Special Educational Needs and Disability Bill [Lords]

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Mr. Levitt: I should like to add a few comments from a Back-Bencher's perspective. I echo everything that has been said about your chairmanship, Mr. O'Brien, and all who have helped to make the Committee run so freely.

There have been some personal revelations. The hon. Member for Daventry reminded me that we used to debate together for the entertainment of sixth-formers 20 years ago. Not only did I teach in the constituency of the hon. Member for Tewkesbury, but I have discovered that he used to live in mine.

On every clause, us ordinary, time-serving Back-Bench Members have seen a positive benefit for our individual constituents. I think of the girl of 16 with severe special needs, who is at the transitional stage and considering further education. I think of the parent who wants an improved statement for her child. I think of another family in which the toddler has special educational needs. A lifetime of uncertainty could be in front of that family, were it not for the framework of intentions provided by the Bill.

I know that several members of the Committee take a special interest in the education of those with hearing impairments. It is important that informed choice be maintained for the relevant families, whatever the whys and wherefores and pros and cons of different approaches.

Earlier, I mentioned Chapel-en-le-Frith infant school, and how wonderful its enhanced resource facility for children with special needs is now that it has been running for a year. The Under-Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Redditch, hides her light under a bushel. With admirable timing, she announced this week that the John Duncan special school in Buxton is to be replaced by a public-private partnership building in Chapel-en-le Frith—a blessed town—alongside the new Chapel-en-le Frith high school. That is even better news for those children in my constituency who have severe special educational needs. In this week of all weeks, it is wonderful to have the opportunity to thank my hon. Friend.

The Bill provides a legislative framework, and the example that I have given shows that the Government put their money where their mouth is. We have done a great service to children with special educational needs. I am sure that I speak for all Back-Bench Members in saying that it has been a pleasure to serve on the Committee.

The Chairman: On behalf of my co-Chairman, Sir David Madel, I express my sincere thanks to hon. Members for their kind remarks. I said at the Programming Sub-Committee that we would be fair and allow full debate. I have been impressed with the debates, which were more than adequate. I look forward to the Bill being enacted, so that those who have problems with special needs education will be able to call on it. I thank the Clerk and Hansard for their help, without which our proceedings would have been meaningless.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

        Committee rose at fourteen minutes to Eleven o'Clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
O'Brien, Mr Bill (Chairman)
Barnes, Mr.
Benn, Mr. Hilary
Betts, Mr.
Boswell, Mr.
Ennis, Mr.
George, Mr. Andrew
Griffiths, Mr. Win
Harris, Dr.
Hayes, Mr.
Hodge, Ms
Levitt, Mr.
Mountford, Kali
Randall, Mr.
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
St. Aubyn, Mr.
Smith, Jacqui
Whitehead, Dr.

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Prepared 5 April 2001