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Baroness Howarth of Breckland: My Lords, I thank the noble Baronesses who have taken part in this short debate. What has really startled me in the Minister's response is the suggestion that early years practitioners will gain status only if they gain the status of teachers. That underlines what the whole debate is about. It is about the value of those who work in social care and are prepared to be accepted as such. I have never suggested that any of those people are rigid or formal. Indeed, I know the Coram centre well and I think that it works on wonderful lines; I praise it.

It is a pity that those workers will have to comply with the Government and feel that they are professional only if they are teachers. We have only to return to the beginning of our debate this afternoon to know how important language is. If the phrase "poorly performing children" can emanate from the department, that underlines for me how important it is that we get the language right now. For me, "taught" is a very different ethos from "development" and "learning". For that reason, I regret that I feel that I must test the opinion of the House.

6.44 pm

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 30) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 124; Not-Contents, 130.

Division No. 2


Addington, L.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Barker, B.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Best, L.
Biffen, L.
Bottomley of Nettlestone, B.
Bridgeman, V.
Brittan of Spennithorne, L.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Byford, B.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Chidgey, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Cotter, L.
Courtown, E.
Craig of Radley, L.
Craigavon, V.
Cumberlege, B.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
De Mauley, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
D'Souza, B.
Eccles, V.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Falkland, V.
Falkner of Margravine, B.
Fookes, B.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Freeman, L.
Garden, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Goschen, V.
Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.
Hamilton of Epsom, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hanham, B.
Hanningfield, L.
Harris of Peckham, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Hayhoe, L.
Higgins, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Howard of Rising, L.
Howarth of Breckland, B. [Teller]
Howe, E.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Hylton, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Jones of Cheltenham, L.
Kingsland, L.
Kirkham, L.
Kirkwood of Kirkhope, L.
Laidlaw, L.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Lee of Trafford, L.
Listowel, E.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Lucas, L.
Luke, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
Maclennan of Rogart, L.
McNally, L.
Mancroft, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marlesford, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Morris of Bolton, B.
Murphy, B.
Neuberger, B.
Newton of Braintree, L.
Noakes, B.
Northbourne, L.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E.
Northover, B.
Norton of Louth, L.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Ramsbotham, L.
Reay, L.
Roberts of Llandudno, L.
Rogan, L.
Sandwich, E.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Stewartby, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Taylor of Holbeach, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Tonge, B.
Trefgarne, L.
Trenchard, V.
Ullswater, V.
Waddington, L.
Wakeham, L.
Walmsley, B.
Walpole, L.
Wilcox, B.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Windlesham, L.


Adonis, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B. [Lord President.]
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Boothroyd, B.
Borrie, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Carter of Coles, L.
Chorley, L.
Christopher, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L. [Teller]
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Drayson, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Foster of Bishop Auckland, L.
Foulkes of Cumnock, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Giddens, L.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Hart of Chilton, L.
Haskel, L.
Haworth, L.
Henig, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollick, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howarth of Newport, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L.
Jones, L.
Jordan, L.
Judd, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kinnock, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Leitch, L.
Levy, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
McKenzie of Luton, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Maxton, L.
Mitchell, L.
Moonie, L.
Morgan, L.
Morgan of Drefelin, B.
Nicol, B.
O'Neill of Clackmannan, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Pendry, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Prashar, B.
Prosser, B.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Radice, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Rooker, L.
Rosser, L.
Rowlands, L.
Royall of Blaisdon, B.
Sawyer, L.
Sewel, L.
Sheldon, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Finsbury, L.
Soley, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Tomlinson, L.
Truscott, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Young of Norwood Green, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

12 Jun 2006 : Column 73
6.57 pm

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): My Lords, I have to inform the House that in the first Division today the numbers voting Content were 147, not 148 as announced. Therefore there was an equality of votes, with 147 in each Lobby. In accordance with Standing Order 57, which provides that no proposal to amend a Bill in the form in which it is before the House shall be agreed to unless there is a majority in favour of such an amendment, I declare Amendment No. 9 disagreed to.

Clause 43 [Welfare requirements]:

[Amendments Nos. 31 and 32 not moved.]
12 Jun 2006 : Column 74

Clause 46 [Power to enable exemptions to be conferred]:

Baroness Sharp of Guildford moved Amendment No. 33:

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, we come to Clause 46, which concerns exemptions from the early years foundation stage. The purpose of the Amendments Nos. 33 and 34 is to probe further the exemptions from that stage, both for providers of education—Amendment No. 33—and for particular young children—Amendment No. 34.

These exemptions have already been discussed at considerable length in debate in the other place and in Grand Committee in this House. In response to amendments that we brought forward on the previous occasion, the Minister made it clear that exemptions were exceptional. But he also said:

Clause 46—

The Minister reiterated what had been said in the other place—namely, that for providers any exemptions or modifications would be exceptional and for a very limited period to allow a provider to improve standards and meet full requirements.

As regards individual children, he made it clear that, again, opt-outs would be allowed only in exceptional circumstances but that,

And therefore:

In relation to the individual child, he made it clear that this would apply only at the request of parents and would not open a gateway for providers to bar, for example, children with disabilities.

7 pm

On Amendment No. 33, which relates to providers of early years education, the Minister made it clear that the exception would apply only for a strictly limited period of time. While we do not want to see small local providers being forced to close, there must be a very clear message to local authorities that provision in their areas should meet quality requirements. In particular, given that the early years foundation stage will not come into force until September 2008, there should be plenty of time for local authorities and providers to plan for transition. Can the Minister therefore give us assurances that a clear message will be given to all providers that unless, like the Steiner schools, they negotiate a special exemption from some parts of the early years foundation stage to meet their educational
12 Jun 2006 : Column 75
philosophy, they will be expected to be delivering the early years foundation stage from September 2008? Will he also assure us that exemptions will be time-limited and will not, in general, be given to settings which establish themselves as providers after September 2008?

On Amendment No. 34, which relates to individuals and specific individual children, my noble friend Lady Walmsley responded to the Minister that if exemptions in relation to individual children were to be made only in response to specific requests from parents, why did the Bill not say so? The Minister at that stage promised to consider the point further. I do not believe that he has written to my noble friend about the issue, and we should be grateful to know whether he has had any further thoughts on it. It seems logical that such a restriction should be on the face of the Bill if it is meant. Indeed, our new amendment suggests precisely that change. In particular, we are looking for assurances from the Minister that exceptions in relation to individual children will come only in response to a proactive request by the parent or the person with parental responsibility and not just when there has been parental consent; that the early years foundation stage is being developed to be fully inclusive and that Clause 46(2) cannot be used as a backdoor escape route for exemption on the grounds of disability, special educational needs or English as a foreign language; and that the use of exemptions, for providers and individuals, will be monitored to make sure that they do not disproportionately affect one particular type of child. I beg to move.

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