HC Deb 06 March 1984 vol 55 cc726-7
11. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what discussion he has had with local education authorities about resources for further education colleges following the White Paper, "Training for Jobs".

Sir Keith Joseph

I met representatives of the local authority associations on 31 January and 20 February to discuss the new funding arrangements for work-related courses in non-advanced further education. The associations were critical of the Government's decisions and the assumptions underlying them.

Mr. Bennett

Does the Secretary of State realise that the White Paper "Training for Jobs" is really a disaster? It gave great offence to those who work in further education, it dismayed the local authorities, and it left the MSC with a document that may be all right for discussion, but is certainly not a blueprint for action. Will he now change the status of the document and say that it is no longer a White Paper but merely a discussion document? In that event something useful can come out of it, instead of the disaster that it has been so far.

Sir Keith Joseph

No. The Government have announced their decisions in the White Paper. The White Paper did not represent an attack on non-advanced further education in general, but simply, the assumption—with which, I think, local education authorities on the whole agreed — that, like most other things, non-advanced further education is patchy. I very much hope that the MSC and the Government will get the benefit of the advice of local education authorities.

Mr. Haselhurst

Is it not true that there is no threat to further education colleges themselves, and that all that my right hon. Friend and his colleagues have proposed is that there should be slightly greater emphasis on the courses that those colleges pursue?

Sir Keith Joseph

That is so. The Government have decided that the MSC, instead of being a client for about 9 per cent. of NAFE courses, should become a client for about 25 per cent. of the courses. That seems to us to make good sense.

Mr. Yeo

Bearing in mind the vital importance of further education in helping disabled young people to obtain employment, will my right hon. Friend clarify the obligations of local education authorities to provide full-time further education for all students, including those who have special needs, up to the age of 19?

Sir Keith Joseph

That is a separate question. I shall send my hon. Friend my answer, giving clear guidance on the matter.