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Lord Sharman: My Lords, will the Minister confirm that the Government are well aware of the way in which the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has impacted on the attractiveness and competitiveness of the United States capital market? So much so is that the case that, I believe, Mr Hank Paulson is conducting a review of it with a view to amending it. Can the Minister further

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confirm that the Government will bear that in mind when it comes to drafting regulations required under the Companies Bill, which will return to this House in a short time?

Lord McKenzie of Luton: Yes, indeed, my Lords. The impact of Sarbanes-Oxley has been felt in the US, as has been recognised by the SEC and the authorities there. It is certainly something of which the Government here are mindful, and they will keep it at the forefront of their thinking. We look forward to our further discussions on the Companies Bill. We have had plenty in the past, but the Bill is coming back to us next week.

The Earl of Erroll: My Lords, has the Minister heard of the case in France where the French fined the French subsidiary of an American company for complying with Sarbanes-Oxley, thereby being non-compliant with Basel II?

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, I am not aware of the circumstances to which the noble Earl refers. I shall rush away from this encounter to educate myself on the matter, and I shall write to the noble Earl if that would be helpful.

Schools: Science

2.59 pm

Lord Jenkin of Roding asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): My Lords, the Government support the introduction of the new key stage 4 programme of study for science. It is as rigorous as the previous one; it is more engaging for all pupils; and it provides a sound basis for further study of science at A-level and beyond. The implementation of the new GCSEs will be formally monitored, but early feedback from schools has been largely positive.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, I very much welcome the Government’s support. In some ways, it goes back to the Science and Society report of this House, which contained a whole chapter on the need to reform the science syllabus in schools. The Minister referred to the piloting, which has been extremely successful and warmly welcomed by head teachers and science teachers in a great many schools. Does he accept that the new syllabus can offer pupils the choice of doing three separate science subjects, and is that not one of its very valuable points? However, does he also accept that, if this is to work successfully, more resources will need to go into giving teachers the money and the time to undertake continuous professional development?

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Lord Adonis: My Lords, I am very grateful for the noble Lord’s welcome for the new science syllabus. He is absolutely right about the need for more resources for continuing professional development, and we are providing those resources. For example, we have our outstanding £50 million partnership with the Wellcome Foundation to establish the network of science learning centres throughout the country which has been much appreciated by teachers and is substantially improving the quality of in-service training for teachers.

The noble Lord is also right about the availability of the three individual sciences at GCSE. As he knows, earlier this year we announced policies to promote the availability of the three individual sciences at GCSE, including a new entitlement for all pupils who reach level 6 at key stage 3—the higher-performing pupils at the age of 14—to study the three individual sciences; and a new availability from 2008 for the three individual sciences to be taken in all comprehensive schools that have a science specialism. At the moment, there are 292 such schools, but that number will rise. We agree with all the points that the noble Lord has made, and we are seeking to advance both in-service training and the availability of the individual sciences.

Lord May of Oxford: My Lords, does the Minister agree that, although the new Twenty First Century Science does an extraordinarily good job of presenting science in general and physics in particular as relevant to everyday life, there remains a need to cater also—additionally and perhaps separately, with appropriately qualified teachers—to the smaller number of students who have an aptitude for the mathematical, analytic character of the physical sciences, which can often seem arcane to the majority, for whom Twenty First Century Science is so sensibly designed?

Lord Adonis: My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble Lord. That is why we are keen to make the three individual sciences available. It is also why we are promoting the study of mathematics much more vigorously in schools, including the take-up of further mathematics at AS and A-level. Numbers have significantly increased at AS-level, and that is very welcome. As the noble Lord will know, we are also introducing a new maths GCSE to further stimulate students who show most capacity in the area he described from the age of 14 and not simply leaving it to the individual sciences at GCSE or AS and A-level.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My Lords, the Minister said that Twenty First Century Science provided a good background on which to take A-levels. As we are extremely concerned about the fall in the number of pupils taking some of the sciences at A-level, particularly physics and chemistry, can he give us any indication of whether the pilots showed that those who were stimulated by the novelty of the new curriculum went on to study them at A-level?

