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Mr. Straw: Does the hon. Gentleman also accept that it is simply untrue that there is as large a bias in the current system as has been claimed? I refer him to an important article in the Royal Statistical Society magazine, Significance, by Mr. Nick Moon, a leading psephologist. He pointed out that at times the system has been "biased" in favour of the Conservative party, "biased" in favour of nobody or "biased" in favour of the Labour party. The size of constituencies always starts equal; under-registration in urban areas, differential turnout
8 Apr 2010 : Column 1218
and changes in population, such as depopulation, lie behind the apparent arithmetic from the Conservative party.

David Howarth: I accept that there is all sorts of interesting research on first past the post, but all this seems to be entirely missing the point that first past the post can never be fair or proportionate, is always biased in one direction or another and is capable of producing illegitimate results.

Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North) (Lab) rose-

David Howarth: This really is the last intervention.

Mr. Allen: This intervention allows me to pass on my best wishes to the hon. Gentleman and to congratulate him on his strong contributions in this field over many years. We will miss him.

If the House were composed differently, could we have had a debate in the Chamber about the war-making powers of the House versus those of the Executive? That matter was covered in the Bill, but has been dropped from it. I would like him to comment on that and on the balance in the House. Perhaps the Secretary of State will pick up the same issue in his remarks.

David Howarth: The answer is yes, and that would also apply to the reforms of this place itself. Changing the electoral system is important for democracy throughout our system-

1.54 pm

One hour having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings on consideration of Lords amendments, the debate was interrupted (Order, 7 April).

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair (Standing Order No. 83F), That this House agrees with Lords amendment 7.

The House divided: Ayes 176, Noes 18.

Division No. 134]
[1.54 pm



AYES


Allen, Mr. Graham
Amess, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Bain, Mr. William
Baird, Vera
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Beckett, rh Margaret
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benton, Mr. Joe
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brown, Lyn
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Burgon, Colin
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Cash, Mr. William
Chapman, Ben
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Cohen, Harry
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Duddridge, James
Eagle, Maria
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Etherington, Bill
Fabricant, Michael
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Follett, Barbara

Francis, Dr. Hywel
Francois, Mr. Mark
Gardiner, Barry
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Goggins, rh Paul
Goodman, Helen
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harper, Mr. Mark
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, rh John
Hendry, Charles
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Herbert, Nick
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horam, Mr. John
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howell, John
Howells, rh Dr. Kim
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Luff, Peter
Maclean, rh David
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McDonnell, John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McKechin, Ann
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mole, Chris
Morgan, Julie
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, rh Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Pearson, Ian
Pope, Mr. Greg
Prentice, Bridget
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Randall, Mr. John
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reid, rh John
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, John
Ruddock, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Smith, John
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Todd, Mr. Mark
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Twigg, Derek
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Walker, Mr. Charles
Watkinson, Angela
Watts, Mr. Dave
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, Ann
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Jeremy
Wright, Dr. Tony
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mrs. Sharon Hodgson and
Kerry McCarthy
NOES


Beith, rh Sir Alan
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Cousins, Jim
Foster, Mr. Don
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan

Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Jackson, Glenda
Jones, Lynne
Keetch, Mr. Paul
McDonnell, John
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Russell, Bob
Simpson, Alan
Taylor, Matthew
Willis, Mr. Phil
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Colin Breed and
John Barrett
Question accordingly agreed to.
8 Apr 2010 : Column 1219

8 Apr 2010 : Column 1220

Lords amendment 7 agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83F).

Question put, That the remaining Lords amendments be agreed to.


The House divided: Ayes 170, Noes 12.
Division No. 135]
[2.6 pm



AYES


Allen, Mr. Graham
Amess, Mr. David
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Bain, Mr. William
Baird, Vera
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Beckett, rh Margaret
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benton, Mr. Joe
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brennan, Kevin
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Burgon, Colin
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Cash, Mr. William
Chapman, Ben
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Cohen, Harry
Cooper, Rosie
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Dowd, Jim
Duddridge, James
Eagle, Maria
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Etherington, Bill
Fabricant, Michael
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Follett, Barbara
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Francois, Mr. Mark
Gardiner, Barry
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Goggins, rh Paul
Goodman, Helen
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harper, Mr. Mark
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, rh John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendry, Charles
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Herbert, Nick
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Howell, John
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom

Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Luff, Peter
Mackinlay, Andrew
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McKechin, Ann
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Morgan, Julie
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, rh Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Pearson, Ian
Pope, Mr. Greg
Prentice, Bridget
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Randall, Mr. John
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, John
Ruddock, Joan
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Todd, Mr. Mark
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Twigg, Derek
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Walker, Mr. Charles
Watkinson, Angela
Watts, Mr. Dave
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, Ann
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Jeremy
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

Lyn Brown and
Kerry McCarthy
NOES


Beith, rh Sir Alan
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Foster, Mr. Don
Hancock, Mr. Mike

Harris, Dr. Evan
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Russell, Bob
Taylor, Matthew
Willis, Mr. Phil
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Colin Breed and
Mr. John Barrett
Question accordingly agreed to.
8 Apr 2010 : Column 1221

8 Apr 2010 : Column 1222

Rema ining Lords amendments agreed to, with Commons financial privilege waived in respect of Lords amendments 37, 41, 42, 44, 46, 48 and 67 to 69 .

