Select Committee on Public Administration Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the Department for Education and Employment

As requested by the Select Committee on Public Administration, I attach a Schedule (Annex A) setting out statutory obligations on the Secretary of State for Education and Employment to consult with the public (or provisions to a similar effect).

  I should say that in most cases where the Secretary of State is statutorily required to consult, the obligation is to consult local education authorities and the governing bodies of schools. The provision in question sometimes then goes on to say that the Secretary of State must also consult such other persons as he considers appropriate and it is these provisions that I have set out in the Schedule.

  There is never a statutory obligation as such to consult the public at large but the Secretary of State frequently undertakes wide ranging consultation exercises even if he is not statutorily obliged to do so. This will often be the case in relation to regulations which he is proposing to make. A member of the public can obtain a copy of the consultation document and comment on the proposals if he so wishes.

  There are also various statutory provisions which, although they do not place a statutory obligation on the Secretary of State to consult the public, have the effect of ensuring that the public, or those sections of it that have a particular interest, can have a say. For example regulations under section 105(1) of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 provide for parents to be able to petition for a ballot to be held to decide whether a grammar school should retain selective admission arrangements.

Michael Bichard

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