14 Oct 2015 : Column 225

House of Lords

Wednesday, 14 October 2015.

3 pm

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of London.

Northern Powerhouse: Lancashire


3.07 pm

Asked by Lord Greaves

To ask Her Majesty’s Government in what ways the Northern Powerhouse will benefit local authorities and their citizens in the county of Lancashire.

Lord Greaves (LD): My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I remind the House of my registered local government interest.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con): My Lords, the northern powerhouse is part of the Government’s long-term economic plan to enable the north to maximise its economic potential. Alongside wider economic growth, Lancashire will benefit from improved transport connections, an enhanced skills base, support for international trade, cultural investment and the opportunity to ask government for more devolved powers. Local projects of economic importance are currently being supported through the Lancashire growth deal and Preston and South Ribble city deal.

Lord Greaves: My Lords, Lancashire is a large, varied, attractive county stretching from the coast to the Pennine hills, where I live. It is full of countryside and attractive towns and cities. It is being deprived and stripped of resources—first the councils, then the lack of government investment and now the police. Do the Government understand that, if the northern powerhouse is going to succeed and not just be a slogan, it is going to have to cover the whole of the north of England and not just the big cities that grab everything for themselves? At the moment, we are simply being stuffed.

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, I cannot agree with the noble Lord’s statement. In 2014, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership agreed one of the largest growth deals, which brought £233.9 million into Lancashire for bespoke deals. It also agreed the Preston and Lancashire city deal, which was the first Wave 2 city deal, amounting to £300 million of investment and development for infrastructure. I also do not agree with the premise that the cities are ahead of the counties, given the announcement on Cornwall in recent weeks.

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Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, the Minister has mentioned the transport links from Lancashire to other parts of the north-west of England. Could she say more about that, bearing in mind that many of the roads in Lancashire feeding on to the M6 motorway are frequently gridlocked because of the absence of good public transport links from Lancashire, especially railway links—the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, has raised this issue previously—which need attending to? What can she tell the House about that?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: I am very pleased to be able to tell the noble Lord about the Blackburn to Bolton rail corridor, which will make a huge difference, the Burnley to Pendle growth corridor and the work done on the M65, which is a particular congestion point off the M6. Maintenance on the Burnley Centenary Way viaduct is under way, and there is the East Lancs cycle network for those who are interested in cycling. There is also the restart to the electrification of the trans-Pennine rail network and the Todmorden curve, for which I campaigned many years ago and am glad to see is now up and running.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab): My Lords, I declare an interest as a locally elected councillor. Why are the Government so wedded to a piecemeal, one-at-a-time approach instead of putting together a coherent strategy for devolution of power across England that takes account of all communities, including rural areas and small towns, as recommended by Mr Graham Brady of the 1922 Committee in the other place?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, the Bill that is currently going through the other place and has just gone through this House is a framework Bill which allows bespoke devolution deals to take place in areas according to local need and their plans for growth. To prescribe would be the wrong way forward for government. I do not agree with the noble Lord’s point about the piecemeal nature of this approach. The north-west, the north-east and Yorkshire are doing very well economically—in fact, Yorkshire has created more jobs than the whole of France.

Lord Lawson of Blaby (Con): My Lords, is it not clear that what would offer the best possible prospects for the economy of the north-west and Lancashire in particular is developing the immense natural gas resources of the Bowland Shale? Is it not deplorable that the Labour-led Lancashire County Council has prevented this from happening so far?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My noble friend makes an excellent point. This is a one-off opportunity for the areas of Lancashire to maximise their assets and to be self-sufficient in how they derive energy, so I could not agree more with my noble friend.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, as has been mentioned, the chairman of the 1922 Committee spoke in a Daily Telegraph article today about the need in any devolvement to ensure that safeguards are in place to protect what he called the “rural fringes”.

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What plans do Her Majesty’s Government have to do just that and to ensure that decision-making across that whole area is not based on predominantly urban-focused priorities?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: I thank the right reverend Prelate and totally concur with his views about rural as well as urban being served by devolution and the northern powerhouse. Of course, there is the Cornwall deal, which is almost predominantly rural. However, I would not like noble Lords to forget about Greater Manchester—I am looking at the noble Lord, Lord Goddard, who has significant rural areas where he comes from—and Rochdale and Oldham. There are significant rural areas in Greater Manchester and that deal has now been done to their satisfaction

Lord Shipley (LD): My Lords, is the Government’s rail investment priority in the north of England HS2, HS3 between Manchester and Leeds or the electrification of the trans-Pennine route; or do they intend to do all these at the same time?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: My Lords, I do not think it would be logistically possible to do them all at the same time, given the passage of the hybrid Bills through the House of Commons. However, the Government, and certainly the localities the noble Lord speaks about, would say that they are all important and complement each other, and that local, regional and national transport—in terms of HS2—all add to their economic strength. To take a very local example, the investment in the Metrolink from Wythenshawe to Manchester Airport has opened up a whole new jobs market in an area of high employment need.

Lord Berkeley (Lab): My Lords, the Government are trying to demonstrate that the northern powerhouse balances the City of London in investment and so on. When is it going to get enough new and longer trains to reduce the dramatic congestion during the rush hour in many cities such as Manchester and Leeds, and to reduce journey times between these cities?

Baroness Williams of Trafford: The new, unpaused trans-Pennine electrification will hopefully do just that. I know that the noble Lord and I share a particular interest in this issue, and he will be very pleased to hear that the Pacer trains are going.

Northern Ireland: Defamation Law


3.15 pm

Asked by Lord Lexden

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have held with the Northern Ireland Executive about the reform of defamation law in Northern Ireland.

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Viscount Younger of Leckie (Con): My Lords, there was contact both before and shortly after the Defamation Act 2013 was passed to establish whether the Northern Ireland Executive wished to extend its provisions there and to commend its benefits. In the event, the Executive have not as yet chosen to extend this legislation to Northern Ireland. As the matter is devolved, this is a decision for the Executive.

Lord Lexden (Con): The 2013 Act significantly improves the legal rights of the people of England and Wales. Were not the Northern Ireland Executive seriously at fault in failing to give a single reason for their refusal to implement the legislation in Northern Ireland, which means that for the first time in history it has a different libel law from that which exists in England and Wales? Were the Executive also not at fault in closing down the independent Northern Ireland Law Commission while it was in the middle of a consultation exercise on this very subject? If the Executive persist with their inexplicable opposition to reform, will the Government take action to bring the benefits of this new legislation to the people of Ulster?

Viscount Younger of Leckie: I appreciate my noble friend’s concern and frustration about the law in Northern Ireland becoming out of step with that in England and Wales. However, as I explained earlier, the law on defamation is a devolved issue and so it is a matter for the Northern Ireland Executive. However, the Executive asked the Northern Ireland Law Commission to conduct a review of defamation law in Northern Ireland, and following the closure of the commission, which my noble friend mentioned, I understand that the acting First Minister has recently confirmed that Dr Andrew Scott has been asked to complete its review.

Lord Alderdice (LD): My Lords, one of the strange, paradoxical but not unusual things about this was that it was a Unionist DFP Minister, Sammy Wilson, who refused to allow harmonisation with the rest of the United Kingdom. Is it not a little disappointing that when something such as this happens, the Government simply sit back and wait until the Administration come to their senses? Is it not possible for the Government to engage with all the political parties in the Executive and press them to understand the importance of this matter, rather than simply sit back until people hopefully wake up, perhaps too late?

Viscount Younger of Leckie: I am very aware that the noble Lord, Lord McNally, who may or may not be in his place, was instrumental in pressing the benefits of the Defamation Act on to the Northern Ireland Executive. The noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, will be more than aware of the Sewel convention and to that extent, Parliament remains sovereign. However, the UK Government will not normally pass primary legislation relating to areas in which a devolved legislature has legislative competence except with the agreement of that devolved legislature in the form of an LCM.

Lord Tebbit (Con): Is it not strange that we are pressed in this Parliament to grant devolution to other parts of the kingdom, and when those other parts of

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the kingdom take a view about their law which is different to that held by members of this Parliament, we become all indignant about it? Surely that is what devolution is about. People may take odd decisions. So what? That is the consequence of devolution.

Viscount Younger of Leckie: I agree with my noble friend. He is correct that it is a consequence of devolution. However, there is a little more to it than that in that the civil law on defamation is a devolved matter for Northern Ireland. It remains the case that it is a matter for the Executive and we will see what happens with the Andrew Scott review.

Lord Pannick (CB): My Lords, the Minister says that this is a matter for the Northern Ireland Executive. Does he not recognise that publishers tend to produce one edition for England, Wales and Northern Ireland? Publishers tend to adopt a lowest common denominator approach for practical reasons, and therefore the antiquated defamation laws of Northern Ireland are having a very adverse effect on freedom of speech in England and Wales. What are the Government doing about that?

Viscount Younger of Leckie: I have already explained that but I understand the point that the noble Lord makes. We believe that the Defamation Act 2013 has its benefits in giving greater legal clarity and free speech protection to the extent that the bar is set higher. A higher hurdle is set by the law. Again, it is up to the Northern Ireland Executive to decide whether or not to take this forward.

Lord McAvoy (Lab): My Lords, to my delight and slight surprise I totally agree with the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit. Occasionally devolution will present issues and problems but the principle of devolution must be preserved. Will the Minister please confirm again that the present Westminster Government have no intention of legislating for Northern Ireland on this issue?

Viscount Younger of Leckie: That is indeed the case.

Lord Bew (CB): My Lords, does the Minister understand that the question of the libel law is connected to the form of government in Northern Ireland? Since 2007 we have had a five-party coalition with no opposition. Where there is no opposition the freedom of the media is even more important. That is something that Her Majesty’s Government might discuss as a principle because devolution and the Sewel convention rules should be an issue of debate with the Government of Northern Ireland. We have had a spectacular number of scandals in recent years—most recently the NAMA scandal—and it is hard to believe that this is unrelated to the level of press freedom.

Viscount Younger of Leckie: I understand the point that the noble Lord makes. It relates perhaps to issues such as serious harm, truth and honest opinion, but I can respond only by saying that we hope that Dr Andrew Scott’s review will cause the Executive to rethink and maybe some change may come about from that.

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Lord Lester of Herne Hill (LD): My Lords, is there not a serious risk that the present ludicrous position might violate the European human rights convention guarantee of free speech and equality, which is written into the Northern Ireland Act and which the Secretary of State ought to ensure is complied with? Is it not the case, therefore, that the Government have it within their power, if they so wish, to impose equal protection of a fundamental right across the Irish Sea in Northern Ireland?

Viscount Younger of Leckie: I am aware that the noble Lord put in an awful lot of work to the Defamation Act, but I have referred already to the Sewel convention. It is up to the Northern Ireland Executive to decide whether the rules remain within the ECHR.

Education: Initial Teacher Training


Tabled by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the relative merits of different ways of delivering initial training of teachers.

3.23 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education (Lord Nash) (Con): My Lords—

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Storey (LD): My Lords, I beg leave to answer—no, to ask—the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Lord Nash: Perhaps I could ask the noble Lord to be quicker on his feet in future, or perhaps I should be less eager.

My Lords, since 2010 we have reformed ITT to put greater control in the hands of the best schools. It is too early to conduct a thorough comparison of different routes. The first full cohort of School Direct trainees have only just completed their first year of training. However, the department regularly assesses demand, completion and employment rates, and how well different routes attract trainees and the quality of those trainees. The latest data show that candidates on school-led ITT routes have higher completion and employment rates than those on HEI-led ITT.

Lord Storey: The Minister will be aware that, while teachers are probably of the highest quality that they have ever been, 17% fewer students have gone into teaching over the last five years. He will also be aware of the huge increase in the birth rate that is coming down the track, which will probably mean something in the order of 900,000 more pupils, who will obviously require extra teachers. As for university higher education, how can universities plan long term and strategically if future funding is not always guaranteed?

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Lord Nash: The noble Lord raises a very good point. Our current thinking is that the allocation of places on a year-by-year basis is the most accurate method and ensures that our future teachers train in only the highest-quality settings. The current system allows us to factor in market fluctuations and ensures that participation in ITT is dependent on Ofsted grade and proven ability to fill places. However, we keep these processes under constant review.

