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Early Intervention (Nottingham)

Volume 461: debated on Wednesday 20 June 2007

2. What progress has been made in setting up a national and local partners group to examine the concept of a package of early intervention measures in Nottingham. (143852)

Let me begin by joining the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald) in paying tribute to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who has been a good friend of mine for many years. I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster, North (Edward Miliband), would agree that we have both very much enjoyed working with her in the past year and have learned a great deal from her.

I am keen to support Nottingham’s proposals for developing the idea of the early intervention city, and I pay tribute to my hon. Friend’s energetic campaign in that regard. As he will know, my officials have had regular contact with local agencies in Nottingham regarding this issue. In March, they attended a meeting setting out the policy context, and I understand that we expect to have a first steering group meeting between officials and local partners in August.

May I, from the Back Benches, join my Front-Bench colleagues in their congratulations to my right hon. Friend, particularly on her personal energy and commitment in the area of early intervention, which has made a big difference to many of us?

Does my hon. Friend the Minister accept that a definition of an early intervention policy must mean that it seeks to break the inter-generational cycle of deprivation, not merely maintain it? Although the nurse family partnership is a cornerstone of that policy, does he accept that there are many other aspects to that package of policies, including working with youngsters at primary school, working with young mothers, and developing a set of pre-parenting skills, as we are trying to do in Nottingham? Will he therefore redouble his efforts—

I agree that the nurse family partnership is only one aspect of what is needed to break the cycle of inter-generational poverty and social exclusion. There are many other excellent programmes out there, including the incredible years programme, which is being pioneered in north Wales and other parts of the country. It is very exciting that my hon. Friend and other partners in Nottingham are trying to develop an all-encompassing approach in order to do the best job that they can in breaking that cycle of disadvantage and increasing opportunity for the next generation of Nottingham’s children.