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COMMONS AMENDMENTS


16Clause 12, page 6, line 30, at end insert--

("(3A) The Council may provide any person designated by the Secretary of State with such information as the Council thinks fit about any matter in relation to which it has a function.")
17Clause 13, page 6, line 37, after (" 3") and insert (", 5(1)(a) to (d) and (g)")
18Page 7, leave out lines 2 to 9 and insert ("facilities for education or training which are sufficient in quantity and adequate in quality for a person with a learning difficulty who is over compulsory school age but who has not attained the age of 19 unless it also secures the provision of boarding accommodation for him, the Council must secure the provision of boarding accommodation for him.

( ) If the Council is satisfied that it cannot secure the provision of reasonable facilities for education or training for a person with a learning difficulty who has attained the age of 19 but not the age of 25 unless it also secures the provision of boarding accommodation for him, the Council must secure the provision of boarding accommodation for him.
( ) If the Council is satisfied that it cannot secure the provision of reasonable facilities for education or training for a person with a learning difficulty who has attained the age of 25 unless it also secures the provision of boarding accommodation for him, the Council may secure the provision of boarding accommodation for him.")
19Clause 15, page 8, line 8, leave out from ("year") to end of line 9

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 16 to 19.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 16 to 19.--(Baroness Blackstone.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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COMMONS AMENDMENT

20 Clause 16, page 8, line 13, at end insert--
("(2A) The strategy must include proposals as to how the Council intends to develop the skills of persons in employment; but this does not affect the generality of subsection (1).")

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 20. I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 1.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 20.--(Baroness Blackstone.)

[Amendment No. 20A, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 20, not moved.]

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

21 Clause 18, page 8, line 35, leave out ("hold shares in a company, or otherwise become a member") and insert ("subscribe for or otherwise acquire shares in or securities")

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 21.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 21.--(Baroness Blackstone.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

22 Clause 20, page 9, line 19, at end insert--
("(2) A local council--
(a) must perform in relation to such places outside its area as the Council specifies such of the Council's duties as the Council specifies;
(b) may exercise in relation to such places outside its area as the Council specifies such of the Council's powers as the Council specifies.")

Lord Bach: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 22. In speaking to this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 23 to 29 and 197 to 200.

There are only four government amendments about which I should like to speak in this group. The other amendments are all minor, technical points, although, of course, I shall be happy to provide explanations if required.

Amendment No. 22 extends the provisions of Clause 20 to enable a local LSC to perform duties and exercise functions outside its own area. This builds on a helpful debate and constructive suggestions from the Opposition Benches in another place about the funding of designated institutions, but the general point is relevant to a great many other providers. During that discussion, the Government agreed to consider how we might ensure that a provider operating in more than one location need not be burdened by having to liaise with several different local LSCs. This amendment provides for exactly such situations, by enabling a single local LSC to work with such a provider on behalf of any number of other local LSCs. The flexibility which this provision secures

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would also allow other sensible co-operation between local LSCs where, for instance, a particular local LSC might fund a provider in its locality which was a regional centre of excellence--perhaps an agricultural or other specialist college--attracting students from outside the local LSC's area.

Noble Lords on the Benches opposite, as well as their colleagues in another place, have questioned our commitment to flexibility and decision-making at a local level. We believe that this amendment provides another example of how, on the contrary, the Government are committed to sensible bottom-up arrangements with co-operation between local LSCs where this is sensible.

Amendments Nos. 23 and 24 owe a great deal to debates we had during earlier stages in this House. Amendment No. 23 requires local LSCs to include in their plans a statement of the needs of local employers with regard to the skills available in the local workforce; that is, both existing and potential employees. Amendment No. 24 further requires that a local LSC plan should set out how the council proposes to exercise its functions to meet those needs.

These amendments therefore complement at the local level what Amendment No. 20 achieves at the national level, as has already been set out: they put on the face of the Bill, and beyond any doubt, that local LSCs must and will engage in important workforce development activity in their area.

We have discussed this matter with the CBI, which has warmly welcomed our approach. I hope that noble Lords, too, will welcome this as a positive move forward, building on what the LSC prospectus has made clear--that local LSCs will have a vital role to play in:


    "analysing local labour market and skill needs;


    deploying locally-managed development budgets to meet learning, skills and workforce development needs; [and]


    drawing up local workforce development strategies which will complement the direction of wider economic strategies".

With Amendment No. 26 we remain in the territory of local LSC plans and the wider remit of local LSCs beyond post-16 learning. It is also another amendment inspired in some part by debates both here and in another place, together with suggestions raised by the TEC National Council. It provides that a local LSC's plan must include a statement of the likely effect of its activities on the wider economic development and regeneration of its area. In this way, the amendment is proof positive of our commitment to economic development and regeneration and the important local LSC role in relation to such matters.

As is already set out in Clause 22, local LSCs will consult and develop close links with regional development agencies and local authorities--but build on the best work of many TECs by liaising closely with the Employment Service, UfI Ltd, local learning partnerships, local economic development partnerships and the Small Business Service. Amendment No. 26 simply underlines that economic development and regeneration will be an important element within the LSC's broad remit.

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I shall want to return to the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, when I have heard what she has to say in moving it. However, let me say straight away that we share her view that the relationship between the RDAs and the local and national LSCs must be extremely close, but that I believe that our proposals already ensure the close co-operation she seeks. In the mean time, I commend the Commons amendments to the House.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 22.--(Lord Bach.)

3.45 p.m.

AS AN AMENDMENT TO COMMONS AMENDMENT NO. 22

22A Line 8, at end insert--
("(c) must liase with the Regional Development Agency and agree a common operational framework and guidelines with other local councils operating within the area covered by the Agency.").

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 22A. As the noble Lord, Lord Bach, made clear, Clause 20 deals with the functions of the local learning and skills councils, while Amendment No. 22 deals with cases where the national learning and skills council wants the local council to perform certain functions "out of area".

Clause 21 makes it clear that in drawing up the guidance for each local learning and skills council, the national LSC shall consult with the local regional development agencies. Likewise, Clause 22, which has already been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Bach, makes it clear that in drawing up their own plans the local LSCs must have regard to the strategy of the local RDAs. Amendment No. 26 makes it clear that in drawing up such a plan, they must keep their eye on the economic development and regeneration of their particular local area.

Nevertheless, each local learning and skills council covers only sometimes as little as one-tenth of the area covered by the regional development agency. Usually five or six learning and skills councils will be contained in each RDA, and sometimes more than that. I shall put once more the issue that the Liberal Democrats have stressed many times: given their functions in relation to workforce development and local regeneration, the links between the regional development agencies and the local learning and skills councils must be very close. It is vital that those local learning and skills councils work together--this is a part of the function of Amendment No. 22--but also work together with the local regional development agency. On many occasions we have highlighted the absurdity of the London situation where no co-ordinating committee exists. However, we are delighted to see on the record a commitment from the Minister which implies that some element of co-ordination will be established in that case.

However, the problem does not apply only to London, it applies in many other regional areas such as the North East and the North West. The aim of this

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amendment is to ensure that such liaison does take place and that the requirement is written on to the face of the Bill.

Moved, That Amendment No. 22A, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 22, be agreed to.--(Baroness Sharp of Guildford.)


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