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7 July 2010 : Column WS13

7 July 2010 : Column WS13

Written Statements

Wednesday 7 July 2010

House of Lords: Reform


The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): On Tuesday 29 June, Lord Steel of Aikwood moved a Motion

"That this House calls on Her Majesty's Government, notwithstanding their proposals for Lords reform whose legislative timetable is unclear, to table Motions before the Summer Recess enabling the House to approve or disapprove:

(a) a scheme to enable Members of the House to retire,

(b) the abolition of by-elections for hereditary Peers,

(c) the removal of Members convicted of serious criminal offices,

(d) the creation of a statutory appointments commission".

The Motion was carried by 44 votes to 29.

The Government take seriously the views of the House and have considered the next steps. The Deputy Prime Minister has already established a cross-party committee which has been charged with producing a draft Bill for a wholly or mainly elected second chamber on the basis of proportional representation. The draft Bill will then be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny. The Government hope this will be by a Joint Committee of both Houses. In addition, I have set up a Leaders' Group chaired by Lord Hunt of Wirral to identify options for allowing Members to leave the House of Lords permanently.

The cross-party committee will be considering all the issues raised in Lord Steel's Motion and a draft Bill will be published around the end of the year. The Government therefore do not consider it appropriate to table Motions before the Summer Recess on these issues.

Ordnance Survey: Performance Targets


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The following performance targets have been set for Ordnance Survey in 2008-09.

Ordnance Survey will report externally against a set of agency performance monitors, as required of all executive agencies in government:

to achieve an operating profit before exceptional items, interest and dividends of £11.8 million for the financial year 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011;some 99.6 per cent of significant real-world features greater than six months old is represented in the database;to achieve a free cash flow before exceptional items of £19.6 million for the financial year 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011;to continue to reduce the underlying cost base of the business by on average 5 per cent per annum measured against a baseline of 2008-09 costs; and to achieve a customer index score of at least 80 per cent.

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These targets reflect Ordnance Survey's continuing commitment to customers, to implementing the business strategy announced in April 2009, to maintaining and delivering intelligent geographic information to all users, and to offering improved value for money for all, as well as a commitment to government policies.

Schools: Discipline


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Schools (Nick Gibb) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I would like to announce to the House new measures to be introduced to tackle behaviour and discipline in schools. All pupils should show respect and courtesy towards teachers, towards other staff and towards each other. Head teachers help to create that culture of respect by supporting their staff's authority to discipline pupils. The role of the Government is to give schools the freedom they need to provide a safe and structured environment in which teachers can teach and children can learn.

The coalition agreement sets out this Government's intention to give heads and teachers the powers they need to ensure discipline in the classroom and promote good behaviour. It also sets out the Government's intention to give anonymity to teachers accused by pupils and take other measures to protect against false accusations. Teachers should feel confident in exercising their authority, and pupils should not have to suffer disruption to their education caused by the poor behaviour of others.

Further to my reply in Education Questions on 7 June, I can confirm that we will take steps to strengthen teachers' powers to search pupils. We intend to introduce regulations to add personal electronic devices (mobile phones, iPods and personal music players); pornography; fireworks; cigarettes and other tobacco; and "legal highs" to the list of items for which teachers can search. Our intention is for these regulations to come into effect from this autumn. In the next Education Bill, we intend to give teachers a more general search power covering any item which may cause disorder or pose a threat to safety.

We will also take steps to reduce the bureaucratic burden on schools when giving pupils detentions. We intend to repeal the legislation that requires schools to give parents 24 hours' written notice of detentions outside school hours. Schools will be free to determine and publicise their own rules on notice for detentions. As a result, teachers should be able to deal with misbehaviour on the day it occurs.

We will issue much shorter and clearer guidance which explicitly states that teachers can physically remove disruptive children from class and prevent them from leaving a room in situations where this is necessary to maintain order. We will seek to ensure that prosecutors, those exercising disciplinary powers and those determining complaints against teachers are

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aware of the new guidance. We are determined that teachers should have the protection they need and we will take all necessary steps, legislating further if necessary, to ensure this happens.

Finally, we will give teachers the strongest possible protection from false accusations. We will give anonymity to teachers facing accusations from pupils. This Government want to put an end to rumours and malicious gossip about innocent teachers that can ruin careers and even lives.

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We will be announcing further measures in due course, including measures to tackle bullying, head teachers' powers to exclude children and the reform of alternative provision.

The changes announced today are the first step in a programme of reform. We will be consulting with teachers about taking forward these measures and the case for further form. We will take the necessary action to ensure that schools can bring order and discipline to every classroom so that all children are able to achieve to the best of their ability.

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