Consequential amendment (a) made.

Mr. Allen: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. After the Iraq war, many Members became very interested in the balance between the Executive and the legislature and in whether Parliament had a role to play, at least through being consulted or retrospectively endorsing a decision to go to war. In the pre-legislative stage of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill, there were draft provisions for how that might happen. Is it in order to ask you what happened to those provisions and why they were not debated when we considered the Bill or in the wash-up?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: It is just about in order to ask me, but I haven't a clue. Nor would the Chair be expected to have a clue on such a matter. In ordinary circumstances, the Chair's advice would probably be that the hon. Gentleman would find other ways of pursuing the matter, but the Chair knows on this occasion that the chances of that are dwindling rapidly. I have no doubt that he will bear it in mind for a future occasion.

Mr. Allen: Thank you.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I really am sorry not to be able to be more helpful to the hon. Gentleman.


8 Apr 2010 : Column 1223

Children, Schools and Families Bill

Consideration of Lords amendments

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Lords amendments to the Children, Schools and Families Bill have been received and printed. Under the order of the House of yesterday, they may be considered forthwith, without Question put.

Clause 1


Pupil and parent guarantees

2.16 pm

The Minister for Schools and Learners (Mr. Vernon Coaker): I beg to move, That this House agrees with Lords amendment 1.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this we may take Lords amendments 2 to 24.

Mr. Coaker: With a heavy heart, in order to secure provisions on special educational needs and alternative provision, we had to drop some clauses, which I think had broad support out there, particularly the guarantee that children falling behind in English and maths would get one-to-one tuition. Frankly, I think that parents and teachers will be astonished at the insistence of the Conservative party and others that the provision be dropped.

We have also had to postpone plans for changes to the primary curriculum, which had huge support among heads and teachers-moves to a curriculum based on the Rose review, with areas of learning that the vast majority of schools and teachers warmly welcomed.

Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): The Minister will recall that I asked the Secretary of State about a question that I put to him, and which the Minister answered, on education results in Staffordshire compared with those in the rest of England. I was told at the time in a written answer that finding out could be done only at disproportionate cost. When I raised that with the Secretary of State, he said I would get an answer before Dissolution. The clock has ticked almost to the point at which it is clear I will not get the answer. Does the Minister accept that I was asking a legitimate question, to which I should have an answer, as the Secretary of State said?

Mr. Coaker: The hon. Gentleman always asks legitimate questions. As Parliament has not yet dissolved, even at this late stage it would be courteous to look into that, and I shall do so after the debate and write to him. He may not get the answer he wants, but I will write with an explanation in any case, as it would be discourteous not to do so.

We have also had to withdraw provisions on personal, social and health education because Opposition Members insisted on retaining a parental right of withdrawal up to the age of 16 in respect of sex and relationships education.

Meg Munn (Sheffield, Heeley) (Lab/Co-op): I am sure that, like me, my hon. Friend does not believe that we live in a broken society, but does he agree that without education on alcohol, tobacco, drugs, finance
8 Apr 2010 : Column 1224
and individual safety, as well as on sex and relationships, we will again be heading for the kind of broken society we experienced back in the 1980s?

Mr. Coaker: My hon. Friend has a lot of experience in this matter, both politically in the work she does in Sheffield and beyond, and from her previous professional role in which she saw the importance of the type of education we were seeking to introduce through the Bill. Much of the education to which my hon. Friend refers does take place in primary and secondary schools, but we were trying to ensure that there was statutory provision for it. That would go some way towards tackling the variability in the quality of provision between different schools and different areas. I agree very much with my hon. Friend that a lot of things need to be done to tackle some of the challenges our society faces. Although neither of us would accept the term "broken society", there are challenges in some areas, and a whole raft of different policies is needed in order to deal with them, one of which is the provision of proper education of this kind from an early age in our schools, working alongside parents, not instead of them. That would help to address some of these particularly difficult problems.

Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North) (Lab): Will my hon. Friend put it on record that it was in fact the Conservative party that refused to allow the provisions on PSHE-or life skills, as I prefer to call it-to be included in the Bill? Further, does he agree that the people who will suffer from basic emotional and social skills not being in the curriculum will not be those who go to expensive private schools, or even high attaining schools, but pupils in constituencies such as mine-poorer places where generally there is not high educational achievement? They are the people who most need this to be in the national curriculum, rather than merely being something that it is nice to have. Will my hon. Friend put on record who is responsible for this not being in the Bill?

Mr. Coaker: My hon. Friend, who represents Nottingham, North, is right: we were unable to come to an agreement through the usual channels about the age at which parents had a right to withdraw their children from sex and relationships education, and as a result the Conservative Front-Bench team felt unable to agree with us on these provisions. As I will make clear in a moment, we were therefore unable to proceed with them in the Bill.

Mr. Nick Gibb (Bognor Regis and Littlehampton) (Con): Is it not the case that clause 14 deals with the withdrawal of children from lessons, whereas the Minister's two party colleagues are talking about clause 11? Why did the Minister withdraw clause 11 when we were, in fact, disputing clause 14?

Mr. Coaker: As the hon. Gentleman will know because he reads very carefully on these matters, the issues are intertwined. It is not possible to separate them, as he seeks to do in order to try to defend his party's policy-about which it is receiving significant criticism-of blocking what most people think is a very important and significant reform.


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