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On the question of climate change, I can understand why my noble friend should feel aggrieved that this could be debated and discussed with one group but less successfully with another. However, there are those at the G20 who felt that it was not appropriate for it to be discussed at that level and that it should remain with the G8. However, there is the climate change conference in Cancun later this year. An enormous amount of work is taking place between now and then to give effect to a global agreement.
Lord Howarth of Newport: My Lords, on global imbalances, the Statement referred only to the modest, although welcome, adjustment that the Chinese authorities have allowed to the exchange rate of the renminbi, but surely the Government do not think that that will be enough to solve adequately the problem that is being generated by the continuing propensity of certain major economies, notably China and Germany, to invest and export very powerfully, and the propensity of other major economies, notably that of the United States of America and our own, to borrow and consume excessively. Is it not inevitable that if we continue with these imbalances, the trade surpluses of the exporting countries will be recycled to create excessive liquidity in the economies of countries such as our own that tend to consume too much, leading to another manic
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Lord Strathclyde: I could not possibly comment on the noble Lord's direct question at the end, but the whole issue of global imbalances concentrated the minds of the G8, and indeed of the G20. The new flexibility in the Chinese arrangements is an important step in the right direction. It is the kind of flexibility that we have been looking for for some time, it will make an appreciable difference-so we all hope-and it is recognition by the Chinese authorities of China's importance to the world economy as a trading nation and as an increasingly important currency. The noble Lord might say that this is a very small step, but it is at least a small step in the right direction.
Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, does the Minister accept that the case for maintaining the G8 while the G20 is functioning is rather less strong than the Statement that he read out suggests? Here, I join the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia. Only by stretching the word "democratic" a very long way indeed can it be applied to the G8, which has Russia among its members. It is also surely worth remembering that there are rather better qualified democracies in the G20, such as India, Brazil and South Africa, the membership of at least some of which we support as permanent members of the Security Council. I therefore hope that the Government will reflect a little on the need for these two forums to continue to run side by side and confusing the issues that they discuss quite a lot-a confusion that I suspect will increase when they meet in different places, as presumably they will have to when the G20 goes to Mexico in 2012, as is said in the communiqué. I therefore hope that the Government will reflect on the possibility of a sunset clause for the G8.
Will the Minister also be so kind as to comment on what the Government are doing to ensure that these endlessly repeated commitments to complete the Doha round are brought to a decision in the not too distant future? The wording of the communiqué is extremely weak. I thought that the wording of the Statement was first class, if I may say so. It reflects the view of those on all sides in this House and in this country that this is a really major objective. However, there is no sign whatever that the United States Administration are putting their back into completing Doha. What strategy do the Government have for moving that ahead at Seoul and thereafter?
Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, my right honourable friend found the meetings at the G8 and the G20 useful. They were particularly useful because they were different, and because, as a new Prime Minister, he was able to meet different political leaders at different stages. It is impossible for me to say whether these structures will be maintained in the long term. As the noble Lord recognised, they will not be meeting together in the future.
On the Doha round, the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said that he finds the Statement convincing but the communiqué rather less so. Frankly, we were rather
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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, first, can the noble Lord shed a little more light on the Prime Minister's thinking on withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan by 2015? It was always the view in the past, as I understood it, that giving a date for withdrawal would be like signalling to the Taliban and al-Qaeda how long they would have to hold out before they would not have any opposition on the ground. My concern is that many people will think that this gives the Taliban and al-Qaeda an opportunity to scale down what they are doing, gather their resources and armaments, bring in fresh recruits and simply re-emerge when the foreign troops have departed. I wonder if the noble Lord can help me on that.
Secondly, the Statement says that the biggest stimulus that we can give the world economy today is the expansion of trade. Can the noble Lord tell us when the Government are planning to appoint a Minister dedicated to trade promotion? I know that, among his many other duties, Mr Mark Prisk has been appointed pro tem to look at trade-but the fact is that he has many other duties. Previously, the noble Lord, Lord Digby Jones, my noble friend Lord Mervyn Davies, and indeed I myself were dedicated to trade promotion and expansion. When will the Government be able to match what they are encouraging the world to do by doing a little better at home?
Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, on the point about Afghanistan, I agree that the view was taken in the past that making too rigid a timetable and setting the end date too soon simply gives a target for everyone to aim at. That is not true in this case because we are in a very different situation. We have been in Afghanistan for about nine years now and we can see that this current year is extremely important in creating the right grounds for long-term peace and rebuilding civil society. In this case, I do not think that we will run into the danger of giving the Taliban a target, and after all, five years is a long time to have to hang around waiting for British troops to leave. Moreover, that would not achieve the right conditions on the ground for rebuilding civil society in Afghanistan, which is important. So while I accept the point made by the noble Baroness, it is my wish, as I know it is hers, that those conditions will not apply.
