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Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 4

Conduct regulations, etc

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): I beg to move amendment 48, in page 2, line 30, at end insert—

‘(aa) the provision made under subsection (1)(a) shall include making arrangements to allow all those entitled to vote in the referendum to vote by electronic means.”

18 Jun 2015 : Column 568

The amendment would provide for electronic voting in the referendum.

The Temporary Chair (Sir Roger Gale): With this it will be convenient to take the following:

Amendment 3, page 2, line 39, leave out subsection (2) and insert—

‘(2) The referendum shall not be held on the same day as:

(a) elections to the Scottish Parliament;

(b) elections to the National Assembly for Wales;

(c) elections for the Mayor of London; or

(d) local authority elections”.

The amendment would prevent the referendum being held on the same day as Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales, London mayoral or local authority elections.

Amendment 7, page 2, line 39, leave out subsection (2) and insert—

‘(2) The referendum shall not be held on the same day as elections, other than by-elections, that are scheduled to take place for:

(a) the Scottish Parliament;

(b) the National Assembly for Wales;

(c) the Northern Ireland Assembly;

(d) the Gibraltar Parliament;

(e) Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales;

(f) the London Assembly and Mayor of London; or

(g) local authorities and mayors in the United Kingdom and Gibraltar.”

The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the referendum is not held on the same day as other polls.

Clause 4 stand part.

Amendment 8, in clause 6, page 3, line 37, at end add—

‘(5) Regulations made under this Act or the 2000 Act in respect of the referendum must be made and come into force not less than six months before the start of the referendum period.”

The purpose of the amendment is to ensure the legislative framework for the referendum is clear at least six months before it is required to be implemented or complied with.

Clause 6 stand part.

Clauses 7 to 11 stand part.

John McDonnell: Given the limited time available, I will be brief. I know that other hon. Members wish to speak on the other amendments. I just want to warn the Committee that on subsequent occasions I will bore Members by going on about electronic voting as often as I can. We have been waging a campaign for 15 years to see whether we can update our electoral methods and bring them into the 21st century. For brevity’s sake, I will circulate the notes prepared by the Library for those Members who are interested. I want to thank Isobel White, the researcher, for preparing the notes, which go through the history of electronic voting, including the various pilots that we have undertaken since 2000.

We started the adventure way back in 2000, when we established the first pilots, and we had more in 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2007. At each stage we had reports back on the enhancements that electronic voting would bring to our procedures. The background to the attempt to introduce electronic voting is the declining turnout in elections, although the key issue is whether the subject of an election excites the general public, such as in the Scottish referendum. If people feel the issue is important enough, they will turn out and vote, but unfortunately

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they do not have the same incentive in some elections. Part of the issue, therefore, is ensuring that voting is as easy as it can be, and we have been piloting electronic voting for a long time.

The Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy has explored the issue in the last two years and made several recommendations. The remaining issue to be confronted is the security of online voting, but I do not believe it to be an insuperable problem. The reason for raising the issue in the debate on the Bill—as I will for every other Bill that we consider, including the trade union Bill we are expecting—is to ensure that we force the Government to resolve the issue of security, which seems to be the only thing holding this back.

Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North) (Lab): This is possibly the first time in 18 years that I have had a slight disagreement with one of my hon. Friends, but my hon. Friend suggests that changing the way we vote will increase turnout. We introduced postal ballots for that reason and we have still seen a big decline in turnout. People do not vote if they see less difference between the parties: if there is a real difference and they have a real choice, they turn out to vote.

John McDonnell: Thank goodness, we are not disagreeing. That is the point that I tried to make earlier, but in a more complicated fashion. The issue about turnout is how people are incentivised to vote, but the minimum we can do is increase the access to voting procedures. We have done that through postal voting, as my hon. Friend says, and we have just introduced electronic registration, to assist in the registration process. It was argued that once we had introduced electronic registration we would revisit online voting, but unfortunately that is not the case in this legislation. I hope that the tabling of the amendment will make the Government go back to the Electoral Commission and ask it to make detailed proposals. Even if we have to pilot electronic voting in some areas in this referendum, we may be able to overcome some of the problems that have been identified.

Mr Stewart Jackson (Peterborough) (Con): Not for the first time, the hon. Member for Luton North (Kelvin Hopkins) speaks good sense, but I fear that the hon. Gentleman has neglected to answer his point, which is that since the advent of postal votes on demand, there has been no demonstrable increase in voter turnout. Indeed, voter turnout since 1997 generally has gone down. Will he address that point?

John McDonnell: There was a slight increase at the last general election. The hon. Gentleman is right, because I can remember turnouts at around 77%. In some areas we went down to 56%, but this time round we went from 60% up to about 65%, so there was a slight increase—a significant increase in some areas—from the introduction of postal voting. If he looks, he will see that where the pilots that were undertaken throughout the 2000s were implemented effectively, turnout was increased significantly. I recommend examination and exploration of the Shrewsbury pilot, which took place in 2005.

I will not delay the Committee any further, but I refer Members not just to the findings of the Electoral Commission, but to the statement by Jenny Watson, chair of the Electoral Commission, that it would return

18 Jun 2015 : Column 570

to this issue as its main feature of work in the coming period and report in due course. Again, the Electoral Commission’s argument is simply about bringing our electoral system into line with practices in the rest of society, which is now largely online, and facilitating democracy by the use of online voting in that way. I also refer Members to the executive summary of the report undertaken by WebRoots Democracy—I will circulate it rather than delay the debate—which identifies the ability of online voting not only to increase turnout, but to reduce the cost of balloting procedures.

I raise this issue briefly on an amendment because it is something we need to return to rather than neglect; it has been neglected over the last few years. It is something that many Members will want to explore in a way that facilitates the improvement of democratic processes in our society, but I also give this warning: I will be raising this matter time and again. I mentioned the trade union Bill. We will be tabling amendments to such Bills to ensure that we establish the principle that this House will facilitate access to democracy on every occasion we can. Electronic voting is one mechanism through which we can enhance our society’s democratic processes.

Mr McFadden: I would like to talk to amendment 3, which stands in my name and those of my right hon. Friends. On Tuesday, the Committee agreed amendment 55, which ruled out the possibility of holding the referendum in May next year, when there are other important elections taking place throughout the country. However, amendment 55 did not deal with the potential for a poll held in May 2017 to clash with local elections, which are scheduled in both England and Scotland, and the mayoral elections taking place in some places. Our amendment 3 deals with that, because it would rule out holding the referendum on the same day as local elections, as well as the other elections that are listed in the amendment.

