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Again, we should trust local authorities to involve and include the people whom they think are most relevant in terms of their area and whether they fit the criteria. If more people knew how these authorities workedhow their governance workedthey would want to get involved and one would have more diverse representation and closer connection with what the local community looks and feels like.
Lord Tope: I want to return to the issue of academy schools, which I have not thought about much before. I am aware that it is being raised simply as an example.
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Lord Hanningfield: I support the noble Lord, Lord Tope, in that. I declare an interest as patron of the Essex academies trust. Some areas of Essexfor example, Withamare going to have only two secondary schools, which are going to be academies. Therefore, it would be ridiculous for the local authority not to provide information about those academies to parents. Obviously, we are involved in academies. The more we talk about this, the sillier it seems. We perhaps need to rethink it. This should be about services that are provided to the public, because where there are FE colleges or academies, they are not always provided by the local authority. It needs a little rethinking, because there could be total confusion. I support the academies point.
Baroness Andrews: In a way, the noble Lord makes my point for me, because there is nothing to stop local authoritiesit would be ridiculous, as he saidin their determination to have as wide a spread of representation in local education as possible. Academies are there as part of the pattern of local education. I can only repeat what I have said. The trouble is that the governance of academies is different; they have a different status and a different legal constitution. They are independently managed and sit outside the local authority arrangements and, therefore, do not fit into this Bill in the same way as other schools. However, we can make it clear in guidance that we would welcome local authorities going beyond the prescription in the Bill. We are trying to arrive at a position where we have not been too prescriptive and where we have left flexibility and discretion with local authorities to go beyond that, if they so wish and if they think that it is right for their area.
Lord Greaves: The last point was important and I thank the noble Baroness for dealing with it with great care. It is not clear in the Bill that what she says is true. The Bill states that the two lists involve connected authorities and she is right to say that it does not state that everything else is not connected. It is not clear at all that the local authorities have a duty to provide a comprehensive description of what happens and how people can get involved that includes these matters but also might include many other things as well. An amendment that we shall consider later tackles this
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The noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, wanted to remove FE colleges from the list and I wanted to include academies. In many ways, both are in the same category: they are independent incorporated bodies that are substantially funded by the state and provide local education services as part of the general state system but are not controlled by the local authority. Apart from what the constitution of any particular institution might state, they have no general democratic arrangements. The local authorities and other local bodies are not represented in them. Any local democracy that there might be will refer to staff and students and no one else. In many ways FE colleges and academies are similar, although ideologically they are at different poles. To include one and not the other is not rational.
This comes back to the lists. We are saying that there should be no list, but there should be general descriptions of the duties. The Minister says that, if there were no list, we would be probing what might be included; she is absolutely right, but we might be making suggestions for illustration and understanding, not because we wanted a list. However, once there is a list, there is an issue of prescription. The Minister said that the Government are not being prescriptive, but that is not true; they are being extremely prescriptive. I have not counted how many are on the list, but it goes from (a) to (m)
Lord Greaves: Thank you. It is a long listthere is no doubt about that. Yet some bodies are not included. Therefore, in my proposal on joint boards and joint committees I am trying to put in a description of an organisation that would be included and would fit local circumstances. The Minister is including specific organisations and missing some out. There is a difference of approach and ours is much better.
I did not understand at all what the Minister said about the Homes and Communities Agency, other than that the aim is to raise the profile of what the agency does. That could apply to regional development agencies, regional arts councils or any number of organisationsit could apply to British Waterways. There are a huge number of organisations that are not going to be included, even though they have an important local impact in different ways. The reason for that, going back to what she said previously, is that they do not have arrangements for involvement locallythey are not democratic local organisations and do not deliver local services. The Homes and Communities Agency does not deliver local services but does what English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation did previously: it funds and supports people who do so. There is a real difference. The idea that there are democratic arrangements within the HCA that people might be interested in is slightly extraordinary.
On the other hand, the Minister might be saying, Well, the HCA provides all this money to local housing associations and perhaps to local authorities, while its English Partnerships wing will provide money to regeneration projects, town centre projects and all the rest of it. Of course it does. But money never comes from the Government without some sort of handles on it, and they will therefore have an influence on what happens. They will say, We will fund this, but we wont fund that. The local authority might want to do the second instead of the first, but will do the first because that is what it will get the funding for. That is the real world, and no one is arguing about that. But if you put all that in, you are not producing a map of local organisations that have democratic involvement in how they do things; you are producing a map of the whole structure of governmentall the government departments in the north-west, in Yorkshire and Humberside or wherever. They are in exactly the same position as the Homes and Communities Agency. Are we going to include all those? Of course not.
