Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Dormand of Easington: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, will he comment further on the figures he gave? They were all in the nineties, which sounds very impressive. However, I believe he used the word "estimated". Will he tell the House how they were estimated?

Lord Henley: My Lords, again with the leave of the House--we are at Third Reading--I should prefer to write to the noble Lord in greater detail on the precise methodology used by the department in obtaining those figures. So far as I can make out, we are getting to the vast majority of parents in the areas that I mentioned: 97 per cent. in Norfolk is a very impressive figure and 91 per cent. overall is good. I hope that we can improve on that and learn from the pilot. That is why I said I thought that the amendment was unnecessary, that we can make further progress and that we shall continue in phase 2.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede: My Lords, I am disappointed with the Minister's answer. He said that the amendment was not necessary or workable and went

15 Jul 1996 : Column 648

on to try to justify that statement by giving statistics saying that something like an average of 91 per cent. of people had taken up their voucher entitlement. The whole point of my amendment is to address that minority of children whose parents have failed to apply for a voucher. I submit that it is not so impressive that something like one in 20 children have failed to take up the voucher. More to the point, the agency does not know why that small minority failed to take it up.

The purpose of the amendment is to provide that the Government "shall take all practical steps" to ensure that contact is made. I should have thought a simple example of that would be a telephone call just to ensure that a contact is made and the parents are aware of the voucher system. The amendment seeks a duty to contact to be with the agency itself. I am sure that the noble Lord has good wishes but it is not the same as a duty. For that reason, I feel that I must ask the opinion of the House.

5.2 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 2) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 101; Not-Contents, 153.

Division No. 2


Addington, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Baldwin of Bewdley, E.
Barnett, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Berkeley, L. [Teller.]
Birk, B.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Carlisle, E.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
David, B.
Davies, L.
Desai, L.
Diamond, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Falkender, B.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Fisher of Rednal, B.
Gladwin of Clee, L. [Teller.]
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greene of Harrow Weald, L.
Grey, E.
Hamwee, B.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Hayman, B.
Healey, L.
Henderson of Brompton, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hooson, L.
Howell, L.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hughes, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
Kennet, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Lincoln, Bp.
Lockwood, B.
Lovell-Davis, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNair, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Mayhew, L.
Methuen, L.
Monkswell, L.
Monson, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Nicol, B.
Ogmore, L.
Palmer, L.
Peston, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Porter of Luddenham, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Redesdale, L.
Richard, L.
Ripon, Bp.
Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Robson of Kiddington, B.
Rochester, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Russell, E.
Sandwich, E.
Serota, B.
Shepherd, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Thurso, V.
Tonypandy, V.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Varley, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Winston, L.


Addison, V.
Ailsa, M.
Aldington, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Annaly, L.
Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L.
Ashbourne, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Balfour, E.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Beloff, L.
Berners, B.
Birdwood, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Bowness, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Braine of Wheatley, L.
Brentford, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Bruntisfield, L.
Burnham, L.
Butterworth, L.
Cadman, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carnock, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Chelmsford, V.
Chesham, L. [Teller.]
Clark of Kempston, L.
Coleraine, L.
Coleridge, L.
Cornwallis, L.
Courtown, E.
Cox, B.
Cranborne, V. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Cuckney, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Davidson, V.
De Freyne, L.
De L'Isle, V.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Denton of Wakefield, B.
Devonport, V.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Downshire, M.
Ellenborough, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Erne, E.
Erroll, E.
Fanshawe of Richmond, L.
Feldman, L.
Ferrers, E.
Finsberg, L.
Flather, B.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Gage, V.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.
Gisborough, L.
Glenarthur, L.
Goold, L.
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Hemphill, L.
Henley, L.
Holderness, L.
Hooper, B.
Inglewood, L.
Ironside, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Johnston of Rockport, L.
Kinnoull, E.
Kintore, E.
Kitchener, E.
Knollys, V.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Leigh, L.
Lindsay, E.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Liverpool, E.
Long, V.
Lucas, L.
Lucas of Chilworth, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
McConnell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Mackay of Drumadoon, L.
MacLehose of Beoch, L.
Macleod of Borve, B.
Marlesford, L.
Merrivale, L.
Mersey, V.
Monckton of Brenchley, V.
Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Mottistone, L.
Mountevans, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Munster, E.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Newall, L.
Noel-Buxton, L.
Norfolk, D.
Northesk, E.
O'Cathain, B.
Orkney, E.
Orr-Ewing, L.
Oxfuird, V.
Pender, L.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Quinton, L.
Rankeillour, L.
Rees, L.
Rennell, L.
Renton, L.
Renwick, L.
Romney, E.
St. Davids, V.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Seccombe, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Sherfield, L.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Stewartby, L.
Strange, B.
Strathclyde, L. [Teller.]
Sudeley, L.
Teviot, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Vivian, L.
Westbury, L.
Wigram, L.
Wise, L.
Wynford, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

15 Jul 1996 : Column 650

5.10 p.m.

Lord Tope moved Amendment No. 3:

Page 1, line 19, at end insert--
("( ) Education in respect of which grants are payable under this section shall be given in premises conforming to such standards as to space and facilities as the Secretary of State shall by regulations specify.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the purpose of Amendment No. 3 is to require institutions in receipt of nursery vouchers to conform to indoor and outdoor space standards. We have debated this subject extensively on previous occasions during the passage of the Bill and I shall try not to detain the House too long. However, I make no apology for returning to the subject because it is important and this is our last attempt to try to get something in the Bill which lays down requirements as to standards of teaching accommodation and recreation areas.

All of us believe and accept that children require space in which to learn, play and develop; that overcrowding cannot be in anyone's interest; and most of all that it cannot be in the interest of children, whether in the classroom or the playground. I have expressed anxiety previously that because the value of the nursery voucher in many cases will not meet the full cost of nursery provision, there will inevitably be pressure upon some providers at least to obtain as near as possible the value of the voucher. Part of that pressure is likely to have an effect on the space provisions. That may be mostly so with new providers who will have to meet capital and other costs necessary to starting up and they will be under pressure not to meet acceptable standards. It is also an important health and safety issue.

Amendment No. 3, unlike previous amendments, takes account of the worries expressed by the Minister at earlier stages. It recognises that different types of provider may need varying standards of provision. It meets his objection, also expressed at earlier stages, that it would bind all providers to restrictive requirements and therefore in this case it restricts requirements only to those providers in receipt of nursery vouchers.

The amendment leaves it to the Secretary of State to decide what the standards should be. It makes no prescription as to what they should be; simply that they should be prescribed. It is likely that the standards will be those that would otherwise be contained in the guidance and therefore the only difference between us

15 Jul 1996 : Column 651

is whether it should best be done by guidance or regulation. We believe that it is better done by regulation because that has a stronger effect. It means that the providers "must" comply rather than "should" comply. That is important for that small minority which has previously been described as "cowboys"--those out to make a quick buck. But, more importantly, it is fair that genuine providers who are trying to meet and wish to meet the standards know that others must meet the standards as well; in other words, that it is a fair competition.

The amendment meets all the previous objections from the Minister. I am reasonably confident therefore that he will accept it; I hope that he will and I beg to move.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page