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Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham): I wish to speak because I was very disturbed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer's announcement earlier today. It makes it even more imperative that the Government take action on the over-regulation of the school sector and LEAs. I therefore welcome any initiative that will try to reduce the burden of circulars, advice notes, instructions and regulations that emanate from the Department for Education and Skills.

This has been a curious debate. The Government say that there is no problem, but all the head teachers to whom I and other Members speak confirm that there is a problem. The Government then say, "Trust us. Don't worry. We believe in deregulation too. It must not be overdone. We will get on with a little bit of deregulation, but not yet, not in this way, or in this clause, or this legislation."

I urge the Government to think again, because they have unleashed a dangerous set of ideas in the Chancellor's statement about how he wishes to get value for the larger sums of money that will be offered directly to schools and to LEAs. The regulations, the advice notes and codes of conduct will presumably be integral to that.

15 Jul 2002 : Column 87

We are told that those schools that do not perform or live up to the expectations expressed in the advice notes and the circulars may be subject to all kinds of torture coming from the centre. There may be direct intervention at the school level. For example, the Government may wish to remove a head teacher or change or influence the board of governors.

Alternatively, the Government may wish to override local democracy if they judge a whole local education authority to be inadequate or non-performing. They will then start a process that will usurp the local democratic process, with a view to trying to take over the management of the authority itself. By that route, they will have influence over a school. That is why we must be ever more critical of and sceptical about the many centralising directives, codes of conduct and advice that come from the Government. They will probably be used as a stick with which to beat schools and LEAs if the Government do not like the way they are developing—whether they are good, bad or indifferent.

David Wright (Telford): Does the right hon. Gentleman therefore seriously support failing schools?

Mr. Redwood: Of course I do not support failing schools. However, there are two ways in which they can be dealt with. First, in the world that I like—it is partially available to the Government, and the provisions for this could be strengthened—parents would have a real choice. They would be able to send their children to a better performing school and the poor performing school might then get the message and would have to take action to correct itself. Secondly, a democratically elected LEA would either take action or, through the ballot box, local people would make their preferences clear. They would throw out the council that presided over the failing school or schools and would produce an alternative.

I do not like a Government who centralise so much by directive, instruction and code of conduct and who set up methods by which they will use those codes of conduct to judge or prejudge the schools and LEAs, with the possibility that local democracy and democratic boards of governors would be overridden—even when the local community might think that the school was good but the Government, for one reason or another, decided that it was bad. I therefore urge the House, particularly in the light of today's chilling words from the Chancellor—he does not seem to like local democracy or democratic school governors—to be even more wary of a Government who will not reduce the number of centralising directives. They say that they wish to decentralise, but every action that they take centralises. They say that they trust teachers, LEAs and schools, but we heard from the Chancellor today that they do not trust any of them and wish to challenge and judge them by all sorts of methods. It is therefore vital that the House express the clear wish that there must be much less regulation and central control.

Mr. Miliband: This has been a notable debate. I am grateful for the many congratulations on my birthday. However, I look forward to the day when, rather congratulating me on my birthday, the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, West (Mr. Brady) will congratulate

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the Government on investing in our education system and on putting 24,000 more teachers into the system. I look forward to the day when he will say that he will defy his party, which is ready to cut the education budget. Until then, his professions of wholehearted support for the aims of improving standards in our schools will ring very hollow to all those Labour Members who have sat through the hour and a half of this debate. When he professes support for raising standards but offers no support for investment in information technology or for reforming the teaching profession, we will not believe him.

The debate ranged wide of the amendment and I want to pick up on two main points. We discussed at length the situation in the teaching profession. The latest figures suggest that 80-plus per cent. of newly qualified teachers are in the profession three years after entering it. So it is not true to suggest that over-regulation is causing a mass exodus. Hon. Members know that the Government are committed to the fundamental reform of the teaching profession. We want to reform the contact time that teachers have with children and to improve their productivity. We also want to improve the support of the teaching profession by expanding the classroom assistant scheme and by providing the learning mentors and learning support staff who do so much in our schools to support teachers. In addition, we want to improve school leadership so that teachers spend their time on teaching.

