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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: We have debated every one of these amendments at least once and, in many particularly privileged cases, more than once. For all the reasons I have already given, I oppose the amendment.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: I shall return to these matters tomorrow. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Kingsland had given notice of his intention to move amendment No. 185.


"( ) that all the reasons of the Secretary of State for decisions to which the proceedings relate and the evidence he adduces to support the decisions are given to or served on the relevant party at the same time or before they are given to the court; and"

The noble Lord said: For the reasons given by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, I shall not move Amendment No. 185 or any other of the amendments in my name in this group.

[Amendment No. 185 not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 186 to 189 not moved.]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 190:


"( ) Rules of court made in exercise of the relevant powers must include provision that proceedings on an appeal under section 7 must begin no later than the end of such period after the bringing of the appeal as is specified in the rules." .

The noble and learned Lord said: In the light of what happened earlier in the day we need to reconsider the position in relation to the non-derogating control orders and the circumstances in which the court gets involved, so I will not move Amendment No. 190.

[Amendment No. 190 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 191 not moved.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: Before calling Amendment No. 192, I must remind the Committee that if it is agreed to I cannot call Amendments Nos. 193 to 196 inclusive due to pre-emption.

[Amendment No. 192 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 193 not moved.]

The Duke of Montrose had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 194:


 
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The noble Duke said: Given the assurance from the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor about his view on the Lord President, I will not move Amendment No. 194.

[Amendment No. 194 not moved.]
 
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[Amendments Nos. 195 to 201 not moved.]

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.


 
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Official Report of the Grand Committee on the

School Transport Bill

(First Day)

Monday, 7 March 2005.

The Committee met at half past three of the clock.

[The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Thomas of Walliswood) in the Chair.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Thomas of Walliswood): Before I put the Question that the Title be postponed, perhaps I may remind your Lordships of two points of procedure. Noble Lords will speak standing and the House has agreed that there shall be no Divisions in the Grand Committee. Unless, therefore, an amendment is likely to be agreed to, it should be withdrawn. If there is a Division in the Chamber while we are sitting, this Committee will adjourn as soon as the Division Bells are rung and will resume after 10 minutes.

Title postponed.

Clause 1 [School travel schemes]:

Lord Hanningfield moved Amendment No. 1:

The noble Lord said: Before I begin I should say that it is a pleasure again to be facing Ministers, particularly my colleague, the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, on the scrutiny of another piece of legislation, which is small but important. It seems strange that in a few weeks time we shall be changing sides and that it might be the last time that we are on these sides—who knows?

This is a probing amendment which goes to the heart of one of the important issues in the Bill, regarding the pilots, the size of the area that they cover and the criteria used to determine what falls within and without them. If a scheme is based on the location of parents, I am concerned that a situation might arise in which some pupils at a school received free transport and others did not. Will that constitute discrimination against the parents who did not receive free school transport?

If a scheme is based on the location of schools, who will decide which schools are in or out of the pilot area and what will be the impact on the schools which are without and within the pilot areas? Which areas will a pilot cover if it applies to only a part of a county, for example? In urban-dominated LEAs, where most children live within three miles of a secondary school, a school transport scheme would be of interest in terms of its effects on urban traffic congestion, but it might not give any indication as to the impact of such a scheme on a more rural area of a county.
 
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Furthermore, in LEAs where there is little movement between schools, little evidence would be gained from a pilot on the impact of charging on school choice. It is easy to monitor the effects of a partial scheme in a small area and the benefits that will be gained from it. Alternatively, one might examine areas in which there is more variety of school choice—for example, when there are both rural and urban parts in the same scheme.

Local authorities will need guidance from the department and the Welsh Assembly as to what should comprise a partial pilot scheme area. In some LEAs, a pilot scheme that covered only part of an area would be highly inappropriate.

I hope that the Minister can shed some light on this matter. As I said, this is a probing amendment and I would be interested to hear his comments. I beg to move.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Filkin): I thank the noble Lord for his kind words about us meeting here yet again. It seems like only last week that we were meeting here to discuss a Bill. I am also impressed by his optimism.

I recognise that this is a probing amendment which addresses whether schemes should cover a whole area or could apply to part of an area. Although we will be keen to receive applications from authorities proposing authority-wide schemes, we want authorities to have the flexibility to develop the best pilot schemes that they can for their particular area.

The Bill is deregulatory and is intended to provide flexibility for LEAs to design pilot schemes that best suit the particular local needs. During consultation, a number of local authorities suggested that some larger authorities might wish to develop schemes which addressed issues in a limited geographical area with particular problems. They would wish to maintain the existing arrangements in other parts of their authority, where issues were different or where current arrangements were working reasonably well.

When I was looking into this Bill, it struck me, for example, that an authority such as Kent, which is probably one of the largest geographic areas and has one of the largest populations, might well wish to develop a scheme to cover the whole area. However, the burden is very different in terms of the thoroughness and consultation required for a population of a million, or for almost 250,000 pupils, from that required for a much smaller authority. Therefore, we were persuaded that there was good reason why the provision should be in the Bill.

The Bill would allow local authorities to take the action if they wished. We are not saying that they should or should not take advantage of it; they should be allowed the opportunity. Amendment No. 1—granted, it is probing—would restrict large authorities particularly, and might be seen as slightly discriminatory against them. As to the basis for the part-pilot—whether it should be parental address or school address—it is likely to be both parental address and school attended. It could
 
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not cater for cross-boundary flows. I agree that we will need to put into guidance how such partial schemes would be dealt with, so that authorities understood it clearly.

I hope that that is helpful. If a little more information would help, I would be delighted to write to the noble Lord.


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