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Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, I am much obliged. Before the Minister moves on, perhaps I may just ask him one simple question. Will the Government at the very least make clear their position that they would not wish corporal punishment to be inflicted in respect of non-voucher children? In other words, while leaving it to the discretion of local providers, will the Minister confirm that in the Government's view it would be undesirable for corporal punishment to be inflicted? That should at least be made clear by the Government.

15 Jul 1996 : Column 674

Lord Henley: My Lords, we have made our view absolutely clear. We wish to ensure that corporal punishment is not administered to children whose nursery places are funded by the nursery voucher scheme. As regards those who are funded in other ways, as I said, that is a matter for the parents and the providers.

However, where I differ from the noble Baroness is how we deliver that objective. The noble Baroness would like to see something on the face of the Bill but, as I made clear earlier, we would prefer to ensure that that objective is secured by making prohibition a requirement of grant. I believe that that method of achieving what we are trying to achieve--indeed, what we are both trying to achieve--is as effective as putting something on the face of the Bill. I say that for no other reason than that I suspect the noble Baroness's amendment would be technically deficient because it has no definition of corporal punishment. I am sure that the noble Baroness will accept that fact. Indeed, when we tried to do that in the proceedings under the Education (No. 2) Bill it amounted to something like two-and-a-half pages of text. To try to get such wording into one small amendment is not the right way forward. Therefore, with the sort of assurances that I have been able to give, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Baroness David: My Lords, before I give my final answer, can the Minister say whether he has given an assurance that there will be guidance to the effect that the Government are against corporal punishment in any institution where there are children receiving vouchers and, indeed, others who are not?

Lord Henley: My Lords, we have given guidance under the Children Act. I do not want to move away from that sort of guidance. I believe that that guidance would be appropriate in the sort of settings about which we are talking.

Baroness David: My Lords, surely providing guidance under the Children Act extends as far as care and does not really cover the education being given. Am I correct in that assumption?

Lord Henley: Yes, my Lords, that is the case. However, as I made clear, I do not believe that any further guidance would be necessary. Again, I should stress that this is a Third Reading debate. I do not think that I could go any further.

Baroness David: My Lords, I am still most amazed that we cannot have that direct assurance. I am most grateful for the support that the noble Lord, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, has given me; indeed, it has been extremely helpful. I repeat: I am amazed that we cannot have that straightforward assurance. It is quite extraordinary. This is a matter of principle and, although I am quite certain of the outcome, I am afraid that I must take the opinion of the House.

15 Jul 1996 : Column 675

6.45 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 9) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 55; Not-Contents, 113.

Division No. 4


Addington, L.
Barnett, L.
Carlisle, E.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carter, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
David, B.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Geraint, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Hamwee, B.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Haskel, L. [Teller.]
Henderson of Brompton, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howell, L.
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Kilbracken, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L. [Teller.]
Lockwood, B.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNair, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Methuen, L.
Mishcon, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Perry of Walton, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Ripon, Bp.
Robson of Kiddington, B.
Rochester, L.
Serota, B.
Shepherd, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Thurso, V.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
White, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Winston, L.


Addison, V.
Aldington, L.
Annaly, L.
Attlee, E.
Balfour, E.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Berners, B.
Biddulph, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Bowness, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Brigstocke, B.
Burnham, L.
Caithness, E.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Chelmsford, V.
Chesham, L. [Teller.]
Clanwilliam, E.
Coleridge, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cornwallis, L.
Courtown, E.
Cox, B.
Cranborne, V. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Crickhowell, L.
Cumberlege, B.
De L'Isle, V.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Denton of Wakefield, B.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Downshire, M.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Erroll, E.
Falmouth, V.
Feldman, L.
Ferrers, E.
Flather, B.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Gisborough, L.
Goold, L.
Goschen, V.
Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L.
Hertford, M.
Hesketh, L.
Hogg, B.
Holderness, L.
HolmPatrick, L.
Inglewood, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kenilworth, L.
Kimball, L.
Kinnoull, E.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Leigh, L.
Lindsay, E.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Liverpool, E.
Lucas, L.
Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Mackay of Drumadoon, L.
Mackintosh of Halifax, V.
Macleod of Borve, B.
Marlesford, L.
Merrivale, L.
Monckton of Brenchley, V.
Monson, L.
Mottistone, L.
Mountevans, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Napier and Ettrick, L.
Northbourne, L.
Northesk, E.
O'Cathain, B.
Palmer, L.
Pender, L.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Prior, L.
Rankeillour, L.
Rees, L.
Rennell, L.
Renton, L.
Renwick, L.
Romney, E.
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.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Trumpington, B.
Tugendhat, L.
Wedgwood, L.
Wigram, L.
Wise, L.
Wynford, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

15 Jul 1996 : Column 676

6.52 p.m.

Clause 7 [Power to borrow]:

Lord Tope moved Amendment No. 10:

Page 3, line 37, leave out from ("given") to ("but") in line 38, and insert ("only where the Secretary of State or a person to whom he delegates the function is satisfied that the land or buildings concerned are not essential to the functioning of the school concerned);").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise to move the amendment standing in my name. We debated the whole subject of core assets fairly briefly, it has to be said, at Committee stage, but at rather greater length on Report. By that time the Minister had written a very helpful letter to me, substantial parts of which I quoted at the Report stage and shall not need to do so again.

The Minister has made it clear, both in his letter and again in his reply at Report stage, that the Government believe it is important and they are fully committed to retain essential school assets. The amendment before us today is simply one last attempt to get something onto the face of the Bill that actually recognises the commitment which the Government have already given. That is the purpose of the amendment.

I think we have debated fairly fully the reasons for this and the need to have a clearer understanding of exactly what is meant by core assets. It is therefore not necessary for me to go into it at any greater length tonight.

However, there are two points that I would like to raise. The Minister said in previous debates that he believed it was best that the Funding Agency for Schools should look at applications on a case-by-case basis and deal with them on their merits. In fact, the Bill allows for a generalised consent:

    "which may be given for particular borrowing or for borrowing of a particular class".

15 Jul 1996 : Column 677

In another place there was some debate on when generalised consent might operate and the Government indicated that they did not foresee it applying until the new arrangements had bedded down. I wonder whether the Minister could tell us how well generalised consent and the need for administrative discretion for the FAS to consider applications from individual schools fit together.

My final point on this subject is one which, again, we considered at Report stage. It is the question of further consultation on the remit letter. I made the point that during the passage of the Bill, particularly in your Lordships' House, it has become much clearer what the Government regard as being core assets and what are not core assets.

Many factors have emerged since the original consultation. I asked the Minister at Report stage whether he would consider having a further brief consultation with interested parties on the content and meaning of the actual remit letter before it is published. I do not want to press the Minister too hard. It is only a few days since he undertook to give such a consideration, but I wonder in which direction that consideration might be moving. I urge upon him that it can only be helpful to clarify some of these points before the letter is published rather than to have them left unclear after publication. On that basis, I beg to move.

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