Clause 2

Part of Further Education and Training Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 12th June 2007.

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Photo of Bill Rammell Bill Rammell Minister of State (Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education), Department for Education and Skills 11:00 am, 12th June 2007

I will discuss the specifics of that issue later, but the hon. Gentleman has made an important point. If we are reducing the number of non-executive directors from 750 to 150, what continuing contribution can those individuals, who have given significant service, make to the overall learning and skills landscape? There are a number of ways in which they can contribute. First, they can do so through direct contact and involvement with further education providers on the ground. Secondly, although we are—rightly, in my view—moving from 47 area councils to nine regional councils, we will also have150 partnership teams on the ground, so we will get both a regional and a localised interface, which is lacking from the current structure.

My experience as a constituency MP is one of the things that has convinced me of the need for change. Under the system of the 47 learning and skills councils, the council for my constituency covers the geographical area of Essex, which is as large as some countries in terms of both size and expenditure. The idea that there is the necessary degree of localisation in those circumstances is not borne out by the evidence.