§ Mr. Willis
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment who has the ultimate responsibility for 693W agreeing the merger of higher and further education institutions; and what is his Department's policy on such mergers. 
§ Dr. Howells
Final decisions are for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, normally on the basis of advice from the Further Education Funding Council for England following consultation with interested parties. He will consider each case on its merits. He would welcome closer working relationships between FE and HE institutions, whether or not a formal partnership is involved.