necessary to do a certain amount of retraining. It is better that boys should get the opportunity to be trained in something. What the hon. Gentleman 1029 is suggesting is that they should not be trained at all.
The period of apprenticeship of five years, recently reduced in the construction industries to four years, is patently ridiculous. With all the modern techniques we have it must be obvious that we can easily train in a period much less than five years. That is a period longer than it takes to get a university degree; it is a period longer than the average barrister takes to be trained; and it is a period a good deal longer than most people have to spend training in the commercial world. Most people accept this, and yet the unions have been unable to concede until quite recently that there was any case for reducing the period down from five years.
There is, I think, one other aspect which ought to be considered on this, and it is that young people are marrying a good deal younger today than ever they did before, and it causes the utmost problem to them if at the age of 21 they have not yet completed their apprenticeship and cannot get jobs as fully fledged journeymen. This is something which is bound to arise out of this Bill, and we really cannot any longer shelve it. We have to do something about it I hope that managements and unions themselves will deal with it, but we have been waiting for a very long time, and really, if they refuse to act. the Minister will obviously have to take action.
At the Hailwood Estate on Mersey-side recently there were recently trained 6,500 men to make motor cars, and they are turning out something like 700 motor cars a week. Those men were trained by the Ford Motor Company in a period of one year. I know that hon. Gentlemen opposite are going to say that this is a semi-skilled job. This is true, but I wonder whether we are not in the state now where, having given the basic training in apprenticeship, which should be done much more quickly, we ought to go on to retrain people for a very short period of three or four months' training, say, every ten years. At any rate, this is the situation which is going to arise. As techniques change, retraining is going to be even more important than a long period of initial training, once the men have got the basis.
1030 So it seems to me that although this Bill is a great step forward, before it is going to be completely effective many of these barriers have got to be removed. The Leader of the Opposition yesterday made great play with the fact that certain young people were unable to get into the universities. He might have a word with some of his friends about some of the young people who cannot get training today because of the old-fashioned attitudes of some of our trade unions which have persisted and which they have refused to alter.
Of course, there will have to be priorities in dealing with the introduction of the administrative machinery of a Bill of this sort. Clearly, we cannot operate it right across the board straight away. I should like my right hon. Friend, when he winds up, to give, if he can, some indication whether the priority will be accepted of setting up of industrial training boards or area training boards in those areas where unemployment is highest at the present time. I think it is important that in those areas, in particular, we should either give the young men who cannot get jobs other than semi-skilled jobs, or who have to go away from home to start their training, a chance to go into a Government training centre, and carry on for a year or two, or else subsidise firms in the area to set up special training schools in order to take these boys in. As I have previously indicated, it is really disastrous for a young man if he finds, during a period when there is perhaps just a temporary depression, that because of that temporary depression he is unable to get training, whereas a year later there would be every opportunity for him to get the work he wants.
§ Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)
This is what is already happening in Scotland in many existing apprenticeship schemes. Firms short of work and short of orders are putting apprentices, of all people, on short time. I have raised this with the Minister of Labour.
§ Mr. Lewis
Yes. and I think this Bill will enable the Minister to take action to see that short-time working which has been imposed by a firm is met by the Minister in some way or another, either by payment out of the levy, which is how I would have thought it would 1031 work, to keep the man employed, or else in some other way, by allowing him to work on his training for the rest of the week ata Government training centre.
There are two other points I wish to raise arising out of the Bill, and the first is on tests. I really do hope that on this question of industrial training we do not intend to get ourselves into the position where we start setting examinations and having a sort of final examination. It would clearly be absurd if at the end of four or five years'training a young man were to be told he was not competent because he had not passed the examination. If we are going to have tests they have got to be tests which will go through for the full period of the training. I notice that the Parliamentary Secretary is looking askance at this. But this is just the kind of thing that can happen when we put into a Bill, without specifying what it means, that there are to be tests, and when we get certain educational people involved. As I have already said, I am glad that they are involved, but if we get them setting tests in the way in which they usually set tests, we can lead ourselves into considerable trouble. I hope, therefore, that this question of tests will be dealt with very carefully indeed.
Finally I come to the question of the tribunal and the independence of the chairman of the board when it comes to discussing the amount of the levy. Ican understand the reason why the Minister has said that the chairman of the training board should not be involved in deciding how much this levy is to be, but if the parties concerned will not accept the Minister's ruling and it goes to the tribunal, then presumably the chairman of the tribunal himself will have a casting vote in that tribunal if the tribunal cannot agree. All I want to ask the Minister is, where does the buck stop? Because it does not seem to stop with him; it does not seem to stop with the chairman of the training board; he is not involved at all. I should have thought it pushing the thing a little far to stop at the tribunal. I should have thought that the chairman of the board should either be allowed to exercise a discretion or else that the Minister himself should do it.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. William Whitelaw)
I think my hon. Friend has got the position of the tribunal slightly wrong. The tribunal is for the right of the individual employer, who may object to the size of the levy imposed on him, to appeal to the tribunal, but it is not to be operated as a long stop, so to speak, behind the decision as to how much the levy should be.
§ Mr. Lewis
I would have thought that it is in fact a long stop. We will not argue about this. The question of whether he pays the levy or not is implicit in the Bill, but the question of how much it is is a matter, presumably, between the employer and the Minister.
We have waited a long time for the Bill, and we are glad that we now have it. I have no doubt that there will be Amendments in Committee, but, whatever the Amendments may be, the Bill will be effective only if both sides of industry decide to make it effective. It has the merit that, for the first time, there is a bridge between education and industry at both employer and trade union levels. I hope that the many things which require to be done to make the Bill effective will, in fact, be done by industry and that we shall see industrial training in this country providing the skills we need to keep us in the forefront industrially among the nations.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Austen Albu (Edmonton)
I believe that the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. K. Lewis) has some experience of these matters, but I cannot help thinking that he is rather out of date. None of us on these benches, particularly those who are trade unionists, would deny that the unions and their members have, perhaps, been as conservative about some of these matters as have the employers, but to suggest that the blame is entirely with the unions and that the employers in industry are not equally to blame is to deny the facts.
For every accusation against unions that they have been restrictive in allowing the entry of apprentices—which, in most cases, I believe to be completely untrue—or have been slow to recognise the need for shortening the period of apprenticeship or extending the age of 1033 entry one can make the accusation against those employers—the vast majority, I fear—to whom apprentices have been nothing but cheap labour and who have provided nothing in the way of adequate training or instruction.
These things are well known. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to be taken seriously on these questions, he must put the blame fairly where it lies, on both sides of industry, and, as I shall show in a moment, to an equal extent on the Government.
The hon. Gentleman was a little unfair, also, to the Minister of Education in saying that there has been no connection up to now between industry and education. After all, the vast part of the educational side of industrial training has been carried out in the technical colleges, which have always been under the Minister of Education. In fact, going back to the history of the matter, there was no educational system in this country for the ordinary common man and woman until it was partly set up by bodies like the mechanics'institutes in the old days and, later, the technical institutes and so forth. The relationship between educationfor the mass of the people and industry is pretty long-lived. Indeed, one can say that one of the problems of this country was that the small number of people who, in the last century, got any education at all were an elite who had no education for industry or for any practical or useful art. It was left to other bodies to commence this, until it was eventually taken over by the Ministry of Education.
§ Mr. K. Lewis
I was not suggesting that the links between education and industry were new. I was making the point that in the Bill there is a specific link created through the boards being set up, with direct membership and representation of the educational bodies on the boards. One would be here a long time if one were to talk about all the links between industry and education. Some industrial organisations in this country have their own education officers and have links with the universities. I know all that.
§ Mr. Albu
I am glad that the hon. Gentleman does. But I think that he did imply that this was the first link between industry and education: 1034 whereas, of course, most of us who have been in industry have had a good deal to do with educational institutions for a very long time.
The last time I spoke in a debate on apprenticeship and training was when Iopened a debate on behalf of the Opposition in June, 1960. The Minister of Labour said that we were slow to press for Government action, that we were as reluctant to have the Government take the necessary steps as they were themselves. I can only say that, if he will refer to the speeches on that occasion, he will see that we were pressing very hard indeed for Government action of the kind which they are now taking, but we got extremely conservative replies from the present Secretary of State for Industry and Trade and the present Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter) in supporting the Bill and in saying that, of course, its success will depend very much on how it is operated. This, in turn, will depend on the knowledge and the drive of the Minister or Ministers and their Departments who will be responsible for it. This brings me at once to my doubts about the Central Training Council.
I accept that the council could not be an executive body. The Minister put the case against that, and I think that I accept it, but there is the danger that, even as an advisory body, it will be just as ineffective as the present Industrial Training Council, to which the Government have given a certainamount of money. Bodies of this kind, large, representative advisory bodies, called together infrequently, are quite useless unless they are supported by strong permanent staffs with sufficient experts.
I believe that such a body should, first, have a full-time chairman. Second, the staff, who would, of course, be members of the staff of the Ministry of Labour, should include a number of real experts in industrial training, not just one adviser in a single branch of industry as, I believe, the Ministry has at present. Moreover, it will need a strong statistical section.
I say this for the reasons which my hon. Friend gave. We do not know 1035 much about the future needs of differing industries and different occupations. Such a section would have to co-operate very closely with the N.E.D.C. or whatever other planning machinery there might be in the Government in forecasting the pattern of requirements for different occupations in different industries, both nationally and regionally.
Incidentally, it might set about the task of trying to find out what is the true figure for apprenticeships and learnerships at present. It was stated in the Carr Report and in the debates which followed the Carr Report, and never denied, that the figures for apprenticeships we aregiven from time to time by the Ministry of Labour are, to put it mildly, inaccurate. I gave the basis for that statement in a speech at that time, and I do not want to go into it now. I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary knows about it. It would be valuable to have the true figures for apprenticeships and learnerships in different industries, which I do not believe we have now.
Third, it will be necessary to build up an inspectorate in the Ministry, subject, no doubt, to the advice of the advisory council, to ensure that standards among different boards are comparable. Of course, they cannot be the same because the industries will be different, but it is essential to ensure that both among industries and among regions we have comparable and adequate standards for those organisations, whether they are firms or other bodies, which will receive the grants for training. They must be standards suitable, of course, to the occupations concerned.
As my right hon. Friend said, one of the tasks of any central body—presumably, the Ministry advised by the Central Training Council—would be to co-ordinate the functions of the various industrial training boards, particularly, for instance, to deal with the problem of occupations which overlap industries, the problem of the engineering craftsman who may be in many industries, of the clerk, the book-keeper or, as my hon. Friend said, of the plumber.
This is connected with the question of the levy and the grants to which the Minister referred. I should have preferred to see—I realise that there would be compli- 1036 cations—the levy settled on the basis of the numbers employed in each occupation by a firm and payable to the appropriate board. I can see that there are difficulties here and it might need some sort of central collection and distribution of the funds; but it might be worth thinking about.
Similarly, of course, a grant for training could be given to any firm doing training in a particular occupation. My hon. Friend the Member for Southward mentioned I.C.I, which carries out training in engineering. Even if I.CI.'s main contribution will be to a chemical industry training board, I see no reason why it should not also make a contribution to an engineering training board and get a grant from it for the engineering training it carries out.
Little has been said about commercial and clerical occupations, but I think that almost more needs to be done about these than about other occupations. They are in a very difficult position. Except for special types of clerical and commercial work—I hope that my hon. Friend will not mind if I suggest that one of these is railway work—we may very well need a central training board. This might well be preferable to including these occupations in the industrial boards, particularly, perhaps, because the greater proportion of training for them will have to take place in educational institutions rather than within the firms or the organisations themselves.
It is important that the levy should be high enough to be a real encouragement to firms to undertake training. Much of the apprenticeship type of training will have to take place in future in small and medium sized firms because, on the whole, the larger ones are doing their share—although there are exceptions. If these small and medium sized firms are to play their part adequately, they will only be able to do so through group schemes. Very well known is the Engineering Industries Group Apprenticeship Organisation and this, I understand, charges £42 per apprentice in the schemes it administers.
It is very important that the levy should not be so low as to make it cheaper to pay it than to participate in schemes of this sort. This factor must be carefully considered. The levy must be a real encouragement to firms to participate in 1037 schemes. It must not be cheaper to pay the levy and do nothing.
It has been said that the boards will be responsible for training at all levels and I agree, although I am not sure that I entirely agree with my hon. Friend about management training. There is one serious problem, however, arising from the training of professional engineers to which I should like to draw attention. I believe that in ten years' time, when the recommendations of the Robbins Committee are in operation, very few people will be considered professional engineers who have not a degree. Many colleges in which diploma courses are now given will by then be granting degrees.
Many professional institutions now require two years' practical training before considering a man as a professional engineer. I agree with this because I think that this is essential, especially in, for instance, mechanical or production engineering, that graduates who are going to be in charge of workshops or of designing should learn how their ideas are translated into hardware and should have had experience of what it is like to be on the shop floor. I know that among some graduates this is very unpopular but that is often because these schemes of practical training are not very well thought out.
Luckily, in this country we have an almost unique system of sandwich courses which have, so far, been very largely given for diplomas of technology by the colleges of advanced technology or regional colleges. Now the C.A.T.s are to become universities and award degrees. This is a system we should encourage. But the colleges are now up against the very serious difficulty of finding firms willing to sponsor students for these courses or, if the students are college-based, firms willing to take them during their industrial period. The result is that staffs of these colleges are spending an inordinate amount of time trying to find such firms.
This is becoming a matter of great urgency, and I draw the attention of the Minister of Education to it because, at the moment, it is his responsibility, although it may well be one that he will share with the industrial training boards. This does not only apply to engineers and technologists but also to technicians, 1038 more and more of whom, I am sure, will receive full-time or sandwich training in future.
I think that we may have to give up the idea of works-based students and give full grants to them to attend courses like other university students. Perhaps the Government could then recoup themselves out of the levies and could give financial encouragement to those firms which undertake industrial training for these students. This illustrates the importance of the closest liaison between the Ministries of Labour and Education—an importance that will grow as the educational pattern changes, as school-life becomes longer, and more and more boys and girls receive higher and further education.
Many jobs will still remain in the economy requiring only a matter of weeks to learn. They will not be of the conveyor-belt—Charlie Chaplin—"Modern Times" kind of job, but will require a high degree of general knowledge, skill and adaptability.
We must face the fact that these jobs will change during a person's working life, that every child is entitled to a preparation for a working life in which there will be such changes, and that we must, therefore, give our young people an education that enables them to become adaptable. Some parts of the Newsom Report are very relevant here where they deal with the relationship between school and vocational education.
But these are not matters of responsibility for industry. They should.be the responsibility of the Minister of Education. I recall that in the debate in June, 1960, I said I would like to see the whole of this responsibility for training transferred to the Minister of Education. I hope that, as we progress in this matter, we shall find it more and more necessary that he should play the greater part so that eventually he may play the whole part. I do not like—it is becoming out of date, anyway—the distinction between school, technical college, university and industrial training, between apprenticeship and studentship.
It is not only the manual workers whose skills will need refurbishing during their working life. Managers, technologists and technicians will need 1039 it too. Recently, I was in Paris, attending a conference called by O.E.C.D. on the problems of retraining of professional engineers during their working life. It was said there that unless these professional engineers had retraining courses to acquaint themselves with new knowledge several times during their working life they might well be too old at 40 to carry out their jobs. How is this to be organised and whose responsibility is it to see that it is done? Who is to finance these courses? These are matters that the new boards, perhaps in co-operation with the professional institutions in this case, will have to consider.
Sometimes when we discuss industrial training we seem to think entirely in terms of quantity. That is not surprising when we consider the number of boys and girls unable to obtain any type of apprenticeship or training whatever. We have been pressing the Government over the last few years to deal with this very serious social as well as economic problem, but it is not only quantity with which we are concerned and certainly the object of the industrial training boards is not one just of quantity, but one of quality.
We all know that some of the large firms—and my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) is always drawing attention to one of them—have absolutely first-class industrial training schemes. The nationalised industries are outstanding in this respect—at least, most of them—and some industries have good schemes; the building industry is one and the Joint Iron Council is another. Unfortunately, they have had no power so far to compel, or to provide incentives to, firms within their industries to participate. However good the schemes, only a minority of firms do anything about them. We now have a chance to establish for the first time really first-class standards in every industry and in every occupation and it will be for the Ministers jointly to ensure that the industrial training boards set the very highest standards.
In the past, we must agree—and here I would not disagree with the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford—that both sides of industry and the Government 1040 have been complacent. Luckily, over the last few years there has been a growing informed opinion, both inside and outside the House. We have had the excellent research work and finally propaganda of Professor Lady Williams and the work of bodies like the British Association of Commercial and Industrial Education gradually forcing upon the country and industry a recognition of the true situation.
But, of course, there are social changes taking place among the workers themselves which will assist in these changes, and that is why I want to come to what the hon. Member for Rutland and Stamford had to say about the unions. I remember attending a meeting of the national committee of my own union, the A.E.U., a couple of years ago, when it was discussing a report from the youth committee. We were always getting resolutions from the youth committee pressing for better industrial training. I was particularly interested in speeches of members of the national committee who were recognising that their own children were staying longer at school, to 16, 17, or 18, and asking in what way the union would face up to the problem this posed for industrial training.
It is for this reason that my own union and the Confederation of Engineering and Shipbuilding Unions have accepted this position, and an agreement, as I said when I interrupted the hon. Member, is now, if not signed, in process of being signed to allow apprentices to start at 17 or even later, with apprenticeships in certain cases reduced to four years, the last year of school counting towards the period of apprenticeship.