There are two separate reasons why we believe the referendum should be held on a separate day. The first is that a referendum on such a large constitutional issue deserves its own campaign and its own moment of decision. The focus in a competitive election when parties are battling to control a local council or another elected body is different from that in an election on a yes/no constitutional question of this kind. The focus in a local election battle should be on who will run the body that is up for election. In a referendum, the focus is different. Views on the European referendum will cross party lines.

Mr Jackson: I am listening carefully to the right hon. Gentleman, but can he confirm that Her Majesty’s Opposition opposed holding the AV referendum in May 2011 on the same day as local authority elections, but that to a certain extent that referendum drove up turnout for those elections, to 42%?

Mr McFadden: If the hon. Gentleman is seriously holding up the AV referendum in 2011 as a model of democratic engagement, I am afraid that, based on my experience, I beg to differ. I really do not think that is a model we should follow.

Andrew Gwynne: In 2017, we will have the inaugural elections for the metro mayor for Greater Manchester. That in itself will pose a challenge for those of us who

18 Jun 2015 : Column 571

are politicians in the city region, because it is a new post and we will have a duty to explain what it will be. Is that not another reason why we do not need this added complexity?

Mr McFadden: My hon. Friend makes a good argument. That is an important election and, as I say, the focus will be on who should be that mayor. There will be different candidates standing, and it is a different question from whether or not we remain members of the European Union.

4.30 pm

Ms Margaret Ritchie (South Down) (SDLP): I thank my right hon. Friend for giving way. As part of the complexity of the situation relating to the election, is he aware that elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly will take place on the same day as elections to the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales on 5 May 2016? I note that that is not included in the Labour amendment.

Mr McFadden: I take the hon. Lady’s point, but the issue of May 2016 has already been dealt with through amendment 55, and I am focused on May 2017, when local elections are taking place in various parts of the country.

Kelvin Hopkins: I strongly agree with my right hon. Friend that, when we are voting on whether to leave or stay in the European Union, it should not be confused or blurred with party allegiances and so forth; there should be a clear understanding that on that day we are voting on our membership of the European Union and nothing else. No other elections should be held on that day; we want a unique day for that vote.

Mr McFadden: On European matters, it is not always the case that I am in agreement with my hon. Friend, but this time on this point, I am. I entirely agree with his point.

The first reason, then, is that on such a major constitutional question about the country’s future, the focus should be entirely on that question, but there is a second reason why on this occasion it makes sense to separate this poll from other polls, which relates to the discussions we have had about purdah arrangements. Without re-running Tuesday’s debate, the Government’s argument is that there needs to be some qualification of the purdah arrangements that would normally apply. The jury is still out on what the eventual outcome of that argument will be, but we know from Tuesday that the Bill will be amended in one way or another on Report.

However, purdah arrangements also apply to a local election period, so combining the referendum with other elections could mean we had full purdah in place for some things and qualified purdah or no purdah in place for others. In such circumstances, what exactly would the role of Ministers and the civil service be? We could have one set of rules for one poll taking place on that day, and another set of rules for another poll taking place on the same day. We do not need to think long and hard to realise that that is not an ideal arrangement for clarity on the conduct of the poll.

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Our point is that the Bill deals with a big constitutional issue, which deserves to be considered by the public on its own merits, not tacked on as an add-on to local elections in various parts of the country. For those reasons, we feel that there is unfinished business from Tuesday. Amendment 55 was not the end of the matter, and our amendment 3 would, if passed, make it clear that this has to be a stand-alone poll and not one combined with other elections—either next May or in May 2017. To conclude, if given an opportunity to do so this afternoon, we intend to press the amendment to the vote.

Peter Grant: Briefly, we intend to support amendment 3. As the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden) said, only part of the problem was addressed earlier, and a major problem remains if the referendum is held on the date of other elections.

First, on a point of principle, if this is truly—certainly for voters in England—the most important democratic constitutional decision taken for 40 or more years, it is surely worth a day of its own rather than being tacked on to something else. A second, practical point is that some of the elections that are listed—the Scottish local government elections, for example—are run according to a completely different electoral system. Last time the local government elections took place on the same day as a straightforward first-past-the-post election, there were well over 100,000 spoilt ballot papers, because those who were voting in the local government elections did not understand how to vote in a different way. The one thing that we do not want is doubt about the result of the EU referendum caused by a lot of spoilt papers.

I am surprised that we are having to debate the impartiality of broadcasters. Members should be aware that there is a widespread perception in Scotland—I will not comment on whether I share it—that some broadcasters were not impartial during the Scottish referendum. I do not think that that tainted the validity of the result, but it has tainted the reputation of those broadcasters, and it may be a generation before it has been sufficiently restored. We need to send the broadcasters a message, whether through legislation or by some other means. We need to convey to them that this referendum has to be fair, which means that the broadcasters must be impartial and seen to be impartial, not only during the purdah but from today. Otherwise, the impression will be given that the referendum was not fair.

The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington): I shall deal first with the arguments about combination advanced by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden). I shall then respond to what the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) said about electronic voting. If time permits, I shall also say something about clause 3 stand part and conduct rules.

Let me begin with combination. As the right hon. Gentleman said, we settled the issue of May 2016 on Tuesday, by means of amendment 55. In practice, what we are discussing today is whether we should also rule out any possibility of May 2017. I am not yet persuaded that the arguments are sufficiently compelling. The principle ought to be that the timing of a referendum concerning our future in or out of the European Union should be determined by the progress of negotiations at EU level. I suspect that once those negotiations have

18 Jun 2015 : Column 573

concluded and the Prime Minister is ready with his recommendation, there will be a pretty strong appetite in all parts of the House of Commons—and, I think, an even stronger one among British voters and, indeed, our partners in the European Union—for the issue to be brought to a head and settled as soon as possible, in so far as that is compatible with a campaigning period that is seen to be fair and that allows all the arguments to be set out clearly so that people can make a well-informed and deliberate choice.

Ultimately, it will be for Parliament itself to decide whether to approve the specific date that the Government propose. The Bill includes an order-making power for the Secretary of State to set down the referendum date, and that date must be approved through a statutory instrument, which must be tabled in accordance with the affirmative procedure. I can give an undertaking that the debate, whenever it comes, will take place on the Floor of the House. It will be for the House of Commons as a whole—and, separately, the House of Lords—to decide whether, in all the circumstances of the time, to agree to the date that the Government have proposed. Given the reservations that have been expressed about a hypothetical combination with local elections in May 2017, the Government will need to make a persuasive case at that time.

The right hon. Gentleman advanced his argument with his characteristic courtesy and in a constructive tone, so I shall try to respond in kind. I think that he underestimates the British public: I think that voters will be able to distinguish between the different outcomes that they want.

