HC Deb 22 March 2000 vol 346 c968
7. Mr. Martin Caton (Gower)

What discussions he has had with public and private sector representatives in Wales about the Learning and Skills Bill [Lords]. [114268]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. David Hanson)

Since the Learning and Skills Bill was introduced last December, I have met, and discussed the Bill with, National Assembly members. I have had a number of meetings with representatives of the Wales TUC, CBI (Wales), the Welsh Development Agency and local authorities.

Mr. Caton

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Does he agree that the creation of the Council for Education and Training in Wales gives us the chance of a new start for post-16 education? It will replace competition with co-operation in our institutions, and give equal values to different options in education and training after 16. The hope is that it will get rid of some of the demarcation lines in institutions. Will he join me in congratulating Gorseinon college in my constituency on its high-quality, cross-curricular approach, which has led to the college winning the prestigious Paul Hamlyn Beacon award for outstanding achievement in the performing arts?

Mr. Hanson

I certainly join my hon. Friend in congratulating Gorseinon college on winning the award, as it is an important achievement. The Learning and Skills Bill aims to modernise post-16 education and training in Wales, to drive up standards and to address the skills needs of the economy, business and individuals. It also aims to ensure the greater coherence and choice to which my hon. Friend referred. I commend the Bill to the House, and I hope that it will receive the support of all hon. Members in Wales, and elsewhere.