Education Bill

[back to previous text]

Mr. Willis: I agree with the hon. Gentleman. These are important amendments. I will try to fill the two minutes that we have left, as I get on the elephant and push it uphill. I have a problem with the second part of amendment No. 67, which says:

    ''with such organisations or bodies as he considers appropriate''.

Unless one specifies those bodies, the Secretary of State could say that she would not involve the teacher unions about pay and conditions for teaching staff. The Conservative Government bypassed the teacher unions with the schoolteachers' pay review body, which took away negotiating rights from the teacher unions. That might be the case with that part of the amendment.

The hon. Gentleman raised a crucial issue. The Minister has been growing impatient with us. We have been waiting until we got to this clause for him to tell us how the Secretary of State will outline the criteria for earned autonomy. Every school in the land that is following the debate with avid interest wants to know what earned autonomy means. One of the most insulting things that the Government have done is to tell the vast majority of our heads, governors and schools, after all that they have done to improve standards and to work hard to meet the Government's initiatives over the past four years—

7 pm

Sitting suspended.

[Continued in column 77]

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