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Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I suppose that I should be flattered. This is about the fourth time today I have heard that what the previous government did was so good that we must repeat it. I must tell the Minister that my frustrations over many of these issues are well known in the department. I dislike intensely the argument produced for Ministers--it was produced for me--that because something has always been done a certain way, it should always be done that way and that because a form of wording has been the same since Adam was a boy, we should continue to use it. I do not accept that as an intellectually valid defence.

The Minister painstakingly explained the use of the word "particular". However, that word does not refer to the first seven words, but to what follows,

That is all that is stated. There is no other qualification whatever. It is true, as the Minister accepts, that there will be occasions when disproportionate expenditure must legitimately be made. The Minister gave my noble friend's example of an expensive engineering workshop being set up when there is another one close by. By anyone's judgment that would be deemed unacceptable, disproportionate expenditure. However, there are many examples where provision for young people with learning disabilities must be a great deal more expensive than that for young people without learning disabilities. There will be instances in rural areas where provision is disproportionately expensive compared to that provided for areas where schools are much closer together in towns and cities which have more facilities.

I do not believe that, on the face of the Bill, disproportionate expenditure can be avoided. I accept the criticism made by the noble Lord, Lord Tope, about value for money. I had hoped that through the wording of Amendment No. 24 I was introducing the notion of value for money. I did not use the term "cost-effective use of resources" on its own because that stipulation is linked with a second point relating to consistency with effective services; in other words, if a provision is not consistent with effective services then it is not cost effective. Putting the two together, I qualified the first part of my amendment by saying that it had to be consistent with the use of resources.

I am tempted by the noble Lord, Lord Tope, to find a way to introduce the words "value for money" as opposed to,

    "cost-effective use of resources consistent with the effective provision of services".

It is important to make it clear beyond doubt that local authorities, councils when making funding provision, and even employers under the voluntary sector making provision should be allowed to do so

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quite legitimately, and on the basis of making good judgment on educational grounds. I believe that should be acceptable. The Bill states:

    "in particular avoid provision which might give rise to disproportionate expenditure".

For that reason, despite the fact that it has been used historically and by my government, I still do not believe that it is an answer to my concern. However, I shall go away and try to "Topefy" my amendment and bring it back at Third Reading. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7 p.m.

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 25:

    Page 2, line 18, at end insert--

("( ) Nothing in subsection (3) shall prevent the Council from providing facilities that only, by nature of their size, have higher unit costs than other facilities.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, there will be much discussion on the amendments and much work in smoke-filled rooms. Although I am not happy that my amendment is not to be on the face of the Bill, I share the concerns of my noble friend, and do not intend to move this amendment.

[Amendment No. 25 not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 26 to 29 not moved.]

Clause 3 [Education and training for persons over 19]:

[Amendments Nos. 30 to 35 not moved.]

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 36:

    Page 2, line 41, at end insert--

("( ) in relation to subsection (1)(c) above, take account of any undue burden falling on small and medium-sized businesses, or voluntary sector providers;").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Amendment No. 36 deals with a concern which sounds like a small concern, but is important. Clause 3(1) states:

    "The Council must secure the provision of reasonable facilities for".

The facilities are then listed. Clause 3(1)(c) refers to,

    "organised leisure-time occupation connected with such education".

My particular concern is that some of the provision will be made by small and medium-sized businesses. Indeed, some parts of the voluntary sector will also be involved. I should like to think that there is flexibility here. My amendment provides that in securing such reasonable facilities connected with education, the burden of cost should not be a disadvantage to small and medium-sized businesses. Therefore, the council should take that into account when approving courses by other providers.

That is important. The Government cannot achieve their aims and objectives without the full involvement of the business sector. We all know that by far the largest proportion of companies in this country, over 90 per cent, have fewer than 100 employees. An even higher proportion, between 94 to 95 per cent, have fewer than 10 employees. Although the remaining few

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per cent employ almost half the workforce, we are referring to a large number of companies without which many local areas will not be able to achieve the Government's objectives.

We should not in any way downgrade the importance of the wider provision of facilities for young people in education. This refers back to the concern raised by the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, about widening education and not being too narrowly focused on education and skills training. However, we should be mindful of the difficulty of providing in a workplace sports or leisure facilities, for example, which can be expensive. That is not to say that imagination cannot be used. Councils should take into account that if they need to hire a local football ground or local schools facilities, and so forth, there will be a cost. Such costs should be considered and taken into account in making such provision. I beg to move.

Lord Bach: My Lords, I hope that I can make the noble Baroness happy by explaining briefly how we see this clause.

Clause 3(1)(c) constitutes a duty placed on the LSC, not on providers. The LSC would be able to fund organised leisure-time occupation provided in connection with education if it was made by a small or medium-sized business or voluntary sector provider. However, it is important to note that no requirement is placed on such providers to make such provision.

Nothing is mandatory for them as a result of this clause. We are not placing any new burdens on them. It is the responsibility of the learning and skills council to ensure that reasonable facilities of this sort are available. Business and voluntary providers may want to make such provision, but that remains a matter for them. I appreciate that the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, sought reassurance on this precise point in Committee. I am pleased to confirm, using her own words, that:

    "there will not be a requirement on employers to provide leisure and recreational facilities which are entirely beyond their means".--[Official Report, 8/2/2000; col. 568.]

We shall certainly keep a close eye on the arrangements. I hope that goes some way towards reassuring the noble Baroness.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his hugely helpful reply. Perhaps I may state my understanding so that there is no doubt. I understand that the council will have to secure the provision but that the council securing the provision will not be the provider. The council will use local authorities, workplaces, the voluntary sector, other educational outlets, colleges and so forth, to make such provision. However, I understand that the council must ensure that all young people receive reasonable leisure facilities in addition to proper education and training.

I should like a specific assurance that the council will not use its funding arrangements to pressurise providers to make such leisure facility arrangements. In other words, not only must the council secure the provision of reasonable facilities, as the noble Lord

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stated, but in doing so, it will be the responsibility of the council to see that the provisions are funded and not that the funding will be required from the providers.

Lord Bach: My Lords, I am happy to give that reassurance to the noble Baroness.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 37:

    Page 2, line 43, at end insert--

("(bb) take account of the education and training required in different sectors of employment for employees and potential employees;").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment Nos. 38 and 38A not moved.]

Clause 4 [Encouragement of education and training]:

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