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Immigrants (Language Training)

Volume 884: debated on Tuesday 21 January 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment what steps he is taking to encourage language training for immigrants at their places of employment.

The Government have launched a scheme to encourage local education authorities to establish language training units at the place of work. Proposals have now been submitted by authorities covering the main areas of need, and schemes for 18 authorities have already been approved. A national centre financed by the training services agency has been established to support the units and will become fully operational early this year. I am in correspondence with the Chairman of the Manpower Services Commission about the general development of language training in employment, and he has assured me that the training services agency will aim to ensure that where a need for language training exists it is properly met.

I thank my hon. Friend for that encouraging reply. I ask that the scheme should go ahead as quickly as possible because it will give all immigrants the opportunity to learn the language, it will help race relations and health and safety at work, and result in greater efficiency.

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's support. Language training helps immigrants to develop their skill and potential, increases productivity and helps race relations.

Will the hon. Gentleman ensure that the opportunities afforded by the national training centre are equally available to women in employment as they are to men?

Yes, we shall certainly make sure that training facilities are available irrespective of sex.

Does the scheme extend to National Health Service hospitals? Does the Minister accept that a true understanding of the English language is immensely important in securing accuracy of diagnosis?

The facilities which we are developing for language training will be available throughout the whole of industry if the services are called upon.