Frankly, I think that the Government are in a muddle. They need to think about this a bit more clearly. Our view is that this is much too prescriptive. The Government ought to look at giving the local authority a general duty to include everything relevant in their area and then have a description of what is relevant. That is a far better approach. We will return to this with a later amendment, but in the mean time I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Baroness Warsi: I was trying to rise before the noble Lord sat down, but he is quicker than I am. I want to raise the issue of how prescriptive we can be. I hope that the Minister will look not just at method but at the purpose of the Bill. My understanding has been that the purpose of the Bill is to provide a connection between people, authorities and organisations so that there is more democratic involvement. My concern is that taking away responsibilityfor example, colleges responsibility to promote themselves, or the fact that they may desire governorsand placing it on local authorities actually creates a disconnect and is therefore likely to result in arrangements that are less democratic. This follows a pattern that the Government have adopted: they have tried to make organisations and individuals more responsible by taking responsibility away from them and giving it to those who have no control or authority.
Baroness Andrews: I am grateful for the opportunity to clarify this point if the noble Baroness is struggling with it. These duties will enable the local authority to provide a single point of reference for the range of governance organisations that cover the key services that are crucial to peoples well-being. We know that many of those bodies have very good arrangements for informing their local constituencies and wider constituencies about their democratic arrangements and what they do. Nothing is going to take away that responsibility; in fact, we would like them to do more of it. This is just an additional, simple, accessible, single conversation for people to have in relation to that wide spectrum of services.
Lord Hanningfield: I shall follow my noble friend on FE colleges. I know a lot of them wellagain, I declare an interest, because for a long while I was the chairman of the Further Education Funding Council for the eastern region. Names change, so a prescriptive list is an issue. A few years ago, you had the Further Education Funding Council. What happens to the Bill when all the names have changed and a primary care trust, for example, becomes something else? However, that is not the point that I wanted to make. I back up my noble friend in that I know FE colleges very well. Some of them promote themselves very well and some of them do not. We want more governors of FE colleges; it is not for some local authority to have some representation. We are taking away from FE colleges some obligation to promote themselves. The Minister did not really answer that point, because there is a lot of variation. I wish that all FE colleges promoted themselves as well as some do.
Baroness Andrews: I reiterate not only that we are not taking away any responsibility but that we are challenging FE colleges in particular to come forward with an explicit account of their arrangements to make them think more about their responsibilities to the wider constituency. One would hope that it would stimulate, as it is supposed to, a wider and more challenging representation from the community.
I am always amazed at the number of bodies that the noble Lord sits on, has sat on or is planning to sit on. His point about changing names and functions is absolutely right. When we come to the relevant amendment, we will talk about how, when the Secretary of State makes these changes, the lists can change and why we need that additional flexibility.
(i) is in the area of the principal local authority, or
(ii) is attended by a significant number of students who live in the area of the principal local authority
The amendments relate to what could be called over-the-boundary problems. One of the difficulties of the legislation is that it assumes that people who receive services from local authorities or become involved with local authorities do so with the local authority, the health authority or other public authority in the
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Amendment 34 says that the inclusion in the list of a school should not necessarily be to do with where the school is located. A school in which a significant number of students are educated may be over the boundary in someone elses authority. Nevertheless, the authority in which the students live should include it in their information about how people can become involved in the governing bodies of schools. This is common sense, but at the moment the Bill does not say that. The same thing is probably even more true of FE colleges, because they have bigger catchment areas, so Amendment 37 applies to FE colleges.
Amendments 38 and 39 apply the same principle to hospital services and other health services for people who go to a hospital that is over the borderit is out of their PCT area and the health trust area and is in someone elses area. I am sure that we can all think of dozens, perhaps thousands, of examples. I put on record two or three, particularly in the Aire valley, which has a boundary between Bradford Metropolitan District Council and North Yorkshire County Council and is quite near the Lancashire boundary and the district council in North YorkshireCraven District Council.
There is a school there called South Craven School. It is a very successful big comprehensive school, the sort of school that the Government should be praising as a model of good secondary education. It is in North Yorkshire. When it was built, it was in the West Riding of Yorkshire, which included the whole of the Aire valley right up from Shipley and Keighley to Skipton.
When local government reorganisation took place in 1973-74, Keighley and some of the surrounding villages werewrongly, in my viewincluded in, or hijacked into, the city of Bradford. As a native Bradfordian, I must say that they are not in Bradford; that has caused lots of problems, which I shall not discuss here. The particular cross-boundary issue is that South Craven School, which was built for all those old textile villages that are now largely commuter villages for Bradford and Leeds, is in North Yorkshire. Now, about two-thirds of its pupils come from villages that are still in North Yorkshire, such as Cross Hills and Glusburn, where the school is, and about one-third of the pupils come from villages such as Steeton, Sutton and Silsden, which are now in Bradford. People who live in those areas and who have children at that school ought to be told how they can get involved in that school, even though it is in North Yorkshire and the council drawing up the information will be the City of Bradford.
There is another schoolI cannot remember its namein Bradford that serves a similar old textile, now commuter, village on the edge of Bradford called Oakenshaw. The school built for Oakenshaw is now over the borderI suppose that it is in Cleckheaton, technicallyin the Kirklees Council area and I am informed that the vast majority of its pupils live in Bradford.
Let us think about big cities, such as Manchester. In the urban area of Manchester, which everyone who does not actually live in Manchester thinks is Manchester but which covers the cities of Manchester, Salford, Trafford and part of Tameside, there must be lots of cross-border movement to schools. London is a different matter altogether. No one in London chooses their school according to which borough runs it.
