28 June 2001

Q7 Dafydd Wigley:

Has the Minister had discussions recently with the Secretary of State for Wales on United Kingdom legislation that may have an impact on social exclusion among young people in Wales? (OAQ12185)

Edwina Hart:

I discuss this issue in my regular meetings with the Secretary of State for Wales. Partnership with the UK Government is essential to ensure that programmes, such as the New Deal, to tackle exclusion are also discussed by the administration. However, I am mainly concentrating on the Assembly’s programme to tackle social disadvantage, Communities First.

Dafydd Wigley:

Do you accept that one problem facing young people, which causes social exclusion, is the difficulty of finding a suitable place to live? Do you also accept that the housing benefit system has a detrimental effect on the situation as it restricts young people to renting a single room? Are you aware that the report of the House of Commons Select Committee on Welsh Affairs recommended that this regulation be changed? Have you had discussions with the Secretary of State to that end?

Edwina Hart:

I am aware of the comments made in Parliament about this issue. If the Assembly agrees, I am happy to raise that matter.

Alison Halford:

Will you comment on the link, which the Welsh Affairs Select Committee highlighted in its recent report, between social exclusion, due to poor housing and health, and drug use? Do you welcome the forthcoming Bill to increase the powers against drug money laundering?

Edwina Hart:

I welcome the Bill on drug money laundering. The links to which you referred are self-evident. It is important to focus on the solutions to these issues and draw together all necessary strands of funding to tackle them.

Jonathan Morgan:

One effective way of combating social exclusion is through our education system. Do you agree that your Government’s record on reducing secondary school class-sizes leaves much to be desired?

Edwina Hart:

This Government’s record on education is first-class. We are adhering to all our manifesto commitments. We are engaging with the education sector and are driving forward to ensure the highest standards in education. Negative comments do not help the general public. When politicians make them, the public is led to believe that there are problems in our schools. In the schools that I visit in my constituency, our policies and the additional money available are welcomed. People recognise that we have to turn around the legacy of previous administrations in order to correct the situation.

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