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Training Boards

Volume 23: debated on Tuesday 4 May 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a further statement on the training boards.

We intend to lay orders winding up 16 boards and reducing the scope of three others in two batches. We hope to lay the first batch within the next few days and the second about a month later.

Before the axe falls on the Road Transport Industry Training Board's facility, the MOTEC at Livingston, will the Minister pay it a visit?

As I made clear to the hon. Gentleman when he came to see me, I have watched the matter of the Livingston MOTEC carefully. Its future is a matter for the Road Transport Industry Training Board.

Will my hon. Friend make it clear beyond peradventure that he will not lay an order before the House concerning a training board unless he is absolutely satisfied that the voluntary arrangements are satisfactory now and for the long term?

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said on numerous occasions that he will not lay an order to wind up a board until he is satisfied that the voluntary proposals are satisfactory.

Is the Minister not recklessly leaving industrial training to market forces? Are not his voluntary schemes so discredited that he has to give them an alias—"non-statutory"?

The Government's policy is to clear away unnecessary bureaucracy. I have great confidence in the employers organisations coming forward with perfectly satisfactory voluntary training arrangements.

Does my hon. Friend agree that in the early years the training boards did a good job, but that, unfortunately, as time went on their performance varied, and while some still did a reasonable job others became bureaucratic and overstaffed?

I could not put it better. As time went on some of the boards lost the confidence of employers who were within their scope.

Did the Minister read in the Sunday Times the remarks of David Mitchell, the outgoing director of the Food, Drink and Tobacco Industry Training Board that the Minister was desperate to save his face and that he needed at least a piece of paper to show that the industry was capable of voluntary training or he would end up with egg on his face? Is he aware that he appears before us today metaphorically covered in yolk? What does he intend to do about it?

Since that report, for which of course I am not responsible, Mr. Mitchell has written to me stating that in many respects the voluntary arrangements are perfectly satisfactory.