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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I have not heard any allegations that any members of the distribution boards have been acting in any way improperly. If my noble friend has any such evidence, I am sure that he will wish to give it to me. But the whole purpose of the broadening of the distribution of lottery funds is to make sure that social needs which are additional to core government expenditure, which affects poor people as well as richer people, should benefit from lottery funds.

The Viscount of Falkland: My Lords, will the Minister tell us something of the new criteria for the funding of film production which is expected from the new film council, rather than the distribution of lottery moneys being decided by the Arts Council, some of which has been criticised in the past? What does the

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Minister expect to come from the new participation of the film council in terms of the performance of British films?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am very glad to have that question but I am not glad to have it now. As the noble Viscount knows, we are consulting on our proposals for film funding. We have received responses from various parts of the industry. They are generally in favour of the proposed film council but the details of that have yet to be announced. We shall make the public and parliament aware as soon as we have reached a final conclusion.

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, will the Minister inform the House what opportunities were given to the distributing bodies to put forward their case before announcing the share of lottery money currently given to the Millennium Commission which, after 2001, is to go to the New Opportunities Fund?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the distribution bodies are in constant contact with Ministers and officials in my department. There is no inhibition whatever on them expressing their views. But ultimately the Government must decide between them.

Headship Qualifications: Progress

3.5 p.m.

Lord Dormand of Easington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied with the progress being made with the national professional qualification for headship.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): My Lords, this Government acknowledge the crucial role played by heads in our drive to raise standards in schools. Last week we announced our plans to establish a new national college for school leadership and that £25 million would be available next year for the training of new heads and to improve the skills of existing heads.

Meanwhile, 4,900 candidates are currently undergoing training, of which some 80 have already qualified. A number have been appointed to headship posts. The new qualification has been subject to careful evaluation throughout its development. The feedback has been positive in showing the training has developed candidates' management and leadership skills. I believe the qualification is well on track.

Lord Dormand of Easington: My Lords, is my noble friend aware of the warm welcome which has been given to that long overdue training qualification? However, is there not a danger that its requirement for applicants for headships may be implemented too soon, having regard to the large number of early retirements which have been taken by head teachers? In addition, will my noble friend give an assurance that all the

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teachers' unions are being properly and consistently consulted on all the changes that are taking place in relation to that matter?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I am aware of the warm welcome which has been given to this new qualification. Indeed, an evaluation carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research endorses the fact that many people are strongly in favour of that new approach.

The teachers' unions have been consulted about the new arrangements. The Government are well aware of the need to monitor the introduction of the new qualification. They will not introduce a statutory requirement for all head teachers to have that qualification until they are confident that the pool of teachers available with it is sufficiently large to meet the vacancies for head teachers.

Lord Tope: My Lords, will the Minister confirm that it is still the Government's intention to make the NPQH compulsory before the next general election? Will she agree that rather than backing down on that commitment, it would be better to take practical steps to make headship a much more attractive proposition, particularly at primary school level?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I confirm that the Government intend to introduce this qualification by the year 2002, before the end of this Parliament. I accept entirely what the noble Lord, Lord Tope, said about the need to do all we can to encourage good teachers to become head teachers. The Government are looking at various approaches to that end. They have also asked the School Teachers' Pay Review Body in particular to consider the position for primary head teachers where there is a greater shortage than at secondary level.

Lord Quirk: My Lords, does the Minister agree with an editorial in The Times last week that, while school heads must indeed be properly trained in personnel and budgetary management, everything depends on the job description "Head Teachers" and that nothing must diminish the role of teaching if we are to have heads who retain the respect of their fellow teachers and their pupils?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, yes, I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Quirk. The new training has four modules to it, some of which are concerned with resource allocations, strategic leadership and management matters; but there is also a module which deals with teaching and learning. It is extremely important that head teachers are a model for the rest of their staff in relation to those questions of teaching and learning.

Lord Elton: My Lords, in applying the welcome new policy of training head teachers to do a job which has changed out of all recognition in the past 15 years, will the Government avoid falling into the trap of making requirements for primary heads of single entry forms the same as for heads of multiple-entry secondary schools?

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Will they further consider, in those big multiple entry schools, recreating something like the bursarship which existed in the private sector, so that some academic responsibility can remain with academically qualified head teachers?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, it is the case that the job of being the head of a small primary school is rather different to the job of being the head in a large comprehensive school. The training programmes devised under the new scheme will take that into account. Indeed, each applicant will be assessed according to their existing qualifications and experience. The programme that they follow will be modelled according to their specific needs.

