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Clause 2

Part of Education and Skills Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 5th February 2008.

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Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools) 5:00 pm, 5th February 2008

I was disappointed by the Minister’s response. I agreed when he said that we must have the same expectations for everyone. Young parents and carers should not be treated differently as far as their expectations are concerned. I am absolutely, fully in agreement with him on that. Then he went through the support he hopes to give to young carers. He described a range of options: the outcome of the cross-Government carers review, targeted youth support, education maintenance allowance and so on. Then he said that we were talking not about compulsion and penalties, but about getting rid of barriers and that no one would be subject to enforcement if they had a good reason not to be.

The Minister then cited clause 4. That is about appropriate full-time education or training, which is that

“which is suitable for the person, having regard—

(a) to the person’s age, ability and aptitude, and

(b) to any learning difficulty”.

However, that does not seem to apply in these circumstances. It goes on to say

“at a school, at a college of further education, at an institution...or otherwise.”

I assume that the “or otherwise” opens up a range of options. I do not feel that this is the clause where “to have a good reason not to” would be invoked. When the Minister responded to amendment No. 6, he referred to clauses 39 and 42, which is where the phrase “without reasonable excuse” comes in. By that stage, the enforcement process has commenced. That is what those clauses are about.