Education and Inspections Bill


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Mr. Hayes: What estimate have the Government made of the effect of those measures on the resources, skills and plant of FE? If we are to make extra demands of colleges—I do not say that we should not—we must make absolutely clear the ramifications for the other work that they do. Have the Government measured those and what notional costs have they estimated?
Phil Hope: Yes, we have, and the estimated cost is £25 million. I am delighted that, through our representations to the Treasury on this year’s Budget, we managed to secure the full sum for the core budget to deliver that entitlement. Indeed, a major new capital investment is being made in the FE sector. Any Members going down to their constituencies nowadays will, I am sure, see an FE college there or nearby where some rebuilding, repair or renewal is going on to provide options. That is all part of our massive capital investment, including the building schools for the future initiative, but I will not stray down that path, Mr. Cook, or away from the point on clause stand part.
The hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings mentioned adult learners, so I will mention to him again the train to gain proposals targeted on learners in the work force. They mean free training for adults at work up to a full level 2 qualification and include free basic skills training in the workplace for literacy, numeracy and language qualifications. So, employers can look to their employees getting a first full level 2 qualification, which would make a huge difference to those employers in competitiveness, productivity and profitability, and to the individual learner, who would become more employable, get higher wages and, indeed, go on to learning as well. In two regions of the country, we are rolling out level 3 pilots as the next stage up—the vocational equivalent of 3 GCSEs.
With particular regard to Londoners, my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier) is right to raise the question of their skills needs and the challenge of the London Olympics. We are investing significant amounts to ensure that we can train not just the London work force, although they will be major beneficiaries, but those outside London, where the Olympics will drive up investment in skills and training so that we can deliver not just in construction, hospitality and tourism, but in all the other skills needed.
Meg Hillier: I am heartened by my hon. Friend’s passion for skilling up the Olympics. Now that London has the 2011 skills Olympics, does he agree that there is no excuse not to have Hackney and other London boroughs lifted out of high unemployment and aligned with the more natural employment levels in the rest of the country?
Phil Hope: My hon. Friend is absolutely right: by establishing new structures across and within London, the Olympic boroughs can work together with the Learning and Skills Council, the Department for Work and Pensions and others to ensure that all agencies co-operate to deliver for people out of work—and, indeed, people in work. We want to make the opportunities of new jobs and employment real so that they come through for Londoners.
Lastly, on adult learning, the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings raised the question of learning for leisure or personal development. He will be glad to know that we have ring-fenced some £210 million for personal community development learning, which the LSC spends across the country on such courses. We wish to see learning promoted for its own sake, or for the love of learning, and that is not a ceiling figure, but a floor.
I want the LSC to work with local authorities, health authorities and others, each bringing their local budgets to the table and saying, “What can we do to assess the need in our communities? Who is and is not taking part in these courses? Which areas are covered and which are not, or is there duplication?” This is patchy and difficult, but that is an area where I want to see a lot more happening, and—importantly, returning to clause stand part—the new inspectorate will play a key role in ensuring that we raise standards of delivery and keep raising them.
I have a few more points to make. It is true to say that a wide range of views were expressed in the consultation. A particular view was mentioned, but many respondents were prepared to support the proposed move to a single inspectorate if safeguards could be put in place to ensure that the best of the adult learning inspectorate’s work—in particular, the strong links with employers—was retained.
Earlier, the hon. Gentleman prayed in aid Sir Andrew Foster’s report, which particularly suggested that the adult learning inspectorate should be part of an integrated, single inspectorate, and that that corporate knowledge and experience should be celebrated and embedded in the new organisation. That is why we are ensuring that there is a duty on the board of the new Ofsted to have regard to the views of users such as employers—a vital part of ensuring that the inspectorate does the job required.
The new inspectorate will need to make full use of the expertise of the ALI inspectors, who will form the bulk of the relevant post-16 inspection work force at Ofsted as they do at ALI. Different sectors will continue to have different inspection frameworks based on their specific needs.
I hope that I have dealt with the generality of the hon. Gentleman’s concern to ensure that adult learning is, as ever, robustly supported and funded by the Government, as well as whether the inspection arrangements within these new arrangements will deliver the high quality that he and I both want.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 120 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 121

