Education and Adoption Bill (programme) (No. 3)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 83A(7)),

That the following provisions shall apply to the Education and Adoption Bill for the purpose of supplementing the Orders of 22 June 2015 (Education and Adoption Bill (Programme)) and 16 September 2015 (Education and Adoption Bill (Programme) (No.2)):

Consideration of Lords Amendments

(1) Proceedings on consideration of Lords Amendments shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement at today’s sitting.

Subsequent stages

(2) Any further Message from the Lords may be considered forthwith without any Question being put.

(3) The proceedings on any further Message from the Lords shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement.—(Mr Gibb.)

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Education and Adoption Bill

Consideration of Lords amendments

6.27 pm

The Minister for Schools (Mr Nick Gibb): I beg to move, That this House agrees with Lords amendment 1.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): With this it will be convenient to consider the following:

Lords amendments 2 to 6.

Lords amendment 7, and amendments (a) to (d) thereto.

Lords amendment 8, and amendment (a) thereto.

Mr Gibb: I am pleased to welcome the Education and Adoption Bill back to the House for consideration of amendments made in the other place. As a result of the careful scrutiny of both Houses and the strong advocacy of my noble Friend Lord Nash, the Bill returns to the House in good shape and with the potential to ensure that many more children and young people have the opportunity to realise their full potential.

Since 2010, educational standards in England have risen rapidly, and 1.4 million more pupils are now taught in schools that are judged by Ofsted to be good or outstanding. More than 80% of our schools are now good or better. Further improvements are required, however; 1.5 million pupils are still taught in schools that Ofsted judges to be less than good. To deliver educational excellence in every part of the country, we need a school system that consistently delivers high academic standards. This Bill brings forward important reforms to raise standards across the country. It will speed up the process by which failing maintained schools become sponsored academies, introduce new measures to allow us to intervene in coasting schools for the first time and ensure that we have consistent powers to take swift and decisive action when academies underperform.

Alongside reforms to improve school standards, the Bill introduces a reform to the adoption system so that more of our most vulnerable children can find stable, loving homes without delay. The way the sector has embraced the challenge of regional adoption agencies has been impressive, and my hon. Friend the Minister for Children and Families has recently announced that future funding will be available to support the sector during the transition. The move to regional adoption agencies is a widely supported manifesto commitment, and I have been delighted to see the support from across the House and in the other place for the Government’s vision. I am pleased to confirm that the adoption clause, clause 13, stands unchanged from when the Bill was first introduced.

There are eight Lords amendments to the education provisions for the consideration of the House, and the Labour party has proposed changes to two of the Lords amendments. All eight of the Lords amendments were either Government amendments or amendments that were supported by the Government, and each was accepted by all sides in the other place without a Division. I hope that we will be able to reach the same conclusion today.

Lords amendments 1 to 5 relate to coasting schools. I want to speak to the most substantive amendment in the group first, Lords amendment 5, regarding

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parliamentary scrutiny of the coasting regulations. The Government recognise the importance of Parliament scrutinising the detail of the coasting definition. Lords amendment 5 therefore requires that coasting regulations to be made under the Bill will be subject to the affirmative procedure the first time they are laid. Subject to parliamentary timetabling, we hope that that will take place once the 2016 performance data have been published and before any school is formally identified as coasting for the first time. In making the change, the Government have listened carefully to the concerns raised in both this House and the other place regarding appropriate parliamentary scrutiny of the coasting definition.

Subjecting the regulations to the affirmative procedure when they are laid for the first time represents the most proportionate approach. It will allow both Houses to scrutinise and approve the detail of the final coasting regulations without creating an ongoing burden on parliamentary time. Minor and technical changes could be required to the regulations following the publication of school performance data, which currently takes place twice each year, or as a result of changes to the layout or content of performance tables. Such changes would of course be uncontroversial, but if the regulations were subject to the affirmative resolution procedure each time we made such changes, they would require a full debate in both Houses. Under the negative procedure, Members of both Houses can still call a debate should they have any concerns about the changes proposed.

Lords amendment 1 seeks to improve the drafting of the Bill and to remove any unintentional element of subjectivity that could be read into its original wording. The original text states that a school will be eligible for intervention when it has been notified that the Secretary of State “considers” it to be coasting. We have been clear from the outset that we want schools to be certain about whether or not they meet the coasting definition. That is why our proposed definition is firmly based on school performance data. To ensure that schools are not left in any doubt about this, Lords amendment 1 proposes to revise the wording of clause 1 to remove the term “considers”. In doing so, it clarifies that whether or not a school is coasting is based on the absolute terms of the definition.

Lords amendment 2 provides the Secretary of State with the power to disapply the coasting clause of the Bill from certain types of schools. As currently drafted, the Bill would apply to all maintained schools, as defined in the Education and Inspections Act 2006, including special schools and maintained nursery schools. We have no intention of applying the coasting definition to some of those schools, such as maintained nursery schools, which is why we have proposed this change.

Lords amendment 3 would change the Bill’s wording to ensure the Secretary of State must make regulations to define coasting. Amendments seeking this change were tabled by the Labour party in this House, and the Government supported the amendment when it was brought forward in the other place. It has always been our intention that coasting regulations be made, and this Lords amendment will remove any doubt.

The final amendment to the coasting schools clause, Lords amendment 4, is consequential to Lords amendment 1, and is a technical change to ensure correct

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cross-referencing within the clause. Lords amendment 6 is also a consequential and technical amendment to make explicit two further sections of the Education and Inspections Act. I will not go into any further detail about that.

Lords amendment 7 will ensure that parents are kept informed when their child’s school is causing concern. Their ability to understand the action that is being taken to bring about improvements has been an important issue throughout the passage of the Bill. In response, the Government brought forward Lords amendment 7, which we hope will provide assurance that parents will always be kept informed when underperforming maintained schools are becoming sponsored academies.

Every parent wants their child to attend a good school. It is right that they demand quick, effective action when concerns arise. We are clear that becoming a sponsored academy will always be the solution for a maintained school that is judged inadequate by Ofsted. The Bill delivers on our manifesto commitment in that respect.

