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Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on their Amendment No. 140 to which the Commons have disagreed for the reason numbered 140A.

Moved, That the House do not insist on their Amendment No. 140 to which the Commons have disagreed for the reason numbered 140A.--(Baroness Blackstone.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

198

Leave out Schedule 4.


The Commons disagreed to the amendment and proposed the following amendments to the words so restored to the Bill--

COMMONS AMENDMENTS TO WORDS RESTORED TO THE BILL BY THEIR DISAGREEMENT TO A LORDS AMENDMENT

198A

Schedule 4, page 117, line 11, at end insert ("of those voting").

21 Jul 1998 : Column 743


198B

Schedule 4, page 117, line 11, at end insert--


("(3) Regulations under this paragraph must, however, include provision--
(a) for the members within each category of members of a committee to have collectively a single vote in relation to any decision to which this sub-paragraph applies;
(b) requiring any such decision which is taken by a committee to be a unanimous decision of those voting.
(4) Sub-paragraph (3) applies to any decision of a committee as to whether or not--
(a) to give any approval under section 25(4) or to prepare such a plan as is mentioned in section 25(5)(d)(ii);
(b) to give any approval under paragraph 3 of Schedule 6 or to--
(i) modify any proposals,
(ii) specify any date, or
(iii) make any determination,
under paragraph 5(2)(a) or (b) or (3) of that Schedule;
(c) to make, vary or revoke a transitional exemption order under paragraph 21 of that Schedule or paragraph 16 of Schedule 7;
(d) to give any approval under paragraph 8 of Schedule 7;
(e) to make any decision authorised by or by virtue of paragraph 6 of Schedule 23.
(5) Where regulations under paragraph 2(2) of Schedule 8 provide for either of the following provisions, namely paragraph 3 or 5(2)(a) of Schedule 6, to have effect in relation to proposals published under paragraph 2 or 2A of Schedule 8, the reference to that provision in sub-paragraph (4) above shall include a reference to it as it so has effect.").
198C

Page 117, line 15, at end insert--


(". When taking any decision a committee shall have regard (so far as relevant) to the obligations which, by virtue of--
(a) Part III of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, or
(b) Part III of the Race Relations Act 1976,
are owed by any local education authority or governing body which will be affected by the decision.").

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on their Amendment No. 198 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments numbered 198A to 198C in lieu thereof.

Moved, That the House do not insist on their Amendment No. 198 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments numbered 198A to 198C in lieu thereof.--(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENT

199

Leave out Schedule 5.


The Commons disagreed to this amendment and proposed the following amendment to the words so restored to the Bill--

COMMONS AMENDMENT TO WORDS RESTORED TO THE BILL BY THEIR DISAGREEMENT TO A LORDS AMENDMENT

199A

Schedule 5, page 118, line 32, at end insert--

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(". When taking any decision an adjudicator shall have regard (so far as relevant) to the obligations which, by virtue of--
(a) Part III of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, or
(b) Part III of the Race Relations Act 1976,
are owed by any local education authority or governing body which will be affected by the decision.").

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on their Amendment No. 199 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment numbered 199A in lieu thereof.

Moved, That the House do not insist on their Amendment No. 199 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment numbered 199A in lieu thereof.--(Baroness Blackstone.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

LORDS AMENDMENTS

237

Schedule 9, page 138, line 20, 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.").
238

Page 139, line 38, at end insert--


("Minor authority governors 0 0 1 1")


239

Page 142, line 22, at end insert--


("Minor authority governors 0 0 1 1)"


240

Page 143, line 14, at end insert--


("Minor authority governors 0 0 1 1")


244

Page 143, line 25, at end insert--


("(3) If, in the case of any voluntary aided school which--
(a) is a primary school, and
(b) serves an area for which there are one or more minor authorities,
the governing body so determine, the instrument of government for the school shall provide for the governing body to include (in addition to the governors required by virtue of paragraph 14 and any required by virtue of sub-paragraph (1)) one co-opted governor nominated by the minor authority or (as the case may be) one of the minor authorities in question; and the governing body of any such school must decide whether or not to make a determination under this sub-paragraph.
(4) Where any such school serves an area for which there are two or more minor authorities, the relevant governors may, for the purposes of the appointment of any such co-opted governor, seek nominations from any one or more of those authorities as the governors think fit.
(5) In sub-paragraph (4) "the relevant governors" means those members of the school's governing body who are not co-opted governors.

