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So more money is certainly going into the system, but we do have to make real choices about priorities. We are not cutting adult education funding, but we are
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re-prioritising, saying that adult basic skills and work-based training—such as the train-to-gain initiative—has to be the priority. We are putting extra resources into those areas, but we are not saying that non-vocational adult education is not valuable. However, we are saying that we expect the individual to make a slightly greater contribution. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings nods, and there is indeed a consensus on this issue. We need to bring about a cultural change that ensures that individuals contribute more to their learning, and that employers do so as well. I am very pleased to say that this week we launched the basic skills campaign, using major TV, radio and other forms of advertising to get across to people the message about the importance of skills, and the investment and commitment that they make as individuals.

The hon. Gentleman also asked about the Leitch implementation plan—the Government’s response to Sandy Leitch’s important and ground-breaking report. I made it clear earlier and I reiterate that we will produce our response to Sandy Leitch’s proposals very shortly. I repeat: nothing in this Bill contradicts the strategy that we are putting forward. Many times today and in Committee, the hon. Gentleman has tried to make great play of that issue, but when we launch the implementation plan, he will see that it is absolutely coherent and consistent with the measures in the Bill.

The hon. Gentleman also questioned me about the powers of intervention—an issue on which we have had a major debate this afternoon. He wanted me to make it clear that the Government are committed to FE colleges, and we certainly are. Indeed, we are committed to the FE sector in a way that no previous Government ever were. He also asked me to make it clear that we want greater independence and self-regulation for colleges, and we certainly do, which is why we are introducing the proposals on self-regulation. He also wanted me to commit ourselves, following the Leitch proposals, to a further series of bold measures and steps, which we certainly will.

We are therefore responding to the concerns that the hon. Gentleman has expressed, and we want to move much further in the direction of self-regulation. However, and as I said earlier, at the same time, in extremis, when all else has failed, it is absolutely right that we retain, through the Learning and Skills Council, powers of intervention. As I said earlier, if Opposition Members discovered that a college in their constituency was fundamentally failing and were told that there was no power of intervention in those circumstances, they would not be happy with that. That is why the proposals in the Bill are so important.

My hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Kelvin Hopkins) made an important contribution. I genuinely pay tribute to the work he has done as joint chair of the all-party further education and lifelong learning group. He has been an absolute champion—

It being Six o’clock, Mr. Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair, pursuant to Order [21 May].

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed, with amendments.

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Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): With the leave of the House, I shall put motions 2 to 7 together.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Delegated Legislation Committees),

Betting, Gaming and Lotteries

Rehabilitation of Offenders

Income Tax


Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Delegated Legislation Committees),

Political Parties

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I think the Ayes have it.

Hon. Members: No.

Division deferred till Wednesday 18 July, pursuant to Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions).


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 116 (Northern Ireland Grand Committees (sittings)),

12 July 2007 : Column 1712

Question agreed to.


Hemel Hempstead General Hospital

6 pm

Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead) (Con): It is a pleasure for me to be in the Chamber this evening with my colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for South-West Hertfordshire (Mr. Gauke), to speak on an issue dear to the hearts of residents of Dacorum. All too often, young people are derided as having no interest in their local community, but two excellent young men, Alfie Rolfe and Charlie Baker, pupils of the Aycliffe Drive primary school in Hemel Hempstead in my constituency, have put together a petition to try to save their hospital. I praise those young people for the work they have done.

The petition notes that to move acute services and maternity services to an already overcrowded Watford Hospital and demolish the hospital in Hemel Hempstead would be detrimental to the health of the people of Hemel Hempstead and South-West Hertfordshire, and that the large population of Hemel Hempstead should keep the hospital that was built for them. The petition urges the Government to use their powers to stop the hospital closure.

The petition states:

To lie upon the Table.

Inland Waterways

6.2 pm

Mr. David Gauke (South-West Hertfordshire) (Con): It is a pleasure to be in the presence of my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) to speak about Britain’s inland waterways—an issue that is important to his constituents as well as to mine.

I have a somewhat diverse and disparate constituency, but one thing that Rickmansworth, Berkhamsted and Tring have in common is the fact that the Grand Union canal runs through them. There is thus considerable concern about the future of British Waterways. I am grateful to Ms Debbie Figueiredo,
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Mr. Simon Weightman, Mr. Clive Fennell and Ms Sue Thompson for their work in collecting signatures for the following petition.

The petition states:

To lie upon the Table.

12 July 2007 : Column 1714

Gareth Myatt

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. —[Mark Tami.]

6.4 pm

Ms Sally Keeble (Northampton, North) (Lab): I am grateful for this opportunity to debate the very tragic death of Gareth Myatt, to ensure that the lessons that should be learned are learned, and that Gareth’s mother, Pam, knows that other children and young people will have more safeguards.

