'Peer group' idea for Lords

BELEAGUERED peers, feeling put out by House of Lords reforms, could find a new home from home in the world of further education.

The Association of Colleges is thinking of setting up a "peer group" of lords and ladies to put the case for further education in the upper house.

Lord Tope, the Liberal Democrat education spokesman in the Lords, who presented the Beacon Awards at the association's conference, has agreed to head the group. Baroness Helena Kennedy - who chose to address the AOC on Tuesday rather than join her ermine-clad colleagues for the state opening of parliament - and Lord Puttnam are also targets for Linda Butler, the communications director of the AOC, which has floated the idea of the group.

"We think we might be able to get 25 or so who have got a genuine interest in the sector and can begin to create debates on FE in the Lords," she said. Lord Hunt - married to a member of staff at Joseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College - might also be persuaded to join, she hopes.

However, Lord Lucas of Crudwell might not be among them. He resigned as a governor of Peter Symonds College because he was unable to attend enough meetings - but he could find he has more time on his hands if Government plans to scrap the rights of hereditary peers such as himself go ahead.

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