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Lord Quirk: My Lords, as a loyal Manxman, I declare some interest. May I ask whether I am not right that the Edwards Report praised not merely the Manx finance legislation as being,

but also praised the contribution that the three Crown dependencies made to UK plc in the form of some £350 billion which are,

    "channelled from the rest of the world through the Islands to the UK"?

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Furthermore, since most of the large institutions in the Isle of Man are branches of UK companies, is it not the case that the profits from those companies earned on the Isle of Man flow through to the UK?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I confirm that the noble Lord has quoted accurately from Mr. Edwards's report. I sought to give figures by way of examples of those large sums of money in terms of bank deposits. I did not include anything to do with unit trusts or insurance matters.

The Edwards Report states that the Crown dependencies have been very successful. They are clearly in the top division of offshore finance centres. I think that that speaks rather highly of them.

Lord Shore of Stepney: My Lords, the Minister will be aware, as is the whole House, that we are on the eve of a major European Union tax offensive in order to bring about tax harmonisation to follow monetary union with fiscal union. This, of course, is an opening gambit because we are a little more vulnerable in the Channel Islands than elsewhere. Can my noble friend give me and the House an assurance that on no account will we allow any proposal emanating from the European Union to impose a withholding tax upon interest and dividends paid in the United Kingdom; and in particular that the City of London will not find that it is subjected to a tax which would affect its eurobond business?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am not well aware that there is a massive offensive on tax harmonisation. I read it in the newspaper but that does not necessarily convince me of the accuracy of the report, particularly as it seemed to be based substantially--and wholly innocently I am sure--on a mistranslation and misunderstanding of what was said. My noble friend will know that eager as I am to please him on these occasions, I could not conceivably, nor would your Lordships expect me to, give a permanent guarantee in respect of anything which may be produced by No. 11 Downing Street.

Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, will the noble Lord accept that those of us who do not accept that there is any form of conspiracy theory in that regard would wish to indicate that it is perfectly right for the Government to organise the Edwards Committee examination of our relationship with the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, given our responsibility for the good governance of those islands?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, Mr. Edwards was asked to carry out quite a limited exercise; namely, to review financial regulation in the Crown dependencies. He was not concerned with the question of tax harmonisation nor constitutional relationships. Everyone to whom I have spoken on the islands knows that, in a sense, their reputation is their capital. Therefore, they want the best possible financial regulation in their respective jurisdictions for obvious reasons.

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Primary Schools: Male Teachers

3 p.m.

Lord Northbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have any plans to increase the number of suitably qualified men working in primary schools.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): My Lords, the Government recognise the problem of under-representation of men in primary teaching. Last week the Teacher Training Agency asked all providers of initial teacher training courses to set themselves targets to focus their efforts to recruit more men into teacher training and to produce action plans stating how they will work towards that goal.

Lord Northbourne: My Lords, I am most grateful for that encouraging reply. Does the Minister agree that this is in no way a sexist issue? No one suggests that men teachers are better than women teachers. The problem is that at a certain age, boys begin to ask, "What does it mean to be male? What does it mean to be a boy?" Unfortunately, in many of our schools today boys believe that it is not cool for them to work in schools and that that is what girls do. Does the noble Baroness agree that that is the reason that more men are needed in primary schools to act as role models?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, that because we want to attract more men into primary school teaching, it should not be deduced that women do not make very good primary teachers. There are literally hundreds of thousands of excellent teachers of young children who are women.

However, I agree also with the noble Lord that we should actively encourage men to join the teaching profession and that boys should not receive the impression that teaching is only for girls. But it should be noted that the proportion of men in secondary teaching is still around half of the profession. It is just under 50 per cent.

Lord Tope: My Lords, does the Minister agree that in addition to lousy pay and career prospects, one of the main reasons that men are not attracted to primary school teaching is that primary schools are perceived to be less important and to have less status than secondary schools? Therefore, it is perceived that men who wish to be primary school teachers must therefore be unambitious, effeminate or worse. What steps are the Government taking to improve that wholly wrong perception of primary school teaching?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I hope that any man thinking of becoming a primary school teacher would not imagine for one minute that he will be perceived as effeminate or worse.

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It is important that we raise the status of primary teaching but that we should attach also a great deal of importance to what primary schools do. Indeed, since the Government took office, they have placed an enormous amount of emphasis on primary education. It is the basis for what happens later. The Government have invested substantial additional funds into it and have said that it is crucial to our literacy and numeracy campaign to raise standards.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, before the end of the last Session, my noble friend answered a Question from me which indicated that only 17 per cent. of male teachers are in primary education and now only 47 per cent. in secondary schools. Will the Minister act on the proposition that the situation in primary schools is now so serious that the Government need a crash programme to encourage male teachers in that particular sector of education; and also to ensure that there is not a further decline in the number of male teachers in secondary schools?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I can confirm the figures: 47.6 per cent. of teachers in secondary schools are male and 17.1 per cent. of teachers in primary schools are male. However, the figures for primary schools are not very different from those for 20 or 50 years ago. There has always been a large preponderance of women teachers in our primary schools. The figures have gone down a little, but only marginally. I accept that we do not wish to see a further decline and that, indeed, we wish to encourage more men into the profession. We shall announce measures later this week to improve prospects for teachers in both primary and secondary schools. The Government hope that that will encourage more men into both sectors.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, with reference to the noble Baroness's last comment, will she clarify whether specific measures are to be proposed in the paper that is representing the most radical shake-up of the teaching profession in 50 years? Will that particular imbalance be addressed specifically in that paper?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, we should wait until the paper is published later this week.

Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee: Select Committee

3.7 p.m.

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That it is desirable that a Select Committee be appointed to consider the operation of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England and to make recommendations.--(Baroness Jay of Paddington.)

Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, perhaps I may put a question to the noble Baroness the Leader of

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the House. There seems to be a view abroad that this is to be, in some way, a short-term committee. If that is indeed the case, I believe that that would be a mistake. In this House there is a wealth of expertise and experience of financial services generally and of the subject matter of the Monetary Policy Committee in particular. It would seem to me to be a wholly admirable development that there should be a committee which would sit long term to look at those matters and to discuss them with the Bank.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am grateful for the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, about the wealth of expertise and the reasons that lie behind the establishment of the committee, with which I am sure the whole House agrees and accepts. I understand that the Liaison Committee recommended to the House, and the House accepted, that this should be described as an ad hoc committee which, in the first instance, would have its work considered within the time frame of one year. But it is for the Liaison Committee and the whole House to agree if they wish to extend it further.

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