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Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 55:

Page 115, line 10, leave out from ("the") to end of line 11 and insert ("procedure to be followed in connection with the taking by governing bodies of their final decisions (including, in particular, provision as to the time by which governing bodies are to take such decisions).").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 56 to 60 not moved.]

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 61:

Page 116, line 15, leave out (", as from the appointed day,").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 21 [Kinds of foundation and voluntary schools and types of foundations]:

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendments Nos. 62 to 67:

Page 20, line 19, at end insert ("; and
(c) references to land or other property held on trust, or by trustees, for the purposes of a school include references to land or other property which--
(i) is held on trust for purposes which (whether the trust deed expressly so provides or not) include the purposes of the school, and
(ii) is used for the purposes of the school.").
Page 20, line 37, after ("property") insert (", rights and liabilities").
Page 20, line 38, at end insert ("but do not change category in accordance with Schedule 8").
Page 21, leave out lines 5 to 7 and insert--
("(f) in connection with a school leaving the group--
(i) for requiring the publication of proposals under paragraph 2 of Schedule 8 (procedure for changing category of school);
(ii) for enabling the Secretary of State to require the publication under that paragraph of proposals for the school to become a school of a category specified by him;

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(iii) for preventing a voluntary school from becoming one falling within subsection (2)(a) unless any conditions specified in pursuance of paragraph 4(2)(b) of that Schedule are satisfied in relation to the school;").
Page 21, line 13, at end insert--
("(i) for conferring functions on school organisation committees and adjudicators including any functions which might otherwise be conferred on the Secretary of State.").
Page 21, line 20, leave out subsections (9) to (11).

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 22 [Maintenance and other funding of schools]:

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendments Nos. 68 and 69:

Page 21, line 45, at end insert ("or (4A)").
Page 22, line 44, at end insert ("and is not a special school").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 70:

After Clause 22, insert the following new clause--

Charitable status of maintained schools, etc

(" .--(1) The following shall be charities which are exempt charities for the purposes of the Charities Act 1993--
(a) the governing body of any foundation, voluntary or foundation special school; and
(b) any foundation body established under section 21;
but no governing body of a community or community special school shall be a charity.
(2) So far as it is a charity, any institution which--
(a) is administered by or on behalf of any body to which subsection (1)(a) or (b) applies, and
(b) is established for the general purposes of, or for any special purpose of or in connection with, that body or any school or schools falling within subsection (1)(a),
shall also be an exempt charity for the purposes of the Charities Act 1993.
(3) Any foundation established otherwise than under this Act which has no property other than the premises of any school or schools falling within subsection (1)(a) shall be a charity which (subject to section 3(5B) of the Charities Act 1993) is not required to be registered for the purposes of that Act (but is not an exempt charity for the purposes of that Act).
(4) In this section--
(a) "charity" and "institution" have the same meaning as in the Charities Act 1993;
(b) "premises" includes a teacher's dwelling-house.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Funding of foundation, voluntary and foundation special schools]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 71:

Page 120, line 32, at end insert--
("but such requirements may be imposed after the making of any such payment only if the Secretary of State is satisfied that in all the circumstances it is reasonable for them to be so imposed.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is one which we promised noble Lords in Committee. We brought it forward primarily to meet the concerns expressed by the Churches about the Secretary of State's power to set a retrospective condition for voluntary-aided school grant. The amendment modifies the Secretary of State's powers so that he may set a

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condition only after grant has been paid, where he is satisfied that in all the circumstances it is reasonable to do so.

As my noble friend Lord McIntosh of Haringey told this House in Committee, we expect this power to be used rarely. One example would be where, as a result of what is referred to here as "a clerical oversight"-- I think that an administrative oversight is meant rather than an oversight by the clergy--the grant condition is omitted from the formal grant letter. We should want to be able to correct that omission. The governors and trustees would have been aware of the intention to set a condition.

Another example could be where a condition is not set initially--where the trusts are not examined because they seem to secure recycling within the state system--but it subsequently comes to light that the trusts have either been misconstrued or changed and do not secure that recycling satisfactorily. We wish to be able to set a retrospective condition in these circumstances in order to protect public fund investment, and we believe that it would be reasonable to do so.

In those limited circumstances, I hope that the House will accept the need for the amendment. I hope that it also meets the concerns of the Churches about the new voluntary-aided school grant condition. I beg to move.

