Education and Inspections Bill


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Phil Hope: The chief inspector already has qualified privilege from the law of defamation in making some reports. A number of other inspectorates also enjoy that same protection. Subsections (1) and (2) extend that protection to all reports that the chief inspector makes. Through the amendments, the Government wish to provide that the protection applies to any report made by the chief inspector, under any enactment, whether it is made under existing legislation, under provisions in this Bill or through any future inspection powers placed upon him or her.
Amendments Nos. 463 to 465 seek to achieve that by replacing the “fill in the gaps” approach of the clause as drafted. Amendments Nos. 485 and 500 make consequential amendments to remove specific provision to that end in the Education Act 2005 in relation to school inspections, which will no longer be needed. Those two amendments also repeal the provision that enables Her Majesty’s chief inspector of schools to publish his reports by electronic means, which is unnecessary to provide for expressly. He has power to publish in
“such manner he considers appropriate”,
which should cover publishing on a website.
I am sure that hon. Members will agree that the function of inspection is, above all, to report with complete independence—to tell it as the chief inspector sees it. It would not be right for the chief inspector to be afraid of making any report and pull his punches, fearing a future defamation claim. That is why we want to make it clear that the protection applies to all reports made, and commend the amendments to the Committee.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments made: No. 464, in clause 137, page 93, line 26, leave out from ‘made' to end and insert
‘in pursuance of his functions under any enactment,'.
No. 465, in clause 137, page 93, line 28, leave out subsection (2).—[Phil Hope.]
Clause 137, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 138 and 139 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 140

Payment of annual fee to the Chief Inspector by local authorities
Phil Hope: I beg to move amendment No. 466, in clause 140, page 94, line 34, at end insert—
‘(2A) The Chief Inspector may make a scheme under subsection (2B) that is to have effect at a time when no regulations are in force under subsection (1).
(2B) A scheme under this subsection (“a scheme”) may provide for a local authority in England to be required to pay to the Chief Inspector an annual fee in respect of the discharge by the authority of any of their relevant functions specified in the scheme.
(2C) The amount of the fee payable by virtue of a scheme is to be such as may be specified in, or calculated or determined under, the scheme.
(2D) A scheme may include provision—
(a) for different fees to be paid in different cases or classes of case;
(b) for the amount of a fee to be determined by the Chief Inspector in accordance with specified factors;
(c) for the time by which a fee must be paid;
(d) for varying or revoking a previous scheme.
(2E) Before making a scheme the Chief Inspector must consult such persons as he considers appropriate.
(2F) The Chief Inspector must arrange for a scheme to be published in such manner as he considers appropriate.
(2G) A local authority in England must provide the Chief Inspector with such information as he requires for the purpose of determining the amount of a fee payable by the authority by virtue of a scheme.'.
Clause 140 provides the Secretary of State with the power to make regulations requiring a local authority in England to pay a fee to the chief inspector in respect of its adoption and fostering services. The clause re-enacts in the Bill a provision in section 51 of the Care Standards Act 2000. It aims to place local authority fostering and adoption services on the same footing as independent providers of those services. Independent providers are registered and regulated by the Commission for Social Care Inspection and will in future be registered and regulated by the chief inspector. For that purpose they pay an annual fee to CSCI, and in future they will pay it to the inspector.
The amendment would enable the chief inspector to exercise the power to set fees instead of the Secretary of State. The clause will allow the chief inspector to create a scheme setting the fee level after consultation and where no regulations made by the Secretary of State are in force. It will place the fee-setting regime for the local authority and independent providers on the same footing.
The Bill already provides for the chief inspector to exercise the power to set fees for independent providers of adoption and fostering services. It mirrors the provision in relation to CSCI in section 113A of the Care Standards Act 2000, although that section is not in force in relation to CSCI, which will transfer to the chief inspector with the rest of those regulatory powers in relation to social care settings for children by virtue of clause 108.
3.15 pm
Mr. Gibb: As the Under-Secretary explained, amendment No. 466 would give the chief inspector the power to set his own fees; under the Bill, the Secretary of State has to set the charging regime by regulation. I feel slightly uncomfortable about the whole approach behind the amendment. As my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire said in an earlier debate, it gives no incentive to keep costs down.
All kinds of expensive costs—hotel visits and so on—could be run up. I thought that the practice was that the Department monitored the level of fees to ensure that there was no conflict of interest, with the bodies levying the fees benefiting from them in the spending that they incur in fulfilling their statutory duties. Will the Under-Secretary explain why the chief inspector, and no longer the Secretary of State, will oversee those fees?
Phil Hope: We wish to allow the flexibility that I described. The chief inspector will not be able to make a scheme without consultation. I might also add that the role of the new board is to ensure that the chief inspector conducts his business with due efficiency; there is a mechanism to hold the chief inspector accountable for the performance of his duties. Those twin safeguards—the necessity of consultation and the chief inspector’s accountability for the efficient conduct of his office—provide the necessary safeguards that the hon. Gentleman seeks.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause 140, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clauses 141 and 142 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 14