John Pugh (Southport) (LD): The Minister mentions parents. Does the balance of the Bill not concern him in that it gives at least seven new powers to the Secretary of State, but not one new power to parents?

Mr Gibb: The amendments we are debating give parents an additional entitlement to receive communication from the new sponsor of an academy while the process is being undertaken. We are unapologetic about the powers we are taking in the Bill, because we want to tackle all failing schools from day one when they become failing. That was in our manifesto, so this Bill is helping us deliver yet another manifesto achievement.

Mike Kane (Wythenshawe and Sale East) (Lab): Does the Minister not worry that there is no proper procedure for a good school to decouple from a failing multi-academy trust? Time and again in my constituency, we see MATs that are not doing so well. I do not want to name the schools, but the Secretary of State knows about them because I have written to her personally about the issue. There is no proper procedure for such schools to decouple and we need one.

Mr Gibb: The hon. Gentleman raises an important point, but the regional schools commissioners, of which there are eight around the country who know the local conditions and the local schools, will take action—indeed, they are taking action—when a multi-academy trust is failing to raise standards in its schools. We have taken action over 120 times to remove schools from multi-academy trusts that have not been delivering the support and sponsorship that we seek.

Once a sponsor has been identified for a failing school, it is commonplace for the sponsor to engage with parents about its plans for the school to ensure that they know what to expect. Often, parents are given the opportunity to share their views about any changes that the sponsor proposes to make. Lords amendment 7 will ensure that there is greater consistency for parents because the sponsor that is identified to take over a maintained school that is eligible for intervention will

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always be required to communicate to parents its plans for improving the school before the school is converted into a sponsored academy.

The hon. Members for Manchester Central (Lucy Powell), for Scunthorpe (Nic Dakin) and for Manchester, Withington (Jeff Smith) have proposed four amendments to Lords amendment 7 that would replace the requirement on the proposed sponsor to communicate information about its plans to parents with a requirement for sponsors to consult parents about their improvement plans. I hope the House will recognise that that proposed change is more than just semantics. To ensure that underperforming schools are turned around as quickly as possible, clause 8 removes the requirement to consult on whether the school should become an academy so that that process cannot be misused to delay decisive action.

Nic Dakin (Scunthorpe) (Lab) rose

Mr Gibb: The Government consider that to be an important step that will allow failing schools to begin receiving the expert leadership and support that the hon. Gentleman seeks from day one.

Underperforming schools are carefully matched to sponsors. Trusting educational professionals to improve schools based on their experience and expertise is central to the academies programme. The proposal to impose a requirement on sponsors to consult parents about their plans to improve a school would represent a return to the rigid approach that allowed vested interests to prevent sponsors from taking decisive action and to delay the process of transformation.

Lucy Frazer (South East Cambridgeshire) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that the Government’s proposals offer flexibility? Although there is no obligation to consult and discuss, it is always open to the regional schools commissioner and the school to discuss the issue and consult as much as possible. For example, there is a school in special measures in my constituency and the regional schools commissioner and I have had a meeting with parents to discuss the situation at the school and the potential new sponsor. It is always open to those who are involved in education to consult as widely as possible.

Mr Gibb: My hon. Friend is right, and nothing in the Bill prevents any amount of consultation, or a new sponsor from talking to staff, parents and so on. The amendment imposes a requirement on sponsors to communicate with parents. Elsewhere the Bill also prevents ideologically driven organisations and community groups that are determined to prevent a failing or underperforming school from becoming an academy from doing so. We will not tolerate failure in our school system, and we want to take action from day one.

Nic Dakin: Nobody will tolerate failure in schools. Will the Minister provide evidence of where the consultation has resulted in obstruction by vested interest?

Mr Gibb: In Committee I gave the hon. Gentleman and other members of the Committee ample illustrations of that. One example was Downhills school in Haringey, which was deeply underperforming. The process of conversion to an academy—it is now run by the Harris Federation—was drawn out, which delayed improvement

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in that school. It is now a highly performing primary school in Haringey, and it provides a much better quality of education. I hope that the hon. Gentleman does not want such a process to be delayed in future.

Amendment 8 relates to underperforming academies. We have always been clear that we will tackle under- performance wherever it occurs, whether in a maintained school or an academy. We recognise, however, that our formal powers on failing and coasting academies vary depending on the terms of an academy’s funding agreement. In some cases, particularly in earlier academies, that can restrict our ability to take action as strongly or as swiftly as we would want. Regional schools commissioners already take swift and effective action to secure improvements in a minority of academies that underperform. We have issued 134 formal notices to underperforming academies and free schools, and we have moved to change the sponsor in 124 cases of particular concern.

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab): The Minister will know that I have an academy in my constituency, which my middle son attends. It was an excellent school when he started out, but unfortunately it began to require improvement and is now inadequate—indeed, Ofsted is there today. The regional schools commissioner has no powers to intervene in that academy, so will the Minister clarify that these powers will give Vicky Beer, the north-west regional schools commissioner, the powers she needs to go in and sort out the school?

Mr Gibb: The hon. Gentleman gives an example of where such powers are needed. Regional schools commissioners are industrious and energetic in tackling underperformance in academies, but some have older funding agreements. The new funding agreements have explicit powers for the Secretary of State to intervene, and amendment 8 seeks to give the powers of the Secretary of State, and through her the regional schools commissioners, to all academies, even those with old funding agreements that do not have the powers to intervene.

In practice, Lords amendment 8 will mean that when an academy’s performance meets one of two triggers in legislation—an inadequate Ofsted judgment or performance that falls within the coasting definition—its funding agreement will be read as having broadly the same provisions as apply to failing and coasting schools in our latest model funding agreement. That will give regional schools commissioners consistent powers to move a failing academy swiftly to a new sponsor, and to require a coasting academy to demonstrate that it can make sufficient improvement. The same coasting definition will apply to academies and maintained schools, and where an academy is coasting, as with a maintained school, it will be given the opportunity to demonstrate that it can improve sufficiently.

