Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Lord Dubs: I understand what the Minister is saying, but it does not accord with my experience of human behaviour. If people arrive, having had to tell untruths all the way along the line in order to escape from their country and obtain their documents, forged or otherwise, and they then arrive at another country, Britain, where they meet immigration officials, the normal human reaction would be to say, "If I have got so far with my forged passport, let me get into Britain and then let me work out how I apply for asylum". They will not know that suddenly because they have touched down on British soil the whole system changes and they have to be honest from the moment they reach British immigration control. I contend that that is not normal human behaviour. We should not expect people to behave like that. I honestly think that the Minister is being unreasonable in suggesting otherwise.

I regret that people who come to this country to seek asylum sometimes destroy their documents. I wish they would not; it is a regrettable form of behaviour. However, there is enough evidence to suggest that sometimes people do so to disguise the fact that their documents are forged, and on the advice of people in some distant country from whom they purchased the forged documents. They may destroy those documents because they were badly advised. But the fact remains that they were acting on advice and they did not know that they should have kept their forged documents. There may be other reasons.

I do not condone that action. I fully accept that it causes enormous difficulty for our immigration people. It is one of the most difficult areas. However, I do not

23 Apr 1996 : Column 1128

believe that the Bill will deal with that problem. I fear that the Bill weakens the position of the individuals who have to use those means (I have described them more than once) to get here.

Let me draw some comfort from something that the Minister said. I shall make a proposition. The Minister said on a number of occasions--as I am sure she will agree, but Hansard will confirm it--that people should have an explanation as to why they have arrived with forged documents. I believe that that is what the Minister said on several occasions, although perhaps not in those words.

Let us suppose that the Minister were to accept Amendment No. 13. I would happily withdraw Amendment No. 10. Amendment No. 13 provides,


    "without giving a reasonable explanation of his failure to do so". That seems to meet almost to the letter the point made by the Minister on a number of occasions in the past half hour. If the Minister were to accept Amendment No. 13 I am sure that Members of the Committee on the Liberal Democrat Benches would not move Amendments Nos. 11 and 12. I would happily withdraw Amendment No. 10. Acceptance of Amendment No. 13 would be a way forward. It would meet the Minister's and our concerns.

Finally, if the Minister is in doubt about examples, I have Amnesty International's document, Slamming the door, which cites an example of an individual who fled from Iran, acquired a forged Spanish passport (I believe in Turkey) entered the country, went to the Home Office Asylum Division in Croydon, applied for asylum and eventually was given refugee status, despite having done all the things the Minister has said that people should not do. He did so because that was the only way for him to get here.

I hope that the Minister will consider accepting Amendment No. 13. If so, we shall have done a good evening's work.

I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment No. 10, as an amendment to Amendment No. 1, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 11 to 13, as amendments to Amendment No. 1, not moved.]

The Earl of Courtown: I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

        House adjourned at a quarter before eleven o'clock.

23 Apr 1996 : Column CWH1

Official Report of the Committee on the

Education (Scotland) Bill [H.L.]

Tuesday, 23rd April 1996.

The Committee met in the Moses Room at half past three of the clock.

[The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Ampthill) in the Chair.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Ampthill): Before I put the question that the Title be postponed, it may be helpful to remind your Lordships of the procedure for today's Committee. Except in one important respect, our proceedings will be exactly as in a normal Committee of the Whole House. We shall go through the Bill clause by clause; noble Lords will speak standing; all noble Lords are free to attend and participate; and the proceedings will be recorded in Hansard. But the House has agreed there shall be no Divisions in this Committee. Any issue on which agreement cannot be reached should be considered again at the Report stage when, if necessary, a Division may be called. Unless, therefore, an amendment is likely to be agreed to, it should be withdrawn.

I should also explain what will happen if there is a Division in the Chamber while we are sitting. This Committee will adjourn as soon as the Division bells are rung and will then resume after 10 minutes.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe: Will the Report Stage be in the full House?

The Deputy Chairman of Committees: Yes.

On Question, Title postponed.

Clause 1 [The Scottish Qualifications Authority]:

Lord Ewing of Kirkford moved Amendment No. 1:


Page 1, line 19, at end insert (", from amongst persons nominated by, or by bodies appearing to the Secretary of State to represent the interests of, the Universities of Scotland, education authorities, colleges of further education, institutions of further education, central institutions, educational advisers, teachers employed in educational establishments and grant aided and independent schools").

The noble Lord said: I move Amendment No. 1 standing in my name and that of my noble friend, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove. It would be appropriate and convenient for the Committee if we were to discuss Amendment No. 2 together with Amendment No. 1. I am personally grateful for the guidance which has just been given about the procedure in Committees of this nature in the Moses Room. I was not part of the usual channels which agreed to this procedure because I am one of the awkward squad. However, if I had been part of the usual channels, I would have argued strongly on a matter as important as this Education Bill, with its implications for nursery provision, that the measure should be taken in the much

23 Apr 1996 : Column CWH2

larger forum of their Lordships' House. Be that as it may, this is the procedure. I accept that, and I shall play my full part.

The amendments I propose to Clause 1 deal with a matter we raised quite strongly at Second Reading and which, I see from the report of the Select Committee sittings in Glasgow, was raised quite strongly by witnesses appearing before that committee. They concern the whole question of membership of the Scottish qualifications authority and the ability of the Secretary of State--whoever is Secretary of State, because we are not talking about personalities here--to appoint up to 15 of its members. We on this side of the Committee agree with the establishment of the Scottish qualifications authority, replacing, as it does, SCOTVEC and the Scottish Examination Board and bringing them all together in one comprehensive organisation. We are not opposed to that; it fits in with the Government's proposals on the Higher Still project which, again, we on this side of the Committee fully support.

Our concern, as expressed in these amendments, is the composition of the Scottish qualifications authority. It has to be understood that the funding of the authority will come 70 per cent. from local authorities and those educational organisations that use the services of the authority. But there is no legislative right for those authorities who are funding the Scottish qualifications authority to have seats on its administrative board. The purpose of these amendments is to seek to write into the legislation the statutory right of the authorities, who will be funding by and large the Scottish qualifications authority, to have representation, and that the nominations for service on the board of that sector of education--the local authority sector and the various organisations that will use the SQA services--should come from these organisations and the Secretary of State would then automatically appoint them to the board.

It has also to be explained that up until 1st April, when the present arrangement came into being, the local education authorities in Scotland had a statutory right to be represented on the Scottish Examination Board. As regards the putting together of the budgets of both organisations, although in the past two years SCOTVEC has not consulted CoSLA on the composition of its budget or on the way in which it intended to spend the budget, up until the present time, there has been a statutory obligation on both the Scottish Examination Board and SCOTVEC to consult CoSLA on the composition of the budget, the compilation of the budget, and the way in which the budget was to be spent. So these statutory rights were with the old local authorities before the new unitary authorities came into being. It is only as a result of the new proposals in this legislation that these statutory rights are being removed from local authorities.

Therefore, I would hope that, from what was said in evidence to the Select Committee sitting in Glasgow by the various witnesses and what I have said today, the Minister will be persuaded that there ought to be provision in respect of a group or organisations which will provide 70 per cent of the funding of the Scottish qualifications authority. There ought to be statutory

23 Apr 1996 : Column CWH3

provision in the legislation for representatives from these organisations on the Scottish qualifications authority. I beg to move.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page