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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, what has been the direct effect of the representations that have been made? Have we been making such representations to the Government of Cuba also so that they are aware of how much this country is interested in using trade as a means of achieving development for a country such as Cuba which has a very long way to go to give its people any real standard of living?
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, the noble Baroness has touched on a very important point. Of course, we have not hesitated to let Cuba know of our interest in this matter but, equally, we have not hesitated to let Cuba know of breaches of human rights in that country which must also be addressed. Some balance must be applied in such matters and we are seeking to do that. I am sure that the noble Baroness, who is well advised and well aware of these points, will appreciate that in seeking to arrive at a sensitive and proper compromise with the United States on this issue we have to apply some degree of delicacy and tact. Equally, we are letting the United States and Cuba know precisely where we stand on these matters.
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, on the question of extra-territoriality, may I ask for a similar assurance that the Government have made representations and continue to make representations about the extra-territorial aspects of the D'Amato-Gilman legislation and Iran?
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, that is so, but it is not a novel feature of United States trade policy. When I was last a Minister--a long time ago now--we had problems affecting the aviation and shipping businesses. People in those businesses from the United Kingdom and other places were threatened with criminal
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, that is another issue. The question of Burma is very difficult and I do not think that it will be helpful if I embark on a general debate on such matters now. If the noble Viscount wishes to table a Question on Burma in connection with this matter, I should be very happy to answer it.
Lord Moynihan: My Lords, I warmly welcome the Minister's responses at the Dispatch Box today, but does he agree that policy towards Cuba should now be based on engagement and dialogue rather than the prohibitive extra-territorial application of the Helms-Burton Act; and, if so, what specific steps (in addition to the welcome steps which the Minister has announced today) does he believe can be taken with his European colleagues?
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, obtaining a measure of real unity on this matter with regard to Europe would obviously reinforce our position. We are seeking to achieve agreement on that front. On the question of constructive "engagement and dialogue", to use the noble Lord's term, we are anxious to promote agreement on that basis. It is quite difficult to do so in the light of the Helms-Burton Act, but we shall go on trying.
Lord Kennet: My Lords, am I not right in remembering that when the Helms-Burton Act first came into effect, the European Union (under the leadership of Commissioner Brittan) was all for pressing for extreme results in the World Trade Organisation, but that after President Clinton's softening of the blows by executive action there was a certain retreat in the European Union to see what could be done by negotiation? Is the time coming when it will be necessary to turn up the pressure again to its original level or is it the Government's opinion that the President's recent executive concession will make that still unnecessary?
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, we shall continue to seek to persuade and influence the United States, and in particular Congress, to adopt a rather different posture on these matters. The President is not in an easy position and I very much welcome his intervention, to which I referred earlier, which was announced only today. That is a constructive move. The trouble is that there is a real difference of opinion within the United States. We shall continue to express our attitude and that of our colleagues in Europe to ensure that the most liberal terms of trade can be applied and that proper trade can be resumed with Cuba.
Lord Quirk: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. Would she agree that any curriculum is only as good as its delivery, both by those responsible for teaching it and to those who are going to be? And, if so, which body will she be charging with the task of monitoring the ability and willingness of teacher trainers to instruct their trainees, the future teachers, in these new curricula?
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, yes, of course, I agree that, if it is to be effective, the curriculum will depend on the way in which it is delivered, who delivers it and how well it is delivered. We have already written to institutions making clear the new requirements that they must meet, and we shall issue a formal departmental circular confirming those requirements.
All training provision will continue to be subject to rigorous inspection by Ofsted, which will ensure that providers meet the new requirements. The White Paper makes clear that firm action will be taken where provision fails to meet the new standards.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, as the poor quality of much of our initial teaching training over the past 30 years or so starts to be generally recognised by the public, would the Government reconsider the proposal to allow mothers, whose children have grown up but who in their day achieved good degrees or good
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, the noble Lord suggests that the quality of teacher training has been inadequate for a long time. I must remind your Lordships' House that the noble Lord's party was in government for 18 years and perhaps took rather a long time to rectify some of those problems. The new Government are doing so immediately.
The noble Lord asked a question about the training of mothers who wish to return or take up a job in teaching. It is just as important that women, even if experienced as mothers, should receive proper training to be teachers as it is for any young person who wishes to join the profession.
Lord Parry: My Lords, will my noble friend accept that there are two further dimensions in relation to the question asked by the noble Lord opposite? First, some of the best and most experienced teachers in the land have been bought early out of service in order to solve financial problems which have existed over a number of years. They now provide a pool of people who might well come into service in giving voluntary assistance with, for example, reading problems. But it is highly dangerous to suggest that we might inject into our professional teaching service a group of people who are not subject to the controls and disciplines which exist in the rest of the system.
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I share my noble friend's regret that qualified and experienced teachers have been forced into early retirement in some parts of the country as a result of shortage of funding.
As regards the second part of my noble friend's question, it would be extremely desirable if some of those teachers were available to be recruited back into the profession; and if they are not available, that they might do some voluntary work. But of course it is important that all teachers in our schools are trained properly for the job in hand.
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