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The Deputy Speaker (Lord Skelmersdale): My Lords, I should inform the House that if Amendment No. 90 is agreed to I cannot call Amendments Nos. 91 or 92.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Conwy, for approaching me some days ago to discuss his proposed amendments. It has given me the opportunity to consider the very persuasive case he has advanced and to consult my colleagues in the Welsh Assembly.

Having considered the matter in depth, I do not consider that the right approach is simply to compare ourselves with the English regional councils. The noble Lord, Lord Roberts, has not suggested that we should, but there is always a danger of saying, "If England has something, Wales has to have the same". It is not a representative body in the sense that people will be specifically mandated to speak for particular points of view. We need to strike a balance between the public sector and the institutional bodies, and the business

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sector. Although the CBI in Wales is pressing for that 40 per cent proportion of the council, that is not a proper approach. A balance is required.

At the back of my mind is the argument that was always put against devolution in Wales: that we were simply creating jobs for the boys. So a balance has to be struck between the number of new positions created and the effectiveness of the organisation. I do not dissent from the government view that a council of 10 to 12 members will be effective and will not seem to the people of Wales merely to be creating new quango places.

I am grateful to the noble Lord for discussing the matter with me. However, I regret that on this occasion I cannot support the amendment.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I am particularly pleased that at 18 minutes before midnight I am still able to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, on his birthday. I feared that it was not going to be possible to do so.

We have already debated Amendments Nos. 91 and 92 in Committee and while I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, considers that membership of between 10 and 12 is too small to reflect the diversity of bodies with a close interest in post-16 education and training, we cannot agree with his assessment. We have considered the issue and are convinced that this number will be sufficient for the Assembly to ensure that all the key stakeholders in Wales are represented, in particular within the framework identified by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford. Although the legislative powers of the Assembly relate only to secondary legislation, we must acknowledge that the devolution settlement puts the Assembly in a far better position than we at Westminster in assessing how many members will be needed to ensure that the education and training needs of the people of Wales are met.

The amendment would bring the number of council members in Wales in line with the number in England. But in Wales, the council's budget for post-16 learning, including school sixth form funding, will be in the region of £400 million--compared with the learning and skills council budget of some £6 billion in England. The post-16 population in England is around 40 million, more than 16 times that in Wales. The CETW will be responsible for a fraction of the number of providers compared with the LSC. Given these facts, it is eminently sensible that the LSC should have more members than the CETW, just as the existing FEFC for England has more members than its counterpart in Wales. With regard to the point made about the new council and higher education, the HEFCW will remain the same.

Although the local LSCs in England would vary considerably in terms of the population covered, they, like their parent body, will also have a membership of between 12 and 16. But comparing local and national arrangements in England with those in Wales is inappropriate. In Wales there will be voluntary local partnerships of providers and others who will work

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together to help the CETW--as remitted by the National Assembly--to plan the delivery of high quality provision. The size of these community consortia will vary from locality to locality and it is possible that some may exceed 16 members in certain areas of Wales. Given the entirely different roles planned for the CETW and these local partnerships, the membership of the community consortia has no bearing on what is appropriate for the National Council for Wales.

In Committee in this House, and again tonight, the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, expressed concern that if the four regional committees of the CETW are established, each chairman will be a member of the national council, limiting to between six and eight the number of remaining places on the board to represent the full range of interests. This simply will not be the case. The National Assembly will appoint members of the council with relevant expertise and experience from the wide range of interests associated with post-16 education and training. From that membership, should the CETW decide to establish regional committees, the new council will appoint four of its members to take on the additional role of chairing its regional committees.

The noble Lord's alternative amendment, No. 90, would remove the requirement for a minimum number of members and bring the maximum number in line with that for the LSC in England. It is essential that the minimum number of members is specified to ensure that the Welsh council will be of a sufficient size to ensure that it has the breadth and depth of knowledge and expertise required to fulfil its functions. However, for reasons that I have explained, we have concluded that a maximum membership of 12 will be sufficient.

At this stage, it is not for me to comment on remarks made about the proceedings followed by the Assembly in consideration of these matters. With regard to the point raised about TECs, the position is complex. Therefore, the Assembly will give careful consideration. I hope that I have addressed all the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, and that in the light of my reply he will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

11.45 p.m.

Lord Roberts of Conwy: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for tackling head on the points I made. Of course I accept the differences in size of population between England and Wales. However, the functions, duties and responsibilities of the national councils are much the same. It is my contention that the Welsh council must be of a size similar to the English national council.

I am grateful to the Minister for explaining the role of the regional committee chairmen, if they are established. I understand that they will be drawn from membership of the main council. They will have a

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difficult task playing both roles and we shall have to see how they are able to carry that out.

My own view is that the smaller Welsh council has a very difficult, if not impossible, task. When Dr Johnson was composing his dictionary, it was pointed out that 13 Frenchmen were composing an encyclopaedia. Dr Johnson turned upon his informant and said, "It only goes to prove that one Englishman is worth 13 Frenchmen". I do not believe that in Wales we have ever claimed that 12 Welshmen are worth 16 Englishmen--certainly not on the rugby field, according to the latest match result. However, I reiterate that the council will have a very difficult task.

Although it is not yet the delightful hour when the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, celebrates his birthday, I shall wish him a very happy birthday in advance and withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 91 and 92 not moved.]

Clause 31 [Education and training for persons aged 16 to 19]:

[Amendment No. 93 not moved.]

Lord Bach moved Amendment No. 94:


    Page 13, line 6, at end insert--


("(bb) take account of the education and training required in different sectors of employment for employees and potential employees;").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 95 not moved.]

Clause 32 [Education and training for persons over 19]:

Lord Bach moved Amendment No. 96:


    Page 13, line 35, at end insert--


("(bb) take account of the education and training required in different sectors of employment for employees and potential employees;").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 97 and 98 not moved.]

Clause 41 [Persons with learning difficulties]:

Lord Bach moved Amendment No. 99:


    Page 17, line 13, leave out ("and 32") and insert (", 32 and 34(1)(g)").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 42 [Disabled persons]:

Lord Bach moved Amendment No. 100:


    Leave out Clause 42 and insert the following new clause--

EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY

(" .--(1) In exercising its functions the Council must have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity--
(a) between persons of different racial groups,
(b) between men and women, and
(c) between persons who are disabled and persons who are not.

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(2) As soon as is reasonably practicable after the end of each financial year of the Council it must publish a report containing--
(a) a statement of the arrangements made under subsection (1) and having effect in the year;
(b) an assessment of how effective the arrangements were in promoting equality of opportunity.
(3) The report must also contain a statement of the arrangements which the Council has made, or proposes to make, under subsection (1) in respect of the financial year immediately following that referred to in subsection (2).
(4) The Council must send a copy of the report to the National Assembly.
(5) "Racial group" has the same meaning as in the Race Relations Act 1976.
(6) Disabled persons are persons who are disabled for the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move.

[Amendment No. 101, as an amendment to Amendment No. 100, not moved.]

On Question, Amendment No. 100 agreed to.

Clause 45 [Directions]:


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