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Those changes will lead to much greater co-operation between services and facilitate easier access by schools to the services they need to support their pupils. I put
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on record here that we will make specific reference in our guidance to the need for partners to consider what is needed locally to support schools in managing children with medical conditions.

Clause 2 refers to inspection and monitoring. Inspectors already draw on evidence in a range of plans in place for individual children, including care plans for children who are looked after, education plans for children with special educational needs, and health care plans. Those plans identify any specific provision the children need to ensure that they are able to access education effective; they also ensure that appropriate measures have been put in place to protect the children’s well-being. Many of the plans include statements relating to children’s health, and inspectors will have access to them and to the views of pupils, parents and staff on how pupils’ needs are being met.

As I said earlier, in our final guidance on how schools should meet their statutory duty to promote children’s well-being we will include specific reference to considering the health requirements of pupils, and we will develop strong, school-level indicators that, taken together, measure a school’s contribution to pupil well-being. We will ask Ofsted to reflect those indicators when it designs the cycle of inspection starting in 2009.

Further accountability will be delivered through our proposed school report card. We have been consulting on what that report card might look like. We believe that it will make the school accountability system better able to recognise the full range of each school’s achievements, not just attainment. It will complement and sit alongside Ofsted inspection reports, and it is intended to be clear, powerful and easily understood by school governors, parents and the public. We are consulting on what categories of performance would be included on the report card. Attainment, of course, is one category—we do not want to lose sight of that—but we want to include things like pupil progression, how good a school is at narrowing attainment gaps for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and, crucially for this debate, how effective schools are at delivering wider outcomes, such as children’s well-being.

Simon Hughes: Will the Minister allow me to intervene?

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: Very briefly. I want to leave time for my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South to respond.

Simon Hughes: Does the Minister envisage that the report card would specifically say whether each pupil had a condition, and address the question of how the school was responding to it?

Sarah McCarthy-Fry: The report card will be much broader than that. We are looking to introduce a document that can be read by the public and by all parents. It would not go into that much detail. However, the Ofsted report would sit alongside it, and that, of course, would go into much greater detail. We also intend the views that parents and pupils hold about the school to form part of the school report card. That will give schools a powerful incentive to recognise parental concerns, which could well include concerns about children’s health needs and how well the school addresses them.

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Once again, I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South for introducing the Bill. It gives me an opportunity to set out the fact that in our recently published child health strategy, we announced that we will update our current guidance, “Managing Medicines in Schools and Early Years Settings”. That will be crucial to giving school staff the confidence that they need, and getting the buy-in from those schools that, for whatever reason, are giving children with health needs the support that they deserve.

The revised guidance will include clear statements of what is expected from those involved in supporting pupils with medical conditions, such as schools and primary care trusts. We first need to understand and address the barriers that schools face when it comes to providing necessary support, and we need to identify how those barriers can be overcome. We will work with the expert organisations, including Diabetes UK, and with schools and school staff, to identify the barriers and the best way to address them. Alongside revising that guidance, we have made a commitment to an awareness-raising campaign. The aim of the campaign will be to raise the profile of the issue in schools, promote consistent good practice across the country, and enable schools to cultivate a positive support ethos.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families is setting up a stakeholder group to help review and revise the guidance and provide recommendations for the awareness campaign. The group will comprise officials from the Department of Health and from DCSF, the main stakeholders and the lobby groups, and school and head-teacher representatives. Parents of children with long-term conditions will possibly be represented, too.

Once again I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South on introducing the Bill. As I said at the outset, I fully support the intentions behind the Bill, but I hope that I have been able to explain why I do not think that legislating for a legal duty is the right thing to do at this time. I hope that I have been able to demonstrate how we can deliver the outcomes that we all want through the new legislation and guidance in the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill, and through the measures outlined in the recently published child health strategy and the guidance that will underpin it. That includes, of course, our commitment to working with all interested parties and stakeholders to update the “Managing Medicines in Schools and Early Years Settings” guidance. That, together with accountability mechanisms such as the comprehensive area assessment of local authorities, Ofsted inspection of schools and the proposed new school report card, will deliver the outcomes that my hon. Friend envisaged in his Bill.

