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Ms Hodge: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Squire: I will finish one more sentence before giving way to the hon. Lady. I will then refer to other aspects. I submit that new clause 2, which set out to do the sort of thing that Government amendment No. 35 is doing, would be unnecessary.

Ms Hodge: Why has the Minister not considered providing a special grant--a specific grant--for this purpose as a way of ensuring that the money goes directly to the children concerned? I refer to the experience of refugees, for example, who are in concentrated and specific areas of the country. When provision is made through the standard spending assessment discussions, the money simply does not get to go to the purpose for which it is intended.

19 Mar 1996 : Column 209

Mr. Squire: The hon. Lady, in part, gave the answer in her question. Logically, this need would not be concentrated in a particular part of the country--unlike refugees--but would tend to be much more of a general requirement, and it makes sense for that to be part of general funding. The hon. Lady must not take me down the general line of specific grants or we shall be here for a long time. She would have to go some way to persuade me, at this stage, that there should be specific grants. These matters can and will be raised by LEAs in the ordinary way during our discussions.

I am outlining the things that are already happening.It is important that I do so because people will read the transcript of the proceedings, particularly those with SEN interests, and I wish them to be reassured.

I was grateful to Opposition Members who pointed out in Committee that under existing legislation LEAs did not have a power of access to Children and Young Persons Act 1988 registered providers and non-approved independent schools for the purposes of monitoring the provision specified in a child's SEN statement. We are proposing to rectify that by making it a requirement of grant for providers in the non-approved independent, private and voluntary sectors to allow LEAs access to their premises for the purpose of monitoring SEN provision specified in a statement.

The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) will be pleased to hear that on the specific question of portage, I have decided to allow, as a trial during phase 1, vouchers to be exchanged for portage offered by National Portage Association approved schemes. Portage is about education, not about child care. Portage home visitors and management teams are highly trained in early years work and there is already an emphasis on sharing information with parents. These schemes can be inspected both as schemes and in terms of how they are implemented. The local authority will be the registered provider and therefore the recipient of the grant. For parents in phase 1 areas, the inclusion of portage will give them additional choice.

I hope that in this respect hon. Members will be assured of the Government's commitment towards children with special educational needs and that objective observers will note that these flow naturally from our discussions. I have already paid tribute to the part that Members on the Opposition Benches have played in that.

With regard to Opposition amendment No. 7 and the question of qualified teacher status, I share the concerns of Labour Members that all children must receive a good-quality nursery education. However, I do not share their belief that this will be achieved only if all voucher-redeeming institutions are led by staff with qualified teacher status. Indeed, Labour Members have said that they want to see the private and voluntary sectors play an important part in the expansion of good-quality nursery places. Insisting on qualified teacher status would exclude the majority of these providers who in many cases, as the Audit Commission has made clear, are providing good-quality pre-school education.

Mr. Win Griffiths: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Squire: I am keen to make progress and I have given way a lot during the debate, and I also did so in

19 Mar 1996 : Column 210

Committee, as hon. Members will acknowledge. We value qualified teacher status--of course we do; it is a particularly important and valuable qualification for those working with pre-school children--but it is not the only qualification: there are a number of qualifications that I have set out elsewhere, and do not propose to repeat now, including national vocational qualifications levels 2 and 3 in child care and education, and the new range of BAs in education and child care. Each of these qualifications offers a slightly different, yet relevant, range of learning, experience and competence for working with children under five.

I submit that this is the key. In this area, the competence and quality of staff are more important that their specific qualifications. It is important that all four-year-olds get good-quality nursery education in exchange for their vouchers. Earlier, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Wales covered the question of inspections. I am sure that they and the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority learning outcomes will together ensure good-quality provision for all. In conclusion, I recommend that hon. Members reject new clause 2 and amendment No. 7, but that they accept amendment No. 35.

Mr. Kilfoyle: When the right hon. Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker) made his contribution to the debate, I thought that the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Employment was nodding in agreement. Perhaps I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman's request.He seemed to be asking for a guarantee of adequate resourcing in the areas in which we all acknowledge that he has a particular interest. When the Minister eventually responded, it sounded as if he was going to offer yet another of the Prime Minister's infamous charters in terms of the information that would be made available. We welcome any information that could be made available in relation to special educational needs policies.

We then got to the crux of the issue, which is the Government amendment. In technical terms, the amendment provides the opportunity for local authorities to exercise new powers in terms of goods and services, but it does not--and the Minister also failed to do so--satisfy the Labour party in terms of new resources.

It is one thing to talk about the standard spending assessment as a distribution mechanism and quite another to suggest, in a fudged way, that it provides new resources--which, by the Minister's admission, will be rather small but might be crucial in some areas--to cater for special educational needs. Most Labour authorities spend far more on educational provision than standard spending assessments provide, so Government amendment No. 35 will only massage the figures--it will not provide any extra resources.

