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Lord Henley: My Lords, I imagine that the first part of the noble Lord's question was rhetorical. I cannot answer as to why his party or the party opposite made the decisions that they did in terms of negotiations about Clauses 1 to 19 and Clause 20.

As regards the numbers of those benefiting from the new provisions under the assisted places scheme, I cannot confirm the precise figures that the noble Lord gave. Nor can I say whether firm, legally binding commitments have been made. But there will be an expectation among a number of people that they will benefit. For that reason, it is right that they should be allowed to benefit. That is part of a commitment certainly made by the party opposite about the assisted places scheme generally. When the party opposite claims that it would like to phase out the scheme, it has always made it clear that it would do so gradually so that no one individual would suffer.

I hope that I have dealt with the noble Lord's questions to the best of my ability. If there is anything more that I can add, I would prefer to write. I commend the amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 2 [Duty of governing body to review selective admission policy]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 2:


Leave out Clause 2.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 3 [Objections on notification to proposals which do not need to be published]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 3:


Leave out Clause 3.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 4 [Relaxation of controls on enlargement of premises]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 4:


Leave out Clause 4.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 5 [Relaxation of controls on changes relating to selective admissions]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 5:


Leave out Clause 5.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 6 [Relaxation of controls on changes in age groups for admission etc.]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 6:


Leave out Clause 6.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Clause 7 [Consultation and notification where proposals do not need to be published]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 7:


Leave out Clause 7.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 8 [Schools requiring special measures]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 8:


Leave out Clause 8.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 9 [Duty of governing body to review selective admission policy]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 9:


Leave out Clause 9.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 10 [Alteration of admission numbers for grant-maintained schools]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 10:


Leave out Clause 10.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 11 [Review of approved admission numbers]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 11:


Leave out Clause 11.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 12 [Notification of proposals in connection with Sex Discrimination Act 1975]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 12:


Leave out Clause 12.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 13 [Secretary of State's reserved power to limit appropriate threshold]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 13:


Leave out Clause 13.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 14 [Sponsor governors]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 14:


Leave out Clause 14.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 15 [Extension of power of funding authority to establish grant-maintained schools]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 15:


Leave out Clause 15.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 16 [Grants to promoters of grant-maintained schools]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 16:


Leave out Clause 16.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 17 [Recovery from local funds of sums in respect of start-up grants]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 17:


Leave out Clause 17.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

19 Mar 1997 : Column 929

Clause 18 [Ballot observers]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 18:


Leave out Clause 18.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 19 [Provision of advice and assistance by funding authority]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 19:


Leave out Clause 19.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 33 [Corresponding provisions about admissions to grant-maintained schools]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 20:


Page 30, line 6, leave out from ("After") to ("Schedule") in line 8 and insert ("section 425 of the Education Act 1996 there shall be inserted--
425A.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Schedule inserted after Schedule 5 to the Education Act 1996]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 21:


Leave out Schedule 1.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Sponsor governors]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 22:


Leave out Schedule 2.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 9 [Minor and consequential amendments]:

Lord Henley moved Amendments Nos. 23 to 37:


Page 81, leave out lines 5 to 7.
Page 81, leave out lines 8 to 40.
Page 81, line 47, leave out from beginning to end of line 3 on page 82.
Page 82, line 5, leave out ("the words from "the age" to "same age"") and insert (""the age of five"").
Page 82, leave out lines 7 to 9.
Page 82, leave out lines 10 to 13.
Page 82, line 15 at end insert--
(". In section 266(1)(b) of that Act (interpretation of Chapter VII of Part III), for "the age of five" substitute "compulsory school age".").
Page 82, leave out lines 16 to 20.
Page 83, leave out lines 40 and 41.
Page 84, leave out lines 8 to 10.
Page 84, leave out lines 15 to 17.
Page 84, line 18, leave out ("that subsection") and insert ("subsection (2)").
Page 84, leave out lines 26 to 31.
Page 85, leave out lines 3 to 6.
Page 85, leave out lines 8 and 9.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 10 [Repeals]:

Lord Henley moved Amendments Nos. 38 to 40:


Page 86, leave out lines 29 and 30.
Page 86, leave out lines 35 to 39.
Page 86, leave out lines 43 to 45.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

19 Mar 1997 : Column 930

Lord Henley: My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Tope, feels that some of the time spent on the Bill has been somewhat fruitless. I accept that another place has spent some 54 hours and 45 minutes debating the Bill through all its stages. In this House, even with a rather truncated Report stage, we have devoted some 35½ hours to the Bill. That is over 90 hours devoted to the Bill. I do not believe that the time spent even on those parts now deleted was fruitless or without purpose. I think that a useful exercise was performed in exercising our views. It will no doubt make it easier after the coming election to get the additional clauses back through Parliament because they will have been debated extensively and thoroughly.

