Amendment 38

Part of European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill - Committee (3rd Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 2:30 pm on 16th January 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Blower Baroness Blower Labour 2:30 pm, 16th January 2020

My Lords, I was going to make exactly the same point as the noble Lord, Lord Wigley: we are indeed leaving the EU—much to my regret—but not leaving Europe. As a former teacher of modern foreign languages, I am very well aware of the great benefit that students derive from speaking the target language in situ in the country, rather than in the classroom or—heaven forfend—a language laboratory. Speaking a language in the country where it is spoken necessarily involves all those aspects of culture that are so much more difficult to bring into the classroom, where they will sometimes appear slightly artificial. Even though all the points have already been made eloquently by the noble Baroness, Lady Coussins, I wish to associate myself, as a former teacher, with all those remarks.

As I said in my maiden speech, I work extensively with teacher organisations across Europe, not in just the 27 countries that will remain in the EU but also in the other countries mentioned that subscribe to Erasmus+. My colleagues across Europe wonder what is going on in Britain and why we are leaving, but they are also at great pains to say that they are very keen to continue to work with British teachers, and to ensure, in so far as they can—although it is not in their purview—that we remain closely engaged with the Erasmus+ programme.

The budget is, as the noble Baroness, Lady Coussins, said, an enormous amount of money and a huge increase. It would simply be folly for the Government not to remain in this programme to access all those opportunities—at school level, at university level, with apprentices and, indeed, to assist the recruitment of teachers of modern foreign languages, as the noble Baroness said. I know more teachers of modern foreign languages who are no longer in the classroom than I do who are actually teaching. It is a very big problem and I hope the Government will listen to all the wonderful speeches that have been made today, make the very slight amendment to the Bill and determine that we will remain full participants in the Erasmus+ programme.