I am sure that my own is not the only union where this is taking place. There are also often special agreements in different districts which do not correspond to the general pattern. The hon. Member is completely out of touch and out of date if he does not realise the changes which are being pressed on the unions by their members themselves because of changes in social conditions, changes which the unions are willing to accept.
As has been pointed out, unions are not very willing to accept older men into late apprenticeships in areas where the employment situation does not warrant it. Where it does, there has been 1041 no difficulty about the unions accepting a late entry into apprenticeships, or into a trade. Unfortunately, particularly in the older enginering areas, there is substantial unemployment among skilled engineering craftsmen, and men cannot be expected to welcome increasing numbers into skilled trades if men in those trades already are unemployed.
This applies particularly to the North-East and Scotland and emphasises the need for a regional approach to this problem. There must be a break-up of the whole administration by regions and there must be figures so that we know what the needs of particular regions are for both skilled workers and for training.
What we are discussing is not just an economic problem, but part of the whole process of the development of the system by which our children grow up to be citizens in a modern scientific industrial society. We must not forget that we are dealing with only a part of this problem. No training for modern industry will be of any use unless it is based on a first-class education. It is responsible men and women who are the objects of all our policies of education and training, and we must never forget it.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Holland (Acton)
The House is aware of the long experience of the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) in matters relating—
§ Mr. John Robertson (Paisley)
On a point of order. During the discussion of the Bill, it has been pointed out that education has a large part to play, but I do not see the representative of the Scottish Office who is responsible for education on the Government Front Bench.
§ Mr. Holland
I was saying that the House is well aware of the long experience of the hon. Member for Edmonton in commercial and industrial training, so I shall not presume to try to follow him through all the intricacies of organisation and co-ordination in which he is clearly so well versed. I prefer to confine myself to one or two comments which occur to me from my own experience.
1042 In company with other hon. Members, I should like most warmly to welcome a Measure which has considerable merit and which will meet a pressing need not only in the country as a whole, but particularly in that area which it is my privilege to serve as an hon. Member. Although, in Acton, there are only 400 streets, there are nearly twice that number of factories and workshops. It is an area of great industrial diversity and has a very high level of economic activity which brings a constant and ever-growing demand for skilled men and women.
This is so much so that the tragic shut-down a few months ago of an engineering company employing about 2,500 employees has had virtually no measurable affect on the higher than national average of full employment that we habitually sustain in Acton. There have been individual tragedies, of course, but those are outside the scope of this debate. What is relevant is that this shut-down has considerably diminished the facilities for apprenticeship training in that area, because the company, Napier Aero Engines Limited, had vigorous and thorough training facilities for more than 200 engineering apprentices. Those facilities have now been abruptly extinguished.
What have we left? Out of a total of more than 700 industrial companies, we have nearly 100 apprenticeship schemes, plus a further 25 non-apprenticeship schemes for office workers and employees in the food manufacturing and catering industries to which my right hon. Friend referred. Of the 40 companies involved in training engineering apprentices in Acton, only 12 are able to run large apprenticeship schemes anywhere near comparable to that one we have lost. About 20 firms have small numbers of apprentices for training and eight companies work together in group schemes, a system which was pioneered in Acton some years ago and to which the hon. Member for Edmonton referred.
In such a progressive area as this, with one industrial company in every six offering training facilities to school leavers, it might be thought that we should have little need of an Industrial Training Bill such as this, but our realisation of the need for the proposals contained in the Bill is probably far greater than it is in many other parts 1043 of the country, because in Acton school leavers represent the only regularly recurring problem of unemployment. It is a temporary problem when it occurs, but no less a real problem for the school leavers. I believe that this problem occurs because, by their nature, school leavers are inexperienced and, of course, unskilled.
§ Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)
On a point of order. These matters are a great interest and importance and particularly of great interest and importance to Scotland. The name of the Secretary of State for Scotland appears on the Bill and we would expect him—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. I hope that the hon. Member is not further pursuing the point of order which I have already ruled not to be a point of order. If it is a fresh point of order I will accept it.
§ Mr. Willis
I was simply about to ask whether you would accept a Motion to report Progress, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but in view of the arrival of a Scottish Minister, I withdraw that request.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
To begin with, as we are a House and are not a Committee, the question of reporting Progress does not arise.
§ Mr. Holland
Perhaps, by courtesy of Scotland, I may be allowed to continue and to underline the problem that I was discussing when I was interrupted by re-emphasising that in such a dynamic industrial area there is a steady and continuing demand for skilled people. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that as Acton's Member I welcome a Measure which will seek both to extend and to improve the facilities for training in skills which are as vital to the economy of my own area as they are to the future of our industrial nation.
I hope that the proposed industrial training boards will seek to improve the "know-how" of training in those industries which do not normally operate apprenticeship training schemes as such, 1044 while encouraging an ever-increasing number of smaller companies to cooperate in providing group training facilities, thus increasing the actual number of vacancies available for school leavers to train for useful skills. I agree with much of what my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. K. Lewis) had to say about the length of apprenticeship training schemes. Similar views have been expressed by hon. Members on both sides of the House.
One of the greatdifficulties experienced in some of the expanding industries is to solve the problem of how to increase rapidly the skilled labour force which is dependent for its supply upon seven-, six-, or five-year apprenticeship schemes. The dilution of labour is a palliative which may be employed in times of national emergency, but it is a short-term palliative, and in my view an unsatisfactory one. The real solution would seem to be to produce as quickly as possible, commensurate with the skill required, craftsmen at least as highly skilled as today.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Public Building and Works, on Monday, informed the House of what is happening in the construction industries. The point has also been referred to this evening, and it sets a useful precedent for other industries to follow. The industrial training boards, composed as they are, according to the Schedule, of equal numbers of representatives of both employers and employees in each industry, would seem to be ideally suited to the task of examining existing apprenticeship schemes, to see how, with more concentrated and more efficient training methods, it may be possible to concertina the training a little so as to impart the same amount of knowledge in a shorter time.
I am not suggesting a lowering of standards, but with the vastly increasing numbers of technical college places becoming available, and with the increasing use of scientific aids in teaching and training, in most industries it should be possible to achieve a contraction of the time necessary to produce skilled people.
§ Mr. J. Robertson
It is time that the facts about this matter were stated. Will the hon. Member believe me when I tell 1045 him that the engineering and shipbuilding employers have refused an application of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions to reduce the period of apprenticeship to four years? It is not the unions which are opposing the shortening of the period of apprenticeship.
§ Mr. Holland
I did not realise that I had at any stage implied that it was the trade unions who were to blame. Both sides of industry must examine the problem and reach a conclusion suitable to their respective industries. It is not possible to lay down any standard time for all types of industry or training but it is well worth having another look at the schemes which are progressing in various industries. These training boards, which will be concentrating on one industry each, would provide the ideal body of people, representing both employers and trade unionists, to consider the question. That is the point that I was trying to make.
I now want to move from commenting upon the function of training boards to the question of their composition, and to say more than one word about the brief reference which my right hon. Friend made to the professional institutes. I hope that the boards will not neglect the great storehouse of accumulated knowledge that exists today in these industrial and professional institutes. Here I am in agreement with what the hon. Member for Edmonton said. These corporate bodies have long experience in establishing professional and craft standards, in securing the provision of courses, setting qualifying examinations and assisting persons to find facilities for being trained in industry. If that has a familiar ring it is because it is taken from Clause 2.
As an example, I should like to refer to the Institute of the Motor Industry, about which I have personal knowledge. For the past 43 years this body has been fulfilling many functions for which the proposed industrial training boards will become responsible. It has been fulfilling them for what are now almost two industries—the car manufacturing industry and the car servicing industry. It will be little short of tragic if the wealth of knowledge possessed by this institute and similar bodies in other 1046 industries is neglected by these new boards.
Where appropriate, the officers of the corporate bodies could be appointed to serve on the proposed boards, but the institutes must be fully consulted. Corporate professional and craft bodies, by virtue of their long experience, should be in a strong position to offer useful advice on the fulfilment of the provisions on Clause 7.
I do not wish to delay the House, because I know that there are many otherhon. Members who wish to take part in the debate, and we made rather a late start, but I am fascinated by Clause 15, which my right hon. Friend skated over in his initial speech and which, according to the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum, it "clarifies". Putting it into the sort of language that I understand, it seems to say that technical colleges provide technical education. They always have provided technical education—and this applies to technical colleges in Scotland as well as in England and Wales.
Clause 15 aside—and every Bill has its idiosyncrasies—I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the first major piece of legislation which he is piloting through the House. It deals very well with a vitally important subject, and I believe that the Statute Book will be the richer for its inclusion.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Mr. James Boyden (Bishop Auckland)
In following the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Holland) it is interesting to refer to his own area and to what has been taking place in a number of fields where this Bill should very much improve things. I want to quote from Technical Education for September, 1963, which says that in Middlesex in the course of the last two and a half years only 50 apprentices in group apprenticeship courses have beenable to be organised. In the automobile industry to which he referred no success at all was achieved in organising a group apprenticeship course in that industry. It is an industry which is extremely scattered and where the need for this Bill is great. It is a comment on the distance that we have come, during which time the technical colleges and the local authorities have been trying to do this, and the distance that this Bill will have to go in 1047 order to remedy the situation. I hope very much that weshall not hear any more about the way in which the trade union movement has been dragging its feet, because as long ago as 1927 the General Council of the T.U.C. recommended that there should be appropriate compulsory training for all young workers. Certainly the efforts of Mr. Frank Cousins and of the former secretary of my own union, Lord Williamson of the General and Municipal Workers Union, have been very much directed to trying to get the Government to move and they have tried to influence public opinion in this direction. The constant criticism which is made of the trade unions nearly always springs from ignorance of the facts.
The Minister of Education is fond of the quotation from Dr. Johnson, to the effect that an impending execution is apt to concentrate the wits. In the case of the party opposite, the same sort of thing appears to lead to a diffusion of activities over a wide social sphere. In this case the sudden bringing forward of a White Paper and of this Bill is very much evidence of what hon. Members opposite are anticipating. But the groundwork to this Bill has been most inadequately prepared. Just as the Robbins Committee had to draw attention to the lack of data and statistics on higher education—and by implication criticised the Minister's own Department for not having the figures—so in this connection there are serious gaps in the information on which this superstructure of councils, and so on, is to be based. Take the situation of Middlesex, since reference has been made to it by the hon. Member for Acton. The local technical colleges have all found itincredibly difficult to find out the real size of the problem. The various Government Departments were not able to supply the education committee with the detailed statistics which would tell them the distribution and diversity of industries in the county, with their training pattern, what trades apprentices are engaged in, what firms they are with, and how big those firms are.The Ministry of Labour said that it would lend its files for the education people to take out the facts. But these straightforward facts were not there, readily accessible for the education people to work on. At the conference 1048 of the British Association for Commercial and Industrial Education on 15th January of this year, one of the leading officials of the Ministry of Labour, when asked about the basis for drawing up these courses and organising the whole system, said:As far as I know, the only Department of the Government machine which would have the address of every firm is the Inland Revenue, …and it is not supposed to disclose the facts. So we have a situation in which there is brought forward a comprehensive scheme, and the statistics and data are not available to make the scheme adequately scientific from the word "go". This is bad enough. But there are some serious problems of lack of co-ordination between Government Departments which cannot be washed away by a few words from the Ministry of Labour.
To make this scheme a success and to give certainty to the operation the Minister of Education must do two things. He must declare the date and the method by which the school-leaving age is to be raised to 16. That is fundamental to the problem which we are discussing today. Secondly, he mustgive clear instructions and come to a very definite conclusion about the amount of day release and the form in which day release is to be decided. As things stand, day release is very erratic. I was pleased to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) refer specifically to the good work done by the nationalised industries in this connection. Looking at the statistics of the Ministry one finds that day release varies from industry to industry and the amount has no relation at all to the profitability and success of an industry.
For example, no one can say that the distributive trades are not prospering. Yet they have one of the lowest figures for day release among boys in the country. It is 7.6 per cent. The allied industries that they serve, food, drink and tobacco, are extremely prosperous. But the figure is only 16 per cent. There is the figure for insurance, banking and finance. These are very prosperous, but they release only 8.9 per cent, of their young male employees. It is imperative not only that the Government should take a decision, a broad decision at the 1049 top so that the system may be organised, but that at local level, at the actual working level, day release and industrial training should be integrated.
As the situation exists at present, there is no indication of how existing facilities may be arranged. There are only four places in which building may be found at once for industrial training and day release. There are the technical colleges; the workshops of the firms; buildings which may be acquired by the council, and possibly some odd places which may be found here and there. But the whole basis of organising this, if we are to have an efficient system, is that there should be the closest co-operation and a complete plan devised of what buildings are necessary and where they may be found.
With reference to trainers, the Minister of Labour was disappointed with the Bacie courses arranged for training officers and that there were not many takers so that the course had to be abandoned. Why does the right hon. Gentleman find this so surprising? He said sweet words about encouraging training officers. But his own Department has appointed a retired colonel as the principal industrial adviser for this Bill. He may be an admirable retired colonel, and I am quite sure that he does not beat his wife, but the fact is that little effort was made to recruit training officers. The advertisement for this post appeared only in the Engineer and Engineering and not in the educational journals or the sort of journals which training officers would read. This is the sort of discouragement which has been experienced by training officers for a long time and so it ill-becomes the Minister of Labour to say that he is disappointed when his own Department sets such a bad example.
In another and a more major sphere, the Government have certainly not created an atmosphere in which the trade unions, the rank and file unionist, can be satisfied automatically that what is done in training may not on some occasion threaten them. Mr. Frank Cousins has set a good example in this connection by pressing for extended industrial training, putting the problem back to the Government and asking what they are doing to secure the industrial position of the workers. For example, he says:
1050We have tried consistently to defend both the young and the old, particularly in developing proper training for people who may have to change their jobs.…One of the things trade unions have consistently opposed is the idea of having young workers played off against older workers.This Bill should have been accompanied by severance pay legislation and by schemes for regional development. Only by building up a feeling of complete confidence will it be possible to carry many of the rank and file trade unionists further forward.
§ Mr. Boyden
This the Government appear to ignore completely, which gives rise to the suggestion—much as we welcome the Measure—that this Bill is being brought forward as a piece of electoral window dressing. Had the Bill been prepared six or seven years ago and had the groundwork then been done properly, or even had the ground work been done properly recently, there would be much more confidence among hon. Members on this side of the House that the Bill is a genuine attempt to grapple with the problem and that the Government are going to see it through, come what may.
I want to say a word or two about the way in which the educational system should fit into this. Hon. Members will agree there has been a considerable move forward in awareness among educationists on the problems of industrial training and the need to interest the schools more in this field. A great waste of talent has been going on in education and also in industrial training. The Crowther Report is very much pushed on one side in these days, but a statement in that Report needs emphasising again and again. It refers to technical education and says that not onlyis this a largely unknown territory, but also …an area made dark by unnecessary educational casualties.The reference is to the best and most energetic of young people who come forward for evening studies and further education to improve themselves. The failure rate and the difficulties are enormous. In this Bill we are discussing the rank and file of the population, "Half our future." They have been completely ignored in this matter. The Newsom 1051 Report, as was said in the debate yesterday, has been pushed into the background. The Crowther and Newsom Reports are absolutely basic for an advance in this matter, both in the coordination of the system and to get the very best from the talent which we have.
§ Sir E. Boyle
Before the hon. Member wallows too much in his gloom, has he nothing to say about the 1961 White Paper on better opportunities in technical education? It was a White Paper designed to meet precisely these recommendations in the Crowther Report, and the effort to bring them into effect has had considerable success. If the hon. Member is not to say anything about that. I shall.
§ Mr. Boyden
I concede that something has been done, but the fact is that it was done in 1961 and should have been done years before. I have with me the Minister's Answers to one of my Questions about pre-apprenticeship courses and group apprenticeship courses. There has been a move forword, but it has not been far enough in view of the need. If when he winds up the debate the right hon. Gentleman announces the date of the raising of the school-leaving age, I shall be delighted to find that he is moving on the most important question of all.
To come back to the educational Reports, both the Crowther and Newsom Committees were very work-conscious. My hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton referred to recommendations of the Newsom Committee dealing with the question of getting teachers to take more interest in work. One recommendation is that children in their last year at school should be engaged, at least for a short time, in industry. There is also a recommendation on the root of the problem of finding training officers. It is that teachers should themselves have better contact with industry.
Training officers will be difficult to recruit if there are not more opportunities for teachers to take part in industry and to bring their experience in teaching and industry together. There have been no suggestions at all about how the Government propose to recruit an adequate number of training officers. I have had considerable experience in 1052 this matter both in the Air Force and at the Admiralty. One of the tasks which faces any educationist embarking on a new field, especially when it concerns industry, is to persuade many shellbacks—and they are found in all walks of life—that training is anything but a frill. I constantly came across civil servants who thought that the best way of training a civil servant was to let him get going at the deep end and fend for himself.
There should be the maximum publicity and interest put forward to get over this hump. I am sure that trade unionists, certainly over the last 20 years or so, have set a very much better example than many of the smaller employers. Often the bigger employers are in the van of progress, but the rank and file trade unionist, considering what is involved, has shown a more altruistic and generous attitude than he has been given credit for on the benches opposite.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing (Hendon, North)
I feel that I might almost crave the indulgence of the House for a fresh maiden speech after seven years spent on the Front Bench.
It was said earlier that we are all in need of modernisation and, apparently, we are all in need of retraining. The hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) suggested that in engineering people ought, up to the age of 40, to go back three times if they were to keep up to date. Perhaps the same principle should apply to Ministers, because I found when I went back to industry that tremendous changes have taken place during the last seven years.
