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Baroness Byford: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for proposing this statutory instrument. There are some 400—or, rather, 43,000—full-time and part-time workers in the horticulture industry. I must get my figures right. I am sure that earlier I referred to 600 vets because I never dreamt that there were 6,000 of them. The horticulture industry is very important to us. It is an unsubsidised part of the business. During the season, it employs some 10,000 casual workers.

In accepting this draft order, we appreciate that basically it does two things. First, it moves to 1st April the date on which the accounting year starts. We do not have any difficulty with that. Secondly, it ties up the earlier legislation to include new items, such as herbs and aquatic plants.

I have two brief questions, one of which the Minister touched on. First, do I presume that Article 4(a), which alters the principal order, will allow the levy to be deducted from total turnover and that, therefore, it may result in a saving to growers? I am not absolutely clear on that point. Perhaps the Minister could say a word or two about that paragraph.

Secondly, Article 8 of the order refers to "saving". As the noble Lord will know, I am always very keen on saving. However, from the draft order I did not understand what the saving referred to. Is it a legislative saving or is it a saving to the producer? The three lines of Article 8 do not explain who will gain what in relation to the saving. I wonder why it is included in the draft order. The Minister has already suggested that payments that are due this year cannot

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be paid because the statutory instrument does not come into effect until April next year. I was a little floored by those two articles. I should be grateful if the Minister could advise me.

Finally, we on these Benches believe that good research is most important. It is vital for the future of the horticulture industry and obviously we want to see the industry have a successful future.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for bringing forward the order. In particular, I believe that it is very important that the Horticultural Development Council is able to pursue its strategies in the interests of the horticulture industry. As the noble Baroness has just said, research and development are vital. So far as concerns investment in R&D, we certainly need to keep abreast of competition on the Continent and, indeed, much further afield. That point needs to be reviewed continuously.

There is considerable growth in the horticulture industry and there has been a vast increase in imports of fruit and vegetables. It is absolutely vital to develop our own industry and, at the same time, remain competitive. We all know that the supermarkets now trawl the world for horticultural produce. Indeed, consumers expect to have on the shelves of supermarkets fruits and vegetables which, until just a few years ago in the UK, we expected only seasonally. In terms of the environment, the importance of food miles is also very important. We need to ensure that we grow as much horticultural produce in this country as we can and that we market it as efficiently as possible.

The question of the levy and, in particular, the inclusion of herbs is very interesting. I wonder whether the Minister has received any objections to the fact that herbs will be liable for levy. Given the increasing growth of herbs and, indeed, the development of holistic medicine and things of that nature, I wonder whether any representations have been made in that respect. I believe that the situation is probably different in relation to aquatic plant growers. I would not have anticipated any objections in that respect because such growers are closely related to what goes on in garden centres and so on. I gather that watercress growers are supportive of the order.

So far as concerns the levy, I believe that the change to the accounting year is acceptable. However, I point out to the Minister that, judging the efficiency of some enterprises, the crop years do not necessarily coincide with the levy years. Speaking as someone who, during my career, has been involved in farm management and horticultural management accounting, it is important that the costs relating to the growing and the output of the crop arise in the same accounting year in order to gauge the efficiency of the enterprise. An interesting question arises in that respect, but I am sure that the farm management economists and horticulture economists have sorted that out.

The industrial-type processes involved in packing, canning, freezing and so on are now taken care of in Article 4(b) of the draft order. I believe that the

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clarification of the definition of "processing" and "processing costs" provides a useful description of what goes on.

The provisions contained in the draft order seem logical. Certainly, having been in conversation with the NFU horticulture department, there appear to be no significant objections to it. Therefore, I am very happy to welcome the order.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am grateful for the support from both Front Benches for the accounting change and for the other clarifications. In respect of the references to aquatic plants and herbs, the position is one of clarification rather than a change of classification. In fact, aquatic plants were levied under the old system but, for the sake of clarity, we believed that we should make clear that that was the case. Likewise, in relation to herbs, edible and medical and other non-edible herbs were levied. But, again, it is a question of clarification, and we have not received any representations from herb growers.

In relation to Article 4(a), to which the noble Baroness referred, again, a clarification is provided. Instead of referring to "such preparation", the order will relate to what takes place in the packhouse. It is intended that that should clarify what one sets against the total. One takes off the turnover in relation to the appropriate level on which the levy is paid. In other words, the amendment is not intended to bring about a change in either direction; it is intended to clarify the situation.

With regard to Article 8, which concerns saving, I cannot say that this is entirely clear to me either. However, the intention is to ensure that no interpretation can be made which suggests that any change to the levy arrangements takes place prior to the new levy arrangements coming into effect. In legal terms, that is known as "saving". It does not relate to any saving in the levy or the cost to the growers or HDC but simply protects the legal position. It is a legal measure.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 8.19 to 8.25 p.m.]

Education Bill

House again in Committee.

Baroness Seccombe moved Amendment No. 305:

    After Clause 127, insert the following new clause—

In section 49 of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986 (c. 61) (appraisal of performance of teachers) in subsection (2)(a)(i) after "establishments" there is inserted—
"(ia) to have regard to any guidance provided by the local education authority concerning matters to be taken into consideration in the appraisal of head teachers;"."

