Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:38 pm on 28th April 2009.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Roberta Blackman-Woods Roberta Blackman-Woods Labour, City of Durham 7:38 pm, 28th April 2009

I can answer the first part of the question easily: yes, I have read the Budget.

As I was saying, nothing is more important than that we continue to invest in Train to Gain to support and upskill people in employment. In particular, we must continue to support union learners, who are so excellent at persuading people in the workplace to acquire new skills. We must also encourage young people to value education. I do not think that we can ask them to value their education if we do not value it. We in County Durham were only just starting to overcome the past scepticism about what learning can bring; we must continue to make progress. In partial answer to the hon. Gentleman's question, let me say that, whatever else we do to get efficiency savings, it is critical that we continue to develop our education system and to invest in education and training.

In my constituency, we have just opened a new school, Durham Johnston, which is excellent—much better than anything that I had imagined; it is state of the art. We also have another school, Framwellgate Moor, starting in about a year, as well as a new academy backed by Durham university. The hon. Gentleman has just demonstrated the truth of my next statement: I simply cannot imagine investment on such a scale happening under a Tory Government. It is unfortunate that the whole of the British media and a great many people in the country apparently have such short memories.

We must invest in skills development and knowledge transfer if we are to compete in the global economy of the future. I am therefore pleased about the additional funding for the Technology Strategy Board. We in this country have not always managed to apply technological developments well to create jobs; we have to do that better in the future.

Finally, I hope that the Government will use the additional £600 million to support new house building, as well as the measures previously announced to encourage councils, either themselves or in partnership with others, to build more council houses and to continue to provide affordable homes that are much more energy efficient than those provided in the past. It is a source of great sadness to me that, in my constituency, many opportunities to build affordable and rented properties were not taken by the Liberal Democrat council during the years of growth. The council simply let the market rip, with too many apartments being built, and now we lack good family housing and a real mix of tenures. The Government must put that right by enforcing planning policy statement 3 in any future house building initiatives. We must learn lessons so that money is used wisely from now on to plan for a sustainable future, to invest in low-carbon industries and to ensure that housing is delivered for everyone and not just those who can afford the latest market offering.

Embed this video

Copy and paste this code on your website