§ John Mann
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions his Department has had with the Learning and Skills Council on the recently issued guidelines to limit college franchising arrangements with work-based learning providers; what steps he is taking to ensure that the provision of high quality training is safeguarded; and if he will take steps to ensure the early substitution of direct contracting between local learning and skills councils and the affected providers. 
§ Alan Johnson
[holding answer 14 June 2004]: My officials have not had detailed discussions with the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) about the guidelines to local LSCs concerning the funding of franchised further education provision. The LSC is responsible for establishing and developing a robust and diverse network of providers to meet the needs of communities, learners and employers. My ministerial colleagues and I, with the support of officials, ensure the LSC carries out its responsibilities through regular meetings, reporting and review arrangements. As contracting decisions are the operational responsibility of the LSC, Mark Haysom, the LSC's Chief Executive, will write to my hon. Friend detailing the arrangements adopted to ensure changes to franchised activity are handled smoothly.