I shall not detain the House for very long, because I always felt, when I was on the Front Bench, that speeches tend to be too long. I hope to keep to the principle of not speaking for more than 15 minutes on any occasion.
I always feel, when studying the problems of industry, that we do well to consider what is happening in countries which are our rivals competing with us in the export market. In the training of their young people they may be leaving us behind. We need to consider the time taken to train young people, the area covered and their quality, because if we are not doing as well as 1053 other countries that will be to the detriment of the prosperity of our country.
In this country the training of engineering craft apprentices takes five years. In France, it takes three years, in the Federal Republic of Germany three years or three and a half years, and in Italy three years. I have not the latest figures for the United States, but they are of that order and are substantially shorter than those in this country. I do not believe that this is because our young people are any less intelligent, less quick or less thoroughly trained, but I think that we ought to examine the question to see that we are getting the best in the way of training apprentices, because if not we shall have a falling number of young people prepared to do a solid five years' training.
In a young person's life five years seems "an age". When we are older we look upon it more lightly, but if we ask a young person to do five years' training it is a strong discouragement when he finds that he could perhaps do that training in three years.
§ Mr. J. Robertson
The hon. Member should give the rest of the story. For instance, in France, although a boy serves a three-year apprenticeship he is not accepted as a skilled man in industry until a much later date. In fact, he works for five years at less pay. The same is true of Germany. Will the hon. Member tell us what essential difference there is between a boy having to wait for perhaps more than five years before he can command a skilled rate and a five-year apprenticeship?
§ Sir I. Orr-Ewing
I concede that there are differences when we may not be comparing like with like and there are slightly different arrangements. We might examine this question to see whether we are not viewing it from the point of view of the Luddites.
When I went back to industry I was struck by the fact that apprentices in tool rooms were doing wonderful work after three years' apprenticeship. They were often doing better work than some of the old hands. We should examine this question very carefully. The hon. Member for Edmonton said that the Amalgamated Engineering Union had agreed to shorter courses. I know that there has been a long process of nego- 1054 tiation and the former Minister of Labour helped to encourage a reexamination of this matter. I believe that it has been agreed that there shall be a more flexible view taken about the age limit.
I was informed by the previous Minister of Labour that "even less has been done in the engineering industry." He said:After nearly two years of discussion it has agreed in principle on making ages of entry more flexible but has not yet touched the question of shortening apprenticeship. Such snail-like progress has disappointed me.If we work on this from all sides of the House, we may get things moving faster, and this would be to The benefit of our young people.
Let me compare the figures in the building industry. We all know the immense amount of work which the building industry has to undertake in providing schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and new, modernised houses. We look very much for improved methods of training in the building industry. But here again the period is four years, to which it has been reduced in some regions, and five years moregenerally. In France it is three years, in the Federal Republic of Germany three years, and in Italy three years.
We ought to examine these methods. Will my hon. Friend, in reply to the debate, tell us whether this kind of information will be made available to the boards so that they can examine their own ideas and make sure that we are using the best and quickest possible methods? The school-leaving age has been rising steadily over the last fifty years, and surely there is a cast-iron case that as the school-leaving age goes up by one year, the length of the apprenticeship should be automatically reduced by one year. If the school-leaving age is raised to 16, perhaps we can automatically reduce the apprenticeship period by one year.
§ Sir I. Orr-Ewing
Does the hon. Member suggest that the apprenticeship will not be changed until the school-leaving age has been raised?
§ Sir I. Orr-Ewing
I do not think that we ought to be complacent. The case for improvement exists now. Let us try to improve the situation now and not wait for the Government of the day to bring that change about.
I know that there are some shellbacks, if I may borrow the phrase of the hon, Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden), among employers as well as among the trade unions, and I know that it is an advantage for employers to get skilled labour—because these people are skilled after three years—at a cheap rate. But I do not think that we can allow the boards to be influenced by these shellbacks, whether they come from the trade union side or from the management side. We must do our best to get these youngsters trained quickly and efficiently.
I have been examining the results achieved in the French scheme, and here I particularly turn to retraining because all hon. Members have made the point that it is essential that young people should realise that if they learn a skill, this country canprobably guarantee them employment for the rest of their lives, but it cannot possibly guarantee them employment in the same task. I should particularly like, therefore, to deal with the question of retraining.
The French have an excellent method in that they allow ages of entry for retraining between 17 and 46. That is very realistic. Why should we bar the older people, who have perhaps another twenty years of useful and active life, from learning a new job when their present job becomes less valuable to the community?
Will the boards give a diploma at the end of their training? This is done in France. The "Formation Professional des Adultes" issues an F.P.A. diploma, and 95 per cent, of the intake leave with diplomas. In French industry they regard the standard of these people after six months as almost as good as those who have done a full three-year apprenticeship course.
How are these people to be paid? In France, they are paid the minimum wage in that trade, and, in addition, they are given subsidised meals and free 1056 lodging. This seems a realistic approach. Is the same sort of approach to be achieved as a result of the Bill?
I believe that the Bill is a positive move forward which can benefit our young people. By training them quickly and retraining them when it is needed, it will be to the great advantage both of the people themselves and of the country.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Finch (Bedwellty)
This Bill comes late in this Parliament and even if it is expeditiously dealt with in Committee and becomes law, I do not think that it can be effective for some time. But there can be no doubt that it will go a long way towards improving industrial training in this country, and in that respect I welcome it.
Its success will depend upon the vigour and the energy which the Government and the training boards put into the Act, and, above all, it will depend upon the personnel involved. I hope fervently that those who undertake the tasks on these training courses will do so with enthusiasm. Reference has been made to colonels dealing with training. I hope that we shall not have any Colonel Blimps or people like them on the training boards. We want men with experience of industry and of education and with plenty of drive—men who are prepared to face the responsibilities and difficulties of what will be a big task.
If the Bill is exercised fully it can revolutionise industrial training in this country. There will be difficulties, but difficulties exist to be overcome. I therefore fervently hope that in making these appointments we shall bear in mind that we need men with vision and boldness to face up to industry and to the trade unions and who can come to the best possible arrangements so that the Bill is a success.
There will be no excuse for those who are appointed to the training boards or for the Government, because there was never a Measure which was looked forward to in the country as much as this. The Federation of British Industries and the Trades Union Congress have pointed out the importance of an improvement in industrial training. Many manufacturers have been telling 1057 us from time to time that foreign competition is increasing and is becoming keener, and that among other things there is a need for more and more skill. On both sides of the House, we say, we recognise that the pattern of industry is changing. At the same time, we know that automation is increasing.
On this side of the House for some years we have pleaded for a remodelling of the apprenticeship system in this country. We have done thisin the Scottish Grand Committee, in the Welsh Grand Committee and in the House. At last we have this Bill. In other words, the training boards and the Government start at a great advantage, with the full support and sympathy of both sections of industry, of parents and of others. There was never a committee about to be set up which started in such a fortunate position as this. They will also have the advantage of the apprenticeship schemes already operated by the nationalised industries.
The National Coal Board has an excellent training scheme. Boys are away for 12 months on full-time education and after that for three or four days a week, coming down eventually to one day a week. It is an excellent scheme, and it is needed in that industry because mining,like every other industry, has been highly reorganised. We have an experiment in the Nottingham coal field towards manless coal faces. There would be very few, if any, face workers required, and it would be only a question of pressing a button. It will be a question of mechanical and electrical engineers producing the coal at an ever-increasing rate. The National Coal Board realises that it has to adapt its apprenticeship scheme to the changing conditions in the country. These comments apply equally to the gas and electricity industries. The training boards will have the benefit of the experience and knowledge of the nationalised industries, which lead the way in this matter.
Some firms in the steel industry and firms such as South Wales Switchgear and British Nylon Spinners have a fund of knowledge at their disposal. They will be able to help the new training boards when they are established. There will be no excuse for lethargy on the part of the training boards or the Government. The 1058 nation is behind the intention and spirit of the Bill. It is up to the Government to clear the decks for action, because it is action that we want.
The Bill takes on an added importance from the fact that week by week the country is losing the skill of many boys and girls.Many of them are taking up dead-end jobs. The ability of thousands of them is being frittered away. It is becoming more difficult for unskilled boys and girls to get jobs which offer them proper security. Something needs to be done urgently. It is regrettable that the Government did not see fit to introduce this Bill long ago, especially as the Labour Party has for a long time advocated the remodelling of the apprenticeship scheme. In my own county—Monmouthshire—in September, 1963, there were5,666 unemployed. Over 3,000 were men. Seventy-five per cent, of them were unskilled. Fifty per cent, of them were between 18 and 39. In Monmouthshire the emphasis used to a large extent to be laid on finding employment for those over 50. The emphasis is now changing. It is now recognised that the greatest problem for the foreseeable future is with young men and women. The county has 1,042 unemployed boys and girls.
I hope that the training boards will provide facilities for the unskilled who are at present unemployed or who are in employment but have lost the opportunity, because the Bill has not been introduced until now, of getting into a skilled occupation. We owe a duty to the many young people who up to now have failed to get training because there has been no co-ordination between employers and the Ministry. Some firms have not been interested in apprenticeship schemes. The financial position of other firms has not been such as to enable them to grant day releases, although day releases are not very satisfactory. In any event, some firms have not been in a position to grant day releases for the purpose of apprenticeship schemes. Efforts have been made by some by way of pooling arrangements. At any rate, the training of boys and girls has been held back because many employers have not been able to take a sufficient number of apprentices. In future, industrial training must not depend entirely upon the number of apprentices an industry or an employer 1059 can take. The Central Advisory Committee on Technical Education in Wales said this:There is no doubt that at the present time the provision of technical education in Wales, measured by the demands of industry and by the number and quality of the students who present themselves, is more than adequate.It is more than adequate because employers have not been able to take apprentices, or have not taken sufficient of them.
The existing training centres should be expanded to take additional trainees where employers are not able to absorb them. I hope that the Minister will pay special attention to this point. If this job is to be done efficiently, training centres should be enlarged. Are all young workers to be regarded as in training? Is it the Government's intention that there should be periodical releases of all young men and women for further education? Such training schemes should include girls, because at present the provision for the training of girls is inadequate. Many girls have the ability to take on skilled work. Some industries in South Wales have taken on girls in skilled occupations. The girls have made a good job of it. I hope that the Minister will tell us whether it is the ultimate intention to include all young workers in training schemes.
One of the functions of the boards should be to establish standards for training and syllabuses for technical education. In future there will be a need for adaptability. Processes and techniques are changing rapidly and on a scale hitherto unknown. This means that young people should not be trained in a single process or a single technique. They should be able to apply their knowledge to different processes and techniques. That should be the aim of the training boards and the Ministry.
We must be on our guard against being too examination-ridden. At present, in many aspects of training young people there is a tendency to be too examination-ridden. I call the Minister's attention to this fact because I believe that one can be too rigid. Boys and girls going in for the National Certificate do so in three stages. There are three subjects in each stage—that is the minimum. Many boys 1060 and girls sitting for this examination pass in two subjects with flying colours, but they come to grief on the third subject. Although they are able, they fail in one subject. They have attended well and have earned good marks in the other two subjects. The fact that they have failed in one subject means that they have to go through another 12 months in the three subjects. When a person has failed in one subject, I believe that he should pass on to the next stage in the subjects in which he has proved himself competent and go on concentrating upon the subject in which he has failed.
The present system causes much wastage. I know cases of many boys and girls who have despaired on learning that for another 12 months they must go on with three subjects, two of which they have passed already. If they come from homes where the earnings are low there is a great temptation to give it up. Many give it up before reaching the final stage of the National Certificate. We do not want a repetition of that in this scheme. I do not suggest that we should lower standards, but we should not be too rigid. I hope that the Minister will give some advice on this matter to the training boards and use his influence to ensure that this does not happen.
Some boys and girls are not good at paper work. Some who are of average intelligence or perhaps slightly below average are very good with their hands. This type of person is educable. The Newsom Report laid emphasis on this in this way:There is very little doubt that there are reserves of ability which can be tapped if the country wills the means.Newsom also says this:There is a substantial proportion of the average and below-average pupils who are sufficiently educable to supply the additional talent which the future will desperately need.We must have in mind at all times those boys and girls who are not above average but who can make a very valuable contribution in industry if they are properly trained.
I was glad to hear the Minister say in opening that in appointing the training boards due regard would be paid to regions and that regional boards would be established. This is important, because circumstances vary from region to region. The circumstances in Scotland are different from those in 1061 Wales. The North-East has its own problems of unemployment. I was glad to hear die right hon. Gentleman say that regional committees are to be appointed, what may be termed subcommittees of the national training boards.
In this way local circumstances will be fully taken into account. We shall have a regional board for Wales. The circumstances in Mid-Wales and North Wales are quite different from those in South Wales, which is highly industrialised. North Wales and Mid-Wales are highly agricultural: light industries may be necessary there. It is highly desirable that there should be a training centre in North Wales and Mid-Wales, as well as the enlargement of that in Cardiff.
§ Mr. Godber
The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that it will vary according to the different industries. For some industries there will clearly be a case for area committees in South Wales because of the needs there. In other industries there will be different arrangements. There will be this degree of flexibility in operation, which should help Wales.
§ Mr. Finch
I appreciate what the Minister says.
There is one other point. That is the function of the youth employment officers in connection with future training. The youth employment officers are doing a very efficient job. They are the liaison between the schools and the employers. In my own district, employment officers interview parents, headmasters and teachers and arrange for boys and girls to go into factories before they leave school, so that they can see how the work is being done. The youth employment officer is the key person in this respect. I do not know whether the Minister has in mind that youth employment officers should be represented on the training boards, but I think that it is highly desirable that some representation should be arranged by which these employment officers can act through the training boards as a liaison between employers, industry and schools. In my own constituency boys and girls periodically visit South Wales Switchgear and other factories so that they can get an understanding of the factory atmosphere and make up their 1062 minds later whether it is the type of industry in which they would like to be trained. The youth employment officer who is doing the job is a very important person and he should be of great benefit to any training board.
I hope that this Bill will soon become law. Once it becomes an Act of Parliament it can revolutionise industrial training, provided there is the drive. The decks must be cleared for action. The training boards and the Government must go into this as if they mean business, with a boldness and confidence, because it can do so much for industry. There will be difficulties, but I am sure that the trade unions will do everything possible to make this Measure a success for the sake of the children and the economy of this country.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Aidan Crawley (Derbyshire, West)
The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) said that the Bill was part of the electoral shop window. I commend it for almost exactly the opposite reason—not only for what it does for industrial training, but because it is part of a continuing process of creating new institutions for our industrial life. To me, that is by far the most important task ahead for any Government over the next decade.
In the debate on the Address in reply to the Queen's Speech, we discussed the future of Britain and we disagreed about many things. But we are all agreed on one thing: whatever our future, it depends for prosperity on a substantial increase in production, and whatever emphasis is put on new investment or the proper use of plant, in the last analysis it always comes back to the human being. It is the quality of the men and women, whether they are managers, scientists, technicians, or mechanics, on which we depend. The importance of the Bill is that it recognises, as was recognised by another Measure, passed last Session, that traditional methods of ensuring the quality of the men and women in industry and, even more important, the way they work together, are no longer adequate.
As the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter) who opened the debate for the Opposition said, there have been innumerable instances of firms which have no schemes for training. It is 1063 equally true that, for whatever reason, there have been many instances of trade unions refusing to adapt their apprenticeship schemes and actually rejecting schemes for training in production. The idea that the two sides of industry can be left any longer to work things out for themselves cannot be accepted.
§ Mr. J. Robertson
We have had many statements of this kind about the trade unions. Would the hon. Gentleman give one concrete case as an example of what he has said?
§ Mr. Crawley
There have been several examples in the printing industry of restriction of apprentices and also in the railway industry, if the hon. Gentleman cares to look them up.
This inadequacy of leaving things to the two sides of industry is not confined to training. It shows itself in far more important things:in the slowness with which management and unions accept new methods, even in wage negotiations. The machinery is too slow. It often results in deadlock, and even when it gets a settlement, either through arbitration or through the last-minute intervention of my right hon. Friend's Department, the settlement is temporary and, however it may affect a particular industry or particular employers, it frequently conflicts with the national interest.
I know that the Opposition are as aware of this as I am, but their remedy is for the State to exercise increasing control through nationalisation, or the buying of shares in existing companies. [Interruption.] There is no evidence whatever that in the nationalised industries the clash between management and worker is any less than it is in private industry. We have the same pattern in the railways, docks and Post Office of negotiations and deadlock and then a temporary settlement, as we have all through private industry.
The truth is that in the nationalised industries the position when represented by management is something just as remote to the ordinary railwayman as it is to a shareholder in a private company. We shall not get better co-operation through nationalisation. The main difficulty in creating new institutions for our industrial life is that the two chief institutions of our industrial life are both out 1064 of date—the limited liability company and the trade union as it stands.
We often hear the directors of even some of our greatest companies say that their first duty is to their shareholders. In most of our main companies the shareholder is infinitely remote. In fact, a director's first duty is equally important, if not more so, to the thousands of employees in his company and the consumer as it is to his shareholders.
The same argument can be applied to trade unions. "Ted" Hill is only one trade union leader, but how often do we hear other union leaders say, "Whatever the national interest might be, I must look after my own members first." In view of the size to which trade unions have grown, it must be of equal interest to trade unionists to look after the interests of members of other trade unions and the consumer.
