Constitution and Proceedings of Boards of Management

Orders of the Day — Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Bill – in the House of Commons at 10:30 pm on 5th February 1992.

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Photo of Mr Tony Worthington Mr Tony Worthington , Clydebank and Milngavie 10:30 pm, 5th February 1992

I beg to move amendment No. 71, in page 37, line 12, leave out 'ten nor more than sixteen' and insert 'fourteen nor more than twenty'.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

With this it will be convenient to consider the following amendments: [Madam Deputy Speaker]

No. 72, in page 37, line 22, at end insert— '(e) no less than two persons nominated by the education authority in whose area the college is situated.'.

No. 73, in page 38, line 11 , leave out 'sixteen' and insert 'twenty'.

Government amendments Nos. 53 to 55.

No. 75, in page 40, leave out lines 40 and 41.

No. 76, in page 40, line 42, at end insert—

'(2) For a period of two years commencing from the first transfer date, a member (whether elected or appointed) or an employee of a local authority, shall not be eligible for appointment as chairman, but, after that time has elapsed, no such restriction shall apply.'.

Photo of Mr Tony Worthington Mr Tony Worthington , Clydebank and Milngavie

The amendment seeks to improve the college boards of management by increasing their size to make them more representative. We obstinately continue to believe that people from the education authority should be on the boards because that will allow collaboration. That seems to be common sense. We do not wish to exclude local authority employees from chairing such a board.

Photo of Mr Michael Forsyth Mr Michael Forsyth , Stirling

I made clear to the Committee considering the Bill, when we considered a similar amendment, that I do not consider that enlarging the size of boards would ensure that they are more effective. Nor do I consider that a better balance of interests would necessarily be achieved. I very much hope that board members will be able to take a broad view and not regard themselves as speaking for any narrow interest groups.

The Secretary of State will make the appointments to reconstitute college councils later this year. Those appointments will be based on the need to ensure a strong employer presence and on the basis of the personal qualities, experience and commitment that the individuals bring to the task. Those people will become the members of the first boards of management on 1 April 1993. I cannot, therefore, accept amendment No. 72.

However, I recognised the case made in Committee by the Opposition on an amendment seeking to restrict board members to serving no more than eight years. As we said in Committee, eight years seems too short a time for the college to capitalise on experience gained by individual members. However, having considered the matter carefully, I have tabled amendments Nos. 54 and 53, which will restrict board members to serving no more than three four-year terms of office, or 12 years in total. That will provide the college boards with new perspectives and new experience.

Amendment No. 55 is consequential and makes clear that in calculating the 12-year limit on membership of a board of management no account is taken of any previous service on a college council.

I have reflected on the position of elected councillors being allowed to become chairmen of college boards. I still remain of the view that that would be undesirable. Education authorities will have a duty to provide community education and a power to provide further education of the type falling within clause 6 of the Bill. Boards will be funded by the Secretary of State to provide both. The chairman of an authority's education committee could find himself chairing a board of management where serious conflict of interest could arise in the future.

It may be that, with the passage of years, the position would change, but that can be dealt with by the Secretary of State's order-making power in clause 3 to amend the provisions contained in schedule 1.

Those arrangements do not preclude education authority representatives either being appointed initially by the Secretary of State or subsequently by boards, but I stress that appointments will be made on the basis of personal qualities. I invite Opposition Members to acknowledge the concessions that I have made and to withdraw amendments Nos. 75 and 76.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made: No. 49, in schedule I, page 37, line 21, leave out from 'being' to end of line 22 and insert 'nominated by the students' association of the college from among students of the college.'.

No. 50, in page 38, line 22, leave out from 'person' to 'whether' in line 23 and insert 'appointed by being nominated by the students' association of the college'.

No. 51, in page 38, line 33, leave out from beginning to 'shall' and insert 'appointed by being nominated by the students' association of the college'.

No. 52, in page 38, line 39, leave out from 'by' to 'shall' in line 40, and insert 'being nominated by the students' association of the college'.

No. 53, in page 38, line 44, after 'board', insert '—(a)'.

No. 54. in page 38, line 48, at end insert— '; or(b) where the total number of years of any previous terms of office (whether or not consecutive) served as a member of that board exceeds eight.'.

No. 55, in page 38, line 48, at end insert— '(2) For the purpose of sub-paragraph (1)(b) above, in calculating the number of years served no account shall be taken of any term of office served as a member of a college council.'—[Mr. Michael Forsyth.]