Our craft industries contribute £3 billion a year to the British economy and are an important source of new apprenticeships. As they have been neglected in the past, the Government have formed the craft skills advisory board to ensure that practitioners have a voice in Government, and have established the craft awards to give our craftsmen and women the national recognition that they deserve.
In his absence, may I commend the Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning for the passion that he has shown for our traditional crafts? May I also thank His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales for the interest that he has shown in this area? Does the Minister agree that we should do all we can to encourage more young people to work with their hands as well as their brains, which will not only allow them to earn a decent income, but build their self-esteem?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. On the subject of traditional craft skills, the enthusiasm and support of my hon. Friend the Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning are matched only by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. Indeed, I understand that the Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning granted an audience to the Prince and that the main topic of their conversation was the importance of traditional craft skills for the future. On that, I think there is complete agreement.