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Lord Holme of Cheltenham: My Lords, the problem is that one can agree with the Minister's long-term analysis of peace over a period attracting inward investment and tourism improving. I believe that may happen. At the same time, we must recognise that that will take some years and there may well be a major transitional problem. It would not require the Northern Ireland economy to go cold turkey on the prospect of future growth, but the management of the transitional period will be extremely important.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, I take the noble Lord's point. There may well be a transitional period which we will have to manage carefully. I hope that the European Union will be sensitive to that situation as well. The European Union has been very helpful in contributing sums of money under various headings--peace and reconciliation, and so on--which have been of enormous benefit to Northern Ireland. The noble Lord's point is well taken.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. I wish to make the point that I hope that neither the Chancellor nor anyone else will think security expenditure will go down that steeply. I believe that there will be a considerable security problem remaining, both from the breakaway

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groups and the rackets. Any attempt to drive down the security expenditure too quickly could be extremely dangerous. At the same time, I share the view that there will be great encouragement to the economy from peace, if it flows forward, and that over a period of time that will help take over from the decreased security expenditure.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord. The Government's priority is to maintain the level of security forces necessary to ensure the safety of the people of Northern Ireland, to ensure that the law is kept and to reduce to an absolute minimum the activities of those small groups that are not party to the ceasefire. That consideration must come first. I did say that we would reduce the level of the security forces and the provision of security generally only if and when the circumstances on the ground allow it. Not before. That is very important. We are at one on that. I thank the noble Lord for giving me the opportunity to emphasise the point.

The noble Lord, Lord Lester, was being slightly mischievous--he conceded that he was--in making a point which he knows very well is not for the Northern Ireland Minister. His point is of interest. It is possible that the British-Irish Council, one of the structures which will be set up under the agreement, to which the noble Lord, Lord Holme, referred in his speech, might well be an interesting context for debate and discussion about human rights and equality matters between Northern Ireland, the republic, England, the UK Government and Wales and Scotland. There may well be a chance to share experiences there of different approaches to dealing with human rights and equality.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, I am sorry that the noble Lord thought I might be being mischievous. What I was trying to say is that when we are engaged in constitutional reform, what we do in one part of the United Kingdom should be on good speaking terms with the rest. We are talking about common, basic human rights. It is very important that our rights should not differ in their content or enforcement according to whether we happen to be in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales or England--or for that matter, on basic questions, in the republic. That is not mischievous but in the public interest. A good constitution is one that ensures that our rights are safeguarded by equal protection throughout both islands. I would be surprised if that was controversial as a matter of principle. I am troubled that we are looking at it in blinkers when we look at a particular piece of legislation for one part of the country.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, I take the noble Lord's point. When I said "mischievous", I meant in addressing the point to me. The point is not mischievous but asking a Northern Ireland Minister to deal with it had a touch of mischief to it.

I understand what the noble Lord is saying. He will recognise that the Government for the United Kingdom as a whole have made important progress as regards human rights. I know of the noble Lord's long-standing attachment and commitment to that cause.

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The Government have moved forward in the whole of the United Kingdom. If the way we are moving forward in Northern Ireland is different, it is intended to reflect the particular circumstances there, as perceived more recently by the parties to the agreement who clearly incorporated some of these ideas within the agreement on Good Friday. I was merely suggesting that the British-Irish Council might well be a positive context in which such different experiences might be exchanged, with a view to seeing lessons from one member of the British-Irish Council being applied elsewhere. I do not wish to say any more otherwise I will be falling into the trap that has perhaps been set for me. There will be an important framework and the British-Irish Council will have an important part to play. The noble Lord has already developed some of the agenda for future meetings.