Baroness Donaghy (Lab): My Lords, the Minister indicated that it was too early to make an assessment about the quality of initial teacher training—yet in his concluding remarks he indicated a preference for School Direct rather than higher education initial teacher training, which implies to me that the Government have already made up their mind on this. Would he give us an assurance, first that there will be an independent assessment of the new way of initial teacher training and how it compares with the traditional system, and secondly that he can guarantee future teacher supply across the United Kingdom?

Lord Nash: It is important to point out that this is not quite the dramatic change that some people think. After all, at least 60% of the one-year postgraduate ITT course—which the vast majority of trainees go on through HEI—is already in-school. This year, nearly half the trainees will be going through a school-led system, and this Government trust schools and heads to be in charge of teacher improvement.

Baroness Perry of Southwark (Con): Will my noble friend agree that probably the most important gift that teachers bring to their pupils is their knowledge of the subject they teach? Can he assure us that the new way of training teachers—through the school route—will still ensure that they have a strong mastery of and enthusiasm for the subject they teach?

Lord Nash: I agree entirely. Subject knowledge is one of the most important things that teachers must have. The Carter review, while saying that the overall effectiveness of ITT was pretty good, pointed out that this was one of the weak areas. Our reforms to the curriculum, by attracting more highly qualified teachers into the system, will result in our next generation of teachers having greater subject knowledge. We are already seeing this in A-levels, where over the last five years the number of students has increased by 13% in maths, 16% in physics and 17% in chemistry.

Baroness Wall of New Barnet (Lab): My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord is aware of the concern that many employers have about many teachers’ lack of knowledge—not lack of interest—about how they can support industry and local employers to talk about apprenticeships and encourage their youngsters to apply for them. Will he assure the House that regardless of which scheme or method of training goes forward, there will be an element that requires teachers to relate to local employers, making sure apprenticeships become part of young people’s options?

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Lord Nash: We will encourage schools to take on apprenticeships, yes.

Baroness Warsi (Con): Will my noble friend indicate how initial teacher training has been amended to reflect the new Prevent duty that teachers now have? Who is delivering that training—is it universities or is it the approved Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent co-ordinators, as listed by the Home Office? If it is by those providers listed by Prevent, could he write to the House and put a letter in the Library with a list of those accredited providers?

Lord Nash: My noble friend raises an extremely important point. We will look at this in the new ITT framework, which is under consideration. It is currently conducted by Prevent co-ordinators, but I shall certainly write to her further on this.

Baroness Pinnock (LD): My Lords, with a YouGov poll showing that 50% of current teachers are considering leaving the profession within the next two years, when we are 8,000 teacher training places short of what we need and with rising school numbers, would the Minister not agree that, however good the quality of teacher training, the fact is we will not have enough trained teachers in our classrooms? What is he going to do about it?

Lord Nash: If I may say so, this is slightly a case of creating a crisis out of a challenge. We actually have more teachers than ever before. We have a higher quality of teachers than ever before. We are improving behaviour management and workload to reduce the risk of teachers leaving the system. Many more teachers are returning to the workforce and the vacancy rate has remained at around 1% or below over the last 15 years. Indeed, frankly, over the last 15 years it has on several occasions, including under the last Government, been higher than it is at the moment.

Renewable Energy: Solar


3.31 pm

Asked by Lord Young of Norwood Green

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the recent collapse of Mark Group, a solar energy company, in the light of their decision to reduce the subsidy on domestic rooftop solar installations.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change and Wales Office (Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth) (Con): My Lords, we are currently consulting on revisions to the feed-in tariff for solar. The consultation ends next week on 23 October. I encourage anybody with evidence to submit into that consultation. Of course, any job losses resulting from the Mark Group going into administration are regrettable, as indeed are all job losses. I strongly sympathise with those affected.

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Lord Young of Norwood Green (Lab): I thank the Minister for his reply and declare an interest. This year I finally persuaded my local primary school, where I am a governor, to utilise a large area of flat roof to install solar panels; with the current feed-in tariff, the payback time for investment is about seven years—with, of course, a significant saving in the electric bill. Does the Minister appreciate that the proposed massive reduction in the feed-in tariff will cause many organisations and residential home owners not to install solar panels, with resulting job losses and company closures in an industry that is vital to our renewable energy programme? Why did he not consider a phased reduction of the feed-in tariff, as the industry suggested, which would have given solar companies time to adjust?

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: My Lords, I repeat that the consultation is still very much open. It is true that social housing and community projects—the noble Lord referred to a school—look to feed-in tariffs as a reliable source of revenue. That is why the review specifically seeks views on this. I encourage the noble Lord to feed in to that review and to others.

Lord Howell of Guildford (Con): My Lords, is it not worth explaining that there has to be a limit to the amount that the taxpayer and the consumer is prepared to put in to subsidise these important renewable industries? Would it not be the best advice to future investors and firms in this area to seek to develop their technologies without subsidy, as is happening in other parts of the world?

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: My Lords, keeping bills down for hard-working families obviously is a vital part of the Government’s policy—and it very much remains so. It is true that the costs of solar and of other renewables are falling significantly. Solar is on the fastest trajectory downwards. We are very keen to reduce the cost of solar panels by, for example, supporting lifting the ban on minimum price restrictions on the import of solar panels from China into the EU, as we are doing.

Lord Stoneham of Droxford (LD): Is the reversal of the incentives for long-term investment in the renewable energy sector not in complete contradiction of the warning given by the Governor of the Bank of England that climate change is a threat to our financial resilience and long-term prosperity?

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: My Lords, extremely important at the moment are the climate change negotiations that are taking place, or will take place, in Paris at the end of the year, as I am sure all noble Lords will agree. The most significant thing that is raised internationally is the generosity of the contribution from the United Kingdom of £5.8 billion towards resilience and mitigation. That is what the discussion is about: taking international action. That remains extremely important.

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Lord Bach (Lab): My Lords, is the Minister aware that the Government’s boast earlier about today’s employment figures will be treated with at best ridicule and at worst the contempt that it deserves in the city of Leicester and the county of Leicestershire, where 900 hard-working workers are set to lose their jobs? This seems to be a direct result of government policy. Is the Minister not a little bit ashamed at what the Government’s policies, or policy aims, have already come to? What are the Government going to do to help?

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: My Lords, perhaps I may first correct the noble Lord. Most of the jobs that are lost are those of installers who are not based in Leicestershire—I know the city of Leicester very well. However, it is important to note that the Government are very alive to this fact. I am surprised that the noble Lord—in all the circumstances of the success of the market economy, though contradicted by the present leadership of the Labour Party—does not welcome the delivery of some of the best employment and unemployment figures, with unemployment coming down and employment going up. I would have thought that the noble Lord would welcome that; it is very significant.

Viscount Ridley (Con): My Lords, will my noble friend confirm that the efficiency of solar panels in this country, which is a rather cloudy country, is somewhere below 10% of nameplate capacity? Most of that happens in summer and in the day time, and seems not to happen often in the winter evenings.

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: My Lords, sadly it is a feature of life that we do not get as much sun as some countries. The good news on solar panels is that of course they can deliver significant advantages in Africa—which my right honourable friend Justine Greening is looking at through international development funds—and are delivering significant advantages in China and India as well.

Baroness Worthington (Lab): My Lords, is the broader point not about investor confidence? Perhaps the Minister could tell us in which of the zero-carbon technologies the Government want to see investment and which of those will deliver UK jobs rather than ones potentially in France or China?

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: My Lords, it is refreshing to see the noble Baroness talking about British jobs and investor certainty in view of the difficulties that she must be having with her leadership in another place. I know very well that she supports new nuclear. Her leader does not.

Noble Lords: Answer the question!

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: If I have a chance I will answer it. The noble Baroness does support new nuclear; her leader does not. That is significant for investor confidence. It is also significant in terms of

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delivering what we need to deliver for an international agreement in Paris. It will be interesting to hear where the Labour Party is on that rather important issue.

Lord Marlesford (Con): My Lords—

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): My Lords, it rains a lot in Britain, and we have a great deal of potential water power here, which can help us—

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): My Lords, I am so sorry; because of the dispute, and time is up, we will have to move on.

Bank of England and Financial Services Bill [HL]

First Reading

3.38 pm

A Bill to make provision about the Bank of England; to make provision about the regulation of financial services; to make provision about the issue of bank notes; and for connected purposes.

The Bill was introduced by Lord O’Neill of Gatley, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Childcare Bill [HL]

Bill Main Page


3.39 pm

Relevant documents: 2nd, 5th and 8th Reports from the Delegated Powers Committee

Amendment 1

Moved by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

1: Before Clause 1, insert the following new Clause—

“Funding review

(1) Sections 1 to 3 shall not come into force until the Secretary of State has—

(a) established an independent review of the free childcare entitlement funding system, including a large-scale analysis of the cost of delivering funded places; and

(b) put in place a comprehensive and sustainable funding solution, which takes into account the complete findings of the review under paragraph (a), and which addresses the funding of existing childcare and the additional requirements on childcare providers arising from this Act.

(2) The review to be established under subsection (1)(a) shall consult local authorities, childcare providers, employers, parents and others with an interest.

(3) Where the Secretary of State’s funding solution under subsection (1)(b) does not follow the recommendations of the review under subsection (1)(a), the Secretary of State must publish a report outlining the reasoning.

(4) Any report published under subsection (3) must be laid before each House of Parliament.”

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Baroness Jones of Whitchurch (Lab): My Lords, we have repeatedly said that we support the concept of extending free childcare. It was a manifesto pledge and I do not need to repeat the arguments because in principle we share the Government’s ambitions on this issue, as do most of your Lordships in the Chamber today. But we want a policy that will not just grab the headlines; we want a policy that will work. Sadly, this is where we and the Government part company.

The truth is that the progress of the Bill has been an exercise in how not to make legislation. The Government have incurred the wrath of both the Constitution Committee and the Delegated Powers Committee. To recap, the Constitution Committee criticised the Bill in the following terms:

“Legislation of this type increases the power of the Executive at the expense of Parliament. The Childcare Bill is an example of a continuing trend of constitutional concern to which we draw the attention of the House”.

Meanwhile, the Delegated Powers Committee described it as a “skeleton” Bill, saying:

“The remarkable imbalance between the provision that appears in the Bill itself and what is to be left to regulations, and the scarcity of explanation in the memorandum, has led us to question whether members will be in a position to contribute meaningfully to debates at Committee Stage and Report Stage”.

Despite the Government agreeing to go away and consider these concerns, the latest report of the committee, issued yesterday, is scathing. It says that the committee is,

“surprised and disappointed that many of our recommendations have not been acted upon. It appears to us that the amendments add very little … to the face of the Bill”.

This lack of detail was raised by us and others in Committee. In order to make progress, the Government made a number of commitments about further information that would be available on Report, at the heart of which was a promise to conduct, and report on the findings of, a funding review which would explain how the additional free childcare hours would be funded. This information is fundamental to the success or otherwise of the Bill.

In response to our amendments on this issue in Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Nash, acknowledged our concerns. He said that,

“we are conducting a thorough review. The review will report in the autumn and will inform our decisions on the level of funding that providers require to deliver quality childcare, and as I said, we will report on these findings by Report”.—[

Official Report

, 1/7/15; col. 2161.]

This could not be clearer, but, sadly, this is not what has happened. We will hear today from the Minister that the Government have reported in advance on part of the review—the part based on a call for evidence of people’s experiences in the childcare sector. Of course these responses are not to be dismissed, although, by the Government’s own admission, it was not a scientific survey—but that is not the point. The point is that there are real questions about how these new places are to be funded and what will happen if they are not fully funded. This was to form a central part of the funding review and, sadly, this is what we have been denied so far.

There were also real concerns from the sector that the way the funding review is being carried out has raised a number of queries. I have received numerous messages of support for our amendments in the light

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of that. For example, I have received a detailed critique from the CEO of a nursery chain in Stafford setting out his concerns about the way the survey and the follow-up round tables were conducted by Deloitte. He said that the survey questions were far too imprecise and open to subjective interpretation, rather than an attempt to gather detailed unit cost information. He further reported that at a well-attended and well-informed round table in Coventry, there was considerable concern that the evidence already gathered by respected bodies such as Ceeda and the PLA was simply being ignored. But we are never going to have the opportunity to scrutinise this evidence. In fact, we are now being told that the final funding review will not be published until the Chancellor has conducted the spending review on 25 November—well after the Bill will have left the House.

