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Baroness Sharp of Guildford: I rise to support the noble Baroness. I believe this is another occasion where the drafting is extremely sloppy. I am delighted to have the Minister's assurance that ALI will not only enter such premises only at a reasonable time but will do so in a reasonable way. Nevertheless, if it is for the purpose of carrying out its functions, that should be stated on the face of Bill rather than the provision being left vague and sweeping.
Lord Bach : I shall do my best to reply to the points raised by the noble Baronesses. There has recently been much reference in this Chamber to the term "reasonableness". The noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, will know that in public law a body with a statutory function must always act reasonably. If it does not, it is susceptible to judicial review and is in danger of being subject to court proceedings.
The person in this context is a legal person; that is, the college. The term is not intended to cover individual natural persons who work for the college. I hope those two points satisfy the understandable concerns raised by the noble Baronesses.
Lord Bach: Perhaps I may give the example I gave when addressing the Committee earlier. The effect of the amendment would be that, where a college maintains its records on a site separate from but perhaps adjacent to its classrooms, ALI would not have a right of entry to that site. We need to ensure that ALI has a right to enter a site which may not be used directly in the provision of education but where its records are maintained. That is why subsection (2)(b) is necessary.
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
Baroness Sharp of Guildford: I have already spelt out in some detail why on these Benches we consider it ill advised to extend the remit of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools in England to include institutions in the further and continuing education sector. I do not want to repeat the arguments that I have already given.
We are of the view that the experience of education and training in this sector differs markedly from school-based experience. The experience of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools in England is wholly school based. His remit within that sector is already wide. Clause 59 would give Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools in England the residual (or "mopping up") responsibility of inspecting any institution in the further education sector which did not fall wholly within the responsibilities of the adult learning inspectorate.
Under our proposals, ALI's responsibilities would be widened to include all further and adult education establishments. Therefore, the residual role is, by definition, that of ALI rather than that of the Chief Inspector of Schools. Clause 59 is therefore, in our eyes, redundant and should not stand part of the Bill.
Baroness Blackstone: This clause places a duty on Her Majesty's chief inspector to secure the inspection of institutions within the FE sector, except where the responsibility is solely within the remit of the adult learning inspectorate. There are also provisions for reports of such inspections and for the writing and publication of action plans by providers, where an inspection report has been produced, which are analogous to those applying to ALI under Clause 51.
I understand why the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, opposes the clause: it runs counter to her alternative proposals, which were debated earlier, that ALI should be the only post-16 inspectorate. But that amendment was withdrawn and I am a little surprised that the arguments are being reopened. For the avoidance of doubt, let me again explain briefly why this clause must stand part of the Bill.
I have argued that two inspectorates will be better than one to cover the vast range of post-16 provision; that the common framework will add value by providing clear principles for the new regime, allowing all providers to know what the inspectorates are looking for; and that co-operation and collaboration will bring additional benefits.
Ofsted is integral to our proposals. As I have already said, it has a vast wealth of relevant experience in 16 to 18 provision through its work in school sixth forms. It would be wasteful and, indeed, irresponsible, to ignore that experience: the database of inspection evidence from every school; the way in which those data have been distilled into influential reports on what makes sixth-form provision effective; the reports on modular A-levels, and so on. All that expertise would go to waste.
Finally, Ofsted has substantial influence on standards in schools. It can have the same influence across the new remit set out in Clause 59. I therefore urge the noble Baroness to withdraw her opposition to the clause.
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