Lord Hardy of Wath: My Lords, does my noble friend consider it desirable that those employed by Ofsted to inspect our schools should possess or be encouraged to possess that qualification?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, it would not be appropriate for everybody who carries out Ofsted inspections to go through a training designed for head teachers. However, I entirely agree with my noble friend that it is desirable for many Ofsted inspection teams to include people with experience as heads or deputy heads.

Northern Ireland Bill

3.11 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.--(Lord Dubs.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


Schedule 2 [Excepted matters]:

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 220:

Page 43, leave out lines 24 to 26.

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 220 I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 221 to 223 and 253A. Members of the Committee will see that several of these amendments are tabled in my name, though Amendment No. 222 is in the name of the Minister. At this point I propose only to refer to the amendments in my name.

Amendment No. 220 is concerned with ministerial functions. The whole of this schedule relates to which functions are to remain excepted matters; that is to say, matters which will remain permanently under the

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control of Westminster and Whitehall and Ministers of the United Kingdom Government. The amendment addresses paragraph 1(a) of Schedule 2 which states:

    "functions of the First Minister and deputy First Minister, the Northern Ireland Ministers or the Northern Ireland departments, or functions in relation to Northern Ireland of any Minister of the Crown",
shall not be excepted matters; that is to say, they shall be the responsibility at once of the Assembly and the Executive in Northern Ireland.

I agree that some of the functions of the Northern Ireland Ministers need to be transferred now. Clearly, it will also be within the responsibility of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister to distribute the portfolios of the Northern Ireland departments among their colleagues in the Executive. It is right that they should do so. But there are also some functions, particularly of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, which should not be open to variation by the Executive or the Assembly. Apart from anything else, they are the functions laid on the First Minister and Deputy First Minister by the Belfast agreement. The wording of that paragraph suggests that the First Minister and Deputy First Minister could vary even their own functions as laid down in the agreement with the permission of the Assembly, which is not desirable.

The provision also says that the new administration in Northern Ireland will be responsible for,

    "functions in relation to Northern Ireland of any Minister of the Crown".
I believe that means Whitehall Ministers, Ministers of the United Kingdom Government. It does not seem to be right that the Assembly should have responsibility, as a result of that provision, for the functions of United Kingdom Ministers, even in relation to Northern Ireland. One can see all sorts of difficulties arising over a period of time if that were so and the Assembly was attempting to keep the United Kingdom Ministers out of their bailiwick by restricting their functions through the use of the power given to them by that provision.

Amendment No. 221 relates to paragraph 1(b) which refers to,

    "property belonging to Her Majesty in right of the Crown or belonging to a government department or held in trust for Her Majesty for the purposes of a government department".
There are a number of government departments--Whitehall departments--whose writs will still run in Northern Ireland. They occupy property at the moment over there for the purposes of their duties and will need to retain it. Obvious examples are the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise. Customs and Excise is intended to hand certain responsibilities to the Executive and the Assembly, but the bulk of its responsibilities for tax-raising and so forth will remain answerable to the Westminster Parliament, UK Ministers and the Treasury. The property which they occupy for the purposes of carrying out their functions should remain the property of the United Kingdom Government and not be transferred to the government of Northern Ireland.

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Amendment No. 223 transfers to the Northern Ireland administration responsibility for the foreshore and the seabed or subsoil or their natural resources. That presumably refers, among other things, to oil or gas which may be found in the seabed off Northern Ireland. I am not sure that it is wise to have a separate regime, should that eventuality occur, for the waters of the United Kingdom off Northern Ireland from that off the other areas of the United Kingdom.

But other questions arise which I hope the Minister will be able to answer. The first is in connection with contamination in the Irish Sea. At times there has been trouble from the fact that waste has been dumped in the Irish Sea and caused contamination. Presumably responsibility is being slid across to the Assembly and the Executive for dealing with that contamination, even though it arises from the actions of the United Kingdom government of many years ago and, in some cases, the actions of the Ministry of Defence which dropped material into the Irish Sea.

My last point relates to undersea cables and connections. A proposal was made some time ago for an electrical interconnector between Northern Ireland and Great Britain so as to assist the supply of electricity to Northern Ireland and, hopefully, make it cheaper. That would now become partially the responsibility of the Assembly and the Executive. I do not object to that, but would like to be clear that that is what paragraph 1(c) of Schedule 2 in fact does. I beg to move.

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