Clause 29

Part of Further Education and Training Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 14th June 2007.

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Photo of Austin Mitchell Austin Mitchell Labour, Great Grimsby 3:00 pm, 14th June 2007

If the hon. Gentleman thinks that those are a few words, I wonder what he thinks a long speech would be. I am going to deliver a few words slowly. I congratulate my hon. Friends the Members for City of Durham and for Sheffield, Hillsborough on the amendments and new clauses, which have been eloquently and articulately presented to us, in respect of further education.

I am sorry that the amendments and new clauses have been met by such quibbling on the other side of the Committee—the Liberals quibble that we should do this, but not that; and that we should do it this way, but not that way—as well as the damned-by-faint-praise arguments advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings. I call him my hon. Friend because he and I are the little fishermen. We went on a fishing expedition to Spanish ports to find fish that were landed below minimum landing sizes to damn the Spanish fishing industry. His Spanish was so bad that, after going directly to the pilchard landings, which was the only thing that people could understand with his Spanish, we never found any small fish. It was a failed attempt to sabotage the common fisheries policy, but it was a bonding experience.

The other side of the Committee is beginning to show signs of life. My hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings had reduced his ranks to such a catatonic trance that they were totally  silent, until suddenly this issue came up and I saw eyes open, cash registers begin to fly and figures appear—this is going to cost money, “Kill, kill, kill!”