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Baroness Barker: I thank the Minister for that reply, but I am not sure that his answer addresses the issue. I do not believe that an adoption order of this nature would have been made were the court not satisfied that it was in the best interests of the child. I fail to see what requiring the prospective adopter to spend a significant amount of time in this country would yield by way of information that could not be ascertained more relevantly in the receiving state where that person lives and where the child will go to live. I am not entirely convinced by the Minister's answer. I shall take it away and reflect on it in due course. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 13, as amended, agreed to.

[Amendment No. 140 not moved.]

Clause 14 [Minor and consequential amendments and repeals]:

[Amendments Nos. 140A and 140B not moved.]

Clause 14 agreed to.

Schedules 2 and 3 agreed to.

Clause 15 [Regulations]:

Lord Adonis moved Amendment No. 141:


"(1A) The power to make and revoke an order under section 8(4) is also exercisable by statutory instrument.
 
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(1B) A statutory instrument mentioned in subsection (1) or (1A) is to be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 15, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 16 [Short title, commencement and extent]:

Lord Adonis moved Amendments Nos. 142 to 143:


 
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"(2A) Section 12, so far as relating to adoptions and prospective adoptions in relation to which the National Assembly for Wales may charge a fee under section 91A of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 (c. 38), shall come into force on such day as the National Assembly for Wales may by order made by statutory instrument appoint; and different days may be appointed for different purposes."

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 16, as amended, agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments.

Written Statements

Monday 17 October 2005


 
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Education: Personalised Learning

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (Ruth Kelly) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am announcing today a step change in the support that the Government are providing to promote personalised learning.

It is this Government's central aim in education to promote excellence and equality. Providing more personalised support to children and young people, giving them strength in the basics in literacy and numeracy, stretching their aspirations, and focusing on their individual strengths, weaknesses and interests, is the key to delivering this.

The school reforms that this Government have introduced since 1997 have achieved much, and this summer's test and exam results by pupils aged 11, 14 and 16 were the highest ever. But we remain ambitious to go much further, and in particular to close the persistent gaps in attainment between children of different ethnic groups and social classes.

I am therefore announcing today that we intend to target £335 million, by 2007–08, specifically earmarked within the new dedicated schools grant, to improve the personalisation of learning for all students in key stage 3.

With this resource, I expect all secondary schools to provide to pupils who need it, comprehensive and intensive catch up support in literacy and numeracy, embracing, where appropriate, one-to-one and small group tuition. Mastery of English and mathematics is the necessary foundation for all children and young people to succeed in school and beyond, and must be the first priority of everyone in the education system. Through the Government's secondary national strategy we will continue to offer guidance, teaching and learning materials of high quality and expert consultancy support to enable schools to take advantage of the new resources available.

The great majority of children, of course, have not fallen behind: they too deserve a personalised education. I also expect this investment to improve the support for gifted and talented pupils; and, also, through the development of extended services, to help to provide access to extra support or tuition in subject areas and other activities where children and young people have a particular interest or aptitude.

It must be for teachers and parents to decide together what will best meet a particular child's needs and potential. But, through school improvement partners and the new Ofsted inspection regime, every secondary school will be expected to demonstrate that
 
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it is planning and delivering intensive catch up support where it is needed; and tailored teaching and learning for every child.

In recognition of the importance of personalisation for those children from deprived backgrounds, within the overall school funding settlement we will target this investment particularly towards local authorities with the largest numbers of deprived children, and will expect local authorities to ensure that they focus it, in particular, towards their most deprived schools and those facing the greatest challenges. I will announce further details of this funding later this autumn, as part of the wider schools funding announcement for 2006–08.

For those schools with the highest numbers of pupils who have fallen behind, I will—in addition to the dedicated schools grant funding outlined above—invest a further £60 million of DfES grant funding to be shared across the primary and secondary sectors in each of 2006–07 and 2007–08. This will allow schools facing the most acute challenges to ensure, through the support and guidance of the primary and secondary national strategies, that they have the right workforce, trained and qualified to provide more effective one-to-one or small group tuition for all their lowest attaining pupils.

Although my announcement today is focused in particular on key stage 3 children, I expect all schools—primary and secondary—increasingly to personalise teaching and learning. I will also press forward with reforms to support groups who need the most support: children who have special educational needs; looked-after children; and children from some black and minority ethnic backgrounds whose educational attainment is below national averages.

