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Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, I believe that it is in order for me to respond briefly to the Minister. I thank him for his very extensive response to the Prayer. Perhaps I may say to him first that if he thinks that the Liberal Democrats are happy with the status quo and do not want any change, he has misunderstood. I thought that in both Houses of Parliament yesterday we made it very clear that we are not happy with the status quo. Just because we do not agree with how the Government propose to change the status quo and improve matters does not mean that we are not absolutely at one with them in wanting to do that. But, it is in the nature of real opposition that we are challenging, we ask questions and we do not necessarily agree with the Government's way of doing things. We want to improve quality and to remove inequity. We perhaps do not always agree about the best way of doing that.

I thank the Minister for his comments on my question about whether some of these regulations will become redundant following yesterday's White Paper. Of course we accept that whatever legislation comes along the track as a result of yesterday's White Paper will take some time, but I am still not clear whether in the fullness of time two of these regulations may become redundant. I suppose only time will tell, because we do not yet know exactly what legislation the Government will propose.

I would say, however, that these regulations, as the Minister has just commented, came into force in August. Parliament has a right to pray against such regulations. They were only published in July and they came into force during the Recess. I have to ask the question: what is Parliament for? It is to question all these things; and we have the power to do it. In what way could we have exerted that power in the middle of the Recess before the regulations came into effect? I think the Government were wrong. They should have waited until after this debate, which we are having early in the Session and at the first opportunity we have been given.

I shall make one or two comments on specific remarks that the Minister made. He mentioned the four governors which schools can now have. He said that the provision allows schools to form relationships with more businesses. But I question whether a business has to have a place on a governing body before it is prepared to go in and help that school. I think not. It is perhaps a rather cynical suggestion that that might be the case. I think many businesses will want to go in and help schools without having a place on the school governing body. I very much hope that that continues.

I asked whether schools could be given help and guidance about, perhaps, screening businesses with which they were thinking of having a stronger relationship. I certainly was not asking for the DfES to say who should do that with schools. That would be the sort of centralist approach that I would be very much against. Perhaps the Minister slightly misunderstood what I was asking for there. I certainly
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think that it would not be inappropriate for the department to offer some help if schools wished it. Does the Minister want to intervene?

Lord Adonis: My Lords, I am sorry if I failed to address the point the noble Baroness raises. The Specialist Schools Trust, the umbrella body, does a huge amount to link schools with sponsors under the specialist schools programme, provides a good deal of the help and guidance to which the noble Baroness refers. It is greatly valued by schools. I accept that schools look for assistance in making arrangements for sponsors. That is one of the prime functions of the Specialist Schools Trust which is widely regarded across the whole secondary school movement.

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that. I clearly overlooked the Specialist Schools Trust's function in that respect. I am glad that they are there to do that for schools.

Finally, clearly the Government have a job to do with LEAs. It was clear from the consultation that they were worried and unhappy about their ability to carry out the strategic role they are being asked to do and the fact that the Government have not taken account of that anxiety in these regulations. I hope that the White Paper will evolve into something which gives more help and guidance to the LEAs in the new role they will be asked to play and takes account of what might happen if certain schools are allowed to grow like Topsy and other schools are potentially left behind. We have been painting a potentially black scenario today because it is our job to question the Government and to challenge what might happen under the Government's proposals. I hope that some of the scenarios we have painted do not occur. We are concerned about the well being of all the children.

I shall read carefully what the Minister said in response to our Prayer. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Education (Change of Category of Maintained Schools) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2005

8.42 pm

Baroness Walmsley had given notice of her intention to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the regulations, laid before the House on 8 July, be annulled (S.I. 2005/1731). [7th Report from the Merits Committee].

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I shall not move the Motion.

Motion not moved.
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Education (School Organisation Proposals) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2005

8.43 pm

Baroness Walmsley had given notice of her intention to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the regulations, laid before the House on 11 July, be annulled (S.I. 2005/1801). [7th Report from the Merits Committee].

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, I shall not move the Motion.

Motion not moved.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 8.52 pm.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 8.43 to 8.52 pm.]

Road Safety Bill [HL]

8.52 pm

House again in Committee.

[Amendment No. 145 not moved.]

Viscount Simon moved Amendment No. 146:

Schedule (Drivers' hours: enforcement) contains amendments about the enforcement of the provisions about drivers' hours."

The noble Viscount said: I shall speak briefly to this amendment standing in my name, which is grouped with Amendment No. 170. When this Bill was first before Parliament, it contained the exact words of those two amendments—word for word. The election was called and it fell by the wayside. I have tabled those amendments again because I would love to know what happened. I beg to move.

Baroness Crawley: I have good news for my noble friend. Those amendments seek to reintroduce various provisions relating to the enforcement of drivers' hours rules that were included in Schedule 5 of the previous Road Safety Bill introduced last November, as my noble friend rightly said. We certainly needed to modify the existing enforcement framework for drivers' hours rules in order to reflect the imminent introduction of new technology for recording drivers' activities—the digital tachograph—and to tighten-up existing powers in the light of experience.

So, in principle the Government support this amendment. However, the changes that they seek have been put in place. They had to be in place by early August when we expected the first digital tachograph equipment in vehicles to enter service. Because of that, the Government decided to achieve these changes through secondary legislation instead, using its powers under the European Communities Act 1972.
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Regulations to that effect, based on Schedule 5 of the previous Bill mentioned by my noble friend, were laid before Parliament on 13 July and came into force on 5 August. I hope, in view of this explanation, that the noble Viscount will withdraw his amendment.

Viscount Simon: I am so glad that my noble friend foresaw that I was to table an amendment to this effect. I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Berkeley moved Amendment No. 147:

Within one year of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall introduce regulations to prohibit vehicles, stationary for more than two minutes, from having their motors running."

The noble Lord said: This is a probing amendment to see whether the Government will look with favour on some kind of regulation that would require drivers to switch off their engines if they are stationary for more than, say, two minutes. Often outside the House one sees people sitting in their cars with the engines running. I passed one this morning somewhere north of Hyde Park. The driver was asleep in his car, with the seat tipped back and the headlights full on, with the engine running. I believe that in Switzerland it is standard practice that if one is stuck in a traffic jam for more than two minutes—I am sure one never is in Switzerland—one has to turn off the engine, which is good for global warming, good for local pollution and saves energy. I think it is a very good idea. I am interested to hear what my noble friend has to say. I beg to move.

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