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Lord Bach: My Lords, perhaps I may attempt to deal with the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp. We agree with her that RDAs' responsibilities for skills and economic development at the regional level should be woven into the work of the local LSCs. We must draw the link between the regional and the local. That is why the Bill already requires extensive co-operation and consultation in at least four ways: first, RDAs must be consulted by the national council on its draft guidance to local LSCs, as required in Clause 21(4). Secondly, the strategy of the relevant RDA must be taken into account by the local LSC when it is drawing up its annual plan, as required by Clause 22(4)(b). Thirdly, RDAs must be consulted by the local LSCs on their draft annual plans, as required by Clause 22(5)(a). Fourthly, the RDA must even be consulted by the national council on whether the local LSC's plan should be approved, as required by Clause 22(6).

By any reckoning, these extensive requirements mark out how important the regional dimension is to our proposals and underline how influential will be the role of the regional development agencies and their regional skills strategies in the new arrangements.

We do not believe that it is necessary to add yet a further layer of requirements in the Bill to ensure agreement on a common operational framework. Many noble Lords have urged us to avoid bureaucracy and we remain very mindful of that sensible advice. But if the noble Baroness's concern is that there should be effective co-ordination of all the neighbouring LSCs operating within a region, I hope I can reassure her further on that point. When these issues were discussed extensively in Standing Committee in another place, there was a broad recognition of the importance of effective consultation across borders. The Government made a commitment that the Secretary of State in his initial guidance to the national council would stress the need for the LSC to consult widely and to take full account of the activities of other partners at both the local and regional level in the planning and delivery of its functions. Consulting widely will, of course, mean that neighbouring local LSCs will maintain an ongoing and productive dialogue with each other at all times. I am happy to re-affirm that commitment today. The Secretary of State's guidance will stress the importance of neighbouring local LSCs within a region working together within a framework which supports the relevant regional development agency's strategy.

I hope, therefore, that the noble Baroness will agree that the Bill already guarantees the regional dimension that she seeks, and has done since the Bill's early stages

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in this House. I hope, too, that the further reassurances that I have attempted to give will enable her to feel that she need not press her amendment.

Baroness David: My Lords, I wanted to make a comment on Commons Amendments Nos. 22 to 26. Something that the noble Baroness said about a London co-ordinating body makes me feel that it is right to do so now, and I hope that I am in order in doing so. I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Tope, who raised the matter in this House with the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, would probably speak to this amendment, but he did not.

There was quite a discussion on this matter at Report stage in another place. Mr. Brooke, the MP for Cities of London and Westminster, raised the subject. It is important that there should be a co-ordinating body for the five LSCs in the capital. I need not go into the reasons for that. They relate to transport, business, labour management, and so on.

The Minister, Malcolm Wicks, gave a reassurance on the matter. Although there is nothing on the face of the Bill, it would be helpful if in this House the Minister could give a similar reassurance that there will be an opportunity for a London co-ordinating body.

Lord Tope: My Lords, as always, I find the noble Baroness irresistible. As the matter of London has been raised, perhaps I may return to it. I read with great interest the report of the debate in another place when the matter was raised by the right honourable Member for Cities of London and Westminster, including the response from the Minister, Mr Wicks.

I raised the subject in February, as did the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey. Since then, we have elected a Mayor and a Greater London Assembly, and we have appointed a London Development Agency which is now up and working and has assumed its powers. At each stage, the Government have moved a little further in their reassurances. I noted that the right honourable Member in another place hoped that the Minister might write to him giving further details and placing more emphasis on the matter. I do not know whether such a letter has been written. It would be of great help and interest to us all if the Minister is able to say a little more today about what is envisaged specifically for London, given that the other players, including the chairman and the chief executive, are in place. That said, I welcome the commitment from the Government, as far as it goes.

Lord Bach: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lady David and to the noble Lord, Lord Tope. Since we last discussed these matters, the noble Lord has been elected to the new Assembly and continues to take an active interest in matters relating to the Bill.

