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Teacher Recruitment (North-East Lincolnshire)

13. Mr. Austin Mitchell (Great Grimsby): What proposals he has for improving teacher recruitment in North-East Lincolnshire. [157920]

The Minister for School Standards (Ms Estelle Morris): Schools in north-east Lincolnshire are already benefiting from the fact that there are more teachers in post in England than at any time since 1984. They come on top of an expansion of the graduate teacher programme to 2,250 places in England in a full year, the introduction nationally of new courses for those returning to teaching and further improvements to teachers' pay, including a 6 per cent. rise for newly qualified teachers.

Mr. Mitchell: Like everyone else, I am delighted at the Government's efforts to improve teacher recruitment. That is only right and proper. However, we have a particular problem in north-east Lincolnshire in that more than 12 schools now have 49 vacancies: seven in technology, seven in English and seven in mathematics. It is important that kids from Grimsby should not be disadvantaged by any prolongation of this crisis. Will the Government consider special incentives for the recruitment of teachers to areas of particular difficulty and, within that, special incentives for recruitment to schools in disadvantaged areas?

Ms Morris: My hon. Friend is right. There is a series of measures--apart from the general ones that I mentioned in my answer--aimed at shortage subjects and at those areas of the country that have particular difficulty in recruiting. This is the time of the year when vacancies occur, because it is the point at which teachers move from one school to another--clearly, every school in every local authority will be advertising. I know that my hon. Friend will be reassured that in each of the areas that he mentioned there have been large increases in applicants to start teacher training this year. I know that they will take a year to come through, whereas, of course, this September, the extra students--more than 2,400--who started training last year will have completed their training and will be joining schools. I very much hope that schools in his constituency will be able to recruit from them as well as from the record number of people who are leaving teacher training.

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Business of the House

12.30 pm

Mrs. Angela Browning (Tiverton and Honiton): Will the Leader of the House please give the business for the coming week?

The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mrs. Margaret Beckett): Monday 30 April--Second Reading of the Rating (Former Agricultural Premises and Rural Shops) Bill.

Tuesday 1 May--Remaining stages of the Social Security Fraud Bill [Lords].

Wednesday 2 May--Motion to approve standing orders relating to the Regulatory Reform Act 2001.

The Chairman of Ways and Means has named opposed private business for consideration at Seven o'clock.

Motion relating to the establishment of a working group on provision for former Members.

Thursday 3 May--Debate on the International Development White Paper--"Making Globalisation Work for the Poor" on a Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Friday 4 May--The House will not be sitting.

The provisional business for the following week will include:

Monday 7 May--The House will not be sitting.

Tuesday 8 May--Remaining stages of the Private Security Industry Bill [Lords].

Wednesday 9 May--Remaining stages of the International Criminal Court Bill [Lords].

Thursday 10 May--Opposition Day [9th Allotted Day]. There will be a debate on an Opposition motion. Subject to be announced.

Friday 11 May--Private Member's Bills.

I should also like to inform the House that the business in Westminster Hall for the first two weeks after the May day bank holiday will be as follows:

Thursday 10 May--Debate on "Creative Industries".

Thursday 17 May--Debate on employment zones.

The House will wish to know that on Wednesday 2 May, there will be a debate relating to a common asylum procedure and uniform status for persons granted asylum, in European Standing Committee B.

Details of the relevant documents will be given in the Official Report.

[Wednesday 2 May 2001: European Standing Committee B--Relevant European Union document: 13119/00, Towards a common asylum procedure and a uniform status for persons granted asylum. Relevant European Scrutiny Committee report: HC 28-viii (2000-01).]

Mrs. Browning: I am grateful to the Leader of the House. Will she give the House some indication as to when we might expect the dates for the Whit recess to be announced? I am sure that Members on both sides will be interested in receiving those.

Will the Leader of the House confirm that the next Treasury questions, scheduled for Thursday 10 May, will actually take place? The reason I ask is that if there is any

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question that that session will not take place on 10 May, the House will be looking for an opportunity next week for the Chancellor to come here to share with us the concerns that he shared with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In his speech to that bank, he clearly expressed anxiety about the way in which the British economy might be affected by the fall-out from the American downturn. That is of particular interest to the House, because during the past four years we understood that the Chancellor had abolished the economic cycle. However, clearly, the economic cycle is back and the Dispatch Box would be the appropriate place for the Chancellor to explain why, having abolished it, it is back.

We also note that next week, on 1 May, the House will consider the remaining stages of the Social Security Fraud Bill. Will the Leader of the House identify whether there will be time for the House to look at another matter regarding social security? I realise the constraints and the narrowness of the debate on remaining stages, but as the appropriate Ministers will be on the Treasury Bench that day, I am sure that the House would like the opportunity to question them about the £3.5 million the Government have spent on advertising benefit fraud, especially when it turns out that the advertising merely resulted in a distance learning package for those who want to learn how to do it.

Finally, we note today, from our monitors, that the announcement has been made of the 15 so-called people's peers. The right hon. Lady is deeply involved in this procedure and will be aware that when the Government axed the hereditary peers, they promised that, during this Parliament, they would set up a cross-party Committee of both Houses to address future reforms of another place. Despite our pressing them to do so, and our willingness to serve on it, they have not done so, but have announced the people's peers. Surprisingly, we note that the 15, chosen from 3,000 applicants, include three professors and seven knights--people who I am sure will make a valuable contribution, but who would otherwise have been obvious candidates under the normal procedures. I wonder whether the right hon. Lady could tell us what exactly the Government's definition of the people is these days.

Mrs. Beckett: The hon. Lady asked me for an indication of the dates of the Whitsun recess, which slightly surprises me as I have observed during the time that I have been in this post that every time that we announce the dates of a recess, someone on the Conservative Benches complains that we have only just come back from one. As we have only just come back from the Easter recess, I will bear the hon. Lady's observations in mind, but I am not in a position to give her the dates today.

The hon. Lady asked me about the Chancellor finding an opportunity to come to the House. I was really quite surprised by her remarks because my right hon. Friend has never ever suggested that the Government had abolished the business cycle. Indeed, it is precisely because we know that the business cycle continues to exist, and will always continue to exist, that he has placed such emphasis on so managing the economy that we can have economic stability and stable economic policy, even as the business cycle proceeds. So, far from ever having suggested that there was no such thing as the economic or business cycle, my right hon. Friend has clearly always understood the opposite, but understood also that it is the

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duty of Government to try to mitigate the ups and downs of the business cycle. The Conservative party signally failed to do that in all the years in which it was in power.

The hon. Lady asked me about the new list of peers--of course those appointments were made by the Appointments Commission--and she appeared to suggest that in some way the current procedures are defective. I have not had much time to scrutinise the list, but I understand that significantly more women and more people from the ethnic minorities have been appointed than was the case under the previous system. That seems to me to be evidence of good judgment on the commission's part. However, the principal difference is that this procedure is open and transparent, and that it is not a matter of peers being appointed simply on the decision and the judgment of the Prime Minister, which had always been the case under previous Prime Ministers. It is time that the Conservative party gave my right hon. Friend credit for being the first Prime Minister ever to give away patronage.

The hon. Lady then asked me about the issue of social security advertising--

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