Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Lord Avebury: My Lords, can the Minister say on what day the first report of the monitoring mission will be published and at what intervals it will publish further reports thereafter?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I do not believe that a particular date has been established for the first monitoring report. However, if I am wrong in that respect, I shall write to the noble

7 Dec 1998 : Column 716

Lord and ensure that a copy of my letter is placed in the Library of the House. As I said to the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, earlier, it is important that the training of the observers is done properly and that we receive the kind of reports that will be genuinely useful. I should also remind your Lordships that the overflights have already begun and we are beginning to receive some very useful information from them.

The Earl of Lauderdale: My Lords, can the Minister confirm whether it is still the policy of the British Government not to give refuge in this country to foreigners who are plotting troubles elsewhere? Indeed, Prince Leka--of whom the Minister has not apparently heard and about whom I shall say more some other time--is a great hefty fellow with a couple of guns to his belt who was in South Africa at one stage and has recently been in Britain. Can the Minister say whether he is known to be helping and backing the KLA?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I regret that I do not know any more about Prince Leka now than I did a few moments ago when I hoped that I had indicated to the noble Earl that that was a significant gap in my knowledge, though clearly not in his. I shall certainly do what I can to find out about him and write to the noble Earl. Moreover, as I can see that this is of general interest to your Lordships, I shall also put a copy of that letter in the Library of the House.

Education Committees: Church Representation

2.57 p.m.

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proposals they have which would affect the place of Church representatives on local authority education committees.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): My Lords, as we made clear in our White Paper, Modern Local Government--In Touch with the People, under our proposals for new political structures Church and parent representatives will continue to be full voting members of any council committees concerned with education. This will safeguard and maintain the ability of Church representatives to contribute to decisions about the planning and provision of education services.

With the indulgence of the House and recalling that, for much of last year, the noble Lord, Lord Pilkington, was my opposite number on some lengthy education legislation, perhaps I may record my personal regret that he has departed from that position. I wish him the very best in his future career as a loose cannon on the Back-Benches.

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his kind words and for his courteous reply.

7 Dec 1998 : Column 717

Yes, indeed, I feel rather free. However, can the Minister say what the position of Church representatives would be if a local authority embarked upon an executive Cabinet-style of government? Would Church representatives be members of that cabinet and would they have voting rights?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I think that the noble Lord and perhaps others in the House misunderstand our proposals on local government. We would separate out the executive function in committee structures from the scrutiny function. However, the scrutiny function would remain of great importance. The Church representatives would have a vote on that. As the noble Lord will be aware, under the legislation passed last year, they will be equal partners in the school organising committees.

The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, is the Minister aware how much the Churches--I speak not only for the Church of England--have valued the place which they have had, not merely in the scrutinising and oversight of decisions in the field of education but in their formation and execution? Will he accept that something of what he said just now fills me with some alarm as to whether the new proposals make provision for the same involvement in the formation and execution of policy as Church representatives have hitherto had?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the change in local government structure will ensure that Church representation on education committees, or whatever committees now cover education, will be at least as strong as it has been in the past. As I said, the legislation passed in the previous Session will ensure that the Churches will be represented in the school organising committees and, therefore, will act as true partners with local authorities in relation to school provision in their local authority areas.

Lord Tope: My Lords, is the Minister aware that, if local authorities adopt either of the cabinet models outlined in the White Paper to which he referred, there will not be any education committees for the Church or parent governors to be represented on? Does he envisage that parent representatives and Church representatives will be members of the cabinet? If so, what responsibility will they have as members of that cabinet?

Lord Whitty: No, my Lords, they will not be members of that cabinet. There will be successor committees which will scrutinise education. We will not have the committee structure as it currently exists. Precisely how they do it will vary from local authority to local authority; but those new committees which replace the current structure will be strong scrutiny committees. Church representatives from the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church will be strong and voting members of the committees.

Lord Elton: My Lords, will the noble Lord perhaps go a little further in describing the difference between scrutiny and executive action? As I hear what he is saying, the Churches, and, incidentally, parents, will be

7 Dec 1998 : Column 718

driven out of the executive function altogether and be reduced to making comments. That will cause alarm right around the House.

Lord Whitty: No, my Lords, the noble Lord misunderstands the proposition. The executive will require the agreement of the committees to most of its functions. The executive will propose courses of action to the committees and to the full council in a rather similar way to the way the Executive propose action to this House and to another place.

Lord Dormand of Easington: My Lords, can my noble friend say whether there is any statutory provision for members of local education committees to sit on, for example, Church school governing bodies? If not, do the Government have any proposals to do something about that? Does he agree that some kind of cross-fertilisation between school governing bodies would be educationally very sound?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, we are all in favour of cross-fertilisation in this area. Indeed, the new partnership signalled by the legislation passed in the previous Session will provide for that. My noble friend asked a specific question about representation on Church school governing bodies. There may well be experiments in that area. I shall consult my colleagues in the Department for Education and write to my noble friend.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, where there is a cabinet system, what proposals will the Government make for the presence of non-Christian representatives on scrutiny committees?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, in terms of representation, the current position is that primary legislation provides for Roman Catholic and Church of England representation where those Churches provide education in the area. In relation to other schools which come within the local authority system, that would require special direction by the Secretary of State. That would apply to non-Christian schools as it would to other Christian denominations.

Business

3.3 p.m.

Lord Carter: My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 p.m., my noble friend Lord Sainsbury of Turville will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement that is being made in another place on the Post Office.

Business of the House: Motions, 8th December

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

7 Dec 1998 : Column 719

Moved, That Standing Order 38 (Arrangement of the Order Paper) be dispensed with tomorrow so far as is necessary to allow the Motion standing in the name of the Lord Gilbert to be taken before the two draft orders standing in the name of the Lord Williams of Mostyn.--(Baroness Jay of Paddington.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England: Select Committee

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): My Lords, I beg to move the first Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords be named of the Committee:

L. Barnett, L. Burns, L. Ezra, L. Newby, B. O'Cathain, L. Paul, L. Peston (Chairman), L. Tebbit, L. Thomas of Macclesfield, L. Vinson, V. Weir;

That the Committee have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Committee do meet on Wednesday 9th December at half-past ten o'clock.--(The Chairman of Committees.)


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page