asked the Minister of Labour when the Industrial Training Board for Engineering will make a firm decision about the levy which engineering firms will have to pay for training; and when it will report on the methods, length of time and success of present apprentice schemes.
In view of the fact that we do not yet know when these facilities for training will be available, does not the right hon. Gentleman think it is a crying shame that he should be unable to take advantage of all the facilities offered to him by Messrs. Baker Perkins to provide training facilities for the boys to whom I referred in my previous Question?
As the hon. Member knows, I looked carefully into the question to see whether there was some way in which I could do this. The main thing is that we have our Industrial Training Act on the Statute Book. We are going ahead with the boards, and I hope that it will not be long before the engineering board, which I set up only last week, will be able to get going in this matter.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the speed with which the engineering training board and the other three boards have been set up, but will he urge them to be as quick as possible in making a decision on the levy so as to remove doubt in the minds of industrialists as to their responsibilities?
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is a danger that some firms are still waiting to see what the levy arrangements are and are delaying the training plans which they should be making, and that this may have an adverse effect on those leaving school in the summer? Will he confirm the need for boards to get on with this as quickly as possible? Does he agree that they could back-date their levy agreement arrangements to the date when the Act came into force, thereby taking into account apprentices and others taken on from this year's school-leavers?
These are matters which the boards themselves must determine. I am sure that they will take note of the point that the hon. Member has made. As for the general point, I would hope that firms will not back-pedal on their training arrangements. It may be that other firms who were going to introduce new arrangements have waited. I have urged them in constant speeches not to do this, because any new arrangements that they make can easily be dovetailed into the system. It will help rather than hinder them if they go ahead now.