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Division No. 1

CONTENTS

Addington, L.
Aldington, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Biffen, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Briggs, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Cavendish of Furness, L.
Chadlington, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Courtown, E.
Cowdrey of Tonbridge, L.
Cox, B.
Cranborne, V.
Dahrendorf, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Dundee, E.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Falkland, V.
Fookes, B.
Geddes, L.
Geraint, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gray of Contin, L.
Haslam, L.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Hogg, B.
Hooper, B.
Howe, E.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Inglewood, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kimball, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Liverpool, E.
Luke, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNally, L.
Mancroft, L.
Marlesford, L.
Marsh, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Naseby, L.
Newby, L.
Northbourne, L.
Northesk, E.
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Rawlings, B.
Reay, L.
Rees, L.
Rennard, L
Rix, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rotherwick, L.
St. John of Fawsley, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sandberg, L.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Selborne, E.
Selsdon, L.
Sharman, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Vivian, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Wilcox, B.

NOT-CONTENTS

Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Ampthill, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Bragg, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Dearing, L.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Eatwell, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Filkin, L.
Fitt, L.
Gale, B.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Gregson, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lichfield, Bp.
Lipsey, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Longford, E.
Lovell-Davis, L.
McCarthy, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Molloy, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Nicol, B.
Orme, L.
Paul, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Roll of Ipsden, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Serota, B.
Shepherd, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Winston, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

8 Feb 2000 : Column 548

5.13 p.m.

[Amendment No. 9 not moved.]

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 10:


    Page 1, line 12, at end insert--


("( ) Not less than 25 per cent. of the members shall be nominated by the Local Government Association.")

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 10, I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 11, 13 to 15 and 152. Before I turn to the amendments, I should like to point out that there is a typing error in Amendment No. 107. I should have mentioned this earlier, but I have given the Minister notice of the mistake. The amendment should read:


    "The Council must elect one of its members as [Chairman] for a period not exceeding 5 years."

The word "Chairman" should replace "Chief Executive" in the amendment. I did not want this to come as a surprise when we reach it later.

I should also like to point out that, because I have written most of these amendments myself, if I am successful in pressing Amendment No. 13, then my noble friends and colleagues in the Chamber will not be able to press their amendments. As I shall be supporting one or two of those amendments, that may prove to be difficult. However, I should like to make again a point that I made in passing on a previous amendment; that is, that Amendment No. 13 refers to a subsection in the Bill that appears on the face of it to be absurd. It states:


    "In appointing a member the Secretary of State must have regard to the desirability of appointing a person"--

only one person--


    "who has experience relevant to the Council's functions".

If a relatively small council--but nevertheless a national council--is to be appointed and there is in place a commitment to appoint only one person with relevant experience of the functions of the council, that will be very strange indeed. I hope that all those appointed to the council will have some experience and strengths to bring that will be relevant to the council's functions. However, in order to allow the other

8 Feb 2000 : Column 549

amendments to be considered, I shall not press the amendment. However, at a future stage I shall seek to alter the wording of the subsection, depending on whether the noble Baroness will accept amendments from the noble Lord, Lord Rix.

In Amendment No. 10 I have argued--and I believe that I have some support in this--that the council should have serving on it representatives of the local authorities. A little earlier I think that I was teased by the noble Lord, Lord McCarthy, for having argued about the considerable democratic deficit in the Bill and for having asked the Government to explain such a policy. Local education authorities have now lost a number of powers--they have lost powers to the organisational committees, to the educational adjudicators, on decisions on funding for sixth forms and many other local decisions. They will be able to plan only in conformity with directions from the Secretary of State. However, I feel that where local knowledge is relevant, along with maintaining existing relationships with many other local bodies, including the present training and enterprise councils, there should be some representation on this committee.

At Second Reading the point was made that the Bill makes no reference to the national training organisations. Amendment No. 11 provides for some recognition of those organisations which make a huge contribution to education and, in particular, training in this country. The Engineering and Marine Training Authority has already been mentioned. Such organisations have made a huge contribution and have been in the forefront of arguments for proper representation in the Bill. I support those arguments very strongly.

I have already referred to Amendment No. 13. Amendments Nos. 14 and 15 will be spoken to in more detail by the noble Lord, Lord Rix, as will Amendment No. 152, which seeks to provide for representation from those with,


    "experience and knowledge of the needs of disabled people".

The noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, will gather from that that there is a great deal of concern about who will be appointed to the committee. I know the difficulties of having a totally representative committee. However, there should be a way of saying that those who are referred to--disabled people, training organisations and local authorities--are important in their own right and are essential to the provision of education training and links with employment. I believe that they are important and I should be interested to know what the Minister has to say in response. I beg to move.

Lord Rix: Before I speak to Amendments Nos. 14 and 152, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, for making clear her intentions on Amendment No. 13. Clearly, my noble friend Lord Northbourne and I would have been left as stateless persons without a clause to which to attach our amendments. Therefore, I am grateful for that clarification.

I should like also to clear up one point. My noble friend Lord Northbourne will speak to Amendment No. 15. I shall confine myself to Amendments Nos. 14

8 Feb 2000 : Column 550

and 152. Also, the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, said that she believed that she was supporting some of these amendments. She was supposed to be doing that but, somehow, in the printing of the Marshalled List her name appears to have disappeared and in its place is that of my noble friend Lady Darcy de Knayth. Therefore, we have made rather a mess of that. Our intention was that there should be all-party support for these particular amendments.

Today in particular, it has been made abundantly clear that there will be an emphasis on the representation of members of the business community on the learning and skills councils. Amendments Nos. 14 and 152 seek to ensure that the Government will take steps to make certain that the councils' membership reflects the diversity of the community and, in particular, develops expertise to meet the needs of learners with physical and sensory disabilities, as well as those with learning disabilities.

Again, these are not novel amendments. I moved similar ones in relation to the Disability Rights Commission. Now, of course, we have the fortune to look forward to a commissioner for the learning disabled with appropriate support. However, this is a matter of importance not only on the national scale--in this case, on the national learning and skills council--but also on the local scale in respect of the network of local learning and skills councils.

Our regional development agencies have been established with appropriate representation from local business and local government, but there is little or no representation from disabled people. At present, local learning partnerships are also being formed and a similar criticism applies. Furthermore, the Further Education Funding Council regional committees have been unimpressive in securing representation of disabled people.

As president of Mencap, I recognise our obligation as a voluntary organisation to make sure that people with learning disabilities are aware of ways in which they can become involved in the work of public bodies, but more needs to be done in respect of all disabilities. Perhaps the Disability Rights Commission could nominate a member of the national learning and skills council and play an active part in facilitating representation on local councils. I and other Members of the Committee--those billed and those unbilled--are asking for nothing more than a commitment from the Government to convince disabled people that the proposed learning and skills councils will address disability issues with the seriousness which they merit.


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