Violence against Women and Girls

Part of Contamination of Beef Products – in the House of Commons at 2:29 pm on 14th February 2013.

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Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 2:29 pm, 14th February 2013

Yes. One Education Minister was in the Chamber earlier, but unfortunately did not stay to hear the rest of the debate. The Department for Education is the villain in the piece today, because there is general acceptance across the House that although making PSHE statutory is not the whole answer, it is part of the jigsaw. It fits in with what the Government are saying and the steps they have taken since they came to power, as well as those taken by the Labour Government, to try to address violence against women and to equip our youngsters with the skills and knowledge they need to make good choices about the lives they lead. I am disappointed that no representative of the Department is in the Chamber to listen to the debate.

I was a little flabbergasted when I heard that the Department for Education had accepted that financial education should be statutory. If the Department knows that that is important and wants to give young people the skills and experience to deal with their finances, it seems rather ironic that it does not accept that young people also need the skills, experience and knowledge to deal with relationships and sexual matters. The Department argues that it does not want to prescribe what schools have to do, but it seems to me that if the Department can be prescriptive about financial education it could be a bit more prescriptive about sex and relationship education.

The Minister of State, Home Department, Mr Browne, answered Equality questions earlier today but said nothing about the very effective campaign to reduce teen relationship abuse, which is working directly with young people. It is not being used by the Department for Education—I checked its Twitter account and it is not promoting that campaign. I think the Department for Education should stop turning its face away from what the vast majority of young people, parents and Members of this House want, which is for high-quality statutory sex and relationship education to be brought in as soon as possible with properly trained teachers and proper resources. That will not solve the whole problem, but it will help.