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Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. May I remind the hon. Gentleman, not for the first time, as I recall, that he is addressing me and not the Minister?

Mr. Graham: I apologise, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is one of the problems that we have in the House after not speaking for so long. We forget the rules, but I will still try to say what I passionately believe. The Minister has failed education in Scotland. He is failing our young folk and therefore he is not giving them the hope that we want. He is not giving them that aspiration.

What is education for? Can the Minister tell me that? Why do we educate young folk and spend money? Why do we bother? Does the Minister want to send them back to work in the mines when they are five years of age and in the mills on bread and butter? Many of us ask, "What are the Government's education policies about?" I know what my education policies are about. They are to ensure a better life for all of us, and that young folk have a good healthy life, retire in comfort and, I hope, achieve their lifelong ambitions. For all of us, that is not easy. A Government can, however, open the door at the early stage of education. They can ensure that education institutions are correct. They can try, but this Government do not try.

Mrs. Ewing: My hon. Friend is speaking with great passion on education and I endorse much of what he has said. Given that both he and I, although I am slightly younger than him, agree that one of the most fundamental aspects of our education system is that we should have a professional qualified staff, has the Minister said whether there will be additionally trained staff to supply the education under the voucher scheme, which we all think is ridiculous?

Mr. Graham: I am sure that the Minister will attempt to answer that, but, today, we had a profound statement from the Secretary of State for Scotland, which sounded like a bag of wind because there was no substance behind it to deliver what we are rightly demanding: education provisions and resources for our kids to see their education through.

The two young men about whom I spoke are my sons, so I know what I am saying. Both my kids came through state provision. Both were educated in Linwood. Both went to a nursery school, a local primary school and Linwood high school. I am delighted about the state education that our young folk have received and I am overwhelmed at the tremendous generosity of school teachers, who work hard to ensure that not just my two sons, but other kids receive an education.

Many young folk in Linwood have done very well. I remember the devastation that the league table caused to young and older teachers who worked in an area with tremendous unemployment. The Minister is condemning kids to fail because their mothers and fathers have been

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unemployed since the old Chrysler car factory shut. They are still unemployed after 10 years. Their kids do not have separate rooms and the parents do not have the money to pay for extras for their kids' education--they look to the state to bear the burden because they are living off the state. Many are living on invalidity benefit and are seriously ill but some still have young families.

One of the major problems facing the Tory party in Scotland is its lack of councillors. The Government have undermined local government so much that their own folk no longer want to serve on local government. The Government therefore no longer have the talented old Tories that I remember. By the way, I do not condemn all Tories. Indeed, I remember some very good ones. I remember Len Turpie who was an excellent councillor. He could stand up and argue for quality in education. I remember Guys like old Councillor Farquharson who is dead now. He was a damn good man who also fought to the end. These folk would be turning in their grave if they saw the Government's lack of commitment to education in Scotland. I am not condemning all Tories but I am condemning the Government and the Minister for not standing up for young folk.

I remember when Tory councillors made healthy contributions but I also saw their sadness during the Thatcher years when the Government were for ever making cuts, when their cherished aims and ambitions to see kids in their area educated were failing, when the clubs and youth clubs were shutting and when pre-five education provision was not being supported. They asked me whether there was any way I could get the funding in Eastwood because I looked after part of the Eastwood scene under urban aid. I remember good councillors like old Robbie Robson and others asking me for money for this or that scheme because they needed the resources.

The solution is not just to throw money at the problem. We must ensure proper provision. We need to see a change of heart and direction on the part of the Government. Today was an opportunity for the Government to discuss the way forward with all those concerned in Scotland. Clearly, the Government lack the support and background information that they used to get from the old Tories, the ones who were concerned about and worked in local government. That is all behind them. The Government sit and make judgments in an ivory tower and distrust everyone. It is astounding that there is only one Scottish Tory Member in the Chamber, and that is the Minister.

Mrs. Ewing: And the other one is sleeping.

Mr. Graham: If I shout loud enough, perhaps other Scottish Tories Members will come and listen to my pearls and gems of wisdom. If I shout loud enough, perhaps old Len Turpie will come to their defence and give them his pearls of wisdom. Jenny Browning might appear; perhaps the great Mr. Farquharson or the old Stan Dean will come and bail them out of the terrible hole they are in. However, it is all our kids who are in a hole because of the Government's lack of commitment.

I mentioned the Scottish Pre-School Play Association. Perhaps the Minister could listen to what it has said and consider its funding. That would be a step in the right direction--we could even be on a winner there.

