Thank you, Mr. Atkinson. We have all had a splendid lunch and have enjoyed the break from our deliberations, but we are now pleased to be back considering matters with the diligence for which members of this Committee are legendary. We are returning to clause 16, and I do not want to delay the Committee for long because we anticipate with excitement clause 17, which is very important, and I have no doubt that there will be long perorations upon it by all concerned.
Let me wrap up clause 16 by saying that I listened closely to what Ministers said about the Learningand Skills Council and its relationship with the Government and all the other agencies associated with funding and delivering skills in line with Government targets and popular expectations. I remain concerned about the relationship between the LSC and those partners, but Ministers have been immensely reassuring about their determination to ensure that there is accountability for the LSC’s work; that the powers that are invested in it will be used cautiously and moderately; and that, should there be any lack of reason about that, there will be safeguards in the form of the checks and balances that the Minister has described.
We have tried to probe Ministers on that, becausewe reflect what I think is a widespread concern thatit would be wrong to transfer powers unless such protections are built into the system. Having heard what the Minister said on the previous set of amendments, we look forward to hearing what more he has to say in response to my brief but important comments on this aspect of the Bill.