Clause 2

Part of Further Education and Training Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 12th June 2007.

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Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (14-19 Reform and Apprenticeships) 11:30 am, 12th June 2007

The Minister assures us that, through guidance, sector skills councils will indeed play a critical role in the consultative process laid out in the Bill. However, there remain concerns. One is the narrowing of the membership of the Learning and Skills Council to 10 members, which was dealt with under clause 1; it will have fewer members than the Higher Education Funding Council, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and the Quality Improvement Agency. It seems that 10 is the new minimum. Another is the removal of localities from the system that regional councils will inevitably cause, notwithstanding what the Minister said about other sub-regional bodies. I also have doubts about what I would describe as a sort of bunker mentality, as the LSC comes under increasing pressure following criticisms from independent sources—the Leitch review envisages it withering away—and there are constant concerns about bureaucracy.

Those issues of consultation, liaison and responsiveness become ever more critical. However, I know that the Minister is genuinely committed to ensuring that all interested parties play a part. I hear what he says about the importance of guidance and, furthermore, hear what he says about the risks and dangers of enshrining some of these matters in primary legislation. A Minister of any political colour would take a similar view. Having heard him offer those assurances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.