Education Bill

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New clause 5

City colleges

    '(1) This section applies to a school which is known immediately before the coming into force of section 62 as a city technology college or city college for the technology of the arts.

    (2) If the proprietor of the school and the Secretary of State so agree—

    (a) the agreement made in relation to the school under section 482 of the Education Act 1996 (c.56) as it had effect at the time the agreement was made shall for all purposes be regarded as having been made under that section as substituted by section 62, and

    (b) accordingly, the school shall be known as an Academy.

    (3) Subject to subsection (2), the agreement made in relation to the school under section 482 of the Education Act 1996 (c.56) as it had effect at the time the agreement was made is not affected by anything in section 62.'.—[Mr. Timms.]

Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

The Chairman: New clause 2 is listed for debate, but it has been debated previously. You cannot debate it, but you can ask a question. If you wish to move it formally, I can put the question.

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Mr. Turner: No, sir.

Question proposed, That the Chairman do report the Bill, as amended, to the House.

Mr. Timms: I should like to make a few remarks before we formally report the Bill to the House. On behalf of the entire Committee, I wish to express our thanks to you, Mr. Griffiths, and to Mrs. Adams, whom we have not seen for a few weeks. Between you, you guided our deliberations with great skill, and we are grateful to you for bringing us successfully to this point in our deliberations.

I also thank the Clerks and all those who have worked with the Committee: the Hansard reporters, the police, the messengers and others. I wish to thank my officials, who have worked extremely hard over a long period—a good deal longer than we have—and who will continue to work on the Bill for some time to come. I thank my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Skills, who shared much of the load on the Front Bench with great skill, and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Wales, who ensured that the interests of Wales were promoted and safeguarded throughout our deliberations.

My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, East (Mr. Heppell), played an influential role off as well as on the record. The contributions of my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Vernon Coaker) have not been recorded in Hansard but have been none the less considerable. I also wish to thank all my other hon. Friends, whose contributions have been distinguished more by their quality than their quantity. I want to express my thanks to them for their forbearance.

I also thank Opposition Members. The hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, West contributed in a courteous and measured manner, which has helped the Committee, and only rarely gave vent to bouts of indignation. I also thank his colleagues on the Front Bench.

The hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Mr. Willis) made contributions characterised by vigour and commitment, which the Committee appreciated, and I am sure that the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Laws) will pass on those sentiments. We have also appreciated the well-informed and warm banter between the hon. Member for Isle of Wight and his good friends in the Liberal Democrat party. That has entertained us a great deal.

The Bill will raise standards, especially in secondary education. We shall realise our ambition for a modern and effective secondary system that commands the confidence of every community in the country. All Committee members will receive an invitation from the all-party group on children, chaired by my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster and Wyre (Mr. Dawson), who is organising a performance by children linked to NCH Action for Children to convey their views about secondary education. That will be on 7 February, and may be of interest to hon. Members. I thank Committee members for their interest and commitment, and I conclude by thanking you again, Mr. Pike, for steering us successfully to a conclusion.

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Mr. Brady: I know that the Minister will be reassured to learn that I remain indignant—I am just not showing it. We have concluded the Committee stage in a better manner than we began it. I am pleased that we were able, albeit at a late hour, to convey the importance of proper scrutiny. We are grateful that the Government acceded to a request for more time on Report, in recognition of those parts of the Bill that were not sufficiently scrutinised in Committee because of timetable constraints.

On behalf of myself, and my hon. Friends in Her Majesty's Opposition, I thank you, Mr. Pike, and your colleagues in the Chair who have assisted us. I thank the Clerks and the other staff of the House whose services have been invaluable and unfailing. I also thank officials who have been helpful in ensuring that Opposition Members receive answers to questions that Ministers cannot supply off the top of their heads. I particularly thank my hon. Friends, who have been unstinting in their service, and constant in their attendance. Today is a slight exception because one is unwell, and another is speaking in Westminster Hall shortly.

I also thank our friends, in this context, from the Liberal Democrats. We have found surprising amounts of common ground, which should give pause for thought to Ministers and make them a little worried. Despite our differences, on matters of substance regarding the Bill and on procedural matters, we have enjoyed good-natured debates. I am grateful to the Ministers, who have contributed to that, and their colleagues on the Government Benches. Finally, Mr. Pike, I renew my thanks to you for your courteous and helpful chairmanship.

Mr. David Laws (Yeovil): May I convey the apologies of my hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough for not attending the end of the proceedings. Unfortunately, he had to attend an important meeting in his constituency about the rail crisis, but a rail strike prevented him from getting there and he had to leave the Committee early. We have also enjoyed the proceedings and are grateful to the Ministers for the reasonable way in which they dealt with Liberal Democrat and Conservative Members' inquiries. We also thank you, Mr. Pike, and the other Chairmen of the Committee, and the officials and others who were involved in the proceedings. We enjoyed the opportunity to debate fundamental issues of principle, and less fundamental issues about schools at risk of falling into the sea and other matters, which were also important to consider.

We have learned several important lessons that we will pass on to those who focus on the targeting strategy of the Liberal Democrats at the next general election, and I am sure that the Isle of Wight will receive even closer attention than usual. I say that in the nicest possible way, and we look forward to further proceedings of the Bill.

The Chairman: Those comments are traditionally made at the end of a sitting and are almost out of order, although the Chairman never rules them out of order. I will pass them on to the other Chairmen of the Committee. This is the first time that I have chaired a Committee, and I have enjoyed it, although the first

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sitting was a little tiring. However, I warn the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Skills that if he keeps referring to Manchester City and its relationship to Burnley in future sittings, I might jump on him quickly. If Burnley does not reverse its table position by the end of the season, I hope that we will repeat 1946–47, the first year after the war, when City went up as champions from the second division and Burnley were runners-up.

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To conclude, when some hon. Members discussed history this afternoon, it reminded me that when I started school we learned in air raid shelters, so that what for some people were current affairs are now history.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

Committee rose at four minutes to Four o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Pike, Mr. Peter (Chairman)
Bailey, Mr.
Brady, Mr.
Coaker, Mr.
Francis, Dr.
Heppell, Mr.
Kumar, Dr.
Laing, Mrs.
Laws, Mr.
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Miliband, Mr.
Timms, Mr.
Touhig, Mr.
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Willis, Mr.

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Prepared 24 January 2002