|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, it is drawn with the intention of giving more detail while the House is considering the Bill. If the noble Lord does not like the further details which we give, then he is perfectly at liberty to oppose them. We did not need legislation for this in the first place. If any criticism could be made, it is that we are over-egging the pudding rather than the other way round.
The noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, argued against the abolition of the commissioners. The Commissioner for Protection Against Unlawful Industrial Action, whom he lauded, has only supported one single application since 1993. So we are not abolishing an active body. Similarly, the Commissioner for the Rights of Trade Union Members is not being abolished, except in a formal sense, because some of the powers are being given to the Certification Officer.
If more details are required about the role of the central arbitration committee, I summarise by drawing noble Lords' attention, particularly that of the noble Lord, Lord Burnham, to paragraphs 216 to 221 of the Explanatory Notes which make the position clear. I
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for giving way. I raised the issue of the draft directive on fixed-term work. Will he write to me, if he does not have time to deal with the point now?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Yes, my Lords. I am trying the patience of the House, but I am being interrupted quite a lot. Of course I am sympathetic to the point made by my noble friend Lady Turner and the noble Lord, Lord Razzall, regarding sexual orientation. It is right that we said in our manifesto that we would seek to end unjustifiable discrimination where it exists. I hope that noble Lords will agree that it is not a cop-out if I say that the Equal Opportunities Commission has reported on those issues, but it reported to the Department for Education and Employment. It is better that we should leave it with the department at present.
In summary, employers and society will benefit enormously from greater participation in the labour market, reduced staff turnover and a climate of greater commitment and trust in the workplace which the Bill can and will bring. The Government are putting into place the last major piece in our framework of reforms to create a fairer modern labour market in Britain. The Bill honours our manifesto commitments on trade union recognition and protection from dismissal for taking part in a properly balloted strike. It honours our commitment to strengthen family life; it is a contribution to a more inclusive society; it will benefit millions of people in their everyday lives. The Bill encourages responsible behaviour and will encourage employers and employees to resolve their differences by discussion rather than by conflict. It is a privilege to be able to commend the Bill to the House.
The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone) rose to move, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 22nd March be approved [14th Report from the Joint Committee].
The GTCs will advise the Secretary of State and the National Assembly for Wales on a wide range of teaching issues, including recruitment, supply, initial training, induction, professional development and conduct. As with other professional bodies, the GTCs will develop and consult on a code of professional conduct and practice expected of registered teachers. The GTCs will also maintain a register of qualified teachers and will have powers to strike off teachers for serious professional misconduct or incompetence.
The regulations we are to consider today deal exclusively with the composition of the general teaching councils, not their functions. During consideration of the Bill that became the Teaching and Higher Education Act last year, concern was expressed that not enough detail was known about the composition of the GTCs. The regulations we are considering today provide that detail.
I should add at this point that I am also speaking on behalf of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Wales to present regulations which will govern the composition of the General Teaching Council for Wales.
Briefly, I should like to draw attention to the main provisions of the regulations as they apply to the GTC for England. Regulation 3 provides for the composition of the council and is based largely on the consultation paper we published last year. I am pleased that the proposals received a good measure of support. However, inevitably some changes were needed. The main change is to increase the size of the council to 63 members, compared to our original proposal for 55. That is necessary to accommodate important additional interests not in the original proposals--including chief education officers and equal opportunities groups. We intend to add to the equal opportunities groups able to appoint a member to the Disability Rights Commission, once it has been established. We cannot do so until such time as the commission is established but will amend the regulations in future for that purpose--which will take the number of members to 64.
Regulation 3 shows an increase in the number of elected teachers originally proposed, which compensates for the additional appointed members and meets our commitment to retain a majority of teachers on the GTC. Regulation 9 requires the Secretary of State to ensure that at least two of his appointees can represent the interests of parents. It provides also that he has regard to the desirability of the council's membership reflecting the interests of the general public, and of teachers of pupils with special educational needs, when deciding who to appoint.
The regulations deal a with a number of constitutional issues. The proposed arrangements are modest and in keeping with our view that, wherever possible, the GTCs will be best placed to decide their own arrangements. Regulations 4, 5 and 6 provide for electing teachers on to the council, including eligibility criteria for appointments, voting and standing in
We have been thinking again about the latter. We did not propose as part of the consultation to exercise the Secretary of State's power to appoint the first chairman but intended to leave that to the council when it first meets. In retrospect, we think that time will be rather short. The membership of the full council may not be known until May or June next year, and it will have many pressing tasks during its early days. We believe that the council may need the chairman in place later this year--to speak with authority on behalf of and as a member of the council. We will look at that again, consult a range of bodies and plan to amend the regulations so that the Secretary of State can appoint the first chairman from one of his 13 appointments before the end of the year.
Lord Roberts of Conwy: My Lords, why is it that in England, the bodies appear to be appointing their own representatives, whereas in Wales, the appointments will be made by the Secretary of State? Where does the National Assembly for Wales, which was elected last Thursday, figure in all this? It does not appear to be mentioned at all.
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, when the regulations were drawn up, the National Assembly for Wales had not been elected. The GTC will be answerable to the assembly. The Secretary of State for England will be making a number of appointments. With respect to Wales, where there is a wish to have a much smaller GTC because of the lesser number of teachers, it has been decided to have other arrangements because a larger number of appointments is not thought to be necessary.
The regulations for Wales cover the same issues as for England but there are some differences in the detail. The smaller GTC for Wales reflects the relative size of the teaching profession there, and that difference in numbers means that it is not possible for interested bodies directly to appoint members in the same way. Instead, a wide range of organisations will be asked to submit nominations for membership of the GTC for Wales.
The proposals for Wales also received a broad measure of support. The main changes made following the consultation exercise are that explicit provision is made to secure the continued teacher member majority; and four of the nine members to be appointed from nominations by relevant organisations will be from teacher unions and associations.
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for setting out the Government's thinking. Before I talk about the detail, I welcome my noble friend Lord Roberts of Conwy back to the Front Bench. He had a fairly long period of illness and it is good to see him back in his place and to hear him intervene so soon after his reappearance.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page