New Clause 7

Part of Further Education and Training Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:00 pm on 14th June 2007.

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Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (14-19 Reform and Apprenticeships) 1:00 pm, 14th June 2007

This is an extraordinary debate, because those on the Government Front Bench have not focused on the new clause. I tabled what I thought was a moderately worded proposal, requiring these matters to be analysed and then reported to the House. They intervened to ask exactly what form that report would take, what its findings would be and how we might respond to it. That seemed curious because the purpose of asking for a report is the expectation that there will be some kind of empirical analysis of the problem from which a reaction and a response might arise.

I have since been subject to what I can only describe as intimidation. I am a sensitive man, as you know, Mr. Atkinson—a sensitive, romantic high Tory—and the Minister has subjected me to a barrage of complaints about things that I have not said. I asked him to identify any mention in my speech on Second Reading of the matters that he has described, which he has failed to do. I reminded him that what I said had been fairly carefully worded because I do not like to say things that I cannot justify, although all politicians—I am not exempt from this—are subject, on occasion, to hyperbole. We do tend to dramatise for effect, as we saw from the Minister a few moments ago.

We have had no response to our sensible suggestion of a review and a report to Parliament, except from the hon. Member for Brent, East. She sensibly pointed out that the new clause should perhaps not be in the Bill, but should be taken seriously and considered by the Government. She is right that there is an issue with it being in the Bill, but, because of my absolute determination to hold the Government to account for the findings of the Foster report, which they commissioned, I am determined to press the matter. That report stated that the bureaucracy surrounding further education should be rationalised and that we should move with speed—indeed, with alacrity—towards self-regulation.

Sarah Teather rose—