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4.30 pm

Hon. Members have also mentioned resources--an important issue. I can only repeat the arguments that we used in Committee: the Government are providing significant resources to ensure that these measures are effective and that children receive the education that they deserve--whether in mainstream or special schools. As well as the extra £540 per pupil increase in school funding and the total capital spending on schools, which will be £8.5 billion for the next three years, specific funding is aimed at some of the issues that hon. Members have raised today.

The standards fund, which covers important issues such as special educational needs training, has been increased from £55 million in the previous financial year to £82 million in this financial year. That sum is more than four times the £17 million available in 1997-98. I am sure that that will reassure the hon. Member for Gainsborough. As my hon. Friend the Member for High Peak (Mr. Levitt) said, the schools access initiative stands at £220 million over the next three years, so 10 times as much money will be available from that source in 2003-04 than under the previous Government.

26 Apr 2001 : Column 507

Hon. Members will also be pleased that we announced today a further £4 million package, outlining our commitment to partnerships--an issue that several hon. Members have raised. The voluntary sector will receive just over £1 million for projects under the SEN small programmes fund, bringing together different agencies and the voluntary sector to work with mainstream and special schools. Some £1 million will be used to support the continuing work of the SEN regional partnerships, and £2 million will be used to support training for the independent people who will facilitate the new dispute resolution arrangements.

As I have suggested, there are technical problems with the new clause, but I shall concentrate on the effect that we know from experience it will have. As with other amendments, the new clause threatens significantly to undermine our proposals to strengthen the right to a mainstream place for children with special educational needs. Whatever the intentions behind the new clause, its effect would be to reinstate provisions similar in effect to the first caveat in section 316 of the Education Act 1996.

That is why, in a letter sent to the hon. Member for Maidenhead, a member of the Council for Disabled Children said:

It is also why the Special Educational Consortium, which represents many of the organisations that operate in the field, said:

For those reasons, I hope that the hon. Member for Maidenhead will feel able to withdraw the new clause. We believe that our proposals protect all pupils--those who have special educational needs and those who do not. They will ensure that inclusion is based on sound foundations and that an inclusive education service offers excellence and choice.

Under amendment No. 1, the word "efficient" would be replaced by the word "effective" in proposed new section 316. As the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris) suggested, it is driven by the concern that the use of term "efficient education" could be interpreted unscrupulously to limit inclusion or resources. He implied that it was somehow rather unprogressive of me to suggest that we need to have consistency in legislation. Dare I say that, although it might not be exciting, consistency in legislation is rather important if it is to operate properly and to have the effects that we want. Therefore, the inclusion of the term "efficient education" in very many other provisions in education law is an argument for its appropriateness to the Bill.

It might be helpful if I explain how the efficient education caveat will work in practice. We believe that it will be possible to demonstrate that a child's inclusion will be incompatible with the efficient education of others

26 Apr 2001 : Column 508

only in a small number of cases. For example, a mainstream place should not be provided where it can be clearly shown that a child's behaviour is so challenging that the safety of others cannot be guaranteed, where other children's learning would be persistently and systematically disrupted, or where, even with other support, a child's inclusion would involve the teacher spending a greatly disproportionate amount of time with the child in relation to the rest of the class.

Of course we would allow that caveat to be used only if maintained schools and LEAs were unable to show that there were reasonable steps that they could take to prevent that incompatibility. In considering what is reasonable--that is, whether an LEA or school can take reasonable steps to prevent a child's inclusion being incompatible with the efficient education of others--cost will be taken into account, but cost will not be a factor in deciding whether a child's inclusion would be incompatible with the efficient education of other children.

Given that commitment and the fact that the new inclusion framework will be monitored by Her Majesty's chief inspector of schools, who has been asked to pay particular attention to the use of the new caveats to ensure that they are not abused, I hope that the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon will not press amendment No. 1 to a Division.

Dr. Harris: I shall deal briefly with new clause 2 and the contribution of the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. St. Aubyn). I join hon. Members in congratulating him on his 21st wedding anniversary, but I hope, for his wife's sake, that he provides her with more than a copy of that mention in Hansard as his gift. He fell into the same trap of being too loose with some of his terminology that other Conservative Members have. As the record will show, he said that it is important that the needs of the child should be rated more highly than those of society or parents. I do not know where he got the expression "parents' needs" from, but I cannot find the expression "needs of the parent" or "parents' needs"--

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Sylvia Heal): Order. I apologise to the hon. Gentleman. If he wishes to make a contribution now, he must seek the leave of the House.

Dr. Harris: I will not seek the leave of the House to press that point. [Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. Clearly, it would appear that the hon. Gentleman does not have the leave of the House.

Mrs. May: This important debate has gone right to the heart of the issue of whether we should aim to provide the education that is right for every child. We believe that we should, and that is why we tabled new clause 2.

The hon. Member for High Peak (Mr. Levitt) was generous in his references to the Opposition Front-Bench team and to our commitment to working for disabled people. However, I must disabuse him about our views on the contribution of my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh). It is incredible that Labour Members tried to silence the voice of teachers, because it is their voice that my hon. Friend tried to express to the House. Their views may not be convenient to Labour Members, but they need to be heard.

26 Apr 2001 : Column 509

The Bill provides that children with statements of special educational needs must be educated in mainstream schools unless that is incompatible with the wishes of parents or with the provision of efficient education for other children. I simply believe that it is common sense that those two points should be balanced by the consideration of the needs of the child. What is important is not what is right to meet Government targets, but what is right for the individual child. The needs of the child should come first, and that is why I wish to press the new clause to a vote.

Question put, That the new clause be read a Second time:--

The House divided: Ayes 102, Noes 236.

Division No. 197
[4.40 pm


Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Baldry, Tony
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Cran, James
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Day, Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Flight, Howard
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Moss, Malcolm
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prior, David
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Ruffley, David
St Aubyn, Nick
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Soames, Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Tredinnick, David
Trend, Michael
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Peter Atkinson and
Mr. John Randall.


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Borrow, David
Bradley, Rt Hon Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brake, Tom
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burnett, John
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chidgey, David
Clapham, Michael
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Dowd, Jim
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ennis, Jeff
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Don (Bath)
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
George, Andrew (St Ives)
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hanson, David
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hood, Jimmy
Hope, Phil
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Iddon, Dr Brian
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Joyce, Eric
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Linton, Martin
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McFall, John
Mackinlay, Andrew
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moore, Michael
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle
(B'ham Yardley)
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Olner, Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Rt Hon Tom
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Pollard, Kerry
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Quinn, Lawrie
Raynsford, Rt Hon Nick
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Roy, Frank
Ruddock, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stringer, Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tyler, Paul
Tynan, Bill
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Willis, Phil
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Clive Betts and
Mrs. Anne McGuire.

Question accordingly negatived.

26 Apr 2001 : Column 511

New Clause 3

Inspection of special needs provision

'In carrying out area inspections, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools must report in connection with any report on the education of children with special educational needs on--

(a) the adequacy of local choice of settings for parents of such children;
(b) the mechanism for ensuring that the funds intended to meet the special needs of the individual child are so provided and spent; and
(c) the adequacy of arrangements for the reception and induction of children with special educational needs into educational establishments situated within the area or serving its pupils.'.--[Mr. Boswell.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

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