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As I said, during the period of transition, it is right to redefine the relationship between the learning institution and parents post-16, which is why we have imposed the duty on young people. We will go on to debate the duties on parents essentially not to stand in the way of a young person pursuing education or training. It is also worth noting the evidence given by my official Jon Coles, who spoke about the sanctions that will be available to the youth court. Parents might have to pay fines, so there is potentially a role for them, but the appropriateness of such a measure would be for the courts to decide.
There was some discussion of consultation. The Department is mindful of an opinion poll conducted before the publication of the Green Paper that surveyed a representative sample of the public, but not, admittedly, young people. It sampled a demographically representative 859 adults aged 16 or over, although I detect a slight contradiction in calling people aged 16 or over “adults”. Of the people questioned, 90 per cent. thought that young people should remain in education or training up to the age of 18, and 76 per cent. agreed strongly. When asked whether the participation should be a legal requirement, 66 per cent. were in favour, so there is a good range of opinion on the subject. We also heard from Opposition spokesmen a repetition of the argument that vocational qualifications were of dubious value.