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Lord Bach: I understand that. I am grateful to the noble Lord for reminding me.

Turning to the other components of the amendment, as the noble Lord knows, Clause 2(4)(c) already ensures that "training" includes social, physical and recreational training. But in addition it includes vocational training, which we think is an important element. We believe that our formulation is good.

"Leisure time" occupation is a recognised definition found in Section 2(6) of the Education Act 1996. Although it is phrased in different terms, I can assure the noble Lord that the kind of activities described by him are encompassed within the meaning of post-16 education and training. I should also make clear that although the scope of the council's responsibilities extend to England only, if a course required related activities such as a field trip outside England, the Bill does not prevent that.

I shall use a fairly broad approach to try to answer the noble Lord's more detailed questions. He mentioned various kinds of education--cultural education--and he then referred to what he quite rightly said are known as "life skills". In a broad sense, the Bill and the LSCs are intended to cover those kinds of education as well.

I turn now to Amendment No. 40. The concerns creating artificial distinctions--

Baroness Blatch: I am grateful to the Minister. I did not refer to Amendment No. 40. It is by way of a probing amendment. My specific concern--and, looking again at the amendment, it perhaps refers more to paragraph (d) than to paragraph (c)--relates to small companies. Given that education and training will be delivered by many providers, including the workplace, and given that some very small companies take on trainees, I am anxious for confirmation from the Minister that there will not be a requirement on employers to provide leisure and recreational facilities which are entirely beyond their means. Perhaps he can confirm that there will be a way of, not circumventing what is set out in the clause, but of circumventing the practicalities so that what is set out can be met by other means. I have included colleges of education in the amendment so that if they are provided with football facilities, games facilities or whatever, a way is found to ensure that the burden does not fall on a very small employer.

Lord Bach: I am grateful to the noble Baroness for explaining the purpose of her amendment. The

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amendment is about creating artificial distinctions. On the face of it, there is no good reason why those who are educated in a college should be able to take part in broad educational activities while those who are educated in other places cannot. We recognise the importance of the further education sector. It will be receiving a large amount of money from public funding each year and it will have the major responsibility for the delivery of post-16 education and training.

I am sure that the noble Baroness did not intend by her amendment--which she said is a probing amendment--not to take into account the adult education work carried out by local education authorities and the voluntary sector. That is essential work which complements the work of the further education colleges. I cannot think it is the intention of the noble Baroness that they should be excluded from the council's remit. As for the assurance that she requires, I can give her that assurance. Perhaps on that basis she will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

I turn now to deal with Amendments Nos. 48 and 49. We understand the concerns of the noble Baroness about the wording. The education and training to be secured by the council should not be construed in a narrow way. Vocational, social, physical and recreational education are all encompassed within the meaning of "education". I appreciate why the noble Baroness, upon reading subsection (4) of Clause 3, might come to the conclusion that they are not. What appears on the page is an express provision for vocational, social, physical and recreational training, but no equivalent in respect of education. That is her point. It is a reflection of the way in which education and training legislation has developed over the years, and which this Bill, thankfully, at last brings together. As the noble Baroness knows, education law fills four weighty volumes, no doubt at enormous expense. The statutory provisions which enable training arrangements are very much less detailed.

The meaning of "education" in this subsection should be interpreted to include both secondary education made in sixth forms and further education, definitions of which are contained in Section 2 of the Education Act 1996. These have the broad meanings sought by noble Lords and include vocational, social, physical and recreational aspects. But there is no equivalent definition of "training". To ensure that there is no doubt that the council must secure training in its broadest meaning, subsection (4) includes the reference to vocational, social, physical and recreational training. The noble Baroness has raised a good point. I hope that she will accept that her amendment is unnecessary for the reasons given.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: I thank the Minister for his full replies on the various points I raised. The Minister says that the spirit of our proceedings is to be holistic, to include education and training; and that we do not want to return to the bad old days of fragmentation. I find it somewhat disappointing, therefore, that it is not on the face of the Bill. If the Government want to turn over a new leaf and move

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forward in those new ways, it is disappointing that they cannot find the ability to write that into the Bill and to get away from the twofold definition. I accept the Government's good intentions on the matter, but there may in future be governments who are perhaps not so well-intentioned. It is therefore good to have such provisions on the face of the Bill and that is why we are asking for them.

