House of Commons
|Session 2009 - 10|
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Children, Schools and Families
The Committee consisted of the following Members:
Sarah Davies, Sara Howe, Committee Clerks
attended the Committee
Dr. John Dunford, General Secretary, Association of School and College Leaders
Dr. Katherine Rake, Chief Executive, Family and Parenting Institute
Tony Redmond, Chief Executive, Local Government Ombudsman
Chris Keates, General Secretary, National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers
David Simmonds, Member, Children and Young People Board, Local Government Association
Dr. Mary Bousted, General Secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers
Mick Brookes, General Secretary, National Association of Head Teachers
Peter Birkett, Chief Executive, Barnfield Federation
Daniel Moynihan, Chief Executive, Harris Federation
John Bangs, Assistant Secretary, National Union of Teachers
Keith Bartley, Chief Executive, General Teaching Council for England
Public Bill Committee
Tuesday 19 January 2010
[Mr. David Amess in the Chair]
Children, Schools and Families Bill
The Chairman: Order. Before we begin, I have a few announcements to make. I do not think that they will be terribly interesting to anyone, but I have to go through the motions with these announcements. If people wish to remove their jackets, please feel free to do so if you want to be more comfortable. There is a money resolution in connection with this Bill. Copies are available in the room. If colleagues need advice, we have Officers who can point them in the right direction.
I should like to remind members of the Committee that adequate notice of amendments should be given. Three days notice of amendments is normally required for them to be selectable. That is, amendments tabled up until the rise of the House on a Thursday will be selectable on a Tuesday, and those tabled up until the rise of the House on a Monday will be selectable on a Thursday. As a general rule, I and my fellow Chairman, Janet Anderson, do not intend to call starred amendments, including any starred amendments that might be reached during an afternoon sitting of the Committee.
The Committee will be asked first to consider the programme motion on the amendment paper, for which debate is limited to half an hour. We will then proceed to a motion to report written evidence, and then a motion to permit the Committee to deliberate in private in advance of the oral evidence sessions, which I hope we can take formally.
Assuming that the second of these motions has been agreed, the Committee will then move into private session. Once the Committee has deliberated, the witnesses and members of the public will be invited back into the Room and our oral evidence session will continue. If the Committee agrees to the programme motion, the Committee will hear evidence this morning and this afternoon, and Thursday morning and afternoon. Next week we will move to the Committee Corridor and revert to the traditional clause by clause scrutiny.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
(1) the Committee shall (in addition to its first meeting at 10.30 am on Tuesday 19 January) meet
(a) at 4.00 pm on Tuesday 19 January;
(b) at 9.00 am and 1.00 pm on Thursday 21 January;
(c) at 10.30 am and 4.00 pm on Tuesday 26 January;
(d) at 9.00 am and 1.00 pm on Thursday 28 January;
(e) at 10.30 am and 4.00 pm on Tuesday 2 February;
(f) at 9.00 am and 1.00 pm on Thursday 4 February;
(2) the Committee shall hear oral evidence in accordance with the following Table
(3) proceedings on consideration of the Bill in Committee shall be taken in the following order: Clauses 1 to 26; Schedule 1; Clauses 27 to 40; Schedule 2; Clause 41; Schedule 3; Clauses 42 to 45; Schedules 4 and 5; Clauses 46 to 50; new Clauses; new Schedules; remaining proceedings on the Bill;
(4) the proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 5.00 pm on Thursday 4 February.(Mr. Coaker.)
Mr. Nick Gibb (Bognor Regis and Littlehampton) (Con): I want to raise an objection to the way in which the choice of witnesses is handled. I was careful to choose only a limited number of witnesses reflecting the wide range of subjects in the Bill. However, at least two of my witnesses were rejected and I was not given any reason why. One was Mr. John Bald, an independent consultant and an expert in education, and the other was Mr. Paul Strong, a head teacher at William Farr school in Lincolnshire. There are other head teachers who are being called as Government witnesses and I was upset that two of my witnesses on a very short list were rejected.
If this process of calling witnesses from outside to help scrutinise Bills is to work and to be transparent and open, it is important that Opposition witnesses are called unless there are exceptional reasons why they
On a practical note, I understand that one of the witnesses due to give evidence in the last session on Thursday was unable to accept the invitation, and I would like to suggest an alternative name to fill that slot.
The Minister for Schools and Learners (Mr. Vernon Coaker): We have tried as far as possible to accommodate all the witnesses who have been suggested and have tried to ensure a balance of people for these public evidence sessions. If the usual channels can discuss who the alternative should be for the last slot on Thursday when someone is not able to come, I am sure we will be able to deal with that.
Mr. David Laws (Yeovil) (LD): I have two points. First, I wish to record our thanks to the Minister for taking into account the suggestions that we made about who should be witnesses, and for accepting some significant amendments to the Governments original list of witnesses. We appreciate the time it has taken to track down a number of individuals, some of whom have and some of whom have not been able to come.
Secondly, may I register our concerns about the programme motion. Although the Bill is small in size, it is great in scope, and we shall have an awful lot to consider after we go on from the evidence sessions. I hope that we can have some assurance from the Minister that every attempt will be made by the Government and by the usual channels to accommodate as extensive as possible a debate, because if we do not have that time, I am sure that that will be taken into account in another place, when decisions are made about how much of this legislation should be allowed to go through.
Mr. Coaker: I am grateful for the remarks at the beginning. I do not run a Bill deliberately to avoid anybody that anybody else wants being on the Committee. I am grateful for the hon. Gentlemans remarks about how we have tried to accommodate people on the Committee in order to give us evidence.
The hon. Gentleman will notice that we have an end date for our discussion of the content of the Bill, but clearly if there is a need for one or two additional hours on one or two of the sittings, I am sure, subject to discussion, that that will be possible. He will also note that, as is the case 100 per cent. of the time whenever I am responsible for a Bill, there are no knives. It is a matter for the Committee to determine how much time it wants to spend on particular issues, and I am sure that we will come to an arrangement without the necessity for an artificial knife. That will lead to the Committee conducting its business in a much more sensible and mature way. We have an end date, and I am sure that, with the good will that we will no doubt generate, it will be possible to put in an additional hour or two hours somewhere if people feel it appropriate to discuss something a bit more. I am sure that, subject to the usual negotiations and discussions, in the spirit in which this Committee will conduct itself, that may well be possible.
Question put and agreed to.
That, at this and any subsequent meeting at which oral evidence is to be heard, the Committee shall sit in private until the witnesses are admitted.(Mr. Coaker.)
That, subject to the discretion of the Chairman, any written evidence received by the Committee shall be reported to the House for publication.(Mr. Coaker.)
The Chairman: Copies of any memorandums that the Committee receives will be made available in the Committee Room. The Committee will now deliberate in private.
The Committee deliberated in private.
Mr. Gibb: On a point of order, Mr. Amess. I understand that a policy statement has been made by the Department for Children, Schools and Families about home education and clause 26. It would be useful to have such policy papers in advance and I wonder whether you can make sure that we receive them.
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