Education and Training

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th June 1991.

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Photo of James Arbuthnot James Arbuthnot , Wanstead and Woodford 12:00 am, 11th June 1991

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received on the White Paper "Education and Training for the 21st Century"; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard Secretary of State for Employment

The White Paper has had a very positive reception. Training and enterprise councils and local education authorities have welcomed our proposals and are keen to contribute to the delivery of education and the development of their responsibilities in this area.

My Department is making rapid progress in implementing those of the White Paper's proposals for which we are responsible. I shall be sending a prospectus to TECs next week inviting bids to run the 1993 training credit schemes. A prospectus inviting bids for new compacts will follow. Progress is also being made in taking forward partnerships between TECs and LEAs for supervising the careers service.

Photo of James Arbuthnot James Arbuthnot , Wanstead and Woodford

Is not it correct that training credits will give our young people choice and incentives in training rather than the incentive to stay on the dole offered by the Opposition? The Opposition's policies would reduce the number of jobs, reduce choice and reduce the incentives to train.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard Secretary of State for Employment

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He is clear about the difference between the parties on that subject. I wish that the same could be said for the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) who, when questioning me on the White Paper, said that he would see how the training credits progressed, although he knew perfectly well that training credits were entirely inconsistent with the policy of compulsion pursued by the Opposition.

Photo of Mr Derek Fatchett Mr Derek Fatchett , Leeds Central

Is not it clear that despite the very expensive public relations launch of the White Paper, it contained no figures on the cost of introducing the measures proposed? Does not that make it clear that the Government, who have already made cuts in training at a time of rising unemployment, have neither the political nor the economic will to ensure that this country secures the best educated and best trained work force in western Europe? The Government need to consider not their White Paper, but their record. If trainers do that, they will realise that they have no future to look forward to.

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard Secretary of State for Employment

The hon. Gentleman could not be more wrong. When the White Paper was introduced, I gave the additional cost of the training credit proposal—of £14 million and £35 million—in the first two years of its operation. The hon. Gentleman simply does not know what he is talking about. I had hoped that he would rise to clarify the confusion that exists in the mind of his hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair) on these matters.

Photo of Mr Simon Coombs Mr Simon Coombs , Swindon

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that those who opposed the technical and vocational education initiative, who fought against youth training and who opposed the introduction of the youth training scheme are utterly discredited on any question of education and training? Will he give the Labour party one last chance to come into the 20th century and to recognise the contribution that all those schemes have made to training for young people?

Photo of Michael Howard Michael Howard Secretary of State for Employment

I am not optimistic that the Labour party would take that opportunity. The Labour party has opposed tooth and nail every training initiative that the Government have introduced over the past 12 years. Labour has no credentials to talk about training.