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Baroness Blackstone: The Nolan procedures apply to the appointment of members of the councils, both locally and nationally. The appointment of staff is a rather different matter.

Baroness Blatch: I was referring to the appointment of members. I did in fact say that I was talking about

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the 5,000 people who will be appointed as members. There will also be an issue as regards staff. This does not apply just to members; a procedure will have to be undertaken for the appointment of staff.

The noble Baroness said that it would be end of March before the Government would publish a paper dealing with the transfer of staff from the TECs to the new councils--or not, as the case may be. That is fine for those who will be transferred because their future will be secure. However, can the Minister say what period of notice will be given to those who will not be transferred?

Baroness Blackstone: I am not quite clear as to where the noble Baroness derived the figure of 5,000 members. That is why I was somewhat confused and thought that she was referring to the appointment of staff.

I can tell the noble Baroness that the issue of those who will not be transferred will be decided during the course of the period in which people make applications for posts in various different parts of the system. Where people apply for posts will depend on their particular expertise, and whether they are appointed will depend on whether that expertise is needed in the particular organisations and in the localities where they are working. I cannot really say any more than that at this point in time.

Baroness Blatch: I understand that. I am culpable as regards the confusion over the figure of 5,000. My figures referred to staff and members. However, there is a real issue as regards using the Nolan procedures to appoint all the members and have them in place by the autumn and to recruit staff simultaneously. My concern with regard to the staff of TECs is not so much with the process of transferring staff from TECs to the new councils, as it will be a matter for the staff concerned whether they wish to apply for that; I am concerned about those who either are not eligible to apply or who are unsuccessful when they apply. What form of notice will they be given and what will be the severance terms if they are to lose their jobs?

Baroness Blackstone: That would depend on the circumstances. All the staff of TECs have their own terms and conditions. Their contracts will determine the notice period. There is no single system. Training and enterprise councils across the country vary a great deal in this respect. The position will depend on the individual contracts that have been drawn up by individual TECs.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 84 [Dissolution of FEFC for Wales]:

Lord Roberts of Conwy moved Amendment No. 201:

    Page 36, line 19, leave out paragraph (a).

The noble Lord said: I should not like to see the Further Education Funding Council for Wales dissolved without some tribute being paid to it for eight years of excellent work under the direction of

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Professor John Andrews CBE, who is due to retire in May. I had a hand in its establishment as a council in May 1992, along with the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales. Currently both operate within the overarching structure of the Welsh funding councils.

The National Committee of Enquiry into Higher Education, chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, saw Wales as being very much in the lead in bringing about a truly comprehensive post-16 lifelong education service. As a consequence, the committee commended the Welsh concept of a joint executive bringing further and higher education more closely together. On 1st April 1999, a joint executive for the Scottish funding councils for further and higher education came into being which follows the model successfully adopted by the Welsh funding councils. It is not often that we are able to teach the Scots a trick or two!

I am glad to say that the Education and Training Action Group in Wales has recommended that,

    "the existing joint secretariat embracing Higher Education and Further Education should be maintained and built upon".

As I understand it, that is to happen under this Bill.

There have been enormous benefits from the establishment of the Welsh funding councils with a joint executive, not only with regard to the integration of support functions, such as audit, management information systems and financial health monitoring, but also in extending the links between the further and higher education sectors. By 1996--well before FE institutions in other areas of the UK--all Welsh FE sector colleges were connected to the resources of the Joint Academic Network (JANET), and thus to the Internet, via higher education institutions in Wales. The Welsh funding councils are now planning a video services network for further and higher education institutions in Wales which will benefit all clients of the institutions, students and employers.

Successive annual reports have shown the progress of the FEFCW year by year. I have a formidable list of the council's achievements, but at this late hour I shall spare the Committee recital of them. Nevertheless, there has been a first-class list of achievements in eight years.

I am sure that the Minister will wish to endorse my appreciation of the Further Education Funding Council for Wales and its work. I hope that she will tell me what will replace it and how it will be replaced. I beg to move.

11.15 p.m.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Perhaps I may begin by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, for inviting me to endorse the tribute that he paid to the FEFCW. I understand the concern he raised. Quite rightly, the noble Lord is seeking assurances about how its dissolution and the transfer to the new regime is to be handled. I am very pleased that he has given me the opportunity to clarify the position.

In Wales, the situation is somewhat more straightforward than it is in England. All the assets, rights and liabilities of the FEFCW will be transferred

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to the CETW on the day appointed for its dissolution, when the CETW takes on its full functions. There is no need for transfer schemes equivalent to those provided for England through Amendment No. 200.