Our duty is to create institutions which will allow companies and trade unions to exercise social responsibility as well as responsibility for their members. It is because I believe the Bill to be another step in this difficult process of creating new institutions for our industry—however much hon. Members opposite may dislike it—that it has my full support.
§ 7.11 p.m.
§ Mr. John Robertson (Paisley)
The Bill will be welcomed by all right-thinking people in industry, if only because the powers proposed to be given to the new boards will enable us to have the true facts about training in industry. This may save us from the sort of crystal-gazing that is indulged in by amateur sociologists.
Training in industry has been a fashionable subject for some time, a subject about which everyone is an expert except the chap who works in industry. The so-called expert seems to take it for granted that the worker knows nothing about the topic—just as the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Crawley) showed his lack of knowledge of the subject. If anything was guaranteed to create bad feeling in industry it was his ill-thought out speech in which he revealed that he has had little experience of working in any section of industry. We can do without that sort of speech.
1065 The speeches generally today have shown that we must get the facts clear, particularly about apprenticeships and the attitude of the craft unions. The Minister must make up his mind. We are told, on the one hand, that our training is not good enough and is not producing skilled craftsmen in sufficient numbers, while, on the other hand, the Minister claims that in one of his new training centres he can produce skilled men within six months. Time will tell.
There is far too much generality about the quality of our training. I hope that the new boards will discover the facts because, for example, in my constituency the number of engineering apprenticeships represents a one-to-three chance. South of the Border it is about a one-to-six chance of a youngster obtaining an apprenticeship. The. fault lies mainly with the large factories in the Midlands—the car and aircraft industries. However, do not let us be too critical of these two industries because, traditionally, they have never given many apprenticeships. They have undertaken a different kind of training; they have taken people out of dead-end jobs and those who have found themselves redundant because their jobs no longer exist—miners and so on—and have turned them into engineers.
About 70 per cent, of the men who do the effective jobs in the motor car and aircraft industries are non-time served. I would not like to say that they are not skilled, but when we speak of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled men let us remember that this sort of terminology in the engineering industry is not related to the kind of job a man does but to the basic rate of pay to which he is entitled.
When I hear people talking about increasing the number of apprenticeships as a solution to our problem of the lack of skilled men in engineering I wonder whether they know the true facts of the situation. About 60 per cent, of the engineering personnel in Britain are non-time served and do not require to serve any period of apprenticeship. It is reckoned that another 15 per cent, are unskilled, so that only a very small number of those employed in engineering are required to serve an apprenticeship.
If the Minister is considering training adults in one of his training centres for six months so that the trained man will 1066 then do one of the jobs that is normally done by a five-year apprenticed man, need he wonder why the unions are objecting? But if he is talking about training a man to do one of the jobs which is normally performed by a non-apprenticed man, there will be no objection.
We have heard a lot about wastage in industry. I agree that there is a good deal of wastage. One of the reasons for it is that a skilled man—having served five years'apprenticeship plus a pre-apprenticeship year, making six in all-having spent a number of years on small apprenticeship wages, finds that his job does not require the skill he learned during his apprenticeship. In other words, because of the difficulties at present confronting negotiations that take place in industry to establish decent rates of pay for a skilled man, the unskilled and semiskilled worker is often able to get higher wages than the skilled man. This often happens in the Midlands, and because of this we find a five-year time-served man doing a job that could be done by a non-time-served man. I agree that the Government cannot do everything to solve this problem. But it comes badly from the benches opposite—the occupants of which often represent employers' interests, including the interests of engineering—to blame the trade unions for all the ills of industry.
There has never been a restriction on the age of an apprentice. I agree that we have frowned upon adult apprentices, men of, say, 20 or 30, working for apprentices' wages. If an employer is prepared to pay the skilled rate for the job being done we will do all we can to assist. As to dilution agreements, the trade unions have never been difficult in their upgrading policy. It creates a wrong impression and a feeling of resentment among trade unionists when the amount of co-operation which they have given in this sphere is not recognised.
Several hon. Members have spoken about the length of apprenticeships. The Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions recently made a direct claim to the employers to establish a four-year apprenticeship. The Confederation received a fiat refusal. I appreciate the point of view of the engineering employers. The problem has never been that of the standard of training, or even of training itself, but of the 1067 age at which an apprentice should start and the wages he should receive when the four-year apprenticeship is over. I finished my own apprenticeship at the age of 19, but I did not get a journeyman's wage until I was 21. An employer is quite prepared to reduce the apprenticeship period to four years as long as he does not have to pay the journeyman's wage until the age at which he pays at present.
When does the age of learning cease in an engineering factory? The only difference to an apprentice between the day of die termination of his apprenticeship and the day after is the amount of money to which he is entitled. Very often he is doing the same job in the last two years of his apprenticeship; he is a skilled man, but working for very low wages. If anyone can induce engineering employers to pay the fully-skilled rate at the age of 19 it will be found that the unions will make no objection to termination of apprenticeship at that age.
The problem is not the quality or quantity of training during an apprenticeship, so let us face it quite squarely. As I say, my own union called the employers'bluff on this quite recently but at least it made some progress, because now every year spent at any school prior to apprenticeship up to the age of 17 will count as apprenticeship; in other words, apprenticeships will still terminate at age 21 but may be of three, four or five years' duration. On the other hand, we must remember—and I am now dealing only with the Scottish position—that of the 80,000-odd school-leavers each year 72,000 leave before the age of 16, so that the number going into apprenticeships after the age of 16 will be very few, and I do not think that that will make any real contribution to the problem.
The Minister spoke of certain instances where the trade unions are being blamed for being Luddites. They are not Luddites. A colleague of mine has told me that the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor in office said to him, "For goodness sake, go and kick them where it hurts most in order to get them to reduce the period of apprenticeship during my term of office." Unfortunately, my trade union has been unable to meet the then Minister's wish, though we have gone a long way towards doing so.
1068 We are anything but Luddites. We have for years been trying to sort things out, and perhaps with the setting up of these boards we may at last be starting on the road towards the solution of the problems. But the problems will never be solved by discussions on training. They will only be solved by discussion on status and wage rates. This is the central problem of the content and length of apprenticeship, not abstract questions of training.
The Minister anticipated one criticism of the Bill by saying that this legislation will not alone ensure success in training. It will not. This is the Bill's greatest weakness. It assumes that by the imposition of levies, and by giving something back to the employer who carries out the training, the employer will be induced to undertake training, but there is no guarantee that he will. It may well be that he will find it cheaper to pay the levy and not undertake the training, hoping that the Minister himself will undertake that task.
This is one of the dangers of this set-up. I believe that the training must be the responsibility of the industry and must take place in industry, but the Bill will have misfired if employers believe that the training is far too expensive, or are prepared to pay a levy and put the responsibility for the training on the Minister. That must be guarded against. Unless employers undertake more training, the Bill will not have been a success.
I say that industry should undertake the training, but there are probably some exceptions. We have heard about the regional problems, and I should like to know what the Minister has in mind for providing training facilities for the remoter areas, such as the Highlands of Scotland. There must be many boys and girls in the Highlands who can never hope to find work at a skilled occupation. How are we to link them with industry for apprenticeship and the kind of commercial training from which they could benefit? This is an area where, perhaps, the Minister himself could set up training centres without relating the training to any specific factory or firm. Nevertheless, I do not think that, in general, this should be looked upon as a good thing.
1069 It is a pity, too, that the Government did not undertake a great deal more spade work before introducing the Bill. Instead of getting off to a clean start when the Bill becomes law, the boards will have to do research, build up statistics, make forecasts and consult the Minister of Education and the Secretary of State for Scotland to determine what kind of educational facilities are required. It will take a long time for the machinery to operate.
Forecasting future needs must be the cornerstone of any training policy. As it stands, the Bill does not specifically allocate that task, although I must say that in the Report—Central Scotland: A Programme for Development and Growth, the Secretary of State seems less coy on the subject than was the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon. The Secretary of State makes definite statements about the kind of work being done. For instance, he says that Glasgow University has been asked to make a survey and a report on the probable needs of certain industries in Scotland The Report also states that the Minister himself has asked certain other people to produce a report on future needs in training. The Minister of Labour might today have been a little more forthcoming in telling us how the work was to be done, and what he had in mind.
Is the machinery set up by the Bill necessarily the best available? My hon. Friend the Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter) spoke of plumbers on the North-East Coast, and of typists. Whether a typist is employed in a solicitor's office, a steel works or any other factory her training will be fundamentally the same. Would training in industry really achieve what we are looking for, or would it not tend to restrict the scope of the training? Should we not think of training a young boy over a wide range of skills not related to the industry at all but to skill? Agreed, in a number of cases the training will be related to the industry. I hope that the Minister is able to achieve the flexibility he has said is his aim. I hope that he tries to play this by ear. There should be no rigidity in the way the boards operate. In time we may be able to make a better judgment of the situation.
1070 I agree that the Bill in itself means nothing, because so much depends upon the personnel who form the boards and so much depends upon the Minister giving the necessary impetus and offering the initiative to get things going. If the Bill does the job we envisage it will be a good Bill, and not only for industry. The needs of industry are not the most important aspect of the matter. The Bill will be a good thing for young people. It has my blessing.
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Mr. John H. Osborn (Sheffield, Hallam)
I made my Second Reading speech on the Bill, as it were, on 1st February. I welcome the new Minister who, in piloting the Bill, takes over a task at a critical stage. I should also like to congratulate my right hon. Friend's predecessor on the hard work which he did in connection with the Bill. My right hon. Friend emphasized the need to increase communications within industry. This is the correct theme to apply to the whole problem of training. It involves not only the State but both sides of industry. The project envisaged in the Bill will succeed only if we have increased communication and understanding between both sides of industry.
As the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter) said, in this legislation we are exploring a new area and have to feel our way. The hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. J. Robertson) said that the Government had not done enough spade-work. I agree that spade-work is necessary, but in making that complaint one cannot at the same time criticise the Government for not having brought this Measure forward earlier. I welcome the concept that lies behind the Bill. I emphasised in my speech on 1st February, and I have emphasised since, the various snags involved. There are still snags and difficulties. We should not have any illusions about that.
The Minister has done a great deal of work behind the scenes since he delivered his first speech on this subject. I welcome the way in which he has consulted all sides of industry. Many people who will be affected by the Bill are now much more aware of its impact on their industries and their methods of training. In the industry with which I am connected, for instance, the Iron and Steel 1071 Federation says in one of its publications thatThe Industry fully supports the Government's proposals whose objectives coincide closely with those which it itself has followed; and welcomes the prospect of the establishment of an Iron and Steel Training Board.This is one example of the type of work which has been going on in industry. Like many other industries, the iron and steel industry could have stayed on one side and could have said, "This is something which the Government are doing. We have our own scheme". I congratulate my right hon. Friend and his predecessor upon their valuable work in securing support for the Bill when it becomes law.
I have attended several meetings on the subject of training in industry. Some of them have been with training officers and others with union representatives and education authorities. There is no doubt that those in industry who are concerned with training alone are almost wholly behind this Measure. They have experience not only of problems which they have to face in their own work, but also of problems which are beyond their control.
My hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Crawley), who is my Member of Parliament, raised the question of management being involved in this project and of the attitude of management towards its shareholders in tackling it. In this context, he said that the proposals in the Bill were not window-dressing for an election but that they might well work the other way. The Minister is only too well aware that there are many in the management of the smaller industries who have no idea of the impact which the Bill will make on their industries when it becomes law. I congratulate my right hon. Friend and his predecessor on having grasped this difficult nettle at this time.
The Bill makes impositions on management in areas which some will regard as the prerogative of management and as areas not to be interfered with by others. One of the difficulties which we shall have in Committee will be to explain to many people affected by the Bill the full reasons for its impact on their industries.
The carrot and the stick have been mentioned. Clauses 6, 7 and 8 deal 1072 essentially with the penalty for failure, which involves both imprisonment and fine and which, in the last resort, affects the individual. This creates problems, but I think that we can rest assured that those who accept responsibility for running industries and working on training will realise that the penalty will be only a last measure. This aspect of the Bill should be played down. The positive aspect is the immense fund of good will towards the Minister and the Ministry in their efforts to make this concept succeed.
We come back, therefore, to the most important question, which is whether we need a Bill of this kind. My qualified reply is that we must have the Bill and that it will have the support of many who are in responsible positions in industry. I have just come back from a tour of the United States where I have tried to explain to Americans not only the concept of economic planning, which undoubtedly is distrusted there, but also the concept of this Bill. There is no doubt that American management in its present mood would regard a Bill of this kind in the United States as transgressing on the responsibilities and the province of management.
Many of those to whom I spoke, including representatives of responsible management, realised, however, that we in Britain are following something which is not unlike the pattern followed in France and Sweden, by means of which we may well succeed in bringing about a more efficient industrial set-up in this country. We should therefore take the more positive approach of appreciating that co-operation in this effort has advantages and we should discount as far as possible some of the negative aspects of the Bill.
We should remember one special reason for having the Bill now. I believe it to be the most valuable reason. Many private companies have run their own schemes for both apprentice training and management training. They have undergone the expense of granting day release and paying the fees of those who have undertaken courses, as well as paying wages and salaries during their absence from work. So far so good, but many of their competitors do not do this and, in the end, training can be an overhead expense on the operating cost 1073 of a factory and might have to be charged against the cost of the product. This does not matter except when there are other producers who do not have that kind of charge on their product. It may on the other hand be said that there is the compensating advantage of having a more highly skilled labour force and that this counteracts the cost.
§ Mr. Osborn
Many people who are engaged in management hold that opinion firmly. There are others who have their doubts about this. This is surely something for each individual management to judge, but those who run schemes of this type resent the way in which, having spent money on training young people, they find that these people can be taken as highly skilled men by their competitors. This point has been concerning many progressive managements in industry.
Many ideas have been put forward to deal with this objection. One is for some extra tax relief for those firms which operate training schemes. Another involves the concept of a transfer fee. The final concept, which is mentioned in this Bill, is that of a levy. This means that those firms which do not have a training scheme paya levy. We have discussed today the weight of that levy. It must be high enough to make it worth while for those firms which operate training schemes to continue to have those schemes. I welcome the implication in the Minister's remarks that those firms which have very good training schemes may find that the grant far exceeds the levy. In fact, they are being paid for training people in their own industries. This is an aspect of the Bill which is to be welcomed.
If I now appear to be critical, I shall try to be critical in a constructive rather than a destructive sense. In the White Paper "Industrial Training: Government Proposals", paragraph 18 states:The definition of industries for inclusion in the Orders setting up Boards would have to be worked out in detailed discussion with those concerned in the industries affected.The question I ask is: have we reached the stage whereby we have managed to cover every young person entering employment? I think the answer is probably no, because it will be difficult to make certain that every young man 1074 going into employment enters some field of employment covered by a board, and I would welcome some comment from the Minister on that point. I am a little concerned that those employed in Government service are left out of this category, though I welcome the Minister's assurance that Government Departments will give adequate training to their employees.
One aspect of the Bill which is a little obscure is: what is the definition of an employer? I may have been blind, but I have been unable to find in the Bill an employer defined as someone employing a given number of people—I had expected this to be five. Any clarification as to how big an employer is intended to be covered by the Bill would be of immense value at this stage.
I have also noticed a change in the concept of the industrial training committees to which the Minister referred. I observe that the chairman may be either inside or outside the industry. I am glad there has been this change of concept from the original one, because in many cases there could be an immense advantage in not debarring a person who has worked in a particular industry.
Having set up our training facilities, who will form the secretariat? Who will be the training officers? Reference has been made to the B.A.C.I.E. Conference, and some of the training officers have not supported it. We must be careful to ensure that the officers working on these boards are men of the highest calibre. It is no good having a training officer who knows nothing about what happens in the industry with which he is supposed to be concerned. In fact, we might be demanding a sort of superhuman person who is almost impossible to supply.
Having selected these training officers, what is to be the mechanism of deciding whether or not a company has adequate training facilities? It might be said that a company should have facilities which comply with the City and Guilds requirements or some other requirements. One company might be operating successfully and might say that its training facilities are adequate, while another company might have much more elaborate facilities and still claim that they were adequate or, indeed, more 1075 than adequate. Who is to decide whether firm A has the right training facilities whereas firm B has not? Is it to be the industrial training committee or its secretary? I hope that in the course of time, particularly as the collection of a levy is involved, a way will be found of making equitable decisions so that individual firms do not have ruffled feelings.
This is perhaps the most difficult field into which the State is moving. I was discussing with various competent training officers in my own city the sort of training schemes which are taking place there. Several of them agreed with me that the bigger companies have spent a vast amount of money on training operatives as such to a much higher standard than on other firms training craftsmen. Who is going to judge in this matter? Is an education officer competent to do so? Certainly, if examinations are involved it may help, but one firm may concentrate on operative training in the wider general field whereas in craft training the firm may be concentrating on specific skills. These are problems which we must not ignore.
In this context of having adequate people on these boards or attached as training officers to these committees, suppose for instance that someone on a committee goes to a firm which considers it has an adequate training scheme. I have spoken to one training officer who has told me that unless he is satisfied that the person nominated to inspect his firm—he has been in charge of training for, say, 25 years—knows what he is talking about, he is not going to treat such a person very kindly. This is the sort of friction which we must work hard to avoid.
I should like to take up a point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Sir Ian Orr-Ewing) on retraining and redundancy. I raised this matter on 1st February in connection with work done in Sheffield, and particularly work carried out by the National Trades Technical Society. I shall not cover the same ground again, but I said on that occasion, when considering a craftsman and a qualified operative, that it is the duty of the management or of the industry concerned to maintain the interest of the craftsman or the operative
1076 in his industry and the new processes in that industry.
