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To reiterate on the point of concern regarding Barnardo's and Rathbone, there is a balance to be struck here. Although I heard the plea from the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, for flexibility, there is a limit where flexibility goes too far and we start to damage the brand. We have tried to strike that important balance. We have made clear that the six-month pre-apprenticeship contract period of work-based training is not in itself an apprenticeship. It will count towards the completion of an apprenticeship framework and the award of an apprenticeship certificate only if the young person is employed as an apprentice within the six-month period.

3.45 pm

Let me also be absolutely clear that the apprenticeship would only start and would only count towards official apprenticeship statistics once the learner was employed. I can reassure the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, that the six months' training would be funded by the National Apprenticeship Service. We have tried to strike a balance-we recognise the valuable nature of that work. As we said previously, the precise detail of the six-month period will need to be agreed when regulations are being drafted. We are committed to working with Rathbone, Barnardo's and other interested parties on these regulations. I note the point that the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, made in relation to those

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with learning difficulties. We are dealing with that separately in further amendments, where you will see we have made real and significant progress with helping those people.

I will deal first with the second of the two questions raised by my noble friend Lord Layard because the paper happens to be on the top. He asked why the competence qualification is the principal qualification. From an employer's perspective it is important that apprentices have technical knowledge, but the competence qualification demonstrates that they can actually do the job. I know my noble friend Lady Blackstone is shaking her head. As a former apprentice, I think that I have a touch more experience-there are not many areas in which I would say that-and it would not be the first situation that I have encountered where you can have all the technical qualifications in the world but the ability to do the job, the ability to carry out the work, is what is important. I have known a number of electrical apprentices who were great in theory, but I am afraid that when it came to cabling the house and completing the job in a satisfactory time they could not actually do it. Ultimately, ability in that area will create their employment prospects.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, does the Minister agree that, while it is enormously important that anybody who has been through an apprenticeship is competent at the job, to be competent they must also have acquired a considerable amount of knowledge about the work they are doing in whatever area it might be and be technically able to carry out that work?

Lord Young of Norwood Green: My Lords, I agree with my noble friend that there is a balance to be struck and in no way am I dismissing the requirement for technical knowledge. However, there are now more than 200 apprenticeship frameworks whose requirements vary hugely from ones such as retail where the amount of technical knowledge will be significantly less to the much more complicated engineering, electrical and IT apprenticeship frameworks. It really is horses for courses. I do not mean in any way to dismiss the importance of technical knowledge-it is fundamentally important.

The other point raised by my noble friend Lord Layard was that of separate technical knowledge and occupational competence qualifications. Many apprenticeships contain separate qualifications but there are single qualifications that cover both points. Where appropriate, they will be separately assessed. We understand the importance of that and do not wish to demean it, but there are examples of apprenticeship frameworks where this does not apply. The way that we have structured it is appropriate given the vast number of apprenticeship frameworks. I believe that I have dealt with all the points that were raised and I commend the amendment to the noble Lords.

Lord Layard: My Lords, the draft specification currently says that there should be a separate assessment, so it is worrying when the Minister says that some qualifications, even unified qualifications, have no separate assessment. We say that more than being in the specification, where it already is, it should be in the Bill. We will come back to this at Third Reading.

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I asked the Minister why there has to be a principal qualification at all, not why there should be one rather than another. I do not know why it has to be so.

Lord Young of Norwood Green: My Lords, I reassure my noble friend that whatever we say in the standards will apply. I may not have quite understood the essence of his question. In some cases, they will be assessed together, but there will still be an assessment of whatever technical knowledge is required. It may be part of a joint process rather than a separate one.

We still believe in the pre-eminence of the competence qualification. As I have said, this is not a question of undermining the importance of technical knowledge. We may need to have further dialogue on this issue. I think we both want to ensure the quality of an apprenticeship, and I hope we can resolve the slight difference that may exist between us.

Baroness Wall of New Barnet: My Lords, my experience of working with sector skills councils and employers directly is that when an individual comes out of an apprenticeship and stands before an employer, that employer not only looks for accredited qualifications but wants to ask, "Actually, Margaret, where can I put you now so that you can do this work?". That is the whole point of the pattern of apprenticeships and the pathway we put people on. Qualifications are hugely important, and technical ability is important, but does my noble friend agree that the technical requirements of apprenticeships vary across the patch? Every employer needs to know that the individual can not only do technically good work but do the job which the employer hopes to employ them to do.