However, the Assembly needs to take action to deal with such property and other assets as are returned to it by TECs under the terms of their contracts with the Assembly. Such property should be used for the benefit of future education and training provision in Wales. It may well be that we shall need some provision similar to that for England which is set out in Amendment No. 202. However, the Assembly is currently considering its position, and if it decides that such provision is necessary, the Government will bring forward the necessary amendments at a later stage.

With that explanation and assurance, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Roberts of Conwy: I am grateful yet again to the Minister for explaining what is to happen when the Further Education Funding Council for Wales is dissolved. She will know that what concerns me is the maintenance of the quality of service that the FEFCW has given. I do not think that one can put that into statute. None the less, I am sure that the Minister shares my hope that such excellence will continue to thrive under the new arrangements. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 84 agreed to.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 202:

    After Clause 84, insert the following new clause--


(".--(1) The Secretary of State may make a scheme providing for the transfer of any of his property, rights and liabilities to any of the listed persons.
(2) The Secretary of State may make a scheme providing for the transfer of any of the property, rights and liabilities of a listed person to any other listed person.
(3) The listed persons are--
(a) the Learning and Skills Council for England;
(b) Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools in England;
(c) the Adult Learning Inspectorate.
(4) A scheme under this section may include such supplementary, incidental, consequential or transitional provisions as the Secretary of State thinks are appropriate.
(5) A scheme under this section comes into force on the day it specifies for it to come into force.
(6) When a scheme under this section comes into force it has effect to transfer (in accordance with its provisions) the property, rights and liabilities to which it applies.
(7) If a scheme under subsection (1) includes provision for the transfer of liabilities, the day specified by the scheme for it to come into force must not fall after the end of the period of 3 years starting with the day appointed under section 116 for the commencement of section 83.
(8) The day specified by a scheme under subsection (2) for the scheme to come into force must not fall after the end of the period of 3 years starting with the day appointed under section 116 for the commencement of section 83.
(9) This section applies in relation to England only.").

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On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 85 [Persons under 19]:

Baroness Sharp of Guildford moved Amendment No. 202A:

    Page 37, line 2, at end insert ("provided that subsection (2) shall not apply to any course intended to promote the personal, social, moral or physical development of an individual").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 202A, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 202B.

These amendments are essentially probing amendments. As it stands, Clause 85, supplemented by Clauses 87 and 88, would seem to preclude the funding body--defined either as the learning and skills council, the LEA or any other body designated by the Secretary of State--from funding any course of education or training for a 16 to 19 year-old which does not lead to an externally recognised qualification. Subsection (4) clearly makes allowance for modular courses, but they still need explicitly to be part of an externally recognised qualification system.

Amendment No. 202A seeks to make explicit that students who need to add to their current qualification programme should have the right to funding for enrichment programmes. In addition, other young people aged 16-18--and, in some cases, the socially excluded--should have access to funded courses that may have the function of building confidence or of beginning to address basic skill needs in order to encourage them on to further stages of learning. That would require the provider to ensure that the provision passed the test set out in the original stem Act and therefore would not be frivolous in nature. The LSC would set a tariff system which would ensure that funding was provided on an equitable basis for all such learners. The amendment would not force the LSC to fund beyond the funds at its disposal.

I turn to Amendment No. 202B, which picks up the same issue in relation to the old Schedule 2 and non-Schedule 2 issues. As I understood it, the purpose of the Bill was to abolish that distinction. Yet it would seem that Clause 86, by creating a list of qualifications and restricting the powers of the funding body in relation to any other provision, effectively recreates Schedule 2. The practical effect is that any course leading to a qualification of any kind that is not externally approved will be difficult for the funding body to support, because it will have difficulty in ensuring that the public moneys it disburses are not used to pay for the qualification--fees, assessment costs and so forth.

The purpose of the amendment is to recognise that, where an employer or an individual makes a substantial contribution to the cost of his learning, he should not be completely precluded from accessing public support. It would permit providers to offer adult and community learning in its broadest sense--which will be of use to the learner--with some support from public funds within the range of the LSC's budget. That budget will be set by the LSC in relation to its own priorities and the range of provision that it

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is able to support. In other words, the amendment would not mean that the LSC would have to fund all learning.

The restriction to funding only externally approved qualifications will inhibit the growth of new qualifications, which will not be able to be offered until they have been approved. That would stultify the development of new qualifications and could impact on the development of open and distance learning in particular. As it stands, an unemployed person attending a course at a college cannot access public funds for the qualification--fees, assessment costs and so forth--because there is no mechanism to support him. Around 60 per cent of current qualifications are outside the national qualifications framework. Although that will change as more are approved, it is by no means clear that they all will be. That has serious implications for a large number of current students.

From these Benches we cannot believe, given the emphasis on the social exclusion agenda, that the wider areas of education and training covered by the amendments would be precluded from funding. We greatly hope that the Minister will be able to clarify the situation and to give us an assurance that that is not what is intended. I beg to move.

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