On the question of the Minister for Trade, I could not agree more with the noble Baroness that such a Minister is important and that-by her own example and that of others in this House who have held the role-it is a key role for the Government and for focusing our overseas export effort. I am delighted to
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Lord Lawson of Blaby: My Lords, is not the answer to the question posed by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia-who, having asked his question, appears no longer to be in his place-that the G20 was unwilling to tackle the question of climate change because the major developing nations such as China, India and, to a certain extent, South Africa and Brazil quite rightly attach much greater importance to economic development and the relief of poverty, to which moves on climate change would be entirely antipathetic? Nevertheless, does my noble friend agree that there is reason to welcome the response by that distinguished economist, the noble Lord, Lord Eatwell, speaking on behalf of the Official Opposition? Although he devoted his comments largely to the minutiae of banking reform-which are important but not urgent matters; indeed, it is more important to get this right than to do it quickly-he accepted, tacitly at any rate, the urgent need for the fiscal consolidation which this Government have shown they have the courage to enter into despite some of the rumblings from the neo-Keynesian dinosaurs who appear to be around.
Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Eatwell, enjoyed that in the spirit in which it was intended. I agree with my noble friend that fiscal consolidation is important. Not only have we struck the right balance but, increasingly around the world, it is seen that we have struck the right balance. On the question of the G20 and the G8, my noble friend is again correct. Different countries have taken different views of these issues, particularly the developing countries. That is not news today but has been true for some time. That is why the climate change conference in Cancun will be extremely important.
Lord Patel: My Lords, I commend the Government on their commitment to increasing overseas aid to 0.7 per cent of GDP, as I do their renewed commitment to reducing the terrible tragedy of maternal mortality. Does the Leader of the House agree that in any new strategy which the Government might develop for reducing maternal mortality, our professional organisations will be well placed to assist in the health service reforms required? Secondly, while a reduction in maternal mortality is important, we must also not forget that we need to reduce the terrible burden of other reproductive health issues, such as the greater number of deaths-even more than through maternal mortality-that occur through cervical cancer in low-resource countries, which is a totally preventable disease; the problem of fistulas; and the number of children dying in childbirth or immediately after, which is now some 3 million.
Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Patel, rightly draws us back to the issue of overseas aid. The reasons for changing the priorities of the G8 were not taken lightly. Obviously, in putting this new
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Lord Bates: My Lords, I welcome my noble friend repeating the Statement, particularly the strong section relating to development aid. Can he confirm reports that there was a shortfall of some $10 billion in the commitment of $50 billion made at the Gleneagles G8 summit five years ago? Can he further confirm that the two countries primarily responsible for that are Japan and Italy? What conversations did my right honourable friend the Prime Minister have with them on that issue? Given that they have cited their fiscal position as the reason for not fulfilling their commitment, will my noble friend encourage the Prime Minister to give them a lesson on how to rigorously tackle the fiscal deficit while still being fair and caring about the world's poorest?
Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, there are many people who will be disappointed that some of the Gleneagles aims have not been met. My noble friend referred to two of those countries. In the communiqué that was delivered this weekend, there was genuine recognition that there needs to be more transparency and accountability on the part of those countries that have promised to help but have not yet delivered.
I know that the Prime Minister draws the attention of many people, not only from overseas, to the problems that we face in this country and how we are tackling them. They may well be a beacon of light to help other countries meet the commitments that they have already made and come up with the money.
"( ) the school has a curriculum which includes Personal, Social and Health Education as a statutory entitlement for all pupils;"
We have had many debates on what children should be entitled to as part of their education. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, was enthusiastic and lyrical about
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They could all have benefited from PSHE, in my view. The Mock Turtle lists all this while sobbing a little now and then. I am not sure that the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, was sobbing, but there was a great deal of sobbing when, at wash-up recently, PSHE was lost as part of the statutory curriculum.
Many noble Lords spoke passionately in favour of PSHE during the recent wash-up, as I described. In particular, there was an eloquent plea from the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley. My amendment seeks to reinstate the original intention of the previous Labour Government to ensure that all children have access to PSHE.
It may be worth looking at what we mean by personal, social and health education, as many terms are sometimes used rather confusingly. PSHE encompasses sex and relationships education, but it is broader-SRE is not primarily about health issues such as drugs, first aid and so on. PSHE encompasses life skills and some aspects of citizenship.
