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The point of the amendment is to forget the education ideology and acknowledge that there is a transport case and probably a social case for co-operation. It can do pupils from different schools no harm to be involved in a common transport scheme. The case will grow stronger as the Government increasingly fragment the secondary sector, giving local authorities less control over their secondary schools and creating academies. To be fair to the Government, the prospectus specifies that arrangements with independent schools are to be encouraged. However, that was not debated in Committee. I would therefore like to make the point, without pressing it to a vote, that, if there is no net cost to a local authority, the presumption for such cooperation must be strong.

Mr. Stephen Twigg : The hon. Gentleman wants to probe the intention for independent schools and academies. The intention of the amendment appears to be to achieve two things: first, to bring independent schools and academies into the scope of school travel
16 Dec 2004 : Column 1844
schemes and, secondly, to ensure that transport can be provided to those establishments at no net cost to the scheme authority—the LEA. I shall deal with the points in turn.

First, I want to assure hon. Members that independent schools and academies must already be included in school travel schemes. Paragraph 2(l)(a) of proposed new schedule 35B requires an authority to set out travel arrangements to and from schools. "Schools" is the term used. Section 4 of the Education Act 1996 defines schools as any institutions outside the further education and higher education sectors that provide primary and/or secondary education. The term therefore encompasses maintained and independent schools. Academies are classified for legal purposes as independent schools. Although they are independent, LEAs remain responsible for making travel arrangements for their pupils to ensure that they can get to school.

Many areas in England have a substantial proportion of pupils attending independent schools. The national average is 7 per cent, not including academies. If LEAs with a high level of independent education in their geographical area are to make a difference to the amount of traffic on the school run, constructive engagement with the independent sector is crucial, as the hon. Gentleman said.

3.15 pm

Paragraph 13 of the prospectus states that we expect LEAs to consider travel patterns of pupils in independent schools in their area and examine whether there is scope for making joint arrangements that benefit pupils in both sectors.

The amendment refers to cost and we believe that that would make a material change to the Bill. The amendment envisages that arrangements for pupils who attend independent schools, including academies, could be made only at no net cost to the scheme authority. I fear that such a provision could have some unfortunate—and, I am sure, unintended—consequences for academies and their pupils. As I have explained, LEAs remain responsible for providing transport for pupils who travel to and from academies and they must ensure that transport is provided when pupils live more than three miles away and the academy is their nearest school.

When an academy provides education for pupils who are drawn from a wide area, the cost per pupil can be high—£600 or more annually per pupil without special educational needs and considerably more for those who have special educational needs. Providing transport at no net cost to the scheme authority would probably require charges to be set at an unaffordable level. It would mean parents of pupils without SEN paying a substantial subsidy to cover the cost of transport for pupils with SEN. I am sure that parents and others would be unhappy with such an arrangement. I would anticipate that parents of pupils who attended academies would be so unhappy that the local consultation that scheme authorities undertake before the scheme started would show overwhelming opposition to such proposals. That, together with potential charges set at exceptionally high levels for pupils at academies, would mean that the scheme
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proposals that the amendment contains are unlikely to be acceptable to the Secretary of State or to many parents.

Dr. Pugh : I accept many of the Minister's points. Is he saying that the involvement in travel schemes of independent schools—Eton, Harrow and so on—is mandatory? He used the word "crucial", but is it mandatory? Could independent schools seriously object if they were not involved, or does the Minister suggest that it is simply a good option?

Mr. Twigg : It is mandatory. Independent schools are to be part of the school travel schemes for the reasons that I outlined. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman stated them when he moved the amendment.

The amendment also proposes that there should be no subsidy for independent schools. Although that is our general policy, I can envisage circumstances in which it might be sensible to offer surplus capacity to pupils in independent schools at a cost that the market would bear. That could be below full cost recovery, depending on the accounting conventions adopted. Of course, local transport authorities already offer a large subsidy to pupils who attend independent schools through the concessionary fares, such as the new concessions that will soon be introduced in London, that are available to all young travellers.

The Bill is deregulatory and our general approach is to allow LEAs as much freedom as possible to implement schemes in a way that suits local circumstances. The amendment would reduce that freedom and introduce some unhelpful constraints. I therefore ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw it.

Dr. Pugh : I thank the Minister for that clarification. We need to think through the implications of his comments. They are news to some hon. Members. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed: No. 12, in page 2, line 12, at end insert—

2A   (l)   Scheme authorities shall, prior to the submission of a proposed school travelscheme to the appropriate national authority, undertake a consultation process in accordance with regulations made by—

(a)   in England, the Secretary of State, and

(b)   in Wales, the Assembly for Wales.

(2)   Regulations under subparagraphs (l)(a) or (b) may, in particular, include a list of statutory consultees to be asked for comments on the proposed scheme and provide for the nature of the consultation process.

(3)   Power to make regulations under subparagraph (1) is exercisable by statutory instrument.

(4)   Regulations under subparagraph (l)(a) shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.—[Mr. Hoban.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 131, Noes 229.

16 Dec 2004 : Column 1846

Division No. 19
[3.19 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Ancram, rh Michael
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John (Billericay)
Barrett, John
Beggs, Roy (E Antrim)
Beith, rh A. J.
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Boswell, Tim
Brady, Graham
Brazier, Julian
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Cameron, David
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clarke, rh Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Collins, Tim
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Djanogly, Jonathan
Doughty, Sue
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Duncan Smith, rh Iain
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flight, Howard
Forth, rh Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gill, Parmjit Singh
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, rh John
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Harvey, Nick
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Holmes, Paul
Horam, John (Orpington)
Hume, John (Foyle)
Jack, rh Michael
Keetch, Paul
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, SirArchy
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, rh Oliver
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lilley, rh Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mackay, rh Andrew
McLoughlin, Patrick
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
May, rh Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Page, Richard
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Pugh, Dr. John
Redwood, rh John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Rosindell, Andrew
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Smith, Sir Robert (WAb'd'ns & Kincardine)
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Watkinson, Angela
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, David
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Ayes:

Andrew Selous and
Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown


Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Austin, John
Baird, Vera
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, rh Kevin
Beard, Nigel
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Borrow, David
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brennan, Kevin
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burnham, Andy
Byers, rh Stephen
Byrne, Liam (B'ham Hodge H)
Caborn, rh Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Casale, Roger
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Colman, Tony
Corbyn, Jeremy
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack (Copeland)
David, Wayne
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Brian H.
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gerrard, Neil
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Grogan, John
Hain, rh Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith (Streatham)
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Hood, Jimmy (Clydesdale)
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Hutton, rh John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jamieson, David
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Kelly, Ruth (Bolton W)
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane (Wavertree)
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Love, Andrew
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
McAvoy, rh Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McFall, rh John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
Mclsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, rh Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Morgan, Julie
Mountford, Kali
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan (Wansdyke)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prosser, Gwyn
Purnell, James
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salter, Martin
Sheridan, Jim
Short, rh Clare
Simon, Sion (B'ham Erdington)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, rh Jacqui (Redditch)
Soley, Clive
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Robert N.
Watson, Tom
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Iain (Hartlepool)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. John Heppell and
Mr. Nick Ainger

Question accordingly negatived.

16 Dec 2004 : Column 1848

Mr. Willis: I beg to move amendment No. 9, in page 2, line 28, at end insert—

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