The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Bridget Prentice): My right hon. and and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) has made the following written statement in the other place today:
"On 15 December 2004, I informed the House that the Government welcomed Sir David Clementi's report on the regulation of legal services in England and Wales and broadly accepted his main recommendations.
Today I am pleased to be placing in the Libraries of both Houses a White Paper setting out the Government's proposals for the regulatory reform of legal services in England and Wales. Our proposals are consumer focussed and are the result of discussion with key stakeholders, and in particular consumer groups. I am especially grateful to representatives of Citizens Advice, the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Federation of Small Businesses, the National Consumer Council, and Which? who comprise the Consumer Advisory Panel which I established in March to advise the Department in developing our proposals for reform.
The Government are committed to putting in place a regulatory framework that puts the interests of the consumer first. A framework that will encourage more competition, innovation and transparency in the provision of legal services, but also one which will safeguard the independence and reputation of the legal professions.
The White Paper sets out the detail of our proposals. These include a Legal Services Board, an Office for Legal Complaints and the facilitation of alternative business structures for the delivery of legal services. It also provides for all partners in the regulatory framework to have statutory objectives and principles.
We will remove the existing 'maze' of oversight regulators by establishing a single, independent and powerful oversight regulator, the Legal Services Board. The Board will authorise new Front Line Regulators provided they meet its regulatory standards, including a requirement for the separation of their regulatory and representative functions.
The Legal Services Board will be required to establish and maintain a Consumer Panel to ensure that consumers' views are heard. Appointments to the Panel will be on merit, and in accordance with the rules of the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
We will also build consumer confidence in the handling of complaints about lawyers by creating a new and independent Office for Legal Complaints. This Office will provide a single point of entry for all consumer complaints. It will be chaired by a non-lawyer, with non-lawyers in the majority. The Office will provide quick and fair redress to consumers in all circumstances. It will be independent in the handling of complaints and will ensure a consistency of approach. The Office will also refer any potential issues of misconduct to the front line regulator concerned for disciplinary action, monitoring the decisions made.
The Government also propose the facilitation of alternative business structures that may be used to deliver legal and certain other services. These new structures will enable different kinds of lawyers, and lawyers and non-lawyers, to work together on an equal footing. They will permit external investment. Through access to low cost capital and new skills these reforms will foster greater competition and innovation and enable providers better to respond to the demands of consumers. In this new environment consumer protection will be paramount and our proposals provide a range of important safeguards that will ensure the interests of the consumer are properly protected.
This White Paper confirms the Government's intention to put consumers at the heart of the delivery of legal services. In the months to come we will continue to work closely with consumers, the legal professions and other stakeholders to ensure that this becomes a reality".
It is this Government's central aim in education to promote excellence and equality. Providing more personalised support to children and young people, giving them strength in the basics in literacy and numeracy, stretching their aspirations, and focusing on their individual strengths, weaknesses and interests, is the key to delivering this.
The school reforms that this Government have introduced since 1997 have achieved much, and this summer's test and exam results by pupils aged 11,14 and 16 were the highest ever. But we remain ambitious to go much further, and in particular to close the persistent gaps in attainment between children of different ethnic groups and social classes.
I am therefore announcing today that we intend to target £335 million, by 200708, specifically earmarked within the new Dedicated Schools Grant, to improve the personalisation of learning for all students in Key Stage 3.
With this resource, I expect all secondary schools to provide to pupils who need it, comprehensive and intensive catch up support in literacy and numeracy, embracing, where appropriate, one-to-one and small group tuition. Mastery of English and mathematics is the necessary foundation for all children and young people to succeed in school and beyond, and must be the first priority of everyone in the education system. Through the Government's Secondary National Strategy we will continue to offer guidance, teaching and learning materials of high quality and expert consultancy support to enable schools to take advantage of the new resources available.
The great majority of children, of course, have not fallen behind: they too deserve a personalised education. I also expect this investment to improve the support for gifted and talented pupils; and, also, through the development of extended services, to help to provide access to extra support or tuition in subject areas and other activities where children and young people have a particular interest or aptitude.
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It must be for teachers and parents to decide together what will best meet a particular child's needs and potential. But, through School Improvement Partners and the new OFSTED inspection regime, every secondary school will be expected to demonstrate that it is planning and delivering intensive catch up support where it is needed; and tailored teaching and learning for every child.
In recognition of the importance of personalisation for those children from deprived backgrounds, within the overall school funding settlement we will target this investment particularly towards Local Authorities with the largest numbers of deprived children, and will expect Local Authorities to ensure that they focus it, in particular, towards their most deprived schools and those facing the greatest challenges. I will announce further details of this funding later this autumn, as part of the wider schools funding announcement for 200608.
For those schools with the highest numbers of pupils who have fallen behind, I willin addition to the Dedicated Schools Grant funding outlined aboveinvest a further £60 million of DfES grant funding to be shared across the primary and secondary sectors in each of 200607 and 200708. This will allow schools facing the most acute challenges to ensure, through the support and guidance of the Primary and Secondary National Strategies, that they have the right workforce, trained and qualified to provide more effective one-to-one or small group tuition for all their lowest attaining pupils.
Although my announcement today is focused in particular on Key Stage 3 children, I expect all schoolsprimary and secondaryto increasingly personalise teaching and learning. I will also press forward with reforms to support groups who need the most support: children who have special educational needs; looked after children; and children from some black and minority ethnic backgrounds whose educational attainment is below national averages.
While one-to-one and small group tuition are crucial elements in our vision for truly personalised education, they must be a supplement tonot a substitute forhigh quality whole class teaching and learning. We must ensure that whole class teaching consistently meets the needs of all children within the class. This is the absolute core of providing every child and young person with a tailored education. The guidance and training opportunities I have outlined above will support teachers in all schools to provide excellent, interactive lessons which will capture the imagination of every child in the class.
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