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Many in the House will know that my right hon. Friend and I share similar backgrounds. He was raised by a single mother on a council estate in county Durham,
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just as I was raised by a single mother in Tottenham. In a sense we have always shared a concern for social mobility. He has had much to say about whether the opportunities he had then exist to the same extent today.

I am obviously not part of the 1958 generation; I am part of the 1970 generation. I experienced my secondary schooling in the 1980s and university in the early ’90s. In that sense, I suspect I share much with the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central (Jenny Willott), who is younger than me and who certainly— [Interruption.] If I am not careful, I am going to get into trouble saying any more, but she looks very young indeed!

As regards the evidence that the panel brought to bear on the cohort of young people coming through from the 1970s, I suppose I had reason to reflect on being the exception rather than the rule. I was raised, as I said, in inner-city Tottenham—part of the country that experienced serious social unrest in a period of its history, arising from real problems experienced by its black and ethnic minority community—and I am acutely aware of the community out of which I became a Minister.

Some of that was due to luck—the networks and the social concern that gathered around me, and the youth workers, teachers, priests and others. Internships can provide jobs in the Easter and summer holidays, and can give people their big break. I was fortunate enough—in a sense—to be able to leave Tottenham and to be educated in Peterborough.

I commend my right hon. Friend for a particular dimension of his work. He has not just examined socio-economic disadvantage—the disadvantage that still exists for women and people with disabilities, especially those from poorer backgrounds. He has also been keen to examine geography. We forget how many professions are centred largely on our major cities, particularly the city of London. That is certainly true of my profession, the Bar, but many of our senior doctors and architects are also part of what has historically been a metropolitan elite. Those who grow up in suburban Peterborough, Swindon or Basingstoke, or much further afield—further north, perhaps, in towns such as Middlesbrough—will find it extremely difficult to gain access to the networks that I have described. I look forward to learning from my right hon. Friend’s report how such opportunities can be provided, but I know that internships are part of the answer.

Both the hon. Member for Havant (Mr. Willetts) and the hon. Member for Cardiff, Central pointed out that university was a key element of the necessary journey. Although I wish that the progress that we have made over the past 10 years had been even greater—I think that all hon. Members share that wish—I hope that Opposition Members in particular agree that the Aimhigher programme has made an important difference. This week we are celebrating the work of Aimhigher co-ordinators and associates.

“Westminster Constituency Profiles”, which is available from the House of Commons Library, shows that huge progress has been made in nearly every constituency in terms of the participation rates among young people at universities, and that real progress has been made in those among young people from poorer socio-economic backgrounds. For instance, in the south London constituency of the Leader of the House, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Camberwell and
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Peckham (Ms Harman), 525 teenagers went to university last year, compared with 185 in 1997. That is an increase of 184 per cent. In Dagenham, a part of London about which many of us express concern—especially following last week’s elections, when progress was made by the British National party—340 youngsters went to university last year, compared with just 125 in 1997. That is an increase of 172 per cent. That is down to the work of schools connecting to universities. Over the past four or five years, we have learned what works. We know that summer schools work and that universities, with buildings that are available for so much of the summer, can make a considerable difference.

The hon. Member for Cardiff, Central mentioned the important role of parents, and their intervention is also important. Manchester Metropolitan and Liverpool universities are extending their work not just with young people in the schools around them, but with their families and parents to lift those aspirations. In cities such as Sheffield or Liverpool, people have seen the university as that place on the hill—an ivory tower; a place that is “not for me”. I commend the work of Aimhigher Associates, a recent programme involving young people going back into schools to champion universities and, importantly, to help much younger people in primary school and early secondary understand the process. That goes back to the point about information, careers and guidance. There is a need to understand the UCAS process.

I was told by the vice-chancellor of Bristol university that many courses are less competitive, and that schoolchildren from independent schools understand that and know to apply for courses that need slightly lower grades. However, that knowledge was not present in the state sector. It is now coming in because the associates—those young people who applied a few years ago—have conveyed it to young people.

We need to extend the work and recognise that there are parts of the country where university is a long way away. We must spread networks, which is what we have done through the National Council for Educational Excellence and the work of Professor Steve Smith, the vice-chancellor of Exeter university, who was able to show that every university now has a policy programme on widening participation. The vast majority of universities are offering summer schools and all are working with schools in their local neighbourhoods. There is much more to do, but the programme is in place and the evidence base is there.

With regard to the panel, it is my real hope that we will be able not just to have a conversation about what Government, universities and schools can do but about what the Government, with our expertise, can do in greater partnership with the professions. All of us will recognise that it can frustrating when a particular profession—one has been mentioned several times today—is way behind others because best practice has not filtered through. Part of the panel’s work will help us to move to a benchmark of standards for professions learning from one another so that we can make the advance that is needed.

The debate is hugely important for our wider economy—although it is, of course, taking place at a difficult time for the economy. There has been, and will continue to be, a substantial rise in the number of professional and managerial positions in the UK—from one in 13 at the
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turn of the century to one in three now, and with the prospect of still further progress over the next decade to 2020. Some studies suggest that up to 7 million new professionals will be needed by 2020, and that does not even take into account some of the new professions. The digital economy will be important to our future. We also know that our future has to be sustainable, and the renewables debate is particularly important in that regard. Technology and engineering are central to our economic future as well, as are the life sciences. All those emerging sectors will provide new professions that we will want to ensure all our young people are able to access.

