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In defence of that position, the Minister said that voluntary controlled schools are not dominated by the faith interest of the foundation because it does not have a majority of governors. However, as he knows, governors form coalitions. There will be a significant minority of governors from the faith interest, designed to ensure that the instructions of the diocese or its equivalent are followed, and a number of parent governors who are likely—especially if the school draws from one religious population—to be of that
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religion. In addition, there are teacher governors. Soit will not be a surprise if there is a majority of governors, albeit in a school that is 100 per cent. funded by the state in capital and running costs, who decide to use the permissive power that they have been given and which they have asked for.

Dr. Pugh: Is it my hon. Friend’s position that when a person applies for any job in a denominational school, at no point can their denomination be a consideration? Does he accept that a consequence of that could bea denominational school with nobody from that denomination teaching in it?

3.30 pm

Dr. Harris: Yes. That is the position that we on the Liberal Democrat Benches voted for previously, because we do not believe that teaching in a state school is an occasion for proselytisation, and that as long as teachers are able to uphold the ethos of the school, they should not be required to attend a specific church on a Sunday. They merely have to uphold the ethos of the school. They do not require a faith test, and their private lawful conduct, for example, with regard to their sexual orientation, should not be permitted to be a factor in their employment prospects, whether for promotion, appointment or dismissal.

Dr. Pugh: So the ethos of a Catholic school could therefore, in my hon. Friend’s opinion, be sustained entirely by a non-Catholic staff? That is what he is saying.

Dr. Harris: Yes, that is correct. Otherwise, on what basis would one oppose discrimination? Obviously, the Catholic faith may argue that every single teacher and member of staff in its schools must be Catholic in order to uphold the ethos. I would argue that an ethos is an ethos and is not dependent on the religious views of individuals in that state school. The job of the school is to teach. There is already difficulty, as we have heard, in finding enough people of the correct faith to appoint to specific schools, particularly head teachers. My hon. Friend will have to defend a situation which is the logical consequence of what he says, in which every teacher must undergo a faith test if the ethos is to be fully upheld.

Mr. Purchase: Does the hon. Gentleman understand that the Government’s position is that religious education should be taught across a broad curriculum by a professional teacher with an understanding of the various religions? It does not call at any point for a teacher of a particular religion to be employed to do that job. That is the Government’s position.

Dr. Harris: Quite so, and community schools that are not faith schools have an ethos that is not religious. I would not call for them, and they do not seek, to apply a non-religious test to the teachers applying to work in those schools to ensure that they uphold a non-religious ethos. What sort of society are we becoming when teachers in state schools are required to be of a faith, or not be of a certain faith, in order to teach? Those who wish to teach religious education in a Catholic school may well be Catholic. That may be why
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they have gone into it, and there may be a wide pool of such applicants. That is fair enough, but when the state is employing people, it is no one’s business to ask the religious belief of the people concerned.

The Minister said that head teachers can already be subject to a faith test by virtue of section 60(4) of the 1998 Act. I put it to him that section 60(4) is not a faith test. It states:

referring to a case where the head teacher is not to be a reserve teacher, which is the status quo—

I hope that the Minister will accept that that is not the sort of faith test that is being introduced by making that person a reserve teacher. Instead, the new faith test is a version of

in section 60(5) of the 1998 Act. There is no mention of ethos in that faith test. It is a faith test, not a test of ability to uphold the ethos. I hope the Minister will accept that that is the case.

On the question of consultation, the National Association of Head Teachers and the National Union of Teachers are the two unions which almost exclusively represent head teachers, and the NUT is a major representative of potential head teachers. When the matter was debated in the Lords, the Government gave the impression that the trade unions principally concerned had been consulted. In response to Lord Avebury’s suggestion that they knew nothing about the proposals until the last moment, Lord Adonis, a decent man whom I like, said:

He claimed that they were “thoroughly consulted”. The NUT, however, says that it was not consulted. Its letter to the Secretary of State, which has been distributed to Members, states:

It goes on to complain further about the Minister’s representations in the House of Lords as to whatever discussions took place. It continues in very strong terms:

I do not mean to echo criticism of the Government per se. However, does the Minister accept that consulting after the statute has been passed is not the appropriate way to consult, that it is not in line with the Cabinet Office guide on consultation, and that ideally it should have been brought in separately rather than as it was? Unison and the GMB have given us press
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releases in support of the support staff involved. Will the Minister confirm that while those unions may welcome the measures in terms of any post facto consultation on the detail of transitional arrangements, they remain opposed in principle to their introduction?

This is a question of principle about whether the existing discrimination provisions should be extended and whether the career prospects of non-religious teachers and support staff, or teachers or support staff of a different religion, should be curtailed in this way. The Minister said that in respect of non-teaching support staff, the measure will apply to teachers in a pastoral role. I suggest that that is exactly the sort of role where an obvious religious leaning might not be helpful. I do not know how many pupils come to their teachers with religious crises, but I know that a large number do so with crises regarding their personal lives and health, particularly their sexual health. It wouldbe entirely possible for a faith school to have a non-religious figure doing that job who can refer pupils who turn up with a religious crisis to the appropriate faith-based person in the school.

The proposals are ill thought out, wrong in principle and rushed through, and I will therefore seek to test the opinion of the House.

Jim Knight: I think that I have responded to all the points that have been made. I urge the House to support Lords amendment No. 29.

