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Lord Pearson of Rannoch: I support the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, because it is not just a grammatical point. Information cannot secure a decision, whether by design or otherwise. It will not be information that produces a sound decision but the council--based on the information that its systems should have provided. Even then the clause is not right; even systems cannot make sound decisions. I suggest that the Minister and his advisers have another look.

Baroness Blatch: What is in a word? It is a clumsy sentence. Whether or not "is" and "are" present a problem, I implore the Government to take another look. However one reads the sentence, it does not make sense. It would be better for it to make sense, especially as other practitioners will have to use the legislation as a working manual for delivering what the Government want.

The Minister was concerned about the split between publicly-funded and privately-funded education and training. Therefore, before I decide what to do about these amendments, I have a question for the noble Lord. If I bring forward amendments that refer to "publicly funded" education, will that make a difference to the Government's response?

Lord Bach: I can tell the noble Baroness that if she did so we would certainly look at them carefully before deciding what our attitude would be. I do not think that she can expect more than that today.

Baroness Blatch: I am grateful for that helpful indication and I shall certainly look at them again. However, I return to the school sector. Independent schools do provide information, although one cannot compel them to do so. That information is valuable

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and dovetails in with the information that comes from all the state and publicly-funded schools. It seems to me that it could be a feature of the 16-plus education.

I take most seriously the Minister's point about the burden on providers, especially when they are very small and medium-sized businesses. I should like to reconsider the wording of these amendments, and beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 82 to 86 not moved.]

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 87:

    Page 6, line 29, leave out ("or advice") and insert (", advice or guidance").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 88 and 89 not moved.]

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 90:

    Page 6, line 29, at end insert ("(including employment)").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 12, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 13 [Persons with learning difficulties]:

[Amendments Nos. 91 and 92 not moved.]

Clause 13 agreed to.

Lord Addington moved Amendment No. 93:

    After Clause 13, insert the following new clause--


(" .--(1) The Council shall secure the provision of financial resources to persons providing transport to enable people with learning difficulties to participate in post-16 education and training.
(2) The Council must make and publish a plan for the delivery of appropriate transport services and support for people with learning difficulties.
(3) The Council may pilot dedicated transport schemes, in partnership with statutory and voluntary organisations, for people with learning difficulties up to the age of 25.
(4) In undertaking an assessment of the transport needs of people with learning difficulties and in establishing pilot schemes, the Council shall have regard to individual needs in relation to orientation and personal safety when utilising transport options, such as the prevention of bullying and abuse.
(5) Local learning and skills councils must secure the provision of mobility training requested by people with learning difficulties participating in post-16 education and training.
(6) For the purposes of this section transport includes--
(a) the use of public transport;
(b) the use of general transport provided by institutions, employers and training providers;
(c) the use of transport provided by voluntary sector providers;
(d) the use of private hire vehicles and other forms of private transport;
(e) the use of specialist transport provided for disabled people.
(7) For the purposes of this section a recipient of financial resources shall include people with learning difficulties up to the age of 25 who have extra transport costs in accessing post-16 learning.

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(8) For the purposes of this section mobility training includes enabling disabled people to access vehicles safely, orientate themselves on vehicles, travel in safety and deal confidently with the street environment.").

The noble Lord said: This amendment is designed to deal with one of the major problems that affects those with learning difficulties; namely, transport to colleges. Students' limitations as regards transport may mean that they cannot actually,

    "participate in [the] post-16 education and training",

which is available to them under certain circumstances, and reach the appropriate level in that educational process.

The proposed new clause would mean the introduction of a training programme and strategy to enable people with learning difficulties to gain access to the appropriate college. They would be given training and back-up facilities would be available. The amendment emphasises "training", which is designed to get people to use public transport independently.

I hope that the Government will endorse this proposal. It would mean that people with learning difficulties would, as members of a society, actually be integrated into the process of being out in society. Moreover, a large part of their experience in the education system means that they will be mixing with their peers and, indeed, the outside world. Once again, if the transport system does not work and they cannot gain access to such educational establishments, such integration cannot take place. I hope that the Government will give us a very favourable response. However, if they feel that my amendment is not needed, I trust that they will clearly state why it is not needed and tell us how they are going to address these problems. At present, much of the evidence I have gathered and most of the comments from people in this field seem to suggest that it is not happening: it is down to chance and luck as to whether "persons with learning difficulties" can get to such courses. I beg to move.

Baroness Darcy de Knayth: I warmly support this amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, has already put forward most of the arguments. I very much like the amendment because it spells out the huge mix of transport needs for these people. It suggests ways of solving such problems and also emphasises the need for mobility training, which is very important. We tried to address this issue in 1992 and failed.

We are all agreed that post-16 learning is important for all, and especially so for people with learning difficulties. I should stress that I mean "learning difficulties" within the meaning of Clause 13, and not just those with learning disabilities. The Bill recognises this fact but, as the noble Lord, Lord Addington, said, without the proper, planned provision, many disabled learners will not be able to benefit from what the Bill offers; and it offers a lot!

I turn now to the consortium on post-16 education. I should mention briefly and in parenthesis that SKILL is involved here and I declare an interest as I am its president. The consortium recognises the difficulties surrounding the transport issue. It is willing

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to assist the DfEE and the councils in finding solutions and, if it would be helpful, to address the practical implementation of the legislation in this respect. I very much hope that there will be an extremely positive response from the Government. This issue is crucial to the success of a Bill that has so much to offer.

Lord Rix: I intended to speak to this issue on Second Reading, but I had to delete that part because my speech was already so long. Therefore, I should like to say a few words today to illustrate the importance of appropriate transport; and, indeed, the importance of training to negotiate public transport, especially for people with learning disabilities and those with learning difficulties. It is often assumed that the only barriers to transport are physical ones and that, therefore, people with learning disabilities are at no great disadvantage. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Travelling by public transport can be an extremely complex procedure, especially where a change of route or mode of transport is necessary. As we have just heard, for those who can eventually travel unaided, travel training is often a necessary pre-requisite. For many young people and their families there are also wider issues to consider, particularly issues relating to personal safety. Mencap's report, Living in Fear demonstrated that 25 per cent of people with learning disabilities who were surveyed had been bullied on public transport within the past year. This is an offensive and an unacceptable statistic, which will need to be tackled before transport can really be considered to be truly accessible.

I should like to give Members of the Committee an example, which may help to highlight some of my concerns. A young person I know through Mencap had great difficulty in using public transport. Her parents feared for her safety as she had been verbally and physically abused on her local bus service many times. She attended a college with a large and complex campus and needed some assistance in finding the pick-up point for the taxi that she used to travel to and from college because the meeting points varied from week to week. No one saw it as his or her job to give this help and, in the end, her parents had to withdraw her from the college because of fears for her safety.

I am, or have been, chairman of three other charities other than Mencap, each of which has been involved in funding transport for young people with disabilities and supporting the purchase of a large number of buses--not just for recreational purposes, but also for educational purposes. Public transport is not serving the wider public and local authorities are not meeting demand for specialist provision. In my view, this issue should be at the forefront of the efforts of the learning and skills councils to ensure, as we are promised, learning for all.

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