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COMMONS AMENDMENTS
[The page and line refer to Bill 96 as first printed for the Commons.]
COMMONS AMENDMENTS
1Clause 2, page 2, line 20, at end insert--
("(3A) Provision is not to be considered as giving rise to disproportionate expenditure only because that provision is more expensive than comparable provision.")
2Page 2, line 29, leave out paragraph (e)
3Clause 3, page 3, line 12, at end insert--

("(3A) Provision is not to be considered as giving rise to disproportionate expenditure only because that provision is more expensive than comparable provision.")

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4Clause 5, page 3, line 41, after ("receiving") insert ("or proposing to receive")
5Page 4, line 1, leave out paragraph (e) and insert--

("(e) institutions within the further or higher education sector (within the meaning of section 91 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992) which provide or propose to provide secondary education (other than post-16 education);")
6Page 4, line 3, after ("undertaking") insert ("or proposing to undertake")
7 Page 4, line 20, after ("receiving") insert ("or proposing to receive")
8 Clause 6, page 4, line 29, leave out ("providing post-16 education or training") and insert ("to whom financial resources are provided")
9Page 4, line 32, leave out ("post-16") and insert ("or proposing to provide")
10Page 4, line 47, leave out ("post-16") and insert ("or proposing to provide")
11Page 5, line 1, leave out ("post-16")
12Clause 7, page 5, line 23, leave out ("and "maintained school" have") and insert ("has")

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 1 to 12 en bloc.

In speaking to these amendments, I shall speak also to Commons Amendments Nos. 16 to 21, 30 to 41, 45 to 50, 195, 196 and 202 to 204 and to the Liberal Democrat Amendment No. 20A.

This large group of amendments consists largely of minor technical amendments in respect of the learning and skills council for England and the national council for education and training for Wales. Given the weight of business before us today, I do not propose to go into the detail of the minor amendments in order that I can deal with the small number of rather more important points.

Throughout the passage of the Bill through this House there was concern about the meaning of "disproportionate expenditure". There was no disagreement about the policy that should inform its meaning. We entirely agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, said at Third Reading of the Bill on 23rd March that the cost of the provision should not be,


    "the total guide to the operation of the councils".--[Official Report, 23/3/00; cols. 416.]

This concern was expressed in respect of both sixth-form provision and for students with learning difficulties and disabilities.

We entirely accept this point. Incidentally, there is a misprint in Amendment No. 2 which should state,


    "Page 2, line 29, leave out paragraph (e)".

Amendment No. 2 simply removes the amendment added at Third Reading in this House in order to address its technical defects and replace it with a similar provision. Amendment No. 1 expresses in plain words that expenditure by the LSC must not be considered disproportionate simply where it is more expensive than comparable provision. We believe that this deals fairly, squarely and in a non-partisan manner with the concerns that were expressed.

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Amendments Nos. 3, 30 and 31 make the equivalent additions in Clause 3 for the LSC's adult duty and Clauses 31 and 32 for the CETW's main duties.

We have been aware, not least through Liberal Democrat amendments, for which we thank them, that some people have been confused not to find reference in the Bill to the LSC's wider remit, as set out in the Learning to Succeed White Paper for workforce development. Such, perhaps, is the nature of primary legislation: we had tested and were content that the Bill as it stood provided for the full range of the LSC's functions. However, we have been keen to respond to the concerns expressed. Amendment No. 20 provides that, at the national level, the LSC's strategy must set out how the LSC intends to develop the skills of people in the workforce. This reflects in the legislation what we have already set out explicitly in the LSC prospectus--that the LSC will have an important contribution to make to workforce development issues within its overall remit.

I shall return to this amendment in due course, once the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, has had a chance to set out what lies behind her amendment to it. In the meantime, I simply say that I shall be able to offer her considerable assurances about how the LSC will work with higher education institutions in taking forward its workforce development proposals. I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment on the basis of those assurances.

Amendment No. 201 is the result of a commitment I made during debate at Third Reading in this House to the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne. He said then that he was concerned with the,


    "desirability of having on the face of the Bill a better balance between the duty of the learning and skills council to provide vocational education--education for work--and providing a broader category of education--education for life".--[Official Report, 23/3/00; col. 414.]

