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Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 81A:

Page 18, line 42, after ("day"") insert ("(except in Schedule 31)").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 81A, and in doing so I need also to refer to the large batch of amendments grouped with it. For the record, these are Nos. 83A, 83B, 85A, 90A, 90B, 90C, 90D, 90F, 90G, 91B, 91C, 114A, 114B, 122A, 129A, 145A, 156A, 206A, 206B, 256B, 257C, 257E, 257G, 257J, 257L, 257N, 257P, 259A.

Following that, I have seven pages of notes explaining what each of the amendments does. However, I would hope that at this hour your Lordships will accept my assurance that all are technical and consequential, intended to clarify the Bill's substantive provisions relating to the new school categories. None of the amendments makes any additional substantive changes not already dealt with by other amendments. I am of course prepared to answer any questions on any of the amendments to the best of my ability, but I hope that the Committee will accept that they are technical and so allow us to proceed to the rather more substantial amendments which are to follow.

Baroness Blatch: I do not rise to ask for the seven pages of explanation regarding these amendments, but I do ask this. Consequential on what? And in relation to what?

Lord Whitty: Consequential on the definition of the new schools framework, with definitions of the new foundation schools. They also relate to timing and provisions on property and status.

Lord Lucas: I, on the other hand, would like to ask the noble Lord a few questions. It may be convenient if I do so amendment by amendment. I start with No. 145A. My question is: like what? As I am sure the noble Lord realises, the amendment introduces additional words, in this case "rights and liabilities". Therefore I ask: like what?

Lord Whitty: The whole amendment deals with property transfers and makes it clear that rights and liabilities which are attached to properties will transfer with such properties. That is what Amendments Nos. 145A and 90C are about.

Lord Lucas: If the noble Lord would prefer to write to me I will allow him to, but I should like to know: like

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what? What sorts of rights and liabilities which were not subsumed in the original wording are now brought in by this wording? I cannot think of any, because "property" subsumes it all. Doubtless the noble Lord knows, though he may not be able to recall the knowledge at this time of the morning, and I would be happy for him to write to me. But I do wish to know.

Perhaps we can move on to the next one. I very much welcome his removing the wording in Amendment No. 114A, which was extremely obscure. I should also very much like to understand Amendment No. 206A and what exactly has been done there. It appears that some tax or rating concession has been removed from schools, but the noble Lord will doubtless be able to inform me better.

Lord Whitty: I regret to say that the noble Lord will have to rely on a letter from me because I cannot immediately find the necessary information among my notes. I can inform him about Amendment No. 206B, but I will write to him about No. 206A.

Baroness Blatch: This is actually a rather serious point. I accepted what the noble Lord said at the beginning, that these are minor technical amendments and entirely consequential, but if one reads subsection (2), which is to disappear from the Bill, it says that:

    "The code may include guidelines setting out aims, objectives and other matters in relation to the discharge of their functions under this Chapter by local education authorities and such governing bodies.

    It shall be the duty of...the bodies and persons mentioned in subsection (1) when exercising functions under this Chapter, and...any other person when exercising any function",

and so on. These provisions are more than merely technical, minor and inconsequential. Therefore, I wonder whether the noble Lord will agree--because we do not want to hold up the progress of the Committee--to write with an explanation to my noble friend and have the letter copied to other noble Lords, and we will deal with these amendments at the next stage and, it is to be hoped, without any difficulty.

2.30 a.m.

Lord Whitty: I am happy to confirm that I will write to the noble Lord. The bulk of these amendments are fairly straightforward. I have now found my briefing on Amendment No. 206A in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Lucas. That relates to the issues arising from discussions with the charity commissioners. I will put all this in writing to the noble Lord, with a copy to the noble Baroness.

Lord Lucas: If I have a full explanation of all the amendments in this group I shall be content. But there are certainly others on which I had questions.

