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18 May 2007 : Column 944

Question put accordingly, That the Bill be now read a Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 96, Noes 25.
Division No. 123]
[2.13 pm


Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Janet
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Bell, Sir Stuart
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Burgon, Colin
Burns, Mr. Simon
Butterfill, Sir John
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Clelland, Mr. David
Cohen, Harry
David, Mr. Wayne
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Duddridge, James
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Hall, Mr. Mike
Harris, Mr. Tom
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Heppell, Mr. John
Hill, rh Keith
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Lloyd, Tony

Maclean, rh David
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Marshall, Mr. David
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McFall, rh John
McIsaac, Shona
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Moffatt, Laura
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mudie, Mr. George
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Neill, Robert
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pound, Stephen
Pritchard, Mark
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Randall, Mr. John
Robertson, John
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruffley, Mr. David
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Snelgrove, Anne
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Stewart, Ian
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Ward, Claire
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Wicks, Malcolm
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, David
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Tim Boswell and
Mr. Andrew Dismore

Baker, Norman
Burt, Lorely
Clappison, Mr. James
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Farron, Tim
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Galloway, Mr. George
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gidley, Sandra
Goldsworthy, Julia
Harris, Dr. Evan
Hoey, Kate
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Kramer, Susan
Maples, Mr. John
Norris, Dan
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Williams, Hywel
Winnick, Mr. David
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Alan Reid and
Jo Swinson
Question accordingly agreed to.
18 May 2007 : Column 945

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

Simon Hughes: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is there any way of formally recording in the Official Report or the Orders of the Day that a Third Reading debate has taken place with only the promoter of the Bill, and no one else, speaking in support of it?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: That is not a point of order for the Chair, as the hon. Gentleman well knows.

18 May 2007 : Column 946

Post-16 Education and Training Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

2.24 pm

Mr. Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

In the short time available, I shall provide a quick profile of the Bill. It is a modest Bill, but it will make a tremendous difference to many young people leaving school at 16. There is already the Children Act 1989 and we also have “Every Child Matters”, which deals with five major outcomes for children. However, we still live in a country and society in which those outcomes seem to desert children at 16. We seem not to care very much about what happens to some children at 16. Many of them become NEETs—not in education, employment or training—and some go into routine, mundane jobs that have no training attached to them.

My Bill is in four parts. First, I believe that every child leaving school should have a guarantee of an holistic assessment of their time in education. That should involve not only the bare academic qualifications that they have gained—or not gained—but something much deeper and richer involving their strengths and weaknesses and their out-of-school activities, to give a fuller sense of what the person has achieved as well as what they might be able to achieve if they make the right decisions about their career. Such assessments should already be taking place in most schools through the Connexions service, but in many parts of the country that service does not deliver. Connexions is going through a time of change, and soon it will again be run by local authorities. This is therefore an opportune time to ensure that every child leaving school has the right to a profile and an holistic assessment.

Secondly, my Bill proposes a guarantee of a mentor for every child between the age of 16 and 18. That mentor would be there for the young person either via the internet or through face-to-face meetings. If the young person did not have the family backing that many children have, the mentor would be there to give advice and guidance at those critical times when a child must decide whether to stay on at school and do A-levels, go into further education or go in for an apprenticeship. That is the time when a mentor can be vital, particularly in the lives of children who do not have a rich backing at home.

Thirdly, my Bill would introduce vital guarantees for children with special educational needs and disabilities. When the Select Committee on Education and Skills, which I have the privilege to chair, recently investigated special educational needs the area that gave me the most concern was what happens to children with special educational needs and disabilities from the age of 16 through to 18 and beyond. My Bill will help those between 16 and 18, but of course that experience can be built on thereafter.

Lastly, my Bill would deliver for every young person between 16 and 18 a minimum of two weeks’ intensive training in community leadership. I do not mean picking up newspapers and wiping off graffiti; I mean training in leadership skills. We know how to impart such skills, and we know that an intensive two-week period of community leadership training can make a
18 May 2007 : Column 947
great deal of difference to getting young people into work, and into work with training.

