Children, Schools and Families Bill

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 7:55 pm on 11th January 2010.

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Photo of Graham Allen Graham Allen Labour, Nottingham North 7:55 pm, 11th January 2010

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is why the first thing that we did in, effectively, our pilot-we are piloting the idea before the Government have introduced the legislation, through our 11-to-16 life skills programme, which I was fortunate enough to be instrumental in establishing, as chair of the local strategic partnership-was to dedicate some £400,000, from a very small budget, for basic training, so that the basic materials were in place. That was so that the teachers were not, as someone said earlier, teaching those basics after lessons in the gymnasium or running stuff off the photocopier, but understood the aim and were trained and passionate about ensuring that all young people had those basics in place.

In addition, leaving aside a bit of petty partisanship from all parts of the House, I would like to say a few words of thanks-not in the normal way, perhaps-to the Front Benchers for the serious way in which they have debated the issue and, except for a bit of fraying around the edges on sex and relationship education, for the basic consensus on the fact that we need all our kids to have those fundamental life skills in order to take advantage of education. I commend the way in which all Front Benchers have done that. I should also like to add a little historical footnote to the debate, by mentioning the debt that we all owe to my right hon. Friend Jim Knight for his work on this brief. He worked very hard to ensure that it was going to be part of the Bill, and he deserves our commendation for that.

I say all this not because I am soft, non-partisan and not in favour of my own party's viewpoint on various issues, but because of one simple fact: if we ever break the intergenerational cycle of deprivation in this country, that achievement will not be the property of just one party-the Labour party, the Conservative party, the Liberal party or any of the minority parties. All will have to be signed up to the consensus on giving every child the abilities that will enable that child to make the best of himself or herself. I think that we are quite close to achieving that.

There was a period when the debate revolved around one side saying that the other side wanted to hug hoodies, and the other side retorting that their opponents wanted to put antisocial behaviour orders on embryos. However, the level of maturity in the debate over the past two or three years has been to the great credit of Members in the House and to the spokespeople here who have taken this issue much further than we thought we might have done. What is it that we have taken further? It is the process of early intervention, and the laying down of the bedrock that will enable all kids to do well, as part of a complete raft of measures, rather than just as a one-off.

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