Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, this has been a long debate and I do not want to take up too much time of the House now. I intend to respond to some of the points which have been raised and to try to clarify the Government's position.

I was a little disappointed by the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Young. It seemed to me that she was simply repeating many of the things that she said on an

18 Jul 2000 : Column 869

earlier occasion without taking any cognisance of the fact that the Government are responding to many of the concerns which she and others have expressed on a number of occasions.

She repeated remarks which she has made about unsuitable materials without, again, any reference to the fact that the Government's amendment is determined to make sure that pupils in our schools will not be put under pressure to receive material that is totally unacceptable.

I was also rather surprised by a number of references by noble Lords opposite to the guidance and to a suggestion from, I believe, the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, and others that our guidance would not be adequate as a basis for reinforcing what the Government and many other people who have been consulted about this, including both the Anglican and Catholic Church, want to see.

Our guidance is very clear. The head teacher and governors are responsible for making judgments in the last instance about what is appropriate. But that must be in line with that guidance, and within the PSHE framework and the law. Exactly the same considerations apply to many other aspects of the national curriculum.

We cannot write a national curriculum for sex education or, indeed, for anything else and put that on the face of legislation. We must rely on the good judgment of head teachers and governors in implementing what is desirable and acceptable and what is the intention of the Government and many others who have considered those complex issues.

However, I can tell the House that there are both sanctions and safeguards available if governing bodies do not have regard to that guidance. First, parents must be consulted about the governors' policy on sex education. Secondly, Ofsted has a statutory responsibility to inspect PSHE. Parents can complain. They can complain to the local education authority and, in the last resort, to the Secretary of State. Ultimately, they can take the school to judicial review. There has been a misunderstanding on behalf of noble Lords opposite.

Lord Elton: My Lords--

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, it would be helpful if I were allowed to complete my speech in order that we can have the Division.

I listened very carefully to what the noble Baroness, Lady Young, said, and to her explanation of Amendments Nos. 180B and 180C. I was also very grateful for what the noble Baroness, Lady Richardson, said in opposing the amendments. She spoke wisely from her own very deep experience of these matters.

I should say to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, that providing advice and training to teachers and governors is an important role which local education authorities play in supporting schools. The Government have undertaken a number of measures

18 Jul 2000 : Column 870

to underpin the rigour and quality of that role. As well as the Ofsted inspections of LEAs, we have issued a draft code of practice setting out the standards to be expected of those providing training and have asked Ofsted to carry out inspections of training provision.

We expect that the general teaching council will also play a key role in supporting the quality of teacher training when it is established in September this year. The Teacher Training Agency has written to all providers of initial teacher training to draw their attention to the Secretary of State's sex and relationship education guidance. So teachers in training will also have to be fully aware of what is in the guidance.

I was very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Tope, for his support in relation to the guidance and its coverage. He mentioned that there are one or two areas in which he might like to have seen changes. But I am grateful for his general support for it on the Liberal Democrat Benches.

I should mention at this point, since the noble Lord, Lord Tope, mentioned it, that we are including health service materials. I should say to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, that I mentioned that in my opening remarks but she apparently did not hear me make that point.

We believe that it is right that local education authorities should have regard to the principles which we have set out when providing training and advice to schools. We have already sent copies of our guidance to all LEAs to encourage them to do so.

We recognise that the noble Baroness has identified an important issue but we believe that the government Amendment No. 180A is a much more effective response to the issue which the noble Baroness identified.

I turn now to Amendment No. 182. She does not think that marriage is mentioned often enough in our guidance. Perhaps I may quote from the Catholic Education Service's recent release which states that,

    "The guidance ... is unambiguous in its insistence on children being taught the importance of marriage".

Clearly, the Catholic Education Service and, indeed, from the remarks of the right reverend Prelate, the Anglican Church take a rather different view from that taken by the noble Baroness.

In response to the claims made by the party opposite, I make absolutely plain the fact that not once did the previous government ever mention marriage in sex education guidance. This Government introduced marriage into sex and relationship education guidance for the first time. Circular 5/94, which our guidance replaces, contains no mention of marriage whatever. So it is a bit rich for the noble Baroness to complain that marriage is not mentioned often enough in our guidance.

The noble Baroness spoke at length about her amendment. We must recognise that that amendment carries the same risk as the noble Baroness's previous amendment; namely, stigmatisation and possible bullying for many children at school.

18 Jul 2000 : Column 871

Sex education has a serious purpose, not least to help to reverse the alarmingly high trend of teenage pregnancies. We cannot achieve that unless we take young people seriously and avoid denigrating the circumstances in which many of them live.

Our guidance makes it clear, as does the Supporting Families document which is quoted in the guidance and the noble Baroness's amendment, that we recognise that there are other stable relationships in society. We should not allow homophobic bullying to take place. A number of noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Tope, expressed particular concern about that during the Third Reading of the Bill. He and others referred to it again in this debate. We have strengthened our guidance to make it crystal clear that schools need to be able to deal with homophobic bullying.

My noble friends Lord Davies of Coity and Lord Warner have rightly said that no child should be stigmatised because of his or her home circumstances. Again, that was a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Tope.

I was grateful to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Blackburn for explaining his amendment. By drawing on the PSHE framework and the Government's sex and relationship education guidance, the wording of the amendment which he has tabled allows a true balance to be struck while giving clear support for the importance of marriage.

We have worked hard over the past few months to agree principles and build consensus across society. By contrast, I am afraid that the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness threatens to undo what we have achieved.

