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Standing Committee Debates
Education Bill

Education Bill

Column Number: 195

Standing Committee G

Tuesday 18 December 2001


Part I]

[Mr. Win Griffiths in the Chair]

Education Bill

4.30 pm

The Minister for School Standards (Mr. Stephen Timms): I beg to move,

    That the Order of the Committee [11th December] relating to programming as amended by the Order of the Committee [13th December] be amended as follows—

in paragraph (1) ''Thursdays at five minutes to Ten o'clock'' is omitted and ''Thursdays at half-past Nine o'clock'' is inserted; in paragraph (4) after ''time'' there is inserted ''or times''; in sub-paragraph (5) ''on any earlier sitting'' is omitted and ''at any earlier time'' is inserted; in the Table the entries for the 6th to 16th sittings are omitted and the following words inserted:

    Clauses 13 to 177 p.m.
    Clause 18, Schedule 1, Clauses 19 to 249.55 p.m.
    7thClauses 25 to 35, Schedule 2, Clauses 36 to 38, Schedule 31 p.m.
    8thClauses 39 to 437 p.m.
    9thClauses 44 to 48, Schedule 4, Clause 49, Clause 50 11.25 a.m.
    10thClauses 51 to 53, Schedule 5, Clauses 54 to 56, Schedule 6, Clauses 57 to 615 p.m.
    11thClauses 62 to 65, Schedule 7, Clause 66, Clause 67, Schedule 8, Clause 68, Schedule 9, Clauses 69 to 71, Schedule 101 p.m.
    12thClause 72, Clause 93, Clause 73, Clause 94, Clauses 74 to 76, Clauses 95 to 97, Clause 77, Clause 79, Clause 98, Clause 100, Clause 85, Clause 106, Clause 78, Clause 99, Clause 80, Clause 101, Clause 81, Clause 82, Clause 102, Clause 103, Clause 83, Clause 84, Clause 104, Clause 105, Clauses 86 to 91, Clauses 107 to 112, Clause 92, Clause 113, Clause 1147 p.m.
    13thClauses 115 to 126, Schedule 12, Clauses 127 to 131 11.25 a.m.
    14thClauses 132 to 144, Schedule 135 p.m.
    15thClauses 145 to 148, Schedule 14, Clauses 149 to 151, Schedule 15, Clause 1521 p.m.
    16th Clauses 153 to 1707 p.m.

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I welcome you to the Chair this afternoon, Mr. Griffiths. The resolution of the Programming Sub-Committee, which met after our deliberations this morning, has been circulated. It proposes that we reach clause 17 by 7 pm and clause 24 by 9.55 pm and then makes further changes to reflect that proposal. We have responded to the concern that has been expressed repeatedly that more time is needed for the early part of the Bill. I urge the Committee to support the motion.

    Mr. Graham Brady╠ (Altrincham and Sale, West): I beg to move, as an amendment to the motion, after ''Clauses 13 to 17'' leave out ''7 p.m.''.

I do not propose to detain the Committee for long but merely wish to put on the record that, although the Opposition hope that we can complete our discussion up to clause 24 by 9.55 this evening, we believe that the inclusion of a guillotine at clause 17 at 7 o'clock is a needless and unhelpful constraint on the flexibility of our discussion. We support the rest of the motion.

Mr. Timms: At the hon. Gentleman's instigation we discussed that point at the meeting of the Programming Sub-Committee this morning. There are many amendments to clauses 18 to 24—significantly more than to clauses 13 to 17. I hope that the Committee will agree to leave in the 7 o'clock guillotine to ensure that, as well as having ample discussion on clauses 13 to 17, we have the opportunity to pay adequate attention to clauses 18 to 24. The 7 o'clock guillotine allows an adequate balance of discussion between those two important parts of the Bill.

Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell): The Opposition are expressing concern about the guillotine because we believe that a sophisticated and substantial piece of legislation is being rushed through Committee far too quickly. We fear that artificial guillotines will prevent discussion of important measures such as clause 12(1)(b), for example, which permits the Government to invest in companies without Parliament's sanction. It is extraordinary that that clause has not been discussed by the Committee.

Mr. Timms: The 7 o'clock guillotine allows us to pay adequate attention to clause 18. If we take it out, we might have lengthy discussions about earlier and less important matters and thereby neglect clause 18. We are anxious that members of the Committee should have adequate time to debate it. My proposal will have the opposite effect to what the hon. Gentleman fears.

Mr. Phil Willis (Harrogate and Knaresborough): On a point of order, Mr. Griffiths. If the Committee reaches clause 17 early, may we go on to clause 18 or must we stop at that point?

The Chairman: We may carry on to clause 18.

