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Division No. 1


Annaly, L.
Ashbourne, L.
Baker of Dorking, L.
Belstead, L.
Blatch, B.
Bridgeman, V.
Butterworth, L.
Byford, B. [Teller.]
Cadman, L.
Caithness, E.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chesham, L.
Coleridge, L.
Cross, V.
Dundonald, E.
Elton, L.
Gray of Contin, L.
Greenway, L.
Harlech, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Inglewood, L.
Keyes, L.
Lauderdale, E.
Lucas, L.
Lucas of Chilworth, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
McConnell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mancroft, L.
Marlesford, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mountevans, L.
Naseby, L.
Noel-Buxton, L.
Northesk, E.
Oxfuird, V.
Palmer, L.
Patten, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Rankeillour, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Seccombe, B. [Teller.]
Selkirk of Douglas, L.
Sharples, B.
Skidelsky, L.
Stanley of Alderley, L.
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Swinfen, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Trenchard, V.
Young, B.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Borrie, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Callaghan of Cardiff, L.
Carlisle, E.
Carter, L. [Teller.]
Darcy de Knayth, B.
David, B.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Beswick, L.
Dearing, L.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Eatwell, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gallacher, L.
Geraint, L.
Gilbert, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grantchester, L.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hampton, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hardie, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollick, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Islwyn, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Kilbracken, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Kirkwood, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Lovell-Davis, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L [Teller.]
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNair, L.
Maddock, B.
Mallalieu, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mishcon, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Montague of Oxford, L.
Orme, L.
Parry, L.
Perry of Walton, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Prys-Davies, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Razzall, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Rix, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Sandberg, L.
Sefton of Garston, L.
Serota, B.
Sewel, L.
Shannon, E.
Shepherd, L.
Simon, V.
Slim, V.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Tope, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Varley, L.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Weatherill, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whaddon, L.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

19 May 1998 : Column 1507

7.8 p.m.

[Amendments Nos. 39 and 40 not moved.]

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 [Approval, modification and review of statement of proposals]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 41:

Page 5, line 9, after ("shall") insert ("publish it and").

The noble Lord said: With this amendment I wish to speak to Amendments Nos. 42, 43 and 44. It is a loose group of fairly minor amendments. Amendment No. 41 suggests that when the local authority sends an education development plan to the Secretary of State, at that point it should become a public document. The public should not have to wait until the Secretary of State has had his say before knowing what the local education authority proposes. They should have it in front of them, as the Secretary of State has it in front of him or her. The public should therefore not find themselves in the position where the plan has gone through all the approval procedures and has been set in concrete before the public have a chance to chirp up and say what they think about it. It would be advantageous to the progress of democracy and the production of a plan which will command local support generally if it is made available at that stage. I am not suggesting that it should be published in the thousands and sent round

19 May 1998 : Column 1508

to everybody. However, it should be made available. A couple of copies could be sent to local newspapers and copies made available in council offices. Something on those lines would be useful so that people pick up what is going on if they wish.

Amendment No. 42 deals with the position where a local authority has taken advantage of this part of the section to propose modifications to the plan. There is nothing in the Bill as it stands which limits the extent of the modifications and they could be extremely wide-ranging. Amendment No. 42 simply suggests that the local education authority should consult such persons as it considers appropriate. Therefore, if consultation is appropriate, it should be undertaken. At the moment there is no requirement whatever for consultation, however wide-ranging the modifications may be.

Amendments Nos. 43 and 44 are probably unnecessary, but it seemed to me that the plan should be provided to anybody who asks for it and not just to a prescribed list of people who are entitled to have it. I doubt the accuracy of my drafting, but that is the intention behind the amendment. I beg to move.

Lord Tope: It is perhaps time I joined the debate and I start by embarrassing the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, by saying that I agree with everything he said, including his comments in relation to his drafting on Amendments Nos. 43 and 44.

