Education Bill

[back to previous text]

Mr. Lewis: It would depend on the company's role, but the staff would be employees of the governing body, so what I said earlier would still apply. The employer must be the LEA or the governing body.

3 pm

Mr. Willis: I am grateful to the Minister for his response and to the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, West (Mr. Brady), because he has again put his finger on the issue. If it is so clear that the employer will be either the local education authority or the governing body, why should it not be specified in the Bill? There should be absolutely no problem with that.

The amendment would ensure that any sub-contracting goes through the governing body or the LEA. That is an important safeguard. I am happy to withdraw the amendment, but I hope that the Minister will review our exchange and consider whether it would be better to include the proposal in the Bill.

Mr. Brady: I am intervening not because the hon. Gentleman spoke so kindly about my intervention, but because I have an inkling that, if he were to wait just a moment before withdrawing the amendment, he would get greater clarity from the Minister.

Mr. Willis: The hon. Gentleman's wisdom is profound, but I think that the Minister has concluded his remarks.

Mr. Lewis: I will probably regret this. However, I will give a specific example that might clarify the matter. We had a debate this morning about teachers who provide cover and are employed by agencies. They are not covered by pay legislation or bound by national pay and conditions. Thus, the guidance under clause 123 is not relevant to them, and they are not bound by the order.

Column Number: 505

The hon. Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough agreed to withdraw the amendment. This is not a question of belt and braces. It is straightforward: no other employer is covered by clause 118, other than the local education authority and the governing body. Therefore, I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the amendment.

Mr. Willis: I think that the Minister may regret standing up at that point. In all seriousness and to be helpful, this provision of the Bill is deficient. It deals with the employment of people who work in our schools, but it does not take into account the different organisations that will result from earned autonomy and powers to innovate. We will leave ourselves open to a significant number of challenges in the courts, which are incredibly unhelpful in running our schools.

I am happy to withdraw the amendment, but I hope that the Ministers and their officials will reflect on this provision to determine whether it covers the eventualities that they have provided for in the Bill. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 123 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 124

Education action zone

Mr. Ivan Lewis: I beg to move amendment No. 343, in page 77, line 3, leave out 'employed to work'.

The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to take Government amendments Nos. 344, 345 and 346.

Mr. Lewis: These amendments are relatively straightforward, and are designed to achieve a particular objective. If a school in an education action zone opts out of national pay and conditions arrangements, all teachers employed by the governing body or the LEA will be covered by the new arrangements that are then set up. It is important to make that clear. It will include teachers employed under a contract for services, such as some supply teachers, as well as those employed under contracts of employment by the local education authority or the governing body. The objective of the original wording is no different, but these amendments remove any doubt. On that basis, I ask hon. Members to accept them.

Mr. Willis: I seek some clarification from the Minister. If a school under either earned autonomy or the powers to innovate transfers to a company in the private sector, which we have established it can do, the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employers) arrangements would then come into force. Would those arrangements bind the incoming organisation to maintain the pay and conditions of the transferred staff, and if so, for how long?

Column Number: 506

Mr. Lewis: That might occur in an academy. In those circumstances the TUPE arrangements would apply. As for the length of time, I will need to take further advice and I will let the hon. Gentleman know.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 344, in page 77, line 6, leave out 'employed to work'.

No. 345, in page 77, line 11, leave out 'is employed to work' and insert 'works'.

No. 346, in page 77, line 14, leave out 'employed to work'.—[Mr. Ivan Lewis.]

Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Turner: This gives me an opportunity to ask the Minister to clarify the position of schools in education action zones, which, as I understood from a recent press release, are to be incorporated into the excellence in cities scheme, and in particular the position of schools in rural education action zones where the word ''cities'' does not apply. Have I simply allowed myself to be deluded by statements in the popular press or are the Government withdrawing the education action zone scheme?

Mr. Timms: There have recently been incidents of hon. Members being deluded by what they read in the press, but I do not think that this is one of them. Education action zones were always going to have a finite life. They were originally set up for three years. They have all been extended for a further two years, so will run for five years. At the end of that period they will close. We have taken many of the successful features of initiatives in the action zones and built them into the excellence in cities programme, which will continue.

The basis for the excellence in cities action zones is rather different. They will not be statutory zones like education action zones, but I expect them to adopt similar approaches. We will certainly learn lessons from what education action zones have successfully achieved. The hon. Gentleman also asked about rural areas. The excellence in cities programme provides for excellence clusters to target disadvantage in rural areas. They are, by definition, not in cities, so the programme can tackle rural disadvantage as well.

Mr. Turner: I thank the Minister for that helpful statement, but will he clarify the purpose of the clause? It seems to apply to something that is disappearing: perhaps it will cease to apply when it actually disappears. What will happen to the assets and liabilities of education action zones, which I understand are bodies corporate?

Mr. Timms: As I said, education action zones will continue until 2005, which is why the powers are needed until then. In that year they will become redundant and exit strategies for the zones will be drawn up to deal with assets and liabilities. The assets are likely to be mainly in schools, which will probably hang on to them, although some may be transferred to

Column Number: 507

LEAs. A variety of arrangements will be made, but all zones will have exit strategies to ensure an orderly transition.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 124, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 125 and 126 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 12 agreed to.

The Chairman: Before we move on to the next group of amendments, I should like to announce that at our previous sitting a mistake was made on the order of the two groups of amendments to clause 129. When we reach that clause, the amendments grouped with amendment No. 502 will be called first.

Clause 127


Mr. Touhig: I beg to move amendment No. 347, in page 78, line 17, leave out

    'The Secretary of State may make regulations requiring'

and insert 'Regulations may require'.

The Chairman: With this we may take the following Government amendments: Nos. 348 to 358, 360 to 362, 364 to 373, 375, 377 to 379, 381 to 387, 389 and clause 141 stand part.

Mr. Touhig: This apparently complex group of technical amendments make minor and technical changes to the powers of the National Assembly for Wales. I hope that hon. Members will have found helpful my document setting out how the Bill will look if the Government amendments are carried this afternoon.

I am pleased to introduce these amendments because they greatly clarify the drafting with regard to the powers of the National Assembly for Wales and the Secretary of State. This part of the Bill adopts the approach of allowing the Secretary of State to make regulations. Clause 141 states that certain references to the Secretary of State should be taken to refer to the National Assembly of Wales.

On Second Reading, the hon. Member for East Carmarthen and Dinefwr (Adam Price) argued that that approach to the drafting made it more difficult to understand the National Assembly's position. He said that the clause reminded him of the famous reference in ''Encyclopaedia Britannica''—''For Wales, see England''. He was right, and his approach to drafting prompted a rethink. I agree that the teacher provisions are more difficult to interpret in relation to Wales. The amendments are designed to make the drafting consistent with the remainder of the Bill.

This large group of amendments provides, where appropriate, that powers may be exercised by the Secretary of State in relation to England and by the National Assembly in relation to Wales. Clause 141 therefore becomes unnecessary. I hope that members

Column Number: 508

of the Committee will agree that consistency throughout the Bill is important, and that the amendments help to clarify the position.

These amendments make clause 141 redundant. The approach to powers of regulation when the Bill was first introduced was to provide in each clause that the Secretary of State should make regulations. As I said, clause 141 states that certain references to the Secretary of State should be taken as a reference to the National Assembly in respect of Wales. Similar provision is made with respect to the General Teaching Council for England and the Teacher Training Agency. That approach is different from the one taken in the rest of the Bill and has been confusing. The large group of amendments will overcome the problem and make clause 141 unnecessary.

Amendment agreed to.

Previous Contents Continue

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries ordering index

©Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 17 January 2002