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University Technical Colleges

Volume 533: debated on Monday 17 October 2011

May I tell the Secretary of State how much I support the introduction of UTCs, but will he guarantee that they will not be delayed by any unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape and that he will ensure that the process is not frustrated and slowed down by officials in his Department?

When it comes to dealing with bureaucracy and red tape, the officials in my Department are allies. They are terrible, swift swords cutting through the bureaucracy that has so far held this country back.

This country is desperately short of skills in science, engineering and technology and far too few girls and women study those subjects. What will the Secretary of State do to ensure that at least 50% of the pupils who will go to UTCs are female?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady and know that she has recently completed a report on some of the barriers to young women taking advantage of the opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. A new UTC is opening in Sheffield and I hope to be able to work with her to ensure that it generates enthusiasm among boys and girls in Sheffield and across South Yorkshire for the superb education it will offer.

The Secretary of State will perhaps be aware of recent correspondence I sent to his ministerial team about the possibility of opening a UTC in Newton Abbot. Has he had an opportunity to consider the proposal, which would transform our local economy, and would one of his team be prepared to meet me to discuss it?

One of my team will be more than happy to meet my hon. Friend—I imagine my colleagues will be fighting to see her. Plymouth is already benefitting from a new UTC, but there is no reason why other equally beautiful parts of Devon should not also benefit.