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6.50 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Skills (Mr. Ivan Lewis): On the whole, the House has been at its best during this debate. We have heard many important contributions and there has been a great deal of consensus on both sides of the House. There was only one exception: Opposition Front-Bench Members did not propose one new idea, one policy or one original thought to tackle something that is fundamentally important to the quality of education in this country.

My hon. Friends the Members for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) and for Don Valley (Caroline Flint) and the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Mr. Willis) recognised that complex issues are involved: home, school, peer relationships and relationships in communities. There are no quick-fix, easy solutions. There are social problems, educational under-achievement, low aspirations and family relationship issues.

We heard much about the role of parental responsibility where, interestingly, many Members shared a consensus. I am sorry to disappoint the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Johnson): new Labour may be a broad church but it will never be so broad as to suggest that one of our ideas originated from him. However, I am willing to suggest to the Prime Minister that he adopts the novel idea of getting children to pick up crisps as a solution to discipline problems in our schools.

There was consensus among Members on the importance of parental responsibility, with one exception—an hon. Member for whom I have a great deal of respect: the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough. He rightly talked constantly about prevention, support, early intervention and so on. He talked of people's right to dignity and equality of opportunity—all those aspirations are shared by Labour Members—yet he never talked about responsibilities; he talked only of rights.

Today we have heard descriptions of situations where parents are given intensive support, unimaginable levels of resource, incredible tolerance and compassion, but despite all that they do not fulfil a basic responsibility—to get their children to school. In those circumstances, it is right that we tell parents that, as citizens, they have a responsibility.

21 May 2002 : Column 208

The hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough made valid points about the curriculum and about listening to young people. He knows that our proposals for 14 to 19-year-olds make clear the need to reconfigure the curriculum, building it around the needs of individual pupils, and to raise the status of vocational education, which we have been unable to do in this country, under successive Governments.

The hon. Gentleman said we must listen to young people. There has never been a Government who were more committed to engaging in a two-way dialogue with young people. We recognise that they are consumers and users of education and youth services and we have introduced a variety of initiatives. We held an open day this week. We have published a Green Paper on 14 to 19-year-olds. Young people were involved in the development of the design and evaluation of the Connexions service from the beginning. The hon. Gentleman was right to make his points, but he must accept that the Government are making more progress on curriculum reform and listening to young people than has occurred for many a year.

The hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Turner) rightly talked of the need to back head teachers, yet the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, West (Mr. Brady) criticised us for making absolutely clear where we stand as regards those who deal and supply drugs in our schools. We pointed out that when head teachers decide permanently to exclude such pupils, those decisions should be respected and should not be overturned on appeal. I should have thought—

Mr. Brady: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Lewis: I will not give way.

I should have thought that we were backing head teachers with exactly the support that they suggested we should give them.

We heard an excellent contribution from my hon. Friend the Member for Elmet (Colin Burgon)—

Mr. Brady: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Lewis: I will not give way.

My hon. Friend the Member for Elmet referred to the importance of staff training. We must give our teachers and the adults in our schools the confidence and the skills to manage behaviour effectively in a modern classroom. We are investing in that staff training.

My hon. Friend and my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley gave us examples of good practice in their constituencies. It is important to shine a light on good practice and to spread it, because in many parts of the country individual schools are tackling ill-discipline and truancy effectively.

I want to make particular reference to the speech of the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr. Hayes). It was a quality contribution which ended with five specific policy proposals—more than were made by either of the Opposition Front-Bench spokesmen. The hon. Gentleman's contribution was measured and objective. I realise that the Leader of the Opposition has just entered the Chamber so I am sorry if I am

21 May 2002 : Column 209

irretrievably damaging the career of the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings, but I have some serious points to make about his speech.

The hon. Gentleman talked about our responsibility to support the development of all-round citizens. I could not agree more. That is one of the reasons why, from September, we shall be introducing citizenship as part of the statutory curriculum in our schools. That is one of the reasons why the Green Paper proposes a matriculation diploma at 19, which would recognise voluntary work, citizenship activity and participation in wider activities.