Andrew Gwynne: Does the Minister also recognise, when the regulations are drawn up, that it is possible for a school to be “coasting” at what appears to be a relatively high level, but that nevertheless the children are underperforming compared with what they should be achieving?

Mr Gibb: Yes. Again, the hon. Gentleman makes a very good point. The definition of coasting incorporates a progress measure, because schools that on the surface

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may look as though they are performing well could easily, when we look at the progress the children in that school make, fall within the definition of coasting. We are determined that every child, regardless of starting point, will fulfil their absolute potential. Whether they are high performing or struggling, all pupils deserve the best education possible. That is the purpose behind using a progress measure in the definition of coasting.

6.45 pm

The Labour party proposed an amendment to Lords amendment 8, which would remove the requirement for the Secretary of State to give the proprietor of an academy the opportunity to make representations before terminating the agreement on the grounds of an inadequate Ofsted judgment. The Government have included this step in their amendment as it is a requirement under the current model funding agreement, the contract between the Secretary of State and the academy trust. As I have set out, the effect of the Government’s amendment is to bring academies with older funding agreements broadly in line with the provisions of failing and coasting academies in the latest model funding agreement. Removing the requirement to seek representations would go beyond that and would fundamentally change the funding agreement, which is a contractual agreement for all academies. I assure the House that we have not set a particular timescale for the representations process in relation to failing academies, and we will ensure it is not lengthy and bureaucratic.

I hope the House will recognise the clear progress made on the Bill since it was last debated in this place and will welcome in particular the amendments to ensure parents are kept informed of consistent, effective powers to address underperforming academies. I am confident that the Bill before us today illustrates the Government’s commitment to building a fairer society in which every child receives an excellent education and the best possible start in life. I hope that hon. Members are able to support the amendments. I commend them to the House.

Nic Dakin: First, I pay tribute to my hon. Friends the Members for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) and for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Steve McCabe), who led for the Opposition when the Bill came through the House, as I do to all other right hon. and hon. Members who, as the Minister bore witness in his opening statement, contributed in Committee and in the Chamber to improving the Bill. I commend those in the other place who have worked hard at least to extract some small movements in the right direction, which come before us today in the form of Lords amendments.

It is quite amazing that, when there are so many real challenges facing the education system on the Conservatives’ watch, the first education Bill of the new Parliament does nothing to tackle them: parents concerned about the crisis in school places; parents anxious about the crisis in teacher supply; parents worried about changes to the school assessment system. Parents get no answers to the things that matter to them from the Bill and this Government. Instead, the Education Secretary brings forward another Bill obsessed with structures, seizing more powers for herself while marginalising parents

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and local communities—the very people who understand their areas, their local economy and what their children need to succeed.

Let us take the amendments in turn. I welcome the Government’s proposals in Lords amendments 1 to 5 that the coasting regulations will be subject to an affirmative procedure the first time they are laid. Hopefully, things will then become much clearer—they are still pretty murky at the moment. We do know, however, that primary and secondary schools will be identified on the basis of their 2014 to 2016 pupil results through a devised progress measure. We do not know when that final designation will occur for primary and secondary schools, with GCSE results about a month behind final key stage 2 results. We can only wonder how many schools will be identified. It could be 200, it could be 2,000.

We do not know whether the measures will work. After all, the Schools Minister has form on promising to fix the problem of coasting schools. He came to this House in November 2011 to say that we must concentrate on the schools in the leafy suburbs that are not challenging their pupils as well as they should be. He promised that all schools would be subject to scrutiny to make sure that they raised standards and he placed his faith in the new performance tables that would identify how schools perform in relation to children of high academic ability as well as to those of lower academic ability. There is no evidence that the new panacea of academisation will be any more effective than the old panacea of performance tables.

We welcome amendment 7, as it finally recognises that parents exist and have an interest in their children’s school. Frankly, though, it does not go far enough. The 2015 Conservative party manifesto boldly states that “power to the people” is “a core Conservative belief”. [Interruption.] Thank you. I am not sure whether that is right, but I do know that in this Bill that belief is not extended to the people most concerned about their children’s education—their parents. Surely parents deserve to be as fully engaged as possible in decisions affecting their child’s education. Where the ownership of the school is changing, they should surely have the right to be consulted, and not simply, in the Secretary of State’s words,

“given the opportunity to understand just how a sponsor aims to transform their child’s school.”

The right hon. Lady serves up advertising jargon when she should be giving power to parents.

The selection of a sponsor is a critical strategic decision. As the Sutton Trust has shown, not all sponsors are as effective as others. Some are failing to provide an acceptable standard of education. Indeed, Ofsted recently said that the Academies Enterprise Trust, the largest academy chain, is “failing too many pupils” and that poorer pupils are doing “particularly badly”. None of us wants that. We are agreed across the House on that, but the reality is that that is what is happening in a number of multi-academy trusts. Ofsted has also branded standards at secondary schools at another multi-academy trust, E-ACT, as “too low”, while the performance of pupils from poorer backgrounds was “causing serious concern.” This is the chain that wants to cut local people out of governance arrangements, replacing them with “academy ambassadorial advisory bodies”—more jargon.

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Stephen Twigg (Liverpool, West Derby) (Lab/Co-op): My hon. Friend mentions Ofsted and power to local people. He may have seen the comments of Michael Wilshaw about Liverpool and Manchester. Does he agree that it vital to have solutions to bring about school improvements in great cities such as Liverpool and Manchester that are owned by local people and by local communities? Will he welcome the Liverpool challenge, which is seeking to address precisely the issues that Michael Wilshaw was talking about?

Nic Dakin: Absolutely; my hon. Friend makes a very good point, and I pay tribute to him for the work he is doing with the Liverpool challenge to make sure that those schools continue to transform and deliver the best for the children in their care.

Mike Kane: To follow the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Stephen Twigg), Michael Wilshaw also commented today from London that Greater Manchester and Merseyside schools should have greater local involvement or more direction from local politicians. Has Government policy changed— we should now have a devolved structure for school administration—or has Ofsted under Sir Michael’s stewardship between 2012 and 2016 failed to improve standards?

