HC Deb 12 February 1979 vol 962 cc766-7
5. Mr. Gerry Fowler

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the intended relationship between the proposed Advanced Further Education Council for Wales, the Welsh Assembly, and the Secretary of State; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Barry Jones

The Education Bill now before the House provides for the Council to be appointed by the Secretary of State for Wales and to advise and make recommendations to him on the matters specified in the Bill. It also provides for his functions in this respect to be transferred to the Welsh Assembly Upon its establishment.

Mr. Fowler

Is it not extraordinary that we are proposing to set up another nominated body, even if it be nominated by the Assembly in due course, when we are creating an Assembly partly to get rid of nominated bodies? Would it not be more rational to have no new Council but to give its powers to the Assembly, albeit leaving the Assembly the right to co-opt additional members to its education committee when dealing with advanced further education?

Mr. Barry Jones

I look forward to hearing my hon. Friend developing his views upstairs in Committee when we reach the appropriate clauses, but I disagree with him. When the education functions in Wales and the Council pass to the Assembly, it will probably be for the better in Wales. I believe that a further education council for Wales will be needed whatever the result of the poll on 1 March.

Sir Anthony Meyer

As only six people turned up to hear the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. and learned Friend, when they came to Deeside, to explain what devolution would do for Wales, will he return there and explain how a Welsh Assembly will bring education closer to the people than it is now, when the function is exercised by the county councils?

Mr. Barry Jones

Of course it could bring education closer to the people. If there were elected Assemblymen from various parts of Wales who were looking at the education problems of Wales, there is no doubt in my mind that there would be a better response from the localities to needs in the areas. I understand that when the hon. Gentleman holds his meetings he does not even get six people attending.