Mr Jackson: I have not always been too helpful to my right hon. Friend this week, but I hope to be helpful now. He will have noted that the Opposition spokesman did not address my point that there was a constitutionally significant vote in May 2011—whether or not he agreed with its taking place in the first place—and, at the same time, very important local elections. One did not invalidate the other. Also, in terms of purdah, voters were clear about the issues they were deciding on at the time. He did not address that issue in his remarks.

Mr Lidington: My hon. Friend is quite right. The precedent, from 2011, is that the British public were able to make that distinction perfectly reasonably in their own minds.

Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) (PC): If the Government have accepted the principle that there should be no clash with elections for the National Assembly for Wales, the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2016, why do they not go a step further, accept the amendment and rule out a referendum in 2017 at the same time as local authority elections?

Mr Lidington: Partly for the reasons that I have given, and also because I think there is a qualitative difference, which we acknowledged when we introduced amendment 55, between elections held for a constituent nation of the United Kingdom and elections held for local government. We accepted that distinction in the amendment we introduced earlier this week.

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If we look at the number of occasions when local elections and general elections have been held on exactly the same day, we find plenty of examples where the public have indulged happily in ticket splitting, sending a Member to this House representing one political party and electing a different political party to run their local authority. The public are able to make that distinction perfectly well.

Steve Brine (Winchester) (Con): The Minister and I have discussed this issue before, but I want to place on the record that my constituents, across Winchester and Chandler’s Ford, are quite capable of distinguishing between two elections. When they have one piece of paper for a parish election, for a district election or even for a county election, as well as a parliamentary election on the same day, they seem to manage it.

Mr Lidington: My hon. Friend puts it very well.

Andrew Gwynne: May I take the Minister back to his earlier answer to the hon. Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (Jonathan Edwards) and point out politely that the population of Greater Manchester is greater than that of Northern Ireland and almost as large as that of Wales? We are going to have an inaugural election for a metro mayor, which is a creation of his own Government. Do we not deserve to have that argument separately from the EU referendum?

Mr Lidington: I take the hon. Gentleman back again to 2011, when we had the London mayoral election on the same day as the referendum on the voting system for the House of Commons. That did not appear to cause the electorate any great problems.

The other question that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East put to me was about the difficulty of operating different regimes for purdah during overlapping electoral and referendum periods. To some extent, the riposte to that came from my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr Jackson), but given that the Government have this week undertaken to consult all parties on the appropriate framework for purdah in the run-up to the EU referendum, I am happy to take on board the right hon. Gentleman’s points as part of that consideration and future discussion.

There are some technical flaws in the Opposition’s amendment. There is, for example, no carve-out regarding by-elections, so an unanticipated by-election could inadvertently result in an agreed referendum date becoming invalid at short notice. Nor does it capture police and crime commissioner elections, which, if the amendment were agreed to, would still be possible on the same day as the referendum. Even if the right hon. Gentleman had his way, there would need to be some tidying up at a later date.

Kelvin Hopkins rose—

Mike Gapes rose—

Mr Lidington: I am overwhelmed by Members’ enthusiasm.

Kelvin Hopkins: The Minister implies there is more to be discussed and there has been too short a time to have a proper debate about the issue. It should be returned to on Report and, possibly, in another place before the final Bill is approved.

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Mr Lidington: As I said earlier, whatever the decision in this House during our progress on the Bill, the House will discuss the timing of the referendum again when the Government table a statutory instrument to designate a date for that.

4.45 pm

Mike Gapes: Have the Government considered the fact that if there is a referendum on the same day as local elections, in some wards one candidate for a party will be campaigning for a yes vote and another from the same party will be campaigning for a no vote? That might make it difficult for the political parties to co-ordinate their literature, apart from anything else, if they are going to take a united position.

Mr Lidington: One thing about the European referendum campaign, which I think the public will expect, is that people from both the hon. Gentleman’s party and mine will be campaigning in both the yes and no camps. Both parties are broad churches and we accept that that is a reality. I do not think the British public are incapable of understanding that the European question is one that cuts across normal party political boundaries.

I wish to move on to deal with the amendment on electronic voting tabled by the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington. I do not want to cause him too great a shock in saying that I am not wholly unsympathetic to some of the points he makes. I have been to Estonia and talked to Estonian Ministers about what they have put in place, not only on electronic voting, but in delivering almost all interaction between citizen and government through digital means. Given current advances in IT, I can see how e-voting sounds attractive, but we would have to consider a number of issues carefully and thoroughly before this country committed itself to going down that path.

Most obviously, there are genuine concerns that e-voting is not sufficiently rigorous and could be vulnerable to attack or fraud. The last thing that would serve the interests of Parliament or of democracy in this country would be for us to move swiftly to a system of electronic voting that led to still greater public mistrust in the integrity of our democratic process. Particularly when selecting elected representatives or deciding an issue of national importance in a referendum, it is essential that we have the highest possible security, and I am not convinced that we have the requisite assurance yet. Even in the short exchanges that have taken place on this subject, different views have been expressed about whether or not the pilots in the past have led to a serious increase in turnout. That is another point to be borne in mind.

John McDonnell: Even the Conservative elements of the campaign group have been a problem, too. May I suggest something to the Minister? This referendum will be in two years’ time, the Electoral Commission is focusing its work this year on electronic voting and we will have elections before then. Can we look again at reviving some of the pilots, at least for next year’s local government elections, so that we can learn the lessons and overcome the security issue, which he rightly mentions? Things have moved on from the last pilots and we need a new pilot to give us the confidence that we can then use e-voting more extensively in referendums.

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Mr Lidington: I am sure my colleagues in the Cabinet Office, who lead on constitutional matters, will have heard that point. E-voting may be something that the Government will want to consider in the future, but it is not a priority immediately for the legislation to authorise the arrangements for this referendum.

I want to say a few things about the conduct rules more generally. Clause 4 provides that Ministers may make provision about the conduct of the referendum in regulations. The provisions in clause 3 and schedule 3 already set out the key aspects of the conduct of the referendum, and broadly they are concerned with the overall framework. In addition to those general provisions, it will be necessary to set out more detailed rules for conduct. Clause 4 grants Ministers the power to do so by regulation.

Our intention will be to draw on the rules used for the conduct of the parliamentary voting system referendum in 2011 and those used for elections more generally, in particular for our parliamentary elections. We will also take account of recent changes to electoral law to ensure that they also apply for the purposes of this referendum. The clause also requires that Ministers consult the Electoral Commission before making any regulations on these issues.

Kelvin Hopkins: The Minister will know that there have been serious concerns in the European Scrutiny Committee, the Chair of which is in the Chamber at the moment, but there is not the time at this stage to discuss bias in the media on European Union matters. Will there be a time on Report for a more thorough discussion of this, because there are some serious concerns? As he will know, the chair of the BBC Trust and the director-general of the BBC have both been before the European Scrutiny Committee to discuss the matter.

