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Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what right he intends (a) parents, (b) parent associations and (c) staff to have to appeal to the Learning and Skills Council on the closing down of Further Education Colleges under Clause 14, Part 2 of the Further Education and Training Bill 2007. 
Bill Rammell: There are well established procedures, set out in regulations (Statutory Instrument No: 2001/782), for the publication of proposals to dissolve a further education corporation. Where a proposal is published by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), this includes a requirement to consult. The Further Education and Training Bill retains the requirement for regulations, which prescribe both the type of information to be included in the proposal and the manner in which it must be published. This ensures those who have an interest in the proposal are informed and have an opportunity to make representations.
Proposals must be published for a period of at least one calendar month. Parents, parent associations and staff may take part in the consultation process. Any representations received must be taken into account by the LSC before a decision is made to dissolve a further education corporation.
Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills for what reasons he plans to transfer decision-making authority on the (a) establishment and (b) closure of Further Education Colleges from his Department to the Learning and Skills Council; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: The White Paper Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances set out our plans for greater flexibility and simplification of the FE system. The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is best placed to ensure that the most appropriate arrangements for the delivery of such provision are in place in each area. While the Secretary of State currently decides whether to incorporate and dissolve further education corporations, this decision is based on a proposal developed by the LSC following consultation with the local community. By transferring these powers to the LSC we expect the process of establishing or dissolving institutions to be simpler, quicker and less bureaucratic.
Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which members of the governing bodies of Further Education Colleges were removed from their posts by order of the Secretary of State in each year since 1997. 
Bill Rammell: The Departments records indicate that the power, under Section 57 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, for the Secretary of State to remove members of a governing body of a further education corporation has not been exercised.
This is a reserve power to be used only in exceptional circumstances where all other options have failed. We believe that having the power available and the possibility of it being exercised has been the trigger, in some cases, for governing bodies to act themselves.
Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills which Further Education Colleges were closed down in each year since May 1997; in how many instances his Office was not the final arbiter of the decision; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell: The following table sets out all Further Education Colleges closed (dissolved) each year since May 1997. The Secretary of State made the decision in each case, as is currently required at Section 27 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. However, the decisions were based on proposals developed by the Further Education Funding Council and, subsequently, the Learning and Skills Council following consultation with the local community.
In all but one instance (noted on the table), the college corporations were dissolved as part of a merger between two or more existing colleges. The dissolution of a college corporation does not necessarily imply the closure of a site or a reduction in the level of further education provision available.
|Further education college corporations dissolved since May 1997|
|(1) Closed other than as a result of merger|
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