The answer to my noble friend is: yes, I give the same reassurance as the Minister gave on Report in another place. The Government Office for London is beginning discussions about the establishment of the co-ordinating body as recommended by the London Development Partnership. When the local chairman

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and executive directors are in place, we can take forward the arrangements. That is as far as I can go today. I hope that my reply gives satisfaction to noble Lords who have spoken.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his response. It is good that we have arrived at a satisfactory arrangement in relation to London. I hope that similar arrangements, perhaps slightly less formal, will obtain in other regional development agency areas. The question of co-ordination is, as the Minister stressed, extremely important. In the light of his reassurances, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment No. 22A, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 22, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

23Clause 22, page 9, line 37, at end insert--
("(aa) a statement of the needs of employers in the local council's area regarding education and training of their employees and potential employees;")
24Page 9, line 39, leave out ("those needs") and insert ("the needs mentioned in paragraphs (a) and (aa)")
25Page 10, line 5, leave out from ("year") to ("guidance") in line 7 and insert ("taking account of")
26Page 10, line 7, at end insert--

("(e) a statement of the likely effect of the local council's activities on the economic development and regeneration of its area.")
27Page 10, line 9, after ("training") insert ("(and connected organised leisure-time occupation)")
28Page 10, line 15, after ("training") insert ("(and connected organised leisure-time occupation)")
29Clause 23, page 11, line 10, after ("training") insert ("(and connected organised leisure-time occupation)")
30Clause 31, page 14, line 2, 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.")
31Clause 32, page 14, line 33, 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.")
32Clause 34, page 15, line 19, after ("receiving") insert ("or proposing to receive")
33Page 15, line 24, 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);")
34Page 15, line 26, after ("undertaking") insert ("or proposing to undertake")
35Page 15, line 44, after ("receiving") insert ("or proposing to receive")
36Clause 35, page 16, line 8, leave out ("providing post-16 education or training") and insert ("to whom financial resources are provided")
37Page 16, line 11, leave out ("post-16") and insert ("or proposing to provide")
38Page 16, line 26, leave out ("post-16") and insert ("or proposing to provide")
39Page 16, line 27, leave out ("post-16")
40Clause 36, page 17, line 3, leave out ("6)") and insert (" 35)")
41Page 17, line 4, leave out ("and "maintained school" have") and insert ("has")
42Clause 38, page 17, line 16, after ("promote") insert ("--

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(a)")
43Page 17, line 17, at end insert--
("(b) the making of arrangements which qualify under section (Qualifying arrangements).")
44Page 17, line 18, at end insert--
("( ) may be specified as a body with which arrangements under section (Qualifying arrangements) may be made;
( ) may be designated by the National Assembly under section (Qualifying arrangements: further provision)(1) or (3) and may act in accordance with such a designation;")
45Clause 40, page 17, line 40, at end insert--
("(3A) The Council may provide any person designated by the National Assembly with such information as the Council thinks fit about any matter in relation to which it has a function.")
46Clause 41, page 18, line 7, leave out (" 34(1)(g)") and insert (" 34(1)(a) to (d) and (g)")
47Page 18, leave out lines 13 to 20 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.")
48After Clause 42, insert the following new clause--
PLANS

(" .--(1) The Council must make a plan for each of its financial years.
(2) The Council must send its plan for its first financial year to the National Assembly as soon as is reasonably practicable after the year starts.
(3) The Council must send its plan for any subsequent financial year of the Council to the National Assembly before the year starts.
(4) A plan for a financial year must include--
(a) proposals as to how the Council intends to achieve in the financial year any objectives which should be achieved in the year in conformity with directions of the National Assembly or with conditions imposed under section 47;
(b) the Council's financial proposals for the year;
(c) such other matters as the National Assembly specifies.
(5) The National Assembly must approve the plan or require the Council to make specified alterations of it; and if alterations are required the Council must make them.
(6) The Council must publish the plan as approved by the National Assembly or as altered in accordance with the National Assembly's requirements; and publication must be made at such time and in such manner as the National Assembly specifies.
(7) The Council may make and publish such other plans as it thinks fit; but any such plan must not conflict with a plan for a financial year.")

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49Insert the following new clause--
STRATEGY

(" .--(1) The Council must formulate a strategy in relation to its functions and keep it under review.
(2) The Council must incorporate in the strategy proposals as to--
(a) how it intends to achieve any objectives contained in directions of the National Assembly;
(b) how it intends to achieve such objectives within any time limits contained in such directions.
(3) 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).
(4) The Council--
(a) may at any time send to the National Assembly a copy of the strategy as it subsists for the time being;
(b) must at such times as the National Assembly indicates send to the Assembly a copy of the strategy as it subsists for the time being.
(5) The National Assembly must approve the strategy sent to it or require the Council to make specified alterations of it; and if alterations are required the Council must make them.
(6) In exercising its functions the Council must have regard to the strategy as approved by the National Assembly or as altered in accordance with its requirements.")
50Clause 44, page 19, line 22, leave out paragraphs (c) and (d) and insert--
("(c) to subscribe for or otherwise acquire shares in or securities of a company unless the National Assembly consents.")

Lord Bach: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 23 to 50.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 23 to 50.--(Lord Bach.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


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