Mr Lidington: Obviously, what we discuss on Report will be in the hands of Members who table amendments. I have known my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) for many years, and I know that he is ingenious and creative in finding opportunities for parliamentary debate on subjects that are close to his heart.

Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con): With great respect, may I be ingenious for one moment, as I wish to put amendment 8 on the record? The amendment is supported by the Electoral Commission. Given the time that is available, I just want to say that the Electoral Commission supports the proposal, which is that the detailed regulations required to administer and regulate the referendum

“must be made and come into force not less than six months before the start of the referendum period.”

We do not propose pressing the amendment to a vote, but we would like to return to it on Report. I know that the Minister understands it, and that the Electoral Commission supports it.

Mr Lidington: My hon. Friend’s amendment proposes that the legislation be put in place at least six months before it is required to be implemented or complied with by campaigners or administrators. Although it is not necessary or appropriate in this specific case to set

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an arbitrary timeframe in statute, I can offer him some reassurance on the point. The reason for the Electoral Commission’s recommendation, to which he alluded, is that it is important to ensure that the people who are responsible for organising and administering a referendum and the people who will be responsible for accounting for expenditure on behalf of campaign organisations are clear about the rules that apply. To some extent, as I said a few minutes ago, the general framework of those rules is set out in the body of the Bill. The more detailed rules on conduct will be provided for by regulations that the Government will have the power, under the Bill, to table.

I can assure the Committee that it is the Government’s intention to publish the conduct regulations this autumn. That will mean, especially given the decision that the Committee took on Tuesday not to combine the referendum with the devolved local elections in May 2016, that there should be plenty of time for the Electoral Commission, and returning and counting officers and campaigners to familiarise themselves with the detail of the rules under which the referendum will be conducted. We would expect those detailed rules to cover such matters as the referendum timetable and the key stages within that; the provision of polling stations; the appointment of polling and counting agents; the procedure for the issue of ballot papers and for voting at polling stations; the arrangements for the counting of votes and declaration of results; the disposal of ballot papers and other referendum documents; arrangements for absent voters and postal and proxy votes and so on.

There will be a great deal of information, which it is our intention to have publicly available for everybody to see in the autumn of this year, well ahead of the referendum date. I hope that on that basis my hon. Friend the Member for Stone and others who have signed his amendment will be reassured that the Government are fully committed to our declared intention of ensuring that the referendum is conducted in an way that is not only fair but that is seen to be and is accepted as fair by everybody who takes part on both sides.

John McDonnell: I am not convinced that the Government are taking the matter of electronic voting seriously, but I welcome the warm words from the Minister that there could be some movement in the future. Although we might not be able to achieve it for this referendum, I hope that we can encourage the Electoral Commission to undertake pilots again next year that might resolve some of the issues with security. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed: 3, in clause 4, page 2, line 39, leave out subsection (2) and insert—

‘(2) The referendum shall not be held on the same day as:

(a) elections to the Scottish Parliament;

(b) elections to the National Assembly for Wales;

(c) elections for the Mayor of London; or

(d) local authority elections”. —(Mr McFadden.)

The amendment would prevent the referendum being held on the same day as Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales, London mayoral or local authority

elections

.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

18 Jun 2015 : Column 578

The

Committee

divided:

Ayes 267, Noes 308.

Division No. 21]

[

4.56 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Arkless, Richard

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bardell, Hannah

Barron, rh Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Benn, rh Hilary

Betts, Mr Clive

Black, Ms Mhairi

Blackman, Kirsty

Blackman-Woods, Dr Roberta

Blomfield, Paul

Boswell, Philip

Brake, rh Tom

Brennan, Kevin

Brock, Deidre

Brown, Alan

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burgon, Richard

Butler, Dawn

Byrne, rh Liam

Cadbury, Ruth

Cameron, Dr Lisa

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Douglas

Chapman, Jenny

Cherry, Joanna

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, Julie

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Cowan, Ronnie

Cox, Jo

Coyle, Neil

Crausby, Mr David

Crawley, Angela

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cummins, Judith

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davies, Geraint

Davies, Philip

Day, Martyn

De Piero, Gloria

Debbonaire, Thangam

Docherty, Martin John

Donaldson, Stuart Blair

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Dowd, Peter

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Fellows, Marion

Ferrier, Margaret

Field, rh Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Fletcher, Colleen

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Foxcroft, Vicky

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Gethins, Stephen

Gibson, Patricia

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Grady, Patrick

Grant, Peter

Gray, Neil

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Greenwood, Margaret

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Haigh, Louise

Hamilton, Fabian

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harpham, Harry

Harris, Carolyn

Hayes, Helen

Hayman, Sue

Hendrick, Mr Mark

Hendry, Drew

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hillier, Meg

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Hunt, Tristram

Huq, Dr Rupa

Hussain, Imran

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Gerald

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Keeley, Barbara

Kerevan, George

Kerr, Calum

Khan, rh Sadiq

Kyle, Peter

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Law, Chris

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Clive

Long Bailey, Rebecca

Lucas, Ian C.

Lynch, Holly

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, rh Fiona

Madders, Justin

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marris, Rob

Marsden, Mr Gordon

Maskell, Rachael

Matheson, Christian

Mc Nally, John

McCabe, Steve

McCaig, Callum

McCarthy, Kerry

McDonald, Andy

McDonald, Stewart

McDonald, Stuart C.

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGarry, Natalie

McGinn, Conor

McGovern, Alison

McInnes, Liz

McLaughlin, Anne

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Monaghan, Carol

Monaghan, Dr Paul

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morris, Grahame M.

Mullin, Roger

Murray, Ian

Newlands, Gavin

Nicolson, John

O'Hara, Brendan

Onn, Melanie

Onwurah, Chi

Osamor, Kate

Oswald, Kirsten

Owen, Albert

Paterson, Steven

Pearce, Teresa

Pennycook, Matthew

Perkins, Toby

Phillips, Jess

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Qureshi, Yasmin

Rayner, Angela

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees, Christina

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rimmer, Marie

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Ryan, rh Joan

Salmond, rh Alex

Saville Roberts, Liz

Shah, Naz

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheppard, Tommy

Sherriff, Paula

Shuker, Mr Gavin

Siddiq, Tulip

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Andy

Smeeth, Ruth

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Cat

Smith, Jeff

Smith, Nick

Smyth, Karin

Spellar, rh Mr John

Starmer, Keir

Stephens, Chris

Stevens, Jo

Streeting, Wes

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Tami, Mark

Thewliss, Alison

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thomas-Symonds, Nick

Thompson, Owen

Thomson, Michelle

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turley, Anna

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Watson, Mr Tom

Weir, Mike

West, Catherine

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whitford, Dr Philippa

Williams, Hywel

Williams, Mr Mark

Wilson, Corri

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Woodcock, John

Wright, Mr Iain

Zeichner, Daniel

Tellers for the Ayes:

