Is the Minister aware that he has given a most deplorable reply? Does he agree that as a result of the massive increase in unemployment under the Government there should also have occurred a massive extension of Government training centres, which would have led to meaningful training being given to unemployed people and would have provided them in time with the opportunity to obtain proper jobs? When are the Government intending to tackle the issue? When will they stop the kind of camouflage measures announced yesterday?
While the majority responsibility for industrial and commercial training must remain with the private sector, may I ask my hon. Friend to give the House the assurance that the next priority to which his Department will turn its attention urgently is the plight of the long-term unemployed—those who have been unemployed for over six-months or, in some cases, over 12 months, since the forecasts given by the Manpower Services Commission have been alarmingly high?
In view of the fact that there must be a great deal more industrial training, particularly for young people, what steps have the Government taken to enter into serious discussion with the Trades Union Congress and the trade unions in order to reach an amicable agreement to bring about the expansion that is required at the earliest moment?
Is my hon. Friend aware that many of the trade associations that thought that they could replace industrial training boards now seem unwilling to take part in new training initiatives? Will he assure the House that before any ITBs are abolished there will be means incorporated in the alternative arrangements to ensure that new training initiatives can be carried out effectively?
I agree with my hon. Friend that it is important that the trade associations make a constructive approach to the new training initiative. Anything that he or I can do to make sure that this is the case will be a worthwhile exercise.
Will the Government stop misleading the House and the country about their attitude and intentions towards industrial training? Their words suggest that they are backing industrial training, but between now and 1984 they will cut Government support for industrial training by £77·5 million. The training opportunities programme provided for nearly 100,000 trainees in 1978, but this year it is likely to make provision for fewer than 60,000. Why do not the Government come clean?