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Orders of the Day — Further and Higher Education Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:20 pm on 11th February 1992.

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Photo of Mr Derek Fatchett Mr Derek Fatchett , Leeds Central 9:20 pm, 11th February 1992

That was probably one of the weakest defences that I have heard. I am glad that I will never be in a position to have to employ the hon. Gentleman as a counsel in my defence because, as he knows, Warwickshire is basically opting out of its responsibilities for a youth service.

We also know that throughout the country Conservative-controlled LEAs have cut back on adult education, because it is a discretionary service and they see the oppportunity to save money in that area.

The Government offer one hope to the millions of people who look to the adult education service—that local authorities which are squeezed, in Tory areas against adult education, will then pick up the bill and maintain the service. The hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley) was right to raise the issue. It is important and it will not go away. In Committee, we shall push the Government further because we want guarantees to ensure that the adult education service survives.

There is no educational or democratic justification for taking further education colleges out of local education authority control. The Bill came about for one reason—to massage the poll tax and to save the face of Conservative Members. They are so deeply worried and embarrassed by the weakness of their arguments that they are not prepared to spend time in Committee to defend them. They are running away from the argument. Parents have no confidence in the Government's provision of education. The Government have lost the confidence of parents and they have lost confidence in their own arguments. After this Bill, they will be on the way to defeat at the next election. The Bill will be a further nail in their electoral coffin.