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5.4 p.m.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

137Clause 102, page 46, line 26, at end insert--
("( ) Sections 496 and 497 of the Education Act 1996 (intervention) shall have effect in relation to powers and duties conferred or imposed by virtue of Schedule 7 as if--
(a) those powers and duties were conferred or imposed by the Education Act 1996, and
(b) the bodies specified in sections 496(2) and 497(2) were any local education authority, any school organisation committee and the governing body of any maintained school (within the meaning given by section 20(7) of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998).")

Lord Bach: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 137. In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Commons Amendments Nos. 210 to 228. In view of the need to make progress, I should like to speak in a little detail about one amendment only, Amendment No. 137. The other amendments in this group address minor and entirely technical points. I am happy to give explanations of any of those if noble Lords require.

The purpose of Amendment No. 137 is to apply Sections 496 and 497 of the Education Act 1996 to local education authorities, school governing bodies

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and school organisation committees in the exercise of their functions under Schedule 7 to the Bill. Sections 496 and 497 give the Secretary of State powers to take action where certain public bodies act, or propose to act, unreasonably in the exercise of their functions or are in default of their duties. The various bodies involved in proposals for changes to school organisation under the provisions of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 are subject to the Secretary of State's powers of intervention. The amendment is needed because, unlike the 1998 Act, the Learning and Skills Bill is not "construed as one" with the Education Act 1996. That means that Sections 496 and 497 do not apply automatically.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 137.--(Lord Bach.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

138Clause 103, page 47, line 5, leave out subsection (6)
139Clause 104, page 47, line 21, leave out ("and")
140Page 47, line 22, at end insert--
("and
( ) a Primary Care Trust.")
141Clause 106, page 48, line 40, leave out ("and city colleges for the technology of the arts,") and insert (", city colleges for the technology of the arts and city academies,")
142Leave out Clause 107
143After Clause 107, insert the following new clause--
INSPECTION

(" .--(1) Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools in England--
(a) shall advise the Secretary of State on request about matters relating to services provided in pursuance of section 103(1),
(b) may give the Secretary of State other advice about those matters,
(c) shall, when requested to do so by the Secretary of State, inspect and report on the provision of those services, and
(d) may undertake such other inspections of the provision of those services as he thinks fit.
(2) A request under subsection (1)(c)--
(a) may be general or in relation to specific matters,
(b) may relate to a specific person or institution providing services, or to a specific class of person or institution, and
(c) may relate to a specific area.
(3) A reference in subsection (1) to the provision of services includes a reference to the management and use of resources in providing services.
(4) Subsections (5) to (7) apply to an inspection under subsection (1)(c) or (d) of services provided by a person or institution in pursuance of section 103(1).
(5) A person carrying out or participating in the inspection shall have the same powers as an Inspector of Schools under the following provisions of the School Inspections Act 1996--
(a) section 3(3)(a) and (b) (right of access), and
(b) section 42 (computer records).
(6) Section 42A of the 1996 Act (publication of reports) shall apply.
(7) A person who wilfully obstructs a person in carrying out or participating in the inspection--
(a) shall be guilty of an offence, and

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(b) shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.")
144Clauses 108, page 49, line 35, leave out ("age") and insert ("date of birth")
145Clause 109, page 50, line 12, after ("the") insert ("persons or")
146Page 50, line 15, after ("person") insert ("or body")
147Page 50, line 16, after ("Those") insert ("persons and")
148Page 50, line 19, at end insert--
("( ) a chief officer of police,")
149Page 50, line 20, leave out ("and")
150Page 50, line 21, at end insert ("and
( ) a Primary Care Trust")
151Transpose Clause 110 to before Clause 113
152Clause 111, page 50, line 33, leave out ("110") and insert ("109")
153Page 51, line 5, at end insert--
("( ) The power under section 103 shall not be used to provide or secure the provision of services outside England.")
154Clause 112, page 51, leave out lines 8 to 39 and insert--
"Inspection.
10B.--(1) Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools in England--
(a) shall advise the Secretary of State on request about matters relating to services provided in England in pursuance of section 8 or 9,
(b) may give the Secretary of State other advice about those matters,
(c) shall, when requested to do so by the Secretary of State, inspect and report on the provision of those services by any person or institution, and
(d) may undertake such other inspections of the provision of those services by persons or institutions as he thinks fit.
(2) A request under subsection (1)(c)--
(a) may be general or in relation to specific matters,
(b) may relate to a specific person or institution providing services, or to a specific class of person or institution, and
(c) may relate to a specific area.
(3) An inspection under subsection (1)(c) or (d) may not relate to services provided for persons who have attained the age of 20.
(4) A reference in subsection (1) to the provision of services includes a reference to the management and use of resources in providing services.
(5) Subsections (6) to (8) apply to an inspection under subsection (1)(c) or (d) of services provided in pursuance of arrangements under section 10(1) of this Act.
(6) A person carrying out or participating in the inspection shall have the same powers as an Inspector of Schools under the following provisions of the School Inspections Act 1996--
(a) section 3(3)(a) and (b) (right of access), and
(b) section 42 (computer records).
(7) Section 42A of the 1996 Act (publication of reports) shall apply.

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(8) A person who wilfully obstructs a person in carrying out or participating in the inspection--
(a) shall be guilty of an offence, and
(b) shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale."").

Lord Bach : My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 138 to 154.