While one-to-one and small group tuition are crucial elements in our vision for truly personalised education, they must be a supplement to—not a substitute for—high quality whole class teaching and learning. We must ensure that whole class teaching consistently meets the needs of all children within the class. This is the absolute core of providing every child and young person with a tailored education. The guidance and training opportunities I have outlined above will support teachers in all schools to provide excellent, interactive lessons which will capture the imagination of every child in the class.

Further details of the Government's plans for personalised learning will be contained in the White Paper which I intend to publish later this month.

EU Competitiveness Council

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Alan Johnson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I chaired the first Competitiveness Council of the UK's EU presidency in Luxembourg on 11 October 2005. My noble friend Lord Sainsbury, Parliamentary
 
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Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation, chaired the council for the research item. The UK did not make any interventions.

Commissioner McCreevy (internal market and services) presented the results of the 2005 Internal Market Scoreboard, published in July. The council took note of the information he provided, in particular that, compared to last year, considerable progress has been achieved in transposing internal market directives into national legislation in most member states. The council adopted conclusions without debate, emphasising that this is an area that requires continued effort.

The council took note of a presidency progress report on better regulation, which gave a brief account of ongoing work regarding the use of impact assessments in the legislative process, simplification of legislation, screening of pending legislative proposals, the Commission's pilot project on a methodology to measure administrative costs, and stakeholder consultation. Vice-President Verheugen (Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry) updated the council on the developments relating to the commission communication on Better regulation for jobs and growth in the EU adopted in March 2005. He advised that the Commission intends to withdraw 68 proposals which do not comply with Lisbon objectives, and to publish a communication on simplification by the end of October. The council will return to the subject of better regulation at its next session at the end of November.

I chaired a policy debate on some of the key aspects of REACH, the draft chemicals regulation. There was broad support for a targeted approach to information requirements, although some member states preferred that this approach should only apply to existing substances. There was broad consensus to reduce the testing requirements for the registration of substances between 10 and 100 tonnes, while some member states were willing to consider the possibility of exposure-based waiving for this tonnage range. There was also a broad consensus towards sharing of all data and joint submission of information for registrants of the same substance, provided that further consideration is given to provisions aiming to ensure a more cost-effective system and adequate protection of confidential business information. I was encouraged by the positive response to the presidency compromise proposal, which has taken the council a step closer to achieving political agreement in November.

We did not address any formal agenda items over lunch. However, I chaired an informal discussion on competitiveness and climate change. This proved useful as a mechanism to encourage a focus on solutions that meet both competitiveness and environmental concerns. Almost without exception, Ministers recognised action on climate change as necessary.

There were four items under any other business in the council, on which there was no debate. Commissioner Kroes (Competition) presented the state aid action plan: Less and Better Targeted State Aid: a Roadmap for State Aid Reform 2005–2009 and
 
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a Communication on State Aid for Innovation. Vice-President Verheugen informed the council about the European Enterprise Awards Scheme, which will be launched in London on 14 November. Vice-President Verheugen, also presented a communication on industrial policy, published by the Commission on 5 October, which looks at horizontal and sectoral issues and the challenges for EU industrial competitiveness. The council intends to return to this subject for more in-depth discussion at a later date. The council took note of Vice-President Verheugen's information on the final AOB item on the Third Progress Report on Life Sciences and Biotechnology, and that the Commission intends to update the Community Strategy on Life Sciences and Biotechnology in time for the 2007 Spring European Council.

Lord Sainsbury chaired the research item, on the EU's 7th Framework Programme (FP7) for Research and Technological Development (2007–13). Commissioner Potocnik (Commissioner for Research) represented the Commission. The Council had an orientation debate on the "capacities" and "ideas" sections of the FP7 proposal based on questions set by the presidency. The UK submitted a written response to these questions (see Annex A). The Commission has suggested several new aspects to the seventh programme: funding for basic research through a European Research Council; support for large-scale public/private partnerships to take forward industrial projects; and funding for new research infrastructures. The council recalled that FP7 should be considered alongside the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP). In light of the discussions, the presidency intends to draw up a revised draft text covering the whole proposal, to serve as the basis for finalising a "partial" general approach to FP7 at the council in November. This should leave open the opportunity to adjust agreed parts of the proposal, should that be necessary in the light of negotiation of the financial perspective for 2007–13.

The council adopted at first reading (without discussion) a directive aimed at improving safety of pedestrians by laying down technical requirements on frontal protection systems in motor vehicles. The directive amends directive 70/156/EEC. The council also agreed without discussion a common approach concerning the approval of mechanical components of combinations of vehicles and re-treaded tyres. The council adopted a set of draft decisions with a view to introduce the pan-EuroMediterranean system of cumulation of origin in agreements with third countries. In all cases, the UK voted in favour.


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