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Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, as ever I am seeking to be fair to participants in the debate as well as to colleagues who have joined us a little late. I am mindful of the fact that if I were unfair to the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, in my attempt to answer her questions, she would upbraid me the moment she gets to the Dispatch Box, so perhaps I am saving time by answering the questions as fully as I can.

We have had an interesting debate on the code. As I have indicated, we would have wanted wider consultation before the introduction of the code. We did our best to consult all the major parties. The noble Baroness always makes the point that all schools should be consulted on everything at all times, while at the same time saying that all schools should have the minimum amount of bureaucracy, mail and paper coming through their doors. I shall leave that small contradiction for another day.

I appeal to the House to recognise that in the code the Government are implementing legislation that was duly considered at great length last year—I participated in one or two of the debates—and passed by this House and the lower House. The code merely implements the principles that that legislation brought into force.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, there are many happy bunnies on the Government Back Benches. They have all been to their party—

A noble Lord: My Lords—

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, perhaps I can tell the noble Lord a story. I was approached by the Minister's Chief Whip and asked to keep all the speeches on this side of the House to a minimum. We tried to arrange it so that I would speak, then my noble friend Lord Pilkington, followed by perhaps one or two others. I was told that the speech from the Front Bench opposite would be brief so that everyone could go to their party uninterrupted. However, there has been the most successful filibuster that I have ever witnessed.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, perhaps the noble Baroness would recognise that a 21-minute opening speech may also be considered part of the filibuster.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the Minister and the Chief Whip knew that there were nine regulations and a code of practice and that they could not be dealt with quickly. I could have talked for another 20 minutes because I am unhappy about so much in the regulations.

I agree with my noble friend Lord Pilkington that the consultation was a disgrace. It was not right, at the beginning of term, to give primary and secondary

27 Jan 2003 : Column 994

schools nine regulations and two voluminous codes of practice to respond to in 25 days. The Minister has just told my noble friend Lady Park of Monmouth that the reason for that was to put the regulations in place by 2004. The Minister's code of practice says that the LEAs will be obliged to have co-ordinated schemes for the 2005 intake, so there was no hurry for the consultation to take place. As a result of consultation the time was extended, so they could have had more time and it would have been possible for there to be a better response.

I know that the noble Lord, Lord Brennan, speaks for the Catholic Church, and for Catholic church schools. I implore the noble Lord to talk to some of the heads, particularly of the London schools, which would not entail a long journey. They are outraged because they did not know about this matter. I was one who was told that the code had not been published when it had been. The heads did not know about it and when they looked at the website it was not there. They regard the matter as important for some of the reasons given by my noble friend Lord Pilkington. They are very cross that a response was given by the head of the Catholic Church and the head of the Anglican Church without any consultation with them whatever. I speak for them and I believe that they should be supported. There is no one else to speak up for them. The Government will not, nor will the Liberal Democrats, so I shall; I am not ashamed to do so.

The Minister made one point that I welcome. He said that the article in the Daily Telegraph was not about making anything compulsory for faith schools. That is not the case. I welcome that. The article was written because John Clare of the Daily Telegraph, myself and the heads of the faith schools believe that from now on they will not be allowed to interview for admissions. That is not in law; it is not in the regulations; it is in the code of practice only and codes of practice are not law. They explain the practice and they refer to statutes but they are not law. Therefore, it will be possible for faith schools, if they wish, to have regard to the code of practice and to take the view that admissions should form part of their process. I welcome what the Minister said, that nothing in that is compulsory and therefore we need not be concerned.

The Minister did not say what are the limited powers of adjudicators or what powers they had over grammar schools. It would be helpful if he could write to me on that point.

I suggested a way of keeping down bumf for schools: a letter to all schools and all relevant bodies telling them that there were to be laid before Parliament nine regulations and two codes of practice and that if they were interested they could gain the information from the website—it would be helpful if that were continuously on the website—and if they wished they could have hard copies. The Minister said that the relevant people who had a direct interest were informed, but that is not right. The National Grammar Schools Association was not informed and a large tract of the regulations deals with admissions to grammar schools.

27 Jan 2003 : Column 995

The answer was extremely disappointing so I wish to seek the opinion of the House.

7.58 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Motion shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 70; Not-Contents, 130.

Division No. 1


Anelay of St Johns, B.
Arran, E.
Astor, V.
Blackwell, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Bridgeman, V.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Courtown, E.
Craigavon, V.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Feldman, L.
Fookes, B.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Hanham, B.
Henley, L.
Home, E.
Howe, E.
King of Bridgwater, L.
Lucas, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
Mar, C.
Marlesford, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Montrose, D.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Newton of Braintree, L.
Noakes, B.
Northbrook, L.
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Peel, E.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rotherwick, L.
St. John of Bletso, L.
St John of Fawsley, L.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Selborne, E.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Stewartby, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Wakeham, L.
Wilcox, B.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Alli, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Barker, B.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Borrie, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carlile of Berriew, L.
Carter, L.
Chan, L.
Chandos, V.
Christopher, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Eatwell, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gavron, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gilbert, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Jones, L.
Jordan, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Listowel, E.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Mitchell, L.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Nicol, B.
Orme, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Pendry, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Radice, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Roper, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Stallard, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Thornton, B.
Tordoff, L.
Turnberg, L.
Varley, L.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Whitaker, B.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord Privy Seal)
Winston, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.

27 Jan 2003 : Column 996

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