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Baroness Blackstone moved Amendments Nos. 242 and 243:

    Page 50, line 13, at end insert--

("( ) For the purposes of this section an assessment of a person is an assessment resulting in a written report of--
(a) his educational and training needs, and
(b) the provision required to meet them.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 110, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 111 agreed to.

Clause 112 [Further education sector: designated institutions.]:

Baroness Sharp of Guildford moved Amendment No. 244:

    Page 51, line 8, at beginning insert ("Subject to the preservation of the essential nature of the institutions designated therein").

The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 244 is a minor, probing amendment. Clause 112 relates to designated institutions in the further education sector, of which there are a number, such as the Working Men's College, of which the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, is a governor. I refer also to a number of the residential colleges, the WEA, and so forth, who are a little uncertain as to their future under the new arrangements of the learning and skills council. They seek an assurance that the essential character of the institutions will be preserved under the new arrangements. I hope that the Minister will be able to give such an assurance. I beg to move.

17 Feb 2000 : Column 1419

7.45 p.m.

Baroness Blackstone: Section 28 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 designated, as eligible to receive support from the FEFC, voluntary aided sixth-form colleges, institutions (other than schools) assisted by the LEA, and grant aided institutions. It did not permit the incorporation of the governing bodies of these institutions. We have received representations from a number of those concerned with this special group of sixth-form colleges. In these provisions we address their main concerns and are pleased to respond to their requests.

The Secretary of State will be able to incorporate the governing bodies of existing designated sixth-form colleges or those that may be designated in the future. It will also allow the Secretary of State, when incorporating a governing body, to specify the corporation's powers and to confer exempt charitable status upon the corporation and the institution.

The Committee may be concerned that in replacing Section 30 we threatened the protection afforded to voluntary aided schools on entering the sector. That is not the case. Indeed, we have taken care to ensure that all voluntary aided schools which enter the sector through the designation route will still be covered by the requirement on the trustees of voluntary aided sixth-form colleges to appoint a majority of governors with a view to ensuring that the established character of the institution at the time of its designation is preserved and that it is conducted in line with any trust deed relating to it. We have extended the protection to apply to institutions either specified or in a class specified by the Secretary of State that in future enter the sector through the designation route. In view of that, I hope that the noble Baroness will understand that the amendment is unnecessary and will withdraw it.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: I thank the Minister for her full reply. I believe that gives us the assurance we have been seeking. I therefore beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 112 agreed to.

Clause 113 agreed to.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 245:

    After Clause 113, insert the following new clause--


(".--(1) Schedule (Transitional provisions) contains transitional provisions relating to--
(a) the dissolution of the Further Education Funding Councils, and
(b) the establishment of the Learning and Skills Council for England and the National Council for Education and Training for Wales.
(2) Nothing in that Schedule prejudices the generality of section 114(4).").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

17 Feb 2000 : Column 1420

Schedule 8 [Amendments]:

Lord Tope moved Amendment No. 246:

    Page 78, line 8, leave out ("of providing education or").

The noble Lord said: The introduction of an explicit power for college corporations to form, or take part in forming, companies, is a welcome clarification of the law. However, the principal powers of a corporation are to provide further and higher education and now secondary education at key stage four.

Education in this context has always been understood to include training. The definition of "further education" in the Education Act 1996 makes that explicit. It is unclear, in the context of this section, whether education in this context should be taken to mean further education as defined in that Act or some more limited meaning.

If, as I assume, it means the former, the section would have the effect of debarring college corporations from delivering not only education but also training. I am sure that that is not what the Government intend. I look forward to clarification from the Minister. I beg to move.

Lord Bach: The provision has been made in the Bill in response to some doubts about the power of FE corporations to form companies. The provision in the Bill provides that corporations may form companies, but restricts this power to exclude explicitly the formation of such companies to provide education or to conduct an educational institution. These are clearly matters for which the corporations must take direct responsibility and be accountable for where they receive public funding.

On reflection, we accept that this provision could be interpreted as excluding the formation of companies to provide education or training which is not publicly funded. That was not our intention and we agree with the points made by the noble Lord.

However, there is a technical issue. We believe that the amendment proposed by the noble Lord might allow corporations to create self-financing companies to provide education for students registered at the institution and for whom there is already public funding.

Clearly, it would not be acceptable to allow publicly-funded education to be provided by college companies and by so doing for corporations to evade the accountability framework. Therefore, while we accept that the provision as drafted needs amendment, we do not consider that the amendment presently before the Committee is quite what is required. However, we understand the concern and I undertake to the noble Lord--this is the second time he has had such success this evening--that the Government will table an amendment in the other place to clarify the issue. Perhaps the least he can do for us is to withdraw the amendment, for the time being.

Lord Tope: I am very pleased to help the Minister in that way. I believe that I am on something of a roll. Perhaps we should carry on like this for the rest of the evening, but I expect that we shall not. I am grateful

17 Feb 2000 : Column 1421

to the Minister for that reply and for the fact that the Government have reflected on the matter. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 247:

    Page 78, leave out line 17 and insert--

("(1) Section 29 of that Act (government and conduct of designated institutions) is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (2) for "subsection (3)" substitute "subsections (3) and (7A)".
(3) After subsection (7) insert--
"(7A) Provision made by the instrument in relation to the appointment of members of the governing body shall take into account the members who may be appointed by--
(a) the Learning and Skills Council for England under section 11 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000, or
(b) the National Council for Education and Training for Wales under section (Further education: governors) of that Act."
(4) In").

The noble Baroness said: I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch: This is a new and long group of amendments. It is also a very technical group. I would appreciate an explanation. I refer to Amendments Nos. 247 to 250.

Baroness Blackstone: This amendment was dealt with under Clause 11. It has been debated already.

Baroness Blatch: This and the other amendments represent the insertion of a new schedule. There has been no discussion about Schedule 8. I do not remember one. I agreed the groupings this morning. This amendment is not listed as having been already debated. It was not grouped with the Clause 11 amendments. Quite a number of explanations are required on Amendment No. 249, particularly on the insertion of the new schedule.

Baroness Blackstone: We debated these consequential amendments during the quite considerable time we spent on Clause 11 last week. That clause has been agreed by the Committee. I do not want to go into that debate again at this time. These amendments to the 1992 Act are necessary because at present it makes provision only for governing bodies themselves to appoint members. But the point is that these matters have already been debated. I apologise if that has not been indicated in the Groupings List.

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