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The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, will remember the trouble he gave me in the past on technical amendments. It is a lesson I learnt well at his hands. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, will be better prepared--as I learnt to be--on a future occasion.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: I doubt whether I did that at 2.30 in the morning.

Baroness Blatch: On more than one occasion when I was a Minister noble Lords opposite did that at 2.30 in the morning.

To put the record straight, I read from page 59, not page 57. The section I ought to have read was that dealing with mandatory and discretionary rate relief, a point raised by my noble friend.

If the noble Lord was not prepared to write ahead of our voting on these amendments, then we should feel it necessary to vote against them tonight.

Lord Whitty: The only amendment moved is Amendment No. 81A dealing with the question of the appointed date, simply making the difference between that referred to in Clause 20 and the same expression used in Schedule 31 dealing with transitional provisions. It just makes the point that these are different appointed days. That is the amendment that I have moved. The other amendments are within this grouping. No doubt if my letter does not satisfy the noble Baroness or any other noble Lord in the interim, they will return to these matters on a subsequent Committee day.

Baroness Blatch: Am I mistaken? I understand that we are going as far as Amendment No. 96, which means that Amendments Nos. 81A, 83A, 83B, 85A, 90A, 90B, 90C, 90D, 90F, 90G, 91B and 91C would be dealt with this evening.

Lord Whitty: My recollection is that none of those amendments was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas. I will move them at the appropriate point if the noble Baroness wishes to come back on them. The amendments referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, were beyond Amendment No. 96.

Baroness Blatch: The noble Lord is missing the point that we are making. Because my noble friend has raised at least a couple of points that do not fit the description of minor, technical and no more than consequential amendments, they raise issues for debate, of which rate relief is one, and there may well be others. We took it as read that that was of no consequence. We believe now that it possibly is of some consequence. The noble Lord has promised to write to those of us on this side of the House, including those on the Liberal Democrat Benches, so that we understand what these amendments are about. I am sure that the noble Lord does not want to spend all night reading out these matters. It would be a very minor matter, and I suspect that these amendments will be passed when we have all received a proper explanation. But perhaps he will let us have

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that proper explanation and allow the amendments to be dealt with at the next stage of the Bill. Otherwise, we have to accept them without question.

Lord Whitty: I do not know what the noble Baroness means by her reference to the next stage of the Bill. I will certainly provide subsequently tonight an explanation of all the amendments which are within this group. It will then be up to noble Lords as to what they do at a subsequent stage of the Bill.

Baroness Blatch: Once we agree tonight, there is no subsequent stage for these amendments. If amendments up to Amendment No. 91C are dealt with and are accepted, then they will be part of the Bill. I am simply saying that it would be helpful to have the letter of explanation and then deal with the voting at the next stage of the Bill. Nothing is going to happen in relation to these amendments between now and the next stage of the Bill. They will be dealt with relatively quickly because we will have had a detailed explanation from the Minister.

Lord Whitty: We may proceed as far as Amendment No. 96 tonight. I have already moved Amendment No. 81A and if the noble Baroness objects to any subsequent amendments being moved, she can do so at that point. Either she can return to the issues at Report stage or I can do so. I do not see the difficulty. I suspect that had I read out the seven pages, we would still have the problem, but I now wish I had read them out. Nevertheless, if we proceed we will see which ones the noble Baroness or any other noble Lord objects to.

Lord Monkswell: Perhaps I may help my noble friend on the Front Bench. It seems to me that we are talking about government amendments about which the Opposition have some reservations. They seek explanations for them, but the amendments have been put down and debated. If they are moved and agreed at this Committee stage, then if, following the further explanation which the Government have said they would provide to the Opposition, the Opposition has further difficulty with the amendments, then further amendments altering them could be put down for Report stage. That would satisfy all parties.

It seems to me to be quite in order for the Committee to agree to the government amendments at this stage, with the opportunity for the House to consider the Bill prior to Report stage. If the Opposition or even the Government, following further consideration, felt that other amendments should be made, that could be done at Report stage.

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