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Part of Opposition Day — [19th Allotted Day] — Tax Fairness – in the House of Commons at 4:26 pm on 12th March 2013.

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Photo of Gordon Marsden Gordon Marsden Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills) 4:26 pm, 12th March 2013

Like my hon. Friend Steve McCabe, my hon. Friend Mr Sheerman is telepathic, because I shall be returning to that point later.

The Government are fond of saying that they have created more than 500,000 apprenticeships, but less fond of saying that in axing Train to Gain they also axed more than 500,000 training places. Many of these additional apprenticeships are merely relabelled and transferred in-work provision from Train to Gain, as Doug Richard, the entrepreneur behind the Government’s commissioned report, confirmed last week and as has been shown by detailed analysis from the sector publication, FE Week, which the Skills Minister and I read with great relish every week.

Government statistics in the Richard review have borne that out. The proportion of apprenticeships that are in-work apprenticeships rose to 70% in 2012 in comparison with 48% in 2007, so the Government’s figure of 500,000 hangs entirely on the huge growth in post-25 apprenticeships. If significant numbers of these fall away as a result of an adverse reaction to the Government’s controversial FE loans system, the fragility of their much-trumpeted figure of 500,000 will be rapidly exposed.