I shall for the moment withdraw my amendment, but we shall consider the issue again and perhaps return to it at Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 25:

    Page 1, line 23, at end insert ("or of persons who are above the compulsory school age but have not attained the age of 25 and who did not acquire a level 2 qualification in the year in which they attained the age of 16").

The noble Baroness said: In moving the amendment I shall speak also to Amendment No. 26, which is in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Tope. There is a difficulty here. I should like to flag up the amendment at this stage, but I shall certainly not be pressing it. There is a basic concern that there is a split in the Bill between those up to the age of 19 and those beyond the age of 19. For those up to the age of 19, "proper" facilities must be provided; for those over the age of 19, "reasonable" facilities need to be provided.

The distinctions are subtle and important. However, education and training are not like that. There are young people studying for A-levels who may become 19 or 20 while they are doing so. Many young people are in the middle of a course at the age of 19. They may have completed one, two or more years of a course. They may be in one establishment straddling the age groups of up to 19 and 19-plus. There is a real difficulty in the way in which the Bill has an absolutely definitive cut-off at 19. Some would ask why the line is there at all. We could argue about the difference between the words "proper" and "reasonable" unless the Government have a specific reason for the distinction.

The noble Lord, Lord Tope, is more flexible in his suggestion. His amendment specifies, "or older", giving the Secretary of State a discretion which may be flexible. I am saying more definitively that the cut-off age should be 25. Young people may be mid-stream in their courses when they pass the age of 19. There will be others who, for one reason or another--which may be health reasons--simply have not got out of basic statutory education what they should have done and for some reason leave school without qualifications. We all know that there is a disturbing number of young people still leaving school without basic qualifications. Their needs continue to be of concern.

The Government have laid great stress on the importance of finding a way to encourage such people back into education. That policy is supported by Members on all sides of the Committee. Too many young people are simply wasted to society, to themselves and to their families. If ways can be found to bring them into the fold, that is to be supported.

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If there is to be some difference between the emphasis given to whether "proper" or "reasonable" provision is made for students of a certain age, I believe that the stipulation of 25 covers school-leavers who are lost to the system and are found perhaps at the age of 20 or 21 and those who, perhaps for health reasons, find themselves grappling with basic education and training post-19. It is an improvement for all sorts of other practical reasons. We are concerned on two grounds. First, the artificiality of making a definitive split in the Bill at 19; secondly, to find a more practical way of giving a more firm guarantee of proper provision for people who leave education without having acquired a level two qualification. I beg to move.

6.45 p.m.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: I rise to endorse the remarks made by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch. We on these Benches are extremely concerned that there is a cut-off at 19 when it is clear that, as the Minister herself mentioned earlier, quite a large of number of people who missed out on the education process during the normal school years are now returning to it. Many are doing so after a period in and out of work or of unemployment, having come to the conclusion at a somewhat older age that they wish to return to education and training. The Government are extremely anxious to encourage such people back in. The distinction drawn implies that there is a right for those under 19 to those facilities but for those over that age it could be more difficult if the implication of the distinction between Clause 2 and Clause 3 is, "If there's enough money in the kitty we'll do it; if there isn't, we won't".

We should like to see that entitlement extended to those aged up to 24. The National Skills Task Force recommended in its third report that the entitlement up to level three education should be met by the Government up to the age of 24. We should like the Government to accept that proposal. As the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, mentioned, our amendment is somewhat looser than hers. It gives greater discretion to the Government and in that sense it is something of a probing amendment. We are looking for a commitment or statement from the Government as to how they view the proposals from the National Skills Task Force.

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