Clause 2

Part of Further Education and Training Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:15 am on 12th June 2007.

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Photo of Jeremy Wright Jeremy Wright Conservative, Rugby and Kenilworth 11:15 am, 12th June 2007

May I belatedly welcome you to the Chair, Mr. Atkinson? I rise to speak in support of amendments Nos. 22 and 25 moved by my hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings. I should say from the outset that the sector skills council that deals with the land-based industries, Lantra, is based in my constituency. Partly as a result of the work that it does, it is particularly important that these amendments find their way into the Bill. I, too, hope that the Minister will view them sympathetically. One of the reasons for that is that it is apparent from my  discussions with Lantra that the sector with which it deals is specific in its requirements and very unusual in many respects. Whenever policy is formed and guidance and advice is constructed the land-based sector should therefore be included.

I hope that the Minister can help me with one particular issue and offer me some reassurance. If there is to be a regional structure, a case will inevitably be made for regional centres of excellence. In land-based engineering, for example, there is probably enough demand to justify five centres of excellence nationwide. With nine regions, each region will wish to compete for one of those centres. There will not be enough to go around and it would be inappropriate to create nine centres simply to meet that requirement. I hope that the Minister can reassure us that if we are to have a regional structure, there will be a mechanism for resolving those sorts of issues to ensure that the sector—the land-based sector in this case—is properly served with these centres of excellence and that there is a national overarching view to go along with the regional structure proposed in the Bill.