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Manpower Services Commission

Volume 927: debated on Tuesday 1 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he last met the chairman of the Manpower Services Commission.

Was my right hon. Friend able to discuss with the chairman the particularly difficult situation concerning training opportunities for girls, bearing in mind two points: first the reduction in college of education places, particularly as this affects opportunities for girls and secondly the deplorable record of British industry over the past decade in offering day-release facilities for girls?

Training was one of the subjects that I discussed with the chairman. My hon. Friend will be pleased to learn that the Training Services Agency has identified training in certain vocations for girls as a priority area. However, I point out that we are giving considerable support—about £55 million worth—to training in industry and that there is no sex discrimination in this form of vocational training. I am sure that a number of young male engineering apprentices will not object to a few female workmates.

While I do not wish to deny the importance of training, may I ask the Secretary of State to take note of what is happening at the Bristol West Dock, where the ratepayers have put in millions of pounds to build a new dock, which has not started operating because of an industrial dispute? Will the right hon. Gentleman give his immediate attention to this problem and use the good offices of his Department to try to get things going?

I am not quite sure how that supplementary question relates to the original Question. One of the many reasons why we have devoted so much time and attention to improving industrial relations is that some disputes can produce a loss of work. There has been an overall improvement, and I would have thought that that would have been welcomed by the hon. Gentleman.