Noble Lords may remember that I set out at that time the value that the Government place on enrichment and personal development activities, especially for young people, and the personal, family and community benefits they bring with them. I suggested that we might make the point more explicit by specifying that the young people's learning committee must advise the LSC on such issues. Amendment No. 201 will secure that. Its composition draws on the wording favoured by the noble Lord, whom I thank for his interest and commitment. I am not sure whether he is in his place.

Amendments Nos. 48 and 49 are the results of further deliberations by the National Assembly for Wales following debates on the Bill both here and in another place. The National Assembly has concluded that statutory planning requirements should be a part of the post-16 reforms for Wales. Amendment No. 48 therefore introduces a new clause which imposes a duty on the CETW to submit to the National Assembly a plan for each of its financial years. A similar duty is placed on the LSC under Clause 15. The CETW's plan must be approved by the National Assembly, which will have the power to require alterations.

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The new clause contained in Amendment No. 49 places a duty on the CETW to prepare a strategy which is equivalent to the duty on the LSC under Clause 16. The National Assembly may require the council to make alterations to the strategy. In this way the amendment provides for a valuable forward planning measure for the council as well as for the National Assembly to bring its overarching priorities to bear on the council's remit.

As I said in opening, in the light of the need to make progress--including towards groups about which I suspect noble Lords may have a good deal to say later--I do not propose to deal with the further technical amendments. I should mention also that I have already supplied a lengthy note of explanation of all the government amendments to both the noble Baronesses, Lady Blatch and Lady Sharp. I hope it goes without saying, however, that if noble Lords would find helpful an explanation of any particular amendment in this group with which I have not already dealt, I shall be happy to give one. I beg to move.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 1 to 12.--(Baroness Blackstone.)

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, as the proposer of the original amendment, I wish to thank Her Majesty's Government for accepting the principle of my amendment on Clause 2. I am delighted--as are others--that the Government have seen fit to give support to school sixth forms, which is what the amendment is all about. As the noble Baroness knows, they cost more compared to colleges but they give more in pastoral help. I am extremely grateful that, for the first time during my time in this House, the Government have accepted an amendment of mine.

Baroness David: My Lords, perhaps I may comment on Amendment No. 3. No one would want anyone to spend disproportionately, but can the Minister look forward to the day when Clause 3 will include an entitlement for all adults which is the same as the welcome entitlement for young people in Clause 2? If we had a goal to work towards in adult entitlement, we could look forward to life-long learning for all. Perhaps the Minister would comment on that.

Lord Roberts of Conwy: My Lords, perhaps I may speak very briefly to Amendments Nos. 48 and 49 and to the other, what I call, Welsh amendments. Amendments Nos. 48 and 49 are two of the 16 new clauses relating to Wales that have been introduced into the Bill since it left this place. There are at least three others which partially relate to Wales, along with numerous changes in schedules and amendments which we shall come to later.

This is a very late stage for the House to have a first sight of some of these changes to the Bill, which, after all, began in your Lordships' House. Your Lordships' may take a somewhat dim view of this method of proceeding. Be that as it may, I thank the Government, civil servants and draftsmen who have clearly been

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working hard to remedy the worrying defects in the Bill so far as concerned Wales which were pointed out in Committee. The new clauses go far towards making up the paucity of Welsh clauses in the original Bill. We now have a more complete and workable measure for the National Assembly to implement in Wales. The gratitude I express now extends to all the changes for which we asked. I trust that any abstention on my part of any further acknowledgement will not be taken as a discourtesy but as a kindness to the House because we all want to press on.

I still believe that the regional structure proposed for Wales is not prescriptive enough. This lack of firm direction in primary legislation will give rise only to further dilatory discussion in the Assembly. It is very clear from our experience of the Bill in relation to Wales that there is a proven need for a protocol which specifies very clearly the various steps by which the legislative needs of Wales are translated through the Assembly to central government and this Westminster Parliament. The Government are well aware of that. A draft protocol was tabled in January this year, but here we are in July and the protocol has still not been finalised. I have at long last been able to obtain a copy of the draft, which may be a suitable subject for a short debate in your Lordships' House at a later stage.

The protocol should cover the relationship between the Assembly and this Parliament--and provide for a two-way flow of information--as well as the relationship between the Labour administration of the Assembly in Cardiff and the Government here in Whitehall.


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