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Co-opted governors nominated by minor authorities
15A.--(1) In the case of any maintained school (other than a voluntary aided school) which--
(a) is a primary school, and
(b) serves an area for which there are one or more minor authorities,
the relevant governors shall, when making an appointment of a co-opted governor in accordance with paragraphs 9 to 13, consider whether to appoint as such a governor a person nominated by the minor authority or (as the case may be) one of the minor authorities in question (unless one or more such persons are for the time being so appointed).
(2) Where any such school serves an area for which there are two or more minor authorities, the relevant governors may, for the purposes of the appointment of any such co-opted governor, seek nominations from any one or more of those authorities as the governors think fit.
(3) In this paragraph "the relevant governors" has the meaning given by paragraph 15(5).").
The Commons disagreed to these amendments but proposed the following amendment in lieu--
COMMONS AMENDMENT IN LIEU

244A

Schedule 9, page 143, line 25, at end insert--


("(3) The instrument of government for any community or voluntary school which--
(a) is a primary school, and
(b) serves an area for which there are one or more minor authorities,
shall provide for the governing body to include (in addition to the governors required by virtue of paragraph 9, 13 or 14, as the case may be, and any required by virtue of sub-paragraph (1)) one co-opted governor nominated by the minor authority or (as the case may be) one of the minor authorities in question.
(4) Where any such school serves an area for which there are two or more minor authorities, the relevant governors shall, for the purposes of the appointment of any such co-opted governor, seek nominations from such one or more of those authorities as the governors think fit.
(5) In sub-paragraph (4) "the relevant governors" means those members of the school's governing body who are not co-opted governors.").

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on their Amendments Nos. 237 to 240 and Amendment No. 244 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 244A in lieu thereof.

I hope that we shall bring our debate today to a positive conclusion. The amendments proposed by the Government provide a way forward that is a workable compromise on the issue of minor authorities. We have listened carefully to the concerns expressed by noble Lords as the Bill has made its way through Parliament. The case for minor authority governors in some schools has been made with skill and persistence. Our amendments now take account of that case within the context of our wider proposals for restructuring governing bodies.

As the House requested, governing bodies of community and voluntary primary schools will, under these proposals, have no option but to appoint a minor authority nominee. An additional place will be available for that purpose.

21 Jul 1998 : Column 746

I do not want to go over the history in detail. Suffice it to say that we have always wanted those with the greatest interest in the success of a school to be guaranteed representation. In adopting that approach we did not intend removing minor authority governors from governing bodies where that arrangement has worked well. There was every reason to suppose that the governing bodies would continue to invite them onto that governing body under the new framework. We certainly had no wish to under-estimate the valuable contribution that parish and town councils make to many primary schools. I am sorry if our proposals were interpreted in that way.

The government amendments build sensibly and constructively on those that were proposed in this House. First and foremost they provide a legally watertight version of those original amendments. That is not intended as a criticism of the amendments. I say that before the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, admonishes me yet again. But, for example, when challenged, the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, accepted that the original amendments failed to address the particular issue of Welsh community councils. The Government's amendments deal with that and other such issues.

Secondly, and more substantively, the government amendments provide for a more flexible mechanism than was proposed in the original amendments. Those original amendments would have restricted the nominating minor authority to the parish in which the school is situated. The position is frequently a good deal more complicated than that. A school's location may well be an historical accident. For example, where schools have merged, the location may depend on which of the previous schools was able to expand, or on the availability of building land for a new school to serve several villages, rather than on the location where the majority of children who attend the school happen to live. Furthermore, the original amendments would not have allowed for district council representation in an area which is not covered by a town or parish council.

Our approach allows all authorities which are minor authorities at present to continue to be minor authorities. In short, the appointment mechanism which we propose is much more likely than that put forward by this House to permit every school affected by this issue to work with the minor authority with which it has the closest relationship.

The Commons' amendment places the responsibility with the school governing body--where it should be--for settling its membership in a speedy and practical fashion. Where a primary school serves more than one minor authority, it will be for the governors to decide which authorities are the most appropriate to nominate governors. They may wish to invite a single minor authority to provide the nomination; in many cases, there will be that obvious choice. In some cases they may wish to invite more than one minor authority to nominate. That will not prevent minor authorities agreeing on a nominee, where they are able to do so, among themselves. In what I would expect to be the

21 Jul 1998 : Column 747

very few cases where minor authorities do not agree and more than one nominee is put forward, it is the governing body which will decide between them.

Someone has to take the decision in these circumstances, and the school governing body is best placed to make that choice. I do not believe that it is possible to defend the mechanism whereby failure to agree on a joint appointment means that a fundamentally local decision would end up being taken by the Secretary of State. We shall ensure that governing bodies have guidance to help them through the appointment process in a sensible and brisk manner.

I hope I have made it clear that the Government's amendment deals with the points made in this House and puts forward a mechanism which is positive and workable. I hope that the House will welcome it on that basis. I beg to move.

Moved, That the House do not insist on their Amendments Nos. 237 to 240 and Amendment No. 244 to which the Commons have disagreed and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 244A in lieu thereof.--(Lord Whitty.)


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