- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
At Business Questions this week I asked for a statement on UCAS’s data which shows that the number of people applying to become teachers has fallen by a third in the past year, with 6,510 fewer applicants for teacher training in this academic year compared with 2015-16. I also asked for a statement from the Secretary of State for Education on why the number of teachers asking for financial support from the charity Education Support Partnership is up 40% on last year.
Here are the issues I raised:
I thank the Leader of the House for giving us the business. I also thank her for her letter about the new list of ministerial responsibilities, which states that this is scheduled for March and that the new list might be available soon. I do not know whether the Government are waiting for changes—perhaps the Foreign Secretary is now going to become the Health Secretary, although he was reminded by the Chancellor that he is the Foreign Secretary. Ministers must know their responsibilities by now—otherwise, the Government would be in a shambles—so may we have the update sooner rather than later?
May we also have the date on which Parliament will rise in July? We only have the date when we return on 4 June, and I have been summoned for jury service and would like to know the date when I will be available.
I thank the Leader of the House for tabling the motions on restoration and renewal and for the debate on the subject. Having two motions will rather complicate the three-hour debate, however. At last week’s business questions, she said:
“Because of the seriousness of the decision before the House, the two motions will not be amendable; it will be a case of either the first motion or, if that falls, the second motion.”—[Official Report, 18 January 2018; Vol. 634, c. 1062.]
I hope that she is not trying to bind Parliament. I checked “Erskine May”, and it states that
“if the amended notice does not exceed the scope of the original notice and the Speaker decides that it is proper for the motion to be moved in the altered form”,
it can be tabled. I say hoorah for democracy and hoorah for you, Mr Speaker, because we know that an amendment has now been tabled. This is an important matter—I concur with the Leader of the House on this—and I have been down to the basement. It is important for Members to know that costs are being incurred every day that a decision is not being made.
My hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Tonia Antoniazzi) made a point of order yesterday on the Swansea bay tidal lagoon, a matter that I have raised many times in business questions. Will the Leader of the House ensure that the Prime Minister responds to the letter that the First Minister, Carwyn Jones, sent seven weeks ago offering financial help for the project? This Government should be working with the Welsh Government on a project that would be a world first. The First Minister is not Owain Glyndŵr; he is a very clever, democratically elected First Minister.
We know that the Government are committed to the environment, because they said so in their 151-page document “A Green Future”, but amazingly, that document made no mention of fracking. I draw the attention of the Leader of the House to a new study, “Sustainability of UK shale gas in comparison with other electricity options”, which examines the environmental, economic and social sustainability of fracking. May we have a statement on why exploratory drilling is going ahead in Lancashire when the study ranked shale gas seventh out of nine different energy sources?
May we have a statement on the UCAS data showing that the number of people applying to become teachers has fallen by a third in the past year, with 6,510 fewer applicants for teacher training in this academic year compared with 2015-16? Sadly, we need a statement from the Secretary of State for Education on why the number of teachers asking for financial support from the charity Education Support Partnership is up 40% on last year.
We want our teachers to teach our children personal, social and health and economic education. The Leader of the House will have heard about the events at the Presidents Club in yesterday’s urgent question from my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Jess Phillips), in which the hon. Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Layla Moran) and my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester Central (Lucy Powell) called for the expedition of PSHE. Will the Leader of the House please tell us when that will happen? We need that sooner, rather than later, in our schools. Will she also tell us whether the visit by a Minister to the Presidents Club was an official visit or a private one? Whether it is the Presidents Club or “All the President’s Men”, it is an abuse of power either way.
It is important to have Opposition days. In yesterday’s debate on Carillion, I and others asked a number of questions. The Minister—not the Secretary of State—came to the House to answer the questions, and he is following up on the taskforce that the TUC has asked for. The Opposition look forward to the delivery of the documents to the Public Accounts Committee. Will the Leader of the House say when they will be delivered?
Yesterday, we also had a debate on human rights, in this, the week of Holocaust Memorial Day, which is on Saturday. The Leader of the Opposition reminded us all to sign the book of commitment, which is still available to be signed between 2 pm and 4 pm outside the Members’ Cloakroom. That is a reminder that every one of the rights in the European convention on human rights, which was enacted in UK law under the Human Rights Act 1998, was systematically violated in the second world war. As the Opposition Day debate reminded us, human rights and dignity should be at the core of our society.