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Baroness Blatch: I thank the noble Lord for the sympathetic way in which he explained the amendment, but also for agreeing that it would be helpful to have advance explanatory memorandums of the amendments.

I want to ask a question in relation to the reference to the "opinion of the committee" in the final paragraph of Amendment No. 116. Is that a formal statement? Is the "opinion of the committee" a formal definition? In which case, should not it be upper case "o" in its reference? Does that mean a decision taken by a committee that is a unanimous view or is it an en passant opinion? In other words, is it an informal view that at a particular point in time the committee thinks "X" or "Y"? It would helpful to know exactly the status of the "opinion of the committee".

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: We intend that it should refer to an informal opinion and that indeed was the thrust of my example of a committee expressing an

1 Jun 1998 : Column 135

opinion that two proposals were linked and needed to be considered together. In those circumstances capital letters are not appropriate.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendments Nos. 117 to 122A:


Page 120, line 16, leave out from ("If") to ("they") in line 17 and insert ("the committee--
(a) have voted on any matter which (in accordance with regulations under paragraph 5 of Schedule 4) falls to be decided by them under this paragraph by a unanimous decision, but
(b) have failed to reach such a decision on that matter,").
Page 120, line 19, at end insert ("(4A) or").
Page 121, line 40, leave out ("that sub-paragraph") and insert ("sub-paragraph (1)(a) or (b)").
Page 121, line 43, at end insert--
("(4A) If--
(a) by the end of such period as may be specified in or determined in accordance with regulations, the committee have not voted on any matter falling to be decided by them under this paragraph, and
(b) the body or promoters who published the proposals referred to in sub-paragraph (1)(a) or (b) request the committee to refer that matter to the adjudicator,
they shall refer that matter to the adjudicator.").
Page 121, line 44, leave out from ("If") to ("they") in line 45 and insert ("the committee--
(a) have voted on any matter which (in accordance with regulations under paragraph 5 of Schedule 4) falls to be decided by them under this paragraph by a unanimous decision, but
(b) have failed to reach such a decision on that matter,").
Page 121, line 47, at end insert ("under sub-paragraph (4A) or (5)").
Page 125, line 21, leave out first ("special school").

The noble Lord said: With the leave of the Committee I should like to move Amendments Nos. 117 to 122A en bloc. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 123:


Page 125, line 38, leave out ("or buildings (or both)").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 123, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 124 to 126. These amendments correct an error in the original draft. They amend provisions which in some cases put local education authorities under a duty to provide new buildings for foundation, voluntary controlled or foundation special schools on land owned by the school's trustees or governing or foundation body.

The drafting in the Bill provides for the buildings, if that is the case, to be transferred to the trustees. But that is not necessary because the land owner will own the buildings by virtue of owning the land on which they are built. There is therefore no need for the local education authority to convey its interest in the new buildings and the amendments remove that unnecessary duty. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

1 Jun 1998 : Column 136

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendments Nos. 124 to 128:


Page 125, line 40, leave out ("or buildings (or both)").
Page 125, line 42, leave out ("or buildings (or both)").
Page 125, line 42, leave out ("(in the case of a site) their interest").
Page 128, line 19, leave out ("are unable to reach a") and insert ("have failed to reach a unanimous").
Page 128, line 23, after ("paragraph") insert ("3 or").

The noble Lord said: With the leave of the Committee I shall move Amendments Nos. 124 to 128 en bloc. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 129:


Page 128, line 30, at end insert--
(""make", in relation to a transitional exemption order, includes (so far as the context permits) vary or revoke,").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 129 I shall speak also to Amendment No. 138. These amendments clarify the provisions relating to transitional exemption orders under the Sex Discrimination Act. They will ensure that school organisation committees have the powers to vary or revoke orders where that is necessary. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch: I should like a more elaborate explanation of this amendment. It says that an organisation committee can vary or revoke orders and that sounds as though a fairly extensive power is being handed to the committees. I should like some examples of exactly what is meant, and the extent of those powers.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: We are of course referring to transitional arrangements. They are nothing like as threatening as they sound. They are traditional exemption orders under the Sex Discrimination Act. At the moment the Bill says that the school organisation committee may make such exemption orders, but it may be appropriate to vary or revoke them rather than to just make them.

Perhaps I may give the example that the noble Baroness seeks. It could happen when a single-sex school wishes to become a mixed school. It will enable it to refuse entry to pupils of one sex in years higher up the school which are otherwise entirely of the other sex. The introduction of mixed-sex education could be allowed progressively through the school which I understand to be quite a common occurrence, rather than it having to be introduced all at one time. If the orders were not made in this way schools would be obliged to accept pupils of one sex into a year otherwise composed entirely of the other sex.

Transitional exemption orders may need to be amended if the associated proposals are amended or revoked. The amendments that we are proposing will ensure that school organisation committees will be able to amend or revoke the orders and therefore operate the system satisfactorily. I hope that the noble Baroness will agree that that will make the local decision-making system more efficient and responsive to local needs.

1 Jun 1998 : Column 137

11.30 p.m.

Baroness Blatch: I shall have to let this pass and read what the noble Lord has said because I still do not understand his explanation. What I am not sure about is whether the school organisation committee is doing something which is simply technical as a school moves either of its own volition or by agreed proposals. In other words, the school organisation committee is not doing something which may be inconsistent with the wishes of the school or the parents. When the noble Lord speaks of varying or revoking an order, under what authority is that being done? Is it being done under its own authority as opposed to doing it through agreed proposals with the agreement of the school concerned?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Certainly the examples that I have given are of the agreed proposals where a school wishes to make a change in its character in the way described and needs the school organisation committee to give it transitional exemption under the Sex Discrimination Act. But if there are examples where there could be conflict between the views of the school organisation committee and the individual school, which is what I believe the noble Baroness fears, then I shall write to her on that point. I hope she will agree that silence indicates that there are no such examples.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 6, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 31 [Direction requiring discontinuance of community or foundation special school]:

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 129A:


Page 30, line 10, leave out ("special school").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 31, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 32 and 33 agreed to.

Schedule 7 [Rationalisation of school places]:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendments Nos. 130 to 138:


Page 130, line 47, leave out ("3(5)") and insert ("3").
Page 130, line 47, leave out ("8(2)(c)") and insert ("8").
Page 132, line 37, at end insert ("under sub-paragraph (4A) or (4B)").
Page 132, line 44, at end insert--
("(4A) If--
(a) by the end of such period as may be specified in or determined in accordance with regulations, the committee have not voted on the question whether to give any approval under this paragraph, and
(b) the Secretary of State requests the committee to refer his proposals to the adjudicator,
they shall refer his proposals to the adjudicator.
(4B) If the committee--
(a) have voted on any matter which (in accordance with regulations under paragraph 5 of Schedule 4) falls to be decided by them under this paragraph by a unanimous decision but have failed to reach such a decision on that matter, or
(b) have decided not to give any approval under this paragraph,
they shall refer the Secretary of State's proposals to the adjudicator.").

1 Jun 1998 : Column 138

Page 132, line 46, leave out ("(2)(c)") and insert ("(4A) or (4B)").
Page 133, line 9, leave out ("(2)(c)") and insert ("(4A) or (4B)").
Page 133, line 25, leave out ("8(2)(c)") and insert ("8(4A) or (4B)").
Page 135, line 48, leave out ("are unable to reach a") and insert ("have failed to reach a unanimous").
Page 136, line 9, at end insert--
(""make", in relation to a transitional exemption order, includes (so far as the context permits) vary or revoke,").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 7, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 34 [School changing from one category to another]:


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