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Monday, March 09, 2009

Peter Hain raises the stakes for Brown

In this morning's Western Mail the former Secretary of State for Wales, Peter Hain argues that his outspoken attack at the weekend on the Prime Minister's leadership of the Labour Party was not an attack on Gordon Brown at all.

Instead he is outlining his thoughts on how the Labour party can improve its popularity. There is no attempt to launch a personal comeback at all. Still, Gordon Brown must surely be thinking that it is safer to keep friends like Peter inside the tent rather than outside it.

Can he afford to allow Peter Hain to twiddle his thumbs for much longer?
We should take Peter Hain to task on the issues he raised especially those in his own back yard particularly Higher Education and Welsh Devolution

Peter Hain said

A fourth-term Labour government needs to be active and enabling, rather than centralising and controlling. It needs to empower individual citizens and local communities to take control of the decisions that affect their own lives through a much more radical approach to devolution of power and budgets.

Our Right to Public Consultation in Welsh Higher Education

Irrespective of peoples opinions, the fact is without public consultation and accountability they count for nothing. The only way you have to express your opinions on higher education is via a blog.

Childrens Minister Ed Balls on the 1st of December 2008 said

where things go badly wrong, people are right to want to know why and what will be done about it.

Surely the same standards apply in Wales

So why did things at the University of Wales Lampeter go so badly wrong that they needed life support via an emergency fund and what is being done about it. Who is being held to account for the failure or to put it a better way, how much were they paid

The response to one disaster is to create another by merging with nearby Trinity College. The leader of the Merger Committee says that everyone will be consulted. He forgot to mention everyone except the public.

The former Adjudicator for Higher Education, which deals with student complaints, said that universities have no sense of natural justice. Its the old adage of power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Thats why we need public consultation and accountability, a political opposition and people who will speak out when the democratic process is abused.

Welsh Devolution

Under the Conservatives the 1992 Further and Higher Education Act took away powers from the Minister of Education and handed them over to unaccountable QUANGOs. The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and its subsidiary the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), both exclude any form of public: complaint, consultation or accountability.

The current New Labour government under the Public Audit (Wales) Act 2004 excluded any form of public complaint on financial matters and withdrew the power of the Auditor General for Wales to intervene on issue of value for money and maladministration. It also took away the power of the Auditor General under the Local Government Act 2000 to take over a higher education establishment on the grounds of financial mismanagement.

The result is that the Welsh Assembly now claims it has no jurisdiction and neither does the Public Service Ombudsman or Auditor General. This absurd situation has reached a point whereby academics are themselves worried about the way in which our Universities are governed. They admit that the only way to bring any form of maladministration to light is to publish it in a journal or newspaper; otherwise, you are wasting your time.

Complain to the Welsh Assembly and because of the above situation they say they have no jurisdiction as laws are made in Westminster and then handed over to Wales. So you complain to the Department of Universities Innovation and Skills they say it is a devolved issue, and refer it back to the Welsh Assembly, and so you go round in ever decreasing circles.

That then begs the question what are the opposition parties doing about this situation and the answer is nothing.

Trevor Mayes
Serious charges by Trevor Mayes. Are they being addressed?
The answer to the question by Frank H Little is NO!

But having said that I am delighted that Peter Black has posted my comment. So YES that is doing something positive for the individual. Peter Hain please take note!

As a former social worker with 16 years managerial experience I am pursuing a campaign in keeping with public expectations. That is why I referred to the comment made by Ed Balls. I am sure you can guess the rest of the story.

The fact is that having brought matters to the attention of successive Education Ministers since 2002. The response has been somewhat contrary to current actions and attitudes on these issues.

The only person who has acted with any sense of public duty is HM the Queen. Who in her official capacity as Visitor to the University of Wales wrote to the First Minister Rodrey Morgan concerning the absense of complaints procedures.

His response was to simply place her letter on file because it said nothing new.

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education has confirmed that in the absense of any formal complaints procedures they have no jurisdiction.

The last thing the Labour Party wants is for these mattters to be addressed. However, the cracks in the brick wall of concealment are beggining to show

Trevor Mayes
I should add that as a way past the failure of the WAG to act, I wrote to Lord Kinnock who in turn wrote to the Secreatary of State for Wales Paul Murphy.

He took legal advice and replied that he had no powers to intervene.

At least he tried, but the point is that we can only introduce the concepts that Peter Hain talks about if we roll back the repressive legislation he introduced while Secretary of State for Wales.

Moreover, we can only bring about positive change via the political process, if we know what is going on.

Trevor Mayes
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