Debate on adult literacy and numeracy

11 October 2013

On Thursday 10 October, MPs took part in a debate on a motion relating to improving levels of adult literacy and numeracy in the UK. This debate was chosen by the Backbench Business Committee following representations from Caroline Dineage, Gordon Birtwistle and Robin Walker.

Watch the debate and read the transcript

Caroline Dineage moved the motion for debate, the text of which was as follows:

"That this House believes that, with one in six adults functionally illiterate, the UK’s skills gap is preventing the country from fully realising its economic potential; understands that improved literacy rates not only have economic benefits but also have positive effects on an individual’s self-confidence, aspirations and emotional health and wellbeing; notes that literacy rates for school leavers have shown little change in spite of initiatives introduced by successive governments over recent decades; understands that the social stigma attached to illiteracy and innumeracy often prevents adults from seeking the help they need, which means that signposting illiterate and innumerate adults to Further Education Colleges is not always the most effective course of action; recognises that literacy and numeracy programmes must be made easily accessible to the most hard-to reach functionally illiterate and innumerate adults if valued progress is to be made; and calls on the Government to renew efforts to provide imaginative, targeted and accessible support to illiterate and innumerate adults."

Watch the debate on Parliament TV and read the views expressed by MPs in Commons Hansard.

How the subject was selected

The subject for this debate was determined by the Backbench Business Committee following representations by Caroline Dineage, Gordon Birtwistle and Robin Walker at the Committee’s public meeting on the 10th of September 2013.

Backbench Business Committee

The Backbench Business Committee meets weekly on Tuesdays at 3pm to consider requests for debates from any backbench Members of Parliament on any subject, including those raised in e-petitions or national campaigns.

An MP must make a representation before the Committee for an e-petition or petition to be debated; e-petitions exceeding the Government's 100,000 signature threshold are not automatically allocated backbench time.

The Committee then has to decide how to allocate the limited Parliamentary time it has at its disposal. The Committee's meetings are always conducted in public and can be watched on Parliament TV.

Further Information

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