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Mr. Collins: Will the Minister therefore address himself to the issue originally raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. Fallon) and subsequently by me? Will he accept an amendment in Committee requiring the Treasury not to take into account charging in any allocation of grant to local authorities?

Mr. Jamieson: I thought that that matter was covered admirably by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of
28 Oct 2004 : Column 1660
State, who gave a categorical assurance. But if the hon. Gentleman wants to table an amendment and test the Bill in Committee, he can do so. The scheme is voluntary for LEAs, and there will be no cuts to their budgets on the basis of their participating in it.

Mr. Collins: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Jamieson: Not at the moment as I want to complete my remarks on the hon. Gentleman's contribution. He said that there is no cross-party agreement in the House on this Bill. That may be right, but I have to tell him that there is considerable cross-party agreement outside it. He will doubtless have read with great care, as I have, the proceedings of the Select Committees that examined this issue, both of which I appeared before. When Councillor Raymond Wilkinson, from Cambridgeshire—as I understand it, he is a member of the hon. Gentleman's own party—was asked on 12 May whether he would participate in the scheme, he said:

So although there might be no cross-party consensus in this House, there certainly is in local government. We expect the Liberal Democrats to say one thing here and another on the doorstep, but now the Tories are doing precisely the same.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Roger Casale) made a considered speech that dealt in particular with children with special educational needs, the safety of their transport and concerns about checks made on drivers. According to the current instructions given out by the Department for Education and Skills, all drivers of such vehicles should be properly checked. If his authority is not doing so, he should raise the matter with that Department, and perhaps with mine as well. Ofsted will inspect education authorities fairly regularly in this regard, as it is an issue that it takes into account in such inspections. Indeed, my hon. Friend might want to look at the last inspection to see whether his authority is complying with the regulations.

There is also a problem with taxis, particularly in London. The right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire introduced a very good Bill on this issue, but a loophole has been found in respect of certain taxi providers. Those providing limited services for education or social services needs, for example, are slipping through the net. The road safety Bill that we hope to introduce in the next Session will, I trust, address some of these issues.

The hon. Member for Southport (Dr. Pugh) began by saying that this is a dangerous Bill, but his own councillors out in the country do not agree with him. He ought to tell them that in his opinion we are doing something very dangerous, because they certainly do not seem to agree. Of course, the important point that he did not address is that children who live just under the 2-mile or 3-mile limit currently get no help whatever. The Bill offers the opportunity for such assistance to be provided. Local authorities could also help children to whom there is no statutory obligation to provide assistance. I am thinking of children from faith schools for whom there is a nearer, suitable school. What the hon. Gentleman proposed today provides no particular
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flexibility whatever. The other group, of course, is children who have special educational needs, but do not have a statement. There is currently no statutory obligation to assist those children, but the Bill provides an opportunity for that to happen.

Dr. Pugh: The Bill provides an opportunity, as the Minister says, but does it provide a statutory obligation?

Mr. Jamieson: It is better than what obtains now, because a local authority will be able to take action to deal with that problem. Currently, some 20 per cent. of authorities do not deal with it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) made a good speech, calling on us to be bolder. He spoke with very good sense, as he always does, and he pointed out to the House what was confirmed by the subsequent contributions of Opposition Members—that there were no ideas emerging from the Opposition Benches. My hon. Friend and others made the point that the Bill will provide opportunities for children to do more out-of-school activities and for schools to have a longer school day. Particularly in rural areas where children have to travel longer distances, it provides extra opportunities to assist those beneficial activities.

The right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire, described as the Cliff Richard of the Opposition Benches, made a consensual speech that had much good sense in it. He talked about the flexibility of the voluntary approach in the Bill. We welcome his comments. After he spoke, we noticed a dash round to find one or two Conservative Back Benchers who would speak against the Bill. They succeeded in the end.

Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley) (Con): We have already had that bit.

Mr. Jamieson: Well, we are having it again for the benefit of the several hon. Members who have joined us.

We have taken a number of steps to encourage walking and cycling. In June, my Department published a walking-cycling action plan, which set out 42 practical actions that can be taken to increase levels of cycling and walking, and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will note that that should help to improve the position. He spoke about seat-belts, but I am glad to say that there have been very few crashes involving school buses. When LEAs frame their contracts, they have the ability to build that particular safeguard into them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stafford also made a considered contribution to the debate. He highlighted issues such as pollution in schools, road safety and congestion, and the Bill provides an opportunity for us to deal with them. He also made the very important point that, under current legislation, 90 per cent. of children get no help whatever with their journey to school. The Bill will also address that problem and it should particularly help children on shorter journeys in rural areas.

The hon. Member for Caernarfon (Hywel Williams) made a good contribution to the debate, raising important issues connected with Wales. The Bill will help with problems surrounding Welsh language schools. Currently, there is no obligation with respect to Welsh language purposes if a suitable and nearer school is available.
28 Oct 2004 : Column 1662

We have had a good debate. The hon. Member for Christchurch talked about the loyal and gullible Government Back Benchers who spoke in favour of the Bill. Well, I can tell him that there are many loyal and gullible councillors in his party out in the country who support the Bill. It is a good Bill. It will help to get children out of the car and get them walking, cycling or using the bus. I commend this good Bill to the House.

Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 248, Noes 130.

Division No. 293
[5:34 pm


Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, rh Kevin
Beard, Nigel
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blears, Ms Hazel
Boateng, rh Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Wallsend)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burnham, Andy
Byers, rh Stephen
Byrne, Liam (B'ham Hodge H)
Cairns, David
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Connarty, Michael
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Darling, rh Alistair
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Brian H.
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hain, rh Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Hesford, Stephen
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Hood, Jimmy (Clydesdale)
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, rh Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Kemp, Fraser
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McFall, rh John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Mole, Chris
Morgan, Julie
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, rh Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan (Wansdyke)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Rooney, Terry
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheridan, Jim
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Robert N.
Watson, Tom
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woolas, Phil
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Nick Ainger and
Mr. John Heppell


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John (Billericay)
Beith, rh A. J.
Bellingham, Henry
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Brazier, Julian
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burns, Simon
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Cameron, David
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies (NE Fife)
Carmichael, Alistair
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cran, James (Beverley)
Curry, rh David
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flight, Howard
Forth, rh Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Francois, Mark
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Holmes, Paul
Horam, John (Orpington)
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, rh Oliver
Lidington, David
Lilley, rh Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
Mackay, rh Andrew
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Maude, rh Francis
Mercer, Patrick
Moore, Michael
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, James
Pickles, Eric
Portillo, rh Michael
Pugh, Dr. John
Redwood, rh John
Rendel, David
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Dame Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shepherd, Richard
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thurso, John
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, John
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. John Randall and
Mr. Hugo Swire

Question accordingly agreed to.

28 Oct 2004 : Column 1664

28 Oct 2004 : Column 1665


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Orders [28 June 2001 and 6 November 2003],

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