Lord Young of Norwood Green: My Lords, I agree. I reflect briefly on the fact that some employees come from a university background. They are exceedingly well qualified in theory, but they lack knowledge of the world of work and sometimes the ability to apply the theory. I am in no way decrying what they acquire at university; I am merely emphasising that employers attach so much importance to being able to do the job and to understanding the world of work.

Lord De Mauley: My Lords, I did not hear the Minister answer my question about what would happen if an apprentice could not find an employment contract at the end of his six-month period.

Lord Young of Norwood Green: My Lords, that is a matter for the individual and Rathbone or Barnardo's. In other cases, one hopes that every apprentice will be found a place, but that cannot always be guaranteed. In the situation described by the noble Lord, it is quite clear that it is not an apprenticeship unless there is a contract of employment. Each case will be individual. Rathbone or Barnardo's would have to sort out with the individual why he or she had failed to find a place; I cannot speculate on that.

We will have an opportunity to deal with the detail of this in regulation, but the plain fact of the matter is, as I have said, that if they have no contract of employment, unfortunately they have no apprenticeship. I am sure, given the record of Rathbone and Barnardo's, that

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those young people will not be abandoned. There might be a question of further specialist training; we would have to see.

Amendment 1 agreed.

Amendment 2

Moved by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin

2: Before Clause 1, insert the following new Clause-

"Meaning of "completing a Welsh apprenticeship"

(1) This section applies for the purposes of this Chapter.

(2) A person completes a Welsh apprenticeship in relation to an apprenticeship framework if-

(a) the standard Welsh completion conditions are met, or

(b) the alternative Welsh completion conditions are met.

(3) The standard Welsh completion conditions are-

(a) that the person has entered into an apprenticeship agreement in connection with the apprenticeship framework,

(b) that at the date of that agreement the framework was a recognised Welsh framework,

(c) that the person has completed a course of training for the principal qualification identified in the framework,

(d) that, throughout the duration of the course, the person was working under the apprenticeship agreement, and

(e) that the person meets the requirements specified in the framework for the purpose of the issue of an apprenticeship certificate.

(4) In subsection (3)(d)-

(a) the reference to the apprenticeship agreement mentioned in subsection (3)(a) includes a reference to any apprenticeship agreement which the person subsequently entered into in connection with the same apprenticeship framework;

(b) the reference to the course of training for the principal qualification is to be read, in a case where the person has followed two or more courses of training for the principal qualification, as a reference to both or all of them.

(5) The alternative Welsh completion conditions are conditions which-

(a) apply in cases where a person works otherwise than under an apprenticeship agreement, and

(b) are specified in regulations made by the Welsh Ministers.

(6) The kinds of working in relation to which provision may be made under subsection (5) include-

(a) working as a self-employed person;

(b) working otherwise than for reward."

Amendment 2 agreed.

Clause 1 : Definition of "apprenticeship"

Amendment 3

Moved by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin

3: Clause 1, leave out Clause 1

Amendment 3 agreed.

Clause 2 : Duty to issue apprenticeship certificates: England

Amendments 4 and 5

Moved by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin

4: Clause 2, page 2, line 8, leave out "applicable conditions are satisfied," and insert "person has completed an English apprenticeship in relation to the apprenticeship framework,

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(aa) in a case within section (Meaning of "completing an English apprenticeship" )(2)(a), it appears to the authority that the condition in subsection (3)(e) of that section was met at the date of the person's application,"

5: Clause 2, page 2, line 15, leave out subsections (2) to (7)

Amendments 4 and 5 agreed.

Clause 6 : Duty to issue apprenticeship certificates: Wales

Amendments 6 to 8

Moved by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin

6: Clause 6, page 3, line 33, leave out "applicable conditions are satisfied," and insert "person has completed a Welsh apprenticeship in relation to the apprenticeship framework,

(aa) in a case within section (Meaning of "completing a Welsh apprenticeship" )(2)(a), it appears to the authority that the condition in subsection (3)(e) of that section was met at the date of the person's application,"

7: Clause 6, page 3, line 40, leave out subsections (2) to (6)

8: Clause 6, page 4, line 33, leave out subsection (8)

Amendments 6 to 8 agreed.

Clause 12 : English issuing authority

Amendment 9

Moved by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin

9: Clause 12, page 6, line 24, leave out paragraph (a)

Amendment 9 agreed.

Clause 13 : Issue of apprenticeship frameworks etc.: England

Amendments 10 and 11

Moved by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin

10: Clause 13, page 7, line 2, leave out "that" and insert "only if"

11: Clause 13, page 7, line 3, after "satisfied" insert "that the framework"

Amendments 10 and 11 agreed.