The noble Baroness said: While the Bill contains many provisions designed to help successful schools improve still further, it is more reticent in its attempt to protect the most vulnerable children. My motivation for the amendments are the horrific events

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that occurred during the dreadful short life of Lauren Wright. Most noble Lords have heard details of what happened to that tragic child, but some have not. I hope that I will be forgiven if I mention them again.

Lauren went to live with her father and stepmother after their marriage. She was subjected to what can only be described as torture. Lauren attended her local school, where her stepmother was a dinner helper. It was a two-teacher school, so Lauren must have been seen at close quarters on an almost daily basis. Apparently, she often appeared with bruises but they were always explained away. During that time, Lauren lost four stone in weight and her hair fell out. When Lauren died 16 months later, she weighed only two stone. She was six years old.

Lauren's stepmother and father were imprisoned after being convicted—which was important but did nothing to ensure that cruelty is recognised and dealt with at a very early stage. Nothing will bring Lauren back but we owe it to her to do all in our power to eliminate such terrible acts of cruelty to children who often suffer in silence.

During the period when my right honourable friend Mrs Gillian Shephard was Secretary of State for Education, the document Protecting Children from Abuse: The Role of the Education Service was circulated. Often referred to as Circular 10/95, it lays out a framework that schools should have in place for dealing with cases of abuse. The document outlines a school's responsibility for working with the local social services department and, most importantly, for designating a member of staff as being responsible for co-ordinating child protection. Tragically, those guidelines are not always followed.

I seek to give that circular the force and teeth that it requires by putting it on the face of the Bill. Amid all the other provisions for improvement and innovation, surely the protection of children deserves crucial consideration and should be a priority.

As a result of my right honourable friend's involvement, she has taken a great interest in all abuse cases and has been particularly involved in the Lauren Wright case. She and her Norfolk parliamentary colleagues have also given evidence to the Victoria Climbié inquiry. Studying the Lauren Wright report leads to only one conclusion—that guidance is not enough and statutory powers must be included in the Bill.

I was heartened to hear the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, say in relation to Clause 12 that

    "by placing this clause in the Bill we want to clarify the position and put the matter beyond doubt".—[Official Report, 7/5/2002; col. 1116.]

He went on to say that the existence of a specific statutory provision would reassure those who were more comfortable with written statutory powers. We would certainly be reassured if the amendment were made to the Bill so that the matter is plain, understandable and clear to everyone. I understand from the NSPCC that the circular is under review and out for consultation, but Amendment No. 361 covers any replacement circular, so that the point is dealt with.

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Amendment No. 305 would concentrate the mind of head teachers and governors and ensure that child protection figured large in the everyday life of their school. Failure to ensure that would be a disciplinary offence. I acknowledge that child protection is a difficult issue and that decisions must be made in complex circumstances. Legislation may be necessary in other areas, but, today, we are dealing with the Education Bill. Heads should be accountable. It is not acceptable for people in authority who have children in their care for most of the day to appear unaware of ghastly events going on under their nose and to do nothing about them.

At every stage, little Lauren Wright was failed by a system designed to protect her. As a result, nobody could be held answerable for the tragedy. We must learn lessons from that and implement changes to ensure that our children are safeguarded. The Government can do that by agreeing to the amendment. I beg to move.

8.30 p.m.

Baroness Walmsley: I support Amendments Nos. 305 and 361. It is vital that a school's child protection policies are not optional but statutory. Putting the new clause in the Bill will call attention to the issue and focus the mind of heads and governing bodies on their responsibilities, of which they are, I am sure, already mindful.

We cannot hold teachers solely responsible for spotting child abuse problems, but they are in an excellent position to notice things going wrong because they know the children in their care well. In view of that, it is vital that the structures and lines of responsibility are in place and are clear and that appropriate resources are made available. A designated teacher in each school should be given appropriate training to carry out the lead role effectively. However, it is also important that all teachers and trainee teachers have at least some basic training in child abuse issues. That will entail a partnership approach between the LEA and the local area child protection committee and a team approach in schools. The quality of the training can be monitored by Ofsted.

There are other types of training from which teachers and their pupils could benefit, covering issues such as child welfare and emotional development. There is little time for that during the normal PGCE course, so it should be a key part of every teacher's professional development entitlement.

To back up teachers trying hard to support children with difficult backgrounds, the NSPCC, with whom I have a non-pecuniary association, would like to see better liaison with social services departments and the provision of better information by the social services to teachers. That would help the teachers better to understand a child's behaviour and to deal with it appropriately, in the interests of the child and the rest of the class, where the problem can result in disruptive behaviour. There is much scope for the designated child protection teacher to develop a deeper professional role in the school, taking the lead on issues relating to children in need and in foster care.

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It is an important area, and the Bill gives us a great opportunity to do something positive in the light of our experience of the Lauren Wright and Victoria Climbié cases. I hope that the Minister will give us a positive response to the amendment.

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