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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The noble Lord fails to recognise that this is a permissive clause. In other words, it only happens to the extent that the local education authority may determine. If the local education authority so determines, Schedule 16--for community, voluntary controlled and community special schools--and Schedule 17--for foundation, voluntary aided and foundation special schools--apply in relation to persons employed to work solely or partly for the purpose of non-school activities. Thus, either the governing body is able to manage all the staff who work on the school premises or, where appropriate, the local authority can take responsibility for staff engaged in non-school activities.

This is not new. The clause appears in similar form in Section 140 of the Education Act 1996--the consolidation Act--and it dates back to the introduction of Local Management of Schools by the noble Lord's own government in the Education Reform Act 1988.

What we want to do is ensure that non-school activities can take place in schools and that there is a legal framework in which that can happen. It does not have to be imposed if the local education authority does not so determine. But schools have found that where they want to encourage non-school activities on school premises it is helpful to have this kind of provision. It should not be a controversial clause at all. It represents a commonsense approach to dealing with responsibility for staffing at those schools where non-school activities take place.

The school of which I was chair of governors for many years called itself a community school. We prided ourselves in Drayton School in Tottenham on the number of out-of-school activities that took place. Some of them had teachers from the school; some of them had people from community groups outside; a lot of them had adults squeezed into children's desks. But the school was an active place right up into the evening. I am sure the noble Lord shares my enthusiasm for that kind of activity. But it is for the comfort of governing bodies and for the security of those involved that we should have this approach to responsibility for staffing. If the clause were not in the Bill it would introduce an element of confusion over the organisation of these activities and take away a sensible mechanism for organising the staffing of these important community services. I beg the noble Lord not to try to take it out of the Bill.

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: I accept what the noble Lord has said. I have the advantage over him that I was not responsible for the policies of the previous government as he was for the policies of the Opposition. The Bill is being introduced by a new Government, a Government who are prepared, so I am told, to look at history with a new eye, but who are not prepared to question the restrictions of the past. I accept the noble Lord's point that, legally, most likely in terms of

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insurance, this is possibly necessary. But the thrust of the Bill ought to be to hand the governors, the headmaster and the staff responsibility for these matters. The Government have avoided doing it. They have surrounded these schools with the same restrictions that existed historically--in particular, the shackles of local authority control--which makes it rather hard to do the kind of things the noble Lord wants. In various parts of the country some schools have found it hard to do this. Some local authorities have worried about the structure of the buildings.

All these amendments rest on the governors and the headmaster carrying responsibility and the local authority recognising that they are able to enter into insurance arrangements and so on. Unless we achieve that level of responsibility, we will never get English schools right.

I accept the noble Lord's point. I raise my point about giving responsibility to schools which I do not think this Bill does. That is why I have tabled these amendments. Fundamentally, this Government or a subsequent government, will have to do that if English education is to be put right. The same factors as made the Minister a success in business will also make headmasters successful in state schools. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 55, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 56 [Payments in respect of dismissal, etc.]:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 176H:

Page 45, line 8, leave out ("or by virtue of section 48(2) or (4)").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 56, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 57 agreed to.

Clause 58 [Staff at community, secular foundation or voluntary, or special school]:

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 177:

Page 46, line 18, leave out ("religious opinions") and insert ("opinions as to religion").

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment I shall speak at the same time to Amendment No. 181. Amendment No. 177 questions the wording of Clause 58(2). At the moment it says,

    "No person shall be disqualified by reason of his religious opinions",

which one might conveniently translate into "religious convictions". There are some comfortable religions in this House and many which are not. Some people's religious convictions may amount to things that one does not want to have in a school and quite reasonably so. I propose to change the wording to "opinions as to religion"--in other words, seeking to mean that the person cannot be disqualified because of his opinions about religion. But opinions may also involve doing nasty things to children in a ceremonial sort of way; for example, at the moment a devil worshipper, according to the way in which things are written at the moment, could get in under this clause. If one can change the wording to make sure that the opinions are about

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religion rather than the nature of the opinions themselves, which are exempt from disqualification, then it will be a safer clause to have in the Bill.

Amendment No. 181 turns to the last line on page 46 of the Bill. I find it an astonishing concept. We are here legislating to make sure that a teacher of religious education in a religious school should not be paid less because he teaches religious education. I find it astonishing that it should be necessary to legislate for that. Perhaps the right reverend Prelate can enlighten us as to whether someone teaching religion in a Church of England school would or could be paid less because he did that. I have not bothered to delete the following line where he could be paid less because he attends church. I find it an astonishing concept. I would like the noble Lord to explain. I beg to move.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: We accept Amendment No. 177 in principle. There is a question about how to catch all shades of opinion, including those people who have no opinion at all on matters religious. I do not accept that "opinion" means the same as "conviction", but I do not believe that that is essential to the argument. We shall look into this rather than accepting the amendment now. There may be consequential changes. If appropriate, I shall invite the noble Lord to bring forward an amendment at Report stage which we can accept.

I now turn to Amendments Nos. 177A, 178A and 179A, which update and clarify the current safeguards of church schools allowing them to employ teachers with a commitment to the religious ethos of such schools. Government Amendment No. 179A provides for voluntary-aided schools to give preference, in connection with the appointment, remuneration or promotion of teachers to persons whose religious opinions are in accordance with the tenets of the religion or religious denomination specified in relation to the school; or who attend religious worship in accordance with those tenets; or who give, or are willing to give, religious education at the school in accordance with those tenets. Regard may also be had, in connection with the termination of the employment of any teacher at the school, to any conduct which is incompatible with the precepts, or with the upholding of the tenets, of the specified religion or religious denomination of the school.

Government Amendments Nos. 177A and 178A provide a discretion for foundation and voluntary controlled schools with a religious character to have regard to a person's ability and fitness to preserve and develop the religious character of the school in connection with the appointment of any such person as head teacher. The amendments will ensure that Church schools will be able to continue to preserve their religious character and ethos through the discretions that they exercise in employing teachers who support that character and ethos. I commend the amendments to the Committee.

Perhaps I may respond finally to Amendment No. 181, to which the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, referred. I remind the noble Lord that line 42 of Clause 59 refers not only to the question of remuneration but also to

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deprivation of, or disqualification from, any promotion or other advantage. The provision is a good deal wider than the noble Lord suggested. I submit that line 42 fits well into the clause as drafted and with the amendments to this clause to which I have spoken. I hope that the noble Lord will not seek later to press his amendment.

10.15 p.m.

Lord Lucas: I see with relief that Amendment No. 179A deletes the offending subsection, so I take it that that is no longer at issue.

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