Results 161–180 of 7139 for speaker:Lord Willetts

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: Before dealing with that issue, I give way to my hon. Friend.

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: My hon. Friend is absolutely right: I did indeed visit Brockenhurst college recently for a briefing on the problems that it faces. I hope to turn to that specific issue in a moment, but, first, I should like to make some progress, because I have a bone to pick with the Secretary of State.

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: I shall take the hon. Gentleman's intervention in a moment. The bone that I have to pick concerns what is happening to the number of young people not in education, employment or training. On the Government's own figures, which we obtained in a parliamentary answer, and which have been constructed in a consistent series only since 2000, the number of young people not in education, employment...

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: I now give way to the hon. Member for Eccles (Ian Stewart).

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: We have put forward practical proposals on how, in this very financial year, we could put in more money—particularly, for example, to help young people who need training in science, technology, engineering or maths, also known as the STEM subjects. However, we need a mix. We need work experience; it is better to be doing something than to be doing nothing. If we are to emerge from this...

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: My hon. Friend is an eloquent advocate of the Open university, which I have enjoyed visiting with him. He is absolutely right: the Open university, which has an enormous role to play, has suffered from the Government's reductions in funding through the notorious equivalent or lower qualification, or ELQ, cuts. To be doing that during a recession seems absolutely extraordinary.

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: I give way to the hon. Gentleman, who I hope will speak eloquently in favour of the case for his college.

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: I completely agree that it is possible to reduce the number of NEETs. Indeed, I have visited some fantastic programmes, often run by social enterprises, that do just that. I remember going to one in Keighley, for example, that was clearly reducing the number of young people not in education, employment or training. However, as in the example of those with learning difficulties, I was told...

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: I will give way to the hon. Lady, although I seem to be giving way a lot at the moment.

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: I am pleased for the hon. Lady that that capital programme is going on in her area. There is a lively debate about the Leeds City college plan. I personally think it is important that the merger mania in further education does not go too far. I am here to speak on behalf of the 144 colleges with capital projects that are not being funded in the same way as in her area.

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The reason for this debate, and the point that we make in the motion, is that there is an enormous gap between the rhetoric from the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Secretary of State, which is all about the importance of investing in skills in the recession, and the reality on the ground, which is the complete opposite of what they talk about in...

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: I will just make a tiny bit more progress, and then give way. I have been visiting a range of colleges that are suffering from the capital funding crisis, and I have been shocked by what I have discovered. Last week, I was at Huntingdon college, where I was briefed at first hand about the problems that it faces. It clearly needs to move to a new site, which it has already secured. It is part...

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: My hon. Friend, who represents that constituency, is catching my eye, and I happily give way to him.

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: My speech is being cut even more rapidly than the FE capital programme. I accept the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Djanogly) makes—I have listed other colleges, which have a similar story to tell. One example is Brockenhurst—my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, East (Dr. Lewis) is in his place—to which a clear commitment was made to provide new training...

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: I shall deal with the Secretary of State's responsibility in a moment. He has to accept some responsibility for the LSC's actions. As with his denial of the figures for NEETs, it is not good enough for him to try to escape responsibility for the policy, when he must have known what was going on. If he intends to tell us that, for the past 18 months, when the LSC was telling colleges to bid...

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: My hon. Friend is right. Some colleges have already started demolishing part of their fabric, and lessons are taking place in temporary classrooms as they wait for permission for a capital project. In other colleges, the new project was to be part of the wider regeneration of an area. Many serious problems face at least 144 colleges. I want to ask the Secretary of State some specific...

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: If the Secretary of State will not answer that challenge, I will happily accept the hon. Gentleman's intervention.

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: The one thing that colleges all say is that when they were funded by the Further Education Funding Council they were trusted to exercise discretion, which meant that they could tackle local problems such as NEETs without being funded by the Learning and Skills Council simply to produce paper qualifications. Colleges look back upon that freedom to run their own affairs very fondly indeed, and...

Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day]: Skills in the Recession (18 May 2009)

David Willetts: I am going to make some progress. We know from Sir Andrew Foster's excellent report why the problem built up in the way that it did. Sir Andrew gave one reason why the information was not percolating through to the Secretary of State: "I am left with a distinct feeling that bad news was itself bad news, too difficult to handle; yet this is exactly what management has to do." People were not...


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