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"A New Training Initiative: A Programme For Action"

Volume 19: debated on Tuesday 2 March 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment what response he has received to his White Paper entitled "A New Training Initiative: A Programme for Action"—Cmnd. 8455.

I have received an encouraging response to our proposals, which reflects the broad measure of support which the objectives of the new training initiative have received from employers, trade unions and others concerned. I am also encouraged by the extent of commitment to achieving essential long-term reforms in our training system.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his otherwise imaginative and constructive programme to improve the training of young persons is deficient in respect of the young disabled? Will he allow me to bring a deputation to see him on that point?

What does the Secretary of State mean by a "broad measure of support"? Does that include the trade unions? Is he aware that, under these proposals, the extent of trade union participation will now depend on the employers? Is he further aware that the employers' role will no longer be to train workers but to poach them from good employers? Will that not sour industrial relations?

The right hon. Gentleman has misunderstood the position. The whole of the new training iniative, with minor exceptions round the edges, is common ground between the Government, the Manpower Services Commission and most of the trade union movement. Opposition Front Bench spokesmen may want to stir up trouble, but there will be no trouble unless it is stirred up.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in his former constituency around Waltham Abbey, young people are requesting more facilities? We cannot, of course, have centres everywhere, but is my right hon. Friend satisfied that there are adequate centres in Enfield and other areas serving that part of the country?

If there are difficulties, I should be happy to consider areas in my old constituency, to which my hon. Friend referred. However, in general, employers and others have been very good in coming forward with offers of places for the YOP. I hope that they will be similarly well disposed towards the youth training scheme which takes over in September next year.

Has not the right hon. Gentleman bungled the introduction of his scheme by including the wretched £15 a week and an element of compulsion? Will he confirm that his proposals have been humiliatingly and overwhelmingly rejected by the MSC's task group of union, education and commercial leaders? Has not the right hon. Gentleman failed the nation and missed a golden opportunity?

The short answer is "No, Sir". There has been no bungle and there will be no compulsion. The proposals have not been rejected by the MSC's high level working group, which is not due to report until April.