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Baroness Sharp of Guildford moved Amendment No. 20:

The noble Baroness said: This is a minor amendment. Paragraph 2(2) of the schedule states that,

    "On ceasing to be a member a person is eligible for re-appointment".

The purpose of this amendment is to place a limit on the number of times re-appointment can take place. We believe that in any organisation it is healthy to have some renewal of membership. There is a tendency sometimes for organisations to become self-perpetuating oligarchies. Therefore, we believe it is a good idea to have on the face of the Bill a limitation on the number of times that a person may be eligible for re-appointment. On that basis, we suggest that a person should be eligible for re-appointment only for one term. I beg to move.

Lord Bach: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for moving her amendment so quickly. But I am confused. As I understand the amendment, it refers to "one further term", which suggests two terms in all. I understand that I am right in saying that.

The Government are fully in agreement with the general rule set out in the code of practice for public appointments and by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments, that members and chairs of the LSC should generally serve for a maximum of two terms. In making the appointments, we shall follow those guidelines. But they allow for exceptions in exceptional circumstances. It may be that a member or chairman of the LSC makes such a valuable contribution that it would be right to re-appoint that

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person for a third term. I stress "exceptional circumstances". Therefore, we do not believe it appropriate to write into the Bill an absolute bar against serving more than two terms in every case. In the light of the assurance I gave that the Government will follow the guidance in these matters, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Blatch: I hope that the noble Baroness will forgive me if I put a question to the Minister before he sits down. The noble Lord appears to be accepting the thrust behind the amendment; namely, that there should be a defined period of time beyond which someone should not be appointed. I believe it is possible to deal with this in the Bill. The proviso would not apply to the chief executive. I put him in a different bracket, as he will be the number one employee of the council. However, it would apply to the chairman and the members of the council. Would it not be possible to insert the words,

    "shall not normally serve more than one further term",

so that it is presumed in favour of not serving one more term? I wonder whether the noble Lord is sufficiently open minded to consider not only the points made by the noble Baroness but also my suggestion that some provision should be placed on the face of the Bill to ensure that people do not believe that there is a sort of unwritten rule that they could serve two, three, four or even more terms.

Lord Bach: I hope that I am sufficiently open minded to listen carefully to all the suggestions made by the Committee. However, tempting though that offer is, I must reject it. I repeat: we intend to follow the code of practice for public appointments. It is publicly stated and publicly known. Given the fact that we are likely to do so, it would be wrong to put anything like the provision suggested by the noble Baroness on the face of the Bill. I take this opportunity to return to the point about the chairman's appointment. I should make it clear that we see the first appointment being for a term of between three and five years.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: I have to say that I am most disappointed that the Minister cannot see his way to putting this provision on the face of the Bill. Given that it is in the code of practice for public appointments, it seems most appropriate for it to be on the face of the Bill. However, given the Minister's insistence, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 21:

    Page 56, line 7, leave out sub-paragraph (3).

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 22 and 23. This amendment proposes to remove paragraph 1(1) of Schedule 1 which relates to the appointment of the chief executive. I feel most strongly about this matter. The first line in the schedule reads:

    "One of the Council's members is to be its chief executive".

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If it is good enough for that line to appear on the face of the Bill in Clause 1, as it relates to the chairman, it seems to me that it should also appear in the clause as a definitive statement that a council member is to be chief executive. The Minister will know that I think that that is wrong. I believe that there should be a proper separation between the chief executive and the policy makers. Therefore, I do not accept or support the arrangements set out in Schedule 1(1).

Amendment No. 22, which proposes to leave out subparagraphs (6) to (8), has been tabled for the sake of clarification. I seek some explanation in this respect. These paragraphs are very difficult to read. For example, subparagraph (6) says:

    "The Secretary of State may remove a disability",

but what is a "disability"? We need a definition of that word. Moreover, the powers referred to in subparagraph (7) include those to,

    "remove (either indefinitely or for any period) a disability which would otherwise attach to any member, or members of any description, by reason of such interests, and in respect of such matters, as may be specified or described by the Secretary of State".

Again, what does that mean? What are the "interests" and "matters" referred to? What description can the Minister offer us in that respect?

Finally, in subparagraph (8) we read:

    "Nothing in this paragraph precludes any member from taking part in the consideration or discussion of, or in voting on, any question whether an application should be made to the Secretary of State for the exercise of the power conferred by sub-paragraph (6)",

which I simply do not understand. As I said, the purpose of this amendment is to seek clarification.

Amendment No. 23 refers to paragraph 9(1) of the schedule and deals with something that I battled for in the past. However, I lost that battle and am now trying to see whether I can win it from this side of the Chamber. I do not believe that we should have interference or intervention by the Secretary of State, or by a person acting in his name, at these meetings. The council should at least have some say in whether it has a representative of the Secretary of State attending and taking part in deliberations at its meetings.

If the Government are really arguing that the Secretary of State will not have a handle on absolutely every aspect of this Bill, this is a very good area to demonstrate that fact. It seems to me that the council has been established to carry out a task for which it has a remit, and it must do that job within the framework of the law. Therefore, if the council would like a representative of the Secretary of State to be present at its meetings and take part in the discussions, that is fine; but it should be a matter for the council. I beg to move.

6.15 p.m.

Lord Bach: Amendment No. 21 would affect LFC staff, who will be public servants working for a non-departmental public body. While the detailed terms and conditions of their employment will be a matter

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for the LSC to determine, it is surely right that the Government should be able to ensure that those terms and conditions are in line with public sector policies. This is well established for other NDPBs and replicates provisions made in respect of the Further Education Funding Council's terms and conditions. I give way.

Baroness Blatch: I thank the noble Lord. I should point out that the amendment does not refer to members of staff. Paragraph 1 is headed "Chief Executive" and only refers to him. There is no reference to the appointed members of staff.

Lord Bach: I believe I know what has happened here. Amendment No. 21 refers to line 7 on page 56, which falls under the heading of "Staff". Having heard the noble Baroness's opening remarks, I suspect that she meant to refer to line 7 on page 55. Therefore, although I am properly addressing the amendment on the Marshalled List, it is not the one that the noble Baroness intended to move. Perhaps I may suggest to her that it would be sensible to re-table the amendment on Report so that it could be dealt with at that stage.

Baroness Blatch: I am grateful to the noble Lord. There has either been a typographical glitch, or I am responsible for making a mistake. In fact, there should be two amendments: one should refer to subparagraph (3) on page 56, while the other should refer to removing subparagraph (1) on page 55. I apologise for any confusion that has arisen. I shall return to both amendments.

Lord Bach: With the greatest respect to the noble Baroness, as the amendments deal with the same matter she could withdraw these amendments today and re-table them on Report. That would clarify the situation.

Baroness Blatch: I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 22 and 23 not moved.]

Schedule 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [Education and training for persons aged 16 to 19]:

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