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Baroness David: My Lords, I should like to thank the Minister very much for producing the amendments

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in response to amendments that I moved in Committee. I am very pleased with this reference to children with special educational needs--indeed, all the special educational needs--and that the authority will have to pay more attention to them than it would have done if the Bill been left in its original form.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, I, too, should like to thank the Government as I have an interest in the matter.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 77:


Page 37, line 6, at end insert (", and
( ) the requirements of persons with special learning needs.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 78 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 79:


Page 37, line 27, at end insert--
("( ) In this section "persons with special learning needs" means--
(a) children with special educational needs (as defined in section 312 of the Education Act 1996); or
(b) persons (other than children as so defined) who--
(i) have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of persons of their age, or
(ii) have a disability which either prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for persons of their age.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 7 [The Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales]:

Lord Henley moved Amendments Nos. 80 to 84:


Page 74, leave out lines 13 and 14.
Page 74, line 24, leave out first ("Treasury") and insert ("Minister for the Civil Service").
Page 74, line 24, leave out second ("the Treasury") and insert ("he").
Page 74, line 25, leave out ("the Treasury") and insert ("he").
Page 74, line 30, leave out ("Treasury") and insert ("Secretary of State").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 85 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Clause 50 [Supplementary provisions relating to discharge by Authority of their functions]:

Lord Henley moved Amendments Nos. 86 to 88:


Page 40, line 10, leave out ("and").
Page 40, line 13, at end insert (", and
( ) the requirements of persons with special learning needs.").
Page 40, line 34, at end insert--
("( ) In this section "persons with special learning needs" has the same meaning as in section 44.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

19 Mar 1997 : Column 921

Clause 56 [Inspection of LEAs]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 89:


Page 44, line 15, leave out ("each") and insert ("a").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 90. These amendments seek to improve the wording of Clause 56(6), with regard to the collection of information from LEAs by the chief inspector. In particular, they remove the pre-set condition that regulations must require each LEA to supply information on an annual basis. They substitute a more flexible arrangement to allow the timing of the supply of information to be adjusted through the regulations. This recognises, among other things, that it may not always be necessary to collect information annually from all LEAs. The Secretary of State would consult LEAs, and others, before making the regulations. I therefore commend the amendments to the House. I beg to move.

Lord Morris of Castle Morris: My Lords, lest we should seem to be rattling through the proceedings at an unseemly speed, I have just one question to ask the Minister. The noble Lord said that the amendment relates to the frequency of reports from LEAs to HMCI. Certainly the LEAs will be grateful for what appears to be the purport of the amendment. They may well say with King Richard II:


    "I give this heavy weight from off my head".

While recognising that relief from the onerous task of providing HMCI with annual reports is welcome, the amendment seems to suggest that reports might be made very much more frequently. Can the Minister say whether there is anything to stop that happening, because that could be a very considerable burden on the LEAs?

Lord Henley: My Lords, I agree that it would be a very considerable burden on the LEAs if they were asked to do this more often than on an annual basis. That is certainly not our intention. As I made quite clear, the important point here is that we want to remove burdens on the LEAs because we do not think that it is always necessary for them to produce such a report every year. That is why my right honourable friend will consult the LEAs precisely on the appropriate regulations before making such regulations.

Lord Morris of Castle Morris: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that assurance. I am quite sure that LEAs will in years to come quote that particular passage from Hansard to their immense relief.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 90:


Page 44, line 17, leave out ("on such annual basis as may be prescribed.") and insert ("in such form and--
(a) within such period following a request made by the Chief Inspector in any prescribed circumstances, or
(b) at such other times,
as regulations may provide.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

19 Mar 1997 : Column 922

[Amendments Nos. 91 to 97 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 98:


Before Clause 65, insert the following new clause--

("Exceptional educational provision
Exceptional educational provision

.--(1) Section 19 of the Education Act 1996 (exceptional provision of education in pupil referral units or elsewhere) shall be amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1) (duty of local education authority to make arrangements for provision of suitable full-time or part-time education, at school or otherwise, for excluded children etc.), the words "full-time or part-time" shall be omitted.
(3) In subsection (4) (power of local education authority to make arrangements for provision of suitable full-time or part-time education, otherwise than at school, for excluded young persons etc.), the words "full-time or part-time" shall be omitted.
(4) After that subsection there shall be inserted--
"(4A) In determining what arrangements to make under subsection (1) or (4) in the case of any child or young person a local education authority shall have regard to any guidance given from time to time by the Secretary of State."").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving the above amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 114 and 118. The noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay, moved an amendment in Committee to remove the words "or part-time" from Section 19 of the 1996 Act and thereby to require that LEAs always arrange full-time education for pupils who are out of school for whatever reason. As the noble Baroness will be aware, I had some sympathy for her aims and promised to consider further whether we could find a way of taking some useful steps in the direction that she proposed without giving rise to the legal, financial and practical difficulties which would have arisen from the amendment that she tabled.

The noble Baroness will also be aware that she and I and, indeed, the noble Baroness, Lady David, discussed such matters privately. I believe that these amendments meet the commitments that I made. By deleting the words "full-time or part-time" from Section 19, more emphasis is put on the requirement that LEAs arrange suitable education for pupils who are out of school. I believe that the amendments offer a practical way of meeting the concerns which were raised, and trust that they are generally acceptable. I beg to move.

Lord Morris of Castle Morris: My Lords, we welcome the amendments and no doubt my noble friend behind me may wish to express her more detailed form of gratitude.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: Yes, my Lords; I was going to do that in any event. I am most grateful to the Minister for seeing both myself and my noble friend Lady David and, indeed, for the fruitful discussions that we had. We welcome the amendments. As the Minister knows, they do not cover everything that we wanted but, so far as we are concerned, they represent an improvement on the 1993 Act. By taking out "full-time" and "part-time" but leaving in the positive word "suitable", we hope--I think there is general agreement with the Minister on this--"suitable education" will be interpreted to mean, except

19 Mar 1997 : Column 923

in circumstances where it is quite impossible, that there should be full-time education, which certainly should be effective education, for those children out of school. I am grateful to the Minister for having listened to us and for having moved towards our objectives.


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