Clause 14

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

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Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Skills), Department for Education and Skills 12:30 pm, 12th June 2007

The amendment moved by the hon. Gentleman would, in effect, maintain the current arrangements. We set out our ambition in our White Paper on FE reform entitled “Further Education: Raising Skills, Improving Life Chances”. Our ambition is a simplified and more flexible FE system, and we have the aim of improving performance, increasing choice and improving participation. It is by transferring the powers of the Secretary of State to establish or dissolve a FE corporation to the LSC that we are underpinning the reforms that we set out in that White Paper.

Under the current arrangements, the Secretary of State’s decision to establish or dissolve FE institutions is based on information and a recommendation provided by the LSC. By transferring those powers to the LSC, we are making the current practice simpler, quicker and less bureaucratic—I must say that I think that it will also be more transparent.

Having listened to the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings debating issues of bureaucracy in many other parts of the House, I am sure that he would welcome the fact that the clause will not only improve the pace at which decisions can be made and the transparency of those decisions, but reduce the bureaucracy involved. As the LSC is the body responsible for planning and funding high-quality education and training, both for young people and adults, we believe that it is best placed to ensure that the most appropriate delivery arrangements are in place for learners in any particular area.

I want to make the important point that we will retain the current requirement that the LSC must publish proposals to establish and dissolve FE corporations, with some appropriate modifications. That requirement is set out in regulation—S.I. 2001, No. 782. In particular, there is a requirement to consult local partners and consider their views before any proposals are finalised. I hope that that gives the hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings the assurance that after making this technical change, there will be no diminution in the extent of consultation or engagement with the local community.