This is a modest Bill. I am sure that any Government who want to ensure a fuller life for young people would want to back it. I am sure that the Minister will say that he backs it, and that the new Prime Minister would like to embrace it because he really wants to make a difference in our country.

2.28 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Skills (Mr. Parmjit Dhanda): My hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman) has put across the real qualities of his Bill very well in those four minutes. He will be aware, however, that the Government have a number of measures in train at the moment, not least the recent Green Paper “Raising Expectations: staying in education and training post-16”. I know that he welcomes the measures in that Green Paper.

My hon. Friend also mentioned his focus on children with special educational needs. He and I have had many a debate, here in the Chamber and in Westminster Hall, on that issue, and I respect the work that he and his Committee have done on it. I am sure that we will continue to have a good, full dialogue on the matter.

I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend’s work on a range of issues in relation to the measures in the Bill. Although we are pleased to hear him raise the issues, he will not be surprised, given that so much work in the Department—

It being half-past Two o’clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed on Friday 29 June.

18 May 2007 : Column 948

Remaining Private Members’ Bills

safeguarding runaway and missing children BILL

Order for Second reading read.

Hon. Members: Object.

To be read a Second time on Friday 15 June.

bilingual juries (Wales) BILL

Order for Second reading read.

Hon. Members: Object.

To be read a Second time on Friday 29 June.

access to inland waterways bill

Order for Second reading read.

Hon. Members: Object.

To be read a Second time on Friday 29 June.

drugs (reclassification and roadside testing) bill

Order for Second reading read.

Hon. Members: Object.

To be read a Second time on Friday 15 June.

health and safety (offences) bill

Order for Second reading read.

Hon. Members: Object.

To be read a Second time on Friday 15 June.


Highway Code (Cyclists)

2.32 pm

David Howarth (Cambridge) (LD): I wish to present a petition signed by Councillor Ian Nimmo-Smith and 1,190 people of similar disposition—not only residents of my constituency, where cycling is obviously an important issue, but citizens from many other places in the United Kingdom.

The petition states:

To lie upon the Table.

18 May 2007 : Column 949

Maudsley Hospital Emergency Unit

2.33 pm

Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey) (LD): I have two petitions to present.

The first is the petition of the residents of the London boroughs of Southwark, Lambeth, Croydon, Lewisham and others about the Maudsley hospital 24-hour emergency unit. I will hand in the many pages of signatures in a moment.

The petition states:

To lie upon the Table.

Crown Post Office (Borough High Street)

2.34 pm

Simon Hughes: My second petition ties in with the Adjournment debate on post offices that I am grateful to have been granted. I am pleased to see that the Minister for Trade is present to hear the petition as well as the debate.

The petition follows a recent announcement that the future of the Crown post office in Borough high street, in my constituency, is to be reviewed. I have long taken an interest in the post office, and have previously sought successfully to keep it open. Again, there are many pages of signatures.

The petition states

To lie upon the Table.

18 May 2007 : Column 950

Crown Post Offices (London)

2.36 pm

Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey) (LD): I am grateful to Mr. Speaker for selecting this subject, and to the Minister for Trade for attending. I greatly appreciate his interest, and the way in which he always engages constructively with Members throughout the House. I say that most sincerely.

The debate was prompted by the sudden appearance on the radar of the uncertain future of the Borough High Street post office in the London borough of Southwark, in my constituency. I received a letter about it, dated 19 April this year, from Alan Cook, managing director of Post Office Ltd, setting out the general plans as they affect Crown post offices across the country.

I stress that this is separate from the decision announced this week by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park (Susan Kramer) responded on behalf of my colleagues and myself. That decision related to the general outcome of the review of post offices across the country. Within a matter of weeks it has been announced that many Crown post offices in Greater London are to be franchised to WH Smith, and that others—including the Borough High Street branch—face an uncertain future. Then, this week, it was announced that thousands of other sub-post offices around the country would be similarly affected.

The proposal that came to us first—the London proposal—stated:

—referring to post offices in town and city centres. Those 373 offices would be

I was also told:

A letter that I received last week, dated 14 May, dealt more specifically with post offices in my borough and constituency. I expect that other Members representing seats in Greater London and beyond have received similar letters. The letter confirms the figures that I read out earlier, and also states:

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