Perhaps I may say to the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, that I was disappointed by her remarks. I thought she was being unduly cynical in her suggestion that the Government are bringing forward these amendments simply in order that Section 28 of the Local Government Act should be repealed. The Government are bringing forward these amendments because, unlike the previous government, they believe that it is right that pupils in our schools should get the best possible sex education, for all the reasons I have set out. Perhaps I may also say to the noble Baroness that we shall make it clear that if parents wish to withdraw their children from sex education, they may do so.

There is a simple choice before this House this evening. If we are to have effective sex and relationship education, noble Lords must oppose the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Young, Amendments Nos. 180B and 180C, and support the government amendment, Amendment No. 180A. If we are to have guidance built on the consensus that we have sought to achieve, this House must support Amendment No. 182A tabled by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Blackburn and must reject Amendment No. 182B tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Young. I commend the amendment to the House.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

18 Jul 2000 : Column 872

7.30 p.m.


180BLine 4, at beginning insert ("Subject to subsection (7) below").

Baroness Young : My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 180B, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 180.

Moved, That Amendment No. 180B, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 180, be agreed to.--(Baroness Young.)

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 180B), as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 180, shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided:--

Division No. 2


Ackner, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alexander of Weedon, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Ampthill, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Arran, E.
Astor, V.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Baker of Dorking, L.
Barber, L.
Bell, L.
Belstead, L.
Blackwell, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Bridges, L.
Brigstocke, B.
Brittan of Spennithorne, L.
Brookeborough, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L. [Teller]
Buscombe, B.
Butterworth, L.
Buxton of Alsa, L.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnarvon, E.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carr of Hadley, L.
Carrington, L.
Cavendish of Furness, L.
Chadlington, L.
Chalfont, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Chilver, L.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Coe, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Courtown, E.
Cowdrey of Tonbridge, L.
Cox, B.
Craig of Radley, L.
Cranborne, V.
Crathorne, L.
Cuckney, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Donaldson of Lymington, L.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Erroll, E.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Feldman, L.
Ferrers, E.
Fitt, L.
Flather, B.
Fookes, B.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Freeman, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Greenway, L.
Hanham, B.
Hanningfield, L.
Hanson, L.
Harris of High Cross, L.
Haslam, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Higgins, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hogg, B.
Holderness, L.
Home, E.
Hooper, B.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Hussey of North Bradley, L.
Hylton, L.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Islwyn, L.
James of Holland Park, B.
Jellicoe, E.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Jopling, L.
Kelvedon, L.
Kimball, L.
King of Wartnaby, L.
Kingsland, L.
Kirkham, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Laing of Dunphail, L.
Laird, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Lang of Monkton, L.
Lindsay, E.
Listowel, E.
Liverpool, E.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Longford, E.
Lucas, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
McConnell, L.
Macfarlane of Bearsden, L.
McFarlane of Llandaff, B.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mancroft, L.
Marlesford, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Monson, L.
Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Montrose, D.
Moore of Lower Marsh, L.
Moran, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Moynihan, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Naseby, L.
Neill of Bladen, L.
Noakes, B.
Norfolk, D.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Onslow of Woking, L.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Orme, L.
Oxfuird, V.
Palmer, L.
Palumbo, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Parkinson, L.
Patten, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Peel, E.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Plumb, L.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Powell of Bayswater, L.
Prior, L.
Pym, L.
Rawlinson of Ewell, L.
Reay, L.
Rees, L.
Renton, L.
Renton of Mount Harry, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rogan, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Saatchi, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Seccombe, B.
Selkirk of Douglas, L.
Selsdon, L.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Sheppard of Didgemere, L.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Slim, V.
Stallard, L.
Stevens of Ludgate, L.
Stewartby, L.
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strange, B.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Tebbit, L.
Tenby, V.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Tombs, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Trumpington, B.
Tugendhat, L.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Wakeham, L.
Waldegrave of North Hill, L.
Weatherill, L.
Wilberforce, L.
Wilcox, B.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Windlesham, L.
Wolfson, L.
Wolfson of Sunningdale, L.
Young, B.
Young of Graffham, L.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Alderdice, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Attenborough, L.
Avebury, L.
Bach, L.
Barker, B.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Bath and Wells, Bp.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Birt, L.
Blackburn, Bp.
Blackstone, B.
Bledisloe, V.
Borrie, L.
Bradford, Bp.
Bradshaw, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brett, L.
Bristol, Bp.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Burlison, L.
Carlile of Berriew, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Chandos, V.
Christopher, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Craigavon, V.
Crawley, B.
Dahrendorf, L.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Dearing, L.
Derby, Bp.
Desai, L.
Dholakia, L.
Diamond, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Durham, Bp.
Eatwell, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Ezra, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gavron, L.
Geraint, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gilbert, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grabiner, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greaves, L.
Greengross, B.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Haskins, L.
Hattersley, L.
Hayman, B.
Healey, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollick, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Hooson, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Hutchinson of Lullington, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Jacobs, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Joffe, L.
Judd, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Laming, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lovell-Davis, L.
Ludford, B.
McCarthy, L.
McCluskey, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mallalieu, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marsh, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Mitchell, L.
Molloy, L.
Morgan, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Newby, L.
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.
Nicol, B.
Northover, B.
Norton of Louth, L.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
Oxford, Bp.
Parekh, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Paul, L.
Peston, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Portsmouth, Bp.
Prashar, B.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Razzall, L.
Rea, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rennard, L.
Renwick of Clifton, L.
Richard, L.
Richardson of Calow, B.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Roper, L.
Russell, E.
Russell-Johnston, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Salisbury, Bp.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Sewel, L.
Sharman, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shepherd, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Simpson of Dunkeld, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Stern, B.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Varley, L.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Walpole, L.
Warner, L.
Warnock, B.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Watson of Richmond, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wigoder, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Winston, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

18 Jul 2000 : Column 875

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 220; Not-Contents, 234.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page