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Lord Butterfield: My Lords, I hope that the Minister will not mind my intervening briefly to say how delighted will be those who have done so much work over the past five years to get the general teaching council set up and running to see it established under the Bill and to know, by this amendment, that the membership of the GTC will comprise a majority of teachers. I do not want the immense amount of work that has been put into the establishment of the GTC over the past four or five years to go unrecorded. I spoke up for a GTC in the middle of the night in, I think, 1962. We lost then, but it is now sailing. I wish the GTC well as it moves out of the harbour and into the open sea.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I wonder whether the Minister will clarify one point. It is clear from the amendment that a majority of members of the council will either be in employment as teachers or will have been in recent employment. Once one is a registered teacher, can one continue to be on the register for as long as one likes after retirement or is there a point at which one

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comes off the register? That seems to me an interesting point in relation to the register, although perhaps not directly relevant to the amendment.

Lord Walton of Detchant: My Lords, perhaps I may comment on that last point. In medicine, so long as one is a registered medical practitioner one can retain that registration until the end of one's days. On the other hand, many qualifications relate to the extent to which one can continue to practise medicine in the National Health Service where there is an age limit. I believe that teachers can and should continue to be so registered.

When this issue was discussed on Report, I had some little doubt about whether it was proper to include in such an amendment the term "registered teacher" because until the general teaching council comes into operation there will be no register upon which individuals' names can be included. Nevertheless, I believe that the term "registered" is correct and I express my personal gratitude to the Minister for taking on board so many of the points made. I, too, greatly welcome the amendment.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords for what they have said. Indeed, I am delighted that Members of your Lordships' House have unanimously welcomed the amendment which will ensure that we have a council which truly commands respect for members of the teaching profession, but which also allows scope for others with an interest in high teaching standards to be represented on the council.

I am only sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, feels that we are taking too long with the consultation. The consultation process on the GTC has two stages. That might explain why we do not yet have the answers to all of the noble Lord's questions, but I am sure that he would be critical if we did not give people long enough to reflect on the issues and to come back to us with their views.

To deal with the question raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, qualified teachers will be eligible to register until the end of their days as long as they have not been barred. I believe that that is also highly desirable.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 4:

Page 2, line 26, at end insert--
("(8) At any time before the date mentioned in subsection (3)(a), the Council shall be known as the General Teaching Council for England and Wales; and--
(a) in relation to any time before that date, references to the Council in any enactment shall accordingly be construed as references to the General Teaching Council for England and Wales, and
(b) any reference to the Council by that name in an instrument or document made before that date shall be construed on or after that date as a reference to the General Teaching Council for England.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Baroness Young moved Amendment No. 5:

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, before dealing with this amendment I too should like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, for the amendments that she has tabled and those that are to come. I did not intervene earlier, but I am grateful that she has accepted so many of the suggestions that have been made about the composition of the council. I am sure that that will be very beneficial.

I return to the amendment. When I moved it on Report and in Committee I was most grateful for the strong support that I received from all parts of the House. I did not then press the amendment because I wanted to consider fully what the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, had said. He made a number of suggestions, one of which is the subject of a later amendment, although I may have misunderstood. However, when I looked at the matter I did not think that it went far enough. I shall not repeat all of the arguments because they have already been dealt with, but the issue quite simply is what kind of general teaching council we want. The body proposed is an advisory council, or we could have one that is the equivalent of other professional bodies. I have no doubt that if we are to have a general teaching council it should be equivalent to other professional bodies. It is very important that it should attract the right kind of people. I believe that it would then do its work well. We know that those who belong to it will have to pay a compulsory subscription. If they are to do that they must subscribe to a body that has real purpose and the power to take decisions. That is the issue at point. I beg to move.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I wholeheartedly support this amendment. The Minister said that now that the general teaching council would be composed of a majority of teachers she believed it would command the respect of the profession. That will help. However, whether a general teaching council with so few powers and such a limited role will command the respect of teachers and they will feel it is worth paying for it is a very big question. The evidence in Scotland is that it is likely to be a very big disappointment.

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3.45 p.m.

Lord Walton of Detchant: My Lords, I support the amendment. I believe that the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, and colleagues have moved a long way towards meeting many of the concerns that have been expressed in your Lordships' House about the constitution and powers of the general teaching council. But the single issue that remains is what authority this council will have over the education and training of members of the teaching profession and issues such as professional conduct and discipline and the register. The issue relating to the register will arise under a later amendment to be moved by the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin, and others.

At the end of the day, what authority is this council to have? The answer is that it will have very little indeed. As the Bill now stands it is to be purely an advisory body. The answer to all of the important questions that may be raised relating to standards of practice and conduct and the retention of names on the register is ultimately vested in the Secretary of State, but not the council itself. Although on Report the noble Baroness said it was intended that in all probability the council would ultimately be given those powers under amending legislation, we all know how difficult it is to achieve amending legislation and primary legislation in the constantly crowded parliamentary timetable.

The question is whether the Government will bite the bullet from the beginning and give this council the powers that all other regulatory authorities for various other professions possess over standards of practice and education and conduct. It is true that the Teacher Training Agency under the chairmanship of Professor Clive Booth is an admirable body that is doing excellent work. However, I hope that noble Lords will forgive me if I give yet another analogy relating to the work of the General Medical Council. The ultimate authority over medical education is vested in the General Medical Council's Education Committee. That committee has responsibility for achieving and maintaining high standards of medical education and co-ordinating all stages of it. That council, through its professional conduct committee, has authority to deal with all matters to do with conduct and discipline within the profession. The Secretary of State has no authority in that particular regard.

Is the general teaching council simply to maintain an advisory role? In medicine there are many other bodies such as the Royal colleges and a great number of professional associations that give advice on training, conduct and discipline, but the ultimate authority rests with the General Medical Council. That is also true of the General Dental Council and the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting. Why do we not take this opportunity to give such authority to the general teaching council since without that authority it will be emasculated? I believe it is right that this task should be undertaken now and not left to amending legislation at a much later date.

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