Nic Dakin: I think everybody recognises the very good work that Sir Michael Wilshaw has done, but he lays down a challenge to us all when it comes to connecting what we want to do in a way that empowers local communities. In a sense, that is one of the things missing from this Bill.

Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op): To follow that up with another quick intervention, does my hon. Friend agree that too few MPs get involved in school improvement in the local area? Many MPs of all parties talk about schools as though they were experts, but they do not roll up their sleeves and do what our hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Tristram Hunt) is doing—actually trying to make a difference on the ground.

Nic Dakin: I always listen carefully to what the former Chair of the Education Committee has to say, and he is right on this occasion. We all have a leadership role in our communities when it comes to supporting our schools and colleges and ensuring that they deliver.

This is the second occasion on which AET and E-ACT—the two largest multi-academy trusts in the country, responsible between them for 85 schools—have received significant criticism from the Independent Schools Inspectorate. That is telling. The Secretary of State is ultimately responsible for holding academies to account, but, two years after Ofsted’s warning that the trusts were failing to raise standards, we are again being told that their schools are not delivering for many pupils. I am sure we all agree that that is not good enough, and that it illustrates the size of the challenge.

Parents have a fundamental wish to be involved in their children’s education. A recent survey by PTA-UK found that 97% of parents wanted to be consulted when big changes were made to how their schools were run. When a school becomes a sponsored academy and the

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sponsor is chosen, that represents a big change and a big deal. Parents have an important role to play in challenging—and helping—school communities to improve, and their views should be taken into account at such important moments.

Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab): Might there be a risk that the Government are laying the foundation for future legal challenges against academy trusts if the duty to inform turns out to be a duty to misinform, because they misrepresent the information to parents and they are not allowed to consult on it?

Nic Dakin: My hon. Friend has done a great deal of work on the Bill, and I am sure that Ministers have heard what he has said. No doubt their legal advisers will have already looked into the point very carefully, but they may want—with his assistance—to double-check the position. Why the Government cannot trust parents is beyond me, but the House has an opportunity to put that right by voting for our amendments (a) to (d).

There is real concern about whether the pool of current and potential academy sponsors has the capacity to improve additional schools. The Government’s own statistics show that only 15% of the 20 largest chains are performing above the national average, compared with 44% of maintained schools. Since September 2012, 75% of maintained schools have gained good or outstanding judgments, compared with 69% of academies. According to the National Foundation for Educational Research, in 2014 pupils at maintained schools achieved the same high standard of GCSE results as those attending academies. The facts suggest that the Government would help schools to improve by ending their ideological obsession with academisation, and pragmatically removing the bureaucratic barriers that prevent councils from intervening in underperforming schools.

In my constituency, Priory Lane school received an Ofsted judgment that meant that it needed significant improvement. The governors indicated that they wanted to go down the academy route, but that they wanted a choice of academy sponsor. Owing to a lack of academy sponsor capacity, the Department for Education and the regional schools commissioner could offer only one option, so governors and parents were presented with a “take it or leave it” choice. Despite representations from all and sundry—including myself—the Government remained adamant that the shotgun wedding would go ahead.

I understand where the Government were coming from, and, indeed, their sense of urgency and exasperation has been made clear today. In the event, however, owing to the skilled intervention of the local authority, a better solution was found. The school formed a federation with a successful partner, Westcliffe Primary, and that process is now benefiting both school communities. Ultimately, the local authority’s skilled intervention has produced a better outcome for children and parents—the very people on whom we should all be focusing. That is the sort of best practice that should be applauded and learnt from in the interests of children and parents everywhere. Of course we are pleased that the Government acceded to our arguments, and have included academies in the “coasting arena” so that action can be taken when necessary.

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We come to the 80 lines of amendment 8, which was inserted to recognise that academies—as we already know—can also fail or be coasting and need improvement. Academy governance is a mess. There are 5,000-plus academies and 5,000-plus funding agreements. The private contract, as opposed to public law, cannot work for such a large number. It is a bureaucratic nightmare.

It baffles me that this Bill insists on treating schools differently depending on what type of school structure they have. If Ministers truly believe that no parent should have to put up with their child spending a single day in a failing school—to be fair, they have reiterated that today, and we agree wholeheartedly with them on it—and that leadership and governance should be replaced immediately, I simply cannot fathom why that would not apply to failing academies, too. Rather than double standards for pupils, there needs to be robust, purposeful action taken over any school that should be doing better.

In conclusion, let me remind Members of the words of Sir Keith Joseph, one of the Secretary of State’s illustrious predecessors, in introducing his 1984 Green Paper:

“Parents care about their children’s progress—how they develop and what they learn. They share the general desire for higher standards of education…We have not yet… allowed parents sufficient scope for discharging their unique responsibilities. Our education system is poorer for this. The Government now intends—while fully respecting the responsibilities of local education authorities—to extend its policies for raising standards in schools by enabling parents to improve the work of the schools.”

This is an old-fashioned one-nation Tory who respected local authorities and wanted to empower parents. I applaud his words.

How times have changed when it is now a Labour Opposition who have to remind a Conservative Government of the need to respect parents and recognise the role of local government in providing oversight and accountability. Amendment 8 goes a tiny way towards bringing improvement by stating what funding agreements should say—whether they say or do not—about Government action when a school causes concern. Much more robust legislation is required, and the Minister might like to indicate whether it is true that the Government’s much-touted next White Paper will ideologically academise the rest of the school estate. If so, will there be further reams of words trying to make sense out of nonsense?

The Labour amendment highlights the fact that when an academy has an Ofsted inadequate judgment, the Secretary of State must listen to representations from the school’s academy trust before taking further actions. No such opportunity is afforded to local authority-maintained schools.

The noble Lord Nash said amusingly in the other place when introducing amendment 8 that a myth had grown that Government

“somehow favour academies and hold them to account less robustly than maintained schools”,


“That is not the case.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 16 December 2015; Vol. 767, c. 2095.]

He is clearly a dab hand at irony. The reality is that this clause further treats academies more favourably than maintained schools by giving them the right of appeal to the Secretary of State in these circumstances when maintained schools cannot.

