§ Mr. Rhodes James
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what are his proposals for the future existence and constitution of the National Advisory Body for Local Authority Higher Education; and if he will make a statement.
§ Sir Keith Joseph
I am today issuing a consultative document, prepared in the light of initial discussions with the Local Authority Associations, which sets out the Government's proposals regarding the future existence and constitution of the National Advisory Body for Local Authority Higher Education, when it reaches the end of its interim life on 31 January 1985.
The document records the Government's belief that the need for a central body to advise on a co-ordinated approach to academic planning and resource allocation in local authority higher education is now widely accepted. We further believe that the NAB has, over th past two years, demonstrated its ability to fill this role, not least by its completion last December of a substantial planning exercise on the basis of which it advised me on the detailed disposition of students and allocation of funds to be made in the local authority sector in 1984–85. The Government therefore propose, subject to the outcome of the consultative exercise, to reconstitute the NAB as a permanent body at the end of its interim life.
The decision, if confirmed, will also meet our longstanding commitment to resolve the debate initiated by my predecessor with the publication of the Green Paper "Higher Eduation in England outside the Universities: Policy, Funding and Management". The NAB owes its interim status to the fact that when that paper was issued, while there was general agreement that a central planning body of some sort was needed, no clear consensus emerged as to what form that body should take. The NAB was therefore set up with an interim status in February 1982, with the full agreement of the local authority associations, as a means of meeting in the short term the urgent need for a central planning focus in local authority higher education, but without prejudice to discussion of long term developments. The Government now believe that, on the evidence of its achievement to date, the NAB represents the best basis for developing long term planning machinery. The proposals in the consultative document are framed accordingly.
Copies of the consultative document have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.