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Guaranteed Minimum Pensions Increase Order 2000

8.35 p.m.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I beg to move the second Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I have already spoken to it.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 31st January be approved [8th Report from the Joint Committee].--(Baroness Hollis of Heigham.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 8.53 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 8.36 to 8.53 p.m.]

15 Feb 2000 : Column 1162

Learning and Skills Bill [H.L.]

House again in Committee on Clause 50.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 186:

    Page 20, line 26, leave out paragraph (e).

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 188.

Education and training are the remit of higher education, not further education. Therefore, it is my view that teacher education falls outside the scope of the Bill. The Secretary of State should not be able to use the subsequent regulations, which I understand is the plan, to extend inspection to areas that are not properly within the scope of the Bill. I do not know what the Minister will be able to say in order to discount my assumptions in my reading of the Bill.

Furthermore, the adult learning inspectorate should not be able to inspect within an LEA sixth form, and schools should not be subject to two different inspection bodies. We have already debated at length the way in which schools would be subject to inspections.

In response to a previous amendment, the noble Baroness talked about a single inspection of a school. She said that Ofsted would continue as now, but would, as I understood her, inspect sixth forms differently. The inspection cannot be the same, given the noble Baroness's explanation that there has to be coherence between the inspection of 16-plus young people in sixth forms and 16-plus young people in FE taking similar courses. In that case, the nature of the inspection of sixth forms by Ofsted would be different from the inspection that Ofsted would do at the same time--the noble Baroness's point was that the inspections would be simultaneous--for 11 to 16 year-old pupils, unless the nature of that inspection is also going to change, consistent with the inspection of 16-plus schoolchildren. In that case, the whole nature of inspection in schools will change. It is important for schools to know that.

The paragraph in Clause 50 which I suggest should be deleted refers to,

    "such other education or training (which may, in particular, include training of or for teachers or lecturers) as may be prescribed by regulations".

It would be helpful if the noble Baroness would explain the reference to "other education"--because the provision refers only to training for teachers or lecturers.

Clause 51(5) states that,

    "The Chief Inspector is to have such other functions in connection with education and training within the Inspectorate's remit, including functions with respect to the training of teachers, lecturers and others".

The clause refers to the functions of the inspectorate and the chief inspector, and a similar reference is included in the inspector's remit in Clause 50.

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There are two issues here. One is that the provisions extend the confusion already referred to. The second is the whole issue of encroaching now, not on the school sector, but on the higher education sector. I beg to move.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: We do not support the noble Baroness on this amendment. My reading of the clause is that it relates to in-service training on the part of teachers and lecturers. It is extremely important that we endorse the basic principle that all teachers and lecturers need to go on training. Having been in a university where the assumption was that one basically taught oneself, I think it is extremely important to recognise that training needs to continue throughout one's life.

Lord Bach: I shall do my best to answer the points raised in the amendments. The noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, seeks to remove an important power from the Bill; namely, to extend the remit of the adult learning inspectorate through regulations.

We agreed that the Bill's provisions generally exclude higher education, but the scope of the Bill does allow minor miscellaneous provisions relating to higher education. The Bill's scope will not, therefore, exclude the use of this power, if needed, to cover the training of teachers if that is what the Government decide in due course.

We described the reasons for seeking such a power in our memorandum to the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee. We indicated that the power at Clause 50(1)(e) is designed to allow minor additions to the principal remit to ensure that the expertise of the adult learning inspectorate can apply to other relevant areas of education and training as provision develops over time. It is impractical to have a full list of these types of education and training on the face of the Bill, but the regulation-making power will allow the Secretary of State to add to the remit if that proves appropriate. That may be the case, for example, because of the fast-changing nature of post-16 education and training, particularly with the growth of "virtual" or distance learning; and with provision being made increasingly in new, non-traditional locations.

The remit may also need to be extended because of the possibility of partnership with new types of provider. Clause 50(1)(e) already mentions the possibility of using this power to prescribe the training of FE teachers. We see this as a possibility, but it will be sensible to determine the extent to which ALI will be involved in new areas only when ALI is established and able to demonstrate its capacity.

The regulations made by means of the power will represent only comparatively minor additions to ALI's remit. This provision is analogous to the power to confer supplementary functions on the LSC as described in Clause 18(4), which we debated the other day. As with that provision and its precedent in the 1992 Act, the negative procedure is appropriate in this case.

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The Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee was completely satisfied with my department's memorandum. It commented that,

    "The comprehensive nature of the department's memorandum and its sensitive appreciation and application of the criteria to govern the control of delegated legislation has enabled [the Committee's] report to be shorter than might have been the case".

It saw no reason to draw to the attention of the House the Government's proposed use of secondary legislation, nor their proposals for parliamentary scrutiny through the negative procedure.

The noble Baroness may have thought that the Government have a hidden agenda for this regulation-making power. I can assure her that that is not so. I hope that in those circumstances the noble Baroness will withdraw her amendment.

9 p.m.

Baroness Blatch: I do not believe that the Government have a hidden agenda; the matter appears fairly openly on the face of the Bill. The noble Lord has answered my concerns about the Bill by referring to procedure. I do not criticise the procedure. If it is the Government's intention to inspect teacher training and/or education the provisions appear to be a perfectly proper way to do it. Regulations which are subject to the negative procedure are entirely in order, and I have no quarrel with the procedure. It is not the job of the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee to concern itself with how the Government intend to use the power as long as the process by which they use it is set out properly, as it is.

My concern is linked with a point raised just now by the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp. The noble Baroness understood the provision to refer to formal and informal training, including in-service training, undertaken by teachers as part of professional development. My understanding, based on the noble Lord's response, is that the provision is concerned with teacher training and education. If that is what it is and the Government have it in mind to extend the powers to areas which include this one--therefore, it is just one of the activities to be covered--this is a substantial matter. Therefore, it would be helpful if the Minister could indicate whether that is what he really means.

Lord Bach: If the noble Baroness presses me for a specific example, I refer to prison education. The FEFC and TSC already inspect prisons on behalf of the Home Office. That is a specific example where ALI's work and expertise may be appropriate. I ask the noble Baroness to consider whether it is sensible to provide on the face of the Bill that ALI can do this work if required to do so.

Baroness Blatch: It may please the noble Lord to know that I believe it to be entirely sensible to extend ALI's remit to the quality of education in prisons, which is a subject close to my heart. I have no quarrel with that. I look at the words on the page,

    "(which may, in particular, include training of or for teachers or lecturers)".

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Do the Government intend to inspect the

    "training of or for teachers or lecturers";

in other words, the training colleges for teachers within the compass of higher education? Is it intended that when an individual is under training to become a teacher and, for the purposes of inspection, comes within higher education, the remit of ALI is extended and that function is taken away from the higher education inspection system?

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