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Baroness Seccombe: My Lords, what would be the problem of making such a small exception as this? This has worked well for centuries, probably since Elizabethan times. If it was a school that was not successful, I could understand what the noble Baroness is saying. But when it is such a centre of excellence that people want to live nearby and get their children into the school, it seems to be a great pity that the school is not allowed to proceed in this way. What would be the problem with that?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, the noble Baroness started to get into making a new point rather than asking

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a simple question. I do not think I can add anything to what I have already said. I have made the position quite clear. The Government believe that it is better for each school to have its own governing body to which the teachers and the head--the professional staff--are accountable and on which parents in that school, each of them separately, can be represented.

Baroness Seccombe: My Lords, I am more than disappointed with that reply. I should like to test the feelings of the House.

3.56 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 91) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 95; Not-Contents, 91.

Division No. 1


Addington, L.
Ailsa, M.
Ampthill, L.
Ashbourne, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Avebury, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Beloff, L.
Blatch, B.
Bowness, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Burnham, L. [Teller.]
Butterworth, L.
Calverley, L.
Carrick, E.
Chelmsford, V.
Chesham, L.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Coleridge, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Cross, V.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L.
Dacre of Glanton, L.
Dahrendorf, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Eden of Winton, L.
Ellenborough, L.
Falkland, V.
Gainford, L.
Gisborough, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hayhoe, L.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
HolmPatrick, L.
Hooper, B.
Ironside, L.
Jopling, L.
Kenyon, L.
Kinnoull, E.
Lang of Monkton, L.
Leigh, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Liverpool, E.
Ludford, B.
McNair, L.
Maddock, B.
Malmesbury, E.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Mersey, V.
Methuen, L.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Munster, E.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Naseby, L.
Newby, L.
Norfolk, D.
Norrie, L.
Ogmore, L.
Pender, L.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Pym, L.
Quinton, L.
Rawlings, B.
Redesdale, L.
Renton of Mount Harry, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Russell, E.
Sandberg, L.
Seccombe, B. [Teller.]
Smith of Clifton, L.
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Stockton, E.
Strathcarron, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taverne, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Vivian, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Warnock, B.
Wedgwood, L.
Wigoder, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.


Acton, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carter, L. [Teller.]
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
David, B.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dearing, L.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Fitt, L.
Gallacher, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hacking, L.
Hardie, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Ilchester, E.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jeger, B.
Kilbracken, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Levy, L.
Lytton, E.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Mallalieu, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Milverton, L.
Mishcon, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Montague of Oxford, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Northbourne, L.
Orme, L.
Paul, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Rix, L.
Serota, B.
Sewel, L.
Shepherd, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stallard, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Weatherill, L.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Winston, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

2 Jul 1998 : Column 839

4.4 p.m.

Schedule 9 [Constitution of governing bodies]:

[Amendments Nos. 92 and 93 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 93A:

Page 148, line 36, at end insert--

("Minor Authority Governor

. In this Schedule, "minor authority governor" means a governor appointed by the town or parish council or parish meeting which covers the locality of any community primary school, any voluntary controlled primary school or any voluntary aided primary school.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I wish also to speak to Amendments Nos. 94A, 96A and 97A. Probably the largest postbag that we have had on this Bill has been concerned with these amendments. One of the strongest community

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links at local level in every hamlet, village and small town in this country is through the parish councils, parish meetings and the local primary schools.

When these amendments were debated at Committee stage I took every single point that was made by the Minister. In tabling these amendments I hope that I have addressed all the concerns that the Government had. I expect that my noble friend Lady Byford will speak to this amendment. She made a powerful case in Committee. The points put forward by the Government do not resonate in the countryside at all. Indeed, the number of letters that we have had since the Minister replied in Committee give me a very strong feeling that there is little agreement with the points made.

We have dealt with the issue of consultation by the LEAs. I accept that the Government will strongly exhort local authorities, when seeking governors, to consult with district, town and parish councils and parish meetings. We are grateful for that.

The Government produced amendments of their own which suggested that schools could choose whether or not they had a parish councillor representative. They also made the point that no distinction exists between primary and secondary schools. The noble Baroness will notice that I have made that distinction since I believe that the strongest link is with primary schools. Some of the arguments of the Government as regards secondary schools have some force. The local secondary school near to my home in Cambridgeshire has about 1,800 children and covers many parishes. Therefore, I can understand the difficulty.

I have dealt with the issue of foundation schools raised by the Minister when we last spoke. I have also resolved which parish council shall be represented. It will be the parish council in whose area the school is situated. That is covered by my amendment.

I have made it very easy for the Government to do what they proclaim; namely, to accept, where it is consistent with government policy, the will of the people. This is very much the will of the people. The associations representing all parish councils and parish meetings feel strongly that this is an issue about which the Government should be responsive. They also believe that the link at local level between the parish councils, parish meetings and town councils and their local primary schools is such a strong one that it plays very much into another strand of government policy, which is partnership. In the main they are apolitical and supportive almost to the point of being obsessive about the health, wealth and progress of the local primary school. I believe that the case is unarguable. I beg to move.

Baroness Maddock: My Lords, the last time we debated this subject was in the early hours of the morning. I must have been feeling particularly tired because I was probably particularly rude to the Minister. I have not changed my view. I said at the time that I thought the Minister's answer was rather mean spirited. I still think that. We had a long debate on the subject. The noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, has reiterated how many people concerned with parish councils and those

2 Jul 1998 : Column 841

who live in rural areas care about their right to have representation on governing bodies. They have had that in the past. It is an issue on which we have had the most representations from a wide variety of people.

I am at a loss to understand why the Minister is so against the provision. We have heard much from the Government about devolution of power, involving as many people as we can in decisions, and, as regards the education field, pushing up standards and consulting widely. The amendment goes to the heart of that aim. I am at a loss to understand why the Government cannot accept it. Parish councils up and down the country are in touch with their local communities. That is the main argument. They bring necessary information to the governing body. We heard earlier today from the Minister how important it was for each school to have its own governing body. It is even more important that that governing body has a representative from the parish council.

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