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Skill Centres

Volume 171: debated on Tuesday 1 May 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment which 10 skill centres are to be sold to Astra Training Services Ltd.; and what price has been agreed.

My right hon. and learned Friend announced on 13 February 1990 at column 141 that terms of sale had been agreed with Astra Training Services Ltd. for the businesses at 46 skill centres, plus the skill centre training agency's head office, mobile training service, sales teams and colleges, and that the sale of these training businesses would involve a payment of some £11 million from the Government to Astra.The 10 skill centre sites referred to in my earlier reply on 27 March 1990 at column

158 are sites where a training business purchaser is to be granted a lease. At seven of the 10 sites a lease is to be granted to Astra; these sites—are Cardiff, Deptford, Leeds, Leicester, Slough, Swindon and Wakefield. At the remaining three sites-East Lancashire, Ipswich and St. Helens—a lease is to be granted to the consortium headed by Mr. Christopher Lakin.

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Bradford, South of 23 April, Official Report, column 99, at what stage of negotiations following the receipt of bids for skill centres it was decided that £11 million should be given to Astra Training Services; and what steps were taken to ascertain whether other bidders would revise their positions in the light of the sum being offered.

The payment of £11 million from the Government to Astra Training Services Ltd. represented Astra's assessment of the costs of turning around a business which is currently unprofitable and creating training businesses with good prospects of viability. Deloittes, in conjunction with my Department's other advisers, evaluated all the offers and made recommendations to my Department. The Government decided that the Astra offer, including the £11 million payment, met the Government's six objectives for the sale (a copy of which was placed in the Vote Office on 13 February 1990) more fully than competing offers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether the three civil servants concerned have assumed full-time duties with Astra Training Services Ltd.; and what are the redundancy terms which apply to them.

The three civil servants concerned in the management buy-out of the skills training agency assume full-time duties with Astra Training Services Ltd. on 1 May 1990. Redundancy terms were not appropriate as they transferred their employment under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981.