Exmination of Witnesses (Questions 320-322)|
WEDNESDAY 6 FEBRUARY 2002
320. You had no contact with the Treasury.
(Mr Hall) No, quangos tend not to have direct contact
with the Treasury. The Treasury are sometimes at the meetings,
and that is as close as we get to them.
(Mr Stark) As far as the Learning and Skills Council
was concerned, the scheme was implemented nationally in September
2000. The LSC was not created at that point. From the moment that
the scheme was running and we were up and running, we were also
monitoring evidence of at least inconsistent behaviour. I personally
collected some leaflets from a booth in Victoria Street that I
thought was offering very strange provision, and I took it round
to colleagues . . .
321. We are getting into murky territory again.
322. We did talk about widening the scope earlier!
Mr Hall, when you advised officials from the Department for Education
and Skills about your concerns from the lessons that you had learned
about abuse made in previous schemes, were you talking about poor
quality, i.e., the scams that you referred to, or were you talking
about fraud, or both?
(Mr Hall) Our main concern at that timeand
our experience with ILAs has confirmed the worry and the need
to take some decisive actionis that there seemed to be
a group of people having a profound understanding of funding,
whether it be the ESF first of all, or then franchising, then
ILAsand I fear that next it will be e-learning, where people
will spot the opportunity very quickly for very quick and substantial
earnings. I think we have got to take that very seriously. Perhaps
it is more in the domain of the PAC, but my recommendation to
the Department is that we need a kind of Interpol crossing funding
frontiers. I think each new body that takes responsibility for
one of these areas of activity is surprised by the rapidity of
it. We have got to bring together the best people from the different
regulatory agencies, including the Qualifications and Curriculum
Authority, and drive this out. Too many excellent providers, as
you have heard this morning, whether private providers or colleges
or others who are trying to do their best, are besmirched by what
has happened first to the FE sector, and even before thatsome
of the ESF schemes caused great problems for a college in Wales,
which you are aware of, and one of our colleges in Hampshire;
and now ILAs. I think we have to create a greater capacity for
driving that out.