This is a field in which the National Trades Technical Society has done immensely important work by bringing the top management into discussions with operatives so that they can bring themselves up-to-date with the processes involved. Many of these people would not be in a position to comprehend a normal lecture, but they can understand a demonstration.
What happens if a craftsman in this position is declared redundant and. after twenty or twenty-five years in one skilled trade, he is transferred to a new field of activity? That man must first have his interest aroused in a new form of activity. This is the sort of task which is being carried out by this society, The work has been started in Sheffield within the last six months, though more progress has been made in the Birmingham area. The point that concerns me is: what happens to this voluntary organisation which is supported by subscriptions from employees as well as from employers under this Bill? The employer says, "I have got to pay a levy to this training board. Why should I pay a levy or subscription to another society as well?" I raised this matter in a debate on 1st February.
Clause 2(4) says:An industrial training board may …(b) make grants or loans to persons providing courses or other facilities approved by the board".I take it that this is a field where some outside agency which co-operates with the Ministry of Education and provides facilities like this may ask for funds from the board, and I think this will be a very great reassurance to the National Trades Technical Society and other societies.
I come quickly to one or two other details. Clause 2(2) speaks of contracts of service with a training board rather than with a company itself. Normally, an apprenticeship is between a company and a boy, and I should like an adequate explanation of how this proposal is going to work.
Then there is the question of regional activity in apprentice training. In Sheffield, for instance, the local area officer of the Iron and Steel Federation 1077 and the Engineering Employers'Confederation have worked very closely together in what I call general education. It will be very complex if the regional organisation is ignored and we deal entirely with these vertical training committees I hope that, whatever emanates from this Bill, regional cooperation between representatives of the Ministry of Labour and the youth employment officer and the industries concerned will not die because of this vast vertical national structure which will be imposed on them.
I am interested in the work of youth employment officers, and I would support what was said by the hon. Member for Southwark about how little we know of what happens to people when they leave school. I have had a series of meetings with people concerned with this, including youth club leaders. In my own area. We find that the only people we can trace, or begin to know what has happened to them, are those going to approved apprenticeship schemes within industries which we know. I think that from the last statistic available this amounts to about 36 per cent. I hope we shall be able to find out what is happening to the 64 per cent. On both sides of the House we are concerned not so much with those going to approved training schemes in the larger companies as with those others who may not have found proper training. This Bill is a move in the right direction, but unless we have within its orbit everyone employed or to be employed I still think we shall make very little progress in overcoming this major difficulty.
I have tried, as I said I would, to point out the difficulties constructively, and I would conclude by saying that, with those reservations, I consider this is a bold venture in the right direction, and I support the Bill.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Bradley (Leicester, North-East)
Like other Members who have contributed to the debate, I should like to begin by saying that I most sincerely welcome the general intentions which are contained in the Bill we are discussing this evening, although I think it rather a pity that it has taken so long before these proposals could be found 1078 a place in the Government's legislative programme.
After all, it is over five years since the Carr Committee reported, and it reported a deteriorating situation in industrial training. To be fair, I do appreciate and realise, of course, that talks have been going on between the Ministry and both sides of industry for a long time. These talks have been accelerated since the publication of the Government's White Paper last December.
I recognise, too, that the Bill, as it is now before us, is different in some respects from the views put forward in that White Paper, and I also appreciate that those differences represent concessions to the points of view which have been urged on the Government for a long period of time by the Trades Union Congress. There is, first, the provision of the Central Training Council. It has long been urged on the Government by the T.U.C. as a very necessary part of the administration of industrial training. I should like to think, however, that it would be in a position to give more strength and direction to the industrial boards than the Minister indicated in his opening speech this afternoon.
The second point, I think, where a concession has been made to the T.U.C. is that, in addition to the levies paid by employers throughout industry, there is now to be a considerable injection of public money. In fact, we know that an initial amount of £50 million is to be available for this purpose.
I was very pleased to hear the Minister say this afternoon, regarding the provision for educational representation on the training boards, that it was recognised that further education and industrial training are really two complementary aspects of the continued education of young people after they leave school. I was very glad indeed that he went out of his way to imply that.
But it is to the actual work of the industrial training boards that I wish to turn my attention. I think that, while an improvement in apprenticeship training is undoubtedly necessary, and also in the structure of that training in industry, because at present there is a collection of unco-ordinated decisions which have been made by a large number of 1079 firms in a private capacity, the boards should not neglect the training in whole ranges of lesser skilled occupations.
In spite of the Minister's explanation, I am still wondering how it is proposed that the boards will deal with the very many skills which cut right across industrial classifications. It is quite possible to think of many industries whose skilled personnel is common to the whole field of British industry. Who, indeed, is to define the boundaries of the chemical and engineering industries? It has been said somewhere else—I believe, in another place, in a debate on the White Paper—that there are more skilled electricians in other industries than there are in the electricity industry itself.
One category of workers comes immediately to my mind as common to all industries, and that is the clerical workers, some of whom may be aspiring to the lower and middle ranges of managerial and executive status. The emphasis, in the Bill, in the publicity which the Bill has received, and also in the contributions which have been made to the debate today, seems to be on the manual skilled worker, the craft element, the craft-manual element, in industry today.
I would say, as a national officer of a trade union which caters for salaried employees, that I hope it is not the intention to exclude clerical workers from the full provisions of the new proposals, and certainly, if it is not the intention to exclude them, I hope it is not the intention to put them at the back of the queue.
I do not think that we should look at this problem of industrial training without considering the whole field of industry and commerce, and that is why I was so glad to find, in Clause 1, the term "commerce" used, because it did not appear in the White Paper when it was issued.
Clerical and other white collar workers now form a growing proportion of the total number of employees in all industries. May we look forward to a board which will cover clerical employees in particular industries or groups of related industries, or will there be a board to cover the whole field of clerical employment? I should 1080 like answers to these questions at the appropriate time.
It is desirable that the pattern for clerical and commercial training should be unified. We must aim at getting a common standard. Already, we have the ordinary national certificate in business studies which is available in colleges of further education, but for clerical and commercial people in industry the growing need has been for something at a level lower than this ordinary national certificate. I was glad to note recently that a new certificate in office studies is being introduced. I think that this will fill a large gap in the training arrangements for clerical workers within industry and commerce.
We must ensure that the industrial training boards recognise these courses at further education establishments as the normal study arrangements for clerical workers everywhere and that adequate provision is made for day or block release. It is astonishing that, in 1961–62, only 12 per cent, of the 15 to 17-year-old group were accorded day release by their employers. The Ministry of Education has emphasised the importance of day release and has pressed employers to recognise it, but the industrial training boards, when established, must give a little more direct encouragement.
The record of nationalised industry generally is good—in many respects, nationalised industries have been the pacemakers in industrial training arrangements—but it is only fair to add that many large private firms also have a good record in this direction. There must, however, be more national direction to secure better training arrangements coupled with day release.
I was rather alarmed when the Minister was at some pains to point out in his speech that, as regards commerce, he was empowered, but not obliged, by the Bill to set up a training board. I hope that its establishment will not be too long delayed. If some time must elapse before a separate training board can be set up to cater for clerical and commercial workers, could not the proposed Central Training Council tackle the general question of training within commerce, since it is not really restricted to one industry?
1081 In much of the thought about training within industry there is, perhaps, a natural concentration on the needs of young people. I do not complain about this and I do not wish to depart from it, but, on the other hand, training within industry should not, I suggest, be confined to young people. The pace of technological advance today calls for many new and changing skills and requires training provisions in industry beyond mere provision for the young. Any schemes should, therefore, make provision for retraining within industry. The boards should apply themselves to the problem of retraining skilled men whose old skills become redundant in an entirely new situation.
British Railways, the industry with which I am most closely associated, have a first-class record in this connection. They have been extremely successful in retraining engine drivers, whose working lives have been devoted to steam traction, to drive the new forms of diesel and electric traction. Men, even up to the age of 60, have been quite successfully trained in these new skills and operations. The redundancy arrangements for the workshops of British Railways which have recently been published envisage retraining for redundant staff. There was no mention whatever in the White Paper of the problem of redundancy which is one of the most pressing and harrowing throughout industry today. Will the boards pay attention to it? I sincerely hope that they will.
Industrial change, of course, is not confined to the manual side of industry. Many changes are taking place in the offices of commerce, insurance, banking and finance. There is the tremendous development of the large-scale computer. A tremendous amount of mechanisation is creeping in. Clearly, there is a great need for the training of existing office staffs to become programmers or to work in the arrangements necessary as a consequence of mechanisation and the introduction of computers. Training is related to productivity and economic growth, but it involves something more. It implies, also, a widening of the outlook as part of the development of general further education.
I do not believe that we can begin to solve the problem of providing adequate 1082 and relevant training unless we have a background of full employment. Otherwise, there is bound to be resistance within industry, a resistance which may possibly be too great. The trade unions have a perfectly understandable fear of too many trained people being produced, with no jobs for them when they have been trained, while employers, on the other hand, adopt the quite understandable attitude that they will not undertake training programmes if they have absolutely no confidence in the future and no order books full for as far ahead as they can see.
It is essential, therefore, that, in preparing any plans or schemes, the industrial training boards should accept fully that it is vital that men, once trained, must have a place. If we can guarantee a fully employed economy, the provisions of the Bill, which we shall improve if we can, will, I am sure, make a positive contribution to better industrial relations, understanding throughout industry, and opportunities for the people within industry.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith (Brentford and Chiswick)
I agree almost entirely and wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for Leicester, North-East (Mr. Bradley). If Imay say so, his was one of the more constructive speeches we have had in the debate. For too long, our apprenticeship system has been out of date, untidy and, in some cases, exploited. I believe, in spite of some of the expressions of opinion today which have given them a rather lukewarm reception, that my right hon. Friend's proposals are realistic and imaginative, and that they are well in keeping with the idea that we should try to modernise Britain.
There is an urgent need for cohesion and for firm guidance in regard to apprenticeship in industry, and I believe that the Bill will provide what is needed, even though there may be snags which we shall discover as it passes through Committee.
It is essential to overcome the lure of highly paid unskilled dead-end jobs which are always so superficially attractive to the young. It is very difficult to put over the point to them that, in later years, young people will rue the day 1083 when they went into unskilled employment. Apprenticeship must always reveal and emphasise the opportunities which will be available in later life, and it must somehow capture the imagination and interest of those who take it up. The Bill will make a valuable step in this direction.
There is a good deal of frustration and disillusionment among young people who continually change their jobs. They do it to their own detriment, and they finish up in blind alleys. This is one of the tragedies of the twentieth century in highly organised employment.
I think that it is undeniable that a reliable pattern of skilled craftsmanship must be established throughout industry if we are to remain competitive and, as has been emphasised today, if we are to establish ourselves in overseas markets and continue to succeeed economically. Flexibility is always important in these matters and many hon. Members have referred to the extent of technological change and automation.
We shall find that skills which today are completely relevant will, in due course, go out of fashion and will have to be replaced by others. We must teach people with the skills of today the skills of tomorrow. We should have wide-scale "refresher" courses in industry as there are in some other walks of life. Pilots, doctors and teachers are constantly bringing themselves up to date in their vocations, and surely, if it is important for a professional man to be au fait with what is going on in his occupation, it is equally important that we should have modern trends developed among skilled workers.
There must be more research into training and training techniques, and I am glad that the boards will be able to conduct such research. That is an important part of the Bill. I support the idea that five-year apprenticeship schemes are a little unrealistic. I find that this varies from industry to industry, and, of course, with highly complicated machinery one cannot put young people in charge in a comparatively short space of time. But, with new methods and ideas, I am certain that concentrated courses, with all the new techniques we could bring to bear, would surely provide the answer and would equip young people in a relatively 1084 short period so that they would not have this dreary, weary five-year stint referred to so realistically by my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Sir Ian Orr-Ewing). Five years, at the age of 18 or 19, as he pointed out, seems an extremely long time compared with what it seems in later life.
I also welcome the educational aspect of the Bill. I am glad that that is being emphasised not only in speeches, but also by the fact that we are to have the reply tonight by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education. Surely education is vital to this Bill. It is wise to have a number of education representatives appointed to these boards. They are not too close to the subject and they can bring to bear a point of view which is unbiased and which can be very helpful.
There is a corollary to ordinary apprenticeship. I want to see a greater advance in advice and guidance on careers. We all know the "flyer" in the sixth form who will, in due course, get a good job in industry and eventually earn £3,000-plus a year. He gets the right sort of guidance because he is a brilliant pupil or student. So, of course, do others who go on to jobs such as accountancy, the Civil Service, or the medical profession.
We, must, however, provide more help for the not-so-brilliant youngsters. It must be informed help and must fit in with the new concept of apprenticeship. How many children of 15 or 16 really know what they want to do? A tremendous number do not and would benefit from proper advice. I am sure that at least one-quarter of the working population are in the wrong jobs. I say that with a certain amount of deference, because I think that it is a dangerous thing for any politician to say.
But, even so, I believe that many people have greater potentialities than have been taken account of, and would have benefited from the terms of such a Bill as this in years gone by. I know that the work of the youth employment officers is very good. Many do admirable jobs. But outside the public schools, careers masters are often haphazard in their approach. They have too many other tasks to carry out, with the result that this is just an additional burden on them and they cannot concentrate on it as they should. I hope, 1085 therefore, that this link with education will go on as the Bill comes into operation.
Like the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter), I would like to pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Technical Co-operation, whose Committee's Report on this matter really set the pace and. the standards for the Bill, in co-operation with the White Paper which came out towards the end of last year.
But, unlike some other hon. Members, I do not think that it has been too long delayed. There was the need to achieve unanimous agreement on both sides of industry. It was essential to have the right climate in order to gain the unanimity expressed today. One of the most relevant recommendations of the Carr Committee was:The responsibility which an industry collectively has for the training of its young workers must in effect be a responsibility which is shared by each firm in the industry Firms which are unable to provide training themselves might make some other contribution towards the cost of training the skilled workers their industry requires.This sentiment was underlined in the White Paper and I am glad that it is now incorporated as the levy and will be imposed on recalcitrant firms. Along with other hon. Members, I also hope very much that the levy will not be so small that some backward elements in industry would rather pay it and opt out than provide a scheme.
I hope that the training boards will constantly keep in front of them the question of the quality of training, because I think that this is one of the really essential bases of the idea behind the Bill I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour emphasised this.
In supporting this necessary move, we must not regard industry on too narrow a front. Here I agree with the hon. Member for Leicester, North-East. This is not purely a matter for craftsmen and manual workers. Industry today has a very broad concept and embraces a vast number of talents. I agree with the hon. Member that we must look to clerical workers and others who do not necessarily operate machines or work in factories.
For instance, in my own constituency there is a whole range of industrial 1086 subjects, because the Great West Road runs through it. The firms along the Great West Road make a vast array of products and all of them are important to the country's prosperity.
Many hon. Members have emphasised the importance of retraining and this is perhaps the most crucial of all when we talk about industry. This can, I am sure, be vital as a new dimension to industry in the second half of the twentieth century.
The nation has been brought up in the post-war years to accept full employment—in many respects, rightly so—a choice of jobs and alternative employment, particularly in the prosperous areas—although, unhappily, there are other areas where skilled men are competing for employment.
With the climate of full employment, retraining will become one of the biggest political and industrial challenges we shall face in the next decade, whichever political party is in power. We must, therefore, keep the question of retraining in the forefront. We must make sure that there is greater mobility of labour, particularly among people over 40 who still have a vital contribution to make to working life.
I hope that the Bill will, in addition to stopping the exploitation of some apprentices, make entry into some industries easier. I do not wish to be unduly controversial, although one or two hon. Members have been, because I believe that it is out of place in a debate on a Bill largely agreed by both sides. But there are some industries which are easier to enter than others.
As some hon. Members may know, I work in the newspaper industry. It is no secret that it is extremely difficult for prospective entrants to get into the printing industry, particularly on the newspaper side, unless they have very good contacts: either relatives or friends, Every industry should be open to those who wish to go into it and who will be able to bring their skill to bear and make a contribution.
The country's long-term industrial prospects are essential to our continued prosperity and undoubtedly the Bill will have teething troubles. But, given good will on both sides of industry, I am quite sure that it can be made to work. 1087 Valuable work is already being done in a number of sectors without the aid of the Bill, as has been mentioned by some hon. Members.
One hon. Member hoped that women would not be overlooked or excluded by these provisions. Happily, in my constituency we have a living example of how young girls are being assisted by the National Institute of Housecraft, at Brentford, to which the Minister of Labour makes a generous contribution on behalf of the Government. It is a semi-official organisation, of course. It is an excellent example of how today young people can take on a job which at one time was looked down on, domestic service, and put it into skilled operation and make a success of it.
These girls are trained for a year at the headquarters of the National Institute of Housecraft and then do a year's field work. At the end of that time, they take their City and Guilds examination and the majority are then fully equipped to take reliable and responsible housekeeping jobs in hospitals, schools and other institutions and to earn good salaries with good prospects.
The purpose of education is to equip the coming generation for a fuller and more satisfying life and to make useful and responsible citizens. The purpose of apprenticeship and training must be to equip the young with skills from which they can get satisfaction and interest, besides merely earning their daily bread, and which can aid the country's prosperity and standards. The Bill marks a sound advance in the right direction and I am glad that it has been welcomed on both sides of the House. I hope that we shall be able to speed it to the Statute Book.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton)
It is a pleasant and all too rare experience for me to be able to say with hand on heart that I sincerely welcome a piece of Government legislation. Having been here a few years, I sometimes think that I have the privilege of a ringside seat at a performance of the Mad Hatter's Tea-party. Tonight, however, we are meeting in a happy, amiable frame of mind and in an atmosphere of good will to welcome something which we 1088 should have approached more practically years ago.
I am not complaining of the delay, but in giving my support to the Bill, which obviously needs to be trimmed in Committee, I must say that my support is based on two major inferences to be drawn from the Bill. The first concerns a situation which still exists in many industrial areas. To make a constituency point, in my own part of industrial Lancashire, there is the tragedy of children leaving school at the comparatively early age of 15 and then being left for months and sometimes for years without anybody being willing to employ them. No greater injury can be inflicted on youth by a modern society than to turn children loose from the school door at 15 to face the asperities of modern life without a job.
It is no use plaintively drawing attention to juvenile delinquency and so on if we create a situation which impairs and injures the adolescent mind which, after all, is at its most impressionable stage. I welcome the Bill because it will give facilities for the further training of those unfortunate sections of our school-leavers who are still walking the streets months after a time when they ought not to have been turned out of school without a job to go to.
The second inference has already been mentioned. At this time of the debate, it is virtually impossible to make an original contribution. Hon. Members have rightly drawn attention to the evil of blind alley occupations, the superficial attractions of having jobs which are relatively highly paid for a year or two, but which lead only to the casual labour market when industrial conditions become more difficult. If the Bill makes some contribution to the avoidance of the perils and injustices of juvenile employment, by training children to fit themselves for useful occupation and by abolishing or mitigating the evils of blind alley employment, that alone justifies it.
I leave my hon. Friends and those hon. Members opposite who are sufficiently interested to hammer out the details in Committee, but I take this opportunity, without labouring the matter too much, to pay my tribute not only to the nationalised boards of the four major sections of our public
1089 economy, the railways, the mines, electricity and gas production, which have made tremendous contributions to the training of apprentices and others with high skills, but also to the private firms who have had training schemes for years.
I know that much criticism has been advanced from these benches on this and other occasions about the small firms, especially in the manufacturing industries, which have not made a proper contribution totraining and apprenticeship schemes. This is especially true in engineering. That is because many of the very large units, like Metropolitan-Vickers, A.E.I., Lever Bros., I.C.I, and others, as well as the nationalised boards, have themselves been traininggrounds and institutions providing a pool of trained labour for the smaller units who have got it for nothing. If we complain that so many sectors of British industry have neglected their moral and economic responsibilities to their employees in this respect, it is only because the economic system as at present operated has allowed those who have neglected their duties to society to take advantage of the good employer who has met his.
In setting up this new machinery and exercising the system of a levy on industrial training, we must be careful that we do nothing to undermine or damage the arrangements of existing firms who are making such an important contribution to the system. Without elaborating it, there may be a situation in which the existence of a notional levy of some fixed amount might influence some people, already paying far more money to train their own staff, to opt out of their own schemes and enter that under the control of the Central Training Council.
This may be circumstantial, or hypothetical, but we should always remember that where any kind of over-riding body, dispensing public money, steps into the field, many people who are doing excellent voluntary work may step out. It would be a great pity if that sort of thing occurred. I do not want to elaborate the point further, because the hour is late and other hon. Members wish to speak. I do not propose to develop those points beyond saying that there are a few later Clauses which deserve special atten- 1090 tion in Committee, and I shall refer to them in passing.
As a Lancashire Member, perhaps I may refer to the special provision made in Clause 13 to deal with the cotton industry. I understand that it is the Government's intention that special exemption should be given to the industry to manage its own scheme of training, and that it should not be governed by any of the regional boards envisaged in the earlier Clauses. I know that we had the Cotton Act which provided for a levy of £30 million to be administered by the Cotton Board. We need not go into that story tonight. My only purpose in mentioning the point—and I do not oppose the idea; there may be good administrative reasons for it—is to draw attention to the fact that if the present Government policy towards the cotton industry is continued much longer confidence in it will sink to such a low ebb that there will be no prospect of attracting young people into it for training under a council, the Cotton Board, or any other body.
The little shot that I am about to fire is only mildly critical of the Bill. If hon. Members opposite seriously wish the Bill to provide better opportunities for training future cotton operatives and executives to run this formerly great industry, we shall need further economic assistance, apart from the Bill, to bring forward the pool of trainees which it envisages.
Clause 16 contains special reference to the National Insurance Fund. In the Explanatory Memorandum, which does not form part of the actual Bill, the Minister, by some kind of computation or estimate made in his Department, suggests that the Minister of Labour would be authorised, with Treasury approval—which is sometimes difficult to obtain—to set up these training boards and to spend up to £50 million out of money provided by Parliament. That is a large global sum. I do not know how many years it is intended to cover, but it is an attractive piece of bait. I hesitate to indulge in polemics tonight, because other people have referred to election shop windows. I do not wish to drop any kind of red herring or to cry stinking fish, but it is necessary to know over what period that £50 million is to be 1091 spread. Is it for the next fifty years, the next five years or the next ten years?
The Clause contains a significant reference to the National Insurance Fund. I am not clear from the terminology what it is intended to convey. It says that under the existing Employment and Training Act, 1948—which is not being discussed tonight—the sum of £500,000 is provided out of the National Insurance Fund. This Bill intends to increase the contribution made out of that Fund to £1 million. That will have to be done by way of Statutory Instrument. The Clause goes on to say—or such greater amount as the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance may from time to time by order made by Statutory Instrument determine.This is a nice piece of elastic. Politicians are always being criticised for collecting vast sums of money for one purpose and employing that money for another. Nothing is more significant than the criticism, now being directed against the Minister of Transport, that the levy made under the Road Transport Act is being used not to build roads but for all sorts of other purposes.
If we give power to the Government to make an indent or a subvention on the National Insurance Fund, we are entitled to know how far that Fund is being placed at risk. I have given my support to the general purposes of the Bill, and I sincerely hope that it will soon be on the Statute Book and make the sort of contribution that we require in the national interest, but I do not agree with Clause 16. It seems to give indefinite powers to any future Minister of National Insurance—subject to Treasury approval—to cover part of the cost of this Measure by way of a levy upon the National Insurance Fund.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I think that the hon. Gentleman will find the answer to his 1092 last point in the speech of my right hon. Friend.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)
My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary has dealt with the last point made by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. J. T. Price) and I will not take it up. I hope the hon. Member for Westhoughton will not consider me discourteous, if I say that I do not intend to follow him closely. I profoundly agree with him that even if the Bill did no more—I think that it will do a great deal more—than enable school leavers to be trained properly and avoid dead-end jobs, a great deal would have been achieved by this legislation.
I appreciated what was said by the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter) that when there is so much talk about modernisation from hon. Members on both sides of the House it is significant that the first Bill introduced in this Session deals with training. That is my opinion is putting the priorities right. It is on training, particularly of our young people, that we shall achieve modernisation I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend realises that he must carry both sides of industry with him and I was glad to hear that his proposals have been well received and that discussions are proceeding satisfactorily. If my right hon. Friend forms his boards and they do not do anything and have to be replaced, we shall find ourselves in difficulties.
My object in intervening in this debate is to broach one or two questions which come to my mind. The first concerns expense. I am sure that the expense incurred in implementing the provisions in this Bill will be worthwhile, and certainly industry will be a willing animal. We have had contracts of service, we talk of redundancy payments and now we are discussing training. I hope that the grants to be made to firms to reimburse them for the levies will be on a generous scale. I am not clear whether the grants will make up what the firms have to pay in levies, but I hope that payments will be generous.
I hope that it will not be regarded as a controversial statement if I comment that as the employers will be 1093 asked to put up money and the Government will provide a big sum, consideration might be given to the question of the trade unions putting up some money. This is not something entirely onesided. Only the employer and the employee members will be able to vote on the imposition of a levy. I suppose that the imposition is one thing and the actual spending of the money another. But if the trade unions put up some amount of money, they would be fully subscribing members with the right to discuss impositions and to say how the money should be spent. I am sure that that would strengthen the position of the unions.
§ Mr. J. T. Price
I accept that the hon. and gallant Member does not wish to be controversial, but surely if he follows the logic of his suggestion he will see that if this were practicable—which I do not for a moment think it is—and the great trade unions which are holding large funds made some contribution, the only people who would qualify to benefit would be trade unionists. Many people in this country, I regret to say, are not members of trade unions. The Minister would face an awkward dilemma if it were suggested that he should admit those who were not members of trade unions because part of the financial cost would be covered by trade unionists.
§ Captain Elliot
I do not wish to take the point too far. I can see advantages to the trade unions, particularly if they were generous and farsighted and did not concern themselves too much with whether young people being trained were at that time trade unionists or not.
I was rather sorry to hear that Government establishments would not be included in this training scheme. They are big employers of labour. Presumably they get a certain number of trained men from industry. In many respects they run equivalent industries to those in the private sector. A sphere which springs immediately to mind is dockyards. The Royal Dockyards build ships—mostly warships. I do not see why they should not be brought in. It would be a great advantage, and this point should be considered further in Committee.
I am slightly worried about the duties of the Central Training Council. 1094 When the hon. Member for Southwark was speaking I thought I detected some reservations in what he said. It occurred to me that the T.U.C. is inclined to have difficulty if it trespasses into the field of which an individual union considers its own business. I wonder if he had that in mind. Clause 11 lays down the composition of the Central Training Council. There is to be an equal number of members from the employers' organisation and of representatives of employees and others. I hope those representatives will be on a high level. If they are not, one can imagine that the Central Training Council in advising the Ministry of Labour might find its advice at cross purposes with perhaps the main employers' or employees' organisation.
The Minister of Labour referred to representatives of the Ministry of Labour or the Ministry of Education or of the Secretary of State for Scotland having a right to attend meetings of the training boards. I am not quite clear what he meant by that. For what do they attend? Are they merely to listen, or to take part in the discussions? I think they ought to take part. Government contracts go out to industry on an enormous scale and Government representatives are very much interested. This is a big item. I link it with the fair wages resolution.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I answer my hon. and gallant Friend's point about what these representatives will attend for immediately. They will attend as assessors like, for example, a number of Government Departments have assessors on committees on one subject or another. I doubt if the reports of many committees would reach the form they do but for the advice of assessors, but I think it wise that we should not discuss too much in public what goes on behind the scenes.
§ Captain Elliot
I take my right hon. Friend's point, but I am inclined to feel that with such enormous contracts coming from one authority, as they do from the Government, that authority is very much interested, or should be interested, in the training structure of the industry with which it is dealing.
We have a fair wages resolution, which means that an industry or firm 1095 to which a Government contract is given must adhere to accepted standards of wages and conditions. I do not see why we should not link with that a certain standard of training for the men in that industry. This is another reason why the Government representatives should sit on these training boards in their own right, able to express their opinions.
With these questions, however, I, like all other hon. Members, welcome the Bill, and I hope that we shall give it a very speedy passage through the House.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees (Leeds, South)
As one who has until recently been engaged in a very minor way in industrial training, I agree with all those hon. Members who see the Bill as a very necessary step forward in a technical-social programme to meet the needs of the second half of the twentieth century. I should like to ask some questions of the Government Front Bench and to make some suggestions to them.
One of the first problems in implementing the Bill will be that of defining what an industry is. I take the point of the Minister of Labour who says that there must be a flexible approach; it may differ in different industries. But whatever decision is taken will be an arbitrary decision. I remind the Minister of Labour that it seems as though discussions are taking place by N.E.D.C. for little N.E.D.Cs., which will be of an industrial nature. In my view it is very important that the industrial training boards should be related to these little N.E.D.Cs which are being discussed at the moment. It is not only a question of administrative niceties, for of all examples of education as a form of capital investment, training of this kind is, I think, the most important and the most easily seen. In my view it is important that there should be some connection with these N.E.D.C. industrial boards if, as I hear, there is talk of their being set up.
The Minister also stated that there is a chance, in some industries at least, that there will be set up regional sections or regional industrial training boards. Once again he made the point that there should be flexibility. At the moment there is no sign that the ideas on 1096 regional planning of the Lord President of the Council have yet sprouted any regional institutions, but it could happen, and here again it would be necessary for the industrial training boards of a regional nature to bear this possibility in mind.
There is in being the very valuable research unit of the Ministry of Labour which investigates future manpower problems. It is important that this, too, should be related—I deliberately use a vague word—to the work of the Central Training Council, because it will have to bear in mind the future needs of the country's industry. I also ask whether any thought has been given—although I have listened carefully I have heard no reference to it in the debate—to the place of the Government training centres, which play such a valuable part, and can continue to play such a valuable part, in retraining. Should they not be associated with the industrial training boards rather than remain in isolation, as they might if they remain in their present form?
The Minister of Labour in his opening speech made the valuable point that education in the schools and education for training outside the schools are complementary—that there is a close connection between the two. Hon. Members on both sides have mentioned the implications of the Newsom Report on training in secondary schools. Several passages in the Newsom Report emphasise that more stress should be laid on the technical aspects of training inside secondary modern schools.
I should like to bring one or two points to the notice of the Minister of Education. Many teacher training colleges lack the correct attitude to technical training. It may be possible to associate colleges of technology with the training of teachers. For example, I hear that one college of technology was ready for some students who have now gone to the university. That is the sort of thing about which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition spoke last night. I should have thought that we could increase the supply of teachers by doing at least a one-year course in a college of technology, perhaps to be followed by a two-year course in a teacher training college. Then the attitude of teachers to technical training 1097 might be put into the right perspective. I personally believe that there is much to be said for amalgamating teacher training colleges with colleges of technology permanently, because they have much to give each other and, in my view, much to give to industrial training.
Careers masters perform a valuable task, but it is a bit of a hit-and-miss job in most cases. I should like to see some form of block release into industry for teachers doing careers work in schools. I do not think that I give away any trade secrets when I say that such block release could take place towards the end of the academic year, with great benefit to each side. Speaking as one who has spent some time in industry, I believe that it would be a good thing if teachers worked in industry for a short while just to see what it is like on the inside and to learn the social attitudes which exist inside industry.
Concern has been expressed about the small firms, particularly those in engineering, which do not employ training officers. Is there not a case for lecturers in colleges of advanced technology taking a job, on a part-time basis, advising these small firms on their training programmes? This would enable men in the colleges of technology and technical colleges to keep closely in touch with practical industry.
I should like to see representatives of teachers' organisations on the training boards. I should like to see practising teachers on the training boards. I should also like to see representatives of youth employment officers on the training boards because, in my view, they belong to a most underrated profession.
Continuing this line of the connection between training and education, if industrial training is regarded, as it should be, as a continuouseducational process which starts in the schools, I do not believe that apprenticeship should start at an arbitrary time. I believe that it is wrong to select a child for secondary education at the arbitrary age of 11. It is equally wrong to make a selection at some arbitrary age for apprenticeship training. If the period of apprenticeship is cut as I believe it will be—hon. Members on both sides have emphasised this; my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. J. Robertson) raised some 1098 trade union problems which deserve consideration—this will provide one of the first problems for the industrial training boards. If the period of apprenticeship were cut, employers should not cut further education. If the period of apprenticeship were cut to three or four years, a young man should not then be deprived of the opportunity of day release to a college of technology.
The Crowther Report and other Reports in recent years have given chapter and verse for the fact that the pool of ability among working-class children, in the accepted sense of the term, is not being used. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said last night that they are not even knocking at the door. In my view, one way of liberating the ability which exists is by a technical education in the secondary schools—not an inferior type of education but a realisation that the old approach to some children is falling on deaf ears. I should be the last to denigrate what has been done in recent years in certain secondary schools, including that which has been done in the City, part of which I represent in the House. Industrial training can do a great deal to liberate the ability that is there. When it is liberated, later there should be facilities available for men in their twenties to pick up formal education where younger and more fortunate children followed on at the age of 16. Adult education in a wider sense is very important.
I want to say a few words about the content of the training which is to take place. It is apparent from Clause 2(1,a) that this is not an apprentice training Bill. This is a good thing. It is one of the best points about the Bill. We are considering education in the wider sense of the term.
I want now to mention again something I mentioned in my maiden speech—the training for shop stewards that takes place in the motor car industry. One of the best things that the Ministry of Labour has done in recent years, in association with employers in the motor industry and the trade unions concerned, has been to set up day release courses for shop stewards. This has been done in a variety of ways. I played some part in what was done in Luton. It is an excellent firm there anyway, with very 1099 good trade union relationships. It was done at the college of technology, perhaps in a formal way. At Oxford, there was a different approach through the extra-mural department, where they did far more to create face to face situations in order to train a shop steward for his job. Nor must we forget the great work done by some trade unions in this respect, particularly the Union of Municipal and General Workers.
In my view, this is a job which the industrial training boards could do on a wider scale. This is spreading in the Luton area from the motor car industry. It is important that such courses should be neutrally organised. The first students on the course I have mentioned referred very freely to "brain-washing". After I had been taking the course for a week or two, they perhaps found that that was not the case. These courses should be extended on a wider front.
In this respect there is the problem of education of foremen. We did some work in this respect as well. The perpetual complaint of foremen is that they do not really know what their job really is. Many foremen told me that, as a result of the development of joint consultation, if they wanted to find out what was going on, they went and had a chat with the shop steward, because he found out first. Indeed, the chain of communication in many large firms is quicker through the union tree than it is through the normal management chain of communication. It is important that the training of shop stewards, the training of foremen and management education—call it what one will—should be done by the industrial training boards.
