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Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, some retired teachers might not be registered, so I linked the noble Baroness's point with that. Perhaps she was also referring to teachers in independent schools. All state school teachers must be registered under the legislation. I hope that as many teachers as possible in independent schools would want to register. I think that it is important that they do. We ought to be able to draw from registered teachers in independent schools representatives for the GTC. Again, that is something on which we shall consult.

Lord Northbourne: My Lords, I confirm the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Tope. I definitely said in my introductory remarks that I was not suggesting that representatives of pupils should sit on the council.

This leads to an important point. In our discussions we are confusing the words "reflecting the interest of" with the word "representation". That difference needs some consideration. I shall read carefully in the Official Report what the noble Baroness said. However, I had the impression that she was prepared to look again at the ways in which the interests of consumers will be reflected in the provision.

It is important that the wrong message is not on the face of the Bill. I think that the noble Baroness's heart is in the right place but the Bill does not reflect that position accurately. Perhaps she will be prepared to discuss the matter. On that basis, I am happy to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 4 not moved.]

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The Deputy Speaker (Lord Strabolgi): My Lords, Amendment No. 5A comes next. The Marshalled List is wrong.

Baroness Perry of Southwark: My Lords, I listened with great care to what the noble Baroness said about Amendment No. 5A. I am slightly concerned--

The Deputy Speaker: My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Baroness. If she wishes to make a speech, as she is perfectly entitled to do, will she please move the amendment? We are on Amendment No. 5A. I have called the name of the noble Baroness.

[Amendment No. 5A not moved.]

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 5:

Page 2, line 10, after ("training,") insert--
("( ) persons concerned with the teaching of persons with special educational needs,
( ) commerce and industry,").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 6 not moved.]

Schedule 1 [General Teaching Council]:

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 7:

Page 25, line 33, leave out from ("Regulations") to end of line 34 and insert ("made under this paragraph before the establishment of the Council may enable the Secretary of State to make provision with respect to any of the matters referred to in sub-paragraph (1); but regulations made under this paragraph after the Council have been established may authorise the Council to make rules with respect to any such matters.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Young moved Amendment No. 8:

Before Clause 2, insert the following new clause--

Functions of the Council

(" .--(1) The Council shall be responsible for determining the following matters--
(a) standards of teaching;
(b) standards of conduct for teachers; and
(c) medical fitness to teach.
(2) The Council may be required to seek advice from--
(a) the Secretary of State; or
(b) such other persons or bodies that he may from time to time designate,
on matters falling within subsection (1).
(3) This section has effect in relation to regulations made under subsections (2), (3) and (6) of section 218 of the Education Reform Act 1988 (regulations relating to schools, etc.) as they apply to teachers at schools.
(4) The Secretary of State shall make provision in such regulations for a determination or direction under those regulations to be made by the Council.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the amendment falls into a rather different category from those to which we have been speaking. It refers to the general teaching council. The point at issue is what kind of council we want. The purpose of the council should be to give real responsibility. At Second Reading and in Committee comparisons were made with both the Law Society and the General Medical Council. There is anxiety that if the council does not have the power to do certain things it

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will be seen as a second class council, and certainly second class in relation to other professional bodies. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ripon made an important point. He said that if the council were not seen in the same class as other professional bodies it would not attract the same able people. That in itself would be damaging.

I agree entirely with what the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, said about teachers at Second Reading. I think that we would all agree. At col. 253 of the Official Report of 11th December 1997, she said:

    "Teachers are our greatest educational resource. Teachers, in particular head teachers, are at the heart of our drive to raise standards".

She went on:

    "This Government listen to teachers and we intend to work in partnership with them".

Later, at col. 255, she said:

    "This Government are determined to restore pride and professionalism to the teaching profession".

The noble Baroness made various comments on the White Paper, Excellence in Schools. I believe that there is not one person in your Lordships' House who would not entirely support all those statements. It was disappointing therefore that when we discussed this matter in Committee the teachers who had been referred to in such glowing terms were not described in the same way. If one looks, for instance, at the crucial matter of debarring teachers, the noble Baroness said at col. 1449 of the Official Report of 20th January 1997:

    "The public have a right to expect that the protection of children will be governed by a coherent, consistent and rigorous barring regime".

I entirely agree with that statement. But if we do not think that teachers are capable of carrying out that aim, it suggests that we do not think that they have full responsibility. We cannot have one without the other.

The noble Baroness spoke about the registry of teachers and barring them from the profession. Again, the suggestion is that teachers cannot be trusted to undertake those important tasks. I ask myself why. I ask particularly because I understand that teachers seem perfectly capable of undertaking them in Scotland. I am second to none in my admiration of the Scots, and Scots teachers. But it seems strange that north of the border responsibility should reign, but not south of it. It is a serious question.

Furthermore, the noble Baroness said that the proposals were to be evolutionary; that we would start off with this provision and move at a later stage to something else. Perhaps I may again quote the noble Baroness. At col. 1447, she stated:

    "I assume that they are intended to give the GTC full responsibility to decide whom to register and whom to deregister. This may seem an admirable aim and it is possible that in the fullness of time the GTC will be able to develop in that direction. I am most sympathetic to that happening in the longer term. But it would be premature at this stage".

That suggests that within the lifetime of this Parliament, or a measured time, it would all come to pass. But we now know that it will require primary legislation. Once that is recognised we are looking into the indefinite future. All of us, certainly any who have been in

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government, know how difficult it is to get any Bill before Parliament. The idea that we would have another Bill to deal with this issue in the immediate five years or so is unlikely. So whatever goes into the Bill is there for the foreseeable future.

I fear that the measure will be seen as second rate. I fear that it will not therefore attract the best. I believe that if we want to encourage real responsibility among people we have to give them responsibility. On serious matters such as the debarment of teachers, I cannot imagine a general teaching council not taking the strictest of views and having the highest of standards on the debarring of teachers who would fall under Section 99; and one knows how extremely serious that matter is.

At Committee stage the noble Lord, Lord Walton, made the point that it is a task that the General Medical Council undertakes. He can speak with more knowledge on that subject than I can. But the two situations are somewhat similar although not identical because we are talking exclusively about children and that makes it more serious.

I hope that the Government will consider the matter again. One should either have something that is really worthwhile, or one should decide not to have it. For my part I should like to have a measure that is really worthwhile. I beg to move.

4.30 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Ripon: My Lords, I support the amendment tabled in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Young. There are two possibilities for the general teaching council: on the one hand, that it will simply be a body which acts when the Secretary of State requests, responding to whatever he or she may ask it to do; or on the other, that it may from the very beginning have the possibility of initiating and making independent recommendations.

I understand entirely the point that is being made, not least by the Minister, about evolution. However, it seems to me that the starting-point from which this body is to evolve is very important. If it begins merely as a body which responds to the Secretary of State, it will have a very difficult start. It is important that it has a clear start, with responsibilities which it is able to undertake on its own initiative.

The noble Baroness, Lady Young, referred to the General Teaching Council in Scotland. It has a duty to keep under review the standards of education, training and fitness to teach of persons entering the teaching profession--the phraseology echoes some of the elements in this amendment--and to make to the Secretary of State from time to time such recommendations with respect to those standards "as they think fit". It is those words, "as they think fit", which are so important. They place upon that body responsibility to initiate and undertake such work as it thinks it right to do. It is important that the general

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teaching council should have similar powers to undertake work which is its own responsibility and not merely in response to others.

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