There is an issue about regulation; it is a matter on which all hon. Members should have some humility. Governments historically have not been good at limiting their tendency to over-regulate. I will not say that everything is fine. The hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Mr. Willis) put his finger on an important point. There is a tendency to believe that because an initiative is right for some schools, it needs to be advertised and sent to all schools. His comment was constructive and we will take on board the idea that, in our desire to ensure that no one is left out, we sometimes overburden those who want to get on with their work.

The debate was noteworthy. A couple of hon. Members were asked to name regulations they would cut. The House has welcomed the increased regulation on child welfare introduced by the Bill. We know that the literacy and numeracy strategies have been hugely successful in raising standards in primary schools. We also know that the key stage 3 strategy, which involves regulation, gives many teachers much needed support in the critical middle years of secondary schooling. It would be folly to retract those regulations.

Mr. Brady: The Minister says that we have been unable to name regulations that should be removed. Can he name three of the 4,770 regulations issued by the Government in the past year which, on reflection, might not be necessary?

Mr. Miliband: Let us understand how the Opposition reach that figure. A document that is sent to primary schools and to secondary schools is counted twice even though it is one document. So one document counts twice in the Opposition's new mathematics. We should not fall for the hon. Gentleman's fuzzy maths.

Adam Price (East Carmarthen and Dinefwr): The Government have seen fit to extend the scope of their amendment to the National Assembly for Wales. Did they

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seek the approval and consent of the Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning in the National Assembly? If so, was it given? There is an appetite in the National Assembly to move much further on the issue. Surely that is a matter for the National Assembly.

Mr. Miliband: The hon. Gentleman knows that Labour is committed to working closely with our partners in the devolved bodies, and I can reassure him that we consulted the relevant authorities in Wales.

The Government amendment is a serious step forward. I urge the House to welcome it.

Lords amendment disagreed to.

Amendment proposed: (a), in lieu of the Lords amendment.—[Mr. Miliband.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 307, Noes 154.

Division No. 308
[7.45 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Rt Hon Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Stuart
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blizzard, Bob
Borrow, David
Bradley, Rt Hon Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Rt Hon Nicholas
(Newcastle E & Wallsend)
Browne, Desmond
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burnham, Andy
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Field, Rt Hon Frank (Birkenhead)
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Francis, Dr Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hill, Keith
Hodge, Margaret
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, Rt Hon John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Irranca–Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Luke, Iain
Lyons, John
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marshall–Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Rt Hon Estelle
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, Rt Hon Dawn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, Rt Hon Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Rt Hon Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simon, Siôn
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Southworth, Helen
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watson, Tom
White, Brian
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Ayes:

Joan Ryan and
Mr. Jim Murphy.


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John
Barrett, John
Bellingham, Henry
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia
Brake, Tom
Brooke, Mrs Annette L
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burnside, David
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, John
Cameron, David
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clifton–Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Cran, James
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Duncan, Alan (Rutland & Melton)
Evans, Nigel
Field, Mark (Cities of London)
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Francois, Mark
Gale, Roger
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibb, Nick
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gray, James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr Evan (Oxford W)
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat–Amory, Rt Hon David
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mark
Holmes, Paul
Horam, John
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Key, Robert
Kirkwood, Archy
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell–Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Moore, Michael
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Pickles, Eric
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mark
Pugh, Dr John
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Simmonds, Mark
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spink, Bob
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Dr Richard (Wyre F)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thurso, John
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Webb, Steve
Whittingdale, John
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, David
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Younger–Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Desmond Swayne and
Mr. Julian Brazier.

Question accordingly agreed to.

15 Jul 2002 : Column 92

Amendment (a) in lieu of Lords amendment No. 14 agreed to.

Clause 32

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