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Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 246B and 246C:

Page 96, line 16, leave out ("48(4),").
Page 96, line 18, after ("3(5)") insert ("or 4").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 246D:

Page 96, line 19, leave out ("or paragraph 4(2)") and insert (", paragraph 4(2) or 7(3)(c)").

The noble Lord said: This amendment forms part of a whole batch of 30 amendments and in moving this amendment I will speak to the others in this group. Of the 30 amendments, only three amend substantive clauses. Amendment No. 246D refers to Clause 127, Amendment No. 257R refers to Clause 131 and Amendment No. 257Z refers to Clause 133. The remaining amendments are minor and consequential upon other amendments or to existing legislation. I have provided to the two Front Benches a full and detailed letter, explaining these clauses. I hesitate to risk this procedure, but in view of that fairly full explanation and in the temporary, no doubt, absence of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, I suggest, subject to any questions there may be, that, since the two Front Benches are fairly well informed about these proposals, I should move this amendment without further details, full details having been provided. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch: A good try! First of all, I should like to say that had it not been for the pressure that we put on the Government earlier during the passage of this Bill, we would not even have these explanatory notes. For earlier amendments, which came in prolific numbers at the beginning stages, we received no technical notes. The first we knew of what they were about was on the Floor of the Committee and it was only as a result of pressure that we have now received them. I received these this morning and I have had some difficulty in going through the notes and understanding them. I am afraid that, although they are full, they are not quite full enough for my purposes and I have a number of questions.

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I have to say to the noble Lord that, although this Bill has been through all the procedures of the House of Commons and is now at the end of the Committee stage in your Lordships' House, we are receiving masses of amendments. I believe that the Liberal Democrats have already made a tally of the number of amendments that have come through--and these are not amendments which have arisen in response to concerns that have been voiced during the course of our deliberations on the Bill. Many of them constitute a rewriting of the Bill and actually putting it right as we go along. One wonders just when this is going to end. Are we going to end up at Report stage with more batches of amendments which alter main schedules or add schedules and alter the technicalities of the Bill? Most of the amendments represent omissions, because this Bill was badly drafted when it was submitted in another place, but how it is that the department has waited until this late stage of the Bill to present so many technical amendments to your Lordships is difficult to understand. I do think we should have an explanation from the Minister.

On Amendment No. 246D, why will the order not be a statutory instrument? On Amendment No. 255D, the explanatory note says that some provisions listed in Schedule 30 will be repealed. I would ask: which of them will be repealed? On Amendment No. 257Z, the noble Lord said that the amendment provides for regulations to be made enabling governing bodies to reconstitute in advance of the appointed day and prepare for the new framework and that there will be consultations. Again, may I ask: when?

I have a query about Amendments Nos. 257AE and 258R. There appears to be no mention of Catholic or other denominational schools. I just wonder if that is an oversight or if there is a technical reason why this should be so.

On Section 25 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, under Amendment No. 257AF, I understand this to be a section which concerns the transfer of property rights. I simply want to ask about Sections 25 and 26 in relation to the reorganisation of schools in response to a successful ballot to take all grammar schools out of an LEA where perhaps there are a very large number which will require reorganisation. I do not know how this will inter-relate. Interestingly, the amendment talks about movements from the school sector into the further education sector. I would ask: in what situation could that be so? Are we saying that a grammar school could be closed and opened up as a further education college or part of one. If so, we are talking about a very different form of reorganisation from the rather mild form of reorganisation which the noble Baroness hinted at when we talked about grant-maintained schools on a previous occasion.

Section 28(2)(a) refers to options. Why is it intended that the options designated should not be open to former county or community schools which are now part of a group of schools for which a foundation acts under Clause 21 of the Bill? On Section 37, again I understand that this concerns the attribution of surpluses and deficits and applies to institutions entering the FE sector.

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Again we are talking about movement into the FE sector by institutions which are maintained by an LEA or designated assisted institutions dependent on assistance from a local education authority. How will surpluses and deficits be attributed or allocated?

Section 44 relates to provision for collective worship in further education colleges. Where a grant-maintained school or a grammar school is part of a reorganisation, how is the religious ethos in a grant-maintained school which will become a foundation school, or indeed a voluntary aided school, to be protected if it becomes part of a further education institution? Presumably it will now jump to becoming a further education college which does not have a religious ethos. It is almost inconceivable that a school could become a further education college in itself and so the likelihood is that it would become an adjunct to another one--but, again, what about the protection of the religious ethos?

Turning to Section 58 and seeing how that dovetails with reorganisation plans, this is the one that deals with the reorganisation of schools needed as a result of some local authority land being transferred to or possibly shared with a further education corporation. Again the whole point about reorganisations comes into that. Amendments Nos. 257AG and 258F, together with Amendment No. 258T, will remove the references to instruments and articles of government contained in the Education Act 1994. May I ask: why are these being removed?

Turning to Amendments Nos. 257AH and 257AJ, I should like to have some clarification here. The amendments relate to Section 324(5) of the Education Act 1996, which provides that if a maintained school is named in a child's statement of special educational needs the governing body of the school must admit the child. This, as I understand it, is about the class size pledge. Where that happens, it means that a school that already has 30 children in a class will be forced to take a child who is statemented, and that will add a considerable burden to the load of the teacher in the classroom, given that teachers who have in a class 30 children who do not have special needs, or at least the sort of special needs which will be subject to a statement, are deemed to have too many children in that class. I should like some clarification that resources, in that eventuality, are guaranteed to the school that would be forced to take such a child.

My final point concerns Amendment No. 259E, which refers to the last paragraph, which states that there will not be provision for interest which is accrued on the proceeds of sale to be included in the compensation. Why?

Lord Whitty: I was about to say that I am extremely grateful to the noble Baroness for raising these issues, but I do not think she would believe me! The noble Baroness was referring to sections in the schedule, where it is quite difficult to relate to the different amendments, but I shall do my best. She raised, on Amendment No. 246D, the question as to why the order will not be a statutory instrument. Such an order will be of particularly limited interest and we have had no recommendations from the delegated powers scrutiny

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committee or anyone else on this issue. We do not consider that it would require the statutory instrument procedure.

On Amendment No. 255D, relating to the repeal of provisions because they have been spent, they will only become spent when they have accomplished the purpose for which they were enacted. The amendments relate to a number of the clauses. I take the point the noble Baroness made.

Baroness Blatch: My question on the amendment was, which provisions?

Lord Whitty: On that clause, they relate to enactments on frameworks under the Education Reform Act 1988 and other legislation which no longer relates to the framework under this Act. A number of other amendments relate to spent amendments. I can go through them if the noble Baroness wishes. Perhaps I may take them together with the other issues she raised.

The spent amendments are as follows. Amendments Nos. 258M and 258N relate to the local government Acts and deal with the Inner London Education Authority, which is clearly no longer with us. Amendment No. 259J is consequential on other changes. Amendment No. 259K is relevant to the point in respect of spent Acts. The 1966 Act contains transitional arrangements which are deleted. Lastly, Amendment No. 259N relates to the Audit Commission Act, whose provisions are changed by the Bill. I appreciate that the noble Baroness asked why we did not come forward with these amendments or better drafting earlier. However, they are all clearly redundant provisions.

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