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Part of Opposition Day — [19th Allotted Day] — Tax Fairness – in the House of Commons at 6:29 pm on 12th March 2013.

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Photo of Gordon Birtwistle Gordon Birtwistle Liberal Democrat, Burnley 6:29 pm, 12th March 2013

We all support apprenticeships and think they are a good idea, and we all congratulate the young people and the companies involved.

I have some questions about the motion. First, because there is so much support for apprenticeships, will the Opposition withdraw it so that we do not need to vote on it? Secondly, if there is to be a vote, will the Minister confirm its legality? As I understand the motion—I am not a legal expert—it commits not only the Government, but local authorities and others using public money to put the requirement to offer apprenticeships into contracts, and I am not sure whether we are allowed to do that. Will the Minister clarify whether that is a legal issue that we need to be concerned about before we vote? I am happy to support the trend of the motion but I would not like to vote for something that cannot be delivered for legal reasons. I am sure the Minister can take advice before he winds up and clarify whether we are able to commit local authorities, for example, to the requirement in the motion. I also question whether we would fall foul of value for money contracts by insisting on companies meeting the requirement. I would like clearance on that before I vote.

It is great that we have apprenticeships in progress. We already do what the motion calls for, apart from committing other authorities to the requirement to offer apprenticeship opportunities. The major companies that we deal with already do so and I support that, but I would like clarity from the Minister that we would be voting on a motion that could legally be implemented.