Examination of Witness (Questions 740-745)|
WEDNESDAY 17 JULY 2002
740. Do you not think that it is, first, undermining
parent authority to a certain extent, and, secondly, that it could
be seen as a sign of giving out the wrong message when certification
can be gained from other areas such as GP surgeries and so forth?
(Mr Twigg) I think it is about being realistic about
what will work. I think there is no desire to undermine the authority
of parents in these matters at all; that it has long been recognised
by governments of both main parties that sex education has to
be a core part of the school curriculum. I think, when we look
at these matters and we talk to doctors and others, the advice
is very, very strong that it makes sense to
741. May I say that I am not disagreeing with
sex education; I am talking about the availability of contraceptives
(Mr Twigg) That has developed out of taking a serious
look at the situation with teenage pregnancy, AIDS and HIV, and
all of the other issues I have mentioned, and an acceptanceI
think shared by many parentsthat simply leaving these matters
to the family home does not work.
742. Just to return to an issue and try to clarify
something you were talking about with Jeff earlier on, you say
that the Government, after looking at the evidence, has decided
that the evidence is clear that it is worth investing considerable
sums of money to encourage people from poorer backgrounds to stay
(Mr Twigg) Yes.
743. Is it not, therefore, logical that exactly
those same children aged 18-21, let us say going to university,
should also get a grant or a bursary, the equivalent of.
(Mr Twigg) You are taking me back to my appearance
here 11 years ago again.
744. Which of course your government removed
(Mr Twigg) Indeed. Clearly we have recognised that
there is an issue on this, which is why my colleague Margaret
Hodge is taking a look at it. I think there is a good case to
sayand here I am being consistent with 11 years agothat
16 is a very, very crucial age, particularly for those young people
whose families traditionally would not have gone into higher education,
and I think there is a good case to say that actually providing
some financial support at that age is more important than what
we used to do at 18 or 19 for the relatively small numbers of
kids from the poorest backgrounds who had proceeded that far in
education. It may not be an either/or but I am certainly not in
a position to announce any outcomes of Margaret Hodge's review
at this stage.
745. If schools in London are not only to recruit
enough good young teachers but also to retain excellent experienced
teachers, are you not just going to have to pay them a great deal
(Mr Twigg) I do think that pay is part of this, but
I do not think that it is the only solution to the situation in
London. I think housing may well be a factor.
746. But they do not want to live in council
houses; they, like us, aspire to own their own houses.
(Mr Twigg) We are not necessarily talking about people
living in council houses or even rented houses. Some may do that.
We are actually often talking about teachers, who have perhaps
been in London for two or three years, wanting to settle down,
and finding ways of supporting them. The starter homes' initiative
has already supported 1,500 teachers in London as well as teachers
in other parts of the South East to buy their own home, so we
are not simply talking about rented housing for teachers; we are
talking about more opportunities to own, part-rent/part-buyother
options. When I go and talk to teachers in my constituency and
other parts of London, what they say is, "The cost of living
in London is so exorbitant." I think, in terms of retention,
sorting out the housing question is the biggest single challenge
that we have.
Chairman: Minister, on that note and in anticipation
of the Deputy Prime Minister's statement with reference to that
last question, thank you very much for your attendance. We have
enjoyed our first encounter with you. There is slight suspicion
amongst the Committee that you would have been better off in the
Foreign Office with some of your diplomatic skills, but thank
you very much for your attendance.