I regret that there are no courses for local government people, and particularly I am sorry that there is not a management course for the education industry, if we must call it such. One of the problems that has arisen in many of the social services in recent years is that they have a modern task to perform with an attitude of mind and machinery that arose out of the fact that they were born of the Poor Law. This is particularly true of education. I have received from the Ministry of Education details of the Further Education Staff 1100 College at Blagden and of courses organised by colleges of technology, but I would like to see an industrial training board for the Civil Service. I hope that the Bill will make speedy progress, particularly because industrial training has become a community responsibility. The logical development will be that all young people will be regarded as being in training.
On a somewhat personal note, as someone recently employed in the teaching world and lookingfrom the world outside, one tends to think of teaching as concerned with qualifications, degrees, "O" and "A"levels and so on and purely from this point of view. Anyone in the teaching profession soon realises that it is ultimately a question of human relations—the relations between the student and the teacher. I feel that exactly the same thing can be said of industrial training boards. Ultimately, it is a question not of getting more productivity—of relations between trade unions, management and so on—but of people. One of the great problems of industry is the growing impersonalisation involved in technological development. If we remember this, the Bill will become the success it should be.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. R. E. Prentice (East Ham, North)
We have today had a good and constructive debate on a matter of great importance. My hon. Friends have made some first-class, constructive and forward-looking speeches and even from the benches opposite we have been glad to note that some hon. Members are beginning to say what we have been saying for years.
The Bill has been welcomed on both sides of the House, but a welcome which my hon. Friends and I want to qualify in two ways: first, our welcome does not exonerate the Government for their failure to tackle the problem of training over the past twelve years; and, secondly, we do not have much confidence in their ability to carry through the opportunities contained in the Measure because we must regard it, as the country will regard it, objectively; as being part of the pre-election nourish of the Government. The public are bound to say that if all these serious steps are needed, why has nothing been done about them in the last twelve years, particularly why
1101 has nothing been done following the widespread debate on training that has taken place since the publication of the Carr Report in 1958.
We reject immediately any excuse on the part of the Government that they could not do these things earlier because they did not have the unanimous support of both sides of industry. For some time the Government have been lagging behind the more progressive views of many trade union leaders and employers. It is the job of Government to give a lead to opinion in these matters; to be ahead of progressive opinion and not to lag behind until the demand becomes virtually unanimous, as it has become recently.
We must see the Bill and the proposals it makes against the background of the current situation. I remind the House of the Answers the Minister gave me on Monday of this week to three Written Questions which I submitted about the present position. The first of these was a Question in which I asked him about the type of employment which school-leavers had been entering in the first ten months of this year; that is, up to the end of October. I will not quote the entire column of figures I was given but merely say that I was told that from 1st January until the end of October this year 33.6 per cent, of boys entered apprenticeships.
This figure compares with 36.2 per cent, in 1962 and 37.9 per cent, in 1961. In other words, while the debate has been going on since the White Paper was published and since talks have been going on with both sides of industry about it, the proportion of boys entering apprenticeships has gone down. The figures for girls show that their proportion has also gone down.
The second Question I asked on Monday was about the number of people being retrained in Government training centres. Hon. Members on both sides have rightly talked about retraining as being a part of this subject. I was told that on 11th November last the number of people in Government training centres totalled 2,317. Half of those were people in two special schemes, 857 disabled people and 331 able-bodied ex-Regular soldiers being rehabilitated for civilian life, and only 1,129 people in other categories. That is the scale of 1102 the training in progress in an industrial nation of 50 million people. It shows that we have only about 2,000 trainees in all categories.
§ Mr. Godber
I am sure that the hon. Member is aware of the big expansion programme that is going on in the retraining sphere and that the picture will be substantially improved.
§ Mr. Prentice
We all share those hopes, but I think that the Minister will agree that all that is being proposed is the provision of 18 new centres. That is a considerable number compared with what we have now, but even when we have those we shall still fall very far short of what the situation demands, as illustrated by the right hon. Gentleman's own speech this afternoon as well as by other speeches on both sides of the House.
The third of the Questions to which I want to refer was one in which I asked how many training development officers are at the moment being deployed throughout the country by the Industrial Training Council, which gets a Government grant for the purpose. Now, in November, 1963, despite all the urgency of the problem, in a nation of our size, we have 11 training development officers doing this job—one for the whole of Scotland, measured against Scotland's needs in this sphere.
We are, therefore, justified in saying to the Government that we welcome this Bill, but that it does not in any way provide an excuse for the years of failure that have gone before; and that those years of failure do not inspire confidence in our minds or in the minds of people in industry in the Government's ability to carry this task through.
This Bill is only an enabling Measure. It will not itself provide an extra trainee in industry. It will not even provide a single industrial training board. It will give the Minister power to appoint industrial training boards, and, of course, we welcome the fact that, at last, the Minister will have those powers. For many years we have been asking that the Government should take such powers but, having said that, one must add that everything depends on the use made of the Bill and on the energy with which the Government, or a future Government, approach the problem; on the type of people appointed to the Central Training 1103 Council and to the industrial boards, on the use made of the financial levy and the levels at which that levy is applied. There are all sorts of questions like that which cannot be answered by just looking at the Bill itself.
We do not complain necessarily about that—because of the nature of the problem, the Bill cannot contain a complete essay on Government training policy. It is bound to be an enabling Measure and it is bound to deal with machinery, and although, in Committee, we may have to put down Amendments on detailed points, I think that, by and large; my hon. Friends and I will accept the Bill as being the right kind of Bill.
Nevertheless, that being so, we have to look very closely, both in this debate and in Committee, at the kind of use that will be made of these new powers. I suggest that we should see the problem, and see this debate this evening, as the sequel to yesterday's debate on education and science. What the country has to do is to grasp the implications of the scientific revolution in which we live, and, particularly, to grasp the implications for the whole of our population at work. We do not achieve a break-through in science and technology simply by training more scientists and injecting them into industry—although that is a vital part of the programme.
I was very impressed by the maiden speech made yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for Luton (Mr. Howie), in which he reminded the House that if we are to talk of a breakthrough in science we must go on to talk about the need to train more engineers, because scientific work has to be applied, and that is a job for engineers. I suggest that it follows that we also have to think in terms of more technicians, more craftsmen, more trained operatives of all kinds, no less than of raising the level of skill of our whole working population. Even the term "industrial training" is too narrow. I would rather have had the Bill called an "Occupational Training Bill", so as to make it clear that we are talking of jobs of all kinds in the community.
I put it to the House that our industrial history of the last 200 years 1104 has been a story of the upgrading of the labour force. If we look at our pre-industrial society in the past, or the pre-industrial societies now in other parts of the world, we find the emphasis to be on unskilled manual labour. In Britain, during the eighteenth century, there was a very narrow layer of aristocrats in industry—the skilled workers. The story of our industry since then has been one in which the number of skilled people has been increasing, the number of professional people has been increasing, and there has gradually been a larger and larger demand on the skills of the population. The pace at which this is happening and will happen during the rest of this century is faster than any of us have yet faced. This is the challenge that faces a future Government in this matter of training.
I should like to remind the House of some of the warnings which have become clear to us in recentdevelopments in the United States where the technological revolution has gone a little further than it has gone here. On the one hand, the United States has a heavy and chronic unemployment which is being called structural or technological unemployment and is particularly evident among young people. Eighteen per cent, of the teenagers of the United States are unemployed. This is appalling. Electricians in New York City recently negotiated a 25-hour basic week to protect their employment.
This is one side of the situation. On the other side we see in the United States technicians, managers and professional men appallingly over-worked for long hours at great strain, until it seems that the only question left is whether they have a thrombosis in their 40s or in their 50s. This is an example of society making a bigger and bigger demand for higher skills at a time when it creates unemployment for others because training programmes have not measured up to the scale of change in the United States in recent years.
Yet a comparison is often made between their education and training system and ours to show that in many ways ours is deficient compared with theirs. We shall face that kind of problem unless we carry through a training revolution on a much bigger 1105 scale than the Government have shown themselves aware of in recent months.
The danger is that the Government, in their new-found zeal for reform, will be merely trying to catch up with the position which we should have reached ten yean; ago. Many of the speeches made by hon. Members opposite have been concentrated on the reform of apprenticeship. Hon. Members have spoken about the length of training and the age of entry into apprenticeship and have made comparisons between the British system and systems in European countries. There is a great deal to be said on that subject. I and my hon. Friends have contributed to discussions in the past and have made speeches in favour of the reform of apprenticeship.
I hope, however, that hon. Members opposite will not concentrate on this attack on the trade unions. There is, of course, evidence of a conservative attitude among some small sections of the trade union movement, but when one talks of the trade union movement one is talking of 9½ million people and it is easy for critics to generalise from bad instances here and there. The general failure, however, is the failure of employers and of the Government to take charge of the situation.
The reform of apprenticeship is only one aspect of this whole problem. We haveto evolve a training programme and apply it to people in all kinds of jobs, needing all kinds of skills. One thing which must be clear about this is that this Government or a future Government will require a powerful machine at the centre to make a plan of this kind. One of the weakest parts of the Minister's speech was when he spoke about the Central Training Council and did not tell us very much about it. He said virtually nothing about the kind of machine which he will have in the Ministry to implement all this from the centre.
Some people have said, and the T.U.C. has taken the view, that we require a central training authority which will be outside the Ministry. We have had arguments about this and on whether it should be an authority with executive powers or an authority of the kind which the Minister has provided for in the Bill. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter) that on 1106 the whole the Minister's proposals are probably right, but they are right only if there is at the centre within the Ministry a sufficiently powerful machine.
After all, the Bill proposes to give the Minister considerable powers if he is prepared to use them. Under Clause 7 he has power to dismiss an industrial training board and appoint others to take its place. If he is really going to check up on what the industrial training boards throughout the country are doing, measure their success and decide whether what they are doing is good enough, he will need in his Department a large enough and sufficiently informed team of people to do this job.
We need a thrust at the centre. I see the Central Training Council as being a training equivalent to N.E.D.C., doing a manpower planning job for the whole of industry, dovetailed in with a plan for economic expansion. I believe there has got to be the staff at the centre to do the detailed work, the public relations work and the statistical work which will give the service that is needed here.
There are three points in particular, all of which have emerged in thecourse of the debate, and which I would like to underline in relation to this task. The first is that this central machinery must be carrying out a job of manpower budgeting. The Minister, at Question Time on Monday, referred with some pride to his 14-manresearch team, which he calls the manpower research unit, in the Ministry. I suppose that he can be proud of the fact that he has got 14 people doing this work. Back in the summer there were only two people doing it, and a year ago there were no people at all. So this is an improvement. But surely it has got to improve a great deal more in order to do the statistical study and forward planning that is needed.
We do not know how many apprentices there are in the country at present. We have no figures. The Carr Committee in 1958 drew attention to the fact that there were no figures on this point. There are still no figures about it. Is it not time that there was carried through a lot of this staff work in order to begin creating a real plan for having trained people to meet the economic expansion that lies ahead?
1107 The second feature that I want to emphasise is that all our training plans have got to be plans for flexible training. We must get away from the idea—hon. Members on both sides of the House have made the point—of training a boy or girl for one narrow skill which may become redundant ten, twenty or thirty years' hence. Even if we have our manpower planning unit in a time of rapid technological change it will not get all the answers right. It will not make all the right guesses about the future. We must see that people get the kind of training which will make them adaptable and enable them to do various jobs in their own industry and even in another industry. I thought the best part of the Government's White Paper on training of last December—which otherwise I thought was a feeble White Paper—was that which dealt with the need to have a systematic period—say a year or so—of classroom training as part of a normal apprenticeship or training period.
Another point which has been made by a number of my hon. Friends is one which I should like to develop a little further. This is the need to think in terms of training for everybody, and not just for a minority of those entering industry. We in the Labour Party seek a society in which we see the breakdown of class barriers. One class barrier that we want to see broken down is the barrier between the so-called skilled worker who has served his time and the rest who have not served their time. I say that in no sense derogatory to the skilled worker, but in a desire to uplift the status and dignity of the other workers and in recognition of the fact that a rigid division between one kind of worker and another is no longer realistic.
Industry now is using a whole spectrum of skills. What nonsense it is to talk of a farm labourer as though the man who does all the technical jobs on the farm is unskilled. There is a whole spectrum of skills, and this concept will grow. Therefore, we have to think in terms of the training of every entrant into industry, and of giving to all entrants the type of training which is appropriate to the jobs they are to do, and giving them enough general training in industry to enable them to turn from one job to another.
1108 In recent years some industries, some firms in particular, have developed some imaginative schemes for non-apprentices. I have recently read in my own union journal, the Record, the publication of the Transport and General Workers'Union, an account of a scheme which that union and other unions have negotiated in the heavy chemicals industry, by which it has been agreed that every entrant into the industry will get an induction training course; and there will be courses of varying periods, and a number of them will have a two-year course and a number of others will have a five-year training period, according to the type of job they are doing and according to the kind of aptitudes which they have.
In the steel industry a number of firms have got away from the old system by which an entrant learnt a job in the gang in which he was working. I had the privilege, during the Recess, to see the Workington Iron and Steel Company, part of the United Steel group, in which every entrant into their group of companies in that part of England gets training, whether he is working on the shop floor, or in the office, or any other kind of job.
This is the sort of thing which, at its best, is very good, but it is still only happening for a minority of entrants into industry. Only a minority of boys who do not enter a formal apprenticeship, get this kind of opportunity, and certainly only a very small minority of girls get this kind of opportunity; and particularly in the field of the clerical workers, to whom my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-East (Mr. Bradley) referred, a very, very small number of those going into office work get any kind of organised training of this kind.
These are big deserts, as it were, in the training world, and these are the fields of endeavour to be tackled by the industrial training boards with the object of seeing that there is training for all entrants into industry, and retraining for older men where appropriate.
If we are thinking in terms of expanding training for those who hitherto have been, as it were, "below"—I say it in quotation marks, if that is possible in a speech—the apprenticeship level, we have equally to deal imaginatively with the training of those "above"—I say 1109 it in quotation marks—the apprenticeship level, a ad we have to ask ourselves whether within industry enough people are being trained for the higher levels of skill, whether enough technicians are being trained, enough people being trained on the technical side and the commercial side so as to qualify for junior management positions.
Here again, the best of what is done in British industry is very, very good, the type of sandwich courses in which boys, and occasionally girls, work for periods in industry, andalso go to technical colleges and then back again, with some courses leading up to graduate apprenticeships. These courses are excellent, but they are also entirely confined to large firms, and most small and medium sized firms do not do this or cannot give this type of opportunity, and the number of people who are coming out of these courses is not sufficient for the kind of society which we have got to develop in the future.
Here, I hope that emphasis will be laid on Clause 2(2) of the Bill which refers to the powers of industrial training boards to apprentice people to a board instead of apprenticing them to a firm. This is the sort of concept which we would like to see.
We need to get this on a wider basis so that we can estimate the numbers required and make an ambitious plan to train up people and for junior management training. I thought the Minister was a bit lukewarm this afternoon in his reference to management training. Over a whole lot of British industry, there is practically no management training. Too much of our industry is like an army which trains the private soldiers and some of the N.C.O.s but does not train the officers at all.
To take the military analogy a little further, I think that industry could learn from the Armed Forces in this respect. In the Army, a captain or a junior major, if he is selected to go to the Staff College, is glad to go. It is an important step in his career. If he passes out, he can put after his name the magic letters P.S.C., passed Staff College, and this marks him out as someone who will probably get higher promotion later. Senior officers are equally glad to go to the Imperial College of Defence.
1110 In great sections of British industry, on the other hand, if a man at equivalent level in middle management were to ask to be sent away on a course, it would be regarded as a sign of weakness. We must have a different attitude of mind in all this. There are too many people in management who think that they learn everything by experience, as though experience were the only thing they needed, who are complacent about their own level of training. They are not likely to do a proper job in training the people under their control unless they start by thinking in terms of training themselves. A revolution in management training is badly needed in this country.
Now, the levy. It seems to me that this must be regarded as a very important part of the whole scheme. It is easy to talk as though everyone were interested in training. One of the welcome developments of the past year or two has been the more serious discussion about training and the fact that more people are really interested in doing something about it; but there are still too many firms which drag their feet, which will not play their part, and which rely on poaching skilled workers trained by someone else.
Of course, small firms have an excuse, sometimes a legitimate excuse, that they are not able to afford their own training schemes. I accept that, although I should have liked to have seen more progress, as I am sure we all would, in group training schemes during recent years. The industrial training boards will have the task of giving them new opportunities and promoting group training schemes, helping to provide, through the colleges and groups of firms, I hope, the development of group training schemes. However, having done that, they must still have a weapon to use against the firms which are not playing their part.
Therefore, I repeat what has been said by many hon. Members—it must be repeated and emphasised many times—that we hope that the levy will be big enough and strong enough really to bite and that it will give real encouragement to the firms which play their part and be a real penalty to those which do not.
I welcome the emphasis on the educational aspects of the problem. I hope 1111 that we shall in Committee talk about day release and block release and see whether we can write into the Bill some provisions about that. I know that the matter is under consideration by a committee responsible to the right hon. Gentleman, but it has been under consideration for too long. I wonder whether he can tell us anything more about it this evening. We shall certainly wish to hear more in Committee.
We shall wish to examine the educational representation on the boards and on the Central Training Council. Many people are worried about the numbers in this connection. The teachers in technical institutions have sent a memorandum to some of us questioning whether six education members on the Central Training Council will be good enough. We shall certainly have to consider this and emphasise the need for the educational representation to be big enough to have a real effect on what we have in mind.
It seems to me that the principle is this. At present, for far too many young people there is a sharp break between being at school and being at work. School finishes on one day and then work begins. Education is something which has been left behind. If we can regard training as being a transition from education to work, then not only will it be something which does good in itself but it may help people to the realisation that education is something which continues throughout life, not something which is left behind at the end of school.
