Education Maintenance Allowance
Opposition Day — [9th allotted day]
Michael Gove (Secretary of State, Education; Surrey Heath, Conservative)
I beg to move an amendment, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and add:
"believes in full participation in education and training for young people up to the age of 18 and considers that support must be in place to allow those who face the greatest barriers to participation to access this opportunity;
notes that the previous Government left this country with one of the largest budget deficits in the world and that savings have had to be made in order to avoid burdening future generations;
further notes that the Government has increased funding for deprivation within the 16 to 19 budget and has already begun to replace the current education maintenance allowance system with more targeted support for those who face genuine barriers, including travel;
and commits the Government to working with young people, schools and colleges and others outside and inside Parliament on arrangements for supporting students in further education and on improving access to, enthusiasm for and participation in further and higher education."
It is always a pleasure to debate education with Andy Burnham. In previous Opposition day debates and on other platforms, I have always been impressed by the passion and commitment he brings to the aspirations of extending opportunity and advancing social mobility, and I believe he is right to focus in particular on what we can do better to support children in the 16 to 18 age range, whom we want to succeed in the examinations they take, and to whom we want to extend broader opportunities. In that respect, I welcome both the opportunity this debate provides and the wealth of interest it has provoked.
I may also say that it was uncharacteristic of the right hon. Gentleman, for whom I have a great deal of respect and affection, to make a personal comment about a member of my family in the course of his speech. I am sure that, on reflection, he will recognise that it was inappropriate and beneath him, and that he will withdraw it.
I also recognise, however, that the right hon. Gentleman was motivated in bringing forward this debate by his passion to increase social mobility. I also recognise that his bringing this passion to bear allows us all to consider what the right policies are for generating a greater degree of social mobility and for making opportunity more equal in our society.