Flying Schools — [Sir Robert Syms in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:33 pm on 12 September 2023.

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Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Minister of State (Department for Transport) 3:33, 12 September 2023

The hon. Gentleman raises an interesting and somewhat philosophical question. I do not intend to get enormously technical on this issue, but the reason why, in the case of doctors, for example, this support has been given is that historically these doctors then go and work for the majority—perhaps all—of their careers in the NHS, in the discharge of a public function. If doctors left immediately to go and join commercial medical organisations, which an increasing number are, it might well be that, in some cases, from a public sector perspective, the philosophical question whether or not they should be supported by the taxpayer would be raised. I think we are in the same space of discussion; that is interesting.

I will say a couple of other things, if I may. Of course, the Department is working with industry and the Education and Skills Funding Agency on the first officer apprenticeship, as I mentioned. That, I think, has an important role to play in this.

Let me just pick up one other little thing that was just raised by colleagues before I close. Chris Law raised the question of PSOs. Of course, that does not directly have anything to do with this debate, but it is important. Let me just say that the Government recognise that PSOs are important to meet regional connectivity and levelling-up objectives. As I understand it—and I think he said—Dundee City Council has recently undertaken a tender for a new contract on the route from the end of October, and the Department has said that it will consider the application. It is obviously not appropriate for me to prejudge that in a debate today in Parliament, but the Government are very much looking forward to seeing that application and will judge it, of course, on its merits, in the usual way, in due course. With that, I think I will sit down.