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Lord Whitty: I thought that my noble friend had indicated on several occasions that these are the GTC's initial functions and that we want to see an organic development of those functions. As I have just said, if there are substantial changes in functions under subsection (2), primary legislation will be required. The noble Baroness is right in that respect.

However, with regard to the initial matter raised by the noble Baroness about subsection (3), my point was that that subsection relates to the constitution only. I agree that it is not simply a matter of the composition. It relates to the way in which the council will operate. Subsection (2) deals with the functions. That is why I said that the amendment as drafted does not address the problems raised by the noble Baroness. I reiterate that we are prepared to take account of the concerns expressed about the constitution of the council and that we shall return to the matter at a later stage. In the light of that, I wonder whether the noble Baroness will be prepared to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Blatch: Although I did not get a straight answer to my question, I certainly beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Schedule 1 [General Teaching Council]:

[Amendments Nos. 17 and 18 not moved.]

Lord Tope moved Amendment No. 19:

Page 24, line 38, leave out ("Secretary of State") and insert ("Council").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 19, I should like to speak also to the batch of amendments on the Marshalled List up to and including Amendment No. 25. I shall not detain the Committee for long on this substantial group of amendments because they all address the same general issue to which we have already referred several times today. Again, they relate to the independence of the GTC. These amendments refer to particular powers which are given to the Secretary of State which we feel that the Government should trust the GTC, as a responsible body, to carry out for itself. I do not think that I need to go through each amendment and refer to each specific power. Each relates to a specific power as listed in Schedule 1.

If the teachers, and others, are to believe that the GTC is being treated seriously and as a responsible body, there must be a limit to the amount of supervision from the Secretary of State. In our view, that limit should be well below that set out in the Bill in which the Secretary of State is given the power to determine, or at least to approve, the remuneration of the GTC's staff. That is excessive. The purpose of this batch of amendments is to recognise that we trust the GTC as an independent

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body which should be given the power to manage its own affairs without undue supervision from the Secretary of State. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: I am afraid that I must resist these amendments. Although we intend that the GTC will eventually become self-funding, initially the GTC will be in receipt of significant public funds. The Secretary of State must be accountable for these funds. It is right, therefore, that his consent should be sought on the financial arrangements for staff and members.

The GTC will be a public body. The provisions here governing its employees' terms of employment, pensions and other expenses are, as they should be, in accordance with rules which apply across the public sector. These rules are designed to safeguard the efficient and proper use of public money. They provide also for proper accountability to Parliament. There may be scope, when the GTC becomes self-financing and its systems of financial control have bedded in, for seeing whether some of these safeguards might be relaxed.

However, I do not envisage a circumstance where the Secretary of State will be in disagreement with the GTC, its members and staff about the pension arrangements. The involvement of Ministers in pensions allows GTC staff to become members of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme, which is widely recognised as an excellent pension scheme. The provision also ensures that if the council wishes to make other arrangements, they should not be excessively generous to the detriment of teachers paying the registration fee; and they should not generate future liabilities which some might then expect a future government to underwrite.

Amendment No. 21, which is part of this batch of amendments, has not been mentioned. There would be great practical advantage in having a chief officer in place as early as possible to oversee the full establishment of the council. We are in favour of the Secretary of State appointing the first chief officer. All subsequent appointments would be a matter for the council. For those reasons, I must resist this group of amendments.

Lord Tope: In view of our earlier debates, I cannot say that I am surprised that the Government are resisting these amendments. I regret it, but on this occasion I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 20 to 25 not moved.]

Baroness Maddock moved Amendment No. 26:

Page 26, line 2, leave out ("The Secretary of State may") and insert ("Parliament may authorise the Secretary of State to").

The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 26 is very much in line with the sentiment expressed many times in the Committee today that Parliament should regulate the actions and powers of Ministers. I am grateful to the noble Lord who has just made it quite clear that the Minister will be responsible for significant funds and that he should be properly accountable to Parliament. If so, perhaps the Government should accept this

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amendment this evening. However, I do not believe that I shall have any better luck than others this evening. This is a serious point. Unless there are sufficient funds to enable the general teaching council to operate properly it will not be able to do what we want it to do. If we have a government that is minded to cut off the funds available to the general teaching council--if I may dare to suggest it--that body will not be able to operate. It is important that it has sufficient funds with which to operate. At the same time, I and my noble friends believe that this matter should be scrutinised by Parliament and that the Minister should not be given carte blanche. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: The effect of this amendment is a little unclear. It suggests that the Secretary of State would be required to obtain the consent of Parliament. It does not set out the form of that consent or its frequency. I note from the comments of the noble Baroness that she has shifted the goal posts from the immediate period when there is funding by the Secretary of State to a period when the GTC will be funded solely by registration fees, although it is possible that the Secretary of State may still wish to make specific payment to that body, possibly by way of contract, to fund research projects or similar activities to aid policy making. I do not believe that it is an appropriate use of parliamentary time for us to debate such specific grants which may be in operation at that second stage. That practice would also reduce the capacity of the Secretary of State to judge the relative needs of the GTC against other claims on resources in the educational area.