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Mike Wood (Dudley South) (Con): Is it the shadow Minister’s party’s policy to retain existing academies? We are a little confused as to where it currently stands on the issue of the academy system.

Nic Dakin: There is absolutely no confusion. We are just arguing that, whatever title there is above the door to the school—academy, free school, maintained school, university technical college or whatever—the same rules should apply, and all those rules should recognise the importance and the role of parents.

Labour believes that all schools should be treated equally. There should not be preferential treatment of schools that are academies compared with maintained schools when either are failing or coasting. Academies that are failing should have no more rights than maintained schools that are failing. There should be a level playing field for children, parents and communities, whatever the structure of the school. Labour believes that a partnership with parents is key to a strong education system, which is why we continue to argue that when their child’s school is to academise or the academy’s sponsor is to be changed, parents should be consulted.

Lords amendment 1 agreed to.

Lords amendments 2 to 6 agreed to.

After Clause 12

Amendment (a) proposed to Lords amendment 7.— (Nic Dakin.)

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The House divided:

Ayes 187, Noes 302.

Division No. 196]


7.6 pm


Abrahams, Debbie

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Barron, rh Kevin

Berger, Luciana

Betts, Mr Clive

Blackman-Woods, Dr Roberta

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brennan, Kevin

Brown, Lyn

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burgon, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Butler, Dawn

Cadbury, Ruth

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, Julie

Cooper, Rosie

Corbyn, rh Jeremy

Coyle, Neil

Crausby, Mr David

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davies, Geraint

De Piero, Gloria

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Dowd, Peter

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Elliott, Julie

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Field, rh Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Fletcher, Colleen

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Goodman, Helen

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Greenwood, Margaret

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Haigh, Louise

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harris, Carolyn

Hayes, Helen

Healey, rh John

Hendrick, Mr Mark

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hermon, Lady

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hoey, Kate

Hollern, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Howarth, rh Mr George

Hunt, Tristram

Huq, Dr Rupa

Hussain, Imran

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Gerald

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Susan Elan

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Kendall, Liz

Kinnock, Stephen

Kyle, Peter

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Clive

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Long Bailey, Rebecca

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian C.

Lynch, Holly

Mactaggart, rh Fiona

Madders, Justin

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Marris, Rob

Marsden, Mr Gordon

Maskell, Rachael

McCabe, Steve

McCarthy, Kerry

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonald, Andy

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGinn, Conor

McGovern, Alison

McInnes, Liz

McKinnell, Catherine

McMahon, Jim

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Morden, Jessica

Morris, Grahame M.

Mulholland, Greg

Murray, Ian

Nandy, Lisa

Onn, Melanie

Onwurah, Chi

Osamor, Kate

Owen, Albert

Pearce, Teresa

Pennycook, Matthew

Perkins, Toby

Phillips, Jess

Powell, Lucy

Pugh, John

Qureshi, Yasmin

Rayner, Angela

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees, Christina

Reeves, Rachel

Reynolds, Emma

Rimmer, Marie

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Ryan, rh Joan

Saville Roberts, Liz

Shah, Naz

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Sherriff, Paula

Shuker, Mr Gavin

Siddiq, Tulip

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Cat

Smith, Jeff

Smith, Owen

Spellar, rh Mr John

Starmer, Keir

Stevens, Jo

Streeting, Wes

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, rh Ms Gisela

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thomas-Symonds, Nick

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

West, Catherine

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Williams, Mr Mark

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Dame Rosie

Wright, Mr Iain

Zeichner, Daniel

Tellers for the Ayes:

Sue Hayman


Vicky Foxcroft


Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy

Allen, Heidi

Amess, Sir David

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Barclay, Stephen

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Sir Henry

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Borwick, Victoria

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Carmichael, Neil

Cartlidge, James

Cash, Sir William

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Churchill, Jo

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, rh Stephen

Davies, Byron

Davies, Chris

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Dr James

Davies, Mims

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Elliott, Tom

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Mr Nigel

Evennett, rh Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Fernandes, Suella

Field, rh Mark

Foster, Kevin

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Frazer, Lucy

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus

Gale, Sir Roger

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

Green, rh Damian

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heappey, James

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, rh Sajid

Jayawardena, Mr Ranil

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenkyns, Andrea

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Boris

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kennedy, Seema

Kinahan, Danny

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Main, Mrs Anne

Mak, Mr Alan

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

Menzies, Mark

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy

Mowat, David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Osborne, rh Mr George

Paisley, Ian

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Philp, Chris

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh John

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Gavin

Robinson, Mary

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, David

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Throup, Maggie

Timpson, Edward

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Tredinnick, David

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Sammy

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

George Hollingbery


Simon Kirby

Question accordingly negatived.

23 Feb 2016 : Column 267

23 Feb 2016 : Column 268

23 Feb 2016 : Column 269

23 Feb 2016 : Column 270

Lords amendments 7 and 8 agreed to.

Business without Debate

Delegated legislation

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): With the leave of the House, we shall take motions 7 to 10 together.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Infrastructure Planning

That the draft Infrastructure Planning (Onshore Wind Generating Stations) Order 2016,which was laid before this House on 14 January, be approved.

Criminal Law

That the Andrey Lugovoy and Dmitri Kovtun Freezing Order 2016 (S.I., 2016, No. 67), dated 22 January 2016, a copy of which was laid before this House on 22 January, be approved.


That the draft Register of People with Significant Control Regulations 2016, which were laid before this House on 25 January, be approved.

Limited Liability Partnerships

That the draft Limited Liability Partnerships (Register of People with Significant Control) Regulations 2016, which were laid before this House on 25 January, be approved.—(Stephen Barclay.)

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Road Traffic

That the draft Passenger and Goods Vehicles (Tachographs) (Amendment) Regulations 2016, which were laid before this House on 12 January, be approved.—(Stephen Barclay.)

The Deputy Speaker’s opinion as to the decision of the Question being challenged, the Division was deferred until Wednesday 24 February (Standing Order No. 41A).


Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 145(3))

That this House agrees with the Report of the Liaison Committee of 10 February:

(1) That a day not later than 18 March be allotted for the consideration of the following Estimates for financial year 2015-16:

Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, insofar as it relates to the science budget; and

Department of Health, insofar as it relates to end of life care.

(2) That a further day not later than 18 March be allotted for the consideration of the following Estimates for financial year 2015-16:

23 Feb 2016 : Column 271

Foreign & Commonwealth Office, insofar as it relates to the Spending Review 2015; and

Home Office, insofar as it relates to reform of the police funding formula.—(Stephen Barclay.)

The Deputy Speaker’s opinion as to the decision of the Question being challenged, the Division was deferred until Wednesday 24 February (Standing Order No. 41A).

HIgh speed rail (london – West Midlands) Bill

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 9(6)),

That the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill Committee shall have leave to sit twice on the first day on which it shall meet.—(Stephen Barclay.)

Question agreed to.

Financial assistance to industry

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 9(6)),

That the Motion in the name of Secretary Sajid Javid relating to Financial Assistance to Industry shall be treated as if it related to an instrument subject to the provisions of Standing Order No. 118 (Delegated Legislation Committees) in respect of which notice has been given that the instrument be approved.—(Stephen Barclay.)

Question agreed to.


Election of FIFA President

7.23 pm

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe) (Con): The petition to the House of Commons from a resident of the UK states:

23 Feb 2016 : Column 272

The petition of a resident of the UK,

Shows that in August 2009, Sheikh Salman, then Bahrain Football Association (Bahrain FA) President, was accused of using FIFA-financed sports development budgets to fund his unsuccessful campaign for the FIFA Executive Committee election; and that in a leaked letter received by the Al Bilad newspaper it was claimed that Sheikh Salman had spent upwards of 855,000 dinars (£1.6 million GBP) on his campaign and that some of this money had come from FIFA-financed football development projects, in particular Goal 1 (intended to help fund a new Bahrain FA headquarters), and Goal 3 (intended to provide facilities for the development of youth and women’s football); that after FIFA requested urgent information from the Bahrain FA regarding the misappropriation of funds Sheikh Salman did not comment until early September 2009, at which point he denied those claims, however the Bahrain FA did not dispute the contents of the leaked documents; also notes that prior to Sheikh Salman’s election to the Presidency of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in May 2013, details of the flights that the Football Federation of Kyrgyz Republic’s (FFKR) delegation would be taking to and from Kuala Lumpur for the AFC vote were emailed to the private account of the ‘IT manager’ at the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), of which a close associate of Sheikh Salman was Head; that three days before the vote, requests for support for 53 projects for Kyrgyzstan football to the tune of millions of pounds were discussed although there seems to be no legitimate reason for the FFKR, part of FIFA, to be seeking funding from the OCA, part of the International Olympic Committee; notes that the FFKR approached the OCA again after the AFC election asking when they would receive payment for their projects, which gives strong grounds to suspect that the FFKR voted for Sheikh Salman because they believed they would receive significant financial support from the OCA (including that OCA officials appear to have met officials from the FFKR during the AFC vote in 2013); and believes that this is a fresh ‘cash for votes’ scandal which needs urgent investigation.

The petitioner therefore requests that the House of Commons urges the Government to confirm that it would not support bids from the English Football Association to host FIFA tournaments should Sheikh Salman be elected as President of FIFA on Friday 26 February 2016.

And the petitioner remains, etc.


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Waste Recycling: South Gloucestershire

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Stephen Barclay.)

7.27 pm

Chris Skidmore (Kingswood) (Con): After the heady political events of the past few days, I wish to turn the House’s attention to a matter that is rather more local, but nevertheless of the utmost concern to residents in my local area. It is a matter that has the power to win or lose elections—a matter that, as I am sure the Minister knows, local councillors mess around with at their peril. I am, of course, talking about local waste collection and bins.

This is not the only occasion I have used an Adjournment debate to raise my concerns about waste collection services in my local area of South Gloucestershire. I am sure, Madam Deputy Speaker, that you will recall the memorable debate I had in the House on 30 June 2014, in which I raised constituents’ concerns regarding the introduction of a separate charge for green bin waste collection—dubbed the green bin tax—which was opposed by local Conservative councillors, but voted through by Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors. In that debate, the Minister was highly critical of the council for introducing what has been termed a stealth tax and imposing extra charges on residents for services that, if we are honest, should quite simply be paid for by council tax.

Together with my hon. Friend the Member for Thornbury and Yate (Luke Hall)—he is in his place and will contribute to the debate later—who had not yet been elected to this place, I collected more than 4,000 signatures on a petition opposing the introduction of the green bin tax. Local Conservatives also pledged in their manifesto to scrap the charge over the next council term. It is therefore welcome that, only last week, local Conservative councillors signalled their first move towards removing the green bin charge, reducing it by £6, with the aim of phasing it out over four years. The Conservative-controlled council was elected on a mandate to do that, and I expect it to meet its manifesto commitment.

That just goes to show that debates such as this have the power to sway local opinion and to lead to a sea change in local policy. It is with that optimism in mind that I wish to speak about the potential changes to waste recycling in South Gloucestershire. South Gloucestershire is soon to face its greatest shake-up in waste recycling services in over a decade. As the local MP—I should probably declare my interest in that I am also a South Gloucestershire council tax payer and user of its waste recycling services—I wish to use this debate to ensure that my constituents’ concerns about this massive change are properly represented.

The changes can be broken down into two components. The first is the welcome introduction of weekly recycling for all recyclable materials. Currently, we have a system where metals, glass and cartons are collected in a 55-litre green box every two weeks, alternating with the collection of paper, plastics and cardboard in three separate 60-litre bags. It is a messy, overly complicated system which, as any resident will know, clutters up the house and, once the bags are emptied, they risk getting blown across the streets. Thankfully, that will end, to be replaced with the weekly collection of a single recycling box with dividers to separate the various recyclable materials. So far so

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good: residents will now have the chance to recycle weekly all their materials, rather than having to wait for them to be collected every two weeks. But the second change will be far less welcome, as the black bin, which will still be collected every fortnight, is set to be reduced in size from 240 litres to 140 litres.