Susan Elan Jones

and

Tom Blenkinsop

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy

Allen, Heidi

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Borwick, Victoria

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Carmichael, Neil

Cartlidge, James

Cash, Sir William

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Churchill, Jo

Clark, rh Greg

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, rh Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, Byron

Davies, Chris

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Glyn

Davies, James

Davies, Mims

Davis, rh Mr David

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Donelan, Michelle

Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Elliott, Tom

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Fernandes, Suella

Field, rh Mark

Foster, Kevin

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Frazer, Lucy

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heappey, James

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

Javid, rh Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenkyns, Andrea

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Main, Mrs Anne

Mak, Alan

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy

Mowat, David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Osborne, rh Mr George

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Phillips, Stephen

Philp, Chris

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pow, Rebecca

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh John

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Mary

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Throup, Maggie

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Tredinnick, David

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Stephen Barclay

and

Mr David Evennett

Question accordingly negatived.

18 Jun 2015 : Column 579

18 Jun 2015 : Column 580

18 Jun 2015 : Column 581

18 Jun 2015 : Column 582

Ian Murray (Edinburgh South) (Lab): On a point of order, Mrs Laing. For the third time this week the House has taken a position in votes that will be recorded in Hansard and in the official record of the House. Unfortunately shortly after those votes have been taken certain SNP MPs have tweeted out completely the contrary to the result of the votes. That happened on the Scotland Bill on Monday, the European Union Referendum Bill on Tuesday and again this evening. Can you rule on whether that is bringing the House into disrepute and how we stop that happening?

The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mrs Eleanor Laing): I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman makes, and he has done well to draw it to the attention of the House and, no doubt, further afield, but he will appreciate that it is not a matter on which I can rule from the Chair at present. One would hope that a reasoned report of what happens in this Chamber will be disseminated widely throughout the country by many means of communication, not just on social media, and that people will always choose which report they wish to believe.

5.10 pm

Proceedings interrupted (Programme Order, 9 June).

The Chair put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83D).

Clause 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 6 to 11 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.

Bill, as amended reported, (Standing Order No. 83D(6)).

Bill to be consideredtomorrow.

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I seek the advice of the Chair on a matter that has come to my attention concerning the business that has been announced for next Tuesday: consideration of the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill: Instruction (No. 3). As I understand it, that will extend to the Select Committee the power to consider amendments to accommodate the requirements of landowners and occupiers in my constituency, particularly in Little Missenden, the Lee and Great Missenden.

Further, there will be consideration of the amendment to accommodate changes to the design of the works authorised by the Bill in Great Missenden and Little Missenden. The Select Committee scrutinising the hybrid

18 Jun 2015 : Column 583

Bill is visiting my constituency on Monday morning at 9.15 to look at the effects of HS2 on an area of outstanding natural beauty. However, I understand that the Government are not planning to publish the additional provisions that would give this House, the Committee and my constituents the information on what additional provisions HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport will make for the Committee’s consideration.

Perhaps you could advise me, Madam Deputy Speaker, on whether that is the correct procedure for this House, because it seems to me that my constituents and this House should know about those additional provisions prior to the Committee’s visit, and prior to the business before the House next Tuesday. As I understand it, those additional provisions might not be available until the second week in July. Could the Speaker’s Office and the Chair assist me in any way on that procedure?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): The right hon. Lady raises a matter of some concern. If the procedure under which the House is scrutinising that important Bill has not been properly followed, it is indeed a matter of concern. I am quite certain that Mr Speaker will wish to have the procedural elements of the right hon. Lady’s concerns investigated, so I will ensure that such an investigation is undertaken. She has eloquently made clear to the House her concerns, and I am quite sure that those on the Treasury Bench will have taken note of what she has said and that her concerns will be conveyed to the relevant Ministers. If there has been a procedural oversight, one would hope that it will be put right in time.

Mrs Gillan: Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am grateful to you for undertaking to investigate the procedure. Would it also be possible for the Chair to investigate whether those details could be made available to the Committee, to me and to my constituents prior to the visit at 9.15 on Monday morning?

Madam Deputy Speaker: I thank the right hon. Lady for that further point. I am quite sure, in undertaking an investigation, that if matters can be put right, they will be. I am quite sure that if they are not put right, the right hon. Lady will inform the House of it next week. We all look forward to seeing progress on the matter.

18 Jun 2015 : Column 584

Recruitment and Retention of Teachers

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Charlie Elphicke.)

5.15 pm

Louise Haigh (Sheffield, Heeley) (Lab): I thank Mr Speaker for granting this Adjournment debate on a critical issue that is of real and growing concern to my constituents and to people across the country, namely whether we are doing enough to recruit, train and retain the teachers who will inspire the next generation to learn and create things that our parents could not even have imagined. During this short debate, I will set out the background, touch on why the problem is of understandable concern to schools and the teaching profession, and suggest a couple of positive ways forward, which would carry the support of the profession, including head teachers, staff and their trade unions.

Hon. Members on both sides of the House will be aware that figures have demonstrated for some time that there is a problem with teacher recruitment and retention. Only today, Sir Michael Wilshaw said that the main challenge facing the education system was encouraging people to enter it. He said that one of the solutions was raising the status of teachers, and I could not agree more. I will come back to that point shortly. The Association of School and College Leaders has gone further, describing the crisis in recruitment and retention as a “perfect storm” and attributing the significant decline in postgraduate teacher training and the pool of graduates to the hike in tuition fees.

The impact is being felt in my constituency. One of my first meetings as a newly elected MP was with the head teacher of Newfield secondary school, when I was shocked to learn that after placing a national advert for a science teacher, the school had not received a single application. That matters to the pupils of Newfield, because despite the fact that it is an improving school with dedicated and brilliant staff, it took several rounds of recruitment to fill a teaching position. In a subject as important as science—part of the core subject group of science, technology, engineering and maths, which are so vital to our future—pupils in my constituency should not miss out on the continuity of teaching that is essential to success.

The problem is not peculiar to Sheffield. Vacancies in teaching have doubled during the past year, and a survey for schools weekly found that for the upcoming school year, only 83% of secondary places have been filled. Delve deeper and we find an even more troubling pattern. In the subjects that are vital to the jobs of the future—science, technology, engineering and maths, where we need more than 1 million in training just to keep up with demand—the pool of teachers is chronically under-subscribed. Figures taken from the initial teacher training census in physics and maths reveal a 33% under-subscription. For design and technology, the figure rises to a shocking 56%. One of the leading thinkers in the field, Professor John Howson, has said that the Department for Education “almost certainly” will not meet the recruitment target needed to fill places. Such targets are now being missed year in, year out.

Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab): Is my hon. Friend aware that the much vaunted School Direct programme has failed to recruit sufficient numbers of teachers in every single year since its introduction in 2011?

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Louise Haigh: My hon. Friend makes a really important point. Government reforms have done little to help in that regard. The Government’s push towards recruiting teachers via School Direct has created a confused and fragmented system, with schools across the country reporting that they are struggling to access the School Direct programme. That will only get worse in the upcoming school year, as 17,000 places formerly allocated to university departments are transferred to School Direct. Since its creation by the former Secretary of State for Education, the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove), the School Direct programme has under-recruited every single year.

Ian Mearns (Gateshead) (Lab): Is my hon. Friend aware that figures produced by TeachVac show that teacher recruitment is more difficult in this year than it has been at any time for a decade? With something like 800,000 children coming into the system over the next decade or so, a national strategy will be needed to solve this important problem.

Louise Haigh: My hon. Friend raises an important point, which is further evidence of more failed ideological experiments from the Tories.

Justin Madders: My hon. Friend has highlighted some disturbing issues. Has she managed to obtain from the Minister any details on the current performance of the School Direct programme?

Louise Haigh: The Government have provided figures on the failings of the Teach First programme, which have revealed that we are losing more recruits from Teach First than we are gaining every year. The Government’s management of the Teach First programme has produced very poor results. Even among Teach First ambassadors, over a third left teaching after two years and nearly half after five years. We are now losing more Teach First graduates from secondary education every year than are joining. The Government’s intention to expand recruitment makes little sense if it leads to an ever-higher turnover.

The problem is not that teachers are failing the system but that the system is failing them. These results are no reflection on their commitment to education but must surely be a reflection of their experience of teaching under this Government. How can we possibly hope to rebalance our economy away from its over-reliance on the City of London and the banking sector and towards manufacturing, high-tech industry, IT and engineering if we cannot even find the teachers to teach maths and science?

Meg Hillier (Hackney South and Shoreditch) (Lab/Co-op): Does my hon. Friend agree that there is a serious problem in parts of London, in particular? In my constituency, house prices average £606,000. That means that even if a teacher can be recruited, keeping them is a real challenge.

Louise Haigh: My hon. Friend anticipates my next point.

The problem does not start and end with encouraging people to become teachers in the first place. Retaining experienced teachers is better for schools, better for pupils, and of course better financially as it is so much cheaper than recruitment and training.

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Rachael Maskell (York Central) (Lab/Co-op): One of the reasons people are leaving the profession is work-related stress—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order. I appreciate that hon. Members are new to the House, but the hon. Lady must address the Chair. You cannot turn your back on the Chair; you are not addressing the hon. Lady.

Rachael Maskell: I apologise, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Does my hon. Friend recognise that people are leaving the profession due to the high levels of work-related stress? We know that 83% of teachers are experiencing work-related stress and 67% are experiencing mental and physical health problems due to excessive workloads, the target-driven culture, and over-burdening inspection regimes.

Louise Haigh: My hon. Friend makes an incredibly important point.

The OECD workload diary survey found teachers working a staggering 50 hours per week compared with the average of 38.3 hours across the countries surveyed. It is becoming harder and harder to keep hold of qualified and experienced teachers. Frankly, that is no surprise. Demoralised, overworked and undervalued by a Government who treat the profession as a political football and a group to be taken on and beaten, its dedicated members are doing their best in extremely challenging circumstances.

Tulip Siddiq (Hampstead and Kilburn) (Lab): Teacher workload is often cited as a major reason for the increased problems with teacher retention. Forty-four per cent. of teachers in the Department for Education teachers workload survey said that their time spent on doing unnecessary and bureaucratic tasks has increased under the Conservative Government. Does my hon. Friend agree that the Government should investigate what those unnecessary tasks are and what can be done to relieve teachers of them?

Louise Haigh: I could not agree more.

The irony is that the Government’s criticism of teachers comes at a time when teachers are working harder than ever before. It is a scandal that the teaching workload is growing out of control and that, even as they work harder than ever, teachers remain so undervalued. The Government must know that this is happening. Their own figures tell the story of the teacher retention crisis. In the 12 months up to 2013, 50,000 qualified teachers left the state sector, equivalent to one in 12 of the entire profession, and the highest rate for over a decade. Furthermore, 100,000 teachers never even taught despite finishing their training.

Fiona Mactaggart (Slough) (Lab): I used to be a teacher and I have trained teachers. In my view, the problem is that it is no longer fun, and that teaching, which used to be a wonderful career, is now drudgery. Will my hon. Friend ask the Minister to make teaching more fun, both for the pupil and for the teacher?

Louise Haigh: Absolutely. That is why we are losing so many teachers every single year.

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The total wastage rate, or loss of teachers, from the sector is now at over 10%—the highest for over a decade. To make matters worse, the number of teachers taking early retirement has risen to levels not seen since the Conservatives were last in power nearly two decades ago. Is not the Minister concerned that his own Government’s policies have caused a crisis in teaching numbers, the consequences of which will be felt by parents and pupils nationwide?

Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Lab): Is my hon. Friend aware of figures from the Government’s workload challenge which show that the politicisation of Ofsted, and the pressure that teachers are brought under as a result, is one of the most commonly stated reasons for increased workload?

Louise Haigh: I could not agree more. The politicised inspection regime is clearly a major issue, and it is cited by teachers when leaving the profession.

Without working with the teaching profession, including their representatives in the teaching unions, to try to bridge some of the animosity of the past five years, it will be next to impossible to solve the crisis in teaching recruitment and retention. The morale of teachers will continue to decline and they will continue to look for ways out of a profession that feels increasingly undervalued, even as the pressures of work continue to grow.

Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West) (Lab): Will my hon. Friend also consider the effect that the cost of living crisis is having on teachers? The combination of the high cost of rent and all sorts of other things, as well as the pressures on their time, mean that some see no way of being able to support a family in the future, while others are unable to spend time with their families due to their excessive workload. Either way, the family lives of teachers are suffering.

Louise Haigh: As pay and conditions continue to decrease as the system fragments, the situation will only continue to get worse. Indeed, the profession is now so unattractive that for every 1% the economy grows, applications fall by 5%.

There is, of course, a financial as well as a human cost to this crisis. The past five years have seen a massive increase in the number and cost of agencies supplying teachers to schools, some of which charge up to £1,000 per week per teacher. As much as half of that money goes to the agency and not to the teacher. A survey for the National Union of Teachers found that almost eight in 10 supply teachers found work through such agencies, and only 6.9% were paid according to national pay rates.