Mr. John Heppell (Nottingham, East): I did not intend to say anything at this stage because hon. Members want to get on with discussing the Bill. However, it is worth putting on the record that under the original programme motion we were due to finish

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clause 17 after the third sitting. We did not achieve that despite the fact that we effectively added two extra sittings. We offered extra time on another evening, which the Opposition did not take up. Our intention was to finish clause 43 by 10 pm today. We have pushed that back to clause 24. We have made enormous concessions to the Opposition to try to ensure that they have adequate time.

The Opposition have a responsibility in Committee to allocate their time to the things that they think require most discussion. At the Programming Sub-Committee, the Opposition Front Bench spokesman pointed out that the two important clauses were clause 13 and 18. By heaven and knife at 7 pm we will ensure, not only that we have time for adequate discussion of clause 13, but that we will start our evening sitting with clause 18. There are 32 amendments to be dealt with after 7 pm and only 16 before then. We would end up with a problem similar to what we have had in the past if we agreed to the proposed amendment.

Mr. Brady: I am bemused to hear the Government Whip defend what the Government are trying to do by saying that it is the Opposition's responsibility to manage their time effectively in Committee. That is precisely what I propose. He is seeking to restrict our freedom to exercise responsible judgment as to when we debate which clauses. He is trying to insert a knife into the proceedings to prevent us from exercising our responsibility in that way. The Minister is anxious that we have adequate time to debate clause 18, schedule 1 and clauses 19 to 24. I am happy to make a magnanimous gesture. If he wishes to extend the timetable for consideration of that on to our seventh sitting, the Opposition will accede to that. In the meantime, I am firmly of the view that we should not have the guillotine at 7 o'clock this evening.

Mr. Stephen O'Brien (Eddisbury): The Government Whip has said that the Opposition have a responsibility to ensure that the Government are held accountable for their proposed legislation. While we discuss the programme motion, it is worth placing on the record that nothing could go further to divide us and ensure a less constructive approach. Opposition Members have tried to examine in detail those areas where there is either a need for clarity and exposition or at least some probing discussion. It is tendentious for the Government Whip to suggest that we have not carried out our responsibilities.

The Committee should heed my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale, West (Mr. Brady) who made a perfectly fair and valid point that the knife falling at 7 pm carries more risk of us not reaching the clauses that need to be discussed. If it is of any assistance to the Committee, the Opposition remain open to suggestions about not considering the Bill in the order that is on the timetable. There are a number of clauses to which amendments are not so profuse, and, while there may be some problems, most hon.

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Members would be prepared to skip a couple of clauses to ensure that we reached the necessary parts. We could return to other less contentious clauses later.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 6, Noes 10.

Division No. 15]

Brady, Mr. Graham
Grayling, Chris
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Willis, Mr. Phil

Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Flint, Carolie
Heppell, Mr. John
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Miliband, Mr. David
Purnell, James
Timms, Mr. Stephen
Touhig, Mr. Andrew

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put and agreed to.

The Chairman: I remind the Committee that the revised list of amendments, showing the new programme motion, is available in the Committee Room.

Clause 13

Power of Secretary of State and National Assembly for Wales to give financial assistance for purposes related to education or childcare

Mr. Willis: I beg to move amendment No. 211, in page 9, line 10, at beginning insert

    'Subject to section (1A) below'.

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 139, in page 9, line 11, leave out

    'give, or make arrangements for the giving of, financial',

and insert

    'by order make a scheme or schemes for the provision of financial'.

No. 170, in page 9, line 13, at end insert—

    '(1A) Any arrangement under this section which applies in England will be subject to approval by order under the affirmative resolution procedure.'.

No. 212, in page 9, line 13, at end insert—

    '(1A) Before exercising any power under subsection (1) above, the Secretary of State as regards England shall issue a statement setting out the proposed financial assistance, and lay a copy before each House of Parliament.

    (1B) If, within a 40-day period, either House resolves not to approve the proposed financial assistance, the Secretary of State shall take no further steps in relation to the proposed financial assistance.

    (1C) If no such resolution is made within the 40-day period, the Secretary of State may make arrangements for giving the proposed financial assistance.'.

No. 140, in page 9, line 29, at end insert—

    '(j) A scheme made under subsection (1) shall set out criteria for eligibility to apply for financial assistance, the means by which applications shall be made, and the criteria against which allocations of assistance will be made.'.

No. 174, in clause 15, page 10, line 15, leave out from 'as' to end of line 17 and insert

Column Number: 199

    'shall be specified in an order under section 13(1)'.

No. 237, in clause 13, page 9, line 21, at end insert

    'subject to such financial controls as may be approved by affirmative resolution.'.


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Prepared 18 December 2001