It only remains for me to thank all those involved in the Bill. I shall not name all the individuals. I thank them for their politeness and kindness to me in particular in the long nights that we spent on the Bill. I believe that the debate has remained good humoured throughout the 35½ hours spent on the Bill in this House, even if, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Tope, will remember, sometimes a little after midnight the usual courtesies were not observed in quite the form they normally are. I therefore thank the noble Lord, Lord Tope, and his party, and the noble Lord, Lord Morris, for their help on the Bill throughout its passage. I offer my thanks to all those on the Cross-Benches. In particular on my own Benches, I offer my thanks to my Whip, my noble friend Lady Miller for all she has done during the course of the Bill. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.--(Lord Henley.)

Lord Morris of Castle Morris: My Lords, was it not Mr. Winston Churchill (as he then was) who said, "In victory, magnanimity, in defeat defiance"? We are happy to welcome the amendments that have been announced this afternoon. I for one receive those amendments in magnanimous silence.

At this point in the long march of any large Bill through your Lordships' House it is customary for us to obey the proposal of the old Hebrew writer who said,


    "Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us",

and thank each other and thank ourselves and thank our fathers that begat us, not forgetting the Vicar for the use of the hall and the ladies for preparing the sandwiches.

I have people whom I wish to thank. I thank, first, my noble friends on these Benches who have borne the heat and burden of the day, and the cold and boredom of the night as well, with a fortitude and enthusiasm which would be hard to match in the annals of your Lordships' House. I thank the noble Baronesses, Lady David, and Lady Ramsay of Cartvale, and the noble Lords, Lord Monkswell, Lord Dormand of Easington and Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede, and perhaps pre-eminently my noble friend Lady Farrington of Ribbleton whose energy is matched only by her perspicacity, and whose assiduity in her duties is only enhanced by her occasional desire for some of the lesser and legal stimulants like tannin and caffeine to keep her going at full throttle.

19 Mar 1997 : Column 931

I wish also to thank my colleagues, if I may call them that, on the Liberal Democrat Benches, the noble Lord, Lord Tope, the noble Baroness, Lady Thomas of Walliswood, and the noble Lord, Lord Addington, for their help and support. It is heartening and fortifying to realise that on education matters, if not on some other matters, there is no more than a pennyworth of difference between the policies of our two parties. There is virtually no difference between our policies and those of the Cross-Benches. So it is a great pleasure to me to thank the noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant, the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, and the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock. I shall not easily forget the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, being virtually borne in upon a litter to cast a vote, which by sheer chance was one about which we had taken the trouble to warn him.

But none of this would have been possible without the work of the engine room, by which I mean those who have advised and assisted us in the organisation and presentation of our work and have kept us out of trouble and in order. It has often been remarked that a Government Minister is loyally supported by the entire Civil Service. I remind noble Lords that the Opposition is supported not by the whole Civil Service but by Robert, Clare and David. On this occasion I want to pay a special tribute to Mr. David Melhuish who only joined our researchers' office a few months ago and yet within weeks proved himself able to master all the skills necessary to power us through the Bill. It has been for him a fiery but triumphant baptism and he is to be congratulated on his remarkable achievement. From Mr. Damien Welfare of the AMA we have come to expect administrative and organisational brilliance of the very highest order, and on this occasion he has surpassed even his own high standards in preparing us for all the pitfalls, banana skins and elephant traps in our path. My only worry is that if 1st May proves fortunate for the Labour Party in the phrase so beloved of the classicists o albo dies notanda lapillo, (may the day be marked with a white stone), we may face the daunting prospect of seeing him advising our opponents.

That very word "opponent" brings me to the thanks that we all owe to the noble Lord the Minister, Lord Henley. It reminds me of the newly-elected Member of another place who was being shown around the Chamber by an older colleague. He was told:


    "Your opponents sit over there; your enemies sit behind you."

The noble Lord, Lord Henley, has not been troubled by that particular peril on this occasion. The Minister has been a formidable but scrupulously fair and courteous opponent. So far as he is concerned, I only hope that I may have achieved in his estimation the rank, title and status of "enemy in good standing".

Above all, everyone who has been concerned with this Bill has been able to trust everyone else; and when the Minister has assured me that something is going to happen, I have trusted him implicitly and have never been let down. That is important. Trust does not come

19 Mar 1997 : Column 932

easily to a Welshman where Englishmen are concerned. There was an old professor of Welsh who once said to me:


    "I am a South Walian born and bred. And at my mother's knee I learned that North Walians are not to be trusted. After 60 years, teaching in five countries and four continents, and meeting all sorts and conditions of men, I have learned one other thing ... that North Walians are not the only people who are not to be trusted."