Gareth’s death was a terrible event in which a 15-year-old boy, 4 ft 10 in tall, weighing 61/2 stone, was restrained by three members of staff and died. The details of what happened are harrowing. He went into Rainsbrook secure training centre in Northamptonshire on Friday 16 April 2004. He was restrained the first evening that he was there and then again on the Monday evening over, of all things, a row about a sandwich toaster. It was not just a tragedy; it was a scandal that it was possible for such a slight incident to escalate into the death of a boy. However, there is a second scandal in all this: the complete stonewalling of attempts by virtually everyone concerned about what goes on in the system to try to get some improvements made in the regime that led to Gareth’s death. I pay tribute at the outset to the organisations that have campaigned on the issue—in particular Inquest, which supported Gareth’s mother to ensure that all the details of her son’s death were set out at the inquest in Northamptonshire, and the Howard League for Penal Reform.

As you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have been unable to raise questions in Parliament about Gareth’s death because of the sub judice rule. There was only the briefest of official Home Office statements, and for three and a half years there has been no calling to account of the Executive over what happened to Gareth. Despite all the anxieties about the risks of the regime that led to his death, that regime has now been relaxed to lower the threshold for the use of restraint, which is why there is such anger about statutory instrument No. 1709.

I want to go through some of what happened to Gareth, so that the full horror is on the record. The summing up by Judge Richard Pollard, who presided at the inquest, set out the sequence of events. Gareth was the last person to use the unit’s sandwich toaster on the Sunday evening and took exception when he was asked to clean it up. “You clear it up,” he told staff. He was asked to go to his room, and the CCTV footage shows him calmly waiting to go to his room, where he was locked in. Shortly afterwards, he was visited by two members of staff—a man and a woman—to discuss his behaviour. He told them to get out of the room because they had no right to be there. He was then told that, because he was not calming down, the staff needed to take some stuff out of his room, and they began doing just that. They took out a magazine, then some papers and pencils. The staff said, “You’re not doing what we asked you, so I don’t see why should have these.” They then took another piece of paper that had Gareth’s mother’s new mobile phone number on it, and he shouted at them—I am sure that you will stop me if this is unparliamentary, Mr. Deputy Speaker—“You’re not fucking taking that,” and then “Don’t take my mum’s phone number.”

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Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Order. The hon. Lady should realise that words are no more acceptable because they are given in a quote. Mr. Speaker has ruled on that. She allowed herself to use that word, without my being able to stop her.

Ms Keeble: Those words were used by the judge.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I could not have made myself clearer: such words are unacceptable even if they are being used in a quote from someone else.

Ms Keeble: That was when the struggle started, and it was said that Gareth—a 61/2 stone boy—clenched his fist and swung it at the man. The officers and Gareth ended up lying on his bed, with one member of staff holding his legs and another holding his upper body. A third officer, also a man, came into the room, and Gareth was placed in an approved hold: a seated double embrace, with two members of staff holding his upper body, his torso pushed forward and one officer holding his head.

Gareth then said that he could not breathe, so the officer told him, “If you’re shouting, you can breathe.” He then said that he was going to defecate, and was told, “You will have to then,” and he actually did so. Those were his last words. Finally, while still restrained, Gareth was sick. When he was released, he was unconscious and all attempts at resuscitation failed. One member of staff concluded, “I should never have PCC’ed; he was half my size. It was rather like having run over a cat and then thinking...if I hadn’t gone down that street, it wouldn’t have happened.”

The jury found that the officer who restrained Gareth caused the death accidentally—something that, although the correct decision, the family understandably finds hard to accept. However, this was an accident waiting to happen—a completely preventable disaster—because the jury also found that a string of failings in the system had caused Gareth’s death. That is what I want to turn to in some detail.

As my right hon. Friend the Minister will know, there have been a series of criticisms of restraint in secure training centres over the years leading up to, and since, Gareth’s death. Those include concerns about the holds used, the frequency with which they have been used, and the injuries suffered by trainees and staff; concerns that the deliberate infliction of pain is being used as a means of control to get compliance; and concerns about the training of staff, the recording and reporting of incidents of restraint, the role of the Youth Justice Board and the lack of transparency. Virtually all those things were found by the jury at Gareth’s inquest to be failings that contributed to his death.

The findings of the jury in relation to the YJB were damning. They found that there had been an inadequate assessment of the safety of physical control in care and, in particular, an inadequate assessment of the seated double embrace before it was introduced, and that that inadequate assessment caused or contributed to Gareth’s death. I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister will say that that particular hold has been banned, but the jury finding related to the whole system of PCC. The inquest heard that as early as 1998 it was known that there needed to be a
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review, and by the end of the 1990s it was accepted that restraint could cause death. The judge commented in his summing up:

I know that, again, the Department wants to have a review of the whole juvenile estate, so I warn it to heed the judge’s words.

The inquest heard about failings in the training, including the lack of manuals for staff and the fact that they did not know about the risks of positional asphyxia. One member of staff said:

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