At its core, this is not about the Government’s disregard of Parliament, important though that is. It is important because we do not believe that the offer being made for free childcare in this Bill is viable without a considerable injection of money. Quite frankly, we do not believe that the Chancellor will be persuaded to find the necessary additional funds to make the scheme work. Why is this important? The current nursery providers gave evidence to the Select Committee on Affordable Childcare that the current scheme is being run at a loss, with complicated systems of cross-subsidy. Put simply, if you increase the free hours, you reduce the opportunities for cross-subsidy, and the whole scheme collapses.

The Pre-school Learning Alliance, which speaks for many in the private nursery sector, has estimated that the cost will be at least 20% more than the Government’s original estimate of £350 million. It stresses the need for a sustainable mechanism to ensure that funding rates cover delivery costs in the long term, and that is what we are seeking. Meanwhile, a recent IPPR report says that the Government have grossly underestimated the cost of this scheme, which they calculate to be £1.6 billion in 2017-18: £1 billion more than the Government’s estimate. The National Association of Head Teachers found that almost 80% of the nurseries based in schools are cross-subsidising the places from the rest of the school budget, as they are running at a loss, and that two-thirds thought that they would have to reduce the number of children they could accommodate if the new entitlement went ahead.

3.45 pm

When we met yesterday, I got the impression from the Minister that he was sceptical about this evidence, but I assure him that it is robust and that there is considerable strength of feeling on this matter. Unless this is resolved, there is a real prospect that the offer in the Bill could help fewer, rather than more, children and that the parents who need the free places most will be the ones to whom access will be denied, because they cannot top up the nursery income through the non-subsidised places. These concerns go to the heart of the Bill. We want the scheme to work and be sustainable. This is why we are proposing these amendments, which will require the Government to complete a large-scale analysis of the costs and produce a detailed funding solution which can then be considered by both Houses before the Bill is enacted.

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I stress that this would not delay the Bill’s implementation. The implementation date is autumn 2017, which is two years away. According to the Government’s road map, the report on the funding review will be made shortly after the November spending review, so there are some 20 months or more to achieve this objective. We believe that it can be done in that timescale.

Without the cash being made available, the Bill is worthless. Without knowing the true costs of the scheme, the Government are not in a position to make any promises on it. We therefore hope that noble Lords will support the amendment, which is crucial for delivering the free places which all noble Lords want and which can make a difference to the lives of working parents. I beg to move.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education (Lord Nash) (Con): My Lords, it might first be of benefit to the House if I make a few points. I would like to thank noble Lords for their support during the passage of the Bill so far. I would particularly like to thank noble Lords whom I have met since Committee. I have found these conversations extremely helpful and I hope they have, too.

The Government are committed to supporting working families. That is what the Bill is about. It enshrines that commitment in law, with a new duty on the Secretary of State to secure 30 hours’ childcare for working parents of three and four year-olds. As the Secretary of State set out last week, the Department for Education’s focus should not be stakeholders or vested interests; our focus is unashamedly on children and their parents. The Bill makes that clear.

I have listened carefully and with great interest to the concerns noble Lords have raised throughout the passage of the Bill. As the noble Baroness said, I undertook in Committee to confirm a number of details ahead of Report. I hope that the package of support published earlier this month, the policy statement and the government amendments I have tabled, deliver on those commitments. I have had feedback from noble Lords across the House that this was helpful. I have listened to the debate on ensuring that Parliament has the opportunity to provide appropriate scrutiny on the detail of secondary legislation. We listened and tabled amendments in response.

Subject to the debate today, the first set of regulations made under the Bill will be subject to affirmative procedure. The amendment in question was informed by the first report of the Delegated Powers Committee and I thank the committee for meeting again on Monday to consider our proposed changes to the Bill. I am pleased that it welcomes the Government’s efforts to respond to early criticisms. The noble Baroness rather overstated the case by saying these were scathing, though I note that there are areas where the committee would like us to be clearer in our intentions. I will address these points at the appropriate time during today’s debate.

Noble Lords raised concerns about the detail and breadth of the Bill. We listened to and consulted parents and providers over the summer. On 2 October, we published a policy statement setting out the key

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milestones up to implementation in 2017, the delivery model and details of who will be eligible for the extended entitlements. Our amendments reflect those new details.

In Committee, noble Lords also understandably asked for reassurance on the quality of the childcare that children will receive under the Bill, and in our policy statement we have made clear that the quality of early education and childcare and the welfare of children remain paramount. I believe that the further things that I will say today in response to amendments on, for example, staff to child ratios, will provide even more reassurance.

Turning particularly to matters relating to this group of amendments, in Committee many noble Lords raised a number of questions about the funding review, which is the most comprehensive national review of the funding of childcare ever conducted. I will respond fully to the debate on this shortly. However, I take this opportunity to make clear that we have listened. In response, we published the terms of reference for the funding review, the findings of the first part of the review and the call for evidence, which received more than 2,000 responses. Yesterday, I was pleased to host a very informative meeting for Peers to meet the Minister for Childcare and Education and the department’s chief analyst. I would be very happy to host another such meeting following the spending review. We have no interest whatever in producing a funding regime which does not work for providers. We have substantially increased the amount of childcare over the last five years successfully, and we are confident that we will do so this time.

This Government are spending considerably more than any other on childcare, and we want to give more working parents choice and flexibility about the childcare they access. We have already heard from working parents, employers, representatives from the childcare sector and unions, and received nearly 20,000 responses to our public survey over the summer, which showed that parents strongly welcomed the new entitlement. Further support for the entitlement has been demonstrated by the poll of parents carried out by Netmums, which showed that the Government’s offer of more childcare is wanted, needed and eagerly anticipated. The survey also suggests that the reform will encourage more parents to work more hours.

I urge the House not to seek to delay this entitlement for working parents. Parents are demanding of us, and in response we should move quickly to put the new entitlement in place. During the election, we committed to 30 hours of free childcare, and we were the only party to commit to a review of childcare funding. We are now challenged on moving too quickly with some aspects and too slowly with others. Providers are keen for legislation. More than 1,000 providers have already come forward to ask to be involved in early implementation.

As many will understand, it is important that we give providers, local authorities and parents time to prepare for this substantial change. We want to move the Bill forward and take the next steps with regulations, consultation and, very importantly, early information.

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As the shadow Secretary of State for Education said recently, we now need those policies to be turned into reality. I completely agree.

Baroness Pinnock (LD): My Lords, I thank the Minister for the statement he has just made, for the policy statement which he provided us with over the summer and for the briefing yesterday, which demonstrated that detailed work is being undertaken to understand the different business models of providing for childcare.

However, one element fundamental to ensuring that 15 hours of free extra childcare per week can be delivered at high quality is funding. In Committee, we were assured that that information would be available prior to Report to enable a full understanding of the Government’s commitment in terms of the amount of funding. At that stage, the Minister gave a commitment that the Government would announce by Report the findings from their call for evidence as part of the funding review, so that we could have details of the delivery model based on the principles laid out. Unfortunately, that is not available.

Waiting for that information will not cause a delay. The background analysis of the information has been carried out. We heard about it yesterday, and very good it is too. But the figures have not been put into the crunching machine, so we do not know how much will be available to fund this important element of improved childcare—increased hours—that we all welcome. I do not see how, as Members of this House, the role of which is to scrutinise legislation to try to improve it, we can fulfil our responsibilities unless we have that information. We support the Bill, but the funding is fundamental.

All through the progress of the Bill, on all sides of the House, we have made the point about the lack of information—both on the regulations and on the amount of funding that would be available. We have tabled an amendment about cross-subsidisation, which has already been raised in relation to funding. I will speak more about it when we come to the amendment.

The only commitment we have from the Government, as expressed in their policy statement, is that there will be an increase in the hourly funding rate for childcare. What we do not know is how much that will be. It could be 5p an hour. It could be £5 an hour; I hope it is but we do not know. Without knowing, I do not see how the other elements of the Bill can stand up to scrutiny. How can we assure ourselves of the quality of childcare that will be provided if the amount of funding that is available is not declared? How can we be sure that training for staff in childcare can be made available if the funding is not there? How can we be sure that the number of places will be available if the amount of funding does not support an increase in the number of places that will be required? It is fundamental to the success of this Bill—and we all want it to be a success. I urged the Minister to tell us how much money will be available. Unfortunately his hands are tied, and I appreciate that. That is why we ought to delay discussing this Bill, until we know how much will be available, because everything else depends on it.

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At the moment, it is the equivalent of being told that we can buy a car when we do not know whether we can afford a second-hand Mini or a brand new BMW. Young children need and deserve better than that.

Baroness Andrews (Lab): My Lords, I listened very closely to what the Minister said about the progress that has been made since Committee. Clearly there has been some progress, but I want to press him on certain points and to reiterate the points of colleagues across the House. The Select Committee said that it was surprised and disappointed at the Government’s response. It was surprised because it is unusual—very unusual indeed—for a government department not to respond more positively to a report of the committee. I will come back to that in more detail. Certainly I am less surprised than the committee, but I am equally disappointed. I understood, like many of us across the House, that what we were to expect, before the start of Report, was a full analysis of the impact that these changes would make, based on the information obtained about the costs borne by the sector and the distribution of those costs, so that the House, to quote the noble Lord, will,

“be able to say a lot more about the delivery model”—[

Official Report

, 1 July 2015; col. 2093.]

Frankly, that promise has not been fulfilled. We do not know more about the delivery model, we cannot comment on it and we cannot make more sense of it.

4 pm

When I looked at the road map, which I was pleased to see although my copy is a bit faint, I was slightly surprised to find that the report on the funding review was shown after the spending review. I conclude from that that the Government had, indeed, known that the report would come after the spending review, and therefore, frankly, did not have much expectation that they could present those findings to us on Report. I have a serious question for the Minister: when did he realise that he would not be able to provide those full findings for us? I think he had two choices. He could have maintained the promise he made to the House that we would have the information we need to debate the full impact and make a proper judgment about the implications of the changes to the sector and the funding issues. To do that he would have had to delay Report stage. The second choice is the one he actually made. I know that in all conscience he was under some pressure from all round the House to delay this stage of the Bill so that we could have a proper debate. In fact, the second choice has been to try to persuade us that the research on the sector done so far is sufficient for us to rest content and trust the Government that all will be well in the best of all possible worlds.

I do not blame the officials at the department one bit for the situation that the Minister is in. They are struggling to master a huge policy change with masses of information, multiple reviews, huge complications and an absurd timetable. There are many potential perverse consequences, as my noble friend on the Front Bench explained. The Minister ought to concede this point and consider delaying further stages. He should do this not least because much of the information

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coming forth—for example, from the online questionnaire to parents and the responses to the cost of the childcare review—raises more questions than it answers. The responses to the questionnaire for parents reveal, for example, that around 89% of respondents would take up the additional hours if they were available now. That is good news in terms of demand, but what is not clear, unless I have missed it, is how many of those parents already pay for childcare. What does that take-up do to the whole balance of subsidy across the sector? How many providers might be driven out of business because of that?

I turn to the analysis of responses to the call for evidence on the cost of providing childcare. If the Minister argues that what he meant by “findings” was, in fact, this analysis of responses, which is what he has argued—in fact, it is more of a description than an analysis—I am afraid that he is on extremely shaky ground both ethically and intellectually because the Government have now introduced the concept of a first and final stage of findings. We thought there was one stage when the findings would be produced for the House to make a judgment on.

I argue that not only are there no useful conclusions to be drawn so far from the document we have, but what is presented is simply a quantitative breakdown, which shows that the whole childcare sector is highly fragmented, fragile, confusing, based on very many different models of practice and contracts, and not well documented, as the report makes very clear. Even basic information is not sometimes sound. In fact, the report comments that items such as the main areas of expenditure,

“might not necessarily be the areas where they incur most of their costs”.

In short, what has emerged from this analysis so far is what is surely self-evident: that staff-related costs—namely, wages—are the main cost drivers.

I am not denying the usefulness of this information, but what it reveals is the case for proper analysis and assessment because the reality is this hugely complex sector. This surely reinforces the argument that if we are going to have a proper policy which delivers an expanded capacity, better services for more parents, higher quality and enables more parents to be in work, the impact of those changes on this sector has to be fully analysed and properly understood. With great respect to the Minister, the findings that he has presented, while interesting, are so raw that for the most part they tell us what we know, but nothing about how the capacity or quality of the sector will be affected.

