John Hayes MP welcomes an amendment on Thursday that he proposed to the Further Education and Training Bill. It restricted the Learning and Skills Council’s proposed move to sack college principals without needing consent from a Minister:
"The original version of the Bill would have granted sweeping new powers to the Learning and Skills Council to intervene in further education colleges. I raised that on Second Reading with the then Secretary of State, who has now moved on to other things—I will not say greater things. At that stage the Secretary of State said that he did not think that the powers would be used anyway, as they had not been used in their current form. We did not think that was good enough. Throughout Committee and in the other place we pressed Ministers to mitigate the powers, in the interests both of colleges and of proper parliamentary scrutiny and accountability.
The response to those concerns finds form in the Government amendment. It will mean that to intervene, the LSC must have the express permission of the Secretary of State. That means that people in this House will be accountable for decisions made in that regard, as we feared that, under the original form of the Bill, they might not have been. Moreover, the LSC will report annually on how their intervention powers have been used, and that report will be subject to appropriate scrutiny. Furthermore, the Minister has confirmed that at any stage during the process, if any individual feels that the powers have not been used reasonably or appropriately, the Secretary of State will be able to intervene and stop the process—at its beginning, middle or end. That is, in effect, a right of appeal, and I felt that that was important.
In addition, I am assured by the Minister in private discussions and in writing that the powers are not an extension of existing powers."
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