Proponents of intervention in an attempt to change human behaviour would be well advised to consider the results of a programme in Western Australia designed to cut the number of teenage pregnancies. More than 1,000 girls in over 50 schools across Western Australia joined the Virtual Parenting Programme. The girls were taught about sexual health, contraception and the financial costs of having a baby. They were also given a virtual baby simulator doll to look after. A doll which cried when it needed feeding or changing. The girls also watched videos of other teenage girls explaining their experiences of being teenage mums.
Sensibly, those running the programme monitored the progress of the girls in order to assess how successful all this education had been. They found that by age 20 8% of those on the programme had given birth at least once and 9% having had an abortion.
Results which may seem to suggest the programme was a success until, that is, the results are compared to those girls who did not take part in the programme. Of those only 4% had given birth and 6% having an abortion.
Ahead of the EU referendum Remain claimed the economy would hit all sorts of troubles if we voted to leave. I was particularly interested therefore to see this week that the official figures for consumer spending in the April to June quarter rose by 0.9%. The Office for National Statistics estimates the economy grew at 0.6% overall in the second quarter. The figures for retail sales in July showed a growth of 5.9% compared to July 2015. Only one month and it would be unrealistic to expect that level of growth to continue but it provides a boost for retailers and is some evidence of the confidence consumers have. We need Companies to demonstrate similar confidence in the future when it comes to investment decisions.
Of course, I expect there will be downturns in the future. Leaving the EU will not prevent the UK from being affected by slowdowns elsewhere in the World. What matters is that the UK does all it can to take maximum advantage of the freedom it will have to negotiate new trade deals with Countries around the World to make it easier for our exporters.
The official estimate of migration into the UK for the year to March 2016 was released yesterday. The figures showed there was net migration of 327,000 – down just 9,000 on the previous years figures.
Immigration was one of the major issues in the referendum on our membership of the EU and undoubtedly one reason why so many people voted to leave. With the EU’s rules on free movement of people there is very little the government can do to control the number of people coming here from other EU countries. According to the Office for National Statistics net migration of EU citizens was 180,000 in the year to March. There is no doubt the government have been very active in trying to control the level of immigration but these latest figures show there is still much to be done and a very long way to go before the net figures are reduced below 100,000.
Talented and skilled immigrants who contribute to our economy are to be welcomed. Immigrants have made a valuable contribution in the past and continue to do so but we can not have uncontrolled immigration. Even though the number in work in this Country has increased by 606,000 in the past year to 31.75 million that still leaves 1.64 million unemployed.
In a stark reminder that natural disasters do not always occur in other continents I am sure our thoughts and prayers will be with all the hundreds of families who have lost loved ones following the earthquake in Italy. Lives destroyed in an instant and thousands of families whose lives have been turned upside down and will be months if not years before they can return to anything like normality..
Across Bury there will be tension and expectation today as thousands of pupils receive their GCSE exam results. Some will be elated others no doubt disappointed but whatever the results I hope the young people look forward with optimism and be positive about the opportunities that lay ahead.
I am having a few days holiday for the next week. Starting with a couple of days at the Scarborough Cricket Festival. Yorkshire are playing Nottinghamshire. Yesterday was a great day’s cricket with Yorkshire fighting back after being 51 for 6 to make 282 and taking two Notts wickets before the end. Today looks set to be another good day with lovely summer weather.
A view of the harbour:
I will be heading back to Lancashire to spend the next week in Morecambe if I can get through passport control at the border.
On 6th September a new national phone number “105” will be launched by electricity network operators for customers to call should they need to report or get information about a power cut.
Key points to note about the new service are:
· Dialling 105 will put you through to our local electricity network operator – the company that manages the cables, power lines and substations that deliver electricity into homes and businesses in our area.
· 105 is just one of the ways that you can contact your electricity network operator. You can also contact them by existing 0800 numbers or via their website, and most network operators are on social media too.
· 105 is a free service for people in England, Scotland and Wales.
· You can call 105 no matter who you have chosen to buy your electricity from.
· You can also call 105 if you spot damage to electricity power lines and substations that could put anyone in danger. If there is a serious immediate risk, you should also call the emergency services too.
Many congratulations indeed to Team GB. I doubt many people would have predicted that our Olympic team would succeed in winning more medals than they won on home territory in London four years ago. 67 medals and behind only the USA in the medals table is a magnificent achievement. Funding. Coaches. Attention to detail. All play a part, but nothing would be achieved without dedication from all those who seek to represent Team GB. Years of sacrifices and preparation are behind this success and we all owe our thanks to them for making that sacrifice. Let us hope they have inspired a new generation to make that sacrifice in the pursuit of Olympic success.