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Baroness Blatch: The subsection does not name the appointed day, it simply states that the power to do so shall rest with the Secretary of State. Nowhere in this Bill does it say that the moratorium will be one, two, three or four years. I would like to have confirmed yet again the precise date that the Secretary of State intends to put into regulations for the commencement of the new framework, and also to have it put on record that it shall be one year after that date that local authorities will be free to make a choice.

Can the noble Lord point to anywhere in my amendments where local authorities have positively to make any decision or choice whatsoever? If on day one they carry on as now and they do not think positively about anything and take no action, such inaction is entirely acceptable under my amendments. Action or inaction is acceptable. Local authorities do not have to make a choice, unless I am misreading my own amendments. I ask the Minister to point to where in my amendments a choice has to be made.

Lord Whitty: I thought I had made the point that a passive choice is a choice, as in many things in life. They have to have made that choice before the framework comes in or not challenge the framework. That would have to apply to 23,000 schools which the authorities would have to assign to one category or the other rather than the automatic assignment to community schools which applies under our proposals.

As regards the date, if we ever finish this Bill, the date proposed by the Secretary of State for the commencement of the framework will be September 1999. It is the intention under Clause 34(2) to specify that the moratorium before which community schools can propose changes will be one year. That would be provided in regulations under that clause.

Baroness Blatch: This is positively my final question. Will that include all community schools?

Lord Whitty: I am not quite sure what lies behind that question. All community schools would be able

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to propose a change from that point or from any subsequent point. It does not mean that at that point all 23,000 schools would have to make a decision.

Baroness Blatch: I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 83A to 90A not moved.]

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Clause 21 [Kinds of foundation and voluntary schools and types of foundations]:

[Amendments Nos. 90B to 90D not moved.]

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 90E:


Page 20, line 11, at end insert--
("(aa) with respect to the revision or replacement of the instruments of government of schools joining or leaving the group in such circumstances and the reconstitution of their governing bodies;").

The noble Baroness said: The Government have considered what the report of the Select Committee on Delegated Powers says on Clause 21(7). We accept that the scope of this clause needs to be narrowed and have brought forward Amendments Nos. 90E and 91A to address fully the concerns raised by the committee.

Clause 21 enables the Secretary of State to make regulations governing the establishment, membership, functions and winding up of group foundations. As it stands, subsection (7) enables those regulations to apply or modify any part of the Bill for those purposes.

Subsection (7) was intended to make it possible to do three things for schools joining and leaving group foundations. First, to enable the Education Transfer Counsel to help with land transfers; secondly, to apply the provisions of Schedule 21 to such transfers. Schedule 21 sets out rules for land transfers, but it applies only to transfers made when the new framework is implemented. Ongoing provision for transfers linked to group foundations will be needed. Thirdly, it was intended to deal with changes in instruments of government and reconstitution of governing bodies.

We have thought very carefully about these three functions in the light of the committee's comments. We have concluded that the first two could be dealt with in other ways and that the provision required to deal with governance could be much more specific.

I will be proposing a new schedule to the Bill, dealing with the functions of the education transfer council. Among other things, this will enable the council to help with land transfers for schools joining or leaving group foundations. As for the rules applying to land transfers, the regulations made under Clause 21 will provide for those directly by including provisions based on the relevant parts of Schedule 21.

This leaves governance. Amendment No. 291 adds a new paragraph to subsection (6) of Clause 21. This enables the regulations to provide for changes to

19 May 1998 : Column 1633

instruments of government and the reconstitution of governing bodies where schools join or leave a group foundation.

Amendment No. 294 removes the present subsection (7) and replaces it with a much narrower provision relating to a single paragraph of Schedule 12--

Baroness Blatch: I am grateful to the Minister, but those amendments are not in this group. As far as I know, we are dealing only with Amendments Nos. 90E, 91 and 91A. At this hour of the morning it seems inappropriate for the Minister to introduce many other amendments that we have not even considered.

Baroness Blackstone: I accept what the noble Baroness says. Unfortunately, my speaking note seems to have gone beyond the grouped amendments I believe that the amendments to which I have spoken meet the Select Committee's concerns about subsection (7). In doing that, they cover the same ground as Amendment No. 194, which has been proposed by the noble Baroness, so I hope that she will feel able to withdraw that amendment. Once again, I apologise for speaking to amendments which are not in this group. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch: I am grateful to the Minister for the efforts made by the department to respond to the scrutiny committee's report. My copy of the Bill now resembles a Damien Hirst exhibit for an art exhibition. I have tried to make sense of the amendments that have been tabled to this part of the Bill in response to the committee's report. I do not know what was intended by officials when they designed the note without giving us the benefit of knowing that the Minister would speak also to other amendments. I accept the Minister's apology, but it is now difficult for us to make sense of the limited amendments in this group, Amendments Nos. 90E, 91 and 91A.

I turn now to the proposals by which I am unnerved and about which I should like to think a little more. I refer to the Secretary of State's powers and functions in relation to modifying, changing or amending the instruments of government. I do not quite know the implications behind that suggestion. I am concerned about instruments of government, to which we shall come later. I am particularly concerned about the idea of having model instruments and articles for all schools. Different schools will have different requirements and will need tailor-made instruments. I am not sure whether this provision cuts across that. I shall need to concentrate on that point a little more. Unlike the other very large group of amendments--we have yet to learn what they mean--I shall not object if the Minister moves her amendments and they are accepted on the face of the Bill as long as the Minister accepts that I may well have to return to this and possibly table an amendment at a later stage.

3 a.m.

Baroness Blackstone: The intervention of the noble Baroness is helpful. The problem is that the amendments

19 May 1998 : Column 1634

in my speaking note are wrongly numbered. To return to instruments of government, Amendment No. 90E adds a new paragraph to subsection (6) of Clause 21. This enables the regulations to provide for changes to instruments of government and the reconstitution of governing bodies where schools join or leave the group foundation. Amendment No. 91A removes the present subsection (7) and replaces it with a much narrower provision relating to a single paragraph of Schedule 12. This is needed to allow a revised instrument of government to be made before a school joins or leaves the group foundation so that changes to the governing body can be arranged in advance. The previous instrument of government would continue to determine the composition of the governing body until the date of the change. That would be incompatible with paragraph 1 of Schedule 12--hence the need for regulations which could modify that paragraph in relation to instruments of government.

I believe that these amendments meet the concerns of the committee, but in view of the muddle I shall understand if the noble Baroness wishes at a later stage to return to her amendment. But I believe that when the noble Baroness has a chance to study this matter she will discover that we have fully met the suggestions of the committee and that what we put forward is in line with her amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 90F and 90G not moved.]

Baroness Blatch had given notice of her intention to move Amendment No. 91:


Page 20, line 30, leave out subsection (7).

The noble Baroness said: I believe that Amendment No. 91 is subsumed in Amendment No. 91A.

[Amendment No. 91 not moved.]

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 91A:


Page 20, line 30, leave out subsection (7) and insert--
("(7) Regulations made in pursuance of subsection (6)(aa) may, in connection with the making or variation of instruments of government in preparation for schools joining or leaving the group, modify paragraph 1 of Schedule 12 in its operation in relation to such instruments of government.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 91B not moved.]

Clause 21, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 22 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 91C not moved.]

Schedule 3 [Funding of foundation, voluntary and foundation special schools]:


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