Andrew Percy: Would the hon. Lady care to comment on the previous Government's conversion of schools to academies, and their school closures? Does she believe that there was proper consultation with parents and pupils then, and does she feel that there should have been ballots?
Andrew Percy: I should like to speak to amendments 8 and 9 and new clause 1. I shall possibly touch on amendment 4 as well. Over the past few weeks, it has been interesting for me, as a new Member, to listen to Labour Members telling us that a figure of 51% is the correct one in any decision. Today, however, I think it was the hon. Member for Stockton North (Alex Cunningham) who told us that using a...
Andrew Percy: I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention. Amendment 8 does not mention the wider community; it simply mentions parents. We also now have community governors to represent the interests of the wider community. So it is untrue-sorry, it is incorrect to suggest that governors do not take into account the role of their school in the community. In fact, over the past few years, one of the great...
Andrew Percy: I suspect that the hon. Lady and I will have to agree to differ on this point, otherwise we will end up bouncing backwards and forwards. Head teachers, teachers, governors and those who have attended a governors' training course are generally well aware of their responsibilities beyond the boundary fence of their school.
Andrew Percy: My hon. Friend makes that point better than I could. That is precisely why I am making the point today that governing bodies are not full of educational asset strippers. They consist of people who care deeply about their schools and communities and who will not change the governance arrangements of their school without proper consultation with parents, pupils and the wider community. We...
Andrew Percy: Presumably, the reason is that a change from grammar school to non-grammar school involves a change in admission arrangements for the cohort coming in the new year. With an academy, the admissions code remains the same and all that effectively happens is that the school organisation changes.
Andrew Percy: Policyholders in my constituency are not interested in apologies that come nine years too late: they want justice. The Financial Secretary has outlined the start date for payments, but will he set a concluding date for the completion of this whole saga?
Andrew Percy: Last Friday, I visited an engineering firm in my constituency that, despite the recession, has refused to lay off any of its workers. It now has problems trying to access funding from its bank, which is trying to reduce the firm's overdraft, despite the fact that the firm has £500,000 of orders on its books. May we have an urgent debate on how we can robustly encourage the banks that we own...
Andrew Percy: rose-
Andrew Percy: If it is fine for Bradford city council chamber to be given over to the Youth Parliament, why it is not fine for the Chamber to be given over to it?
Andrew Percy: It was not necessarily only academies that went down that route: all kinds of schools throughout the country forced children on to GNVQs and equivalent qualifications to force up their results. It was not unique to academies.
Andrew Percy: I could not agree with the hon. Gentleman more on that point, but it is important that he understand that, very often, local authorities that controlled schools were forcing them down that route. That will not be allowed to happen if the Bill is passed.
Andrew Percy: rose -
Andrew Percy: The hon. Lady said that she knew nothing about education, or very little, and, certainly, some of the points she has made are interesting, to be polite. I have read the Bill from start to finish and I have not seen anything in it about expanding selection. Can she tell me where it says anything about that?
Andrew Percy: The hon. Lady makes a powerful point, with which I have some sympathy, but she must also accept that the Bill gives schools the ability to tailor their curriculum much more. She will know that part of the problem of dealing with some of our more difficult children is that the curriculum is too restrictive for them. The Bill will give schools more freedom, so it has some positive aspects.
Andrew Percy: I thank my next-door neighbour but one for giving way. On that point, does he agree that academies must not be allowed to use exclusions as a way of driving up standards? Does he also agree that what we heard from the shadow Secretary of State failed to recognise that the people in academies are teachers-they are professionals, and people in a caring profession who went into it for the right...
Andrew Percy: Listening to the right hon. Gentleman has certainly taken me back to my previous job as a class 1 teacher. On the issue of consultation, is he honestly suggesting that governing bodies, which are made up of schoolteachers, head teachers, parents and interested people from the community, are going to push ahead without going out and talking to parents and other interested parties? If he is...
Andrew Percy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will assess the merits of reviewing the Approved Mileage Allowance Payments Scheme in respect of their application to volunteer drivers.
Andrew Percy: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) how much Finance Yorkshire has provided in loans to businesses since its creation; (2) how many applications for funding Finance Yorkshire has (a) refused and (b) approved since its creation; (3) what the budget was for Finance Yorkshire in 2009-10; and how much of that budget was spent on loans to businesses.
Andrew Percy: The issue, however, is that many of us have a problem with the creation of this external service. We have not got into a discussion about whether we should be a member state of the EU. The fact is that many of us have grave concerns about this measure, and that is what we have been talking about today.