We want to bring schools along with us, not by coercion through a legal duty, but by working together to make best practice common practice. We want to work with all stakeholders—PCTs, schools, local authorities, disability charities, parents and children themselves—to ensure the very best outcomes for all children with health needs in schools.

2.19 pm

Mr. Jim Cunningham: With the leave of the House, may I say that we have had an interesting debate today, with many good contributions exploring the Bill, whether
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hon. Members agreed with it or not. During the debate I became conscious of the danger that my Bill would pile more legislation on teachers. It was pointed out earlier that much legislation these days affects teachers, and it was not the intention of my Bill to impose a greater burden on them.

The Minister has honoured the commitments that she gave me in private conversations, so I do not intend to pursue my Bill. Given that my hon. Friend has made a number of concessions and that considerable progress has been made, campaigners have achieved quite a lot today. They have forced the House to have a good debate on the issues, and they have gained considerably from what the Minister said. If they read Hansard, they will see exactly what they have achieved.

My role was merely to bring the Bill before the House. More important for campaigners and for the House is that the assurances given by the Government today are followed through. If they are not, I assure my hon. Friend that I shall be one of the first to remind her.

Once again, I thank all the campaigners involved and Members on both Opposition Front Benches. Members of the Opposition parties have treated me very courteously, as have my colleagues. A number of hon. Members were unable to be present today. That is understandable, as Friday is a constituency day and Members have heavy commitments.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

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Land Use (Gardens Protection Etc.) Bill

Second Reading

2.22 pm

Mr. Andrew Dismore (Hendon) (Lab): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I have very little time. My Bill is designed to protect back gardens, front gardens and green land, and to tackle some of the problems of overdevelopment. There have been a number of attempts over the years to legislate through private Members’ Bills to deal with the problem, and many debates in the House. Without doubt, the issue needs to be addressed, as I have seen over the years from developments in my constituency, especially in Mill Hill, Hale and Edgware wards, but not limited to them—developments that begin, continue and conclude with the changing of the fundamental character of a residential neighbourhood.

In my area one often finds, on turning a street corner, that the old houses have been knocked down and a block of flats has been built since one last went down that road. Some people have sold off their back gardens to developers, who apply for planning consent to build four or five houses or a block of flats on the land. We must do something to protect gardens wherever they may be, even if they are not formally defined as part of the green belt. That is what my Bill seeks to do.

Clause 1(2) inserts new sections in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to create a new requirement that planning authorities should give “special regard” to gardens and green spaces. It is not restrictive in the way that designating a piece of land as a greenfield site would be. It simply gives a nudge to planning authorities to use their discretion. Rather than telling them that they must do something, it simply reminds them not to forget about back gardens and their importance to the character of an area and the way of life of a community.

I shall give one or two examples from my constituency. The case is well made by a decision by the planning inspectorate concerning an application at 57-63 Marsh lane and 9-11 Glenwood road, Mill Hill. It was strenuously opposed by the local community, Mill Hill Preservation Society, Laing Field and Moat Mount residents association and many others. The appeal was on the proposal to build seven houses in a row of back gardens, but the inspectorate allowed it. The inspector said:

The inspector also commented that the gardens have an interesting biodiversity, but ignored that fact. That application had been opposed by the local community and rejected by the council with my support and that of the ward Liberal Democrat councillors, but the decision was overturned by the inspectorate on appeal. Holders Hill road in my constituency has virtually ceased to exist as it was originally constructed due to such developments.

My Bill also deals with urban green spaces laid out as a public garden and land used for public recreation or having wildlife and biodiversity. A couple of sports grounds have gone. The Mill Hill tennis club in Flower lane sold out to developers. It cannot be blamed for that: it was offered a huge amount of money. A block of flats was then erected on the tennis courts.