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Lord Adonis: My Lords, the picture at post-16 is not quite as straightforward as the noble Baroness suggests. She is absolutely right that the numbers studying the three sciences to A-level have declined, but the numbers studying at AS-level have risen quite substantially. Between 2001 and 2006, the number studying biology at AS-level has risen from 51,000 to 59,000; the number studying chemistry at AS-level has risen from 35,000 to 41,000; and the number studying physics at AS-level has also risen, although only marginally, from 29,174 to 29,659. The issue is in part one of progression from GCSE to AS, and the results of the pilot have been encouraging. However, the issue also—in some ways, more substantially for the immediate future of getting more pupils up to A-level—is to encourage those who start on the AS course to continue into the second year of sixth form to take the A2.

Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, the new curriculum may offer the three separate sciences to high achievers in the state sector, but why should not all pupils be entitled to learn the three separate sciences up to GCSE, not just pupils taught in the independent sector?

Lord Adonis: My Lords, I see that the noble Baroness has tabled amendments on this subject, which we look forward to addressing later. The number studying three individual sciences has risen. The new entitlement, which I described to her noble friend earlier, will see the availability of the three sciences significantly extended over the next few years. The number of pupils gaining level 6 or above in the key stage 3 science tests was 259,000 this year. That is the group to which we will be extending the entitlement in two years’ time.

We will not achieve anything in this area unless we have enough highly qualified and motivated teachers in our schools. Unfortunately, the party opposite left us with a massive deficit of highly qualified teachers in this area. We have increased the supply of science teachers by 30 per cent since 1997, but we have to make good decades of under-investment in this area. Neither I nor any other Minister can wave a magic wand and suddenly make things happen. It has taken decades of under-investment to get us into this position in the first place.

Lord Haskel: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that making science more approachable to all pupils is to be supported? Does he agree that science has to understand the needs of pupils as much as pupils have to understand science?

Lord Adonis: My Lords, I think I do agree—yes.

Lord Walton of Detchant: My Lords, does the Minister agree that one of the problems, despite this excellent new curriculum, is that far too many students in comprehensive schools are still being taught science by teachers with no specific science qualifications? The initiative that he has mentioned is extremely welcome. The requirement for students to be inspired to study

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science is crucial, and I hope that the Government can say what action they are taking to improve the standard of science teachers.

Lord Adonis: My Lords, we have significantly increased incentives to recruit teachers into science and into the three scientific disciplines in particular. That is yielding fruit: the number of specifically trained physics teachers recruited between 2000 and 2004 doubled; the number of specifically trained biology teachers recruited in that period more than doubled; and the number of specifically trained chemistry teachers in that period went up by 50 per cent. We have a good track record but I fully accept that we have further to go.

Risk Management: EAC Report

3.07 pm

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the report of the Economic Affairs Committee on government policy on the management of risk (5th Report, HL Paper 183) be referred to a Grand Committee.—(Baroness Amos.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Representation of the People (England and Wales) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2006

Service Voters’ Registration Period Order 2006

Review of Polling Districts and Polling Places (Parliamentary Elections) Regulations 2006

Non-Domestic Rating (Chargeable Amounts) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2006

Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (Juxtaposed Controls) (Amendment) Order 2006

Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) Order 2006

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): My Lords, I beg to move the next six Motions standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the draft orders and regulations be referred to a Grand Committee.—(Baroness Amos.)

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Earl Ferrers: My Lords, these regulations are all down in the name of “The Lord President, Baroness Amos”. In the good old days, and by that I mean up to a few months ago, it always used to be under the name of the Lord President of the Council. We all know that the Lord President is the noble Baroness, Lady Amos. Will she consider whether it might be a good idea to revert to putting “Lord President of the Council” down on the Order Paper?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, as I understand it, there has been no change. I do not know if the noble Earl has been reading a different Order Paper from the one that I have, but there has been no change.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Standing Orders (Public Business)

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. This Motion makes drafting changes to the Standing Orders arising mostly from the Procedure Committee’s fifth report, to which the House agreed on 17 July, and, in one case, from the third report, to which the House agreed on 24 April.