I have to mention school boards. When I was a councillor I attended my school council faithfully--the Minister can check my record. I attended as many

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meetings as I could as a regional councillor for nine years. I also attended my community council meetings faithfully for nine years, not out of a sense of responsibility but because I wanted to. I may not have had the greatest of educations. I certainly do not have any degrees--the only degrees I have are the cold ones--but I was an engineer and served my apprenticeship. I worked hard to get my engineering qualification. When I became a councillor, I took an interest in education and my community.

At that time, school councils were well attended. They drew people from a wider area and those people made a genuine commitment and contribution, although perhaps that did not happen everywhere in Scotland. Lo and behold, however, the Minister's grand plan is that every school should have a school board. Parent-teacher associations struggled, went up and down and in and out of the game, but school councils remained a stabilising force. If the PTAs were not too strong, people could at least contribute to the school councils, thus keeping those councils alive.

Since the advent of school boards, it would be useful and interesting to have some facts and figures about attendance, their make-up and composition. I have never seen any statistics giving an indication whether school boards are really working across Scotland. Hon. Members should not get me wrong; I know many members of school boards who attend assiduously and do their best. They tell me, "Tommy, it's a great struggle. There aren't many of us which makes it very difficult." Some hanker for the old school councils. We do not want to turn back the clock but the old system could have been improved instead of the Government's scheme being introduced. The Government thought that they were improving things by providing more devolution but, as the troops were thin on the ground, they felt that they could not improve the system. I hope that school boards are a success, but I believe that there should always be the umbrella of a school council.

I feel that the Government are not listening. They are not getting support from their people on the ground. They do not have many people on the ground--that is what I have been saying all night.

As I have already stressed, many school teachers have been playing their part in highlighting the problems in Scottish education. Many people are dedicated to ensuring good education in Scotland. I see that in some politicians, officials, certainly in the teaching profession and also in people outside the profession. However, I am worried about the Government's totally undemocratic domination of Scottish education over the past 16 years. They say that they will increase democracy but it becomes a closed book. They say that they will listen to people but they then reject everything folk tell them. They have directed education and the curriculum but not to the good.

My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Rutherglen (Mr. McAvoy) mentioned the three Rs. I believe that children should be able to do arithmetic and should know the alphabet but, 17 years on, the Government should look at the kids around them. What is happening is mind boggling. Some kids' parents have the wherewithal to provide computers and equipment at home. When my two sons talk to me about the Internet and websites, I have to hang my head in shame. I have not been able to keep up, but nor have the Government kept up with the changes. They have not kept up with the advantages that we could be gaining through the computer network. I am delighted

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that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has grasped its importance and is pushing ahead. He hopes that the Labour Government will deliver the Internet to every school in the country.

This Government have been in office for 17 years--the Minister himself corrected me and told me that it was17 years and is very proud of that fact--but how many young folk can now operate computers? I have mentioned kids whose parents have the wherewithal to provide such things, but I have met staff who have asked youngsters whether they can operate a computer. No, they cannot. They never learnt how. I am talking about 17, 18, 19 and 20-year-olds. It is horrifying.

How can we have any faith in the Government or in a voucher scheme that is set at such a low level--£1,100? How can we have any faith in a Government who not only turn the clock back but return us to the dark ages of S1 and S2? I tell the Minister: I wish that hon. Members could turn the clock back to 1979, and that we could have had a continuation of a Labour Government. Perhaps the folk in this country who we look after would then have seen the benefits of high technology--of the highways and byways of the computer world.

The Minister may laugh, but I assure him that the folk in my constituency have suffered too long at the hands of this Government--with raging unemployment, factory after factory closing, job opportunities being missed and squandered, education opportunities being missed, and with young folk who were promised an education or training place being denied them.

Who said, "Every kid who leaves school will be guaranteed an education or training place"? The Prime Minister said it. What happened to that commitment? It went in the bin. That was the Government's education and training offer. We cannot trust anything they say because they will not deliver a healthy, educated young man and woman in Scotland to take on the world.

I remember the days when a Scotsman and a Scotswoman, well educated, could go to any part of the world and be given a job. Those people have contributed to America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They helped to sail the ships of the nation and to build shipyards and engineering factories from the UK to Russia to America. That is the opportunity that the Government have denied--the opportunity for a good education and a sound, solid and secure future. Those opportunities are driven by a quality education, not by a bum Government.

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