Sue Hayman (Workington) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that the proposals on regional pay for public sector workers would kill recruitment and retention in areas further away from London such as west Cumberland?

Louise Haigh: Absolutely. Increasingly, teachers and supply teachers are being exploited, both by agencies and by certain schools.

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It is clear from all the points that have been raised that there is a recruitment crisis as a result of fragmented and confusing pathways into teaching, and a retention crisis caused by a complete collapse in morale. The cost of those crises is being felt in the education budget, through the use of extortionate agencies.

Imran Hussain (Bradford East) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend accept that in places such as Bradford, where many schools are already full or oversubscribed, it is even more difficult to retain teachers, particularly in the light of the school places crisis?

Louise Haigh: Absolutely. The lack of school places is clearly yet another factor in the issue.

This leaves the Minister with a number of questions to answer. First, will he review the use of supply agencies, particularly in the light of the fact that spending on supply is 5% of the education budget? In the US, where supply teachers are employed directly by school districts, the figure is less than 1%.

Secondly, given the declining pool of teaching graduates, will the Minister consider writing off the annual repayment of student loans to act as an incentive to teach in key subjects?

Thirdly, will the Government bring forward the workload survey planned for spring 2016, given that workload has clearly been identified as one of the key causes of teachers leaving the profession?

Finally, what are the Government doing to ensure that teacher recruitment for science, technology, engineering and maths, which are so chronically under-subscribed, will be filled in time for the new school year?

I hope the Minister will agree that, in order to tackle the crisis in teacher recruitment and retention, we must act to encourage graduates and make it easier for would-be teachers to enter the teaching profession, and do much more to value those already there. The next generation of our constituents deserve nothing less.

5.27 pm

The Minister for Schools (Mr Nick Gibb): May I start by congratulating the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Louise Haigh) on securing this Adjournment debate and on attracting so many colleagues to it? I also congratulate her on her maiden speech earlier this month. Her commitment to promoting social justice and greater opportunities for young people is shared by the Government, and her passion for her constituency of Sheffield, Heeley has been very clear in her earlier speeches.

The single most important factor in determining how well a pupil achieves at school is the quality of the teaching they receive. An analysis by Slater, Davies and Burgess in 2009 showed that being taught by a high-quality teacher rather than a less able teacher adds 0.425 of a GCSE point per subject to a pupil. In September 2011, the Sutton Trust found that the difference between a very effective teacher and a poorly performing teacher is large. For example, during one year with a very effective maths teacher, pupils gain 40% more in their educational attainment than they would with a poorly performing maths teacher.

The hon. Lady is right, therefore, to emphasise the importance of recruiting and retaining the best teachers so that all young people receive the high-quality education

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to which they are entitled. We are fortunate, therefore, that there are more teachers working in our schools than at any previous time, and that today’s teachers are the best qualified generation of teachers ever.

For every year in the last decade, the number of teachers joining the profession has outstripped those leaving. Last year, 50,000 new teachers entered our classrooms, swelling the size of the teaching profession in England to a record 451,000. Newly qualified teachers only account for just over half of those entering the workforce every year. Just under a third enter teaching having delayed entry post-initial teacher training, and just under a fifth are experienced teachers returning to the state sector.

Overall, teaching continues to be a hugely popular career. The latest 2015-16 UCAS figures show that we are on course to meet our postgraduate recruitment target for primary trainee teachers and are making good progress in secondary recruitment. The figures also confirm that we are ahead on acceptances for mathematics, physics, chemistry and design and technology, compared with the corresponding point last year.

Ruth Cadbury (Brentford and Isleworth) (Lab): Is the Minister confident that the figures he just read out reflect the reality for children in my constituency? A mother told me that eight out of 10 classes her son attended last week were taught by supply teachers, and one of my excellent secondary schools cannot recruit a senior science teacher. Is he confident that the Government are providing a good standard of education for students in Brentford and Isleworth?

Mr Gibb: I will come to the vacancy rate in a moment, but it has remained stable at about 1% of the teaching profession since 2000, so it has been stable for 15 years. No one in the Government underestimates the challenge that having a strong economy presents in professions such as teaching.

Ian Mearns: Does the Minister accept that many head teachers are reporting that they have stopped advertising vacancies, because they do not feel that they have any chance of recruiting and they do not want the unnecessary expense of placing adverts in the national journals?

Mr Gibb: I am aware of those examples, which were set out in the hon. Lady’s speech. There are challenges but, as I said, the vacancy rate is the same this year as it was 15 years ago. It has remained stable across the system at about 1% of the teaching workforce.

To get more high-quality teachers into England’s classrooms, we need to continue to promote teaching as a profession for top graduates. Our recruitment campaign, “Your Future Their Future” is getting results, with registrations on the “Get Into Teaching” website up by about 30% compared with last year. In 2014-15, we recruited 94% of our postgraduate ITT target, at a time when the economy was improving and good graduates had more choices open to them. As I have said, the teacher vacancy rate remains very low, at about 1% of the total number of posts—a figure that has remained steady since 2000.

Contrary to the hon. Lady’s suggestion, retention remains strong. Ninety-one per cent. of teachers who qualify are teaching a year later, and 76% remain in the classroom five years later. More than 50% of teachers who qualified in 1996 were still teaching 17 years later.

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Louise Haigh: It is interesting to hear the Minister refute those assertions, given that his own written answer confirmed that 400 Teach First graduates started teaching maths and science in the last school year, but nearly 600 left the profession. Does he agree that the Government’s administration of the Teach First programme is failing on recruitment and retention?

Mr Gibb: On the contrary, Teach First has been a huge success. The purpose of Teach First is to attract people who might not otherwise consider entering teaching and ask them to commit to two years, so there has always been the expectation that a considerable number of the graduates who come into Teach First will leave and go into other careers in the City or elsewhere. The overall retention rate of more than 50% is actually staggeringly successful and reflects just how successful Teach First has been in recruiting high-calibre graduates into teaching.

The strong recruitment and retention figures have not been achieved by lowering our expectations for the quality of those joining the teaching profession. Almost three quarters of teachers now have an upper second or first-class degree, 10% higher than in 2010. A record proportion of teacher trainees—17%—have first-class degrees, and for several years running teaching has remained the most popular career destination for graduates of Oxford University. Teach First has played a huge part in that.

In spite of those successes, we recognise that there are still challenges. As the economy improves and the labour market strengthens, high-performing graduates are being tempted by opportunities in other sectors. Our task is to continue to champion teaching as a career choice for the brightest and the best, and not only to attract those people into our classrooms but to keep them there once they have joined the profession.

Fiona Mactaggart: Will the Minister give way?

Mr Gibb: I am happy to give way to the right hon. Lady, who I think has been itching to get in for a few minutes.