Moved, That the Standing Orders relating to public business be amended as follows:

With effect from the beginning of the next Session:

(No Lord to speak more than once to a Motion)

In paragraph (2), leave out “Unstarred Question” and insert “Question for Short Debate”

(Unstarred Questions and Motions)

Leave out “Unstarred Questions” and insert “Questions for Short Debate”

(Balloted and time-limited Debates)

In paragraph (1), leave out “, notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order No. 19”

(Arrangement of the Order Paper)

In paragraph (1), leave out “Starred Questions” and insert “Oral Questions”

In paragraph (9), leave out “Unstarred Questions” and insert “Questions for Short Debate”

(Postponement and advancement of business)

In paragraph (1), leave out “Starred Questions and Unstarred Questions” and insert “Oral Questions and Questions for Short Debate”

(Notices not to be placed on Order Paper more than one month ahead)

In paragraph (2), leave out “Starred Questions” and insert “Oral Questions”.—(Baroness Amos.)

Lord Tordoff: My Lords, I wonder if the House might want to consider, in conjunction with what has been said about the future of this House, that the words “Titanic” and “deckchair” do not spring to mind.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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Education and Inspections Bill

3.10 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now further considered on Report.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

Baroness Walmsley moved Amendment No. 91A:

“(h) personal, social and health education.””

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I rise to move Amendment No. 91A and to speak to Amendment No. 91B and Amendment No. 92, which was tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne.

The Countess of Mar: My Lords, the Companion to the Standing Orders states that noble Lords should leave the Chamber quietly after Question Time.

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Countess, Lady Mar.

In Committee, the Minister assured us that all secondary schools must provide sex and relationship education as part of the basic science curriculum—it is therefore a statutory requirement. He repeated that statement in the letter that he sent to the noble Baroness, Lady Gould of Potternewton, on 11 October. In that letter, he also raised concerns that, if PSHE were to be made a statutory part of the curriculum, it would raise intense debate and controversy among other subject champions who want their subjects to be made statutory and compulsory up to 16.

Danger of an intense debate is not a good reason not to do the right thing. However, the Minister was right that there is an intense debate, not least in yesterday’s newspapers, and there was an intense debate in your Lordships’ House, in which this argument was supported by Peers from all sides of the Chamber. Today’s amendments, which were so ably moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Gould of Potternewton, on that occasion, are supported by the Advisory Centre for Education, Barnardo’s, the British Medical Association, the Family Planning Association, Brook, the Drug Education Forum, the National AIDS Trust, the National Union of Students, the NSPCC, UNICEF UK, Parentline Plus, Tacade, the Terence Higgins Trust, Womankind and the YWCA, to mention just a few in the long list of supporters. Only yesterday, the IPPR published a new report based on detailed research, the conclusion of which was that PSHE, including sex and relationship education, should become a statutory subject in all primary and secondary schools in England and Wales. It also called for more information on parenting and childcare to be offered at all extended schools, and I agree with it on that.

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The evidence for concluding that the status quo, in which the subject is non-statutory, is failing comes from a number of facts. First, Britain has the highest rate of births to teenagers in Europe; the rate here is nearly one-fifth higher than that in Latvia, which is the second country in the list. The Government’s claim that the rate is falling refers to only a very tiny fall. Secondly, one in three 15 year-olds did not use a condom during their last sexual intercourse. Thirdly, levels of genital diseases—chlamydia, genital herpes and syphilis—among British teenagers have increased greatly in the past 10 years. Fourthly, over the past50 years, the average age of first sexual intercourse fell from 20 for men and 21 for women in the 1950s to16 by the mid-1990s. The proportion of young people who are sexually active before the age of consent rose from less than 1 per cent to 25 per cent in the same period. Fifthly, in 2001-02, 38 per cent of the UK’s15 year-olds had sexual intercourse—that is the highest incidence in Europe, as far as we can tell.

Julia Margo, who is a senior research fellow at the IPPR concluded:

PSHE is not just about sex education; it is about a great deal more than that. The QCA describes it as,

So I can reassure the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, that it is about a great deal more than sex—it is about life skills. In a nutshell, that is what he is concerned about. But no doubt we will hear more in a moment.

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