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Part of Opposition Day — [19th Allotted Day] — Tax Fairness – in the House of Commons at 6:47 pm on 12th March 2013.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Skills 6:47 pm, 12th March 2013

I cannot, I am afraid; I have virtually no time left.

The hon. Members for Birmingham, Northfield (Richard Burden), for Rotherham (Sarah Champion), for Bradford East (Mr Ward), for North Tyneside (Mrs Glindon) and for Copeland (Mr Reed) talked about the value of apprenticeships. In particular, the hon. Member for Copeland spoke powerfully about how apprenticeships now reflect the modern economy and are spreading into relatively new areas of the economy. All this fits the argument made by the Prime Minister yesterday that there should be a new norm in our country whereby school leavers go to university or into an apprenticeship so that we have a high-skilled economy and a high-skilled work force, not only so that every individual can reach their potential—their personal best—but so that our economy can compete in the global race. I am glad to see cross-party consensus on the importance of the global race.

Julie Hilling mentioned many things; I was intrigued by her speech. I want to pick out her mention of the world skills competition, which is a brilliant, fascinating and exciting competition that everybody should watch; certainly, I thoroughly enjoyed watching it.

Members have mentioned the need to increase the number of apprenticeships and I can announce that, in addition to the three apprentices in my private offices, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will advertise tomorrow for three further apprentices in our communications department. The numbers are going up and up.

As my hon. Friend Gordon Birtwistle and the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, my right hon. Friend Michael Fallon, have said, while we and many local authorities are broadly supportive of and, indeed, leading on procurement apprenticeships, such as those with Crossrail, I am concerned that the motion is defective, because it appears to call on the Government to exceed their legal powers. Given my assurances, I hope that the Opposition will not push for a vote.