It has not been so with us, and I am grateful.

4.30 p.m.

Lord Tope: My Lords, perhaps I should begin by responding to the Minister, who took me to task for saying that much of the time that we had spent on this Bill had been fruitless. What I was struggling to say and perhaps can now say better is that it would have been more fruitful had we been spending more time on the latter parts of the Bill--and had that been the case in the other place as well--to further improve what we broadly agree about, and rather less time on those parts of the Bill which have now fallen, about which, frankly, we were never going to agree, and which, I suspect, were always doomed.

I do not know what our debates have done for the education of the nation because views about that may differ; but they have certainly done something for my education. I pondered at an early stage whether I should come into the Chamber equipped with a dictionary of quotations and the complete works of Shakespeare in some vain attempt to keep up with the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Castle Morris. However, I determined at a very early stage that such a thing would certainly have been a fruitless exercise and so I have not tried to do so. I must confess to one moment of alarm which occurred on the third day of the Committee stage, when we were heading through until some time after 3 o'clock in the morning. At around 1 o'clock in the morning the noble Lord, Lord Morris, came across and whispered to me, "I have got my second wind now". I must say that I had not noticed that his first wind was completely blown out at any stage and did wonder whether the coming of the second wind might indeed keep us in the Chamber until breakfast time. Fortunately that proved not to be the case.

I echo all that the noble Lord, Lord Morris, said, but with one small reservation. He said, if I quote him accurately, that there was not a penny's worth of difference between our policy and that of the Labour Party. "A penny's worth" is of course a very appropriate phrase because there was one important difference, and that is a penny's worth. However, let me say more particularly that it is comparatively easy to agree with what we are opposed to, whereas it is not always quite so easy to agree on measures which we favour. Should the general election turn out in favour of the Labour Party, I certainly look forward to the noble Lord, Lord Morris, or whoever it may be, explaining to me exactly what the difference is between a grant-maintained school and a foundation school: but that is all in the future.

I echo very sincerely the thanks that the noble Lord gave all round, and particularly to those who advised me and my colleagues with equal favour as they did

19 Mar 1997 : Column 933

the Opposition. The noble Lord has already mentioned Damien Welfare. I certainly wish to echo the thanks that have been expressed, and also to thank Chris Waterman at the Association of London Government, who, perhaps because I am a London member, has been particularly helpful to me as well.

I pay a very warm tribute to my two colleagues who have helped me very much on this Bill: my noble friend Lady Thomas of Walliswood (who, as I previously explained, cannot be here this afternoon), and my noble friend Lord Addington, who is here at my side. They have been a tower of strength not only in their advice and support but also in keeping me awake at times when it was necessary. I should like to mention the support, help and guidance I have had on this Bill, and throughout my time as our party's education spokesman in your Lordships' House, from my colleague the honourable Member for Bath, Don Foster. He has given tireless support.

Next, and perhaps most important of all--because it is less visible--I want to pay a very warm tribute and say sincere thanks to Carolyn Rampton in our Whips' Office, who has kept me briefed phenomenally well, in addition to all her other duties in a very busy and understaffed office. She has always done so enormously efficiently, always cheerfully and apparently never under pressure, although I know that the opposite has often been the case.

I have also welcomed the interest and support of all Members in this House. It may be invidious to single out some, but I should like to mention, because others have not yet done so, the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Ripon, to whom I think we owe the demise of QNCA, for which I think the nation will always be grateful. I do not think that any Member of your Lordships' House could have done that with greater delicacy than he achieved at the time. I also thank most sincerely the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin, with whom we have worked closely and well.

Lastly, I should like to join again with the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Castle Morris, in thanking the Minister for the very helpful and courteous way in which he has dealt with this Bill, not only inside the House but also outside it, and the way he has kept us informed of his intentions. I share with the noble Lord, Lord Morris, the view that when the Minister said that something would happen, it did happen; and I have to say that equally when the Minister said that something will not happen, it does not happen. I think we should all pay tribute to the Minister's stamina. It cannot have been easy to have stood for hour upon hour at the Dispatch Box, even with the very able help of his Whip. It was, despite that help, he and he alone who has stood at the Dispatch Box, especially on that third day of the Committee stage which lasted for almost 12 hours. The noble Lord dealt with every amendment and on almost every one of them he had to say "No". It was a remarkable test of stamina. Although we may not always have agreed with what he was saying, we certainly recognised his formidable efforts in saying what he had to say. In the end--for perhaps different reasons--we are about to pass a Bill

19 Mar 1997 : Column 934

which is very much better than the one which we started with in your Lordships' House. I pay tribute to all those who have helped to bring this about.


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