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Clause 1

Part of Education and Skills Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:45 pm on 31st January 2008.

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Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners) 1:45 pm, 31st January 2008

I do not have any figures to hand on what proportion are involved in the grey economy. The hon. Member for Broxbourne asked me a question on Tuesday about criminality, antisocial behaviour and so on. I said then that although we did not include it in the impact assessment as a benefit, we are clearly mindful that those participating in education and training are less likely to be involved in criminality—and, I imagine, less likely to be involved in the grey economy. That may be a positive spin-off, but it is not the basis for our policy. The policy is intended to address the individual needs and raise the life chances of every young person, and also to address the skills needs of the country as set out in Lord Leitch’s review.  

It has just occurred to me, in response to a question from the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings on attendance, that clause 11 puts a duty on learning providers to promote good attendance. We may want to debate that issue more when we reach that point.

I shall pass over comments on the traditional rigour of the new secondary curriculum, because the Committee will want to move on and we will have other opportunities to debate the subject.

The hon. Member for Yeovil made some interesting comments in exchanges on the definition of adulthood, particularly in the context of whether compulsion was appropriate for people over the age of 16, given that people acquire any number of rights at that age. He mentioned marriage, but that is possible only with parental consent; and 16 and 17-year-olds are restricted in the number of hours that they can work: 14 hours, which is different from adults. As for benefits, there are limited benefits in cases of severe hardship below the age of 18. Yes, it is true that they can pilot a glider or sell scrap metal, but they cannot drink alcohol. I was fascinated that the hon. Gentleman should seem to advocate lowering the drinking age. If he wants to intervene and contradict me, I will happily give way.