Question put, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 325, Noes 28.
Division No. 338]
[3.38 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Afriyie, Adam
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Amess, Mr. David
Anderson, Mr. David
Atkins, Charlotte
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Baldry, Tony
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burnham, Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clark, Greg
Clark, Ms Katy
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Conway, Derek
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice and Howden)
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Alan
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Evennett, Mr. David
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Field, Mr. Mark
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Mr. Christopher
Gapes, Mike
Gauke, Mr. David
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Griffith, Nia
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Hanson, Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harper, Mr. Mark
Hayes, Mr. John
Healey, John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Hood, Mr. Jimmy
Hope, Phil
Horam, Mr. John
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, Jim
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Lepper, David
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Linton, Martin
Love, Mr. Andrew
Luff, Peter
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Main, Anne
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim

McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pearson, Ian
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr. John
Purnell, James
Rammell, Bill
Randall, Mr. John
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rogerson, Mr. Dan
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruddock, Joan
Ruffley, Mr. David
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simmonds, Mark
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, rh Jacqui
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Tami, Mark
Taylor, David
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Ussher, Kitty
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Vaz, rh Keith
Viggers, Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Walter, Mr. Robert
Waltho, Lynda
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Frank Roy and
Jonathan Shaw

Alexander, Danny
Brake, Tom
Brooke, Annette
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Challen, Colin
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clegg, Mr. Nick

Corbyn, Jeremy
Etherington, Bill
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Goldsworthy, Julia
Holmes, Paul
Horwood, Martin
Hunter, Mark
Jackson, Glenda
Jones, Lynne
Mulholland, Greg
Russell, Bob
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Stunell, Andrew
Swinson, Jo
Teather, Sarah
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Ken Purchase and
Dr. Evan Harris
Question accordingly agreed to.
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Clause 19

Publication of proposals for alteration of school

Lords amendment: No. 6.

Jim Knight: I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Madam Deputy Speaker: With this it will be convenient to take Lords amendments Nos. 7 to 23, 24, amendment (a) thereto, 25 to 28, 48 to 52 and 85to 217.

Jim Knight: The majority of the Lords amendments in the group are technical, and I will spare the House the pain of considering them in detail. Instead, I shall briefly set out the thrust of the main amendments.

Lords amendments Nos. 11, 13, 17, 89 and 90 protect foundations. For schools that already have a foundation, it is right that the trustees should be asked to give their consent to proposals that might have an impact on them. Lords amendments Nos. 18 to 24 ensure that governing bodies have a full picture of the implications of removing a foundation for assets. Lords amendments Nos. 25 to 28 permit parents to invite people other than parents of current pupils to the parent council.

Dr. Roberta Blackman-Woods (City of Durham) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that parent councils are important, that parents’ voices must be heard, and that parents must be able to ensure that they have additional support on parent councils, if they think it necessary?

Jim Knight: As ever, my hon. Friend makes an intelligent point, and she speaks admirably for parents in her constituency. She is right that there are circumstances in which parent councils may need further advice, perhaps from parents whose children recently attended the school—that scenario would be allowed under the amendment.

Lords amendments Nos. 48 to 52 extend the list of persons whom the Secretary of State is required to consult before appointing additional governors, so that it includes the local authority, the school’s governing body and, when appropriate, the foundation. Lords amendments Nos. 96 to 217, which apply to schedule 4, further extend and clarify the protection of both public and private investment in school land. They simplify some of the provisions for the disposal of publicly
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funded, non-playing-field school land, as well as the schools adjudicator’s powers to determine the cases put to him.

Annette Brooke: If a foundation school engages in a private finance initiative contract, but its foundation is subsequently dissolved and it returns to being a community school, who would pick up responsibility for the PFI contract?

Jim Knight: We are very clear about the fact that contractual agreements relating to PFI would transfer with different arrangements in respect of schools. We have to be very cautious about that scenario. We issued guidance on the renegotiation of PFI in certain circumstances relatively recently— I think that it was to do with school food—but, as far as I am aware, PFI obligations would transfer to a community school. If I receive further advice, I will update the hon. Lady.

The updating has proceeded smoothly, and I can now clarify the position. PFI contracts are always with the local authority, so if a contract reverts to a community school, it will remain with the authority.

I believe that in amendment (a) to Lords amendment No. 24 the hon. Member for Brent, East (Sarah Teather) might be trying to revisit the question of whether foundations should be able, when the governing body wishes it, to appoint a majority of the governors. That question is fundamental to the whole policy of trust schools as set out in the schools White Paper, and we believe that it has been debated pretty thoroughly during the Bill’s passage through both Houses.

The amendments would simply create bureaucratic burdens for voluntary controlled schools wishing to become foundation schools, when their existing arrangements with their foundations currently work perfectly well. Amendment (a) would extend the application of clause 32, which sets out what is required of new trusts—for example, that they are incorporated charities of a particular description. It would apply those requirements to voluntary controlled schools—schools with foundations with which they are working well—that changed category to foundation, even when they did not wish the foundation to appoint a majority of the governors. We do not think that it is necessary or desirable to disrupt arrangements that are working, and I hope that the hon. Lady will not press her amendment.

Mr. Gibb: We are dealing with a range of amendments relating to school organisations. Lords amendments Nos. 6 to 10 and 12 relate to local authorities’ power to propose alterations to schools. In particular, they allow authorities to increase the number of pupils admitted. They also clarify authorities’ powers with respect to foundation special schools. Conservative Members welcome these proposals. It would be odd if a local authority could order a school to enlarge its premises but could not order it to admit additional pupils.

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