The accounts of the GTC, including any grants that it has received, must be published and will be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor-General. Therefore, Parliament will be able to scrutinise and comment upon the level of grants made to the GTC. In accordance with the normal practice, the GTC will also be expected to produce an annual report which will give a rounded picture of its activities in each year. The GTC has built-in accountability for its funds. I therefore resist the amendment and ask the noble Baroness to withdraw it.

Baroness Maddock: I thank the noble Lord for his full answer. In view of the commitment that he has given, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.45 p.m.

Baroness Maddock moved Amendment No. 27:

Page 26, line 8, at end insert--
("( ) The Council shall establish a committee to advise the Secretary of State on matters related to teacher training, and shall ensure that--
(a) the committee's membership is at least half comprised of qualified teachers or those providing teacher training; and
(b) the Secretary of State is advised of any recommendation made by that committee in relation to the provision of teacher training.").

The noble Baroness said: I beg to move Amendment No. 27 and speak also to the other amendments in this group. Amendment No. 27 requires the general teaching council to set up a separate teacher training committee

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to discharge its responsibilities in that area. The amendment ensures that the committee has the necessary expertise in teacher training. In its current state the Bill envisages the general teaching council having an extremely limited range of functions, in particular in relation to teacher education and training. If the general teaching council is to operate effectively and be the voice of teachers it must have a central role in influencing the standards of that profession, especially the training of teachers and in-service teacher training. A separate teacher training committee which reports to the council will be able to focus its attention on these matters. I believe that it will provide a great deal of scope for involving teachers in their training and in preparing advice to the council and Secretary of State.

The remaining amendments in this group deal with other important matters, such as recruitment, teacher support and the professional development of teachers throughout their careers. Amendment No. 29 is an important matter because it adds to the independence of the general teaching council. It enables the council to take the initiative in offering advice and allows it to choose who receives its advice. We believe that the general teaching council should be an independent body. It is important that it can advise Ofsted and whatever teacher training agency there may be; or it may be that it needs to advise a local education authority. As the Bill stands at the moment, the present or any future Secretary of State for Education can tie the hands of the general teaching council and restrict its influence in this area. I hope that the Minister will look favourably upon this amendment so that, even if we do not get something on the face of the Bill tonight, this matter will be looked at carefully.

Amendment No. 31 is concerned with support and recruitment. The problem of recruiting teachers was raised earlier today during Questions. There was some discussion, not agreement, about whether the recent advertisements had been successful. It is important that we bring teachers into the debate and give them the ability to help with recruitment and supply. At the moment there are great concerns within the teaching profession about this matter. The general teaching council needs a key role in promoting the profession and encouraging suitably qualified people to enter it. I believe that if accepted this amendment would achieve that. In the past there have been problems about forecasting how many teachers are required and about supply targets. When I entered teaching many years ago there was an incredible influx of teachers. I believe that we are still suffering from certain things that we did wrong at that time. To have a wider group of people in charge of looking at the number of teachers to be recruited may avoid some of the events of the past.

Amendment No. 32 is also concerned with the advisory role of the GTC and deals more specifically with recruitment targets and adds to the other amendment to which I spoke previously.

As regards Amendment No. 34, here we request that the general teaching council looks more carefully not just at recruitment but at the career development of teachers. This area has been neglected in the past and it has given rise to difficulty in schools. If teachers are

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missing from schools because they are on courses or are undergoing training in the present climate it is difficult for those schools to have others standing in their place. I believe that this could be dealt with very effectively by teachers working with the Government through the general teaching council.

Referring to Amendments Nos. 35 to 37, this is a rather long list. Despite pressures, we have resisted adding further to it. As the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, has said, we have been inundated with information about how teachers want the general teaching council to be set up. We have resisted as much as we can. I am seeking to deal with them as quickly as possible because they are fairly self-explanatory. These amendments spell out other areas in which the general teaching council should have its say. It is vital that it has the authority to publish what it says, and in part that is what these amendments are about. Curiously, Clause 7(3) provides similar powers to the general teaching council for Wales. I shall be interested to hear the reply of the Minister. Do the Government intend to end the situation in Wales or will the situation change here? I hope that she will clarify the position when she replies to these amendments.

The grounds for suspending or dismissing teachers constitute an important matter with which teachers should be involved through the GTC. We have had many changes in recent years. The Government have said that they want to change what is happening in education. The fact that we are discussing tonight a Bill which many people have described as a skeleton without any flesh, and that consultation is going on while we are discussing it, shows that the Government themselves recognise that there will be a great deal of change in education. For that reason, it is important that the GTC is set up properly so that it can enable everything that we all want to take place in education to happen properly.

I shall not detain the Committee any longer. As I said, many of the amendments are self-explanatory. They relate to important matters that many people outside this place--not just myself and my noble friends on these Benches--want to see in the legislation. Teachers, in particular, want to see them. I beg to move.

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