If the Minister were to intervene to say that the Government would guarantee extra resources when they are required for that aspect of special educational need, we would welcome Government amendment No. 35.As things stand, however, it offers only a shift in notional figures and means nothing in terms of extra grant. Does the Minister wish to intervene?

Mr. Robin Squire indicated dissent.

Mr. Kilfoyle: The Minister declines to intervene, so we have no option but to ask the House to vote for the Opposition's new clause 2.

19 Mar 1996 : Column 211

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:--

The House divided: Ayes 238, Noes 278.

Division No. 81
[6.00 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)
Armstrong, Hilary
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Ashton, Joe
Austin-Walker, John
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blair, Rt Hon Tony
Blunkett, David
Boateng, Paul
Bradley, Keith
Bray, Dr Jeremy
Brown, N (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)
Burden, Richard
Byers, Stephen
Caborn, Richard
Callaghan, Jim
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Canavan, Dennis
Cann, Jamie
Chisholm, Malcolm
Church, Judith
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Dr David (South Shields)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Corbett, Robin
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cummings, John
Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Dafis, Cynog
Dalyell, Tam
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
Davies, Chris (L'Boro & S'worth)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Denham, John
Dewar, Donald
Dixon, Don
Dobson, Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Dowd, Jim
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Ms Angela
Eastham, Ken
Etherington, Bill
Evans, John (St Helens N)
Fatchett, Derek
Faulds, Andrew
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foulkes, George
Fyfe, Maria
Galbraith, Sam
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
Garrett, John
George, Bruce
Gerrard, Neil
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mildred
Graham, Thomas
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Gunnell, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike
Hanson, David
Harman, Ms Harriet
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Henderson, Doug
Heppell, John
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)
Home Robertson, John
Hoon, Geoffrey
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Howarth, George (Knowsley North)
Howells, Dr Kim (Pontypridd)
Hoyle, Doug
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Hutton, John
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)
Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)
Jamieson, David
Janner, Greville
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Mon)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Jowell, Tessa
Keen, Alan
Kennedy, Jane (L'pool Br'dg'n)
Khabra, Piara S
Kilfoyle, Peter
Kirkwood, Archy
Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Lewis, Terry
Liddell, Mrs Helen
Litherland, Robert
Livingstone, Ken
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loyden, Eddie
Lynne, Ms Liz
McAllion, John
McCartney, Ian
Macdonald, Calum
McFall, John
McKelvey, William
Mackinlay, Andrew
McLeish, Henry
McMaster, Gordon
McNamara, Kevin
MacShane, Denis
McWilliam, John
Madden, Max
Maddock, Diana
Mahon, Alice
Mandelson, Peter
Marek, Dr John
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Martin, Michael J (Springburn)
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Michael
Meale, Alan
Michael, Alun
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Milburn, Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon Sir James
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Morgan, Rhodri
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wy'nshawe)
Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Mowlam, Marjorie
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
O'Brien, Mike (N W'kshire)
O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Pope, Greg
Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Prentice, Bridget (Lew'm E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, Dawn
Raynsford, Nick
Reid, Dr John
Rendel, David
Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rogers, Allan
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Ruddock, Joan
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Short, Clare
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Chris (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smyth, The Reverend Martin
Spearing, Nigel
Spellar, John
Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Steinberg, Gerry
Stott, Roger
Strang, Dr. Gavin
Straw, Jack
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Trimble, David
Turner, Dennis
Tyler, Paul
Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Wallace, James
Walley, Joan
Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Wareing, Robert N
Watson, Mike
Wicks, Malcolm
Wigley, Dafydd
Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Wilson, Brian
Wise, Audrey
Worthington, Tony
Wray, Jimmy
Wright, Dr Tony

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Eric Clarke and
Ms Ann Coffey.


Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey)
Alexander, Richard
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)
Allason, Rupert (Torbay)
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, James
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv)
Ashby, David
Atkins, Rt Hon Robert
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baker, Rt Hon Kenneth (Mole V)
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset)
Banks, Matthew (Southport)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)
Bates, Michael
Batiste, Spencer
Bendall, Vivian
Beresford, Sir Paul
Biffen, Rt Hon John
Body, Sir Richard
Booth, Hartley
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia
Bowden, Sir Andrew
Bowis, John
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes
Brandreth, Gyles
Brazier, Julian
Bright, Sir Graham
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Brown, M (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (South Dorset)
Budgen, Nicholas
Burns, Simon
Burt, Alistair
Butler, Peter
Butterfill, John
Carlisle, John (Luton North)
Carlisle, Sir Kenneth (Lincoln)
Carrington, Matthew
Carttiss, Michael
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
Churchill, Mr
Clappison, James
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Coe, Sebastian
Colvin, Michael
Congdon, David
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Couchman, James
Cran, James
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Davis, David (Boothferry)
Day, Stephen
Deva, Nirj Joseph
Devlin, Tim
Dicks, Terry
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Duncan-Smith, Iain
Dunn, Bob
Durant, Sir Anthony
Eggar, Rt Hon Tim
Elletson, Harold
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Evennett, David
Faber, David
Fabricant, Michael
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Fishburn, Dudley
Forman, Nigel
Forsyth, Rt Hon Michael (Stirling)
Forth, Eric
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Fox, Rt Hon Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Freeman, Rt Hon Roger
French, Douglas
Fry, Sir Peter
Gale, Roger
Gallie, Phil
Gardiner, Sir George
Garnier, Edward
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Cheryl
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gorst, Sir John
Grant, Sir A (SW Cambs)
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Grylls, Sir Michael
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archibald
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Hampson, Dr Keith
Hanley, Rt Hon Jeremy
Hannam, Sir John
Hargreaves, Andrew
Haselhurst, Sir Alan
Hawkins, Nick
Hawksley, Warren
Hayes, Jerry
Heald, Oliver
Heath, Rt Hon Sir Edward
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hendry, Charles
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence
Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)
Horam, John
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)
Hughes, Robert G (Harrow W)
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Hunter, Andrew
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Jack, Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Jessel, Toby
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Jones, Robert B (W Hertfdshr)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom
Kirkhope, Timothy
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)
Knight, Rt Hon Greg (Derby N)
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)
Kynoch, George (Kincardine)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman
Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Lawrence, Sir Ivan
Legg, Barry
Leigh, Edward
Lennox-Boyd, Sir Mark
Lester, Sir James (Broxtowe)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Lord, Michael
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
MacKay, Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Malone, Gerald
Mans, Keith
Marland, Paul
Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian
Merchant, Piers
Mills, Iain
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Mitchell, Sir David (NW Hants)
Moate, Sir Roger
Monro, Rt Hon Sir Hector
Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Needham, Rt Hon Richard
Nelson, Anthony
Neubert, Sir Michael
Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Nicholls, Patrick
Norris, Steve
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Oppenheim, Phillip
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Patnick, Sir Irvine
Patten, Rt Hon John
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Pawsey, James
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Pickles, Eric
Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Porter, David (Waveney)
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Powell, William (Corby)
Rathbone, Tim
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Richards, Rod
Riddick, Graham
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Robathan, Andrew
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Sackville, Tom
Sainsbury, Rt Hon Sir Timothy
Shaw, David (Dover)
Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Shepherd, Sir Colin (Hereford)
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Shersby, Sir Michael
Sims, Roger
Skeet, Sir Trevor
Soames, Nicholas
Speed, Sir Keith
Spencer, Sir Derek
Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Spicer, Sir Michael (S Worcs)
Spink, Dr Robert
Spring, Richard
Sproat, Iain
Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Stewart, Allan
Streeter, Gary
Sumberg, David
Sweeney, Walter
Sykes, John
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomason, Roy
Thompson, Sir Donald (Calder V)
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Thurnham, Peter
Townend, John (Bridlington)
Townsend, Cyril D (Bexl'yh'th)
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Twinn, Dr Ian
Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Viggers, Peter
Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Walden, George
Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Waller, Gary
Ward, John
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Waterson, Nigel
Watts, John
Wells, Bowen
Whitney, Ray
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Ann
Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Wolfson, Mark
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Derek Conway and
Mr. Roger Knapman

Question accordingly negatived.

19 Mar 1996 : Column 214

New clause 3

Decision in relation to vouchers

'--(1) Where a local education authority notifies the Secretary of State within such a period as he may specify in relation to a financial year, the provisions of sections 1 to 5 and of schedules 1 and 2 to this Act shall not apply in respect of any person providing nursery education within the area of that authority in respect of that year.
(2) No authority may notify the Secretary of State under subsection (1) above unless--
(a) it has consulted parents, such voluntary organisations as appear to it to be concerned, head teachers and teachers and providers of nursery education within its area;
(b) having regard to the results of such consultation it has resolved that the making of grants in respect of children within its area is likely to damage the overall amount and quality of nursery education within that area; and
(c) it has agreed an alternative scheme for the development or improvement of nursery education in its area which it considers will more effectively maintain and enhance the overall amount and quality of such education within its area; and
(d) it has approved a resolution which gives effect to the requirements of paragraphs (b) and (c) above, and which is in accordance with subsection (3) below.

19 Mar 1996 : Column 215

(3) No authority may agree a resolution of the type referred to in subsection (2)(d) above unless three quarters of the members of the authority voting in full council have approved it.'.--[Ms Estelle Morris.]
Brought up, and read the First time.

6.15 pm

Ms Estelle Morris (Birmingham, Yardley): I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

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