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Lord Lucas: It would be a great service to me and to the Committee if the Minister were to read the order as it will be amended. The order as it is available from the Printed Paper Office is completely incompatible with the amendment because, apparently, it has been amended so many times subsequently. While the Box has been extremely helpful to me, I do not have a copy with me and the amendment as it appears makes no sense as against the papers we are examining. If the Minister could say how the diocesan order will now read, that would be a great service to me and to other Members of the Committee.
The Lord Bishop of Blackburn: While that is being done, I rise to thank the Minister for her courtesy and to declare an interest as chairman of the Church of England Board of Education. I was also the Bishop who steered the Diocesan Boards of Education Measure through the Synod and came to give evidence to the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament all those years ago. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, is right in saying that the Measure has been amended to meet developing changes and circumstances in education, as the past 10 or 11 years have rolled by.
Amendment No. 246 is a way of helping exciting developments to take place and ensuring the Church's continuing interest in the academy as it is. However, it also ensures that should the academy fail the rightful assets of the Church are returned for educational purposes, as though it were any other Church of England educational trust.
There are exciting developments to which the Minister referred, not least in Liverpool where the proposal for a joint Anglican/Roman Catholic academy is far advanced. But throughout the country, through the auspices of diocesan boards of education and other Church sponsored bodies such as the Church Schools Trust, interesting developments are coming forward. I am grateful that Amendment No. 246 will enable those to go forward with an underlying sense of the interests of the Church as the providing body to be preserved.
Lord Alton of Liverpool: I hope that it will help the right reverend Prelate to know that, following the correspondence he referred to in the Times Educational Supplement, I spoke today with a group of teachers from Church schools. They had seen that correspondence and wholeheartedly supported the position taken by the right reverend Prelate during our Committee proceedings. I have personally supported the position and have associated my name with a number of the amendments tabled by the right reverend Prelate in relation to these issues.
I was pleased that, like the Minister, he mentioned the initiative in Liverpool. I have been involved with that and have supported it and I pay great tribute to Bishop James Jones who spearheaded that initiative in the city. During the 30 years since I was first elected to Liverpool City Council, I have been privileged to see such a terrific change in the relationship between the different denominations. I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Ashton, is also aware of the relationships developed between her noble friend, the right reverend Lord, Lord Sheppard of Liverpool, its former Bishop, and the late Archbishop of Liverpool, Derek Warlock. That has flowered in the continuing relationships between the leaders of the Churches, including the Moderator of the Free Churches and perhaps more importantly on the ground in a city which was once caricatured for sectarianism.
I want to pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Ashton, for the way in which she has dealt with these issues throughout the proceedings of our Bill. It should not turn into a mutual admiration society and I am sure that it will not, but occasionally Ministers are entitled to be told how well they have done. I have frequently encountered Ministers who can be difficult or obdurate and who knock down any reasonable amendment simply because it was not one of their own Members who put it forward. I have noticed in the way in which the Minister has dealt with these sensitive questions throughout our proceedings a real willingness to involve all those who are affected by them and to try and find a rational and sensible way forward. This amendment provides an opportunity for putting that on the record.
Baroness Blatch: I rise to welcome any development in the academy programme. They are city technology colleges in all but name. They have been most successful and, although during our previous debate the noble Baroness said rather dismissively that she hoped there would be no more of them, there are to be more of them and with the Government's blessing. I welcome that.
I particularly welcome the Church's involvement with that, and even more particularly welcome the way in which the Anglican and Catholic Churches are working together. Indeed, they have worked together before, but in the academy's programme that is particularly welcomed.
Furthermore, I welcome the advent of the academy in Liverpool because it ought to have benefited from the first tranche of city technology colleges. Sadly, it did not although the area was right for such experimentation at that time. It is late in the day but I welcome it.
I want to make two technical points. The first is to support my noble friend Lord Lucas, because reading the orders is most important. Although the legalese is complex and defeats most of us, they must make sense and I am not convinced at this stage that they do. Therefore, my noble friend with his eagle eye has made a valuable intervention which in a technical sense needs to be answered.
My other question is purely technical and relates to Amendment No. 246. My understanding is that when a third party, whether the Church or a private commercial venture, enters into an agreement to establish an academy, usually the ratio of the third party contribution to the Government's contribution is a relatively small one: in some of the academies it may be a £2 million capital grant, against many more
Lord Dearing: The remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Alton, prick my conscience. I am conscious that when the Minister rises to respond, she stands so frequently alone. Looking at the Benches behind her, I cannot recall many occasions when there has been overwhelming supportwith notable exceptions, of course, including the noble Lord, Lord Peston, as he indicates.
I am grateful to the Minister for the first of the two amendments. I was involved in a report about the way ahead for Church of England schools in which my committee was concerned to endorse the principle of inclusiveness. We recommended in the report that all dioceses should adopt the policy, already employed by many dioceses, of offering guidance to schools on their admissions policy. This was against a background of encouraging greater inclusiveness in those schools where the policy was to admit Church of England pupils onlysuch schools are a small minority.
I have been much heartened by the line taken on this matter by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury and by the House of Bishops. The adoption of this amendment will help to encourage inclusiveness policies throughout Church schools.
I also pay tribute to the work of the Bishops in Liverpool. This is a triumph. The Church of England Synod, in its discussion of the report on the way ahead, specifically and strongly advocated an ecumenical policyand here we have it, as a flagship. I hope that it will serve as an example to many.
Baroness Ashton of Upholland: I was nearly overwhelmed for a moment. I, too, want to pay tribute to all that happens in Liverpool. I was involved in 1975 in the World Council of Churches events that took place. They were truly ecumenical; they were something of a novelty at the time and recognised fully the work of the two Bishops who became synonymous with Liverpool and with unity. I should pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, for the part that he has played.
Perhaps I may quote from Section 3 of the Diocesan Boards of Education Measure 1991, and then state where the amendment fits in. I hope that that will help the noble Lord, Lord Lucas. The section deals with transactions for which advice or consent of the board is required. It reads as follows:
To return to the technical question asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, it was a very good technical question. I am afraid that I must write to the noble Baroness. I cannot answer it.
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