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Lord Tope: My Lords, I join in the gratitude and praise that are being heaped upon the Minister this afternoon. Like the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, I believe we have had a positive start to these proceedings. That is a welcome change from what occurred earlier in the week. I welcome what the Minister had to say with reference to her Amendment No. 6 and my Amendment No. 4, which I shall not move in view of what she has said. She has recognised that there is a difference between the phrase, "not less than half" and the phrase, "a majority". That may be a semantic difference in some respects, but it is not necessarily so. The phrase, "not less than half" means what it says. If we are talking about half the council, and the chair has the casting vote, that is not a majority. Therefore I believe that there is an important difference between the two phrases. I certainly would have pressed Amendment No. 4 if the Minister had not said that the Government intend the majority membership of the GTC to comprise teachers, and that an amendment will be forthcoming at Third Reading. As I have said, in the light of that assurance I shall not move my amendment.
I echo the wise words of the noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant, on the time that people can spare. However, the only reservation I have is that the experience of those teachers who may no longer be employed as teachers needs to be relatively recent. As we all know, it is a fast-changing world, not least in schools, and experience can rapidly become out of date. I am sure that when the Minister frames the amendment on Third Reading she will bear that in mind. I repeat that I shall not move my Amendment No. 4. That seems to be something I am saying too often this week.
I turn to the other amendments we are discussing. The noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, may speak again in a moment, but I understood him to say that he was not proposing that pupils themselves should be members of the GTC, nor indeed parents of pupils, which might possibly be more practicable, but rather that their interests should be recognised. I believe that is not quite what the amendment states. However, the intention of the amendment is one that we wholeheartedly support, as I believe does the Minister. Perhaps a further amendment could be framed more accurately to reflect that interest.
That is an important matter for my party and the Minister's amendment is welcome. I am pleased that the Minister has included that matter on the face of the Bill. I also welcome the recognition of the interests of commerce and industry. That, again, reflects part of an amendment which I and my noble friends moved in Committee. I am pleased that the Minister has recognised the importance of what we said in that regard.
As regards Amendment No. 5A, again I have a sense of the positive proceedings that have taken place this afternoon. As has already been said, it is important that we recognise the role the Churches play in providing training for teachers, and in our schools. It is important that that role is properly recognised on the GTC. I am not exactly sure how that is best done but it is important that it is done. We certainly support the amendment.
I again welcome Amendments Nos. 79 and 80. At Committee stage we made much--and I think rightly--of the unsatisfactory nature of this Bill and of how much was left to regulation. Therefore it is important that the House has an opportunity to examine and debate those regulations. I am pleased that the Minister has recognised those genuine and important concerns and has tabled these amendments at this stage.
Earl Baldwin of Bewdley: My Lords, I am in the happy position of being able to tear up my notes on Amendment No. 4, as we are not now going to have an issue over that one. I no longer need to make a number of points, but will reinforce the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Tope. I join him in saying that at least half is not quite the same thing as a majority. I am glad that the noble Baroness accepted that point, and I join the chorus of congratulations on the flexibility that she is showing on this, as in respect of Amendments Nos. 79 and 80 and affirmative resolutions. We are very grateful.
I agree with my noble friend Lord Walton of Detchant. His remarks reminded me that I was a serving teacher at a comprehensive school when I first became, technically, a Member of this House. There was not a ghostly chance of my getting time off to spend any period here. I imagine the same would be true of the general teaching council. That point ought to be borne in mind.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, my only contribution to discussion on Clause 1 in Committee was that teachers should have the majority on the council. I do not think that it is even slightly different to have it being not less than half. They will in theory control their own council and that is an important point. I am sure that the Government are doing the right thing. I am wondering whether those teachers will have to be registered teachers. It would be slightly strange if the council is controlled by people who are not on the register that they keep. That points out the anomalies in the Bill, which makes it not actually essential to be on a register to teach at a school. I understand from the Association of Head Teachers in Scotland that only teachers in state schools will have to be registered. There is a slightly awkward anomaly here that the Government ought perhaps to address.
Lord Annan: My Lords, I much agree with the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant, but there is a point to which the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, drew attention. It would be helpful if the words "religious denominations" were used rather than "Churches". I am sure that our non-conformist colleagues and those in the Society of Friends would not
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, may speak at the end. I begin by saying how grateful I am to Members of your Lordships' House who have spoken in the debate. We are moving towards a very constructive discussion.
As to Amendment No. 3A, moved by the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, the interests of parents and pupils are central to the setting up of the GTC, which is about the raising of the professional standards of teachers. We will of course consult further about the possible representation of parents on the council. In light of that, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
On Amendment No. 5, I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, for his remarks about his discussions with my honourable friend the Under-Secretary of State. There is widespread support in the House for the desirability of the council's membership reflecting persons who have knowledge and understanding of pupils with special educational needs. I am very glad that that amendment has been welcomed.
With regard to Amendment No. 5A, I will pick up the point made by the noble Lords, Lord Mishcon and Lord Annan. Of course I take the point that we are not just talking about churches but also religious denominations--religious interests, indeed--and will take that into account. I support also the remarks of the right reverend Prelate and the noble Baroness, Lady Young, about the major role that the Churches in particular but other denominations also play in the provision of education. We are absolutely committed to ensuring that the interests of the Churches are represented. We will be consulting on the membership of the council and shall listen closely to any suggestions from the Churches on how best to ensure that denominational interests are well represented.
The noble Baroness, Lady Young, thought that something ought to be on the face of the Bill, and I undertake to consider further how we could make our intentions clearer and whether an amendment might be appropriate. I think that would have to be done in another place.
The GTC will be working to raise the quality of teaching and learning in our schools for the benefit of a wide range of people. The noble Lord, Lord Walton of Detchant, was supported by the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, and the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, on the issue of whether we could ensure that some teachers on the council were recently retired. It is important that any teachers on the
The noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, referred to the importance of different types of schools--primary and secondary. I am not sure that he mentioned the nursery schools but they also should be included. We will certainly consult on how to involve different types of schools but I am reluctant to put more detail on the face of the Bill, so that we do not constrain consultation. Your Lordships will of course have the opportunity to debate the regulations before they are made.
I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Tope, for his comments about Amendment No. 4, which he intends to withdraw, and Amendment No. 6. I hope that we are able to come forward with something on which we all agree.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, with the leave of the House and before the noble Baroness sits down, she did not answer my question. I was not inquiring about retired teachers but questioning whether teachers would have to be registered.
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