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The Lord Bishop of Ripon: I rise to speak to Amendments Nos. 177A, 178A and 179A. These arise from the amendment passed in your Lordships' House to the Human Rights Bill at Third Reading. I have already expressed my thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, for the part that she played in moving that amendment and in being instrumental in having it passed in your Lordships' House. The noble Baroness is unable to be in her place at the moment, but I repeat my previous tribute.

I should like now to express my thanks to the Government for what I regard as a most generous response to the concerns which were expressed by members of the Churches in our debates on human rights. On Report, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor went to some lengths to make clear his view that appointments to Church schools should have regard to belief and practice in accordance with religious tradition. The amendment moved in your Lordships' House at Third Reading largely reflected the Lord Chancellor's words--and that amendment was passed.

I led a delegation to the Home Secretary which included members of the Roman Catholic Church and the free Churches as well as of the Church of England. The Home Secretary expressed the view that our concerns about Church schools would be properly met by an amendment introduced into this Bill. Therefore, I wrote to the Secretary of State for Education and Employment putting that point. I am delighted that the Government have accepted it. The form of the amendment was prepared in consultation with the Churches and we express ourselves completely satisfied.

Perhaps I may address Amendment No. 179A first. It refers to the appointment, remuneration, promotion and termination of employment of teachers at voluntary aided schools. It is of particular importance to us that the matters that are clarified relate not only to appointment, but also to termination. We are particularly glad that the two words "precepts" and "tenets" appear in the amendment. We take it that "precepts" refers to behaviour and that "tenets" refers to belief. The amendment clarifies what we took already to be the case; namely, that in appointing or dismissing either heads or teachers, regard could be had both to whether their behaviour was in accord with the religious tradition that the Church represented and to whether their belief was in accord with that tradition.

As to Amendments Nos. 177A and 178A, these are new provisions relating to foundation and voluntary controlled schools. Controlled schools are Church

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schools but have a different status from aided schools. The Committee is aware that the 1944 Act gave schools the choice to become aided or controlled schools. In many cases the decision was fairly haphazard. Aided schools were required to make a financial contribution to the capital costs of the buildings and have a majority of foundation governors. Aided schools had various other features. A controlled school made no financial contribution. Although foundation governors represented the religious foundation of the school they were not necessarily in the majority.

However, controlled schools are still quite clearly Church schools. In recent years there has been greater understanding on the part of such schools that they have Church status and need to pay attention to their religious character. But up to this point it has not been possible when interviewing for headships to make any kind of inquiry about a person's religious convictions or sympathy for a religious belief. A friend of mine told me that when interviewing people for the post of head he had to resort to questions such as how the candidate spent his time on Sunday mornings. This amendment means that questions can be put to establish whether a person has the ability and fitness to preserve and develop the religious character of a voluntary controlled school. We regard that as of great importance to Church schools. Therefore, I thank the Government for a most generous response to the concerns that we have expressed. We wholeheartedly support the amendment.

Baroness Byford: Perhaps the Minister can clarify whether this provision will ensure that there is no conflict between this Bill and the Human Rights Bill. This matter may have posed problems in the past. The right reverend Prelate expressed satisfaction with the amendment. However, can the Minister confirm that there will not be any conflict at any stage and that Church schools will be able to ask very direct questions? It is only right that they should be able so to do. Perhaps the Minister will enlarge upon that matter in his response.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The noble Baroness will be aware that the Government's position was that nothing in the Human Rights Bill removed the ability of Church schools to act in the way provided for in these amendments. Therefore, the conflict that she describes does not arise. I hope that she is as satisfied with these provisions as is the right reverend Prelate.

Lord Lucas: I am totally delighted and overwhelmed by the reply of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, to Amendment No. 177. It is an enormously rare privilege to have an amendment, if not quite accepted, at least approved by the Government. I am particularly delighted because it has arisen for reasons that I had not intended. I have stumbled across something where for different reasons we both agree that the amendment should be made. This is an amusing contrast to Amendment No. 181 where his speaking note appears to deny that my amendment is right whereas his amendments, Amendments Nos. 179 and 179A, clearly

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show that my amendment is right. I have won another amendment by the deletion of Amendment No. 179. However, I have not won any hearts in the DfEE in doing so. I shall chalk it up to my personal score, even if I am not allowed to acknowledge it in public. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 58 agreed to.

