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Baroness Blatch had given notice of her intention to move Amendment No. 24:

Page 3, line 44, at end insert ("of attainment").

The noble Baroness said: I am sorry that the Minister will not accept the words "of attainment". Perhaps he would like to think of all the other standards and place those other aspects on the face of the Bill. However, there is a coyness about "attainment" on the part of the Government opposite. I believe that "attainment" is an extremely important word. It is missing from the Bill. It should be in the Bill. It was missing from the 1996 Act

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and ought to be included. If it cannot be included in this Bill, then perhaps through the Bill the 1996 Act could be amended to include the word "attainment".

Perhaps the noble Lord can think of ways of making sure that attainment, quite specifically, is covered. I would be grateful if he could do that between now and the next stage. Meanwhile I shall not move the amendment.

[Amendment No. 24 not moved.]

Baroness Byford moved Amendment No. 25:

Page 4, line 8, at end insert ("and "high standards" applies inter alia to education, learning, teaching, governance and behaviour, and to the local education authority's own activities"").

The noble Baroness said: I wish to move this amendment on behalf of my noble friend Lord Lucas. This whole section deals with a duty to promote high standards. Clearly the amendment seeks to clarify that further. I should like to ask what the Government mean exactly by "high standards"? How do they propose to enforce that view unless there is some direct definition of it in the Bill? I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: The specification here runs up against the same difficulties as the specification of attainment, and nothing else, in the previous discussion. Local education authorities have a duty to carry out many functions in relation to education at school level: provision of services to schools, transport, personnel, health and safety, leadership, co-ordination, supply of school places, communication and other functions too numerous to mention. Those are not included in the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, but each of them in its own way contributes directly or indirectly to the quality of education provided and, therefore, to high standards. We think that local education authorities should be striving for excellence in all aspects of what they do.

To accept the amendment as it stands would risk diluting the commitment to standards in all of those fields. As currently worded, the reference to high standards is all-embracing, and includes all of these areas. If we start to specify it in this clause the opposite of the intention of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, and of the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, would be the result. We would dilute the effect and limit the way in which high standards were interpreted in the functions of local authorities. I, therefore, ask the noble Baroness, to withdraw the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas.

Baroness Byford: I thank the noble Minister for his response to the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas. He will be disappointed that the Government are not prepared to include it as a definition in the Bill. However, at this stage I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 agreed to.

House resumed.

        House adjourned at seven minutes past eleven o'clock.

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