The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee is scathing. The Minister has put a favourable gloss on it but it actually says that,

“we are surprised and disappointed that many of our recommendations have not been acted upon. It appears to us that the amendments add very little of substance to the face of the Bill: for the most part they adjust the existing delegated powers by removing some, varying others and adding more, while re-parading many in a new clause. Although the changes to some delegated powers may give the House a clearer idea of how the powers


be exercised, it remains unclear how they

will be


There is much more like that.

I think I have said enough to make it clear that I believe that a wise Government acting in the general interest of the sector would delay. In the absence of

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such a decision, the House should support the sunset clause. As the noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock, says, this does not create delay. This policy will not be introduced until 2017. What will create delay is a dog’s dinner of a policy confusing and frightening the sector into withdrawing services so that fewer people rather than more are able to access them.

Lord Sutherland of Houndwood (CB): My Lords, I welcome the progress that has been made during the Recess and the various meetings the Minster has had, not least yesterday’s briefing session, which I think all of us present found useful and informative. It did not give us all the answers that we want. I shall come back to that in a moment.

I also welcome the report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. It properly criticised the procedure we are going through, which is not ideal and is certainly not perfect. The question is whether it should be continued because the benefits will be significant, or whether it should be halted. I do not accept that this would not involve delay. It is important for the health of this Bill and its implementation that we proceed with further analysis, and almost more importantly, the pilot studies. It is only through pilots that we shall begin to see where the real practical difficulties arise, many of which have already been mentioned by my colleagues on the other Benches. The pilots have to take these points on board and test the adequacy of the proposals.

As I said, I welcome yesterday’s briefing. From the discussion, I saw a new capacity—not willingness, but capacity—for flexibility in the Government’s response. The Government will have to exercise every jot and tittle of that flexibility in responding to the comments that are made and the views that are shared across this House. The other view we share is that we want this Bill to be passed. We want action.

The difficulty with the amendment is not the demand for a review. The review is under way and we have to get going further with it, and we had a helpful and professional briefing yesterday. However, the amendment’s second demand is that a sustainable funding solution be presented before moving to the next stage. Politics is the art of the possible. That is not possible. It can come only after the funding review across the whole of government has taken place. I do not want to make much of this at the moment, but I note in parentheses the view of the Select Committee that hard choices would have to be made. I have yet to see recognition of that from the Government, but that is a consequence we shall see when the final financial package is revealed.

That said, that seems to me an inadequate reason for such a measure, granted the moves that have been made, the flexibility that was shown yesterday, and what so far has been shared with us. There is much further to go. Granted all that, I am in favour of moving ahead to the next stage, which means that I cannot support this amendment as it stands, but I welcome the provision, for example, regarding a further meeting with the group of interested Peers when the funding situation is clear, so that our views can be formally and openly expressed.

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Baroness Howarth of Breckland (CB): I shall simply add to what my noble friend has just said a concern that I have, as vice-president of the Local Government Association. The Minister well knows that local government faces a funding gap of probably £9.5 billion, and £6.6 billion of cost pressures by 2020. My concern relates to the development of the Childcare Bill, about which I am very positive; for working families, it will make all the difference. My question is about the wider envelope of the funding review. When we get that review, will we actually understand in those totals what local authorities will have to give up and where the pressures will be to meet the extraordinary cost of childcare provision? We have to be very aware of the perverse consequences that might arise, and I would like the analysis to look at the pressure on small units in particular. Loss of the cross-subsidy will result in them having to close, because local authorities are not prepared to pay top-up fees; as the Minister knows, I have personal experience of that happening.

In conclusion, will the wider envelope take account of not only the Childcare Bill but the other pressures on local authorities? If so, what kind of priorities will be set, and can the wider review examine the cross-subsidy issue and the loss of places across the country?

Lord Mackay of Clashfern (Con): My Lords, I have listened to the comments made in support of the amendment—Amendments 30 and 31 are really just consequential. The amendment requires that the report on finance should take place before Clauses 1 to 3 come into force in an Act of Parliament. It does not require information to be provided at Report. What is more, the amendment contemplates that the clauses will be enforced before the review can take place and be completed. The arguments in support of the amendment are therefore not precisely in accordance with the amendment itself, because the terms of the amendment would be satisfied if the information came forward before the clauses were brought into force—which, of course, is after the Bill reaches the statute book.

The Earl of Listowel (CB): I shall make one brief comment just to remind your Lordships that there probably will not be a better opportunity in this Parliament to improve social mobility. A well-funded early education service is one of the best means to ensure that the least advantaged young people and families do better and have a fair chance equal to those who have greater privileges. What is at stake is that, if this Bill is adequately funded, we will expand that offer to many more families; more parents will go into work, lifting their children out of poverty. Yes, mainly it will benefit the middle class, but it will also benefit some of the more disadvantaged. If the Bill is not adequately funded, this will not only be a poor offer but it will steal money from and impoverish the rest of the service. So we need to be absolutely clear that we have here either an opportunity to make a difference to social mobility that we will not otherwise have in this Parliament, or an opportunity to fail. Perhaps it is comforting to realise that, because the Prime Minister’s commitment to social mobility may give us some hope that, even in this difficult financial climate, the money will be found to make this work.

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4.15 pm

Lord Nash: My Lords, I would like to speak to Amendments 1, 30 and 31 tabled by the noble Baronesses, Lady Jones, Lady Pinnock and Lady Tyler and the noble Lord, Lord Touhig. I understand the concerns that the noble Baronesses and the noble Lord are seeking to address through these amendments. I share their view that we need to get the funding for the entitlement right. Much of the success of the extended entitlement rests on sustainable levels of funding. However, I do not agree that these amendments are the right way to deliver that outcome. Indeed, it would simply risk delaying substantially implementation for working parents, which has been widely welcomed. This Government have already shown their commitment to ensuring that funding levels will be sufficient to deliver the 30 hours’ free childcare for the working parents of 3 and 4 year-olds. The Prime Minister himself has already committed to an increase in the rate paid to providers; indeed, we were the only party to commit to such an increase during the general election.

We have acted swiftly upon our promises. Within a month of the general election, we brought forward this legislation and committed to early implementation of the extended entitlement for parents in some areas from 2016, so that we can test the provision, which is so important. We definitely do not wish to delay, because although 2017 may seem a long way off, there is a lot to get right. At the June budget, we made financial provision for the extended entitlement, announcing £840 million, including Barnett consequentials, in 2018-19. That is the current estimated cost before the average hourly rate that providers receive is raised and indicates a further commitment by this Government to the delivery of the extended entitlement. We have listened and addressed the concerns of a sector that has been asking for a review of funding for early years, by establishing a review on the cost of providing childcare as soon as possible. As I have said, this is the most detailed national review of childcare that has ever been conducted. It is a very complicated issue, as noble Lords heard yesterday, and we do not believe that we should delay.

I hope we can all agree that it is clear that we share the same objective—one which the noble Baronesses and the noble Lord have set out in their amendments. We, too, want to establish a sustainable funding solution that addresses concerns about the delivery of the existing entitlement and supports providers to deliver the extension to the entitlement. We have no interest in a solution that will not work for providers. Under the last Government we expanded childcare very substantially and successfully and we fully intend to do so again.

Noble Lords raised the question of funding and the funding review in Committee. Understandably, there were many questions about how the review would be conducted and what it would cover. We have sought to provide more information about the analysis of the first findings of the call for evidence, the terms of reference and the policy statement. The Government have also made very clear their intention to publish the final report from the review following the spending review. The findings from the review will feed directly into the spending review, which is imminent, as we all know. That is where decisions about future funding

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rates will be made. It is important therefore that the review is complete in order to inform this process. The Budget and the spending review are the appropriate times for the Government to set out their spending plans and Parliament debates those plans at the appropriate time. Legislating for the childcare entitlement is not the time to have this debate.

However, I have listened to concerns raised by noble Lords about ensuring that this Bill is scrutinised by Parliament once the Government’s spending plans are made clear at the spending review. Third Reading will be on 26 October and the Bill will then be sent to the other place in the usual way. It is then only four weeks until completion of the spending review. Although noble Lords would not expect me to be able to comment on the precise timetabling of business in the other place, there are no plans for the Bill to reach Royal Assent before that review concludes. I hope that noble Lords will find that statement helpful.

A delay to the coming into force of key provisions of the Bill will have a knock-on effect on the ultimate delivery of childcare to parents, delaying our consultation process as well as the start of early implementation. The purpose of the review is to provide a robust analytical underpinning for a funding rate that is fair for providers and delivers value for money to the taxpayer.

The review team is considering a significant body of existing and new evidence, such as published research and academic studies, and evidence provided by sector representatives, as well as studies recently commissioned by the Department for Education conducted by a number of consultancy companies. Some noble Lords have met the review team which, led by the department’s chief analyst, is working on two key analytical strands. I think that noble Lords found the meeting yesterday with the chief analyst helpful. I am sorry that the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, was not able to come yesterday, as I think she would have found it very informative. However, if she would like me to set up a separate meeting for her to meet the chief analyst, I would be delighted to do so.

The first of these two analytical strands looks at providers’ costs and the second considers the supply and demand side of the childcare market. Both are complicated and key to informing our work. The review team recognises that there is huge variation in costs between different providers and between children with varying needs, and the analysis and modelling will allow scenario testing to understand the drivers and consequences of these differences, which will inform our testing in the early-implementation pilot studies.

In Committee many noble Lords raised the importance of the review looking at the costs of providing childcare for children with additional needs. It is absolutely right that it should do so, and we are grateful to those specialist providers and charities that have helped us with this question. We will extend the analysis in the review to consider the characteristics of the families that will be eligible for the new entitlement, including which families it will help back into work or help to increase their income. Details like this are extremely complicated, yet we are clear that they need to be considered carefully to ensure that the system is funded to support all children who wish to access it.

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The Government greatly value the opportunity to engage with those who are directly affected by our policies. We have been engaging extensively with all of these groups, both through face-to-face meetings and via other channels. Key organisations in the sector such as the National Day Nurseries Association have welcomed the extended entitlement and have been key partners in the delivery of the review of the cost of childcare. While we are aware of their concerns on the delivery of the extended offer, we have sought their involvement in the development of our policies and the review in particular.

Noble Lords will have seen the report we published on 2 October on the analysis of the responses to our call for evidence. We had over 2,000 responses, the majority from providers—and, as I have said, already over 1,000 providers have come forward, wanting to be involved in the pilot studies. These responses gave us very useful information, which is informing the content of the review. The findings from the call for evidence will help us put into context the work we are doing on understanding providers’ costs. The review team has followed up to gather more detailed information from some of the providers that responded to the call for evidence.

As part of our plans for engaging with stakeholders we have also held a series of round tables over the summer across the country. The round tables have been a valuable opportunity to engage with providers face to face and to tease out some of the issues that were raised in the call for evidence, building on the significant body of evidence that we are considering and looking at the challenges that providers will face in delivering the extended entitlement, while always remembering that the providers would not be doing their jobs properly if they were not asking for more money, because we are, after all, in a negotiation with them.

The childcare sector is healthy, vibrant and growing. It has grown substantially in recent years—by 12% over the three years from 2009 to 2012. It is not a sector that is severely underfunded, and the number of providers offering places under the entitlement has also continued to increase. The market has demonstrated that it is able to respond to the extension of the free entitlement. We just need to look at the rollout of the entitlement for disadvantaged two-year olds, which was introduced in the last Parliament.

I turn now to the proposal of the noble Baronesses and noble Lord for a review to be independent. In coming to a decision about the most appropriate type of review, the timings of different review options, as well as the cost to the taxpayer, were significant factors leading to our decision for this to be a government review with an element of external validation and scrutiny. We determined that the most appropriate approach would be a cross-government review with expert support from outside.

We all know that there is a rigorous and time-bound process supporting any government spending provisions, particularly when increases to particular budgets are involved. Our priority has been to secure our knowledge and understanding of providers’ costs and to inform the discussions on sustainable funding rates during the

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spending review this autumn. An independent review would have taken significant time to set up and its findings would, therefore, not have been available to feed in to the spending review. This is a vital point. It was important that we move quickly to set up the review and meet our commitment to providers to increase the rate.