I should like to have dealt with many other things, but one is limited in time. This is such a fascinating subject that all of us would like to talk for hours about it. The spirit which has come across from this side of the House during the debate has, I think, been this. We regard this problem as presenting a twofold challenge. On the one hand, we are challenged to have manpower and training policies which will match the technological revolution of our time, to see that we are able to expand the economy and increase prosperity and that we have training policies that will play a great part in that objective.
Secondly, we are concerned with the status and dignity of every man and woman at work. The improvement of 1112 training can be seen as something which gives people greater skill, greater self-confidence and greater fulfilment for working life. Fortunately, the two objectives do not conflict but march together. This Bill can be a great help towards the fulfilment of both, if, and only if, it is carried out energetically and its passage is followed by the election of a Government which will have the courage and will to carry through the training revolution that is essential.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Minister of Education (Sir Edward Boyle)
It is no coincidence that we should be discussing this Bill first among all the legislative Measures of the present Session. It is an extremely important Measure. It marks a major new development in Government policy.
I acknowledge the wide welcome it has received on both sides of the House and I entirely agreed with what the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) said about the importance not merely of passing the Bill but of ensuring that it is followed up. Indeed, I think that I agreed with everything he said except when he used the words "a Government" at the end of his speech. We might not all agree on how the indefinite article should be filled in.
I have no desire to enter into past controversy with the two hon. Members who spoke from the Opposition Front Bench about the back history of this subject. I greatly welcome what the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Gunter) said about the Bill being one of those measures which translate modernisation into reality, which, I think, was a happy phrase. I am sure that we on this side would all like to thank him for his very graceful references to Lord Blakenham.
It is worth remembering just how definitely the Carr Report spoke on this matter. In paragraph 18 it was said categorically:The efforts of the Government should be directed to the expansion and improvement of the facilities for technical education, while the responsibility for the industrial training of apprentices should rest firmly with industry.I agree that that was a Committee whose membership included three very prominent members of the General Council of the T.U.C. On the other hand, as I recognise, there were doubts 1113 about the purity of that doctrine almost from the time the Report appeared.
I recall a debate in 1959, in which I took part, in which the Chairman of the Committee himself seemed to be developing some doubts about the purity of the doctrine. There was a further debate in 1960. All I can say is that it is one thing to feel that a change of policy is in the air but another actually to secure agreement on new proposals. What I welcome is that the proposals in the Bill have met a very favourable response from both sides of industry and from the education service as a whole. That is something with which the House can well feel very pleased.
The hon. Member for Southwark said two things which interested me. He talked of the need for greater intervention by the State in industrial matters and said that the Government alone could give a lead. He then said, very fairly, that the man in Whitehall does not always know best. I agree with both of those statements.
I believe that if we are to plan for an expanding economy and not have a siege economy it cannot be right for Whitehall to attempt to plan in detail all production targets for all industries, but on the other hand I have no doubt that the Government can do a great deal to foster growth industries and growth generally through encouraging skilled manpower. As I see it, the approach of the Bill is wholly in line with the approach of my right hon. Friends, already shown in ideas like the setting up of the N.E.D.C.
This must be the first occasion in the history of the House when we have had two debates on successive days concerned directly or indirectly with education, and I agree with the hon. Member for East Ham, North when he looks on this debate as being, to some extent, a sequel to yesterday's. Bearing in mind that I have sat through two full days of debate on education, that there has also been a debate on education in another place, and that my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury quoted from the New Testament, I am rather tempted to quote other words spoken twenty-seven years ago:At last I am able to speak a few words of my own on this subject.1114 But the fact that we have spent two successive days on education shows very clearly the importance which the whole House attaches to educational advance.
There are two reasons for this, as the hon. Member for East Ham, North has said, both of them highly relevant to the Bill. On the one hand, we all recognise the importance of education to Britain's economic future and the need to mobilise the talents of all our young people if we are to achieve an adequate rate of economic growth to earn our living in an increasingly competitive world. I say "adequate rate of economic growth" because I do not regard economic growth as in any way a luxury. As I see it, it is something essential if we are to pay our way and earn our living in world conditions which will become increasingly difficult.
Of course, it is not only the higher technological education which is important in this context. If I have a criticism of some speeches which have been made from both sides of the House on the subject of the Robbins Report it has been that too often hon. Members speak of the connection of growth with higher technological education, but do not always go on to say that it is no use having the finest scientists and technologists in the world unless we also have a sufficient supply of technicians and craftsmen to back up their work and exploit their achievements. We need a sufficiency of trained manpower right the way down the line, and this is the purpose of the Bill.
In this context, too, as in so many others, there are the social arguments for educational advance, of which the hon. Member for East Ham, North spoke and on which my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Dudley Smith) made such an admirable speech. Just as we believe that all boys and girls should, as far as possible, have the opportunity of a school education which does full justice to their potential abilities, so we also believe that better provision for industrial training must be right in itself. It is all the more important that we should be making this provision and thinking about this subject after a period of ten years in which there has been an unprecedented rise in secondary school standards.
1115 I do not want again to go over the ground which was covered in yesterday debate, but it is worth reflecting on just how rapidly secondary education hi been developing in this country during the past ten years. During the period 1953–63, expenditure on the secondary schools has approximately trebled at time when secondary school numbers have risen by about 60 per cent. After making full allowance for differences cost, this has meant a rise in real tern in expenditure per pupil of about; per cent, over 10 years.
This large improvement element which we have deliberately planned to continue for the future—during the next five years the secondary school population will remain stationary but the amount in real terms spent per pupil will go on rising—has already been reflected in all sorts of ways: much larger numbers in the sixth forms, a far larger percentage staying on voluntarily beyond the official school leaving age, an steadily improving G.C.E. results, both at O level and A level, and so on.
I mention these facts because there is a tendency to think too much in terms only of the development of the secondary schools in relation to Robbins. When we are dealing with technician; one has surely to take account of sue figures as O level passes in mathematic something crucially important, having risen 25 per cent, during the course c this Parliament. There has been an improvement in secondary school standards all along the line. I was interested in what the hon. Member for Leeds South Mr. Merlyn Rees) said on the subject of technical education and secondary schools. What I can say is that when we come to look at the school building programmes for the next two yearsand part of the third year, which I have announced, it will certainly be my idea to take a special look at the needs of science teaching in school; not least in girls' schools where, frankly it has often been too much neglected in the past. It is only right that w should match this development of secondary schools with a corresponding development not only of full-time higher education but also of further education generally, and of provision for industrial training.
1116 I want to take this opportunity of e saying something about recent developments in further education which my it predecessor—now Lord Eccles—did so much to foster. The momentum initiated by the 1956 White Paper has been fully kept up. Since 1956 the numbers of part-time day students in England and a Wales have increased by about 50 per cent, from 422,000 to 602,000; the numbers of full-time and sandwich students have risen from 67,000 to 157,000, and the numbers of students taking advanced full-time and sandwich courses have risen from 13,000 to 38,000.
Not least—because this must be the foundation of further advance—the number of teachers in further education has increased from 12,500 in 1956 to over 24,500. I believe that Sir Willis Jackson's Report on the supply of technical teachers, was one of the most valuable we have ever received in the Ministry.
§ Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)
Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to give us the corresponding figures for Scotland?
§ Sir E. Boyle
I must apologise for the fact that I have not got them, but I have a note on my next page to mention Scotland. I was going to say a word about building. For technical college building, a £70 million, five-year building programme was initiated in 1956 and then a three-year building programme of £45 million. Since then I have announced a programme of £16 million for 1964–65 and, much more recently, a much larger programme of £24 million worth of starts for 1965–66—and there will be a rise in the Scottish programme also, although I have not the precise t figures with me tonight. I will pass on the hon. Member's request to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. We hear a great deal about school building, and I regard the technical college building programme, and the further education programme—which includes technical colleges, art and agriculture—as something of great importance.
Considering all the education developments which have taken place in recent years, or which—as under the terms of the Bill now before us—are planned for the future, it seems clear that we can reasonably anticipate a growing versatility and adaptability of our labour 1117 force. I wholly agree with what the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) and other hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu) have said about adaptability. This matter was recognised in the 1962 White Paper on Industrial Training, and has been further italicised in the Newsom Report. Very early on, in paragraph 13, the Report says thatThis trend in industrial employment is matched by a second, the expansion in employment in service occupations at a level that makes new demands on their employees. The retail trade is increasingly looking for a better educated recruit who will be neither an errand boy nor possess an encyclopaedic knowledge of the product he sells, but be more capable of understanding and reacting effectively to the human situation in which he finds himself.That is a very true paragraph. This adaptability must be of great importance at a time when new industries, new production processes and new patterns of industrial organisation are being developed all the time.
Whatever may have been the sources of Britain's greatness in the past, as a nation we shall be able to afford the sort of society we all want to see only if we set a high value on standards of professional competence at every level. I have no doubt that the Bill before us tonight will prove of great importance for the economic future of the nation, and that it also constitutes a major educational advance. The main beneficiaries will be the boys and girls in the Crowther group—if I may so refer to them—the 15–18s who go straight into employment when they leave school and who constitute a large majority of young people within these ages. They are also the boys and girls—the future technicians, craftsmen and operatives—who were the subject of the 1961 White Paper on Better Opportunities in Technical Education. I intervened when the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) was speaking and I apologise if, in a way, I unnecessarily interrupted his speech. But I wished to point out that I thought there was a tendency to overlook the effects of that White Paper. It did implement a number of recommendations in the Crowther Report and it has achieved a good deal. For instance, provision has been made for boys and girls to enter technical courses immediately on leaving school at fifteen instead of spending a 1118 year in an evening institute before starting at a technical college.
§ Mr. Boyden
Although there has been all this activity, how does the Minister account for the fact that while the percentage of the higher education National Certificate failures in 1962 was slightly improved, the actual number of failures was worse than in 1959? They were 5,640 compared with 4,908. If we take the Ordinary National Certificate totals, the figure in 1962 of 18,800 is more than 1959. I know that there has been a slight percentage improvement, but it seems as if there still remains a lot to be done.
§ Sir E. Boyle
I was coming to that very point. Technician courses of a diagnostic type designed specially to reduce wastage have been launched on the engineering side of applied science and in a number of other subjects. The hon. Gentleman quoted from the year after the White Paper. But I think that we have to see how this works out in a later year than 1962. This has been one of the implementations of the White Paper. Then, of course, more time has been provided for study. This has been introduced for day release students and many craft courses will enable education to be provided. I do not think that we can draw a hard and fast line between educating and training. There is a good deal of overlapping between the two, and to be fully proficient, all technicians and craftsmen require both types of experience.
I think that it is because the educational and social value of the Government's proposals have been recognised that they have received a warm welcome throughout the education service. The industrial training scheme has been conceived from the start as a partnership between industry and the education service and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I, and our Departments, have co-operated fully at every stage in the preparation of this scheme and of the Bill. I know that many people are anxious lest too much emphasis is placed on training in the narrow sense. But we have deliberately built a number of provisions into the Bill which should fully safeguard the educational needs.
These provisions take two forms. First, in Clause 2 there is a provision under 1119 which training boards will be under a statutory obligation to make recommendations with regard to the further education to be pursued in association with the training that they recommend. Secondly, the Bill provides for the participation of educationists as members both of every board and of the Central Training Council. In each case they will be appointed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour after consultation with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself. They will be appointed in their personal capacities and not as delegates, because they have the experience and the other, qualities necessary to make an effective contribution to the work of the boards.
Our present intention is that the members of every board should, in practice, include at least one teacher and someone from a local education authority.In addition, the Secretary of State and I will be empowered to appoint assessors from our Departments to every board and the intention is that there shall be educational representation on all appropriate committees whether functional, regional or local. Educationists will also play an important part on the Central Training Council. Six of the members will be appointed after consultation with the Secretary of State and myself. I know that some people feel that it should have been the Minister of Education rather than the Minister of Labour who was responsible for this scheme. This point has been put to me and expressed in another place. The provisions mean that the Ministry of Education will have to play a larger part in this matter than ever before. I think that my presence here winding up this debate is evidence of this.
We have to remember that the Bill inevitably involves matters closely bound up with the responsibilities of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour. I am quite sure that the educationalneeds can be fully secured through the machinery for which it provides. As a result of the Bill we shall be able to look forward to a substantial and rapidly growing expansion in the number of boys and girls who are given day, block or sandwich release to attend courses of further education.
1120 The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland asked about day release. When I came to my present Ministry last July I received almost at once a report saying that representatives from both sides of industry and teachers and local education authorities were all against the prescriptive legislative right to day release. Nonetheless I appointed a Committee under Mr. Henniker Heaton to see how day release could be promoted and I expect to receive its Report next year. I think I shall receive it before this Bill has passed through the House.
§ Mr. J. Robertson
Can the Minister tell us whether the Secretary of State for Scotland has received a Report of the deliberations of such a Committee in relation to Scotland? Am I wrong in thinking that it has recommended compulsory day release?
§ Sir E. Boyle
So far as I know, this was a general review in the education service and in industry. I shall certainly be discussing with the Secretary of State the results of the Report I receive from the Henniker Heaton Committee.
In the first instance, we shall naturally think mainly about craft and technician apprentices. I hope the work of the boards will lead to substantial improvements in both the quantity and the quality of the provision for education and training of technicians. I am not sure that we yet give the technician proper status in our scheme of things. Technicians cover a very wide range of policy. In the education service one might say that they go right through the top of the C.S.E. range, as it will be, through the whole of G.C.E. and that all those men and women can be technicians. We have done a great deal through the reorganisation of the 1961 White Paper, but nonetheless, there is still a widespread failure in industry to recognise the importance of the technician and the need to give him education and training specially designed to meet his needs.
Even today, although there are exceptions such as the larger electrical engineering companies, few firms positively recruit people for training and education as technicians. Although a few firms have promoted craft apprentices who have done well academically at a technical college, a great many firms 1121 have not got to the stage of distinguishing technicians from craftsmen on the one hand and technologists on the other, and therefore needing special education and training. Boys who show promise of becoming technicians in their college work are not, therefore, given the industrial training which they need to fit them for technician jobs.
As the industrial training White Paper foreshadowed, I would expect the Bill to result in a substantial increase in the integrated courses of education and training for first year apprentices which have developed in recent years. Over 100 such courses are being provided by about 80 local education authorities in England and Wales, and they are attended by 3,000 apprentices, mainly from the engineering and construction industries. There is no doubt about their value. I think there will be a stimulus to their development as a result of the powers in the Bill under which it will be possible for the boards to pay grants to the firms in respect of the cost of sending their apprentices to courses at technical colleges involving industrial training.
I have, dealt mainly with the implications of the Bill for craft and technician apprentices because we all feel that these will be the groups most likely to be affected in the early stages. But the responsibilities of the boards, I must emphasise, will extend to all forms of training, and the establishment of the boards, with their strong educational representation, should contribute greatly to that co-operation between industry and further education at all levels which has been such a valuable feature of our whole educational system.
I agree with what the hon. Member for Edmonton said about this. The provisions of the 1944 Act in relation to further education are relatively imprecise, and it was the work of industry in co-operating with further education which did a great deal to hasten the great progress which we have made since 1956. For example, there was the very rapid development of sandwich courses, mainly in the last ten years. We shall need an ever-increasing number of practical training places in industry to cope with the growing number of sandwich course students—and I use "industry" to include commerce, because, as the House knows, successful 1122 experiments are already being conducted with advanced sandwich courses in business studies. I am sure that there will be developments there, too.
I agree with the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Albu), who made such a constructive speech, that the boards could be a great help in the matter of encouraging more firms to offer training places for both "works-based" and "college-based" students.
Before I come to my last sentence or two, I should like to answer some questions which were raised. On the Central Training Council, my right hon. Friend entirely agrees that this should not become just another advisory body. On the other hand, there is the point of Parliamentary responsibility for the money in the Bill and also the point that the Minister must himself be able to provide impetus. The hon. Member for Edmonton mentioned statistics. There is the manpower research unit which was set up this year at the Ministry of Labour and which I believe will be of real importance. In reply to the hon. Member for Edmonton, there will certainly have to be a new inspectorate as a result of the measures which are being provided in the Bill.
I should like to say a word on the subject of management education and studies, which was mentioned by the hon. Member for East Ham, North. In the colleges of technology and commerce there have been important developments from the enthusiasm for courses for the new diploma in management studies. The number of these courses has increased from 53 to 90 and the number of enrolments has risen from 1,153 to very nearly 3,000. Hon. Members attached importance to the training of supervisors and foremen. A Report last year published by my right hon. Friend noted that there were 140 colleges in Great Britain running more than 300 courses catering for more than 9,000 students, and the Report urged that the provision of these courses should be still further increased. I have commended this Report to local education authorities and colleges in the confidence that they will do all that they can, in consultation with industry, to consider making further provision, because this is a matter of very considerable importance.
1123 I commend the Bill to the House. I am sorry that I have had to cover rather a lot of ground in a short time. The Bill will make a major contribution to industrial efficiency and a most important contribution to educational and social progress. On both economic and social grounds it is essential that the training and education which we give to young people entering industry today shall be such as to prepare them adequately for all the demands which will be made upon their skill and adaptability under modern industrial conditions. This can be achieved only by a close partnership between industry and education at every level, and that will be made possible by the Bill. It is with every confidence that I ask the House to agree to its Second Reading.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second Time.
§ Bill committed to a Standing Committee, pursuant to Standing Order No. 40 (Committal of Bills).