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Training And Enterprise Councils

Volume 300: debated on Thursday 13 November 1997

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What steps the Government are taking to prevent fraud against training and enterprise councils. [14322]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment
(Dr. Kim Howells)

The principal responsibility lies with the training and enterprise councils themselves. The Department operates a number of controls to check against uncertain, incorrect or improper payments. My hon. Friend may be assured that we operate those controls with energy and determination.

Does my hon. Friend agree that national vocational qualifications form the cornerstone of essential policies such as welfare to work, the new deal and lifelong learning and that those are the policies that will appeal to and give hope and opportunities to so many people denied chances under the previous Government? Will he assure me that he will look into recent fraud cases relating to training providers offering NVQs, and ensure that people who have had qualifications withdrawn are given the opportunity to retake tests and gain the appropriate qualifications?

I assure my hon. Friend that we will do just that. National vocational qualifications are a tremendous boon to our education system. I believe in them; they have opened up possibilities for learning and entering higher education for a great many people. I have seen it wherever I have gone. Yesterday in a steel plant, I saw a rediscovered joy in learning. The men and women working there were involved in national vocational qualifications and were extremely keen to go on learning. We must ensure that there is no fraud in the system and that no nods arid winks are operated by any agency that receives money from the Government. The question of national vocational qualifications must remain completely unbesmirched by backhanders or sleaze.