HC Deb 20 July 1982 vol 28 c203
15. Mr. Hardy

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will take steps to ensure that advisory bodies always have, as a large proportion of their membership, persons with direct experience of exercising responsibility in the field of education.

Sir Keith Joseph

Appointments to advisory groups, of whatever kind, will normally include those experienced in the fields concerned. The Government's proposals for the establishment of an examinations body and a school curriculum development body to replace the Schools Council are now the subject of discussion with the local authority associations and others. The balance of membership on the proposed new bodies is one issue for discussion.

Mr. Hardy

Does the Secretary of State agree that the Government will have to respond to the growing suspicion that the only advice that they seek or wish to receive is that which comes from the like-minded or the placemen?

Sir Keith Joseph

Ministers are entitled to reach their own conclusions. They must take advice and account of all the views given, and that we shall do.

Mr. Forman

In seeking people to serve on the advisory bodies, especially those dealing with examinations and the curriculum, will my right hon. Friend assure the House that steps will be taken to ensure that there is adequate representation of the point of view of industry and, indeed, of independent-minded people generally?

Sir Keith Joseph

It is true to say that busy people in industry with sufficient knowledge of education and who are willing to serve are not all that easy to find. However, in short, the answer is "Yes".

Mr. Dormand

Will the Secretary of State say what the legal basis is for his proposal to abolish the Schools Council? Is not the Schools Council a charity, which means that he has no power to abolish it?

Sir Keith Joseph

I understand that there is no power to force the Government to continue to provide their share of the funding of the Schools Council in the way that they have done.