Lord Greaves: They may do in Sutton, yes, but by and large people choose it according to the perceived quality of the school and the convenience of getting there. Those are essentially the two factors that cause people to choose a school. There is a huge amount of cross-borough movement in London; we all know about that. That principle ought to be written into the Bill.
On the health service, I very briefly mention the example of Airedale hospital, which is actually in Keighley in Bradford, but which serves the whole of the Aire valley, which is in North Yorkshire, and quite a chunk of Lancashire, including the eastern fringe of Lancashire. I must be careful abut what I say; I am talking about the eastern fringe of those areas now administered by Lancashire, such as Barnoldswick and Earby, where a lot of people still think that they are Yorkshire born and bred and live in Yorkshire but, nevertheless, are in the east Lancashire health authority system and are covered by the health trusts of east Lancashire.
So there is a cross-border issue. That has been recognised. Airedale hospital, in its submission for foundation status, came to talk to people in Lancashire, in the Colne and Barnoldswick areas. The hospital said: Look, we know that you are an important part of our catchment area and, when we set up the foundation trust, we will want representation from your part of Lancashire on our foundation trust, even though you are across the border. Those issues are important and should be written into the Bill. I beg to move.
Lord Graham of Edmonton: I have a great deal of sympathy with what the noble Lord has said. I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, is in his place; I know that he will understand what I am going to say. My local government experience was fairly prescribed by the boundaries of the London boroughs of Enfield, Barnet and Haringey, which moved over that period. The illustration that I want to give is from Loughton, where there is a successful and popular college on which a lot of money has been spent so that it can expand. Whenever I go along the road past the college, I cannot get across the crossroads for pupils who are coming into the school by Underground into Loughton. They must come from a wide range of places. The college does a good job.
I do not know whether or not the Minister is able to say or do something in the Bill. I hesitate to think that responsible people in charge of education are so hidebound that they cannot use common sense. As I see it, the Governments intention here is to augment or add to the efforts that other people are making.
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The point that the noble Lord has raised may be answered by the wording in the Bill; the Minister may well be minded to accept the sense of the amendment, one way or another. We should not have a situation where demarcation is so precise that people are denied the best possible opportunities. I know from my experience as a councillorthat was many years ago, but I am still in touch with the fine Latymer School in Edmonton, which has a good recordthat when it comes to the question of secondary education, most parents these days, in contrast to when I was a boy, take a great deal of interest in the quality of the school, its academic record and so on.
I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say and to seeing whether it is possible to take account of the sense of what has been said. In practical terms, I can see the problem before my very eyes. Whether it is capable of being codified in words in a Bill rather than in any other way, I am not too sure.
Baroness Warsi: The points made by the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, are interesting. I come from across the border and was born and raised in Kirklees. I see from the papers that the noble Lord, Lord Patel, has in his hands that he will be responding to this. I hope that this debate over territory has nothing to do with the fact that he, the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, and I are all Yorkshire folk.
This group of amendments reinforces points that have already been made. The noble Lord has sought to widen the scope of the connection that local authorities have with those institutions that in reality are used by people who may not live in that same local authority area. Schools and authorities are used in the main by those who live closest to them. Such catchment areas range across local authority areas; we have heard examples of that. This crossover inevitably means that, if local authorities stick rigidly to the prescriptions in the Bill, large numbers of people could miss out on the information that the local authority is expected to promulgate simply because their children are educated in a different area, or they are treated at their nearest hospital but that hospital is in a different local authority area.
The noble Lord is right to raise this issue. Where does the duty start and where does it end? Where should the line be drawn? The Government have tried to draw the line, but the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, has pointed out some of the loopholes, and I am sure that there will be many others.
However, I am concerned that the amendments could create unnecessary overlaps. How exactly will local authorities determine, where individuals reside outside their areas but use their facilities, what would merit the promotion of understanding functions and arrangements? What are the practical implications of them having to do so? Would the noble Lords suggestion mean that two local authorities could end up promoting information about the same institution, or would they co-ordinate their approach?
I do not wish to be too negative, but I am concerned about the practicalities of both the original proposals set out in the Bill and the provisions of the amendments. I hope that I have highlighted some of the difficulties, but I fear that they may well prove hard to resolve while the basic aim of the Bill is to put a duty on principal local authorities to promote understanding of the arrangements of bodies that they do not fully control.
Lord Tope: The problem has been well illustrated, but I do not want the debate to go entirely to Yorkshire folk such as my noble friend Lord Greaves. The problem is well illustrated by LondonI am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Graham, will agree with me. It is still the case that most schools in London were built during the time of the Inner London Education Authority and the former county councils, which before 1965 were the LEAs. In my own borough, one of our two girls grammar schools, which we still have and which since 1965 have been part of the LEA and Sutton educational life in its different forms, is physically located in Surrey, 100 yards outside the borough boundary. We can all cite examples like that. However, the school is and always has been one of the two principal girls grammar schools in the area, and one that many parents strive to get their daughters into.
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