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Orders of the Day — Further and Higher Education Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 11th February 1992.

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Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State for Education 5:45 pm, 11th February 1992

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, who usually fully supports the Government. In addition, Leicestershire county council is not a Labour authority. If the Secretary of State cannot convince his hon. Friends about the sense of the proposal, he cannot convince anybody. That is because the proposal is plainly daft. It is fundamentally flawed in distinguishing between what is work related and what is leisure related.

The Secretary of State said that the Bill does not cut a line between one part of adult education and another. But it does, and that is clearly shown by the drafting contortions in schedule 2, which lays down the courses that will come under the further education funding council. It is ludicrous, farcical, that because a course for basic literacy in English or to improve the knowledge of English of those for whom English is not the language spoken at home comes within the ambit of the further education funding council, a German who wants to learn English will get the money from the FEFC but an English person who wants to learn German, but not in pursuit of a GCSE, has to get the money from the LEA. How will that affect those who deliver adult education? The Secretary of State sought to explain this bureaucratic circus, this monstrosity that he has invented, but I am afraid that not only were we not convinced but few of his hon. Friends were.

Let us look at the case of someone who attends a flower arranging course. On the face of it, flower arranging seems to be a leisure-related rather than a work-related course. During the course, someone might discover an aptitude for flower arranging and decide to become a florist. Who will fund that course? What about cake decoration? To begin with, a person following such a course might do so out of interest and might later decide to become a caterer and work for a qualification. Who will fund that? These are serious questions.