Functions to which this Chapter applies and related activities
3 pm
Phil Hope: I beg to move amendment No. 564, in clause 121, page 86, line 16, leave out paragraph (e) and insert—
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 565 to 569.
Phil Hope: These are rather complex amendments, but the intention is relatively straightforward. Clause 121 sets out the local authority functions that fall within the remit of the chief inspector. Amendment No. 564 adds to the chief inspector’s remit local authority social services functions that relate to adults only. The amendments then make consequential drafting changes. These functions particularly include services to adults affected by adoption or special guardianship, whether as natural or adoptive parents, prospective adoptive parents or prospective or actual special guardians. An example is adoption support services for adults and special guardianship support services.
Amendment No. 566 has the effect that the chief inspector will inspect any related activity where the local authority has used the economic or social well-being powers in section 2 of the Local Government Act 2000. Amendment No. 567 makes a consequential drafting change to the definition of related activities in clause 128. The definition applies to the whole of chapter 4, including the annual review under clause 124.
Amendments Nos. 568 and 569 make consequential amendments to section 148 of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003 to exclude functions that are within the remit of the chief inspector from being within the remit of the Commission for Social Care Inspection. The affect of the amendments is that the chief inspector will, for example, be able to look at a local authority’s adoption services in the round, thus avoiding an artificial division of responsibilities between the chief inspector and CSCI.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 565, in clause 121, page 86, line 18, leave out
‘within subsection (1)(a) or (b), means'
and insert
‘to which this Chapter applies, means (subject to subsections (3) and (3A))'.
No. 566, in clause 121, page 86, line 24, leave out subsection (3) and insert—
‘(3) In relation to a function within subsection (1)(c), (d) or (e), anything done as mentioned in subsection (2) is a “related activity” only if it is done in relation to or for the benefit of—
(a) persons aged under 18,
(b) persons aged 18 or over in relation to whom the authority has functions under any of sections 23C to 24D of the Children Act 1989 (c. 41), or
(c) persons not within paragraph (a) or (b) in connection with adoption or special guardianship.
Clause 121, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 122 to 124 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 125

Power of entry
Mr. Gibb: I beg to move amendment No. 533, in clause 125, page 88, line 6, leave out ‘reasonable'. Clause 125 relates to the powers of the inspector to enter premises, and our amendment would leave out the word “reasonable”. That reflects the fact that we feel in the case of local authority inspections that there is no need for the inspector to enter premises at a “reasonable time”. As they are a branch of government we do not need to fear interfering with the private rights of such bodies, although we might wish to require a “reasonable time” in other cases. If the inspector wishes to ensure that the papers of a public body are in order, he should be permitted to arrive at any time of the day or night. This clause already explicitly prevents domestic premises from being searched. We also do not believe that the chief inspector would wish to inspect a local authority at an unreasonable time, unless he had a serious reason. We see no reason why the discretion of the chief inspector should be fettered in this case by the insertion of the word “reasonable”.
Phil Hope: I do not think that any of us seriously believes that the chief inspector would act in anything but a reasonable way in exercising these powers. It could be argued that whether or not the Bill contains the word “reasonable”, the chief inspector will in any case have to act reasonably, in accordance with the general principles of administrative law. However, including this in the legislation sends an important signal as much to those inspected as to the chief inspector. In that respect, the Bill follows the approach taken in the current statutory provisions for the inspection of local authorities by Ofsted and the Commission for Social Care Inspection, which both require the powers to be exercised at reasonable times.
I understand the concerns the hon. Gentleman has raised, and I am happy to go away and think about them. However, I do not think that the change he seeks would help the chief inspector or those he inspects to act as we would want them to. On that basis, I hope that he will withdraw the amendment.
Mr. Gibb: I am reassured by the fact that the Under-Secretary said he will go away and think about the issue. It is important for an inspector who wishes to do so to be able to get to papers before an employee of an authority has a chance to remove or destroy them. We accept that those will be exceptional circumstances. Given the Under-Secretary’s assurance that he will take another quick look at this, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 125 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 126 and 127 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 128

Interpretation etc.
Amendment made: No. 567, in clause 128, page 90, line 3, leave out ‘and (3)' and insert ‘to (3A)'.—[Phil Hope.]
Clause 128, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 129 to 135 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Schedule 13 agreed to.
Clause 136 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 137

Publication of inspection reports
Phil Hope: I beg to move amendment No. 463, in clause 137, page 93, line 25, leave out from ‘under' to ‘or' and insert ‘any enactment,'.
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments Nos. 464, 465, 485 and 500.
 
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