Clause 5

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

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Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Skills), Department for Education and Skills 12:15 pm, 12th June 2007

I cannot confirm that there will be no financial saving, because there will be a reduction in that statutory structure. If the LSC does not have two statutory committees, we expect it to consider replacing them with a single committee. There may be a minor financial saving to the sub-committee of the LSC national council itself. That single committee may look in the round at all the interrelated issues to do with the needs of young people, adults and the FE sector work force. We are taking other measures, which may involve expenditure, to strengthen the voice of learners generally in learning and skills.

Clause 7, to which we shall come later, makes new provision for the LSC to consult learners. We will also recruit and appoint a learner to the national council in due course—possibly this autumn—and we expect each of the regional committees, which we debated earlier, to include a learner. In addition, we will use the national learner panel and other learner networks to ensure that the learner voice is heard. We also expect the LSC to convene regular stakeholder forums and advise the council. It may even establish time-limited groups to look at specific concerns and make recommendations on the way forward. To take one example, in November 2006, the non-statutory working together strategy committee focused on the council’s work with the voluntary and community sector—the third sector.

I cannot guarantee that there will be savings or costs either way. However, in removing the statutory requirement for the two committees, we expect that the LSC will provide a range of new measures to consult learners and hear their voice during its deliberations.