Clause 17 : Welsh issuing authority

Amendment 12

Moved by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin

12: Clause 17, page 8, line 27, leave out paragraph (a)

Amendment 12 agreed.

2 Nov 2009 : Column 26

Clause 18 : Issue of apprenticeship framework etc.: Wales

Amendments 13 and 14

Moved by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin

13: Clause 18, page 9, line 2, leave out "that" and insert "only if"

14: Clause 18, page 9, line 3, after "satisfied" insert "that the framework"

Amendments 13 and 14 agreed.

European Council


3.57 pm

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): My Lords, with the permission of the House, I will repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. The Statement is as follows:

"First, Mr Speaker, I am sure the whole House will join with me in sending our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid of 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, who was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday afternoon. We owe him and every one of our Armed Forces an immeasurable debt of gratitude.

With permission, I would like to make a Statement on the European Council held in Brussels last Thursday and Friday. The Copenhagen climate change conference for which the European Council was preparing is now less than 40 days away. If carbon emissions are to be reduced and dangerous climate change averted, it is essential that we achieve an ambitious, comprehensive and binding agreement. Concluding a climate change deal will also drive investment in the low carbon economy and speed up world economic recovery. It will demonstrate that, as at the G20, the world can come together to address the great global challenges we face together.

In all this, European Union leadership is fundamental and now, as we approach Copenhagen, we need to drive forward the negotiations. Let me explain the urgency: to achieve the ambitious, effective and fair deal we need, it is not only developed countries which must act. Developing countries too must cut their emissions, reduce deforestation and be able to adapt to climate change. But to enable them to do so by December we need to make a credible offer of financial assistance now. That is why earlier this year I proposed a long-term financial agreement between developed and developing countries.

On Friday last week, the Council agreed to put on the table for Copenhagen three conditional offers. First, we agreed that Europe will contribute its fair share of the costs of mitigation and adaptation in developing countries, and we endorsed the European Commission's view that these are expected to require-including the developing countries' own contributions-annually by 2020 around €100 billion of private and public finance.

Secondly, we set out our offer of public finance, agreeing that the overall level of the international public support required is estimated to lie in the range

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of €22 billion to €50 billion per year by 2020. Thirdly, we agreed that we should start support immediately to help developing countries cut carbon emissions and adapt to climate change, contributing over the next three years our fair share of a global fast-track initiative of €5 billion to €7 billion per year.

These offers are rightly conditional on,

and on developing countries coming forward with substantial commitments on emission reductions. Importantly, the Council also agreed that climate financing should,

Further, as the UK has proposed, the Council supported the establishment of a high-level body under the United Nations to provide an overview of international sources of climate financing.

The European Union has already committed to cut our emissions by 30 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020 as part of the right international agreement. Now, these financial offers yet again show the determination of the whole European Union to ensure an ambitious climate change deal in Copenhagen.

I can also report that the Council agreed that at the time of the next accession treaty, the Protocol on the Charter of Fundamental Rights will be applied to the Czech Republic. The next step is for the Czech Constitutional Court to make its ruling, which is rightly a matter for that court. I believe that we have made real progress, but it is only after we are sure that the treaty will come into force that the Council will be able to appoint its new president.

Investment across Europe is forecast to contract by 10 per cent this year with an expected loss of 8.5 million jobs, so at the European Council we had to decide, first, whether we should withdraw the fiscal stimulus now or maintain it until recovery was secured. We agreed unanimously, with no country dissenting, that

Secondly, we had to decide whether to support public investment to maintain jobs in our economy or simply to let the recession take its course. The Council agreed unanimously to draw up a,

and we agreed to take all necessary measures to,

Thirdly, within our commitment to action for fiscal sustainability once the recovery is assured, we also agreed on the need for active industrial strategies to ensure,

including low carbon technologies, advanced manufacturing and the digital economy.

Fourthly, we stressed the importance of new measures that would 'strengthen the internal market' and help growth in our services as well as industries. We also affirmed the need to 'promote increased trade'. The

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completion of the Doha trade round next year and progress on bilateral trade deals with India and Canada are central to this, as is the recent trade agreement with Korea, which will create up to €19 billion in new export opportunities for firms across the EU.

We also agreed on reform of our banking systems, which include putting in place new rules on capital and liquidity and bonuses. We agreed to the continuation of work to strengthen the supervisory framework in the European Union following the decisions taken at the Council in June.

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