I thought at one point in the speech made by Lucy Powell that we were in danger of having cross-party consensus break out, but she veered away from that when confronted by good news stories about the post-16 sector. I also liked the way she mentioned the long-term economic plan, even though she probably did so through gritted teeth.
It is a pleasure to respond to this debate on such an important area—we can genuinely all agree on that. A vibrant post-16 education sector gives young people the skills they need to succeed in life, and it is a key part of this Government’s commitment to governing as one nation and extending opportunity throughout the country. I am sad to say, however, that it seems to be becoming an unfortunate habit of the hon. Lady to use all her public appearances to talk down the significant achievements and good things that are happening in our education system: first, we had the undermining of the achievements of academies, including one in her constituency; secondly, we had the scaremongering on teacher recruitment; and now the Opposition are trying to create a sense of panic in the post-16 sector. Yet again, an Opposition day motion reveals that, as we heard from the Labour leader at Prime Minister’ questions, they still believe in the existence of the Labour party’s magic money tree.