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Baroness Blatch: I am disappointed that the Minister has used a briefing note that was clearly written long before we came into the Chamber today. It took no account whatever of what I said.

I believe that the Bill should contain such a power. I believe that there is a case for early intervention. I believe it is right that additional governors should be appointed. I agree with all the reasons given by the noble Baroness as a rationale. I did not disagree with any of that, and indeed I said so, not just the first time, but the second time I spoke to amendments concerning this provision.

My point is that the Bill as presently drafted does not give any of those reasons why the power should be used. There is no subsection stating how the power should be used or under what conditions. If the power is for use where there are existing and/or potential troubles brewing in the management of a further education college, Clause 11 should contain a subsection to the effect that the power is not totally open-ended and unconstrained, but is there for a reason. I do not argue with any of the reasons given by the noble Baroness in her rather long exposition. She

8 Feb 2000 : Column 652

made reference at the end to my statement that a similar power had been put on the statute book and had been used to some effect.

Philosophically, I have no objection; in practice, I have no objection. But this is an open-ended power on the face of the Bill. It will not reassure further education colleges which have enjoyed some autonomy, as the noble Baroness said. Where they are working well, we want that to continue. But there ought to be some attempt in the clause to set out how the powers would be used and what would trigger them. There should be some description of the process, even if it appeared in a schedule.

I want there to be no misunderstanding of how much I support the policy behind the clause. However, it should not remain in this form without proper qualification regarding the use of the power. If the noble Baroness has no more to say, I should like to test the opinion of the Committee.

11.54 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 11, as amended, shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 18; Not-Contents, 8.

Division No. 4


Ahmed, L.
Bach, L.
Blackstone, B.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Davies of Coity, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Harrison, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hoyle, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
Plant of Highfield, L.
Rea, L.
Rix, L.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.


Addington, L.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Park of Monmouth, B.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.

8 Feb 2000 : Column 652

12.3 a.m.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: As it appears that fewer than 30 Lords have voted, in accordance with Standing Order No. 57 I declare the Question not decided and, pursuant to the Standing Order, the House will now resume. House resumed.

Northern Ireland Bill

Brought from the Commons, read a first time, and to be printed.

        House adjourned at five minutes past midnight.

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