We believe strongly that the review under way strikes the correct balance of needing to move quickly and thoroughly. If we now delay, it would be for a considerable period of time because, as I have outlined, the issues here are complicated and it would take considerable time for an independent review to get its mind round it. This would put under threat the timing of delivering the full offer in 2017, because it would delay the consultation, the regulations and, most importantly, the pilot schemes.

I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Sutherland, for his comments on this. He so ably argued and explained why a delay would be a bad idea, and grasped quickly the fact that it would not be a short delay.

I am grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for his comments about the impact that the Bill will have on social mobility, as it lifts more families into work or into more work.

As for the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, I know that she is very experienced in the field of local authorities. I found some of her comments yesterday particularly helpful. As for the wider envelope and taking that into account, I do not know about that, but I will take it back. My noble friend Lady Evans will talk later about cross-subsidies, but I can assure the noble Baroness that this review is very comprehensive, taking into account all the issues that local authorities will face, and I will take her points back.

I hope that I have provided sufficient reassurance as to the rationale for the way in which the Government have decided to conduct this review and the robustness of the processes that we are following. As I set out, the outcome of the review will be published later in the autumn, as, of course, will the spending review. It will provide sufficient explanation of the Government’s intentions and the next steps, and will be made available to Parliament. As I have said, there are no plans for the Bill to reach Royal Assent before that review is completed. I am happy to ensure that there will be further opportunity for this House to scrutinise the details of the legislation after the spending review has been published. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, I would be happy to host a further meeting with the funding review team after the spending review, if noble Lords would find that helpful.

As I will outline when we debate a later group of amendments tonight, the Government are proposing that the secondary legislation under the Bill will be subject to the approval of both Houses. This will provide an opportunity for further debate on the details of entitlement, once the funding review has concluded.

I hope noble Lords will agree that placing in primary legislation a requirement to conduct a review, which is already under way, is not necessary and could in fact delay the positive progress that has already been made

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if the Government were required to stop and begin again once the Bill receives Royal Assent. I therefore urge the noble Baroness and the noble Lords to withdraw their amendment.

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch: My Lords, first, I would like to thank noble Lords who have spoken in support of our amendments. I also thank the Minister for his statement and his subsequent comments. The Minister raised other issues in his statement that relate to other amendments, and I know that noble Lords will want to pick that up when we get to those items.

I want now to concentrate on the specific issues relating to the timing of the funding review. The Minister did not address in his response the concerns of the Delegated Powers Committee, which has once again criticised the Government for a lack of detail in the Bill. It does not believe that the case has been made for why all the detail should be contained in secondary legislation, to be seen at a later date, rather than in the Bill. I was sad that the Minister was not able to respond to that today.

Secondly, the Minister did not address why the Bill is being rushed through in advance of the outcome of the funding review being known, which might, as we have heard, fundamentally alter the shape of the package that will be on offer because of the complexities which I think we all now understand. In particular, he did not answer the question asked by my noble friend Lady Andrews about when he first knew that he would not be able to let us have the information that he promised us at an earlier stage. A lot was riding on that at the Committee stage and we feel let down by his lack of commitment.

I hear what the Minister said about the timing of the funding review and that it would be published after the spending review in November, but nothing that he has said so far has provided any reassurance that even Members of the Commons will have the opportunity to scrutinise the Bill at that stage. Clearly, the outcome of the funding review would need to be before them at the Commons Committee stage for there to be any chance of scrutiny of how the scheme will work in practice. Although I listened carefully to the Minister, I do not believe that he gave such a commitment.

This amendment is not about delaying the Bill. The Minister talked about scrutinising evidence and about consultation. All those things can go ahead as planned and still take place—we have got two years before the implementation date—so I do not believe that what we are asking for is unrealistic. There will be plenty of time before the Bill comes into force to allow the outcome to be published and properly scrutinised by both Houses, so the current rush to the statute book leaves us feeling sceptical about the motives.

I was saddened to hear the noble Lord, Lord Sutherland, comment that he thought that a sustainable funding solution was unobtainable, because the scheme seems untenable in the long term if we do not have that. We cannot have a scheme where the funding is made available for one year and then left to drift for following years, which appears to be what is happening at the moment and is why the sector is so unhappy

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about the schemes now being funded at a loss. We need a response to that. I respect the views of the noble Lord, but I thought that he was being rather too pessimistic.

We believe that what we are suggesting is fair. It would not alter the implementation date of the Bill, but it would give us more reassurance that the scheme is workable and tenable in the longer term. We are not convinced by the Government’s response and would therefore like to test the opinion of the House.

4.33 pm

Division on Amendment 1

Contents 222; Not-Contents 209.

Amendment 1 agreed.

Division No.  1


Adams of Craigielea, B.

Ahmed, L.

Alli, L.

Alton of Liverpool, L.

Anderson of Swansea, L.

Andrews, B.

Armstrong of Hill Top, B.

Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, L.

Avebury, L.

Bach, L.

Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, B.

Barker, B.

Bassam of Brighton, L. [Teller]

Beecham, L.

Berkeley, L.

Billingham, B.

Blackstone, B.

Blood, B.

Blunkett, L.

Boateng, L.

Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, B.

Boothroyd, B.

Bradshaw, L.

Bragg, L.

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4.46 pm

Clause 1: Duty to secure 30 hours free childcare available for working parents

Amendment 2

Moved by Lord Touhig

2: Clause 1, page 1, line 3, leave out “The Secretary of State” and insert “Every English local authority”

Lord Touhig (Lab): My Lords, Amendment 2 continues the debate we have just had over the funding review and what it means for the delivery of the additional entitlement. It seeks to end the ambiguity in the Bill as to whether responsibility for delivering the additional 15-hour entitlement will be the duty of the Secretary of State—as currently worded in the Bill—or of local authorities. We were unable to secure a firm answer at Committee; in fact, the Minister stated:

“The Government think that it is right for the primary legislation to put the duty to secure the extra 15 hours on the Secretary of State in the first instance, to demonstrate to parents the importance we attach to providing free childcare provision and to give them confidence that the Government will deliver on their manifesto commitment”.—[Official Report, 1/7/15; col. 2114.]

We tabled Amendment 2 to gain further clarity. However, the Government have since tabled Amendment 18, which confirms that the duty falls on local authorities. If this is the case, local councils must be given the appropriate level of support to fulfil their duty. The Government have said:

“We will … look at how we can support local authorities in drawing up agreements between themselves and childcare providers (perhaps by publishing a national model agreement). In addition, we are considering what can be done to smooth out issues around payment arrangements between local authorities and providers.

A full economic impact assessment and new burdens assessment will be carried out in due course”.

The Local Government Association has said that the duty will create further cost pressures on local government and will involve the risks associated with placing additional costs on an already underfunded system. Will the Minister provide an update on what is being done to ensure that local councils will not be out of pocket as a result of being responsible for delivering the entire 30-hour package of free childcare? Again, without seeing the detail of the funding review it is

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impossible to see how councils fit into the delivery model. I noted from the summary of evidence submitted to the funding review that only 3% of local authorities responded. The Government have committed to an uplift in the average rate that providers receive for the entitlement. The current proposal is for this to be delivered by councils through the dedicated schools grant. The Department for Education has confirmed that decisions about the size of this rate uplift and the consequent additional funding will be made at the forthcoming spending review, which the Minister referred to in the earlier debate.

On 15 June the Government announced that they are conducting a review of the cost of providing childcare. This follows warnings from providers across the spectrum that the current system is underfunded. I know that the Minister does not agree with that, but it is what the sector tells us. It is vital the Government ensure that the funding rate covers the cost of delivering 30 hours of free childcare to a standard likely to improve children’s outcomes and deliver broader policy objectives on employment progression and social mobility—a point well made in the earlier debate.

An initial look at the government amendments in the group might suggest a concession, as expressed in Amendment 12, but, having removed subsections (4) to (7) with Amendment 12, in Amendment 18 the Government seek to recover ground by giving the Secretary of State a power, as opposed to a duty, to make regulations on how local authorities should discharge their duties. The Government could have made Amendment 18 more palatable if they had used “must” rather than “may”. The “may” in line 2 gives the Secretary of State discretion as to whether to make regulations, although it is difficult to see how the scheme can operate without the use of regulation-making powers.

So it goes on. I am sure many noble Lords will have seen the eighth report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee published yesterday, already referred to by my noble friend Lady Jones of Whitchurch. It says,

“we are surprised and disappointed that many of our recommendations have not been acted upon. It appears to us that the amendments add very little of substance to the face of the Bill: for the most part they adjust the existing delegated powers by removing some, varying others and adding more, while re-parading many in a new clause”.

It sounds a bit like moving the deckchairs on the “Titanic”. The report also says:

“Although the changes to some delegated powers may give the House a clearer idea of how the powers could be exercised, it remains unclear how they will be exercised”.

What an indictment of a very important Bill which is welcomed all around the House.

Amendments 14 and 16 remove from the Bill the ability of the Secretary of State to criminalise parents. In new subsection (2)(h) proposed in Amendment 18, the Government use their proposed new clause to replace the power in what was Clause 1(5)(k) to create criminal offences. I agree with the eighth report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee that this is welcome and that the new power is focused

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only on unauthorised disclosure of official information. But the committee points out that the power is not insignificant,

“as it would enable the creation of an offence sufficiently serious to be punishable by imprisonment for up to two years”.

On Monday, the Times revealed that Facebook, a company worth billions, paid just £4,000 in taxes to the British Crown last year—around £1,000 less than the average British worker pays in taxes and national insurance. It is tax avoiders such as this that should be criminalised, not working parents, who might get a criminal record and face a jail sentence, perhaps for completing a form incorrectly when seeking free childcare.

We will come to the issue of affirmative versus negative procedures for the making of regulations later in the debate, but I believe that this is a matter that we will have to look at in much more detail. In fact, the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee said yesterday in paragraph 10 of its report:

“We draw subsection (2)(h) to the attention of the House, so that it may consider whether the requirement for affirmative procedure only on first exercise of the power affords an adequate level of Parliamentary scrutiny for regulations which create, or alter the statutory ingredients of, criminal offences”.

I hope that the Minister will note those wise words.

Also in this group is Amendment 20A, which will be spoken to by the Liberal Democrats. We strongly support it because we believe that parents on low levels of income and those with multiple jobs need the kind of flexibility that it will engender. I do not wish in any way to take away from the comments that representatives of the Liberal Democrats will make, but I want to make clear that that amendment certainly has the strong support of this side of the House. With those few words, I beg to move.

Baroness Pinnock: My Lords, for greater clarity in the debate we withdrew our Amendment 15 and retabled it as an amendment to the new clause in government Amendment 18. Our amendment relates particularly to subsection (2)(b) of the new clause, which is about making,

“provision about how much childcare is to be so made available for each child, and about the times at which, and periods over which, that childcare is to be made available”.

Over the course of the debate on this Bill—on Second Reading, in Committee and again today—we have consistently argued for greater flexibility in the periods of time over which the 15 hours’ additional free childcare can be offered. We have done so for a number of reasons.

Many parents, particularly women, take on two or three jobs in a week to try to make ends meet. In my role as a local councillor I had the difficult task of trying to find new accommodation for a grandmother so that she could move from her council housing to a flat nearer her daughter as the daughter got up at five o’clock in the morning to take on a cleaning job at six and at that time no other childcare was available. I know at first hand what it means for many mothers who are trying to do, for instance, a cleaning job before the school day, something for school-lunch duties in the middle of the day and then another cleaning job at the end of the day. With this Bill we

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have an enormous opportunity to support those mothers and help them continue in work. That is why I have made what I hope is a strong case for defining more explicitly the flexibility that we are asking for in the Bill, rather than leaving it to vague definitions.

Not only is there the difficulty in the working week for the parents I have described; for all parents school holidays can be a nightmare. This is not just because the children are at home but because these parents are trying to juggle finding childcare for their children at home in the holidays while continuing in their work. Many parents find relatives, but not all are able to find them. The definitions of flexibility that we are proposing to include in the Bill would enable that to happen and would be of great advantage to many parents. Questions from those in the sector have indicated that one facet of the Bill they would particularly like to see is what they call a stretch of the hours over a longer period, not only during a week but also over the school holidays. That would be a tremendous help to many working families. I hope that we will not lose that opportunity.

