Neil Carmichael: This is a key issue, which is one of the reasons why the Education Committee will also be conducting an inquiry on the subject, but does the Minister agree that if we reform funding, we will answer the National Audit Office’s firm criticism of the system that it does not make sense for the pupil premium in some areas?
Neil Carmichael: Does the Secretary of State agree that in challenging the productivity problem, we need to address our minds to skills and making sure that we have the appropriate pipeline of skills running through the education system to the businesses that desperately need them?
Neil Carmichael: It is a great pleasure to speak in this debate, not least because it is the first one on education since I was elected as Chair of the Education Committee. My first task is to thank all those who voted for me, to whom I am immensely grateful. As we go along, either they will regret it or that number will swell. It is a great honour to follow the hon. Member for Glasgow North West (Carol...
Neil Carmichael: This is actually about whether we should intervene in coasting schools. The hon. Lady is rightly talking about what happens next. We have already heard from those on the Labour Benches that they are quite proud of the academies programme, which they started, but what we have to do is perfect it. That is one of the tasks that underlies this legislation. The Education Committee also looked at...
Neil Carmichael: The Minister mentions the rural economy in the context of broadband. I quite agree that we need to boost broadband, but does he agree that we really need to send a signal to BT to enhance its efforts to ensure that we are properly connected in rural areas?
Neil Carmichael: What steps he is taking to promote engineering as a career in Wales.
Neil Carmichael: I am delighted to note that Renishaw is developing excellent industrial links with Wales, but does the Minister agree that we need more science, technology, engineering and maths and more STEM pupils in the pipeline, so that we can make a proper effort to generate more careers in engineering?
Neil Carmichael: Does the Chief Secretary agree that the key part of reducing the deficit is the long-term economic plan, and that it rests on the provision of additional skills for our manufacturing sector, which in turn will drive up opportunities for young people?
Neil Carmichael: What assurances can the Secretary of State give to this House on the strength of the flexibility and accountability system of academies and free schools, especially the new 500 free schools that we expect to open?
Neil Carmichael: Given the widespread interest in productivity, may we have a debate that will allow Members to identify their priorities for improving productivity throughout the United Kingdom?
Neil Carmichael: Does the Secretary of State agree that the rail investment programme is good but would be better still if we had more stations? He visited Stonehouse Bristol Road station in my constituency, which provides a very good example of why some stations should be reopened.
Neil Carmichael: What steps his Department is taking to assist Iraqi forces in countering ISIL.
Neil Carmichael: It is certainly correct that the Iraqi forces need strengthening. What further measures does the Secretary of State have in mind to do exactly that, as it is the long-term guarantee of security?
Neil Carmichael: Will my right hon. and learned Friend give way?
Neil Carmichael: I thank my right hon. and learned Friend. Does he agree that one of the key tasks is to keep up the pressure to improve our skills agenda, so that we can ensure that our young people continue to contribute to a productive economy and increase our capacity to develop, innovate, research and develop and manufacture?
Neil Carmichael: What steps he is taking to increase access to GPs’ surgeries.
Neil Carmichael: Does the Secretary of State agree that the news he brings will be of great comfort to elderly people in particular, but in addition the signposting of people towards GPs rather than acute hospitals will be very important and a very useful addition to our policy?
Neil Carmichael: It is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Jess Phillips), who made an excellent speech. I entirely concur with her observations about domestic violence and sexual abuse. Those are appalling crimes and are utterly indefensible, and action must be taken to put them under a spotlight. We need to be surer in future that we can prevent such things from...
Neil Carmichael: That is a good point and I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, and of course one nation does mean a collection of the four nations in a United Kingdom. One nation is really an expression of how we feel about the people in our nation—how we want to give opportunity, how we want to make sure they can propel themselves forward, how we want to make sure nobody is left behind, how...
Neil Carmichael: Our values as one nation are, of course, ones we would want everybody else to follow. We are talking about the United Kingdom, and the current position is that this Government have capacity and dominance over this country, but I also want to emphasise that what matters is that sense of fairness, of equality and of inclusion. The dominant home affairs topic in the contributions of my right...