Working together

Posted on 23rd July 2010 | in Community

What does this new coalition government have to offer young people? Artograffi asked our MP Sir Alan Beith to put us in the picture

Working together

By Sir Alan Beith, M.P.

Emily Runciman and Alex Henderson asked me to write about what the new Government would be doing, particularly for young people. So here goes – and I will be glad to answer questions in a future issue.

The new government is made up of two parties; the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, working together in coalition. Britain has been spending a lot more money than we have earned, and most people agree that this has to stop, or we will end up in very serious trouble. We have formed this Government so that we can tackle this crisis. The two parties do not agree on everything but are working together for the good of the country.

The new government has published an agreement which explains what it plans to do. I have outlined some of the key points which either refer directly to children and young people or which might affect young people.

Schools
-We will make sure that all schools have greater freedom over the curriculum.
-We will help schools tackle bullying in schools, especially homophobic bullying.
-We will create more flexibility in the exams system so that state schools can offer qualifications like IGCSE (International GCSEs) for 14-16 year olds.
-We will reform league tables. This will let schools focus on, and demonstrate, the progress of children of all abilities.
-We will stop special schools closing unnecessarily and remove the bias towards inclusion.
-We will give more money to schools which have disadvantaged pupils. This will include many schools in Northumberland.

Work
-We are making sure that there will be many more apprentice opportunities, to help young people to get training and a skilled job.

Food
-We will make sure food labelling is honest so that people buying food can be confident about where it comes from and its environmental impact.

Crime and Policing
-We will make sure police hold regular ‘beat’ meetings so that local residents can hold them to account.
-We will allow councils and the police to shut down permanently any shop or bar found to be selling alcohol to children.
-We will double the maximum fine for selling alcohol to children to £20,000
-We will introduce temporary bans on new ‘legal highs’. These are drugs which are new, so are legal but might be dangerous. They will be banned while independent experts check if they are dangerous. If they are they will then be made illegal.

Culture and Sport
-We will keep free entry to national museums and galleries.
-We will support the creation of a yearly Olympics-style schools sport event to encourage competitive sport in schools.
-We will seek to protect school playing fields.
-We will try to make sure there is super-fast broadband across the whole country.

Environment
-We believe that we must act to deal with climate change, and we have a whole range of measures designed to cut carbon emissions, with new targets for what we will achieve.

Families
-We aim to end child poverty in the UK by 2020.
-We will crack down on irresponsible advertising and marketing, especially to children.

Health
-We will give every patient the right to register with whichever family doctor they want no matter where they live.
-We will focus on achieving good dental health, especially of schoolchildren.

Social Action
-We will introduce a voluntary National Citizens Service. This will provide a programme for 16 year olds to give them the chance to develop skills needed to be active and responsible citizens, mix with people from different backgrounds and start getting involved in their communities.

Helping the World’s Poor
-We are committed to helping the world’s poor by increasing aid to the level recommended by the United Nations, and making sure that aid really helps poor and hungry people to get a new start.

As well as these national policies, I will be working with local people to help improve schools, sport and leisure opportunities, local bus services and to help with problems like drug and alcohol misuse.

Let me know what issues you are concerned about.

Alan Beith

Do you have a question for Sir Alan Beith? Send your questions to The Ambler: editor@theambler.co.uk and we will print your questions and Sir Alan’s replies