I shall listen carefully to what the Minister says when he responds to the proposals that we have made. I feel strongly, as do my colleagues, that the Bill should contain a clear definition. It currently does not. If it is not included in the Bill today, we will have to think again about how we can move forward to ensure that it does.

5 pm

Lord Sutherland of Houndwood: My Lords, I very much support the spirit of Amendment 20A. This is one of the key points that the Bill seeks to address. However—continuing in my pessimistic mode, I fear—I think this is one of the hard choices that may have to be made. I can see how large providers might well be able to do this and how in large centres of population this kind of provision will be possible. But asking small providers to continue provision outside their normal hours may well stop them operating completely. This is a matter of hard choices and I would be much happier with the amendment if it said something like, “Regulations should take account of the need to” rather than “ensure” because I do not think that regulations can ensure this.

Very quickly, I would be unhappy to do what Amendment 2 suggests because I fear that if you take the Secretary of State out of the line of full responsibility, the danger is that the responsibility lands on the local authorities and, as we have seen in other areas—and I have a lot of interest in the provision of care for the elderly—the local authority would have the responsibility but not the funding.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD): My Lords, my name is also attached to Amendment 20A. I feel strongly about this issue because a few years ago I chaired a policy working group about how families could balance their working lives with their family commitments. In looking at childcare issues, the three As—availability, accessibility and affordability—were thought to be extremely important, and we are hearing a lot about them today. But something else was felt to be equally important by the people we talked to: flexibility.

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I was very taken by some recent research produced by Citizens Advice about the experience of parents in the childcare market, which really highlighted how those children who need childcare at non-typical hours were found to be at a far greater disadvantage, and parents spoke of their “intense difficulty” in finding childcare that worked for them. They often did flexible working hours or shift work, were in low-paid employment and were dependent on public transport. Their experience suggested that it was close to impossible to find childcare before 7 am and after 7 pm on workdays, or at any times at weekends; for some, even finding care outside 9 am to 4 pm was difficult. Childminders were seen as just as inflexible as nurseries. That is why I think it is very important to say something about this in the Bill.

I would just like to respond to the very important point that the noble Lord, Lord Sutherland, has just made because I think it really would be a problem if this applied to every provider, as he said. Clearly, some small providers would not be in a position to do that but if you look at the wording of the amendment, it talks about having that flexibility,

“within the local authority area”,

not in relation to every single provider. That is an important point to stress.

Lord Nash: My Lords, I will concentrate first on the delivery model for the 30 hours of free childcare. The Government are in full agreement with the spirit of Amendment 2 in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Touhig, and the noble Baroness, Lady Jones. We agree that local authorities are best placed to ensure that working parents are able to access 30 hours of childcare free of charge. They have a proven track record in delivering the existing entitlement to 15 hours of free early education, which has a take-up rate of 96% and is well understood by parents and childcare providers. We therefore do not fundamentally want to move away from that approach.

Government Amendment 18 proposes to insert a new clause into the Bill which will provide for the Secretary of State to be able to discharge her duty through local authorities. As the policy statement published on 2 October set out, delivering the extended entitlement through local authorities is the Government’s preferred approach and we intend to exercise the Secretary of State’s power to make regulations to that effect following Royal Assent. Indeed, the Delegated Powers Committee states in its report that it welcomes,

“the Government’s efforts to respond to earlier criticisms”,

and goes on specifically to say that it is now clear that functions in the Bill will be conferred on local authorities. I am pleased to confirm that, further to amendments I will move later this evening, the first set of regulations imposing requirements on local authorities—and all regulations made under the new clause—will be subject to debate before both Houses. At the appropriate time, we will, of course, provide statutory guidance for local authorities on what is expected of them. This guidance will be subject to a public consultation next year.

Of course, Amendment 2, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, and the noble Lord, Lord Touhig, is cast slightly differently from the Government’s amendment and would remove the duty on the Secretary

14 Oct 2015 : Column 258

of State altogether. The Government do not wish to remove this duty from the Bill, even with very clear intentions that it will be discharged through English local authorities. That is for a very good reason: the manifesto commitment to provide three and four year-olds of working parents with 30 hours of free childcare is a significant one and a priority for this Government to deliver. We know that childcare is the issue for parents, and that it inhibits many from going back to work, or from working more, when they would otherwise choose to do so. For that reason, the Government believe that it is right for the Secretary of State to be named in the Bill because parents will, ultimately, hold her to account for delivery of the entitlement. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Sutherland, for his remarks in this regard.

I can assure noble Lords that the Government are committed to working with local authorities as we develop the delivery programme; now, through the early implementer stage from September 2016, and beyond that into full rollout of the system from September 2017. In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Touhig, I can confirm that we will carry out a full new burdens assessment to ensure that any net additional costs to local government are fully funded. Our officials have met the Local Government Association to discuss this and I thank it for its positive engagement.

The positive intention behind the amendments we have brought forward today does not end there. They are also aimed at providing greater clarity about a range of other matters that were of interest to noble Lords during previous debates on the Bill and removing provisions which were causing noble Lords some concern. First, I am pleased to be able to confirm that government Amendment 12 removes some of the provisions which were of particular concern to noble Lords, for example the wide power to impose obligations on any public body or to reproduce any provision of the Childcare Payments Act. Amendment 18 would replace powers which have been criticised as being too wide in their scope with a more targeted set of powers. In particular, we have taken powers which will enable us to create gateways for government departments and local authorities to be able to share information they hold for the purposes of checking a child’s eligibility for the extended entitlement. Information-sharing gateways will, of course, need to be subject to appropriate safeguards and that is why we are clear that unauthorised, onward disclosure of information obtained through those gateways ought to be subject to a criminal offence, a matter which I will speak to shortly as I know it is of great concern to the House.

Of course, successful delivery of the extended entitlement is not merely about ensuring that children who qualify can be correctly identified. It also means putting in place robust mechanisms to ensure that parents and providers can have confidence in the eligibility-checking system. We recognise that there may be occasions on which parents are not satisfied with a decision made in connection with a child’s eligibility. In these cases, it is right that parents are able to challenge that decision and that is why the Government’s proposed new clause enables them to make regulations providing for a right of review in relation to a determination of eligibility with an onward right of appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal.

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I turn to the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, and the noble Lord, Lord Touhig, relating to criminal offences. I hope noble Lords will be reassured that government Amendment 18 seeks to draw a clear line between conduct that will amount to a criminal offence and that which will attract a civil penalty. The new clause has significantly narrowed the power for the Secretary of State to create criminal offences and I am pleased to be able to reassure noble Lords that there will only be one new criminal offence in connection with the extended entitlement and that this will align with existing offences for schemes involving information sharing. This reflects the Government’s position that criminal offences should not be created lightly and should be used proportionately. It is also intended to make clear the Government’s intention to ensure that personal information, which will also often be sensitive, is not disclosed to those who have no right to see it.

In relation to the level of sanction for the offence, the term of two years that we propose aligns with that provided for in Section 13B of the Childcare Act 2006. Moreover, it is important to remember that this is not a fixed penalty but a statutory maximum and that ultimately the sanction in any particular case will be a matter for the courts. I reassure the noble Lord, Lord Touhig, that we have no intention of criminalising parents. The Bill creates a criminal offence only where sensitive information is disclosed without authorisation, which is designed to protect parents and their information. Although we have sought to narrow the scope of offences, the Government are clear that there should be the possibility of financial penalties on those who provide false or misleading information, make false or misleading statements or otherwise act dishonestly in applying for the extended entitlement. The maximum amount of any penalty will be £3,000. Again, it is only a maximum and there remains discretion to impose a much lesser penalty, depending on the circumstances. Any proposal to amend the maximum level of the penalty would need to be by affirmative resolution and so subject to debate by this House. I hope that noble Lords will agree that that is a more proportionate approach to tackling any dishonesty on the part of parents or providers seeking to benefit from the extended entitlement than the imposition of criminal sanctions.

I shall now speak briefly to Amendment 20A, tabled by the noble Baronesses, Lady Pinnock and Lady Tyler, which is aimed at ensuring that sufficient flexible childcare is available for working parents. As my noble friend Lady Evans acknowledged in Committee, it is important that the extended entitlement is made available at times which provide sufficient flexibility to parents working outside the hours of 9 to 5 and during holiday periods. I once again reassure noble Lords that we want to build on the flexibility that is already in the system to accommodate out-of-hours childcare and holiday periods. We will set out in in statutory guidance provisions about flexibility which local authorities should consider, as well as work that local authorities can do to enable parents to take the entitlement in a pattern of hours that best meets their needs. This will build on what we say in the statutory guidance for the existing entitlement, and we will ensure that the early implementation pilots focus on the issue of flexibility.

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We also want local authorities to work with all forms of providers in their areas, including schools, to ensure that, as far as possible, there is sufficient childcare in their areas which responds to parental demand, including out of hours and during the holidays. Given that many early-years childcare providers open throughout the year, provision during holiday periods is less of an issue for parents of children who have not yet reached compulsory school age, but we acknowledge that more could be done to support parents with school-age children to access wraparound care. That is why we recently announced two new measures which will enable childcare providers to open school sites outside school hours and give parents the right to request childcare. Schools will receive clear guidance on the circumstances under which we will expect them to allow a provider to use their site, and we will also make clear how schools should consider and respond to proposals. These new powers will help with the availability of childcare and demonstrate that the Government are on the side of working families.

In conclusion, I believe that the Government’s proposed new clause in Amendment 18 achieves our shared aim of delivering the entitlement through local authorities. Similarly, Amendments 12, 17 and 18 further address noble Lords’ concerns in Committee about the scope of the powers set out in the Bill. The powers are now more clearly defined and, I hope, offer greater clarity as to how the Government intend to ensure that all eligible children receive the childcare to which they will be entitled.

I hope that noble Lords will feel able to support the Government’s amendments, recognising that we have listened to and taken on board their previous concerns. I also hope that they are reassured that the Government are absolutely committed to ensuring that parents have access to childcare in ways and at times which meet their needs. I therefore urge the noble Lord, Lord Touhig, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Jones, Lady Pinnock and Lady Tyler, not to press their amendments.

5.15 pm

Lord Mackay of Clashfern: My Lords, I ask my noble friend whether—assuming that Amendment 18 is agreed to, and not Amendment 2—the Secretary of State will be liable if a local authority fails in some way in its duty under this Bill.

Lord Nash: I assume that is the whole point of the duty. I imagine that the answer to that question is yes.

Lord Touhig: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this very short debate. In response to Amendment 2, the Minister agreed that local authorities were best placed to deliver the additional childcare. It begs the question why the first four words in Clause 1(1) were ever in the Bill in the first place—but that is another matter. I received some reassurance on Amendments 14 and 16, although I am still not entirely convinced. However, we have done our very best to try to improve the Bill on these matters and it is time to cede responsibility for improving the Bill—certainly as

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far as Amendments 2,14 and 16 are concerned— to those who legislate in the other place. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment 2.

Amendment 2 withdrawn.

Amendment 3

Moved by The Earl of Listowel

3: Clause 1, page 1, line 3, after “that” insert “high-quality”

The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, Amendments 3, 5 and the remaining amendments are in my name. I will be brief. I begin by thanking the Minister for the helpful conversation we had around family homelessness and childcare on Monday evening. As a result of that conversation, I will not move the next group of amendments in my name, and will save the time of the House by that means.

I bring back Amendment 3 on the key person in the nursery. I remind your Lordships that each child in the nursery is assigned a key person whose role is to help ensure that every child’s care is tailored to meet their individual needs and to offer continuity of care and a settled relationship for the child. That is the offer. I was really grateful to the noble Baroness for her reassuring and robust reply at Committee on this matter. I bring this back briefly on Report because that key person role is so important, because it is notoriously difficult to do well, and because it is particularly the most vulnerable children—the children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds—who need the secure attachment in the nursery. It is particularly difficult to give that child that support in the nursery. I speak to the concerns so admirably expressed by the Select Committee on Affordable Childcare when I say that it is the most disadvantaged families that need the best quality support.

