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Lord Elis-Thomas: My Lords, I am in a little difficulty. We are chastised for moving amendments that are too radical. Apparently we are now chastised for moving amendments which will not make much difference. On that basis, I have no alternative but to test the opinion of the House.

5.46 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 4) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 101; Not-Contents, 137.

Division No. 3


Baldwin of Bewdley, E.
Barnett, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Birk, B.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Carlisle, E.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carter, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Craigavon, V.
David, B.
Davies, L.
Dean of Beswick, L.
Desai, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elis-Thomas, L. [Teller.]
Falkender, B.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Fisher of Rednal, B.
Fitt, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. [Teller.]
Greene of Harrow Weald, L.
Grey, E.
Hamwee, B.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Healey, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hooson, L.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hughes, L.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Inchyra, L.
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
Kennet, L.
Kilbracken, L.
Kintore, E.
Kirkhill, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Lincoln, Bp.
Lockwood, B.
Longford, E.
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.
Meston, L.
Methuen, L.
Monkswell, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Nicol, B.
Ogmore, L.
Peston, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, 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.
St. Davids, V.
St. John of Bletso, L.
Sandwich, E.
Serota, B.
Shepherd, L.
Stafford, 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.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Wharton, B.
White, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Winston, L.


Addison, V.
Aldington, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Annaly, L.
Ashbourne, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Balfour, E.
Barber of Tewkesbury, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Berners, B.
Birdwood, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Bowness, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Braine of Wheatley, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Bruntisfield, L.
Burnham, L.
Butterworth, L.
Cadman, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carnock, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Chelmsford, V.
Chesham, L. [Teller.]
Clark of Kempston, L.
Coleridge, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cornwallis, L.
Courtown, E.
Cranborne, V. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Cuckney, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Davidson, V.
De L'Isle, V.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Denton of Wakefield, B.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Downshire, M.
Ellenborough, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Falmouth, V.
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.
Greenway, L.
Hardwicke, E.
Hayhoe, L.
Hemphill, L.
Henley, L.
Hesketh, L.
Holderness, L.
HolmPatrick, L.
Inglewood, L.
Ironside, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kinnoull, E.
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.]
Macleod of Borve, B.
Marlesford, L.
Merrivale, L.
Mersey, V.
Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Mottistone, L.
Mountevans, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Napier and Ettrick, L.
Norfolk, D.
Northesk, E.
O'Cathain, B.
Orr-Ewing, L.
Oxfuird, V.
Palmer, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Pender, L.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Pike, B.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Prior, L.
Quinton, L.
Rankeillour, L.
Rees, L.
Rennell, L.
Renwick, L.
Romney, E.
Saint Albans, D.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Seccombe, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, 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 661

5.54 p.m.

[Amendment No. 5 not moved.]

Lord Tope moved Amendment No. 6:

Page 1, line 24, at end insert--
("provided that in the case of a person who has not previously been a provider of nursery education subject to inspection by him, the Chief Inspector has placed that person on a public register maintained by him of such persons who provide or can reasonably be expected to provide nursery education of a satisfactory quality and standard.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise to move this amendment which stands in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady David, and myself. I should say first that the noble Baroness is detained on business elsewhere in the House and has asked me to move it on her behalf as well as my own, which of course I do with pleasure.

The purpose of this amendment is to place a duty on the chief inspector to maintain a public register of those persons who can provide, or who can reasonably be expected to provide, nursery education of a satisfactory quality and standard. This amendment would have the effect of providing what might be called a provisional licence until, following final inspection, a validation is granted. The tightening up on scrutiny of new providers is needed to prove that they too will be capable of providing a service which is of sufficient standard to meet the meagre curriculum requirements in the SCAA desirable learning outcomes document.

The amendment would require the chief inspector at least to provide a reasonable safeguard against rogue providers whose aims may be to make a financial killing and then move on. It will also guard against the well-meaning amateur potential providers who simply do not have sufficient resourcefulness with which to establish an effective programme of teaching and learning.

The Minister in his reply may again claim that all is well, because no provider may be allowed to be funded from nursery voucher income unless he or she meets the registration requirements of the Children Act 1989. That is all very well, but the Children Act does no more than charge the social services department of the local authority to satisfy it that the person is fit to look after the under-eights. It says nothing about their education. It provides some guidance and some indication of where it may seek advice before making that decision, but in practice those powers are at best advisory and will be

15 Jul 1996 : Column 662

constrained by available resources which are set against the many statutory duties with which the social services departments are charged.

During Committee stage the Minister hinted at the possibility of making better use of the self-assessment schedule. At least in principle he conceded that there should be an initial screening of new providers to test their calibre prior to awarding grant. He may again expand a little further on that when he replies. There is little doubt that completing a self-assessment schedule may reveal only that which the individual is either capable of understanding and knowing or is willing to admit. The trained eye of an inspector, even at some distance removed from the nursery setting, will be able to gain a view as to the suitability of the person applying for grant.

This process may, if taken together with the registration under the Children Act, strengthen the requirements for high standards and quality in nursery education which we are all seeking. The effect of scrutinising such initial providers and authorising their inclusion on a public register will add considerably to public confidence in a scheme which, as far as new providers are concerned, stands untested by the pilot scheme and is therefore not even subject to evaluation, let alone open to a professional once-over prior to the phase 2 implementation. I beg to move.

6 p.m.

Lord Henley: My Lords, as I think I explained at an earlier stage, we have already made arrangements for a register of eligible providers to be maintained by the voucher company. The company will make that register available free of charge on request. Again, as I explained I think in some depth on Report, to which the noble Lord referred--I shall return to that point later--we have in place robust arrangements to ensure that all participating providers placed on the register, including private and voluntary sector providers, provide education of a consistently high standard.

Again, I stress that there is no risk of the cowboy outfits joining the register. Under the quality assurance arrangements, all private and voluntary sector providers will need to be registered under the Children Act. I have no qualms about mentioning that again because it is important. That means that they will have to pass, as the noble Lord, Lord Tope, put it, inspection by the social service department in which the inspectors have to satisfy themselves that the staff are fit persons to work with children; that the premises are suitable; and they will also need, for the first time, to work towards a set of goals for children's learning development, developed by SCAA, and publish information for parents.

There are already many four year-olds in private and voluntary sector establishments. Such establishments do not currently have to adhere to any requirements in relation to the quality and standards of education. It will be to the benefit of children in such establishments that the voucher scheme starts as soon as possible so that we can have inspections as soon as possible.

The noble Lord asked me to say a little more about the self-assessment schedule. It too will act as an important tool for providers to identify their strengths and

15 Jul 1996 : Column 663

weaknesses and will act as stimuli to improve quality and standards of education. Again, as I said on Report, we shall consider with interested outsiders and experts whether to require providers to complete and submit the schedule within a certain timescale. The schedule could then be passed to an inspector in advance of the first inspection. I can assure the House that we shall give serious consideration to that option before phase 2. I hope that the noble Lord will therefore feel that his amendment is unnecessary and be able to withdraw it.

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