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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, with the greatest respect, I cannot agree with the noble Lord's comment. The Human Rights Act has not been shown to be unenforceable; it has been demonstrated to be an extremely well crafted Act, about which we should all jointly express great pride.
Baroness Whitaker: My Lords, I declare an interest as a member of the Joint Committee that drew up the report. When my noble friend considers the report, will she bear in mind, and communicate to her colleagues in
Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, do the Government consider that there already exist in this country organisations that possess the powers and functions to promote and maintain human rights? If not, will the first task of any commission be to obtain general agreement on defining what constitute human rights?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, all those issues are important. I do not know whether the noble Lord has yet had the full benefit of looking at the report, but many of those matters are explored in it. The noble Lord will know that the committee took evidence from very many people. I hope that the report will do just what it is doing todayexciting much debate and discussionso that we can all have an appropriate level of pride about what comes out of it when the Government conclude their deliberations.
Lord Dormand of Easington: My Lords, is my noble and learned friend aware of the decreasing support for the monarchy, caused largely because people are against an unelected head of state? For that and other reasons, is it not time for a wide-ranging examination of the status of the monarchy, which could be undertaken by a Select Committee?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I do not believe that there is decreasing support for the monarchy. Recent historythe Jubilee yeardemonstrates that. So, when my noble friend Lord Dormand asks me again for my answer, it is "No".
Lord Smith of Clifton: My Lords, does the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House agree with me that one does not have to be a republican to believe that it would be in the interests of the monarchy for a review to be held now in the light of its role in modern circumstances, particularly with regard to the exercise of the Royal prerogative?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am aware of the current politicaland perhaps legaldebate about the Royal prerogative. I know that views on the matter are strongly held, not always by republicans, as the noble Lord says. But this is a specific Question, with which I think I have dealt to the general satisfaction of noble Lords.
Lord Blaker: My Lords, will the noble and learned Lord suggest to his noble friend Lord Dormand that he might get together with me to make a survey of the states around the world that have elected heads of statethere are perhaps 150to see whether he wishes to reconsider his views?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, questions about the professional conduct of any member of a school's workforce are for head teachers, governors and local authorities to resolve. Serious cases of teacher professional misconduct can be referred to the General Teaching Council.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I recognise that, as a former member of the profession, my noble friend intends to do his utmost to uphold its prestige and reputation. There is no need for us to remind governing bodies of their responsibilities; they are able to discharge them. In the one or two cases in which the issue has arisen, the governing bodies have acted in exemplary fashion.
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, for the benefit of parents who meet their legal obligation by seeing that their children attend school, can the Minister say who is in loco parentis for children who, having taken time out of the school day to protest, are injured?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, when the pupil is registered at the school, the responsibility lies with the school for the duration of the school day. That is why schools recognise that children who leave the premises must do so under supervision and can be at risk. We are all conscious of the fact that, at times, things go wrong on school trips and visits. However, it is highly unlikely that pupils would be supervised on a demonstration, and, as far as the school is concerned, any student who has left the school during school time has broken the agreement with the school to attend.
Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My Lords, on these Benches, we agree very much with the Answer that the Minister gave. However, although we should discourage children from leaving school during school time to demonstrate, we should encourage them to demonstrate. Is that not a good way of encouraging them to take an interest in politics?
We all recognise that we live in a democratic society and that young people are part of that democratic society, although, if they are under voting age, they have limited rights. Like the noble Baroness, we want young people to have an understanding of the issues facing society, and we are keen to promote citizenship. From time to time, that is bound to give rise to interesting and involved debates about current issues.
Lord Hardy of Wath: My Lords, will my noble friend consider the fact that, in some cases, children from primary schools were involved in the demonstrations? Will he express the hope that the Liberal Party would not wish to see those children involved in demonstrations?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I imagine that anybody who wants to be a Liberal has to start fairly young and, I hope, give up fairly young as well. My noble friend will recognise that my reference to the citizenship education that is part of the school curriculum did not apply to junior schoolchildren, only to those in secondary education.
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