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Clause 51

Part of – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:45 pm on 17th March 2009.

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Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (Education) 5:45 pm, 17th March 2009

I want to add some brief comments to this short but interesting debate. The hon. Lady raises some significant matters, and I want to emphasise their significance for rural areas. She spoke about the inconsistency of provision, and it would have the most devastating effect in those places where people will have to travel furthest to access the right training and education. In my constituency in Lincolnshire, for example, there is no FE college; the FE colleges that serve my constituents are in Boston, Stamford and Peterborough, so journeys are significant, take time and involve costs.

There are some important issues about guaranteeing adequate skills training and education for people in rural communities. Not all rural areas are immensely privileged, as some might believe. My constituency has an economic profile that, in a nutshell, could be described as one of high employment, low skills, relatively low educational attainment and real deprivation, so it is important that the Minister deal appropriately and clearly with the hon. Lady’s points; otherwise, doubts will remain about the opportunities for young people and others in communities such as those that I represent.