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Training And Enterprise Councils

Volume 173: debated on Tuesday 22 May 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what steps he has taken to ensure that training agencies operating under the new TEC system will be able to provide adequate services for training under their post-1 April 1990 budgets.

Training and enterprise councils set out their proposals for providing training in their corporate and business plans which they agree with me. Subsequently the standard and quality of the training being provided is regularly monitored by my Department.

How close is that monitoring within the present tight budgetary controls? In Ilfracombe, which often has the highest youth unemployment in the country, a training establishment has been brought up, closed and the young people are now trained 12 miles away at great cost to a new training establishment. How does my right hon. and learned Friend control the buying, closing and selling of businesses in that new growth industry—the training industry?

As I said earlier, the pattern by which training is provided will inevitably change from time to time. We cannot expect the same training providers to be in business year on year on year. The training and enterprise councils' operating agreement provides that non-employed trainees on youth training must be paid at least those travel costs in excess of £3 that are incurred in connection with their training. The councils will take that obligation into account in assessing matters of the kind to which my hon. Friend referred.

Is the Minister aware that earlier this afternoon the Prime Minister's Parliamentary Private Secretary was engaged in a training scheme on the Government side of the House? He was trying to get planted questions put to the Prime Minister and was going around giving training to Tory Members so that the Prime Minister would be aware of the questions that would come up when she turns up in the House at a quarter past three.

I am sure that no amount of training would enable anyone to predict a question asked by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) if he is fortunate enough to catch your eye later this afternoon, Mr. Speaker.

Will my right hon. and learned Friend liaise with his colleague the Secretary of State for Education and Science and encourage him to give greater autonomy to local education authority colleges of further education which, if given that autonomy, more self government and more responsibility for their budgets and employment policies, could market their wares far more effectively into a rapidly changing training market?

My hon. Friend will doubtless be aware of our proposals for pilot training credit schemes. Those who obtain the training buying power that the credits will provide will be able to use them at colleges of further education and I believe that that will go a long way towards achieving the objective to which my hon. Friend referred.