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Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, again, we are returning to an issue which we debated quite extensively in Committee. In arguing that ALI, not Ofsted, should have the remit for post-16 inspection, the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, has built on the same principles that the Liberal Democrat Benches set out a little while ago under the amendments to Clause 51. In a sense, these amendments are linked.

In the debate in Committee, I believe and hope that I gave a fairly comprehensive overview of area inspections and explained why the focus was on 16 to 18 provision and not on adults. This matter does not relate to adults. There is a major need to raise the standard of provision for young people in certain areas. Those areas are usually, but not exclusively, in urban communities, where we know, and I am sure that the noble Baroness is aware, that the quality of what is being provided and the standards being achieved are simply not sufficient. We know that in such areas, both participation and attainment are too low. That means that the life chances of far too many young people are not what they should be. The inspections will therefore be a major contribution to raising the standard, but also to improving the relevance of provision for young people, who must have access to high quality education and training.

The same issues do not arise in post-19 learning. Of course we all want to expand adult participation. We want to create a learning society. We want to make it possible for far more adults to go on learning throughout their lives. Naturally we have plans not only to expand, but to improve the quality of learning available for adults. We are already taking a number steps to do that, especially, for example, in improving basic skills provision. We know from Sir Claus Moser's report that there are some 6 or 7 million adults whose basic literacy, numeracy and ability to function in an IT world are all limited. The ALI will be a significant influence in the overall drive to raise standards of provision for adults.

It is perhaps worth explaining further that the inspections are the means by which it can be judged whether the LSC and LEAs are making provision of sufficient quantity and adequate quality. Where there are deficiencies or inadequacies, I am afraid to say that far too many young people are being seriously let

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down. If that is happening, we need a prompt as well as an appropriate solution. That is something we have to get on with as a matter of urgency.

We have earlier today debated the role of Ofsted in post-16 provision. I believe that the House has now accepted--although I readily concede that the noble Baroness is not altogether happy about it--that Ofsted has a crucial role and I do not want to repeat the key arguments again in full detail. Ofsted has inspected every school with a sixth form, and has published a range of influential reports on the characteristics of effective sixth forms, as well as on level 3 qualifications. It is, quite simply, widely acknowledged to be a powerful influence in enhancing standards and quality across the range of its work. That should apply to 16 to 19 year-olds too.

It is therefore axiomatic that Ofsted should lead the area inspections, given its overall 16 to 18 remit, which we have already debated, although I want to say--perhaps this will provide some reassurance to the noble Baroness--that the adult learning inspectorate will naturally give key help and assistance. But the Government will not accept a series of amendments which would give that vital work to the adult learning inspectorate alone, to the exclusion of Ofsted.

I shall summarise. We need area inspections to have a 16 to 18 focus in order to ensure that local providers really do meet local needs, including the labour market need for well qualified young people. Where 16 to 18 standards need to be raised, we must ensure that there is a sound basis for intervention. Our provisions in Clauses 63 to 65 will secure that policy. While I am pleased that the noble Baroness shares our commitment to the value of area inspections, I feel bound to say that her amendments would divert us from our primary purpose. For those reasons, I greatly hope that she will not press the amendments.

4 p.m.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her reply. Again, I am not surprised by it. I am glad that she recognises that on this side of the House we support the Government's general push to raise the standards of 16 to 19 education. What we find difficult constantly is the junior role given to the adult learning inspectorate in relation to Ofsted. That is at the core of our disquiet about the proposals. We can see no reason why that organisation should constantly have to play second fiddle in a junior role to Ofsted, nor why Ofsted's empire should continue to expand in such a way.

We should greatly like to see the development within the adult learning inspectorate of a core of standards which is appropriate and applicable to the further and adult education sector. The series of amendments we have tabled on the subject were aimed at doing precisely that; to develop the adult learning inspectorate into a body equivalent to Ofsted in its standards in that area and to develop within the inspectorate the concept of the team mentality which exists within Ofsted. However, we accept what the

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Minister has said on this occasion. I am not totally happy with the response, but I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments No. 123 and 124 not moved.]

Clause 55 [Right of entry and offences]:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 125:


    Page 22, line 42, at end insert--


("( ) In respect of education and training provided by an employer in the workplace, the right of entry may be exercised only if the employer has been given reasonable notice in writing.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I rise simply to ask the Minister why it has seemed necessary to put in a requirement in Clause 76(2) to give reasonable notice in writing before the inspectorate wishes for access to the premises of workplace employers in Wales, but it is not deemed appropriate to make similar provision for England. The CBI, which speaks for business and commerce throughout the country, believes that it is important to have similar arrangements for business people in both Wales and England. That is why my amendment seeks to achieve parity with Clause 76. I beg to move.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, before the Minister replies, I should like to say that I support entirely what my noble friend has said. I greatly hope that the Government will accept what seems an extremely modest amendment. It is incumbent on us sitting in Parliament to see that the official world is not handed every possible power and right which its representatives believe may be convenient to them. Such matters must be justified. I hope that the Minister will proceed to do so, or to accept my noble friend's amendment.

Lord Bach: My Lords, we had a good debate on the right of entry to premises when considering this clause in Committee last month. The noble Baroness has returned to the fray on this occasion with a different amendment.

Perhaps I may surprise the noble Baroness--indeed, even amaze her. We accept the principle behind the points she makes. Indeed, it may be that the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, is surprised as well--

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: No, my Lords, I am too charitable to be entirely surprised.

Lord Bach: Employers are in a different situation from colleges and schools, in that they are not solely concerned with education. We want to ensure that inspection will not interfere unduly with normal business. Of course, we see the point the noble Baroness makes about the provisions adopted in Wales, which require that employers must be given reasonable notice in writing before inspectors exercise their right of entry. We are a government who listen.

However--I am sure the noble Baroness will understand this from her days in government--we want to reflect carefully on the best way of giving effect

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to the proposal in the Bill. Therefore, while entirely conceding that the noble Baroness is right in this instance, I invite her to withdraw her amendment. The Government will bring forward their own amendment at a later stage of the Bill.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I admit to being overwhelmed by that response. I am deeply grateful to the Minister. But I find it strange that the form of words is not used. The form of words is identical to that in Clause 76(2). It would seem appropriate to use the same form of words in this clause. Nevertheless, if wiser counsels prevail, I shall welcome an amendment at the next stage of the Bill. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 58 [The extended remit]:

[Amendments Nos. 126 and 127 not moved.]

Clause 59 [Additional functions of the Chief Inspector]:

[Amendment No. 128 not moved.]

Clause 60 [Inspection of further education institutions]:

[Amendment No. 129 not moved.]

Clause 63 [Area inspections]:

[Amendments Nos. 130 and 131 not moved.]

Clause 64 [Reports of area inspections]:

[Amendment No. 132 not moved.]

Clause 65 [Action plans following section 63 inspections]:

[Amendment No. 133 not moved.]

Clause 67 [The framework]:

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 134:


    Page 28, line 24, at end insert--


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