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Lord Peston: As I am anxious to live to the end of the debate on this Bill, perhaps I may say that I believe that the noble Earl is wasting the Committee's time. I have taken it for granted as a minimum that regulations are about the Bill. Clause 1 deals with the setting up of a general teaching council. Clause 2 and later clauses deal with its functions and related issues. Perhaps my noble friend will confirm that that will be the role of the regulations. That appears to be logical, to present no trouble, does not put us in constitutional conflict and should not encourage the noble Earl to raise the same point 20 times. The matter is elementary and logical.

Furthermore, I understand my noble friend to be saying that if, for example, the Committee amended the functions of the council and the Government accepted that, logically, the regulations would relate to the new amended functions. There is no theoretical difficulty, let alone constitutional difficulty, with that. I hope that my noble friend will now be able to say a final word so that we can move on to other matters.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: I follow the major problem raised by the noble Earl. Can the Minister tell us whether by regulation we could end up with a council

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which decided who could teach and who would be barred, such decisions being taken purely by order? That is a major part of what the council might become and I hope that that will be the case. However, can it occur without primary legislation?

Baroness Blatch: I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Peston, believes that we are wasting time. However, the debate will be prolonged because the Bill is skeletal and it is important that we know what is in the Government's mind when they legislate. The lives and work of almost half a million teachers will be directly affected by the outcome of the deliberations in Parliament.

I have looked at the powers and functions of the Bill. I pressed my questions so persistently because there is no power in the Bill other than to advise. Clause 2 provides that:

    "The Council shall from time to time advise".

It then lists the matters on which it shall advise. Subsection (3) provides that:

    "The Council shall also advise the Secretary of State",

and the matters are listed. Subsection (4) provides that:

    "The Council may be required under subsection (3) to advise the Secretary of State on any matter relevant to a decision by him".

Contrary to what the Minister said, there is nothing in the Bill that allows any secondary legislation which will flow from it to confer upon the council regulating powers or responsibilities.

I believe that the advice we have been given is wrong. The only way in which secondary legislation in the hands of the Secretary of State could confer on the council the responsibility for, for example, teacher-training responsibility, the promotion of teaching and the dismissal and discipline of teachers would be to amend Clause 2. That is why we are here today.

Lord Peston: I interrupt the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, because she is missing my point. I was addressing the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Russell, which is concerned with regulatory powers. I was saying that it appears to be obvious that the regulatory powers will relate to the provisions of Clause 2 and beyond. I was making the additional point that if the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, persuaded the Government to change Clause 2 the regulatory powers would have to be adjusted.

I do not say that the Government will change that, but technically the noble Earl's questions about regulations--not those of the noble Baroness about the powers per se--are a red herring. Unless for many years I have misunderstood your Lordships' procedures, regulations will be about the provisions of the Bill--end of story.

Earl Russell: The noble Lord, Lord Peston, has created a confusion about what the regulations will be and what the regulations could be. I make no apology for asking the Minister what could be done under

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the powers that she is asking the Committee to confer. I shall ask that question again every time a regulation-making power is requested.

I had not intended to detain the Committee so long because I had not expected to wait so long for an answer. I beg leave to withdraw my amendment, but the Minister should not count on being so lucky again.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 4 not moved.]

Lord Peston moved Amendment No. 5:

Page 2, line 6, after ("shall") insert ("specify the criteria he is proposing to use to make appointments and in any event shall").

The noble Lord said: This amendment represents a more elementary and milder access to some of the problems which were raised in the previous group of amendments. I take it for granted that all that could be ultra vires would be the introduction of regulations which did not correspond to the provisions of the Bill. Therefore, I take for granted the fact that the regulations will correspond to them. I shall not comment on tuition fees, about which I have views, because we shall deal with them another day.

I wish to give my noble friend the Minister an opportunity to say broadly what the Secretary of State has in mind. I take her point about consultation. As someone who has spent most of his professional life as a professor, the word "consultation" does not come easily to my lips. I tend to take the view that I know what is right and that is what people ought to do, but that is by the way!

However, it would not be attractive for the Secretary of State to proceed on an ad hoc basis. It would be reasonable if either today or after consultation my noble friend told the Committee specifically what the Secretary of State has in mind. Perhaps I may give examples. The first chairman will be appointed by the Secretary of State. Perhaps my noble friend will confirm that because I do not see how the council will get off the ground. I should like to know the kind of person we are looking for as chairman. One does not place that requirement on the face of the Bill, but one could impose an obligation on the Secretary of State to let us know in due course. Are we looking for someone with a teaching qualification? Is that the criterion or is it another kind of person? The Bill provides that the council will reflect the interest of teachers. Does that refer to teachers in post, teachers who are retired or teachers undertaking other work? There are many such matters that come under the heading of "required criteria". In particular, I advert again to the "general public". To my mind, I should have preferred the words "lay person" rather than "general public". I reiterate that I should rather those people were chosen by the Privy Council than by the Secretary of State, as has happened with other professional bodies.

Again, on the criteria, I see the expression,

    "such other interests as in the opinion of the Secretary of State".

I should prefer something spelt out more explicitly rather than to have a reference to "such other interests". What are those interests? What is meant by "as in the opinion of" and so on?

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The last matter that I raise under that general rubric--and again, it may well be that I have misread the Bill and buried in it is the answer to the question--is how many people will be on the GTC. That sort of information is often in very small type but I cannot see how many people the Secretary of State has it in mind to appoint. I should like to know the sort of numbers we are talking about.

For those reasons, I believe that it is useful to mention the word "criteria". I do not believe that the debate we had on the previous amendment was terribly helpful because we fell into dealing with the technicalities which does not do a great deal in relation to improving the Bill or the general teaching council. A brief response from my noble friend or other contributions may well help in connection with this amendment. I beg to move.

5 p.m.

Baroness Blackstone: I was interested in the amendment tabled by my noble friends Lord Peston and Lady David. I do not believe that the amendment is advisable or necessary at this stage, although I suspect that it is a probing amendment.

The Secretary of State intends to appoint the first chief officer but has no intention at present to appoint the first chairman. That is a matter for the regulations. We shall consult on how the chairman should be appointed and, indeed, on what sort of person the chairman should be. I am sure that many people will have views about that matter which they will wish to put forward. Clearly, the chairman must be somebody who has an absolute commitment to the highest possible standards in the teaching profession and should also have some knowledge of the teaching profession's role and functions and what it does. But we have not yet made any formal commitment to any particular criteria because, as I say, that is a matter for consultation.

The same applies to the question of my noble friend about how many people will be on the GTC. There is no final decision about a precise number. Clearly the body should be sufficiently large to represent a wide range of interests and in that sense have the confidence of the profession. At the same time, it should not be so enormous that it cannot properly do its work without being bogged down with huge amounts of unnecessary paper, bureaucracy and so on.

I repeat that the Bill does not specify that any members of the council shall be appointed by the Secretary of State. Therefore, I do not believe that it is necessary to refer in primary legislation to the criteria that he would use in making such appointments. It may be that part of the membership should be appointed directly by the Secretary of State but we shall consult on the case for that. If so, any such appointments would be subject to--and again, I hope that Members of the Committee will forgive the shorthand--established Nolan principles. That is extremely important if everybody is to be confident about the quality of the membership of the GTC.

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