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Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire): Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Would you be prepared to

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consider a manuscript amendment? There are precedents for that. It seems to me that this is a mockery of parliamentary democracy. This is an extremely important Bill, and unless we do something, many issues of real significance will not be discussed at all. I could have a manuscript amendment with you within two minutes. I hope that you will be prepared to accept it.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker: Order. Let me respond to the points that have been made.

Under the present circumstances, the answer to whether I can accept a manuscript amendment is no.

Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York): Why?

Mr. Speaker: Order. I am just about to say why, if the hon. Lady will let me. The House has agreed a programme motion, and I am a servant of the House, so I must abide by that decision. That is the good reason why I cannot accept a manuscript amendment. We must proceed with the agreed programme.

I can also tell the shadow Leader of the House that he has made his point and put these matters on the record. However, there is nothing that I can do to intervene in these matters. I think that the right hon. Gentleman raised the point of order originally to put certain matters on the record.

10.15 pm

Mr. Forth: No.

Mr. Speaker: Then, as far as I am concerned, it was not a point of order.

Mr. Kaufman: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Could you ask the Clerks to bring forward the record of the occasion when the Single European Act was guillotined through the House of Commons in 1985? The hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir Patrick Cormack) voted for that legislation to be guillotined through in far less time than has been allocated to this Bill.

Mr. Speaker: Perhaps I could ask the Clerks for that information, but I will not, because we have a programme motion before us.

Mr. McLoughlin: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Is it really a point of order?

Mr. McLoughlin: I seek clarification from the Chair. You said that you could not accept a manuscript amendment because there was a programme motion. I am somewhat confused, therefore, about how the occupant of the Chair yesterday was able to accept a manuscript amendment, given that there was a programme motion before the House. Is there one rule for the Government and another for the Opposition?

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Mr. Speaker: No. I am even-handed in these matters, and I can tell the hon. Gentleman that this House has agreed to a programme motion.

Mr. McLoughlin: What about yesterday?

Mr. Speaker: Well, today is another day. This House has agreed to a—[Interruption.] Order. Please allow me to speak. There is a programme motion before us, and we must go through the procedure of that motion.

Chris Grayling: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: I advise the hon. Gentleman that he is eating into the time available. There has been a complaint that there is not enough time allowed by the programme motion, and yet the hon. Gentleman is eating into it.

Chris Grayling: I simply seek clarification from the Chair, Mr. Speaker. A number of the clauses that are due to come up in the remainder of the debate were not debated in Committee, and I fear that there may not be time to debate them tonight. Can you clarify the status of those clauses as a result of that?

Mr. Speaker: That is not a matter for me.

Sir Patrick Cormack: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not going to continue along these lines.

Sir Patrick Cormack: No, Mr. Speaker, I was going to ask you two things. First, I was going to ask you to remind the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) that sinners can come to repentance. Secondly, I was going to ask whether you would be kind enough to refer the whole question of programme motions to the Select Committee on Procedure, because the present situation is manifestly unsatisfactory. Would you at least undertake to do that?

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Gentleman has long experience of the House, and he knows that it is within his power to bring these matters before the Procedure Committee. There is no need for me to do that.

Mr. Forth: On a different point of order, Mr. Speaker. Now that the Leader of the House is with us—and I am delighted to see him in his place—will you extend to him the courtesy of allowing him to let us have the Government's thoughts on where we now find ourselves? Is the Leader of the House prepared to use his legendary ingenuity to find ways in which we can debate the Bill properly? As you rightly pointed out to the House, Mr. Speaker, a programme motion is in operation. However, the events of yesterday were not dissimilar to the circumstances prevailing today. Will you allow the Leader of the House the latitude to present to the House—and to you—a solution to the problem that we face?

Mr. Speaker: The House has agreed a programme motion. I would not encourage the Leader of the House to come forward and interfere with that motion.

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New Clause 3

Modification of employment law

'(1) In section 81 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 as amended by Schedule 21 to this Act there is added at the end of sub–section (1) "or as he considers necessary to ensure that persons employed to work in schools to whom those provisions apply have the benefit of the rights conferred by school enactments as if the governing bodies of those schools were their employers."
(2) In Paragraph 3 of the Education (Modification of Enactments Relating to Employment) Order 1999 S.I. 1999/2256. There is added
(a)after sub-paragraph (1)(e)
"(f) in the case of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 references to a relevant transfer includes transfers from one governing body to another
(b) in the Schedule "Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1991.".'—[Mr. Willis.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Willis: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Speaker: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: New clause 20—Responsibilities for the National Assembly for Wales

'Any reference made to the Secretary of State in relation to responsibility for teachers pay and conditions shall be taken to mean the National Assembly for Wales when these functions are exercised in Wales.'.

Amendment No. 90, in clause 35, page 21, line 38, at end insert—

'only in those circumstances in which a school has been designated as a "failing school" or when inspection has highlighted serious concerns about the leadership or governance of the school.'.

Government amendments Nos. 31 and 32.

Mr. Willis: Before I speak to new clause 3, I must tell the House that the hon. Member for East Carmarthen and Dinefwr (Adam Price) wishes to speak to new clause 20. I understand that, with the leave of the House, he wishes to call a Division on that new clause.

New clause 3 is a small but important provision that would affect a significant number of members of the teaching staffs of schools that could be involved in a closure or merger. At present, if two community schools were closed to be merged as a single school, TUPE would not apply. Both sets of staff would be made redundant and would thus be assimilated in the new school, or have to apply for jobs there.

However, if one of the schools was voluntary aided, meaning that its staff were employed by the school's governors rather than by the local education authority, its staff would be covered by the TUPE regulations, while the group of staff in the controlled school would have no rights under those regulations. That is clearly unjust.

In fact, it is so unjust that a case was brought by the National Union of Teachers—Askew v. the London borough of Ealing—in the Court of Appeal. The judgment was simple: the judge said that what had happened was not unlawful under current legislation, but made clear the necessity for the Government to change the law to give all teachers—of whatever school—the same rights under TUPE.

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I hope that the Government will give the new clause a positive response, as it aims to give all teachers—whether in community schools, voluntary-aided schools or any school maintained by the state—exactly the same rights as regards employment, redundancy and transfer of undertaking. [Interruption.] Although Conservative Members do not seem interested in the employment rights of individual teachers, I hope that they understand the importance of ensuring that all teaching staff have that protection.

When the Secretary of State was approached about a change to the law, there was an understanding that the Education Bill would include changes to the TUPE arrangements, thus affording protection for teachers in situations such as I described. I do not intend to put new clause 3 to a vote; I seek only an assurance from the Government that they will deal with the problem. If the new clause is flawed, they could table an amendment in another place before the Bill completes its passage.

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