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Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I am well aware of my noble friend's longstanding interest in matters co-operative, which even pre-dated 1974 to 1979. I very much take his point about the potential role of co-operative housing. I am sure that those representing it will contribute to the consultation on how we implement these proposals and take them forward in partnership with the range of organisations--voluntary and local authority organisations and regional planning conferences--that will need to take them in. Throughout the Statement and the formulation of policy we are looking to implement twin ends.

There is the important issue of protecting the countryside, for all the reasons that are very often expounded in your Lordships' House. But we have to do that in a way that does not create enormous stress on those who are without homes. We have to find ways of doing it that do not allow rent levels and house prices to go spiralling upwards and put even more people into the kind of housing distress which is suffered by too many in our community today.

The Earl of Harrowby: My Lords, the Minister should be congratulated on her defence of the green belt. However, I wonder whether she is aware that abuse of the green belt comes from other sources as well. I particularly refer to the West Midlands, where foreign concerns involved in industrial development are interested only in the use of green land and solely for aesthetic reasons. The department should be aware of that.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I note the points made by the noble Earl. Green belt decisions are essentially local ones. They are matters for local authorities and regional planning conferences to weigh up. The competing demands of housing and industry are best considered at a local level, with intervention only as very much the last resort.

The Earl of Harrowby: My Lords, when a £100 million subsidy is at stake it does not quite work like that.


Lord Carter: My Lords, it has been agreed through the usual channels that consideration of the Teaching and Higher Education Bill will now proceed for about one hour. The rest of the groups of amendments on today's list will be taken on Thursday and consideration on Monday will begin with Clause 16. The Report stage

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of the Competition Bill will continue today after the Teaching and Higher Education Bill, and the social security orders will be taken in the dinner adjournment.

Teaching and Higher Education Bill [H.L.]

5.10 p.m.

Consideration of amendments on Report.

Clause 1 [The General Teaching Council]:

Baroness Carnegy of Lour moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 11, after first ("Council") insert ("for England and Wales").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, we begin the Report stage of the Bill with consideration of the clauses creating a new general teaching council. This is a simple amendment and, I believe, it should not detain the House long. However, the amendment is important. Its intention is simply to change the name of the council from the general teaching council, as the Bill proposes, to the General Teaching Council for England and Wales. In studying the record of the Committee stage of this part of the Bill, it struck me--and it has since struck the registrar of the GTC for Scotland--that it is in the interests of all concerned that there should be no confusion between the existing General Teaching Council for Scotland and the new one which the Bill sets out.

In the early stages of the council I suggest that this will be especially important. Unless the Government relent and take on board some of the amendments on the Marshalled List, such as those of my noble friend Lady Young, the new general teaching council will have virtually no executive powers while the Scottish general teaching council has many. The two bodies will be very different indeed. It will be important that nobody mixes their functions.

I appreciate--and for this I apologise--that the amendment on its own, if accepted in principle, will necessitate further amendments elsewhere in the Bill. I am sure that the noble Baroness will castigate me on that point. I am sorry that I have not sorted out the consequential amendments. That is particularly important in order that the change is valid when the general teaching council for Wales separates from the parent body.

I hope that the wording is not a stumbling block and that the flexibility which the noble Baroness is aiming to bring to the Report stage will extend to some of the amendments as well as to the procedure. This is a matter on which she should be flexible. I hope that the Government and the House will feel able to change the name of the general teaching council in this way. I beg to move.

Lord Butterfield: My Lords, I support this amendment. It is not recognised in this country how much work the General Teaching Council for Scotland has been doing. It is very important that because of the

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differences which will undoubtedly emerge between the general teaching councils in the different countries that they are recognised by their names. I strongly support this amendment.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I am very happy to accept the principle that the GTC's name should reflect its territorial responsibilities to avoid confusion between the councils covering different parts of the United Kingdom. The last thing I would wish to do is castigate the noble Baroness for what she has said. However, I am advised that the wording would need to provide both for the council to be called The GTC for England and Wales in the first instance and also for it to be re-named The GTC for England once a separate GTC for Wales has been established under Clause 6. I believe that the noble Baroness has already alluded to that and I fully understand. If the noble Baroness is prepared to withdraw her amendment, I will undertake to bring forward an appropriate amendment at the next stage to achieve what she is seeking.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness very much indeed for that response. It was the problem of how to word the Bill for the circumstances that she identifies. It was impossible for me to do that. This is a very good start to the Report stage and I am sure that the House appreciates it. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 1, line 11, at end insert--
("( ) The principal aims of the Council in exercising their functions are--
(a) to contribute to improving the standards of teaching and the quality of learning, and
(b) to maintain and improve standards of professional conduct amongst teachers,
in the interests of the public.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 3, 12 and 14. During debate a number of amendments were tabled by the noble Baronesses, Lady Young and Lady Maddock, and the noble Lords, Lord Northbourne and Lord Tope, which sought to set out on the face of the Bill an objective for the GTC. I agreed to consider the proposed amendments further. I have now done so and I am returning to the House with Amendment No. 2, which sets out a principal aim for the council.

The GTC will be the professional body for teachers. It will represent the highest professional standards. I believe that we can all agree that it will promote a positive image of teaching both within the profession and outside. It will play a vital role in improving standards of teaching and the quality of learning and will maintain and improve standards of professional conduct among teachers. The amendment I am proposing sets this out clearly as a principal aim for the council.