With the exception of Amendment No. 138 and amendments in respect of the inspection of the Connexions Service, to which I shall turn in due course, the majority of these amendments are minor technical adjustments, which will not, I believe, take up much of our time. For example, Amendments Nos. 139, 140, 150 and 151 add primary care trusts to the lists of statutory bodies in Clause 104 which must be consulted about and collaborate in Connexions provision; and in Clause 109 which are empowered to disclose relevant information to the Connexions Service. As new bodies involved in providing local medical services--including services for young people with special educational needs, they will clearly be important statutory Connexions partners.

So too will chief officers of police, who have responsibilities not only for young people in trouble in their areas, but for the protection of all young people, including the victims of crime. They will have relevant information which is unavailable to the other bodies listed in Clause 109. It is therefore important that they are empowered to disclose such information to the Connexions Service. Amendment No. 148 makes provision for that. It was prompted by work undertaken following, and is indeed identical to, the amendment tabled by the honourable gentleman, the Member for Daventry, in another place. We are grateful to him for his help in this matter.

Amendment No. 144 changes the reference in Clause 108 from age to date of birth as that corresponds more accurately to the data that is kept on the child benefit register and will be supplied to the Connexions Service under that clause.

I turn to Amendments Nos. 142, 143 and 154. Together these amendments replace the existing Clauses 107 and 112 in respect of the inspection of the Connexions Service, including careers service provision for young people, in order to make three changes. First, they give Ofsted the independent power to inspect and advise on provision, in addition to its duty to inspect and advise on the service when asked to do so by the Secretary of State.

Secondly, the amendments put beyond doubt that the scope of inspections may extend to the management and use of resources by providers. Finally, they introduce a criminal sanction against any person wilfully obstructing inspections. This last part is entirely in line with provisions in the Bill and elsewhere in respect of other inspections by both Ofsted and ALI.

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I turn finally to Amendment No. 138. This deletes two additions which were made to Clause 103 in respect of careers provision by the successful amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, at Third Reading in this House. As the Government explained in another place, our intention with Amendment No. 138 is to remove wording which we believe could inhibit the Connexions Service's ability to improve the quality and delivery of careers provision and to remove a superfluous provision which simply repeats existing statutory duties on the Secretary of State.

I do not believe any more needs to be said about the technical defects of the provisions which Amendment No. 138 seeks to reverse; rather, the debates it gave rise to both here and in another place helpfully aired the concerns which underlay the provisions. I am happy to provide further reassurances about those matters now.

We fully recognise that all young people, including those in the average and higher ability ranges and from stable backgrounds, need information, advice and guidance to progress in appropriate learning, particularly at key decision stages in their lives. Failure to provide such support may result in inappropriate decisions which will result in more serious problems, such as dropping out of training or further or higher education. We are determined that all young people should get the help that they need to identify the right path for them and to stay on it. That is why careers advice will be a core element of the Connexions service. We consider it vitally important that all young people receive information and advice on the full range of post-16 opportunities, including opportunities in further and higher education and in work-based learning.

We are also aware of concerns about the continuing impartiality of careers advice in schools. We have made clear that the Connexions personal adviser in schools will supplement the advice given by careers teachers and, where appropriate, will refer young people to specialist advice and support, including specialist careers advice and guidance. Connexions personal advisers will be appointed and managed by head teachers, but their remit will make clear their responsibility to provide objective careers advice for school pupils.

We intend to explore further how the role of schools and colleges can be developed in support of improved careers education; how impartial guidance in schools can be developed and technology better used. In addition, we shall be looking to set up rigorous standards for careers information, education and guidance in schools and colleges against which Ofsted might inspect provision.

There has also been much discussion about how the Connexions service will be resourced. We have said that resources for the service will come from the co-ordination of existing central government resources and from those already devoted by local partners to youth support and guidance. In addition, through the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review we shall be looking to identify any additional resources which may be available to the new service.

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A range of individuals and bodies have attempted to calculate the potential cost of the service in terms of personnel and funding on the basis of existing delivery mechanisms. But of course it will not be possible to arrive at national figures with any precision until proper audits of existing local provision, staffing and need have been completed and until we have explored what existing--and new--delivery mechanisms work well. That is why we are piloting the service and phasing it in over a number of years.

An adequate supply of personal advisers is, of course, crucial to the effective operation of the Connexions service and it is important that they should not be met at the expense of other essential services. The Connexions strategy document made it clear that we shall be consulting on the implications for professional working in related fields, such as the provision of information, advice and guidance for adults. We have also set up a cross-government group to look at the labour market implications of the demand for personal advisers across public services and how that demand might best be met.

We are determined that the new service will have sufficient high quality staff to achieve its aims. That is why the rate at which it is phased in will depend partly on the availability of appropriate local personal adviser staff, without adverse effect on other important services.

Finally, concerns have been expressed about the effect of the Connexions service on the provision of adult careers information and advice services. Adult careers provision is, of course, delivered by a very wide range of private, voluntary and public sector providers. As the Connexions specification makes clear, it will be critical to ensure that effective careers provision for adults is coherent with that for young people. Information, advice and guidance partnerships are currently leading in the development of such services for adults, and the Connexions service locally will be represented as members of those partnerships. Indeed, in some areas, partners in the Connexions service may act as the lead body for advice and guidance services for adults. Connexions partnerships will need to take those arrangements into account when developing their plans and services.

I hope that, with the assurances I have given, noble Lords will agree that Amendment No. 138, like the other Commons amendments in this group, should stand.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 138 to 154.--(Lord Bach.)

5.15 p.m.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I have heard it bandied around that between 20,000 and 47,000 advisers are to be employed. Can the Minister give us the figure and tell us how much it will cost?


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