The labour market’s requirement for ever-higher skills and knowledge will place new pressures on teachers not only in schools, but in further and higher education. We also must not forget that the average age in this country is rising, so there will be retirements to consider, and we must ensure that people of a broad age range can access the jobs. There is, therefore, an economic case for the huge importance of this subject, and there is also a social justice case, which was eloquently put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Darlington.

I hope that it is not controversial to suggest that the history of this country has largely been an elitist one. In the 19th and much of the 20th centuries we could get away with that because of our manufacturing economic base. Few people went to university, and skilled jobs were available in manufacturing and in industries such as shipbuilding and coal mining, and also in agriculture, with its heritage of the market towns that there still are in some Members’ constituencies. That will not be the right prescription going forward, however. We cannot be content with such a situation. We must recognise that talent exists in all places and ensure that everyone has these opportunities, and the politics and public policy to support that must also be put in place.

The hon. Member for Braintree (Mr. Newmark) was right to point to Harvard’s ability to access young people from the very poorest parts of America. I recall that when I was at Harvard it was the most diverse institution I had studied at other than my primary school in Tottenham, and there must be more that we can do in that regard. There are complications in this picture, however. It is probably right to say that in America the discourse around African-American disadvantage in particular has resulted in an advance in institutions such as Harvard, but I am sure the hon. Gentleman will recognise that there are significant issues in respect of “the white working-class American”, who is, perhaps, not as greatly represented in institutions such as Harvard. This points to a wider debate that goes back to the point that my right hon. Friend the Member for Darlington made about the data on socio-economic disadvantage, and I look forward to learning what his report has to say about that.

Hon. Members have also had much to say about information, advice and guidance—that has been the common theme of most contributions. I am pleased that I have been able to work with colleagues in the Department for Children, Schools and Families and that it will shortly publish a new strategy on careers advice for schools. The picture there is complex; it is right to say that the straight comparison between state
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schools and independent schools is slightly unfair. The cohort and the backgrounds of children who go to independent schools mean that one pays one's money and the return is university. The cohort and the backgrounds of young people in state schools are more complex. The challenges, and defining what success is for teachers, particularly in state schools, make that picture and the job of providing information, advice and guidance much more complex. For that reason we introduced the Connexions service, which has been particularly helpful for the most vulnerable young people in its ability to connect up information about not only careers, but sexual health, drug addiction and other things. We must take a hard look at how to move forward on information, advice and guidance as we progress to this new landscape where local authorities are in the driving seat.

A number of issues are emerging from the work that my Department was doing with the DCSF. We recognised that teacher attitude is important and that many teachers have not experienced our most competitive universities. A few weeks ago, I asked people from Oxford university to come to my constituency to meet head teachers and principals of the local college and the local education authority, because we are still yet to send a young person from a Tottenham school to Oxford. The teachers were asking what an Oxford pupil looks like and what the standard was, because more information on that needs to be available if our teachers are to help. The discussion has been very meaningful and a work programme has been put together, but it illustrates that teacher attitude and access to better information will be very important.

It is also important to recognise that many schools—often those in the most deprived areas—are schools for those aged 10 to 16. In a sense, it is understandable that, as we have been driving up standards to the extent where 46 per cent. of young people get five good GCSEs including English and Maths, the emphasis has been on standards. We need to ensure that the progression routes beyond GCSE and A-level, particularly those into the labour market and higher education, are better understood.

This new strategy is not just about schools; it is also about further education, and information, advice and guidance, particularly that provided between higher education and further education. The hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr. Hayes) and I have had much to say over the years about advice on apprenticeships, and I hope that the Bill that passed through this House last year will mean that that will get better, but in FE issues have been raised about the advice to all of our universities.

Mr. Willetts: I am sure that the Minister has looked at the evidence—I believe that the right hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Milburn) referred to this—from the Futuretrack report on applying for higher education, which presented findings from a survey of the class of 2006. It shows shocking ignorance about the options; a lot of people said that they wished that they had had access to advice. What people particularly want—this is what hon. Members on both sides of the House were calling for—is professional careers advice from a distinctive careers service. For whatever reason, that is what has been lost from view with the creation of Connexions. I wonder whether the Minister could say something to recognise the case made by those on both sides of the
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House today in support of that initiative: the provision of independent careers advice that cuts across ages and would cover schools, FE and wider matters. I hope that we might hear more from him on that crucial initiative.

Mr. Lammy: I recognise the description that the hon. Gentleman gives. However, I shall not anticipate the report that will be published shortly by my colleagues in the Department for Children, Schools and Families, who will address these issues in their strategy. Nor do I wish to anticipate the work of my right hon. Friend the Member for Darlington, who would have something to say about that. I recognise the issue, and as the Minister with responsibility for higher education, I might be expected to be very keen to ensure that young people understand the opportunities that exist.

