Government responses: Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learning Bill and Coroners and Justice Bill - Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee Contents


Letter to the Chairman from Baroness Morgan of Drefelin, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

1.  I am grateful to the Committee for their helpful consideration of the Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learners Bill, set out in the Committee's Eighth Report published on 14 May 2009. I am writing to set out the government's response.

Clause 37

2.  This clause requires the Secretary of State to specify, by order, the apprenticeship sectors for the operation of the apprenticeship provisions. In our submission to the Committee, we explained that no Parliamentary scrutiny was considered necessary as the intention is that the sectors will follow the Sector Skills Council (SSC) footprints. However, the Committee could see no reason why the first or any subsequent order might not depart from the SSC footprints and recommended that the negative procedure should apply to orders made under clause 37(1).

3.  Although we do not intend to depart from the SSC footprints, we accept the Committee's recommendation and will table an amendment accordingly at the Committee stage of the Bill.

Clause 39

4.  The Committee will recall that clause 39 amends the Employment Rights Act 1996. It inserts a new Part 6A which introduces a new right for qualifying employees to make a statutory application to their employer in relation to study or training. There are various delegated powers, all of which are subject to the negative procedure.

5.  The Committee identified four delegated powers (at new sections 63D(2)(b), 63D(6)(a), 63D(7)(f) and 63F(7)(j)) which are of such significance that they should, in the Committee's view, be subject to the affirmative procedure.

6.  We are grateful to the Committee for their analysis and recommendation, which we are happy to accept. Again, we propose to table the necessary amendments during Committee.

Clause 75

7.  The Committee has raised a helpful point with regard to clause 75, which enables the Secretary of State to make arrangements for the Young People's Learning Agency for England (YPLA) to carry out certain functions on his behalf. The functions relate to Academies, city technology colleges and city colleges for the technology of the arts, and include functions under Schedule 35A of the Education Act 1996.

8.  It is not our intention to delegate to the YPLA the function of making, confirming or approving subordinate legislation. We therefore propose to table an amendment to clause 75, which will exclude that function from the definition of "Academy functions".

Clauses 224 and 226

9.  These clauses relate to the School Support Staff Negotiating Body (SSSNB). This new body will include members who represent staff and employers. It will negotiate matters relating to the pay and conditions of employment of school support staff.

10.  Under clauses 224 and 226, the Secretary of State is given the power to make orders ratifying an agreement submitted to him by the SSSNB. As the Bill is currently drafted, those orders are subject to the negative procedure. The Committee suggested that, as the orders are of a purely administrative character, it may be appropriate for them to be subject to a requirement that they be laid before Parliament, but without any further Parliamentary scrutiny.

11.  We are grateful to the Committee for this suggestion. However, we have not taken it up, because we consider that the current level of Parliamentary scrutiny will offer reassurance to trade unions and employers interested in the work of the SSSNB.

Clause 242

12.  This clause provides for pupil referral units to be renamed "short stay schools". Clause 242(2) allows the Secretary of State to make amendments to legislation, by order, which are consequential on the change of name. We took the view that, because such an order could amend primary legislation, it should be subject to the affirmative procedure.

13.  The Committee has suggested that because the amendments would be purely consequential on the change of name, it would be appropriate for the negative procedure to apply. We are grateful for this recommendation, and we will table an appropriate amendment to clause 254 at Committee.

Schedule 12

14.  Finally, the Committee raised a question with regard to paragraph 40 of Schedule 12 to the Bill. This provision amends section 42 of the Childcare Act 2006. Paragraph 40(5) substitutes a new subsection (6). The new subsection relates to learning and development orders, which specify assessment arrangements. Those arrangements may authorise a person to make "delegated supplementary provisions". The supplementary provisions are not part of the learning and development order. The Committee expressed concern that learning and development orders under section 42 of the 2006 Act are currently subject to the negative procedure, whereas the new delegated supplementary provisions will not be subject to any Parliamentary scrutiny at all.

15.  Section 42(6) of the 2006 Act currently provides that an order under that section may authorise the making of supplementary provisions to give effect to the provisions within the order. We would respectfully submit that such supplementary provisions are not subject to Parliamentary scrutiny as things stand now. It is our view that the amendment does not therefore alter the position.

16.  An order made under section 42 as amended by the Bill would continue to be subject to Parliamentary approval. It is submitted, however, that it is not a good use of Parliament's time to scrutinise the technical operational details of assessment arrangements, which is what the supplementary provisions would contain.

17.  I will send to the Committee a copy of the amendments when they are tabled. In the meantime, I am placing a copy of this letter in the Library of the House.

Department for Children, Schools and Families

June 2009

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2009