The hon. Gentleman also said that in debates such as this one politicians shy away from discussion of attitudes and values. The hon. Gentleman is right—this is all about attitudes, values and principles. However, he will stop enjoying my contribution at that point. At the end of the day, we cannot shy away from the fact that for 18 years we heard the philosophy that there was no such thing as society and that we were simply a collection of individuals.

That philosophy consigned whole families, whole communities and a whole generation of young people to the margins of society. One in three children grew up in poverty. Our aspiration for the same period of office is to eliminate child poverty. Those are the differences in values and attitudes that influence the Labour Government.

The hon. Gentleman constantly pointed out that truancy is increasing. With all due respect, I must correct him: because the Government were so ambitious in their objectives, they set themselves the challenge of significantly reducing truancy. What is true is that truancy rates have remained static for seven or eight years. We are not content with that and we are determined to tackle it.

I shall close my remarks by responding directly to the Front-Bench spokesmen for Her Majesty's official Opposition, who did not offer us a single original idea. I have several rhetorical questions for them. It is a good job that my questions are rhetorical because no answers would come from the Opposition.

During 18 years of unbroken rule, where were the sure start initiatives? Where were reduced class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds? Where was the literacy and numeracy strategy? Where was the reform of secondary education? Where was the strategy to tackle problems in the early years of secondary education? Where were the proposals to reform the curriculum for 14 to 19-year-olds? Where were the learning mentors, the classroom assistants and the Connexions personal advisers? Where were the learning support and pupil referral units? Where was the commitment to ensuring that all permanently excluded pupils have access to a full-time education? Where was the message to parents that they have a duty to ensure—

Chris Grayling: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for a Minister to ask questions of Conservative Front Benchers and then refuse to give way to them?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): The Chair is not responsible for hon. Members' speeches.

Mr. Lewis: Do Conservative Members not want to hear the message?

21 May 2002 : Column 210

The difference between Her Majesty's official Opposition and this Government is that, as behaviour in schools deteriorated and truancy remained too high, the Conservatives did nothing. In contrast, we are waging war on bad behaviour in schools, because it undermines standards and leads to crime on our streets. Their legacy was one in three children growing up in poverty; we will eliminate child poverty. They consigned thousands to the margins of society; we will rebuild society.

I urge hon. Members to reject the motion. It does nothing for pupils, it does nothing for parents, and it does nothing for teachers.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 180, Noes 334.

Division No. 248
[7 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Baldry, Tony
Barrett, John
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Blunt, Crispin
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Mrs Annette L
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Malcolm
Burnett, John
Burnside, David
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, John
Cable, Dr Vincent
Cameron, David
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Carmichael, Alistair
Cash, William
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Doughty, Sue
Duncan, Alan (Rutland & Melton)
Duncan, Peter (Galloway)
Duncan Smith, Rt Hon Iain
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London)
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Francois, Mark
Gale, Roger
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibb, Nick
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr Evan (Oxford W)
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat–Amory, Rt Hon David
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark
Holmes, Paul
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Knight, Rt Hon Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Laws, David
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Liddell–Grainger, Ian
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Moore, Michael
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Norman, Archie
Oaten, Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prisk, Mark
Pugh, Dr John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (Mid–Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Whittingdale, John
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, David
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Younger–Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Charles Hendry and
Dr. Julian Lewis.


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Stuart
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Rt Hon Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Rt Hon Nicholas
(Newcastle E & Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burgon, Colin
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Curtis–Thomas, Mrs Claire
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, Rt Hon John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Field, Rt Hon Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foulkes, George
Francis, Dr Hywel
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Jimmy
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, Rt Hon John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Irranca–Davies, Huw
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Lloyd, Tony
Llwyd, Elfyn
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Luke, Iain
Lyons, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall–Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Morgan, Julie
Morris, Rt Hon Estelle
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Price, Adam
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, Rt Hon Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Rt Hon Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Joan
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Rt Hon Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Wareing, Robert N
Watson, Tom
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Ivor Caplin and
Mr. Tony McNulty.

Question accordingly negatived.

21 May 2002 : Column 214

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

Mr. Deputy Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.


21 May 2002 : Column 215

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