I have taught PSHE, advised on it, researched it and written about it and I want to distil some of that experience. It was inspiring to teach PSHE to children and to see their involvement and enthusiasm. If I were to list topics to be covered in PSHE, I would say that for younger children it is important to learn about staying safe; resisting pressure; friendships and other relationships; bullying; health hazards such as smoking and drugs; where to get help if in trouble; and basic facts about reproduction. Children will have their own topics. For older pupils, the topics will be added to and treated in more depth. At primary school, pupils may discuss the importance and concept of friendship. At secondary school, issues such as integrity and conflict resolution may be discussed.
Some may argue that children receive this kind of education from home and from mainstream school subjects. Sadly, that is often not the case, as young people tell us. PSHE has a particular body of knowledge and particular educational processes, such as discussion groups or role play, which make it an important part of the curriculum. Apart from the topics of PSHE that I have mentioned, young people need to develop language and communication skills and interpersonal empathy. Those skills can transfer from this area of work to life itself.
Why is it important for children to receive personal, social and health education? It is because we live in a complex world full of uncertainty and pressure on children, from the media, from the peer group and so on. Children need to have a space to think through some personal, social and health issues in a safe environment with the help of an informed adult. They
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Children and parents want schools to do PSHE. Parents sometimes say that they do not have the knowledge, skills or confidence to engage their youngsters in discussions about health or personal relationships, particularly sexual relationships. The family, importantly, sets an ethos and an example of positive behaviour, but it may not be enough to prevent harmful risk-taking.
PSHE fosters confidence and self-esteem. Young people are able to learn important facts and practise communication skills and decision-making with adults and their peer group. PSHE supports academic learning. If a child is confident and has self-esteem, he or she is more likely to be able to learn. In one project in schools some years ago, the teaching of PSHE was shown to decrease truancy rates. PSHE promotes health and well-being. It promotes respect for self and others. I find it interesting that many employers now say how important it is that young people coming into the workforce should have good communication skills as well as academic qualifications.
PSHE extends into the community. Health visitors, doctors, nurses, the police, road safety officers and the fire service may be called in to discuss health and safety issues with young people. All benefit. The professionals learn about the concerns of young people and young people benefit from the advice of the professionals.
The benefits of PSHE are supported by research and experience. The Tomlinson report, the Steer report on behaviour and the Ofsted report on PSHE all speak of the importance of children and young people having life skills to help them to achieve and to gain employment. In his 2009 review of the Labour Government's proposal to make PSHE a statutory foundation subject, Sir Alasdair Macdonald concluded that PSHE was important because of its,
There is good evidence that PSHE can reduce unwanted pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections. I remember working with doctors and teachers in Kazakhstan to introduce PSHE into schools there. One head teacher reported that within two years the number of girls having abortions had reduced dramatically. In many countries, sex education has been shown to delay the onset of sexual activity. The argument that sex education only increases sexual activity is complete rubbish. Teaching road safety does not encourage people to leap in front of traffic.
A National Children's Bureau report showed that children wanted to be able to talk about issues important for their lives such as emotions, relationships, health-including mental health-sexual health, diet and transport. According to a Populus survey, 81 per cent of parents agree that every child should have sex and relationships education as part of the curriculum, while a survey by Parentline Plus showed that 97 per cent of parents
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During the wash-up debate, many noble Lords expressed the wish for PSHE to be reconsidered as a statutory subject early in this Parliament. So here we are. Some have expressed concern that before PSHE is made statutory there should be enough trained teachers, but those who are trained already can train others and would be likely to do so if the subject was statutory. However, importantly, we will never have enough trained teachers unless PSHE is statutory. If maths were not statutory, I doubt that we would have enough trained maths teachers.
PSHE should be like any other mainstream subject in school; it should have a knowledge base, with information relevant to the child's age and stage of development, and it should develop in complexity as the child matures. There should be continuity between primary and secondary schools, with a record of what has been taught and how it has been taught. No child needs to see the same film on smoking three times, but the concepts behind these health issues need to be enforced in ever-expanding ways. For example, smoking education may eventually relate not just to individual habits but to legal structures and the world economy. PSHE should have appropriate teaching materials and teachers confident in using them. There are already many excellent materials and many enthusiastic teachers. PSHE should contribute to a positive school ethos and relate to other programmes, such as the National Healthy School Standard and the UNICEF Rights Respecting School.
Having PSHE as part of the school curriculum will give it more respect, with more teachers trained and more parental attention and involvement. Parents and pupils would welcome it. Everyone would be clear on where they stood and what was to be done. It really is time that we recognised the immense value that PSHE has for schools and communities and how young people can benefit from having it in the curriculum. I beg to move.
Lord Northbourne: My Lords, I have tabled my amendment for the same reason as the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, because it seemed to me that this Committee should be able to debate compulsory PSHE and sexual relationships education. Noble Lords will remember that this was debated and powerfully argued by the noble Baronesses, Lady Walmsley and Lady Massey, but there really was no time for a proper debate during wash-up.
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