I spoke to a mother this weekend. She was heavily pregnant, with three sons, and just about to celebrate two of her sons’ birthdays. I was speaking to a small group of mothers—I do not often have a chance to do that—and talked to them about the key person in the nursery. This mother said, “Ah, yes. I remember that. In the first nursery my son went to, there was the key person role, and it worked excellently. I spoke with the child carer about my child—a very good model. In my new nursery, we don’t have it. I’ll have to speak to them about it”. So there is an issue. It is not present at all nurseries. Why is this so important? Just think about the care system. Across services for children—particularly vulnerable children—we employ this model of the key worker. In youth custody, there is a key officer working with particular children; in children’s homes there is a key worker for particular children; and in our debate on the education Bill, with regard to looked-after children staying with their foster carers to the age of 21, the principle was that they had made this relationship with an important person in their lives and it is this continuity of relationship that is so important to them. It is just as important, or even more important, for three year-olds and four year-olds to have this stable relationship with a particular person. If they do not have it, they risk being either just

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forgotten about if they are difficult children in favour of children who are easy to deal with, or they receive multiple indiscriminate care and are passed from pillar to post. It all looks very nurturing but they are not getting the secure attachment they need to thrive.

I give the example of a man born in the mid-19th century. It seems that his parents were not very interested in him and were much more interested in pursuing their love lives with other people. His father once said to him, “You will never amount to anything”. Fortunately for this child he had a loving nanny, Mrs Everest, and so, fortunately for us, he grew up to be most successful, most robust emotionally and, despite suffering problems with the “black dog” from time to time, was able to withstand many setbacks and be of great service to this nation. We have a great deal to thank Mrs Everest for. For children from struggling families whose parents may not be getting on that well or who are experiencing difficulties, that relationship with a key person in the nursery is absolutely vital.

I wish to make two further points. First, it might be helpful to advise parents more widely about the importance of the key person role. For example, an organisation such as Mumsnet could conduct regular surveys among its users on the quality of childcare and could ask specifically about the role of the key person in the nursery and how well that is being carried out. Secondly, will the Government communicate with parents to advise them how they can identify quality and on the importance of the key person role in the nursery?

To sum up, the most vulnerable children from disadvantaged backgrounds most need this key relationship with one person, or possibly one person and a supporter, in the nursery in the provision of flexible childcare hours. We must not do anything in this legislation to water that down. I look forward to the Minister’s response.

Baroness Massey of Darwen (Lab): My Lords, I rise to speak to Amendment 11, which is part of this important group of amendments relating to the quality of childcare.

In Committee, I tabled an amendment which proposed that in all dealings with children, the welfare of the child should be paramount, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Minister mentioned “paramount” earlier today. I do not recall the term coming up in any previous government document or discussions, but I stand to be corrected.

The amendment I am discussing is based on ensuring quality childcare, which means having good staff-to-child ratios, staff who are trained in childcare at level 3 or above, or who are in training for that, and a member of staff qualified to care for children with SEN or a disability. Funding, of course, affects all this and I share my noble friends’ concerns about funding expressed earlier.

I know that some of my dear friends round the Chamber are concerned about the qualifications issue. I am not knocking their comment that you do not necessarily need to have high-level qualifications to undertake childcare. However, I am not talking about having a PhD in physics; I am talking about people

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aspiring to better their childcare qualifications, thereby improving their ability to deal with child development. That is all I am saying.

The third point of the terms of reference for the Department for Education’s review of the cost of providing childcare in England does indeed speak of sufficient quality of childcare. The fifth point refers to,

“the need to secure value for money for the taxpayer, and for the entitlement to be affordable to the public purse”.

In my view, the quality of care for children far outweighs value for money for the taxpayer. I understand accountability but I maintain that the first duty of childcare is quality for the child. Without that quality, all efforts to provide childcare are useless. Quality also impinges on parents going to work. Quality impinges on social mobility. No parent is going to place a child into poor-quality early years care or education. Indeed, surveys show that the top two requirements for parents are, first, location and, second, quality.

I note that many organisations share my concern. The National Association of Head Teachers states that the failure to address funding—the important issue raised earlier today—will compromise quality and that early years education, not just childcare, is essential in order to have an impact on child development. The Local Government Association talks of the danger of an underfunded system. The National Day Nurseries Association in its excellent analysis of this Bill is concerned about the threat of low pay and about recruitment and retention of staff. It suggests looking over the long term in a cross-departmental way at childcare funding and the development of a workforce strategy to improve quality. I agree.

The Special Educational Consortium has pointed out that 60% of parents with disabled children do not believe that childcare providers can cater for their child’s disability. It proposes that the Childcare Bill be amended to require the largest childcare centres to have an early years special educational needs co-ordinator. The Association for Professional Development in Early Years states that in relation to sufficient provision, quality of staff and the development of the health care and education plan is vital.

The importance of staffing could not be clearer. Skill and confidence in caring for and educating children with special needs are vital for the confidence of parents and the well-being of the child. In small settings, area special educational needs co-ordinators could be in place to advise parents and plan for health and education needs.

I hope that the Government will respond sympathetically to this group of amendments and ensure that quality of childcare is reflected in all their deliberations.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield (LD): I speak to Amendment 23 standing in my name. In so doing I give my broad support to Amendment 11 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, that covers similar grounds. The policy statement on this Bill that we recently received stated that the workforce is the key driver of high-quality childcare. I agree—we probably all agree with that. I welcome the Government’s

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commitment to exploring career progression routes in 2016 and look forward to hearing more about these plans from the Minister. However, more needs to be done to support new entrants to the sector. This is the primary purpose of my amendment on minimum workforce qualifications.

The Affordable Childcare Committee felt that it was crucial to increase the proportion of staff qualified at a higher level in the private, voluntary and independent sector in order to drive up overall quality and improve outcomes for children. Setting a minimum qualification level for working with young children at level 3 was suggested by Professor Nutbrown during her review of early education and childcare. This would help to level the playing field and to ensure that where children grow up and live has much less of an impact on the quality of care and education that they receive than, sadly, is sometimes the case at the moment. It is telling that new evidence from Ofsted has identified that settings that have at least 75% of their practitioners qualified to level 3 achieve better inspection results. Indeed, the Nuffield Foundation recently reported on a strong relationship between the level of staff qualifications, the quality of provision, as judged by Ofsted and, most importantly of all, outcomes for young children.

The second part of my amendment is around disabled children. There is overwhelming evidence that parents of those children are struggling to access their current entitlement to childcare. Indeed, in 2014, the Department for Education found that only 40% of parent carers believe that the childcare providers in their area can cater for their child’s disability. Last year, the parliamentary inquiry into childcare for disabled children concluded that lack of staff skill and confidence was often the reason for parents,

“being subtly discouraged or simply turned away by a provider”.

5.30 pm

The Government will be unable to fulfil their pledge to ensure equal access to the new 30 hours’ free entitlement unless some action is taken to address this. Of course—and this is an argument that we had earlier this afternoon—it is important to be realistic and proportionate about this and to take scale into account as well. That is why my amendment applies to larger childcare settings, which should be required to have an early years special educational needs co-ordinator, who could actively promote the inclusion of disabled children and those with special educational needs.

The best way in which to achieve the skill levels and the highly skilled workforce, which we would all like to see, is through a workforce that in most cases is qualified to level 3. We need to do that within a realistic timetable; I completely understand that—but the best way in which to do it is through a national workforce strategy, drawn up in conjunction with the sector, which sets out the actions that need to be taken to strengthen the quality and capacity of the workforce over the next five years, including things such as progression pathways, both for new and existing entrants. Can the Minister say what steps the Government are taking to develop a strategy for expanding and improving the quality of the early years workforce, and when such a strategy may be available?

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Lord Sutherland of Houndwood: My Lords, none of us would disagree with the importance of quality of staff; that is the fundamental thing that will make a childcare centre work, and work well. I have sympathy with all these amendments, because they point to particular features that may be part of ensuring, or giving reassurance, that quality is present—for example, qualifications. The evidence that we had in our committee was that qualifications are one of the most important identifiers of quality of staff. However, I have to put in the rubric that, of course, there is no guarantee. I have met many well-qualified people who do not exude quality in the required way. However, there is good evidence that qualifications are one indicator. For example, we have heard about the importance of a special individual in the setting. When I was at school, I suppose that would have been my form master. He did not teach me French, maths or physics, and sometimes he was a pain in the neck—but sometimes he was very useful and helpful. It is a relationship with an individual that is fundamental here. When it works well, it works exceptionally well, but it is not the only indicator. Equally, the staff training and development process is important.

Quality is a complex thing, with a whole series of factors, including the quality of the buildings in which the groups take place. A better way in which to tackle this issue would be to ensure that, off the Bill, instructions and guidance to Ofsted, which inspects these nurseries and care centres, are sufficiently clear to provide reassurance to parents that there is high-quality provision. Flexibility will be required and will vary from one place to another. Not all groups will be able to provide a specialist in SEN, but there need to be arrangements so that they have access to a specialist, even if it is in some other group. So I am pleading for flexibility here, rather than detail in the Bill.

Baroness Howarth of Breckland: My Lords, I support the noble Baroness’s wish for a national workforce strategy, for children with disability generally but particularly for those with learning disabilities or in specialist nurseries. That is because the availability of places for those children is simply not there, in my experience: that is why parents cannot access them. Where parents do wish to access them, local authorities often make it very difficult for them to do so, by producing very complex financial arrangements that exclude those nurseries from the capacity to give help to children. I have spoken about this to the noble Lord, Lord Nash. The Bill is complex, and this is another range of complexities that would benefit from a further look at a later stage, outside the Bill.

At the same time, as many of my colleagues know, I believe that we need a good mix. Of course we need qualifications. Having been involved sometimes at both ends of inspections, I know that qualifications belong to a tick box that is easier to look at, measure and add up than it is to look at skills, competency and relationships. Those are the things that actually matter. They are often enhanced by qualifications, but we need to look at provision that has a mix of all those qualities, particularly for children with difficulties. I do not believe, therefore, that qualifications are everything, but I do think that it is sometimes difficult to measure

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the other areas of expertise. Moreover, many voluntary organisations would like to add to the training of their staff, but as their colleagues will know, if you are going to train a member of staff you have to release them. Even if organisations are doing in-house training, they have to find time. That adds to the cost, so they have to make sure that cost is covered, which puts extra pressure on the budget.

Therefore, I cannot fully endorse the amendments in terms of qualifications, but we all need to move forward and look at the complexity of what we are trying to provide for children in these situations.

Lord Storey (LD): My Lords, I will speak to Amendments 3 and 23. I find this debate a little frustrating. My noble friend Baroness Pinnock is right when she says that it is not just about care, but about educational experience: for instance, the importance of play. It is not about the type of provision or the amount of time we spend talking about costs. If the Government are going to invest—and are investing—huge amounts of money, it is important that we get the quality right. The best way of guaranteeing that quality is by the people delivering it.

I am sorry to disagree with the noble Baroness, but qualifications are not—and should not be—tick boxes. Qualifications are about a body of understanding and practice that one has to go through. It is hugely important that people working with young children know about child development. Notions that one is working with children but has no understanding of how children develop are anathema to me. Yes, it is hugely important that the assistant understands the importance of play and that the setting has an understanding of some of the special needs issues. It is not about ticking boxes but making sure that people have the qualifications.

The people who used to work in nurseries were of course called nursery nurses. They were highly regarded and highly trained, and resented it when suddenly, nursery nurses were done away with and became level 3s —or perhaps level 4s. Level 3 is not a particularly onerous qualification to get; one can do it in 12 months or over two years. I hope that we stick our mast firmly to the top of our nurseries and say, yes, we want the people working there to have the right qualifications.

Of course, there are some wonderful people working in playgroups and helping out in nurseries who do not have these qualifications, but for goodness’ sake—we asked for a commission to look at this issue, and the Nutbrown commission spent a lot of time working on this. It said, “Yes, they should be at level 3”. Should we just ignore that and tear it up? No, we should not. We should make sure that quality is at the heart of the provision. Finally, we should also make sure that the leadership of those nurseries is of the highest calibre.

Lord Touhig: My Lords, I thank the Minister for the very helpful meeting he held yesterday, when we had the opportunity to explore a number of issues that have exercised us throughout the passage of the Bill, in particular, the outline of the funding review.

