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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, it was for us, too, a pleasure to share the closing moments of the noble Lord's birthday. He says that he could not think of a better way to spend it. Had it been a year later, I am quite sure I would have given way to my noble friend Lord McIntosh of Haringey, who instead of singing some Gilbert and Sullivan could have sung a Beatles' song in celebration!
The noble Lord, Lord Roberts, tabled these amendments in Committee. As then, I urge him to withdraw them. As both the noble lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, and I made clear at that time, and as the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, made clear tonight, the provisions in the Bill reflect the will of the National Assembly which derives from thorough and careful consideration in Wales of the arrangements for the CETW's committees.
The preference of the National Assembly is for the CETW to have a permissive power giving it the maximum flexibility to determine its own organisational structures to suit the particular circumstances in Wales. The Assembly has, however, made plain its expectation that the new council will indeed establish regional committees. The Bill reflects the Assembly's wish to work co-operatively with the CETW in the interests of the people of, and local circumstances in, Wales rather than by imposing inflexible structures on it. I therefore urge the noble Lord, Lord Roberts, to recognise the Assembly's wish and to withdraw his amendment.
I think that the noble Lord may have misheard me on the question of appointment by the Assembly of members of the council to chair bodies. 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.
Amendment No. 106 was also discussed in Committee and I have little to add to what I said at that time. The underlying principle of the community consortia, as endorsed by the National Assembly in its plenary debate of 1st February this year, is that they should be voluntary partnerships of existing education and training providers, rather than arbitrarily enforced alliances whose functions are specified and members appointed by the council. It would be wholly inappropriate to bring community consortia within
Lord Roberts of Conwy: My Lords, I am delighted to hear of the Minister's confidence in what is proposed for Wales. I am sorry to say that I do not share it. I regard this as a somewhat messy Bill as far as concerns Wales. It does not reflect in its detail what will happen and how education and training will be provided.
I am grateful to the Minister for explaining how the regional committee chairmen are to be appointed. I am now clear in my understanding of that position. I have to say to the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, that flexibility is one thing; loose thinking, as he knows only too well, is quite another. As I have said, this measure reeks to me of indecision. I am very fearful as to how this will operate in practice. Nevertheless, I have had my say on these amendments and at this hour I am happy to withdraw them.
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