The council’s reasoning for making these changes is clear. As a council, South Gloucestershire needs to do more to increase its recycling and composting rates, which have fallen from 53.1% in 2010 to 47.5% in 2015—though it would be interesting to know to what extent the introduction of a green bin charge has proved counter-productive in causing fewer people to recycle green waste. The council’s research shows that of the 44,868 tonnes of black bin waste that was collected last year, 52% could have been recycled. Given that any rubbish that goes into the black bin is sent to landfill, costing the council approximately £80 a tonne, we are literally throwing away council tax payers’ money. In 2014-15, £4.5 million was spent on disposing of black bin waste—23% of the council’s total waste budget. If the recyclable material in the black bins had been recycled, the council would have saved an extra £3 million—in effect, £11 for every man, woman and child in South Gloucestershire. In making this change, the council will be following Bristol City Council and Bath and North East Somerset Council in making similar reductions in their black bin size.

While the rationale behind the reduction in size of the black bins is clear, I nevertheless feel that many residents will struggle with the change. Personally—I must put my personal thoughts on record—I feel that the reduction in the size of the black bin from 240 litres to 140 litres is a reduction too far. Other councils with far higher recycling rates have not reduced their black bin size by as much. South Oxfordshire District Council, which has a 67.3% recycling rate, has a black bin size of 180 litres, and Vale of White Horse District Council, with a 65.6% recycling rate, has the same bin size. Again personally, I believe that the change to weekly recycling will do enough to drive up recycling rates alone without penalising residents with the introduction of vastly smaller black bins, which, after all, have a significant initial capital cost.

Although my hon. Friend and I welcome the weekly recycling, we have written to the leader of the council, Matthew Riddle, setting out our concerns over the proposed changes and suggesting amendments that could be made to the future of waste services in South Gloucestershire. In the letter, we have called for three key amendments to the council’s waste policy. First, there should be no reduction in the overall capacity of the waste services for householders. Indeed, we wish to make the case that South Gloucestershire Council should use the opportunity of this change to increase the amount of waste that it collects from residents, giving far greater value for money. To do this, we are calling for the council to give an unlimited number of the new recycling boxes to residents who request them. It will be up to local people to request the number they would like, but there should be no cap, so that people will be able to recycle as much as possible without restraint in capacity. A reduction in the size of the black bin—or the landfill bin, to give it its proper name—should be accompanied by a clear understanding that people will be given the chance to recycle more and to do so more often.

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Secondly, we have been contacted by many families with young children who are concerned that the change will impact heavily on them. I know exactly how they feel, as I am the father of an 18-month-old girl, and my wife is expecting our second child in less than a month—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”] Thank you. Indeed, I feel their pain, as I am sure does the Minister, given that he has a young toddler roughly the same age as mine. Therefore, to help those families who are struggling and overloaded with nappies and other waste that no one would ever consider fit to be recycled, I am calling for the establishment of a free universal nappy collection service for any family that requests it.

Thirdly, the new single recycling box will, in all honesty, make things a lot easier for my constituents, but I would prefer a single recycling wheelie bin, which is what has been adopted by many other councils. However, if a single recycling box is to be adopted, elderly, vulnerable and disabled people may be unable to carry a heavy box and their needs must be taken into consideration. That could include allowing them either to keep a larger bin or to have some form of adaptive device that would allow the recycling box to be wheeled in place for collection.

I hope that my and my hon. Friend’s requests will be considered seriously by the council when it makes its decision. This change will be significant for many residents and needs to be handled sensitively. I hope that my proposals do precisely that, and that they will help to create a better and more efficient way to recycle waste in South Gloucestershire.

7.36 pm

Luke Hall (Thornbury and Yate) (Con): I am grateful to be called to speak in a debate that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Chris Skidmore) has said, the record books may not show to be as animated as others held this week. Nevertheless, the issue is still important to people in South Gloucestershire. I thank my hon. Friend both for securing this debate and for his tireless work and commitment on the issue over the years I have known him.

Before being elected to this place, I made the case as strongly as possible, alongside local Conservative councillors and my hon. Friend, that recycling services should be enhanced and protected, so the issue is close to my heart. In that vein, I want to comment on South Gloucestershire’s draft waste strategy.

I welcome the council’s proposed additional measures to provide the means for local people to reuse, repair and refurbish items from their homes, as well as the council’s affirmation of its confidence in the success of the Thornbury Revive shop and its commitment to consider avenues to expand that service.

The draft waste strategy document produced by South Gloucestershire Council suggests that bulky waste is a significant contributor to waste going from our area to landfill. It states that the reuse strategy

“aims to reduce landfill to below ten percent by addressing large bulky waste material.”

Given that bulky waste is an identified significant contributor to landfill, I welcome the potential savings to South Gloucestershire that would result from a reduction in such waste going to landfill. That will help the council significantly in its aim to reduce the amount spent on landfill tax. In fact, the Thornbury Revive shop’s

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success in reusing more than 160 tonnes of material itself represents a reduction in that liability of more than £13,500. It is clear, therefore, that that approach has real potential to achieve an important part of the 5% reduction target for the total waste going to landfill.

I also welcome the council’s proposed introduction of a weekly food waste recycling scheme. On recycling rates, it is clear that the majority of the best performing authorities provide a weekly food or compostable collection service. The proposed weekly collection of residents’ household recyclable waste is also welcome, because it will simplify the current service of three bags and one container.

My hon. Friend and I anticipate that the proposed changes in recycling services will help to reduce the amount of money South Gloucestershire spends on sending waste to landfill. They will reduce the burden of paying £80 per tonne of waste sent to landfill while at the same time increase income through increased recycling revenue. I urge South Gloucestershire Council, as we have done in our letter, to use the total amounts of money generated under the proposals to continue to phase out the green bin tax. I join my hon. Friend in welcoming the £6 reduction in the green bin charge as a first step to the council’s fulfilling its manifesto pledge, and I urge the council to use the extra funding generated by the changes to deliver that pledge fully.

