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The Earl of Listowel: I thank the Minister for her full and helpful reply. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Whether Clause 99 shall stand part of the Bill?

Baroness Blatch: I do not intend to oppose the Question. However, perhaps I may press the Minister on a point that was not answered earlier.

Some of the careers companies have received letters inviting them to prepare to wind up their present services. If that happens, it will create gaps in the

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system. First, why have they been given such notice? Secondly, where gaps are created, how is it intended to fill them?

Baroness Blackstone: It is right to give the Careers Service longish notice of our intentions. But no careers service will be closed down before new Connexions services are in place.

Baroness Blatch: But only part of the service has been given notice to wind up.

Baroness Blackstone: That is the part that will be absorbed into the Connexions service. The Careers Service also provides adult guidance in some cases. That will continue.

Baroness Blatch: I thank the Minister. I wonder whether she would let me see a copy of the letter that has gone out to those companies.

Baroness Blackstone: I am happy to send the noble Baroness a copy of the letter.

Clause 99 agreed to.

Clause 100 [Consultation and coordination]:

[Amendment No. 219 not moved.]

Baroness David moved Amendment No. 220:

    Page 44, line 22, at end insert--

("( ) a body providing services in pursuance of arrangements made or directions given under sections 8, 9 and 10 of the Employment and Training Act 1973,").

The noble Baroness said: I am leading on this amendment, but it is supported by the noble Lord, Lord Tope, and the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp. I am afraid that it covers part of the same ground that was trodden so thoroughly and painstakingly a few minutes ago. Nevertheless, I shall move it.

As we have said, the Secretary of State retains his duty to provide a Careers Service. Under Section 10 of the 1973 Act he is empowered to make arrangements to secure that service. Clause 100 of the Bill requires the body providing that statutory service on behalf of the Secretary of State to be consulted in planning provision, so that it is manifestly appropriate to local needs. It seems possible under the Connexions strategy that a body will provide the statutory Careers Service which is not the lead contractor for Connexions. Then, it will be essential that the Careers Service sub-contractor is consulted as of right about the provision of the services to 13 to 19 year-olds.

The unique contribution of the Careers Service is its impartiality, alongside its knowledge of the needs of young people progressing through education and training. The amendment would put on the face of the Bill the reinforcement of the role of the statutory service, which, as the Minister confirmed, the Secretary of State will retain. That provides the means to ensure that young people's needs are at the heart of the learning and skills processes and structures. I beg to move.

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6.15 p.m.

Baroness Blatch: My name is attached to Amendments Nos. 221 and 224, and my noble friend Lord Wade of Chorlton has his name to Amendment No. 222 to which, with the leave of the Committee, I shall speak on his behalf.

My Amendment No. 221 covers the same ground as that of the noble Baroness, Lady David. I prefer the noble Baroness's amendment to my own, and I therefore support it. My other amendment refers to those who should be consulted. As I think the noble Baroness and the Minister will agree, local learning partnerships are important; they involve the local organisations that will be responsible for networking in the interests of the community. My noble friend Lord Wade makes the important point that employers are also a key group in the community and it seems right that they should be included in the consultation process.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My name is attached both to Amendment No. 220 and to Amendments Nos. 223 and 225. I rise to speak to the last two amendments, as well as to endorse the remarks of the noble Baronesses, Lady David and Lady Blatch, about Amendment No. 220.

The points that have been made on that issue are important, in so far as those who will be providers of the Careers Service--we now understand that they will not be wholly absorbed into the new Connexions service--have already been providing services within the areas concerned. It is important that they, as well as all the other providers, are consulted when the new service is established.

Amendments Nos. 223 and 225 are concerned with the consultation process. In an earlier debate, we talked at length about the role of local learning partnerships, the way in which they have developed and how valuable they have been in those areas where they are thriving. Where they are in existence, it is important that they, too, should be consulted in the development of the new Connexions service. Similarly, Amendment No. 226 relates to our belief that other providers of education and training should be included in the consultation process.

Amendment No. 226 is linked to this series of amendments. Perhaps I may speak to it at greater length. It relates to a slightly different issue. It proposes a code of practice to be inserted after Clause 100. The reasoning behind the amendment is that, during the Committee stage in the other place of the School Standards and Framework Bill, the Government agreed that there was a need for a code of practice to underpin the relationship between local education authorities and schools, particularly in the light of the new power for local education authorities to intervene in schools to ensure standards. As a result, Section 127 on securing effective relationships between LEAs and schools was included in the School Standards and Framework Act. The proposed new clause is largely derived from Section 127.