Clause 59 [Staff at foundation or voluntary school with religious character]:

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe): I should point out that, if Amendment No. 179A is agreed to, I cannot put Amendment No. 181.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendments Nos. 177A, 178A and 179A:

Page 46, line 33, leave out ("subsection (3)") and insert ("subsections (3) and (3A)").
Page 46, line 38, at end insert--
("(3A) In connection with the appointment of a person to be head teacher of the school (whether foundation or voluntary controlled) regard may be had to that person's ability and fitness to preserve and develop the religious character of the school.").
Page 46, line 39, leave out subsection (4) and insert--
("(4) If the school is a voluntary aided school--
(a) preference may be given, in connection with the appointment, remuneration or promotion of teachers at the school, to persons--
(i) whose religious opinions are in accordance with the tenets of the religion or religious denomination specified in relation to the school under section 66(4), or
(ii) who attend religious worship in accordance with those tenets, or
(iii) who give, or are willing to give, religious education at the school in accordance with those tenets; and
(b) regard may be had, in connection with the termination of the employment of any teacher at the school, to any conduct on his part which is incompatible with the precepts, or with the upholding of the tenets, of the religion or religious denomination so specified.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 59, as amended, agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 178, 179 and 180 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Clause 60 [Responsibility of governing body and head teacher for discipline]:

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford moved Amendment No. 181A:

Page 47, line 18, leave out ("ensure that policies designed to").

The noble Lord said: I am sorry that the noble Baroness is not here to listen to my talk on discipline. I am sorry that the Minister cannot make it late in the evening. I hope that her other engagement is equally interesting. So the noble Lords, Lord McIntosh and Lord Whitty, will have to listen to me.

Many a tree has died in vain over this. Imagine this in any other walk of life. You are appointing a head teacher, and, such is the parlous state of English education, you have to put in a Bill what he shall do. He shall promote among pupils self-discipline and a proper

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regard for authority. He shall encourage good behaviour and respect for others, and secure that the standard of behaviour of pupils is acceptable. Why, uniquely, among the professions of England does a head teacher have to be told to do his job? I do not understand why Parliament should have to put what a man should do on the face of a Bill. Is it done for trade union secretaries or directors?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The noble Lord did it in an amendment earlier on this afternoon with regard to what happens at a parents' annual meeting.

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: Oh, spiritual values!

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Yes.

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: The noble Lord does not like ideology. He must admit that this is a very different matter. I admire the noble Lord's clever tongue, but he does not get away with it. No, no, this is telling a man how to sign a letter.

Everyone knows that a school depends upon good discipline. A head teacher is judged upon whether or not he or she maintains discipline. The judgment comes from two sources. It comes from the parents, who will not send their children to the school if discipline is not kept. It comes, secondly, from inspection.

In all the amendments that I have proposed, I have said that I find that there is amazing mistrust of the education system so that one has to put on the face of a Bill what head teachers see as the essence of their exercise. All schools work well when the teachers and staff agree on a disciplinary code and the parents accept it. It can sometimes be difficult. Sometimes the parents resist some of it; sometimes there is conflict.

It is amazing that Her Majesty's Government should have such disregard for the teaching profession that they have to tell a head teacher that his job is to promote self-discipline, encourage good behaviour and secure the standard of behaviour of pupils. Are you expecting to take him to court if he does not do it? Are you going to take her to court if she does not do it? It is not necessary. Teachers have a standard of professionalism. God knows, I was part of it for long enough. The profession does not need to be told this sort of thing.

I ask the noble Baroness the Minister to tell us why she has to put on the face of a Bill what every head teacher would expect to be part of his or her job. It is an insult to the job that I carried out for 40 years. I beg to move.

10.30 p.m.

Lord Whitty: As the noble Lord indicates, the amendments would remove the important duties of head teachers for determining the school's discipline policy. They would leave the governing body with the sole duty of promoting good behaviour on the part of the school's pupils. Important though the governing body's duty is, it is only part of the equation in determining the school's discipline policy.

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I find these amendments from the official Opposition somewhat extraordinary. I am advised that Clause 60 with relatively minor amendments, re-enacts Section 154 of the Education Act 1996 as substituted by Section 2 of the 1997 Act taken through this House only 15 months ago by the noble Lord, Lord Henley, for the previous government. I cannot understand the ideological, or almost trade union, position of headmaster that the noble Lord takes--I use the word "headmaster" advisedly in this case--against this section. It is identical to Section 154 of the 1996 Act.

Secondly, the report of the noble Lord, Lord Elton, on discipline in schools made clear how important it is for schools to have a whole school policy, and the responsibilities of head teachers in that respect. These amendments would remove the duty on the head teacher of maintained schools to draw up a disciplinary policy setting out the standards of behaviour: what it expects; how good behaviour and discipline will be encouraged; and the sanctions which will be applied.

It is important that there are separate and specific duties on both the governing body and head teacher for determing the school's disciplinary policy. The governing body sets the framework of that policy by making the statement of general principles. The head teacher has responsibility for determining the measures which make up the school's code of conduct.

That was recognised in the 1996 Act. It was retained in the 1997 Act and we are retaining it now. I therefore believe that the amendments are misguided and in their effect would not help schools to promote and maintain high standards of behaviour. I believe that they should be withdrawn.

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