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Further Education (Advisory Councils)

Volume 893: debated on Tuesday 17 June 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if, in view of the increasing responsibilities of the regional advisory councils for further education, he will take steps to ensure that all regional advisory councils for further education include representatives of recognised teacher organisations in colleges, in their councils, standing committees, and specialist sub-committees.

Membership of the regional advisory councils for further education is a matter for their constituent local education authorities, but I understand that further education teacher organisations are represented on all the councils and on most of their standing and sub-committees. As to the responsibilities of the regional advisory councils, I am consulting a wide range of interests on the arrangements for co-ordinating public sector higher and further education.

Does my right hon. Friend accept that the Government's expenditure cuts and their savage effect on further education are putting particular responsibilities on the regional councils? In these circumstances, does my right hon. Friend agree that it is vitally important that on the councils and their committees we should have people who have an understanding of grass roots college problems?

I accept that there should be such people on the councils and their committees. As I understand it, they are already so placed. I would caution my hon. Friend about using such explosive and immoderate language. I do not accept that the cuts have been savage. No cuts are to be welcomed in education, but we must bear in mind the serious economic situation which is facing the nation.

As my right hon. Friend is dealing with further education, is he aware that in England there are nine colleges of further education that deal entirely with the physically handicapped, and that there are other colleges that deal with the physically handicapped in special departments with special facilities? Although that is true of England, is my right hon. Friend aware that not one college in Wales has such special facilities? Will my right hon. Friend impress upon the Secretary of State for Wales the need for such facilities?

I shall draw the attention of my right hon. Friend to the point that my hon. Friend raised. I am sure that my hon. Friend will understand that after only five days in office I do not have the detailed knowledge of exactly how many colleges of this and that there are and where they are located.