Although I welcome the proposed changes to recycling services, the proposal to reduce residents’ standard black bin, or landfill bin, capacity from 240 litres to 140 litres is of considerable concern. The dramatic reduction in capacity could put real pressure on families across South Gloucestershire, leaving some families unable to adapt. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs compiled waste statistics from our 16 nearest neighbour authorities. Of those, the nine authorities with a higher recycling rate than ours—from 48% to more than 60%—have a black bin capacity larger than the 140 litres proposed by South Gloucestershire Council. The only exception is Bath and North East Somerset Council, which provides reusable bags.

Among the authorities with higher rates of recycling, there is an almost even split between those that offer a reduced bin size of 180 litres and those that offer a 240-litre bin. The only authority with a 140-litre bin, Northumberland, has a shown rate of below 40%, which is 7.9% lower than that in South Gloucestershire. In short, reducing the size of the black bin to 140 litres does not result in a directly proportionate increase in recycling. The widespread replacement of bins, in addition to the new recycling bins, would prove costly to local taxpayers with little absolute evidence that it would help families or the council achieve the stated aims of the strategy.

The proposed changes will affect residents across the area. I hope that the suggestions that my hon. Friend and I have made will help to inform the best possible service for local people across South Gloucestershire.

7.41 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Rory Stewart): I thank my hon. Friends the Members for Kingswood (Chris Skidmore) and for Thornbury and Yate (Luke Hall) for bringing this important subject forward for

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debate. I do not say that facetiously; the question of waste recycling in south Gloucestershire has its equivalents across the country. It is not simply a south Gloucestershire issue.

I take this opportunity to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood on the forthcoming birth of his child. It is very good news that in a month’s time a baby is coming. It is good that my hon. Friend is already thinking about the nappies. He focused on the reduction in the size of the landfill bin to 140 litres; the decision to move from a separate waste collection to a single collection in a box in which the different types of waste—plastic, paper, metal and glass—are separated by dividers; and the question of whether elderly people will be able to move the recycling boxes.

Those are good points to raise, particularly as we are coming to the great moment of “Clean for the Queen”. It is a great ambition to create, for the Queen’s 90th birthday, that green and pleasant land of which Blake spoke. In Britain, we should take particular pride in that, because Britain has been famous for a long time for its neatness. Tourists who come here have long respected this country for being a tidy place. The steps that south Gloucestershire is taking show that continued commitment.

The points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Thornbury and Yate are particularly important because this country has more than 300 recycling systems. It is a little bit absurd. As we go from council to council, we see that some collect waste commingled, some—about 40—separate food waste, and about another 260 do not. There are different sizes and colours of bin, different types of truck, different types of recycling system and different types of anaerobic digester consuming waste. That all adds cost.

Stephen Barclay (North East Cambridgeshire) (Con): Rubbish!

Rory Stewart: It is indeed. In London alone, we could probably save £19 million a year if we had a single standard recycling system. Across the country as a whole, the savings would be extraordinary. We spend more than £3 billion a year simply collecting waste. If we had a single, harmonised system across the country, we could drive up recycling rates, massively reduce the cost for ratepayers and achieve extraordinary things for the environment and for councils themselves. South Gloucestershire Council is therefore a good example on which to focus.

That South Gloucestershire example is also a good illustration of some of the problems involved in realising such a dream. The council has taken some fantastic steps. It has separated the waste, which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood has pointed out, means we can get out the value. If we commingle the waste—putting the glass, paper and card together in the same box—it can be a real problem, even with modern methods, to extract the glass as it goes through the system. We should be able to get much more value out of the paper or the glass, which can go back to the council and the rate payer, if we keep the waste separate. The council has a good system for doing that in South Gloucestershire—a single box, with dividers to make separation easier.

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The challenge, as my hon. Friend pointed out, is making sure that the system is comprehensible to the public and something to which the public can respond and relate. I therefore encourage the points made by my two hon. Friends to be taken on board by South Gloucestershire Council, along with our congratulations on the direction in which they are going and on the national leadership it is showing.

It seems sensible, as my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood said, to look at the needs of the vulnerable and of large families. I believe that South Gloucestershire Council already takes into account the fact that if a family has six members, it may need a larger bin. The council may wish to show additional flexibility for exactly the kind of people mentioned by my hon. Friend.

I do not wish to talk simply about the negative aspects—both my hon. Friends made very good points—but to look at the positives. If South Gloucestershire Council gets this right, we will have a national model. Why do we need a national model? We need one because South Gloucestershire Council is recycling only about 47% of its waste at the moment, which is not quite good enough. Wales, which has a pretty challenging geography, is currently recycling about 53% of its waste. If Wales can do it, there is no reason why England cannot do it as well. There are no profound cultural differences there.

We are committed to getting to a recycling target of 50% across the country by 2020. We will get there by following the lead of places such as South Gloucestershire. I therefore urge my hon. Friends to work with the council to reach out to surrounding councils in Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and the south-west and try to encourage harmonisation. That can be done. Manchester has now got 10 councils together to come up with a single recycling system. It is investing hundreds of millions of pounds over the next 25 years to make that work.

South Gloucestershire Council could be showing exactly that lead for the country—and, my goodness, we need it. The reason we need it is that we live in a world in which such resources are under pressure. We have talked about separating food waste. We are currently consuming 70% of the world’s water just on producing the food eaten by the current population. The average household in Britain wastes £65 a month by throwing away food that does not need to be thrown away. We are consuming and depleting resources—oil, precious minerals—that could be recycled and used again. We are creating a lot of unnecessary carbon by creating materials that could be recycled. We put into landfill 50% of the stuff that does not need to go into landfill, as my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood pointed out.

If we can get this right, Britain can be a national example, our great environmental industries can take off, we can export some of these skills and we can show the world that we are an environmental leader. We can also make British jobs and generate energy out of it, we can have a much better circular economy and it will be good for our production. Thanks to the fantastic contributions from my hon. Friend and my hon. Friend the Member for Thornbury and Yate, the South Gloucestershire example could be a very important part of such a solution.

Question put and agreed to.

7.49 pm

House adjourned.