Much has also been said about internships. These are critical and important, and that is why my right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham) was keen when Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills to ensure in this difficult time that the Government do all that they can to galvanise the country to offer more internships to young people as they graduate this summer and into the autumn. I am pleased that we have seen firms such as Network Rail, Channel Four, Abbey and Microsoft and the police and others indicating that they will offer internships for young people.

Many organisations have described their internships as what some of us might call work placements—opportunities within a degree course. Our aim has been to galvanise that attention to life after graduation. Employers are coming on board, and the hon. Member for Havant is right to say that we are offering the graduate talent pool website. We have put money behind that and the Government’s role is to co-ordinate and galvanise it. Our efforts must last not just through September but into next year and beyond as different employers seek to offer opportunities for young people that will last for different periods. Whether for three months or six months, young people will have the opportunity to obtain the skills that will put them in a stronger position to gain permanent employment.

The hon. Member for Cardiff, Central mentioned apprenticeships in this place, and it is important to provide opportunities for those who live way outside London. That is why I was in Manchester last week,
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ensuring that we see a flowering of internships in that city, so that they are available to young people in the north-west.

Much has also been said, especially by the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings, about informal adult learning. We have had that discussion many times in this place, and I hope that he will recognise the work of my right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen in the recent White Paper, “The Learning Revolution”, which was published only in March, and the new fund of £20 million to help to garner cross-sector projects in that area. There is also an existing £210 million budget, so people should not get the impression that no learning for learning’s sake is happening across the country. Of course it is, and it is funded not only by my Department, but by the Department of Health and the Department for Children, Schools and Families. My colleagues in the Department for Communities and Local Government fund lots of activities in many areas—in particular, they are aimed at achieving social cohesion—to keep the informal adult learning going.

The work that was set up by the Prime Minister in January, which has been taken forward so well by my right hon. Friend the Member for Darlington, is hugely important. It has been a great pleasure to hear the warmth with which the House has commended that work and with which it looks forward to his report later in the summer. Of course, we will have differences about how to do such work. The Government, in particular, are concerned about any proposals for cuts that might lead to problems with apprentices and with routes beyond school. I hope that the hon. Member for Havant will make the case within the Opposition to ensure that the funding is there to increase social mobility.

I am grateful to have taken part in this debate. I commend the work that has gone on and thank all the panel members and the civil servants in the Cabinet Office for all that they are doing. This work will make a huge difference for many young people and adults across this country. It is a tribute to the best that can come from the House of Commons and the metropolitan elite here in London.

Question put and agreed to.


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Giles Carlyle-Clarke

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. —(Ms Butler.)

5.22 pm

Mr. Robert Walter (North Dorset) (Con): I am very grateful for the opportunity to raise again in the House the case of my constituent, Mr. Giles Carlyle-Clarke. It will probably be helpful if I provide a little background to this case, which I think concerns a serious question of human rights. It is also no coincidence that most of the extradition cases that find themselves being discussed on the Floor of this House concern extradition to the United States.

By way of background, I should tell the House that my constituent, Giles Carlyle-Clarke, was extradited to the United States in 2006. He has served a short prison sentence in the US and is now living back in the United Kingdom. It will be recalled that there was an Adjournment debate on the case in this House on 24 March 2005, which can be found at column 1095 in Hansard. The then Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, the right hon. Member for Don Valley (Caroline Flint), who is now unemployed—

The Minister for Borders and Immigration (Mr. Phil Woolas): She is working. She is still an MP.

Mr. Walter: She is still an MP, of course. On that occasion, she was reluctant to respond and it is also true that she sought Mr. Speaker’s assistance in trying to rule the debate out of order on the basis that it might be sub judice. Mr. Speaker supported my position and the debate went ahead, although the Minister was still reluctant to give answers to some of the questions that I raised. I know that she had reservations because she felt that she may have been operating in a quasi-judicial role. However, I believe that she was responsible to Parliament for the decisions that had been made, and that it was therefore appropriate that those decisions should be questioned here in the House.

The subject of this debate is the process behind the extradition of my constituent Mr. Giles Carlyle-Clarke. He was wanted by the US Government in relation to four charges involving the smuggling of cannabis into the US, and the possession of cannabis there, between 1983 and 1988. The charges therefore related to events that took place more than 20 years ago.

Mr. Carlyle-Clarke was extradited to the US in 2005, and I do not intend to deal with the case itself, but it is a matter of record that, in November 2006, in what I think is described as a plea bargain, Mr. Carlyle-Clarke pleaded guilty to charges of drug smuggling. In February 2007, he was sentenced to three years in prison. As I said earlier, he has now been released and is back in the UK.

The case that I put to the Minister at the time of the earlier debate was simple, and it has not changed. To extradite an individual for alleged crimes that the authorities claim took place between 17 and 22 years previously is unjust and oppressive, when that individual has been living openly and not as a fugitive from justice. He and his family have lived at the same address for several hundred years, and he had given that address as his principal residence for at least the 26 years previous to the case being heard.

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As I said at the time of the previous debate, the decision is unprecedented, as it seems to ignore article 6 of the European convention on human rights, which states that everyone is entitled to a

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