My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls) made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families sought an advance from the Contingencies Fund to meet the urgent cash requirement of recruiting the members of the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) before parliamentary approval of both the specific enabling legislation and the necessary estimate.
The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill will, subject to Royal Assent, provide for the creation of Ofqual, a new non-ministerial department. We plan that commencement of Ofqual should be on 1 April 2010, before the summer 2010 examinations and national curriculum tests round that begin in May. An open and transparent appointment process to the board rightly takes time and needs to commence now in order for the appointments to take effect from 1 April 2010. The appointment process will make it clear to applicants that any appointments would be contingent on Royal Assent to the necessary provisions.
Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £70,000 for this new service will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £70,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.