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Under the system proposed in the Bill there will be three areas which will have to interact: providers, local education authorities and the learning and skills council with its local councils. The learning and skills council and the local learning and skills councils will have strong powers over 16 to 19 provision, particularly in relation to school sixth forms, under Clause 7 of the Bill, allowing unspecified conditions to be attached to grant and, under Schedule 7, on the closure of sixth forms.

There are many questions as to how those sweeping powers will be used. For example, will the learning and skills council or the local learning and skills councils tell a school sixth form under a threat to withhold grant not to offer Spanish because it is already being offered elsewhere in the area and is considered a disproportionate expenditure or poor value for money?

At the moment, how the new bodies will interact with existing local education authority providers is somewhat uncertain. The School Standards and Framework Act introduced a code of practice for effective LEA/school relations in recognition of the powers of LEAs to intervene in schools in the drive to improve standards. The national learning and skills council and local LSCs will have the same standards agenda. Therefore, guidance by the Secretary of State by way of a code of practice as to how the individual partners involved in this relationship should behave is vital to the fostering of good and effective relationships under the proposed system.

Lord Bach: I deal with Amendments Nos. 220 to 226. The purpose of Clause 100 is to ensure that all those involved in the provision of youth support services in a locality contribute to and collaborate in Connexions service provision. Subsection (1) specifies certain key statutory bodies responsible for providing youth support services in an area which must be consulted before making Connexions service provision in that area. Subsection (2) extends this to relevant voluntary bodies and such other "persons" as the Secretary of State thinks it appropriate to consult. We meet our old friend the Interpretation Act 1978. Members of the Committee will be aware from previous exchanges that "persons" is a legal term that includes bodies.

Subsection (4) requires all consultees listed under subsection (1)--the statutory bodies--to support and assist the Connexions service, which includes co-ordinating their functions with the service. The significance of that in relation to this group of amendments is that all of the bodies under subsection (1) are statutory bodies involved in relevant aspects of youth support service provision. The express provision on the face of the Bill is intended to put beyond doubt that they would be able to enter into a contract with, or otherwise contribute to, the Connexions service. We are also able to impose on those statutory bodies the duty to support, assist and collaborate in the provision of youth support services. That is another reason for listing them expressly.

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By contrast, such statutory duty as is found in subsection (4) cannot be imposed upon private, voluntary and the many other local bodies which can and, in many cases, should contribute to the Connexions service. Moreover, we believe that to list them all for the purposes of consultation would make the legislation cumbersome and risk omission of others which in some parts of the country would certainly make a significant contribution. We believe that, as drafted, Clause 100 provides for a wide range of bodies to be involved in the new service, while maintaining simplicity and a degree of flexibility. I assure the Committee that in establishing the service the Government expect to consult those who deliver careers advice and guidance--local learning partnerships, employers, education institutions, training providers, including the people and organisations referred to in the amendments--about Connexions service provision in their areas.

Perhaps I may say a little more about each of the bodies referred to in this series of amendments. I welcome this opportunity to expand on the position of Careers Service companies when the Connexions service is introduced. This matter was touched on by my noble friend in an earlier debate. As we have consistently made clear in Learning to Succeed, Bridging the Gap and the recently published Connexions policy document, careers information advice and guidance will be an important element of the Connexions service. We expect the best Careers Service companies, together with a range of other local partners, to play a major role in the service. The phased introduction of the Connexions service is deliberately intended to allow us to look at different approaches to the involvement of existing Careers Service companies. This will depend in part on the type and number of existing careers services in each Connexions partnership area. For example, where local careers services are constituted as partnerships between local authorities and TECs, the local authority partners which remain after the withdrawal of TECs from April 2001 will need to consider how each company should be developed to fit into the local Connexions service arrangements within their boundary or boundaries, where a Careers Service covers multiple local authority areas.

Private and not-for-profit Careers Service companies will have the opportunity to demonstrate their potential contribution to the local Connexions service either as partners in a public/private partnership or by sub-contracting to deliver particular services. We are working with the Careers Service National Association and others to consider all the implications of the change in structures for Careers Service staff and to ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements. But we fully expect that the new Connexions partnerships and local management committees will build on the skills and experience within Careers Service companies. The Connexions service will offer challenging new posts to be filled by people with appropriate competence and skills from the Careers Service and other statutory, community and voluntary organisations.

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In schools, we expect that the Connexions personal adviser will be a learning mentor based on the Excellence in Cities model. The learning mentors will be the first point of advice, including advice on learning opportunities relating to young people's career aspirations. They will be on hand to develop a long-term relationship of trust with those young people who need it and thus will supplement the advice given by careers teachers. Where appropriate, they will refer young people on to specialist careers advisers.