The Lord Bishop of Ripon: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, for moving the amendment. I expressed concerns at Committee stage and, as the noble Lord explained, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, made it clear that these powers to impose a retrospective condition would be used only in circumstances of administrative error. I am grateful for the clarification with regard to the word "clerical" that has been provided. The amendment satisfies the Church, as it provides us with the kind of safeguard for which we are looking. I am grateful for its introduction.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 23 [School organisation committees]:

Lord Tope moved Amendment No. 72:

Page 23, line 5, at end insert (", which shall specify that such a committee's powers are restricted to advising the local education authority").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 72 I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 74 and 75. I believe that Amendment No. 80 has been moved to another grouping.

We turn now to the issue of the school organisation committee and, whatever suggestion there may have been regarding other parts of this Bill that there is some sort of agreement or pact or understanding between these Benches and the Government Benches, it falls down dramatically at this point.

I am more than sad: I am disappointed that we reach this issue at this hour of the night and when the attentions of the nation, and indeed your Lordships' House, are firmly fixed elsewhere. We understand that extra time is being played. I do not feel that I can compete with that. I am not sure that I can concentrate properly with all the toing and froing. Indeed, we have

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already had a message from the Government Chief Whip that no Divisions are to be called. That rather inhibits the course of action that I might choose to take.

I am consoled a little because for more than two hours we debated school organisation committees when we were in Committee. The longer the debate went on (before a fuller House than is the case tonight) it became clear that the more Members heard about the nature, composition and function of school organisation the more concern grew in all corners of the House.

It was suggested that it was part of the devolving of decision-making; that it was part of partnership and consensus. As the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, said, all those issues are very dear to Liberal Democrats. We strongly believe in partnership and in seeking consensus. We certainly feel strongly about devolving decision-making. However, to suggest that a school organisation committee is any of those things is a travesty of those descriptions. As the debate continued, it became clearer that school organisation committees will be bureaucratic and cumbersome and that they are unnecessary and will not work. In my view, they will be far more expensive than the Government suggest.

In Committee we described the process through which a local education authority goes in drawing up its plans. Before they are agreed by an LEA they are always subject to widespread consultation and discussion. That is entirely right and proper. If consensus and agreement can be reached, that is all to the better, and that would be the aim.

If the Government believe that some LEAs do not strive sufficiently in that direction, fair enough, let them devise some measures to encourage LEAs to perform better. That is the approach I would wish to see. Once an LEA has gone through the lengthy consultation process, discussion in the education committee and almost certainly in a full council meeting and has reached agreement, I do not see why it is necessary to have another structure imposed upon it which is directly accountable to no one and cumbersome in that it comprises a number of different groups, each of which must reach a unanimous decision; in other words, any one group represented on the school organisation committee has a veto. We would all wish that circumstances never arise in which that veto could be used, but those of us with experience of such matters know that that is optimism in the extreme. It will be used and if one group on an organisation committee knows that it has a veto, it is almost an encouragement for the group to be difficult, awkward, stubborn and forced into using the veto.

The first of the amendments suggests that if we are to have school organisation committees their roles should be advisory only. Many of the bodies which will be represented on the committee--probably all the bodies--would in any event be involved in the consultation process with the LEA. Certainly they ought to be. Perhaps there is a case for formalising it into something called a school organisation committee and requiring an LEA to consult with it and for that committee then to advise the LEA as it is the elected body, democratically accountable and takes the decision. I could be persuaded of that.

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I suspect that today it is my role to persuade your Lordships that that is the right way to go because it is the purpose and intention of Amendment No. 72. However, it is the nature of our procedure that that comes before what I would prefer to see, which is Amendment No. 74 and the deletion of Clause 23.

I strongly believe that a school organisation committee is not necessary. For the reasons I have outlined--that it will be burdensome, cumbersome, expensive, bureaucratic, on too many occasions unlikely to reach consensus and undemocratic--I believe that we should not have them at all.

I began by saying I regret that we are debating this issue at this time of night when attention is focused very much elsewhere. But it is an important issue. In fact, it is one of the most important issues within this Bill on which we differ from the Government. I suspect that this evening the Minister will not say anything that we did not hear in Committee. However I should say that the more we heard in Committee, not only did my colleagues and I become more convinced that we were right but so too did the rest of the House. I suspect that had we moved to a Division at that time, we should probably have won it.

That is history. It did not happen. It probably will not happen this evening in view of the circumstances and the edict which has been given to us by the Government Chief Whip. However, it is an issue to which we shall undoubtedly need to return. I beg to move.

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