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The Deputy Chairman of Committees: Before calling Amendment No. 219A, I draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that a revised list has been promulgated saying that Amendments Nos. 221B, 221C and 221D, which were on the original list as having been debated, have not been debated and will be debated along with Amendment No. 219A.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendment No. 219A:


Page 69, line 15, at end insert--
("(3A) A local education authority and the governing body or bodies of one or more foundation or voluntary aided schools maintained by the authority may make joint arrangements consisting of--
(a) such of the arrangements made by the authority in pursuance of subsection (1) as the authority may determine; and
(b) arrangements made by the governing body or bodies in pursuance of subsection (2).").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 219A, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 219D, 219E, 221A to 221E and 223B to 223D.

The Bill already allows two or more governing bodies of foundation or voluntary aided schools to make joint arrangements for enabling parents of a child to appeal against a decision refusing the child admission to a school.

The Local Government Association asked the Government to consider extending that provision so that LEAs too may make joint arrangements with governing bodies of voluntary aided and foundation schools if those bodies agree. The amendment to Clause 89 will allow LEAs and governing bodies of foundation and voluntary aided schools to make joint arrangements for appeals if they so wish.

As a result of the amendment to extend joint arrangements, it has been necessary to make a number of consequential amendments to Schedule 24 on the constitution and procedures for appeal panels. I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: I have two amendments in this group, Amendments Nos. 222 and 226. They both make the same point; that is, that at present the Bill provides that appeals should be heard in private except when the local education authority (with a few other possibilities) agrees otherwise. I am proposing in both cases that parents should be able to request that appeals be heard in public where they feel that that would best serve their case in the interests of justice.

Baroness Blackstone: The Bill currently provides for appeals to be heard in private unless directed otherwise by the body or bodies making the appeal arrangements. The provision in the Bill reflects the current provision in the Education Act 1996. We do not believe that it should be extended in the way suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas.

8 Jun 1998 : Column 843

In exceptional cases we accept that a public hearing may be considered appropriate, but we believe that the decision should remain with the body making the appeal arrangements. That is because that body, in making the decision on whether or not to hold a public hearing, must have regard to any guidance given in the code of practice.

The statutory code of practice on admissions will give guidance on the operation and procedures for admission appeals, including on when a public meeting might be appropriate. We expect the code's formal guidance to give no less weight than the current informal guidance to the wishes of parents.

As in the current informal guidance, the guidance in the code is likely to advise the body concerned, before deciding whether to direct that the hearing should take place in public, to consider among other things the wishes of the parents and the effect that any publicity might have on the parties concerned (particularly pupils, parents, teachers and the schools themselves) during and after the hearing. As I have said before, LEAs and governing bodies must have regard to the guidance contained in the code before carrying out their functions. The code cannot of course give guidance on this matter to parents.

There is an additional problem with Amendment No. 226 which focuses on the small number of appeals which consider the admission of twice excluded pupils. In that type of appeal, the school governing body appeals against an LEA decision that a pupil should be admitted, rather than a parent appealing against a decision that their child should not be admitted. So parents are not in fact involved. It would be inappropriate to change Schedule 25 in the manner suggested. In the light of what I have said, I hope that the noble Lord will not move his amendments.

Lord Lucas: I am very grateful for that explanation. I shall certainly not move them.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 89, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 24 [Admission appeals]:

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendments Nos. 219B to 219E:


Page 199, line 24, at end insert--
("( ) Where, at any time after an appeal panel consisting of five members have begun to consider an appeal, any of the members--
(a) dies, or
(b) becomes unable through illness to continue as a member,
the panel may continue with their consideration and determination of the appeal so long as the number of the remaining members is not less than three and the requirements of sub-paragraph (3) are satisfied.").
Page 200, line 12, at end insert--
("( ) Where, at any time after an appeal panel consisting of five members have begun to consider an appeal, any of the members--
(a) dies, or
(b) becomes unable through illness to continue as a member,
the panel may continue with their consideration and determination of the appeal so long as the number of the remaining members is not less than three and the requirements of sub-paragraph (3) are satisfied.").

8 Jun 1998 : Column 844


Page 200, line 14, after ("if") insert--
("(a) (except in sub-paragraph (7))").
Page 200, line 16, after ("and") insert--
("(b) in sub-paragraph (7), any reference to the governing body of the school in question or to that school were a reference to any of those governing bodies or to any of those schools (as the case may be).
(2)").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 220 and 221 not moved.]

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendments Nos. 221A to 221E:


Page 200, line 17, at end insert--
("Joint arrangements by local education authorities and governing bodies
3A.--(1) Where (by virtue of section 89(3A)) joint arrangements are made by a local education authority and the governing body or bodies of one or more schools, paragraph 1 shall apply in relation to those arrangements as it applies in relation to arrangements made by a local education authority under section 89(1), but as if in sub-paragraph (7) any reference to the governing body of the school in question or to that school were a reference to the governing body of any school to which the arrangements relate or to any such school (as the case may be).
(2) An appeal pursuant to such joint arrangements shall be to an appeal panel constituted in accordance with paragraph 1 as it so applies.").
Page 200, line 22, leave out ("paragraph 2 as it applies by virtue of paragraph 3)") and insert ("either of those paragraphs as it applies by virtue of paragraph 3 or 3A)").
Page 200, line 29, after ("1") insert ("(or in accordance with that paragraph as it applies by virtue of paragraph 3A)").
Page 200, line 49, at end insert--
("(2) Where any such panel is constituted in accordance with--
(a) paragraph 1 as it applies by virtue of paragraph 3A, or
(b) paragraph 2 as it applies by virtue of paragraph 3,
any liability arising under sub-paragraph (1) above shall be a joint and several liability of the bodies by whom the joint arrangements are made unless otherwise previously agreed in writing between those bodies.").
Page 201, line 25, leave out ("local education authority or governing body (or bodies)") and insert ("body or bodies").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 222 not moved.]

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendments Nos. 222A and 222B:


Page 201, line 28, at beginning insert ("if the panel so direct,").
Page 201, line 31, at beginning insert ("if the panel so direct,").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 223 not moved.]

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendments Nos. 223A to 223D:


Page 201, line 35, leave out ("a") and insert ("one").
Page 201, line 36, at end insert--
("(2) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (1), an appeal to an appeal panel constituted in accordance with paragraph 1 as it applies by virtue of paragraph 3A shall be treated--
(a) as an appeal to an appeal panel constituted in accordance with paragraph 1 if it relates to a community or voluntary controlled school; and

8 Jun 1998 : Column 845


(b) as an appeal to an appeal panel constituted in accordance with paragraph 2 if it relates to a foundation or voluntary aided school.").
Page 201, line 47, at end insert--
("(2) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (1), an appeal to an appeal panel constituted in accordance with paragraph 1 as it applies by virtue of paragraph 3A shall be treated as an appeal to an appeal panel constituted in accordance with paragraph 2, if it relates to a foundation or voluntary aided school.").
Page 201, line 50, leave out ("local education authority or governing body (or bodies)") and insert ("body or bodies").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 224 and 225 not moved.]

Schedule 24, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 90 agreed to.

Schedule 25 [Children to whom section 82 applies: appeals by governing bodies]:

[Amendment No. 226 not moved.]


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