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Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: As a preview to what I shall say later, I support the amendment. The noble Lord asks in essence for general principles to be established at this early stage of the Bill with regard to the objectives of the LSCs. I accept the Government's goodwill in wanting to improve education for 16 to 19 year-olds, but the danger is that the LSCs could be financially driven and could become purely utilitarian in their emphasis. I accept the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, with regard to general principles. My amendment proposes another general principle: to allow more local participation in this matter. The Government should have regard to the desire to establish ideals in the Bill which can guide the councils and, in case of disputes, provide a point of reference. Not to do so could result in the bodies being
Lord Hylton: I support the group of amendments to which my noble friend has just spoken. Amendment No. 61 refers to foyers. I am sure that the Minister will be familiar with foyers. She and the Committee will know that in these places not only are young people provided with a roof over their heads but also with access to education and training. These young people have the strong prospect of obtaining a job at the end of the day. We could do with having many more such establishments in this country.
Another important aspect is that, in the nature of things, the young people using them tend to motivate each other in a particular way. Possibly older people and professionals will not be able to achieve the same results. When she replies, I invite the noble Baroness to say how she sees foyers fitting into the overall structure of the Bill.
The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: I welcome very much the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, has drawn our attention to the need for some principled objectives to be included in the Bill, even though I realise that the Government may not wish to pursue his particular line.
I speak from experience of an area of the country in west and south Yorkshire where certainly issues of unemployment and social exclusion--particularly in the wake of the closure of the mines--have brought about a great deal of distress. The learning skills required by people there have been enhanced a little already by what has been done locally and I hope that the situation will be improved by the Bill. However, it would be good to have that highlighted here.
As one might expect of someone speaking from these Benches, I particularly welcome the mention of spiritual, moral and cultural development and so on--although I regret that the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, did not go into any further explanation of what he meant by those particular words. I understand that at this particular stage of the Bill it might not be appropriate for these objectives to be spelt out in that way.
If it turns out that that is the line the Minister takes, I, for one, should be grateful for an assurance that the Government agree with the matters detailed in Amendment No. 3, and, in particular, that they accept in principle the words "spiritually" and "morally" and that they see them as being important in the Bill.
The Lord Bishop of Lichfield: Perhaps I may add to what my noble colleague the Bishop of Wakefield has said. For more than 15 years I have come from--and cared for--a diocese which is not suffering from the closure of the mines but is in huge post-industrial shock after the failure and the closure of the foundries. I am talking of industrial towns in the Black Country.
I would add the word "personally" to "spiritually" and "morally". There must be a real personal engagement, so big is the gap and, therefore, the task in front of us. I hope that these amendments will not have to be moved and that the Government will hear the message.
The Earl of Listowel: I speak to Amendment No. 3 which stands in the name of my noble friend. I support the amendment because it places particular emphasis on training and education not targeted on employment, the very important point about utilitarianism made by the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington.
Young people need to have an enthusiasm for learning and we need to equip them to adapt to an ever-changing working environment and to be keen to do so. We need to build on their enthusiasms and on what they love. Your Lordships may have heard Bill Gates talking on the "Breakfast with Frost" programme at the weekend. He went into the computer business because he was passionate about programming. He returns now, as the richest man in the world, to software development because that is his real passion. There is a lesson to be learnt there. I know that the Government acknowledge that, but it needs to be put at the forefront of the Bill as the mission of the Bill. If I understand the Government, the mission of the Bill is lifelong learning. The amendment is useful because it places particular emphasis on training and education and is not targeted on employment needs.
Baroness Blatch: I should like to add my voice to support the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne--not specifically the words in the amendment but the spirit behind them. The right reverend Prelates, the Bishop of Lichfield and the Bishop of Wakefield, have given practical examples of how such words would set the context of how the practical delivery of education and training and links with employment would happen.
There are of course precedents. As far as I can remember, the Education Reform Act 1988, the Education Acts of 1993 and, I think, of 1996, were all prefaced with what one tends to call "mission statements", which spell out the vision of the Government and set the context in which education shall be delivered.
A worry runs through the Bill. I hope that the noble Baroness will not get tetchy about me referring to it as though it were a negative point. There is a feeling that the Bill is only about skills and vocational education. A large proportion of education delivery is a lifeline to some people--people who have not gained from
I echo the point made by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Wakefield. If one crawls over Hansard one will find that in years past I have used this phrase before: I think that education without a spiritual and moral dimension is no more than a clinical and arid experience. The way in which we can make real changes and have real influence on the lives of people--particularly on the lives of the kinds of people the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, has spent a lifetime caring about--is to set education in a moral and spiritual context. We should also not forget the social, mental and cultural context.
Lord Brightman: I had not intended to intervene in the consideration of the Bill. I was reminded by the opening remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, of certain words which I thought might be useful to repeat on this occasion. I refer to the Family Law Bill, which came before your Lordships on 22nd February 1996. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, then the Lord Chancellor, had to consider whether or not the general principles of two portions of the Bill ought to be set out. Reading as best I can from the copy I have--unfortunately, it is not clear because the spine has interfered with the photocopying--the noble and learned Lord said: