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Lord Lucas: Perhaps I can just come back to the technical answer to my query on new Section 45A(3). I shall be happy for the noble Baroness to write to me. But what concerns me is that new Section 45A(3) refers to expenditure being determined by the authority,

That giving of power apparently allows powers to be conferred on a schools forum without the schools forum in any way being mentioned in the provision. It implies that the same regulation could be used, for instance, to confer powers on Railtrack; in other words, there is a complete unknown as to on whom those powers are being conferred because it is not mentioned on the face of the Bill. That is what concerns me about the provision. It is a technical matter but I should like it to be covered at some stage.

Baroness Blatch: I begin by saying how much I agree with my noble friend Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville. But what I find really depressing is reading the accounts of the debates in another place

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and on coming to the end of every single sitting, finding a clutch of clauses which have received no discussion whatever. I find that to be a disgrace. I must say in passing that whatever comes out of the debate on the future of this place, if something does not put that right—I refer to the elected Chamber, the elected Members of this country, under all governments, not being allowed to discuss the merits or demerits of all the Bills that pass through their House—we shall be very remiss with regard to our obligation to do something about the democratic deficit in this country; and the democratic deficit is not in this place; it is in another place.

Having said that, the noble Baroness said a moment ago that the arrangements in this clause are not in any way meant to substitute for what local authorities are already doing. But that is not a real world comment. No local authority will keep the arrangements it already has in place, which are working well, are highly satisfactory and which are successful in its own area, if at the same time it has this obligation superimposed on it to duplicate that effort and, worse still, to pass over from the local authority to a wholly unelected body, to be called the "schools forums", powers to determine financial aspects of budget making. That is simply not acceptable.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: Perhaps I may add that the schools are also going to find themselves top-sliced in order to pay for the schools forums, and of course will have to find time for the extra level of bureaucracy—10 meetings and so forth—which is probably the last thing they want.

Baroness Blatch: The noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, pre-empted my next point, which was to ask who is going to meet the cost of the forums. We all know the answer. It will have to come from the overall education budget. The same applies to the time that will be involved, the logistics of meetings and the number of meetings that will have to be held; and if we are empowering these bodies to determine aspects of budget making, the meetings will have to be extremely formal.

I am not sure whether the noble Lord, Lord Alton, or the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Blackburn was satisfied with the answer given to their comments. But perhaps I may make another point. I am grateful that the Minister intends to reflect on the points made about voluntary-aided schools in various LEAs. Sadly, some areas have voluntary-aided and faith schools which are not looked upon kindly by the local education authority. It is important that those schools are protected in some way. Schools in those authorities—this is a point made by the right reverend Prelate—have different obligations under funding arrangements. If we pass down powers to determine to local schools forums, it is important that they should have some form of representation. I ask the Minister to bear that point in mind.

If the Government are worried about the amount of money that goes into schools and if they believe that there is a big issue of LEAs not passing down the

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money, there is a remedy: they could fund schools directly. I return to the point which I have made on previous amendments. The guilty party is the Government. There is the money held back by central government and the additional burdens put on local government which erode the money that would normally go into schools. A schools forum would not put that matter right. The Government have the powers to put it right.

I conclude by saying that there are two objections to the clause. First, local authorities, which have perfectly good arrangements in place, will have to substitute those with the arrangements set out in the clauses in the Bill. I think that that is absolute bunkum. If the noble Baroness is saying that the rationale for this clause is that the Government are trying to emulate what local authorities do well and pass that good practice around, I say that there needs to be a simple clause in the Bill requiring each LEA area to have good, meaningful and effective pre-budgetary consultation processes in place, and which allows the inspectorate to judge whether that provision is working properly.

The other objection to the clause is the unacceptable passing on of decision-making powers to a wholly unelected body. Perhaps I may give advance notice that I shall not be opposing that the clause stand part because we shall need to return to the matter. There is concern about it on all Benches of the House, including the Government's. If this clause remains on the face of the Bill, governing bodies should at least have the flexibility to decide whether or not they have a schools forum. That would get over the whole issue of the noble Baroness's case. Therefore, where LEAs' arrangements are working well their governing bodies could vote not to change them. In those where they are not, governing bodies could say that they need a schools forum.

6.46 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 166) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 78; Not-Contents, 120.

Division No. 2


Alton of Liverpool, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Baker of Dorking, L.
Barker, B.
Biffen, L.
Blackwell, L.
Blatch, B.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Craigavon, V.
Dahrendorf, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Flather, B.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Freeman, L.
Geddes, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gray of Contin, L.
Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.
Harris of High Cross, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Haslam, L.
Higgins, L.
Holderness, L.
Home, E.
Howe, E.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Hurd of Westwell, L.
Jopling, L.
Kimball, L.
Kingsland, L.
Kirkham, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Lucas, L.
MacLaurin of Knebworth, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mancroft, L.
Marlesford, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Monson, L.
Montrose, D.
Moynihan, L.
Newby, L.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E.
Oxfuird, V.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Rennard, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rotherwick, L. [Teller]
Russell, E.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Seccombe, B.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Tebbit, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Vivian, L.
Wakeham, L.
Walmsley, B.
Wilcox, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.


Acton, L.
Alli, L.
Ampthill, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Boston of Faversham, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brookman, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Chandos, V.
Christopher, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grabiner, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grenfell, L.
Grocott, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jones, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
McCarthy, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mitchell, L.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Nicol, B.
Palmer, L.
Parekh, L.
Patel, L.
Pendry, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Rix, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Serota, B.
Sheldon, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Tomlinson, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Varley, L.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord Privy Seal)
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

14 May 2002 : Column 206

6.53 p.m.

[Amendments Nos. 167 to 169 not moved.]

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