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Mr. Brady: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Timms: I cannot, given the constraints. Let me make progress, if I may.

5 Feb 2002 : Column 830

On earned autonomy, given the nature of the freedoms, we must ensure that they go to schools in the best possible position to use them in the interests of their pupils. Autonomy must be earned; it will not be unconditional. I think that that is right and that, on reflection, the House will think it right too.

Of course, as standards continue to rise over time and as leadership improves, more schools are likely to be in a position to use those additional freedoms. We shall review the criteria in the light of experience with the aim of increasing the number of schools involved, but, in the initial stages, we shall evaluate and learn from the experiences of our best schools. That will help us to consider what further flexibilities and what deregulation will benefit the school system as a whole.

That is the right approach, as it complements the innovation proposals in chapters 1 and 2. It is important for the House to recognise the distinction between the power to innovate in chapter 1 and the proposals on earned autonomy in chapter 2, which have been confused.

Adam Price (East Carmarthen and Dinefwr): Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Timms: I cannot, given the number of points to which I must respond. I apologise to the hon. Gentleman.

Entirely understandable concern was expressed about special educational needs, so I am grateful to the Members who raised the matter for the chance to reaffirm our commitment to ensure that all schools, including those with earned autonomy, continue to meet in full their obligations to children with special educational needs. Nothing in earned autonomy will in any way change the responsibilities of schools or LEAs with respect to those children. If a child has an LEA statement including particular curricular requirements, for example, those must still be met by the school, whatever curriculum changes it may decide to introduce. I hope that that provides some reassurance on this important matter.

As for the power to innovate and special educational needs, I can give similar reassurances, particularly in response to amendment No. 79. As we have been reminded a couple of times, the purpose of the power set out in clause 1 is to facilitate innovative projects that may contribute to the raising of standards. In the case of proposals that would not raise standards or that would benefit one group at the expense of another, the power could not be used. There is no reason why innovative proposals from schools or LEAs are any less likely to relate to children with special educational needs, and I am sure we all want such pupils to benefit from them. It is important to repeat, however, that proposals will be accepted only if the Secretary of State believes that they are likely to contribute to higher educational standards.

The 1996 Act makes it clear that the school curriculum should be balanced and broadly based, a requirement that is retained in the Bill. The power to make variations relates to the national curriculum, which is only one element of the basic school curriculum.

I hope that, in the short time that I have been given to respond to a very full debate, I have been able to reassure Members. We think it important to provide new avenues for innovation. I hope that, on the basis of my assurances, the hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Mr. Willis) will feel able to withdraw the motion.

5 Feb 2002 : Column 831

Mr. Willis: I am grateful to the Minister for speeding up his response; I will do likewise.

I accept that new clause 5 does not make clear how it would apply to schools, and I will not press it to a vote. New clause 6, however, establishes a principle on which we clearly disagree with the Government. They want to control the level of autonomy, and to ensure that all schools must apply to the Secretary of State. We believe that they should set parameters whereby all schools can automatically have autonomy.

Adam Price: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Willis: No.

One of the flaws in new clause 10 and, indeed, in the Conservatives' arguments is the fact that they want freedom for all schools, but accept that there must be some limits to that freedom. I accept that too, and I think the right hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) was right to say that the Secretary of State should make the decisions.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New Clause 6

Power of school to innovate without permission of the Secretary of State (No. 2)

'(1) This section has effect notwithstanding anything in sections 1 to 4 of this Act.
(2) A maintained school governing body may resolve to implement an innovative project which in the opinion of the governing body contributes to the raising of educational standards achieved by registered pupils at the school.
(3) Subject to subsection (4), the governing body may resolve to exempt, relax or modify any innovative project from any requirement imposed by education legislation on the governing body.
(4) The Secretary of State shall by order designate any requirement imposed by education legislation on a school governing body as not subject to exemption, relaxation or modification by the governing body.'.—[Mr. Willis.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Motion made, and Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 164, Noes 315.

Division No. 156
[9.38 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John
Barrett, John
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Malcolm
Burnett, John
Burnside, David
Burstow, Paul
Butterfill, John
Cable, Dr Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cameron, David
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Carmichael, Alistair
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clifton–Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dodds, Nigel
Doughty, Sue
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London)
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fox, Dr Liam
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibb, Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hammond, Philip
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mark
Holmes, Paul
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, Rt Hon Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lansley, Andrew
Laws, David
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell–Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Prisk, Mark
Pugh, Dr John
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spink, Bob
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thurso, John
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Whittingdale, John
Wiggin, Bill
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Younger–Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Ayes:

Bob Russell and
Mrs. Annette L. Brooke.


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Baird, Vera
Banks, Tony
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Bell, Stuart
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Rt Hon Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Rt Hon Nicholas
(Newcastle E & Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bryant, Chris
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Rt Hon Charles
(Norwich S)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Dalyell, Tam
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, Rt Hon John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Francis, Dr Hywel
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Grogan, John
Hain, Rt Hon Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, Rt Hon Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, Rt Hon John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Rt Hon Tessa
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kelly, Ruth
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Llwyd, Elfyn
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian
McAvoy, Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morris, Rt Hon Estelle
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Diana
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Price, Adam
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Quin, Rt Hon Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, Rt Hon John
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Angela Smith and
Mr. Graham Stringer.

Question accordingly negatived.

5 Feb 2002 : Column 835

Mr. Tyler: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Have you received notice of an intention on the part of any Minister of the Crown to come before the House with a supplementary business statement? As a result of the private notice question, this afternoon's long statement and the incompetent way in which the manuscript amendment was presented to the House, the debate on this very important Bill started a great deal later than even the Government intended. Have you received information that the Government intend to extend debate on the important matters that remain on the Order Paper to another day?

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