The intentions behind the amendments are obviously right and I am sure that they will be fulfilled. I was considering under what circumstances it may be possible for a local education authority to produce an education development plan and not publish it. At some stage it will be approved by the education committee. That alone will make it a public document. I cannot conceive of an LEA refusing to allow people to see it, so I am sure that it will be published. It certainly should be published and I cannot conceive of circumstances under which that would not happen.

Amendment No. 42 refers to the consultation, and of course that is right. Again, I cannot envisage circumstances under which that would not happen anyway. I wonder--it is for the Minister to reply and not for me--whether it is necessary for the amendment to be on the face of the Bill.

The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, was rightly a little bit more uncertain about Amendments Nos. 43 and 44, but again I agree with their intention. It is of course right that everyone who wishes to have a copy of either the summary or the full plan should have it. I would have thought--I am not a legal expert--given that it is a local authority document, people will be entitled to obtain copies under the access to information Act anyway.

On those grounds, though I support entirely what the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, said, and the intentions behind the amendments, I suspect that the Minister is about to tell us that they are unnecessary. On this occasion, if that is what we are told, I have to say that I agree.

19 May 1998 : Column 1509

7.15 p.m.

Baroness Blackstone: The noble Lord, Lord Tope, answered the point for me; there does not remain much more for me to say.

Amendment No. 41 would require LEAs, having consulted on and prepared their education development plans, to publish them prior to submitting them to the Secretary of State for his approval. I fear that the likely consequence of this amendment would be to add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy, something that I am sure cannot have been intended by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas.

The LEAs will have agreed performance targets with schools and consulted schools and others on the means by which they propose to help them meet those targets. Everything necessary for the Secretary of State to consider the EDP should have been done. Publication at that stage, however, would be a tacit, but misleading, invitation for further comment. Yet any comments offered at that point would not only be superfluous but would lack the detailed significance of the direct exchange of views that would have occurred during the actual consultation period.

Amendment No. 42 concerns an EDP which has been approved by the Secretary of State but which the LEA in question wishes to modify. Clause 7 of the Bill already makes provision for LEAs to seek such modifications. The amendment would require an LEA seeking a modification first to undertake consultation with appropriate persons.

The noble Lord's amendment raises the issue of whether modifications to EDPs should always involve re-consultation between the LEA and relevant bodies or whether there are circumstances, as currently envisaged in the Bill, when the nature and circumstances of the modification sought makes further consultation unnecessary. In the latter case, to require re-consultation as a matter of course might on occasion introduce a gratuitous element of bureaucratic delay that I have no doubt the noble Lord would not wish to see.

Amendments Nos. 43 and 44 may be considered together. Their joint effect is to require LEAs to provide copies of their approved education development plans, or copies of summaries of their plans, or copies of both, to any persons who request them. The draft guidance on EDPs--on which we recently completed consultation with LEAs and others--provides details of the proposed publication arrangements and those will in due course be set out in regulations.

The draft guidance proposes that LEAs should provide a full version or, where appropriate, a summary of the approved EDP, on request and without charge, to a range of bodies including head teachers and chairs of governing bodies of their schools, the diocesan bodies, local training and enterprise councils, and the regional committee of the Further Education Funding Council. The EDP must also be provided, at a price no greater than the cost of production, to anyone else requesting it. Furthermore, to ensure that approved EDPs are made fully accessible, LEAs will be required to place copies of their EDPs in local libraries, to send copies to the local press, to place them on the Internet and to

19 May 1998 : Column 1510

publicise them through media used to disseminate information about council services along the lines referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Tope. Regulations will formalise the contents of the draft guidance on that as well as other points concerning EDPs.

Given that, I do not believe that this amendment would add significantly to existing provisions to ensure that EDPs are widely available to those who need or wish to have access to them. Like the noble Lord, Lord Tope, I am in full agreement with the intention of the amendment to see that access to EDPs is maximised; I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, will agree with me that what is already proposed in this connection will lead to that outcome while avoiding the possibility that some authorities will find themselves unnecessarily burdened in having to distribute an unspecified number of EDPs.

In light of the reasons I have given, I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw his amendments.

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