The noble Lords, Lord Holme and Lord Cope, made some positive points about Drumcree and the difficulties that may be faced this weekend. I am grateful for the comments that have been made. It is clear that the Parades Commission has come to its view. I share the wish that all those involved will show restraint and compromise on the ground and that the decision by the Parades Commission will be respected and adhered to. However, as the noble Lord said, there is still time for compromise and for some sort of agreement on the ground. If that were to happen it would be a better way forward than simply the Parades Commission saying, "This is the route that the parade will follow". The Prime Minister, who has been in Northern Ireland today, stands ready to do whatever he can to help address the consequences of the ruling not to allow the Orange Order march down the Garvaghy Road. The Prime Minister supports the commission's stance. He was aware that there would have been consequences whatever decision the Parades Commission had arrived at. We are aware of that from previous years. What is important is that people on the ground have it within their hands to deal with this better than the Parades Commission.

In the debates we had earlier in the Session on the legislation leading to the setting up of the Parades Commission on a statutory basis, much emphasis was placed by many noble Lords on the need for compromises and local agreements as the best way forward. However, the Parades Commission had to pronounce and had to make a determination. It could not leave it much later than it did. So that was the news we had earlier this week. But there is still time and I know that people are working on the ground to try to achieve a compromise. We all hope that they will be successful in that endeavour.

I think I have dealt with all the points that were made. Despite the short-term difficulties ahead of us, I feel optimistic about the future for Northern Ireland, both political and economic. I am grateful to all noble Lords for the supportive contributions they have made in the debate. It is a good moment because this is the last time, we hope, that such an order will ever be put before Parliament.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 8.30 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 8.11 to 8.30 p.m.]

School Standards and Framework Bill

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed on Clause 61.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 142:

Page 48, line 28, at end insert ("and, in particular, preventing all forms of bullying among pupils").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 142A not moved.]

Clause 65 [Exclusion of pupils: duty to inform parents, etc.]:

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 143:

Page 51, line 18, at end insert--
("(6) Where regulations under paragraph 4 of Schedule 11 require the governing body of a maintained school to establish a discipline committee, references in this section and sections 66 to 68 to the governing body of such a school shall be construed as references to their discipline committee.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 66 [Functions of governing body in relation to excluded pupils]:

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood moved Amendment No. 143A:

Page 51, line 35, at end insert--
("( ) Where the relevant person in subsection (2) is the parent, the governing body shall also allow the pupil to make written representations and to appear and make oral representations at a meeting about the exclusion.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, we now come to a series of amendments which deal with disciplinary procedures. This amendment stands alone. It suggests that,

    "the governing body shall also allow the pupil to make written representations and to appear and make oral representations at a meeting"
concerning his or her exclusion from the school. Our view is that it is a matter of good practice and also of principle.

At present, the right to make representations to the governing body following a decision to exclude a child permanently attaches only to the parent or to children who are 18 years or more--in other words, they are not children but adults. Yet the right to attend the hearing where the future of one's education is at stake is a matter of natural justice. Although in some schools and authorities children are encouraged to attend, it is far from the normal pattern. A Children's Society project, working with disaffected children in south London, observed recently that it had never been successful in persuading the school to allow either the child or the worker in that project to attend the hearing.

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There is also a connection with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was ratified by the United Kingdom Government in 1991. The Committee on the Rights of the Child--the international body responsible for monitoring governments' compliance with the convention--specifically criticised the failure to respect the right of children to attend such hearings when it examined the UK Government in 1995.

From my own experience I know how valuable it can be to have the child present when discussing the child's behaviour and the potential for exclusion or, after exclusion, whether the child can return to school.

There are many reasons why children are their own best advocates. For example, if parents have less linguistic facility than their children they may be less able to explain what is going on than their children. There are some children--perhaps a small minority--whose parents are incapable of reaching school and whose problems arise from the child's own need to look after the parents. There are also parents who are addicts of one sort or another. The child's ability to attend school is very much affected by the parents' behaviour.

As I say, I have witnessed the effect of this in a particular case where one of those conditions applied. In all these cases it seems very sensible to allow the child, even if quite a young one, to try to explain what is going on to the governing body or to the committee which the governing body has set up for the purpose.

For all these reasons I am hopeful that the Minister will look with some sympathy on the ideas contained in this amendment and the two later amendments which I shall speak to. It is an important series of amendments. I hope that the Minister will be able to make some suggestions or a response which shows that the Government understand the points that we are making and their importance. I beg to move.

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