Lifelong learning minister Malcolm Wicks said the number on FE courses fell from 4.46 million in 19967 to 4.27 million in 19992000. Enrolments were hit by a tightening of rules on "franchising" - where colleges contract outteaching - after a series of scandals. "Previous participation figures were artificially inflated by franchising, some of which was of dubious value," Mr Wicks said, responding to Tory education spokesman Tim Boswell.
Compiled by Jon Slater from Hansard. Parliamentary questions can be found at www.parliament.uk