8 Apr 2010 : Column 147WS

Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 8 April 2010

Business, Innovation and Skills

Skills Funding Agency

The Minister for Further Education, Skills, Apprenticeships and Consumer Affairs (Kevin Brennan): I am announcing today that the new Skills Funding Agency, an agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, became operational from 1 April 2010. This follows the announcement in the White Paper "Raising Expectations: enabling the system to deliver", which was published jointly with DCSF on 17 March 2008.

The Skills Funding Agency takes over responsibility for funding post-19 education and skills training from the Learning and Skills Council for England, which has been abolished under the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009. The budget and overarching priorities and targets for the agency have already been published in the Government's "Skills Investment Strategy", a copy of which can be found on the Department's website at www.bis.gov.uk.

The chief executive of Skills Funding, as a statutory office holder, will report to the Secretary of State on the performance of the Skills Funding Agency, and will prepare an annual report and accounts for each financial year which will be laid before Parliament.

Ministers of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills are accountable to Parliament for the work of the Skills Funding Agency.

Further information on the accountability and governance framework for the Skills Funding Agency and the relationship with the Department is set out in the Skills Funding Agency framework document, copies of which will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

8 Apr 2010 : Column 148WS

Northern Ireland

Bloody Sunday Inquiry Report

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Shaun Woodward): In my written statement to this House on 22 March 2010, Official Report, column 17WS, I set out the steps that would need to be taken before publication of the Bloody Sunday inquiry report. These included a checking process which would enable me to meet the obligations on me in relation to article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and national security. I can confirm that this checking process has now been completed and I have received advice from the checking team which confirms that there is nothing in the report which, if published, could breach article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights by putting the lives or safety of individuals at risk, or put national security at risk. I am therefore satisfied that the report can be published in full and I have advised Lord Saville of this.

However, given the time needed to print the report, it will not be practically possible to publish the report to Parliament before this Parliament is dissolved for the general election. As I informed the House in my statement of 22 March, Lord Saville has indicated that if such a situation were to arise his tribunal would agree to retain custody of the report until after the general election. I have now written to Lord Saville to ask the tribunal to retain custody of the report.

The report has not been shown to me or to any other Member of the Government, or to any officials except the five members of the team which carried out the checking process. Before the checking process began, I confirmed in writing to Lord Saville that it was not my intention that the checking team should brief me or any member of my Department on the content of the report; they have not done so and will not do so. The report will not be submitted to the Government until after the general election, and I hope that it can then be published as soon as practicable. I have placed copies of my letters to Lord Saville in the Libraries of both Houses.

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