I turn to the amendment spoken to by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, and tabled by her noble friend Lord Wade, which is concerned with employers. I am sure that the noble Baroness agrees that employers are a large and diverse category. It would be difficult to define which employers should be consulted and which it would be perhaps inappropriate to consult. Under subsection (2) a duty is placed on the Secretary of State to consult any other person he thinks appropriate. Therefore, appropriate employers or employers' representative bodies are covered by this provision. The Government expect employers to play an important role in the Connexions service. The service will develop close links with employers, both directly and through the LSC, to ensure their involvement in planning the service, providing community mentors and appropriate work experience opportunities and contributing to labour market and skills planning information for use by personal advisers.

I turn to Amendment No. 223 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp of Guildford. My responses echo the answer given by my noble friend earlier when the Committee debated the relationship between local learning partnerships and the LSC. It seems a long time ago since we did that. Local learning partnerships are non-statutory bodies which are continuing to develop. We do not believe that it is appropriate to stipulate their role. The new service will need to work closely with partnerships of local providers to develop strategies to match provision with the needs of young people and adults at local level. The detailed knowledge assembled by personal advisers of young people's experiences in learning should provide a powerful impetus to encourage improvements by education and training providers in the learning partnerships. Close links with learning partnerships will also be important to ensure coherence with the information, advice and guidance service for adults.

The Government assure the Committee that local learning partnerships will be consulted about Connextions provision; and subsection (2) allows for that. Equally, we would expect the new Connexions service locally to play a key role in local learning partnerships. It will also be open to learning partnership chairs to be members of Connexions partnerships and to be represented on Connexions local management committees, subject to local decision.

Finally, I turn to the role of learning providers, and to Amendment No. 225. We can assure noble Lords that there is no question that education and training providers would not be consulted about Connexions

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provision, for they are key partners in providing support. We have made it clear that Connexions provision will become an integral part of schools' frameworks for pastoral work. Much the same applies to college and training providers. We are looking at the best way to integrate the various services as we phase in, over a period of time, the introduction of the national service.

We invite noble Lords to consider withdrawing the amendment on the basis that subsection (1) deals with the statutory organisations and subsection (2) allows all the organisations referred to in the various amendments to be consulted.

I turn to Amendment No. 226 which is grouped with the amendments. On a rather separate area of concern in the Bill, Amendment No. 226 proposes that we specify on the face of the Bill that the Secretary of State shall issue the code of practice mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, in order to give practical guidance to secure effective relationships between the learning and skills council, CETW, LEAs and providers of education and training.

We want to ensure that the LSC (at both national and local levels) works in a way which is properly consultative of a wide range of bodies and that it promotes sound partnerships. That goes not only for its work on adult and community learning and youth initiatives, but also on employment and work-based training too.

Our intention is that the local planning process for the LSC should be as open and inclusive as possible. The LSCs will seek to engage the wider community in their work through a variety of means, perhaps public meetings, publication of draft and final plans on the Internet, and seeking direct feedback from actual and potential learners on their needs.

We also recognise that the approaches to learning that may attract adult learners will be, as we discussed earlier in Committee, very different from those which are more appropriate to 16 to 19 year-olds. The distinctive needs of both these groups will be reflected, therefore, in the provisions referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas--he is not in his place at present--made in Schedule 3 to the Bill which we debated last Thursday for the LSC's adult and young people's learning committees. We fully expect that local LSCs will want to seek the advice of experts about their locality, and they may want to establish their own local committees.

We appreciate that codes of practice can capture complex and sensitive relationships, such as the code referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, but the arrangements outlined have already been endorsed by a wide cross-section of partners and stakeholder organisations. We made it clear in the prospectus that we wanted to see a bottom-up approach to planning and post-16 provision. To set out such arrangements in detail, we fear, could stifle the LSC and would not help enable it and its partners to meet the needs of local employers and learners. We do not believe that the amendment is necessary.

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I remind Members of the Committee that in Clauses 21 and 22--we have debated them in some detail--the arrangements the council must make for consulting a range of bodies on the preparation of its guidance to each local council and on local council plans are set out in some detail.

Moreover, Clause 25 allows the Secretary of State to give directions to the council about its objectives and how it should best meet them. But--I hope that it is of some satisfaction to the noble Baroness--we shall continue to bear in mind the value of providing guidance to the LSC about how it can promote and support partnership and the roles of different partners as and when appropriate.

On the basis of what I have said, I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw the amendment.

6.30 p.m.

Baroness David: I thank the Minister for his full reply. There has been some reassurance. However, I should like to read it with great care and consider whether the reply is adequate, as it may be. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 221 to 225 not moved.]

Clause 100 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 226 not moved.]

Clause 101 agreed to.

Clause 102 [Educational institutions: information and access]:

[Amendment No. 227 not moved.]

Clause 102 agreed to.

Clause 103 [Inspection]:

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