Amendment 11 in this group was much in my thoughts after our meeting and the presentation. I fear that the funding review’s progress and the conclusions

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it will reach may well be a threat to the existing staff- child ratios, which would be a retrograde step were it to happen. Of course, because the Government, sadly, seem determined to put the cart before the horse—passing legislation through your Lordships’ House and telling us afterwards how it will be funded—I feel I have every reason to be concerned.

Amendment 11 goes to the very heart of the standard of education and childcare that parents can expect, especially those with special educational needs children. While I am the first to recognise that there are many good educators in the childcare education sector who themselves have no formal level 3 qualification—a point well made yesterday by the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth of Breckland—that does not mean we should not seek to do something about that and ensure that everybody has the appropriate qualification. The simple fact is that no one leaving education today will have a job for life. Everyone will have to retrain and upskill in their working lives. If we do not recognise that by ensuring that the first learning and educational experience a child receives in its life is delivered by someone who themselves has been well trained, we start at a disadvantage.

We must be bold in our ambition for our children, and Amendment 11 is surely the foundation of that ambition. That is why we on this side strongly support it.

Lord Nash: My Lords, I will speak to Amendments 3, 5, 11 and 23 regarding the quality of childcare to be delivered under the Bill, staff to child ratios, the workforce, and provision for children with special educational needs. I thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Massey, Lady Tyler and Lady Pinnock, and the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for highlighting the importance of high-quality childcare and, in particular, the skills and qualifications of the early years workforce, including for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

I reassure noble Lords that we all want childcare that meets the needs of working parents and their children, including those with special educational needs. I have listened carefully to the debate this evening and I completely agree with the points that have been made about the importance of the quality of childcare and its impact on child development. I reassure the House, and particularly all those who have contributed to this debate, that the quality of early education and childcare and the welfare of children remains paramount.

All childcare must be delivered in a safe, secure and welcoming way that contributes to a child’s welfare and their development. The Government believe that the extended entitlement needs to supplement and complement the current early education entitlement. It will need to provide positive and stimulating experiences for children, and staff will need to have the right skills and knowledge to deliver this care. There are a number of aspects to these amendments, each of which I will address in turn.

First, the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Massey, seeks to extend the existing ratios for the current 15-hours early education entitlement to the 30-hours childcare entitlement and to set these out in primary legislation. All early years providers registered on the early years register must meet the early years

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foundation stage framework requirements for welfare and well-being, including ratio and qualification requirements.

The English childcare system has some of the tightest adult-child ratios in the world. For three and four year-olds in group provision there must be one adult for every eight children. Or, where a person with a suitable level 6 qualification is working with the children, a 1:13 ratio can be used. The existing ratios have been set out in the EYFS since 2008 and we are committed to keeping them. I would like to place on record that there are no plans to change the ratios to deliver the new entitlement. I am very clear about this. The Government consider the current approach of using secondary legislation to be the right one for ratios, as was discussed in Committee. Ratios for all providers are already set out in secondary legislation, and this allows for a quick response if changes are needed to keep children safe and well cared for. I hope I have reassured noble Lords on this point and urge the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.

5.45 pm

I turn next to those parts of the noble Baroness’s amendments that seek a minimum level 3 qualification for all staff. We know that highly qualified staff lead to better outcomes for children. I am sure that noble Lords will welcome the Government’s commitment to wanting the sector to continue to attract highly qualified staff with a strong aptitude for working with young children and the right mix of knowledge and skills to deliver good-quality childcare.

The qualification level of the early years workforce has risen in recent years. Continuing this increase is a key aim of the Government’s workforce strategy, through the introduction of early years educator qualifications—these are equivalent to A-level standard—and early years initial teacher training. Research tells us that, in group daycare settings, 87% of the workforce has a relevant qualification at level 3. Indeed, many of the workforce are qualified beyond level 3. Since 2007, more than 16,000 individuals have achieved early years professional status and early years teacher status.

Over the summer, the Government, in partnership with the early years sector, made some key strategic changes to widen access to level 3 courses, allowing more individuals to begin their training. This included removing the requirement for new entrants to level 3 apprenticeships and level 3 stand-alone courses to hold GCSEs in English and maths at grade C or above on entry to their course. Now, those who do not already hold their GCSEs will be supported to gain them alongside their early years qualifications before entering the workforce at level 3. I hope that noble Lords will welcome this change.

The Government have made these changes in response to calls from the early years sector to simplify the route to early years qualifications. As a result of this collaborative approach, the changes have been warmly welcomed in the early years sector. I would like to quote Sue Robb, head of early years at 4Children, who said:

“We welcome the government’s decision that apprentices can work for their childcare qualifications at the same time as studying for their GCSEs in maths and English. This will encourage more apprentices into childcare and early years”.

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It is through this collaborative approach that the work- force strategy will continue in 2016, when the Government will review progression routes within the sector to determine what more can be done to enable good-quality staff to maximise their potential and forge a successful career in early years.

We also know that it is not just the certificate that a member of staff holds that leads to benefits for young children but the proven ability of individuals to interact with children and care for them. This is what Ofsted focuses on when inspecting and making its judgments. Many members of the workforce qualified below level 3 provide the high-quality care that is needed. I believe it is important to recognise the excellent work that these people do; 44% of childminders, for example, come into this category, representing a significant part of the childcare workforce.

For these reasons, I believe that it is unnecessary, and would indeed be unnecessarily disruptive, to require all staff, including many in the private, voluntary and independent sectors, to have a level 3 qualification. I therefore urge that the amendment be withdrawn. I am in no doubt that the early years workforce will continue to be central to ensuring benefits for children across all types of settings.

I will next respond to the amendments relating to staff skills and qualifications in order to deliver the appropriate care to disabled children and those with special educational needs. It is the Government’s intention to ensure that the safety and care of all children is met, and we recognise that staff need to have the right skills and knowledge to deliver this care.

I would like to take this opportunity to restate something that I said in Committee: the law is very clear that this entitlement and the existing entitlement must be available for every eligible child who wishes to access it. A child with SEN or a disability not being able to find quality childcare in their area is not acceptable. It is not right and nor is it the responsibility of the parent of a child with SEN or a disability to have to scour the local area to find a place. Local government and providers who wish to deliver the entitlements need to work together to improve this situation. The early years foundation stage already requires providers to ensure that the necessary arrangements are in place to support children with SEN or disabilities. It also requires providers delivering funded places to have regard to the SEN code of practice.

Individuals gaining early years teacher status through early years initial teacher training routes must meet the teacher standards on early years to qualify and work as early years teachers. It is a requirement for them to adapt the education and care they provide to respond to the needs of all children. This means that they must demonstrate a clear understanding of those with special educational needs and disabilities, and be able to use and evaluate distinctive approaches to engage and support them.

I hope that noble Lords are reassured that the Government continue to support the development of the early years sector within a broader, self-improving education system. The Government have invested £5.3 million in voluntary and community sector

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organisations this year, many of which focus on upskilling the workforce by offering training and development. A number of these programmes are delivering specific SEN and disabilities training to the early years workforce. In particular, the National Day Nurseries Association’s current SEND champions grant has proven very popular among the workforce and has been oversubscribed three times.

Local authorities also have a role to play. SEN and disability reforms within the Children and Families Act set out how local authorities, early years settings and schools must meet the needs of children with SEN and disabilities. Local authorities are expected to ensure that there is sufficient expertise and experience among local early years providers to support children with SEN. In many local authorities, they are doing this by having an area SENCO. A recent local authority implementation survey, which received responses from 104 local authorities, indicated that 78% already have an area SENCO for early years providers to access. We are confident that this number will continue to grow as the reforms become embedded.

It is clear that the early years workforce has an important part to play to ensure that children with SEN and disabilities are suitably cared for. However, the market is diverse—the majority is made up of private and voluntary institutions—and it would be very challenging to require every provider to have a suitably qualified member of staff or a SENCO. This would be a particularly challenging requirement to place on childminders, who make up 52% of the sector. As I have previously explained, every provider delivering the early years foundation stage, regardless of their size, must ensure that arrangements are in place to support children with SEN and disabilities.

I recognise that the amendment allows the Government to set a prescribed size, but I would be concerned about the potential perverse incentives with this; for example, a provider not taking more than 49 children if at 50 children the regulations would be more burdensome. Therefore, it would be more appropriate to look at ways in which we can learn from local authorities with area SENCOs and encourage other areas to follow them, building on the model of local authorities that we heard from in our recent survey.

From September 2016, we will roll out the 30 hours’ extended entitlement in certain areas to test market innovation and flexibility of provision, including the access available to those children with SEN and disabilities. One of the criteria we will set for local authorities which want to become early implementers is that they must clearly demonstrate how they will meet the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities. While SENCOs are already a valued part of the landscape, we want to develop and test other innovative ways of meeting the needs of children with SEN and disabilities. We do not want to prejudge the learning that we will gain from the early implementers and I hope that noble Lords will understand why we do not want to close down other potential options by settling on a single solution now.

Finally, but by no means least, I turn to Amendments 3 and 5, which seek to ensure that the childcare provided under this Bill is “high-quality”, including making it a

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requirement for every child to be assigned a “key person”. I assure all noble Lords, as did my noble friend Lady Evans in Committee, that children are at the centre of our thinking. The Government are committed to ensuring that the entitlement delivers quality childcare that supports early development and is flexible and affordable for parents.

I hope that noble Lords have recognised the Government’s commitment to quality childcare in my response to the other amendments in this group. We have committed to keeping the current ratios. An effective strategy is in place to develop further the early years workforce, which has been welcomed by the sector. We are committed to getting high-quality provision in place for children with SEN and disabilities, and testing the best way to secure that.

The required quality of provision for funded childcare places is set out in regulations, and providers are held to account for the quality of the service they provide through a strong accountability framework. The noble Lord, Lord Sutherland, mentioned Ofsted. The current Ofsted framework gives a strong focus on the quality of adult interactions with children, with outcomes for children improving as a result. The combination of regulation and accountability has produced a childcare offer in which 85% of providers are now judged “good” or “outstanding” by Ofsted, compared to less than 70% five years ago.

In addition, it is vital that parents understand what to look for in high-quality provision. I am grateful to the noble Lords who emphasised this when we met yesterday and I would be very happy to write to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, to set it out in more detail. Ofsted is already taking steps to make its inspection reports simpler and clearer for parents, and I am pleased to say that, in addition, the Minister for Childcare and Education will take forward work to develop easy-to-use guides and questions for parents to use when choosing a childcare provider. This will build on the recently published and hugely popular What to Expect, When? guide for parents, which shows parents what their children should be able to do as they progress and develop through their early years, providing tips for parents on how they can help their children reach those milestones. The new, easy-to-use guides will refer to key workers.

While there is of course always more to be done, the approach that we are taking is working. As the early years foundation stage profile data published yesterday reveal, an increasing proportion of children are achieving a good level of development at age 5: 66% in 2015 compared with 52% in 2013.

There have also been improvements in provision for disadvantaged children, for whom high-quality childcare can help to mitigate the risk of falling behind early and staying behind. As the quality of providers in disadvantaged areas has improved—78% are now judged “good” or “outstanding”, compared with 59% five years ago—so, too, have outcomes for lower-attaining children. The newly published data reveal that the gap between the lowest-attaining 20% achieving a good level of development and the rest continues to close, from 37% in 2013 to 32% in 2015.

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We know that the quality of childcare makes a difference to outcomes, particularly for the most disadvantaged, and as such government will make sure that the regulations and the accountability framework that underpin the system continue to drive quality delivery. Section 7 of the Childcare Act 2006 places a duty on local authorities to secure prescribed early years provision free of charge. The details of how this provision is delivered, including various aspects of its quality and safety, are set out in regulations. We intend to use the same approach for the extended entitlement and will consult next year on those regulations.

I turn to Amendment 5, on key workers. All registered early years providers must meet a comprehensive set of safeguarding and welfare requirements. The requirements already cover child protection, ensuring that those who care for our youngest children are suitable to do so, promoting children’s good health, ensuring that premises are safe, and preventing accidents and injuries as far as possible. To strengthen these requirements even further, the Government are already introducing new measures outside the Bill significantly to increase the number of staff with paediatric first aid training. Providers are already required to assign every child a “key person”. Key persons have an important role to play, helping to ensure that every child’s learning and care is tailored to meet their individual needs. The key person is a familiar figure who is accessible and available as a point of contact for parents, too.