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Following its passage through the Commons, the Technical and Further Education Bill 2016-17 was presented in the House of Lords on 10 January 2017 and had its Second Reading on 1 February. The Bill was considered in Committee in the House of Lords over three days between 22 February and 1 March 2017, and was considered on Report on 27 March. Third Reading took place on 4 April 2017.

This briefing paper provides information on amendments made to the Bill during its progress through the House of Lords. It has also been updated to include a summary of the consideration of Lords amendments by the Commons on 19 April 2017 and the Lords consideration of Commons amendments and reasons on 25 April.

The Purpose of the Bill

The Bill implements the legislative proposals set out in the Government’s Post – 16 Skills Plan, published in July 2016, which were developed in response to recommendations in the Report of the Independent Panel on Technical Education chaired by Lord Sainsbury. It also follows the Government’s 2016 consultation, Developing an insolvency regime for the further education and sixth-form sector.

The Bill will:

  • rename the Institute for Apprenticeships and extend its remit to cover college-based technical education in addition to apprenticeships;
  • create an insolvency framework for the further education (FE) sector and establish a new special administration regime for FE corporations, sixth form corporations, and companies which run designated institutions in England and Wales; and
  • ensure that the provision of information to the Government by FE providers will continue following any devolution of the Adult Skills Budget to combined authorities.

Further background information on the Bill (as introduced to the Commons) is provided in Library Briefing 7752, Technical and Further Education Bill. Information on amendments made to the Bill during its progress through the Commons is provided in briefing 7782, Technical and Further Education Bill: Committee Stage Report.

Lords Amendments

Three non-Government amendments were agreed relating to technical education:

  • Amendment 11, moved by Lord Baker (Con) at Committee Stage, ensured that providers of technical education will have a right to go into schools to inform pupils about technical education qualifications and apprenticeships. The new clause was accepted by the Government and had cross-party support. It was agreed without a division.
  • Amendment 17, moved by Lord Storey (Lib Dem) at Report Stage, provided for Ofsted to be required to take into account the careers advice available to students when inspecting FE providers. The new clause was agreed following a division.
  • Amendment 1, moved on Report by Lord Watson (Lab), provided for Child Benefit to be payable in respect of young people under 20 undertaking statutory apprenticeships. It additionally provided for the extension of the Higher Education Bursary to care leavers taking apprenticeships. The new clause was agreed following a division.

Minor Government amendments were also agreed in Committee, which aimed to ensure that data sharing arrangements “remain fit for purpose” given that the bodies that the Institute for Apprenticeships is likely to need to share information with are expected to change over time.

In relation to part two of the Bill on the insolvency framework, a number of Government amendments were agreed at Committee Stage without divisions, including:

  • To provide that there is an accessible public record of documents relating to an FE body’s insolvency.
  • To ensure that the “needs of care leavers are provided for in the event that the FE body they attend enters educational administration.”
  • To close a potential loophole in the Bill relating to the disqualification of governors of FE corporations or sixth form college corporations.
  • To ensure that courts in the different parts of the UK can cooperate if needed in the event of an FE body’s insolvency or the disqualification of a governor of an FE body.

A non-Government amendment was also agreed at Report Stage relating to the functions of the Education Administrator. The amendment was intended to remove perceived doubts concerning the operation of the special objective, under which, in contrast to an ordinary administration where the administrator’s focus is on rescuing the company or obtaining a better result for the creditors as a whole, the primary focus of an Education Administrator will be on the studies of existing students. The Government accepted the amendment and it was agreed without a division.

No amendments were made to the part of the Bill relating to the provision of information by FE providers to the Government.

Ping Pong

When the Bill returned to the Commons on 19 April 2017 the House accepted all but two of the Lords amendments without division.

The Lords amendment providing for Child Benefit to be payable to apprentices was disagreed to following a division. The amendment concerning Ofsted taking into account careers advice when inspecting FE providers was disagreed to but a Government amendment in lieu was agreed. The Minister, Robert Halfon, stated that the Government’s amendment in lieu made drafting changes to make sure that the amendment proposed by the Lords achieves its intended effect.

On 25 April the Lords agreed not to insist on its amendment relating to child benefit for apprentices. It also agreed to the amendment in lieu made by the Commons with regards to careers advice.

The Bill received Royal Assent on 27 April 2017.

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