asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what industrial training boards already operate differential levies; and what consultation she is having with the Central Training Council concerning their extension.
Two boards operate differential rates on a sector of industry basis, and nine boards operate differential rates, sliding scales or exemptions based on the size of the firm. Other boards too are considering the appropriateness of differential arrangements for their industries. The Central Training Council has this and other questions concerning levy and grants systems under review.
Since in most industries the majority of firms employ fewer than 100 people, and since, therefore, their training needs are likely to be only modest, will the hon. Gentleman give special encouragement to the establishment of differential rates?
I am strongly in favour of a policy which does not ask from small companies levies out of proportion to their genuine training needs. But some small companies employing appreciably fewer than 100 people still have substantial training needs and, therefore, should make an appropriate contribution to their training boards.
Will the hon. Gentleman consider the extreme case of the one-man company in my constituency from which a training levy has been demanded?
I have already given the hon. Gentleman that undertaking, and, indeed, I intend to make a rather wider examination than that.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what proportion of the money raised in training levies is currently being spent on the administration of the various training boards.
For the year ended 31st March, 1968, 1.8 per cent. of total levy income was spent on administration and a further 1.9 per cent. on the provision of training services.
Will the hon. Gentleman watch this closely? Is there not a danger, with a multiplication of training boards, of some overlapping here? Does not he agree that the need it not to create a new bureaucracy but to get on with retraining in new skills?
I agree with the hon. Gentleman's judgment, and I hope that he in turn will agree that a new bureaucracy—in the pejorative sense of the word—is not in fact being created and that the boards are in the main doing the jobs he seeks that they should do.