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Baroness Blatch: My Lords, it is difficult to come back on this amendment without reminding the House that we have just voted against including, as a primary aim of the Bill, the best interests of the child. The whole import behind my amendment and that tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, is to say that local

1 Mar 2001 : Column 1428

education authorities should be entirely free--with the criteria in the Bill that it must be consistent with the educational needs of the child and the wishes of the parent--to make appropriate provision, whether in the independent or mainstream sector.

Teachers and head teachers have already said that they want to achieve the Government's aim in this Bill. In moving these amendments, my intention is that we should not give way to the dogmatists one way or the other--those people who believe that there should be more specialist, special schools in the independent sector or those who believe that there should be more inclusion in mainstream schools. We should always be interested in what is consistent with the educational needs of the child.

The noble Lord did not answer the specific question which I asked him to address. What is the purpose of the words,

    "if the cost is met otherwise than by a local education authority"?

What situation is that intended to address?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the point of that is to allow parents to send their children to an independent or a non-maintained specialist school when the LEA does not agree that they should go there. It leaves that position clear and that is the point of it.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, there is nothing in law that prevents parents from sending their children, with or without special needs, to an independent school. We do not live in that kind of state. In this country, parents are allowed to make a free choice. There is absolutely nothing in the law, past or present, to prevent parents, trustees or third parties, if they are paying, from doing that.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I need to remind the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, that we are at Third Reading. The Minister has answered the questions which were put. The noble Baroness appears to be waiting and I believe that the Minister feels that the reply has been given.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the reply was not complete. I was hoping that the Minister would complete his reply.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, first, we are in danger of going back to a Committee discussion on this Bill. The point that I was seeking to make is that without Section 316A(1), Section 316 would prevent that. So Section 316A is needed to ensure that it does not obstruct the rights of parents, which is exactly the point which the noble Baroness was seeking to make.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, that has cleared in my mind what I should do. We live in a country which allows any parents in the land to send their child to any school they wish. If that school is not in the maintained sector, they are free to pay for an independent place without an LEA preventing that. Trustees and third

1 Mar 2001 : Column 1429

parties are also free to do that. The Government appear to have included in the statute a provision which prevents parents from doing that and they are now devising another caveat which allows parents to do that. I wish to test the opinion of the House.

5.18 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 3) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 93; Not-Contents, 125.

Division No. 2


Alexander of Weedon, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Astor, V.
Attlee, E.
Baker of Dorking, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Biffen, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L. [Teller]
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chadlington, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Courtown, E.
Craig of Radley, L.
Craigavon, V.
Crickhowell, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Denham, L.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Fookes, B.
Freeman, L.
Geddes, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goschen, V.
Hanham, B.
Harris of Peckham, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Higgins, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hooper, B.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Hylton, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kingsland, L.
Kirkham, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Laing of Dunphail, L.
Lawson of Blaby, L.
Liverpool, E.
Lucas, L.
Luke, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
Macfarlane of Bearsden, L.
Marlesford, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Monson, L.
Montrose, D.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Noakes, B.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E.
Norton of Louth, L.
Oxfuird, V.
Patten, L.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Rawlings, B.
Reay, L.
Renton, L.
Renton of Mount Harry, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
St John of Fawsley, L.
Seccombe, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Sheppard of Didgemere, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Trumpington, B.
Waddington, L.
Wilcox, B.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Young, B.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Avebury, L.
Bach, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bragg, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Crawley, B.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L. [Teller]
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Goodhart, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grabiner, L.
Greaves, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Jacobs, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Levy, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Lipsey, L.
Listowel, E.
Longford, E.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mallalieu, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marsh, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Mitchell, L.
Molloy, L.
Morgan, L.
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.
Nicol, B.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
Peston, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Razzall, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Russell, E.
Russell-Johnston, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Serota, B.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shepherd, L.
Simon, V.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strange, B.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Tenby, V.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thornton, B.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Watson of Richmond, L.
Weatherill, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

1 Mar 2001 : Column 1436

5.27 p.m.

Baroness Blackstone: moved Amendment No. 4:

    Page 3, line 17, at end insert--

("( ) That guidance shall, in particular, relate to steps which may, or may not, be regarded as reasonable for the purposes of subsections (5) and (6).").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 4, I should also like to speak to Amendments Nos. 6, 8, 12, 13, 43 and 45 to 68. They respond to commitments that we gave on Report.

1 Mar 2001 : Column 1437

Amendment No. 4 responds to an amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Addington, on Report. The noble Lord sought to ensure that the guidance referred to at Section 316A(8) includes advice on the reasonable steps referred to at Section 316A (5) and (6). The guidance will explain the kinds of reasonable steps that maintained schools and LEAs could need to consider in order to prevent inclusion being incompatible with the efficient education of others.

Amendments Nos. 6, 43 and 45 to 68 all relate to changes to Schedule 27 to the 1996 Education Act brought about by Amendment No. 152 tabled in my name on Report. Amendments Nos. 6, 43 and 65 to 68 are technical and consequential. Amendments Nos. 45 to 64 respond positively to further discussions that we have had with the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy de Knayth, about the consequences of the changes made on Report.

The amendments require LEAs to follow the procedures in Schedule 27 to the 1996 Act, as amended by Schedule 1 of the Bill, whenever they propose changes to a child's statement. This will ensure that changes cannot be made without parents first having a right to a meeting with an officer of the LEA or, in cases where changes are proposed to Part 4 of their child's statement, typically in relation to the school named in the statement, to express a preference for a maintained school. They also cut down on the paperwork that would have been involved for LEAs, by not requiring them to issue a proposed amended statement following a periodic review.

Amendment No. 8 responds to an amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch. It amends Clause 5 to make clear that where an LEA concedes the parents' wishes on an appeal to the SEN tribunal, this should not be classed as a withdrawn case but as a case "resolved in the parent's favour". As I indicated on Report, we were considering how the clause might be amended to give this effect. I hope that we have fully met that request. The government amendment now being put forward will replace the word "withdrawn" with,

    "determined in favour of the appellant".

The tribunal will not be required to make an order to this effect.

Amendments Nos. 12 and 13 fulfil the commitments that I gave on Report to extend the ability to request an assessment of a child's special educational needs to providers of relevant nursery education covered by the early years development plans. The responsible body for such providers will be whoever is responsible for the management of the provider in question. Nursery education at maintained nursery schools is not covered by the amendment, as it is already covered under Clause 8.

Amendment No. 13 also fulfils the commitment that I made on Report to add head teachers to the list of responsible bodies who can request assessments on behalf of schools.

1 Mar 2001 : Column 1438

These amendments will ensure that all those who make provision for children with special educational needs will have a common right to request an assessment where they believe a child to require it and LEAs will have a duty to consider all such requests. I beg to move.

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