I also believe it is right that the GTC should be a body not just concerned with protecting the interests of its own members. It should be outward-looking and

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speak out where standards are not as they should be. It will be working to raise the quality of teaching and learning in our schools for the benefit of parents, pupils, and the wider public. There are few professions as important as teaching. Teachers are responsible for the success of future generations. Any objectives for the GTC must therefore have these responsibilities to the wider public at their heart.

The amendment I have brought forward I believe reflects the principles behind the amendments tabled by the noble Baronesses and the noble Lords during Committee stage. There was some debate then about whether the GTC should also have an overall aim about enabling the profession to exercise responsibility for the standards and quality of its professional service and to offer advice. There were mixed views about that. In my view the GTC will achieve this by fulfilling its wider aims and its functions, as set out in the Bill. Therefore, I do not believe it is necessary, or indeed appropriate, to state this as an aim in itself.

I also indicated during debate in Committee that I was very sympathetic to the proposal made by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding--I do not believe that he is in his place--that the council should be required to take into account the needs of disabled people in the course of its work. I have therefore brought forward Amendment No. 3, which will require the GTC to have regard to the requirements of disabled people when carrying out its functions. This parallels an existing duty placed on the Teacher Training Agency. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, for raising this very important issue, with his customary force and eloquence, through his amendment at Committee stage.

I should add, that I have also introduced a further amendment, Amendment No. 5, which we will be discussing later. This further amendment requires the Secretary of State to have regard to the need to reflect the interests of persons concerned with the teaching of persons with special educational needs when making regulations about the composition of the council. The Government are determined that their crusade for higher standards should encompass all learners. I believe that, taken together, Amendments Nos. 3 and 5 will ensure that the GTC will have regard to the interests of those with disabilities and learners with special educational needs when carrying out all its functions.

I turn now to Amendments Nos. 12 and 14, proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Tope, and his colleagues. The existing Clause 2 sets out what we believe should be the advisory functions of the GTC. This will be the professional body for teachers and it will be able to advise the Secretary of State on a broad range of matters related to teaching. These include standards of teaching; standards of conduct for teachers; the role of the teaching profession; the training, career development and performance management of teachers; recruitment to the teaching profession; and medical fitness to teach. It may also advise on individual cases of teachers' misconduct.

Amendment No. 12 suggests an expanded and reworded version of those responsibilities. On a number of points I believe our intentions are exactly the same,

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and much as I respect the noble Lord's drafting skills I am not altogether persuaded of the case to amend or adjust the present wording.

There are also a number of significant additional responsibilities here which we would not see as properly falling to the GTC--at least in the first instance. I do not think it would be right, for example, for the GTC to take a role in advising on grounds for suspending and dismissing teachers. We have recently agreed new procedures with employers and unions for dealing with teachers who are not up to the job. It is for line managers and employers to identify teachers who are not performing to standard or who ought to be dismissed for other reasons. Suspending someone or dismissing them from a particular post is quite different to barring them from the profession. The Bill gives the GTC a power to advise on the latter, but I do not think it would be helpful to start cutting across the relationship between employer and employee. Responses to our consultation exercise last year displayed a wide range of views on this topic with many urging us to tread very carefully where employment matters were concerned.

I do not believe it would be right either for the advisory role of the GTC to be expanded to cover other aspects of education such as funding or the curriculum. In the initial years, at least, the focus of the GTC should be on teaching. We need to give the GTC time to develop and establish itself before its role expands any further.

In particular we should not set out to duplicate the advisory functions we have given to other public bodies. Other public bodies, such as the Qualification and Curriculum Authority, will certainly look to the GTC for advice on issues, but it would not be right to give the GTC a principal function of advising on the school curriculum, syllabuses, examinations and testing. Many of the advisory functions presently envisaged for the GTC will involve questions of resources, but I do not think that advising on the funding of the education service should be set out as a principal advisory function of the GTC.

Amendment No. 12 also provides for the GTC to establish such committees as it thinks appropriate. The GTC will already have this power under paragraph 9 of Schedule 1, so that part of the amendment is unnecessary.

Finally, I note that the amendment provides for the GTC to determine which other bodies it should advise. It is certainly not our intention to constrain the council's ability to play a full part in the national education debate. Where there are issues on which the council would be expected to have a professional perspective to offer, it should be able to do so. In practice, I do not think that Clause 2 would unduly limit the GTC. We have already provided in Clause 2(5) for the GTC to publish its advice, so it would be open for any other body to take note of it. The amendment appears to remove that power from the GTC. I am not sure whether that was intentional. However, I am persuaded that we should consider further whether Clause 2 fully secures our intention that the GTC should be a major partner in the national drive to raise standards in schools.

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I must also resist Amendment No. 14, again proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Tope, and his colleagues. It seeks to provide that the GTC should be given a greater role in promoting teaching as a career and in the continuing professional development of teachers. In England, those functions currently rest with the Teacher Training Agency. I do not think that it would be a good idea to see the TTA's statutory responsibilities weakened or its critical work in any way undermined. The TTA is doing a good job. We have recently given it a major new remit to ensure that good quality candidates are attracted to the teaching profession and receive the training and professional development they need throughout their careers. If experience shows that we need to consider the balance of statutory duties between the GTC and the TTA we may return to that in the next Parliament. It may be that the case proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Tope, and his colleagues is drawn from the clauses referring to the GTC for Wales. However, the situation in Wales is rather different because there only a small TTA unit has responsibility for a very limited range of functions. I beg to move.

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