Fiona Mactaggart: I thank the Minister. He talks about the 1% vacancy figure with what headteachers in Slough might feel is a degree of complacency. At what point would he think the level of vacancies was unacceptable?

Mr Gibb: It would be a figure considerably higher than 1%. If I may cite another figure, UCAS publishes statistics every month, and they show that acceptances are down by 2% compared with the corresponding period last year. That is an improvement on last month’s figures. We are not complacent, and we understand the challenges that exist, particularly with the strong economy that we have, but being 2% down does not represent the crisis that Opposition Members are intimating.

The Government are responding to the challenges. We have funded the geographical expansion of Teach First into every region of England, and the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley’s home city currently has 28 participants completing the two-year programme. A further 21 teachers who have already completed the programme are still teaching in Sheffield schools. The expansion will give

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Teach First the scope to reach 90% of eligible schools by 2016. That will strengthen the Government’s commitment to recruit more top teachers throughout the country, including in rural, coastal and disadvantaged areas.

Sue Hayman: My constituency is in north-west Cumbria, a rural area far from the centre, and we struggle enormously to recruit and retain in teaching. Can the Minister confirm that the programme will start to do something to change what is happening in west Cumbria?

Mr Gibb: The hon. Lady makes a good point. Despite being among the most beautiful parts of England, such rural areas find problems in recruiting. That was why we wanted to extend Teach First to those areas. We are cognisant of the fact that some parts of England find challenges in recruiting teachers, particularly younger teachers, who like to be in the cities.

Ruth Smeeth (Stoke-on-Trent North) (Lab): The challenge of recruiting and retaining teachers is not only in rural areas but in some of the more deprived areas, which many of us represent. The challenge for all of us is class sizes and the impact on families and children in our constituencies. I think the Minister is being quite complacent about the impact on families of the challenge of recruiting and retaining teachers.

Mr Gibb: We are not complacent at all. One of the Secretary of State’s objectives is to take action in underperforming areas of the country where schools are not reaching the standard that we would expect of them. We are determined to do so. The national teaching service, for example, is a scheme by which we are encouraging high-performing teachers to second themselves to areas that have had problems in recruiting high-calibre teachers, so that we can raise standards in those areas. We are far from complacent, and we are determined to ensure that we have high-quality schools in every area and that every parent can send their child to a good local school, wherever they are located, including in areas of deprivation, rural areas or the coastal strip.

Of course, as the economy continues to recover and rebalance towards manufacturing, demand for STEM skills is increasing. Since 2010, we have therefore significantly increased the value of bursaries available to top graduates entering teaching in priority subjects. Those bursaries are now worth up to £25,000 tax-free, and we have worked closely with the leading learned societies—the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Chemistry and others—to develop prestigious scholarships for specialists in those subjects who want to teach.

Meg Hillier: I wish to bring the Minister back to the issue of housing costs in London. Is he having discussions with other Departments about how we can address the fact that teachers on these salaries are still a long way from being able to rent in London, let alone buy a property?

Mr Gibb: Those challenges face young people in London whatever their chosen profession, and that is why we are committed to addressing the housing shortage and building more houses. London is an attractive place

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for young teachers to teach, and Teach First and other organisations engaged in placing newly qualified or qualifying teachers into schools find London the least problematic place to place trainee teachers.

Even with generous bursary and scholarship schemes, we know there is still more to do to recruit high-quality mathematics and physics teachers—

Thangam Debbonaire: To return to the point about the recruitment of teachers of physics, I was concerned to hear this week from the Royal Society that in 50% of state-maintained schools, no girls study physics after the age of 16. That is surely a situation that we cannot ignore if we are to recruit from the best possible talent. What will the Minister do to redress the situation?

Mr Gibb: I could not agree more with the hon. Lady and I hope that she will join us in addressing the problem. We have established the Your Life campaign, with leading business people such as Edwina Dunn from Dunnhumby, which is designed to attract more young people into physics and maths at A-level, focusing particularly on young women, because that is where there is considerable scope to attract more young people. It is aimed at young people at about the time they choose their A-level options, and we are determined to increase the numbers taking A-level physics and maths, especially young women. The hon. Lady makes a very good point.

Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) (Con): Following up that interesting and important point, surely one of the things that will make a difference is that now most teachers going into primary education have done well in maths and physics and will be able to given children—both boys and girls—the idea that in secondary school they can take those subjects forward. That will contribute to helping to change the current situation, which is frankly unacceptable.

Mr Gibb: My hon. Friend makes a good point. We have made some significant reforms to primary education, including how we teach maths in primary school. We want children to leave primary school after six or seven years fluent in arithmetic, so that they can cope with a more demanding maths curriculum at secondary school. We hope that that confidence will take them through to A-level when they reach sixth form.

We are also addressing the shortage by spending some £67 million over the next five years to train an extra 2,500 mathematics and physics teachers and to improve the knowledge and skills of 15,000 existing teachers. We also established the Maths and Physics Chairs programme to support post-doctoral researchers to train as teachers with the aim of enthusing, engaging and inspiring students to progress to A-level study, to lead subject knowledge development with teachers in local school partnerships and to forge links with business. Very able young PhDs are now working in schools, and it is an inspiring and successful project.

We have given schools the freedom to pay good teachers more. That gives schools more scope to retain their best teachers by offering faster progression up the pay scale. It also allows them to adapt to any local circumstances where recruitment in particular phases or subjects is more challenging.

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Since 2010, we have focused on reforming initial teacher training, so that schools have greater choice and influence over the quality of both the training and trainees recruited. School Direct, which the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley referred to, is already proving hugely popular with both trainees and schools. Last year, we recruited 9,232 trainees to initial teacher training, an increase of 40% on the previous year. As a result, 35% of the postgraduates training to be teachers are doing so via School Direct. The School Direct salaried route provides an excellent route for career changers to train as teachers. They receive rigorous teacher training, at the same time as working in a school and earning a salary. These new entrants to the profession can bring different, valuable experience from their previous careers in industry. The success of that route is reflected in a substantial increase in the number of places offered by schools.

I am conscious of the time, but I think the hon. Lady and her colleagues are overstating the case. We understand

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the challenges, but we have engaged in a huge number of initiatives, including very generous bursaries, to address the problem, and I am confident—

Liz McInnes (Heywood and Middleton) (Lab) rose—

Mr Gibb: I give way to the hon. Lady.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order. The Minister cannot give way and the hon. Lady cannot intervene, because it is half an hour after the debate began. I was hoping that the Minister was going to get his last word in, but the hon. Lady intervened, and I am afraid that we have to go straight to the conclusion of proceedings.

5.45 pm

House adjourned without Question put (Standing Order No. 9(7)).