The review of the work of the industrial training boards is being conducted by my Department's planning unit. It is already well under way and should be completed early next year. In the light of the findings of the review I shall then consider how best to consult with the interested organisations.
While thanking my right hon. Friend for that Answer, may I ask whether he accepts from those en- gaged in training in industry that it is a somewhat disappointing reply? Will the Minister reconsider inviting industry to give its views before the Departmental committee produces its report?
I am sorry that my hon. Friend thinks the Answer disappointing. We have a great deal of information both on the substance of the matter and on the views of many sectors of industry. I felt that if we were to set up some new formal inquiry, with all the paraphernalia of formal submission of evidence, it would last a great deal of time, whereas some firm view and, if necessary, action is urgently required. I assure my hon. Friend that those involved will be closely consulted.
Did not the Government promise a massive increase in industrial retraininig facilities? Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us how his Department, or the Government in general, propose to do this? Will it be through more Government training centres, or do they hope to get that massive increase through in-training within industry?
I think that the answer to that is probably "Both". But one major reason for the review which I am conducting is to form conclusions about the best way of getting the increase which is necessary.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many industrial training boards are now in existence; what is the total amount of the levies imposed by them on employers in a full year; what is their total cost to public funds; and how many staff they employ.
There are at present 28 boards. The total levy receivable for the year ended 31st March, 1970 was £175 million. Generally over 90 per cent. of the levy receivable from firms goes back to industry in the form of grants. The total cost since 1964 to public funds is about £3½ million. Staffing is a matter for the boards themselves but I understand that it is now about 4,900.
Pending the review to which my right hon. Friend referred earlier, does my hon. Friend expect to be able to deal with the financial crisis in the Construction Industry Training Board and with the very heavy levies imposed on small hairdressers by the Hairdressing and Allied Services Industry Board?
There is a Question on the Order Paper about the C.I.T.B. and I had better leave it to my right hon. Friend to answer. But we are well aware of the problems of small firms and are paying particular attention to small firms in the review which is currently going on.