In the alphabet soup over AOC;FE Focus;Letter

1st May 1998 at 01:00
Carborundum says (TES, April 3) that the Association of Colleges "was invited to give evidence to the parliamentary advisory committee", which you refer to elsewhere in the piece as the PAC.

You go on to say the committee "booked a small room for acting chief executive Sue Dutton and a couple of senior officers", but that "Unfortunately, the AOC had taken the invitation seriously" and asked all its principals along. You then add that a Lords meeting had to be moved as a result.

The facts are these. The "PAC" concerned was actually two groups: the All Party Parliamentary Group for Further Education and the All Party Group for Adult Education. These groups are voluntary cross-party groups, which also span both Houses. They exist to promote understanding of the issues among MPs, and are not in any way connected to the PAC - the Public Accounts Committee.

AOC was not "invited to give evidence." AOC in fact administers the Further Education Group, just as NIACE administers the Adult Education Group.

The MP chairs of each group had on this occasion decided to hold a joint meeting to hear Kim Howells talking on the Lifelong Learning Green Paper. AOC was invited to ask all its chairs and principals to attend. That 130 did so indicated the tremendous interest in the Green Paper.

Because of this, the meeting had to be moved from the Commons to a nearby location. However, it is not the case that any Lords meeting was moved to accommodate it.

Dennis Turner MP, Chair, All-party Parliamentary Group for Further Education, House of Commons, London SW1

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