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Trades Union Congress (Grants)

Volume 977: debated on Thursday 31 January 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) how many persons profited from the Government grants paid to the Trades Union Congress for education and training in each of the last four years and the current year, respectively; how many were affiliated union officials; and how many were employees of the Trades Union Congress;(2) if he will give the reason for the increase of almost 50 per cent. in the grant payable to the Trades Union Congress in the current year compared with that paid in the financial year 1978–1979.

The levels of grant paid jointly by the Department of Employment and my Department to the Trades Union Congress and affiliated unions for 1979–80 and previously were decided by the last Government. I am sure that my hon. Friend would not expect me to offer reasons for their policy and decisions in the matter.The grant is a contribution towards trade union education and training and is paid in acordance with the provisions of a memorandum of arrangements agreed with the TUC. This memorandum excludes the application of grants towards the education and training of salaried employees of the TUC or of independent trade unions. Detailed information about the numbers of students attending trade union courses is not collected by my Department and I regret that the information sought by the hon. Member is not available in the form requested. Our partial information, however, shows that the TUC's total provision for day-release courses alone in 1978–79 covered about 43,000 students, compared with 27,000 in 1977–78.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what monitoring arrangements apply to the public funds paid to the Trades Union Congress for the education and training of union officials to ensure that the money is spent for the proper purpose.

The payment of grant is governed by a memorandum of arrangements agreed with the TUC. This lays down the eligible categories of expenditure: it expressly excludes education and training courses for salaried union officials and accordingly my Department has no monitoring arrangements covering such courses. The memorandum does, however, allow for grant-aid towards education and training courses for shop stewards and other work place representatives, and monitoring arrangements for those have been established in agreement with the TUC. Under those, the detailed procedures for the payment of grant are specified and the TUC is required to provide an audited receipts and payments account showing how the grant has been expended in each financial year. In addition, Her Majesty's inspectors monitor those courses in the public sector as part of their normal responsibilities and are invited to inspect indvidual union courses. They maintain regular contact with officials of the TUC education department and advise the working party of union education officers about the provision of appropriate courses.