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Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:38 pm on 13th March 2020.

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Photo of Steve Reed Steve Reed Shadow Minister (Education) (Children and Families) 1:38 pm, 13th March 2020

I congratulate my hon. Friend Mary Kelly Foy on bringing forward the Bill. She has not been in the House for very long, so it is good to see her already using her presence here to make a difference. To be promoting legislation after only a few weeks is quite an achievement and augurs well for the rest of her parliamentary career.

I also congratulate my hon. Friend on identifying such a significant loophole in the existing legislation, and on devoting her considerable energies to seeking to close it. As other Members have said, it is clearly not equitable that legislation on safeguarding does not apply equally to all providers, and that therefore young people who are entering post-16 education or training will get varying legal protections depending on where they are studying. It is clearly not acceptable for that situation to continue.

The Bill will close that loophole by extending the legal duty to all publicly funded providers of post-16 education and training, and it will directly impose the same legal safeguarding duties on all 16-to-19 academies and other publicly funded providers of education and training. That is the right thing to do. This is a small but significant piece of legislation. It closes a loophole. Opposition Members support it and are grateful to my hon. Friend for bringing it forward. I look forward to the Minister offering the Government’s support, so that the legislation can get on to the statute book.