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Adult and Community Learning

Volume 491: debated on Thursday 30 April 2009

6. What arrangements his Department has made for adult and community learning provision in 2009-10; and if he will make a statement. (271881)

We will invest £210 million in adult community learning in England in 2009-10. We also recently published “The Learning Revolution” White Paper, setting out our ambitious vision for informal learning in the 21st century, with an additional £30 million funding for such learning this year.

I thank the Minister for his reply, but is this not just a cover for the £1.5 million-worth of cuts that the Government brought in for these services in 2005?

I am surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman repeat that, because he will know that what his constituents need, particularly at this time, is investment in skills, particularly through Train to Gain, in the workplace. That is precisely what we have done and what we are continuing to do. He should separate that from the learning revolution strategy and, quite rightly, the new investment that we are now making in learning for learning’s sake and in all the fantastic activity that is going on in constituencies such as his in supporting book clubs and work funded by other Departments. That is what we are doing, and it is the right thing to do.

Adult education in Wolverhampton is run by the city council, which is controlled by the Conservative party and the Liberal Democrats in a rotten coalition. I urge my right hon. Friend to take no lessons from the Conservative party—the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Scott) referred to cuts of £1.5 million—because in Wolverhampton alone, the Tory coalition has cut £640,000 from adult education. Will my right hon. Friend join me in condemning that as disgraceful?

It is a disgrace; my hon. Friend is right. It is also a disgrace that the official Opposition indicate that they will make cuts of £610 million, but give no sign of where the axe would fall.

Will the Minister pay attention and look at the college of West Anglia, which has a fantastic reputation for adult and community learning provision? Is he aware that it was granted in principle funding for two new sites, with capital expenditure of £150 million, but that that has been put on hold? The college has spent all its reserves and made major commitments. Is he aware that the project was to have been part of a major regeneration programme in south King’s Lynn and an aspect of a key skills agenda in an area where unemployment is going up?

The hon. Gentleman puts his case, as have many hon. Members. I refer him to what has been said.