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Baroness Darcy de Knayth: My noble friend Lord Rix, who has had to leave, has put his name to the amendment and feels very strongly about it.

Baroness Blackstone: The Government are very sympathetic with what lies behind the amendment because we recognise the importance of teachers being properly prepared to work with a full range of pupils. If they are not, so much that the Bill is intending to do will not be achieved. I also endorse entirely what the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, has just said about the importance of early identification, because a great deal can be done if you can pick up problems that a child has early on and you can do so much to help that child deal with those problems so that he succeeds later.

Currently, student teachers wishing to attain qualified teacher status must be able to show that they are familiar with the requirements of the SEN code of practice; that they can identify pupils with SEN; and are clear where to go in order to secure appropriate help and support. Those requirements are reinforced through induction arrangements.

However, we are currently reviewing the initial teacher training requirements in England. The Teacher Training Agency has recently provided Ministers with initial advice on the review of Circular 4/98. That advice includes considering whether it is necessary to strengthen and update current requirements to reflect better recent legislation and special educational needs. I hope that will reassure the noble Lord, Lord Addington.

The TTA will submit a draft revised circular to Ministers in June 2001. The draft revised circular will then go out for formal consultation in the summer and there will, as there should, be an opportunity for interested parties, including those in the field of special educational needs and disability, to give their views. The revised circular will be published in February 2002 to come into effect in September of that year.

I hope that, in light of these assurances, the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Addington: That was an encouraging answer until one takes into account that teachers are already supposed to be trained in relation to those matters, and they quite obviously are not. I think a little healthy scepticism is required here. However, I accept the fact that that was a very helpfully meant reply but it is something that we shall continue to look at, because, despite efforts to the contrary, we have not got it right so far. With those provisos, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 39 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 191 not moved.]

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Clause 40 [Expenses of Secretary of State]:

[Amendments Nos. 192 to 194 not moved.]

Clause 40 agreed to.

Clause 41 agreed to.

Clause 42 [Short title, interpretation, commencement and extent]:

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendments Nos. 195 to 197:


    Page 34, line 27, at end insert--


("( ) Except as provided in subsections (3) and (4A), this Act (apart from this section) comes into force on such day as the Secretary of State may appoint by order."). Page 34, line 28, leave out ("sections") and insert ("provisions").


    Page 34, line 34, at end insert ("(and section 41(1) so far as relating to those provisions)").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 198:


    Page 34, line 36, at end insert--


("( ) The following sections of this Act come into force on 1st September 2002--
(a) section 13, and
(b) section 14.").

The noble Baroness said: The Special Educational Consortium makes a powerful case for bringing forward the planning duties in Clauses 13 and 14 to 1st September 2002. I have no doubt that if the consortium listened to the Minister earlier it might have been encouraged that a number of commencement dates are being brought forward in the Bill.

The planning duties recognise that schools and LEAs are currently in a wide range of different positions in respect of the degree of access afforded to pupils with a disability. The duties are designed to improve access for children with a disability, recognising the different starting points. There is therefore no specific baseline requirement and little that needs to be done by schools or LEAs before these duties come into force.

The DfEE would need to draw up regulations and guidance on the plans and on the strategies. This could reasonably be achieved in the time available. There needs to be time to advise schools and LEAs of their duties but these plans have not come out of the blue, as the Ministers have told us. The Government consulted on their proposals in March 2000 and there remain a good 18 months before the implementation date suggested in the amendment.

An implementation date of 1st September 2002 would not mean that all schools and LEAs would have to have a plan or strategy by then, but that from that date schools and LEAs would need to start developing their plans and strategies. It is difficult to imagine what the arguments against the proposal can be. When I was first approached about the amendment, I was sceptical about bringing it forward a year because I thought that the local authorities would need more time. I realise

6 Feb 2001 : Column 280

now that it is a starting point to begin developing their plans and strategies and I believe it is eminently achievable. I beg to move.

7.45 p.m.

Baroness Wilkins: I briefly rise to say that in putting Amendment No. 198 there is no reason why the commencement date for the planning duties should not be brought forward a year to start in 2002.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: Perhaps I may speak to my Amendment No. 202A. I seek to clarify for everyone's benefit that Part I and Clauses 13 and 14 do not extend to Scotland. I support that with four arguments. The first is a cheap one. I note that the Isles of Scilly merit the whole of Clause 38. If the Isles of Scilly merit a clause, Scotland should merit a subsection.

On a more serious basis, in the new context of legislation for Scotland, one of the first things I do on picking up a Bill is to turn to the last clause to find out whether it extends to Scotland, so I believe that this will be helpful.

To turn it round, what advantage is there in not having such a subsection? I cannot think of any. I suspect that I am wrong in my wording, in which case I am content to be told the correct answer, on a suitable promise. I refute any charge that such a subsection would alter the Bill or pose any threat to its successful introduction anywhere in Great Britain. Finally, it clarifies the way that the Scottish Parliament must deal with the issues contained in Clauses 13 and 14.

Lord Davies of Oldham: I appreciate the constructive way in which the amendment is being moved. It may be somewhat churlish to seem negative about what appear to be two straightforward amendments. However, they are not. To write the planning duty on to the face of the Bill would leave no flexibility whatsoever. I realise that that is the intent. It is certainly the intent of the Government that the planning duty should come into force in September 2002. However, to place that on the face of the Bill seems an unacceptable demand. That is particularly so as the amendment is defective. It will be recognised that it is not for this Bill to implement the starting date of the planning duty when the National Assembly for Wales also has responsibilities for determining the commencement in Wales. It is the intention of the Assembly to commence at the same time and we hope that that will prove the case. We accept the evidence put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, which indicates that people will be prepared and able to respond to this legislation once it becomes law. However, for reasons I have suggested, we are not prepared to put the provision on the face of the Bill although that is clearly the intent. I would not have referred, as I did, to other aspects of intent consequent upon this with regard to years 2003 and subsequently had I not been firmly of the conviction, and fully confident, that we shall see implementation of the planning duty in September 2002.

6 Feb 2001 : Column 281

The other amendment also has defects. I make the most obvious point: that Clauses 13 and 14 impose duties only on bodies which exist in England and Wales, hence the additional reference to SENDA. It would, therefore, seem odd to introduce a specific amendment which identifies what is already abundantly clear in the Bill. I understand the intent behind the noble Earl's amendment but nothing could be clearer about where Clauses 13 and 14 apply. In a very real sense, therefore, his amendment is unnecessary.

Baroness Blatch: Did I hear correctly that the noble Lord's objection to my amendment was as regards placing the provision on the face of the Bill? I accept that totally. The amendment is put forward in order to elicit this debate from the Minister. Did the Minister say nevertheless that it would be the intention to implement the planning duty in 2002?

Lord Davies of Oldham: That is indeed what I said and exactly what I meant.

Baroness Blatch: Then I achieved my desired objective and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Blackstone moved Amendments Nos. 199 to 202:


    Page 34, line 38, at end insert--


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