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House of Commons Hansard
02 February 2011
Volume 522
  • 7. What recent discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills on the effects of her Department's policies on apprentices on the number of apprentices in Wales. [36725]

  • I have regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues on a range of issues, including apprentices. The Government believe that apprenticeships are a key component of the development of work force skills and one of the best forms of work-based learning.

  • Will the Secretary of State give Welsh backing to my campaign—supported by the Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, my hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr Hayes), who is responsible for apprenticeships—for the establishment of a royal society of apprentices and an apprenticeship card to provide training, support and mentoring which would benefit apprentices in the whole United Kingdom, including Wales?

  • This is the first time I have heard about such a scheme from my hon. Friend. Next week is apprenticeship week: between 7 and 11 February, efforts will be made to encourage more businesses to provide opportunities for apprentices in Wales. I should be delighted to meet my hon. Friend, and to give whatever support I can to that new organisation in order to confer greater status on what I consider to be a fantastic opportunity for many young people.

  • There is a general consensus across the House that we need more apprenticeships in Wales, including apprenticeships in such areas as green technology. Will the Secretary of State ask the Secretaries of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and for Energy and Climate Change to reconsider their ports policy, which allows the construction of wind farms throughout the United Kingdom? The Government have now changed the rules to give English ports precedence over Welsh ports. Will the Secretary of State ask them to reconsider, and to introduce joined- up thinking to attract inward investment and create apprenticeships?

  • Despite the deficit, we remain committed to apprenticeships, as, I am sure, does the hon. Gentleman. We are spending £250 million a year in England, and the Welsh Assembly Government have received consequential funding.

    I have looked into one of the issues pertaining to ports, namely the money provided by the Department of Energy and Climate Change for renewables. I understand that there has been a Barnettised consequential. However, I will double-check because I know how important the issue is, but I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that when matters are Barnettised, he should press the Welsh Assembly Government to spend the funds in that way.

  • Order. Far too many private conversations are taking place in the Chamber. I want to hear Stephen Mosley.