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The same thing happened in west Hendon. The Neeld tennis club, a long-standing tennis club, was the lessee of the site. The new freeholders gave it a lump sum to take out a new lease and money to move out. There was then a planning application. The inspector said that although

he did not think that private clubs counted towards that. He criticised the council for not having done its homework to establish the level of demand for tennis courts, and, surprise, surprise, he went on to say:

He allowed six dwellings on the site.

Now the club has to move out and the council has agreed to give it part of a public park—two thirds of Sturgess park—on which to build a new tennis club. Obviously many questions arise around that, but of greater importance is the sequence. We lost the original club to a housing development—not affordable housing—and now we are losing public open space to relocate the private tennis club that was displaced by that housing development.

My Bill aims to tackle these problems. I could give many more examples, but we do not have the time for that. It does not do so in a heavy-handed way, but it does remind the council, and the planning inspector, that our green spaces, gardens, front and back, parks and recreational spaces and areas of biodiversity are important to all of us. They must be given due regard, but they are not at the moment. We must act as quickly as possible before our green spaces become overdeveloped brownfields. I have had letters of support from all over the country. The Bill’s time has come and I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will not talk the Bill out.

2.26 pm

Mr. Stewart Jackson (Peterborough) (Con): I am aware that time is short. I congratulate the hon. Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore) on securing his place in the private Members’ ballot and bringing forward this important debate. I also pay tribute to my hon. Friends the Members for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) and for Tunbridge Wells (Greg Clark), who initiated similar debates in the past.

Because of the lack of time, it is not appropriate to go into the full background of the situation regarding garden and backland development. Suffice it to say that one of the criticisms of the Bill is that it has too narrow a focus and does not look at the wider context of the Government’s policies on garden and backland development. It is interesting that the concept of special regard to the desirability of conserving gardens and
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urban green spaces is a loose one. Were the Bill to proceed, I hope that it would be looked at more robustly in Committee.

As we are short of time, it might be worth mentioning that the policy that existed prior to 2000, which was enunciated by the last Conservative Government in 1992 under planning policy guidance note 3, did not include any definition of gardens as brownfield, and neither did it contain density targets. Indeed, the guidance discouraged residential infill where inappropriate and gave a broad discretion for councils to protect the character of their locality. It stated:

It added:

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Conservative party, if elected to government, is committed to altering the rules on brownfield development, returning them to the position in 1992. With that, I support the Bill.

2.29 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr. Iain Wright): It is a pleasure to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore) on his efforts to introduce the Bill. I pay tribute to his work. I hope that I do not talk the Bill out in the vast number of seconds that I have to discuss it, but I should like to speak briefly about its two main elements.


2.30 pm

The debate stood adjourned (Standing Order No. 11(2)).

Ordered, That the debate be resumed on Friday 26 June.

Business without Debate

Climate Change (Sectoral Targets) Bill

Motion made, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

Hon. Members: Object.

Bill to be read a Second time on Friday 12 June

Renewable Content Obligation Bill

Motion made, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

Hon. Members: Object.

Bill to be read a Second time on Friday 3 July

8 May 2009 : Column 521

Sheltered Accommodation (Barnet)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.— (Ms Diana R. Johnson.)

2.31 pm

Mr. Andrew Dismore (Hendon) (Lab): I hope that I have rather more success with this debate than I had with my private Member’s Bill.

At the start of the year, Conservative-run Barnet council announced that it intended to cut entirely warden and scheme manager services from tenants living in sheltered housing in the borough. The council makes no bones about it: this is a cut to save money. In its consultation document, one of the more outrageous ideas was to ask the elderly and vulnerable people who are affected to suggest what alternative cuts should be made if their services were to be left alone. How ludicrous is it to suggest that the elderly should be able to trawl through the council’s budget to identify alternatives?

Instead, the council proposes to provide a floating support service that would be linked not to any particular sheltered housing location, but to an individual and only for a few months, with the long-term aim of ending even that inadequate alternative. It even proposes to end the dedicated alarm service. In its document, the council suggests that

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