Minor and consequential amendments relating to part 8
Amendments made: No. 470, in schedule 14, page 206, line 22, leave out ‘(inspection)' and insert
‘of the Employment and Training Act 1973 (inspection)—
(a) '.
No. 471, in schedule 14, page 206, line 24, at end insert—
‘(b) omit paragraphs (a) and (b), and
(c) in paragraph (c) for “those services” substitute “services in England in pursuance of section 8 or 9”.'.
No. 472, in schedule 14, page 207, line 22, at end insert—
‘13A In section 79N (general functions of Chief Inspector) omit subsections (1) to (3) and (6).
13B In section 79R (reports of inspections) omit subsection (4).'.
No. 473, in schedule 14, page 207, line 41, at end insert—
‘14A In Schedule 2 (local authority support for children and families) in paragraph 20(1)(a) for “and the Commission for Social Care Inspection” substitute “and (in the case of a local authority in England) Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills”.'.
No. 474, in schedule 14, page 208, line 12, at end insert—
‘(2A) For subsection (2) substitute—
“(2) If requested to do so by the Secretary of State, the Chief Inspector must inspect and report on such one or more relevant training providers in England as may be specified in the Secretary of State's request.”
(2B) In subsection (3) omit paragraph (a).
(2C) In subsection (4) omit the words from “and subsections (2) to (4)” onwards.'.
No. 475, in schedule 14, page 209, line 33, at end insert—
‘27A In Schedule 1 (the Audit Commission) omit paragraph 8(2)(e).'.
No. 476, in schedule 14, page 209, line 41, leave out from beginning to ‘for' and insert—
‘(1) Schedule 26 (inspection of nursery education) is amended as follows.
(2) In paragraph 2(1)(a)'.
No. 477, in schedule 14, page 209, line 43, at end insert—
‘(3) In paragraph 13A omit sub-paragraph (4).'.
No. 478, in schedule 14, page 209, line 43, at end insert—

‘Protection of Children Act 1999 (c. 14)

31A In section 2A(2) of the Protection of Children Act 1999 (persons who may refer individuals for inclusion in list of those unsuitable to work with children) for paragraph (c) substitute—
“(c) Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills.”'.
No. 479, in schedule 14, page 211, line 24, at end insert—
‘46A In section 55(3)(e) (persons who may be treated as social care workers)—
(a) after “the CSCI” insert “, the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills”,
(b) for “or section 88” substitute “, section 88”, and
(c) after “Act 2003” insert “or section 125 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006”.'.
No. 480, in schedule 14, page 212, line 4, leave out ‘Part 3' and insert ‘sections 52 to 72'.
No. 481, in schedule 14, page 212, leave out lines 21 and 22 and insert—
‘52A In section 94(2) (stamp duty) for “section 90 or 92” substitute “section 92”.
52B In section 95(1)(b) (contracts of employment) for “section 90 or 92” substitute “section 92”.
52C In section 113A(1)(a) (restructuring of sixth-form education) for “section 65” substitute “section 114 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006”.
No. 482, in schedule 14, page 213, line 3, leave out ‘In section 162A(5)' and insert—
‘(1) Section 162A'.
No. 483, in schedule 14, page 213, line 3, after ‘England)' insert ‘is amended as follows.
(2) Omit subsection (4).
(3) In subsection (5)'.
No. 484, in schedule 14, page 213, line 11, at end insert—

‘Adoption and Children Act 2002 (c. 38)

60A In section 99 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 (proceedings for offences) for “the Commission for Social Care Inspection” substitute “Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills”.'.
No. 568, in schedule 14, page 214, line 22, after ‘include' insert—
‘(a) '.
No. 569, in schedule 14, page 214, line 23, at end insert
‘or
‘(b) functions prescribed by regulations under section 121(1)(f) of that Act.”'.
No. 485, in schedule 14, page 215, line 10, at end insert—
‘78A In section 11 (publication of inspection reports) omit subsections (2) to (4).'.
No. 486, in schedule 14, page 215, line 39, at end insert—
‘86A In section 50 (report of inspections) omit subsection (4).'.
No. 487, in schedule 14, page 216, line 3, leave out ‘under'.
No. 488, in schedule 14, page 216, line 6, at end insert—
‘87A (1) Section 79 (power of constable to assist in exercise of powers of entry) is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1) for “A person authorised for the purpose of subsection (1) or (2) of section 77” substitute “The Chief Inspector”.
Schedule 14, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 143 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
 
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