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Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, I share my noble friend's anxiety. Approximately 80 per cent. of all disabled people who take the test go on to receive incapacity benefit. Of the 20 per cent. who fail the test, if I may use that expression, and do not receive incapacity benefit about half appeal and of those about half succeed. One of the more worrying aspects is that of the people who go on to receive the jobseeker's allowance, having lost incapacity benefit, only about 7,000 ever find a job. That is why the Government are determined to press ahead with the welfare to work strategy, as disabled people wish.
Lord Higgins: My Lords, can the Minister tell us why we no longer have a Minister for disabled people specifically to look after their interests? In relation to the review, does she recall the Government's response to the report of the Social Security Advisory Committee on the disabled, which stated that there were too few to bother about and the issue was too complicated? What is the position of a lone parent receiving incapacity benefit who fails to meet the all work test?
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, there are Ministers for disabled people in the Department for Education and Employment. However, the Government are determined that there should be a Minister within the Department of Social Security who has the responsibility for disability benefits. That happens to be me, and I am privileged to be asked to do so. Therefore,
As regards the position of lone parents receiving disability benefit, if I have understood the noble Lord's question correctly, we estimate that only 15 per cent. of lone parents suffer from a disability and they are entitled to income support with a disability premium if they so qualify.
Lord Addington: My Lords, will the Minister confirm that any new test will be driven by individual needs and not by overall spending constraints? Only if individual needs are the primary concern will many of the problems that have been pointed out today be overcome.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, the problem with the all work test was not that it was designed to cut spending. Indeed, 80 per cent. of people went on to receive incapacity benefit. My belief--and it has been reinforced by all the research that I have seen since crossing the Floor--is that the problem with the test was that it defined people by what they could not do in terms of manual dexterity and functional ability and not in terms of their capacity to enter the labour market and be employed. In today's world, disabled people tell us that they want help to enter the world of work, part-time or full-time, and we are determined to be able to offer them that.
The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): My Lords, the Government believe that schools with a religious character are an essential part of our education system, enriching its diversity and quality. We are therefore committed to safeguarding the character of these schools. We recently announced developments to the new school framework which will strengthen these safeguards. The Churches have welcomed these developments.
Baroness Young: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer. Is she aware that the important document dealing with the framework for the organisation of schools has not been available in the Printed Paper
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I did not know that the foundation document was not in the Printed Paper Office. I apologise and will ensure that it is there as soon as possible. As regards the number of governors in aided schools, on 27th October my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment announced that the majority of foundation governors on the governing bodies of aided schools will be increased to two at primary schools and three at larger secondary schools, reflecting the current position at voluntary aided schools. The commitment to strengthening representation for parents on governing bodies will be met by ensuring that the additional foundation governors are parents.
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, does the Minister remember the conversation that we had two days ago when I reminded her that the document was not available in the Printed Paper Office? It still was not available this morning.
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I regret to say that in the past two days, as a result of being busy with a number of other issues, I failed to take up the matter. I apologise to the noble Lord and will do so immediately.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I am grateful for what the Minister said about the Government's commitment to the place of voluntary schools within the maintained sector. I should welcome a categorical assurance that it is the Government's policy that Churches should continue to have an effective and decisive majority on the governing bodies of Church schools. Do the Government accept that if it is right that within the voluntary sector there should be provision for the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England and the Jewish community to have schools for their children it is, in principle, a matter of justice that there should also be the provision for schools of other faith communities? That is an acute question in particular for Moslems.
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, as regards the right reverend Prelate's first question, I repeat what I said in answer to the noble Baroness, Lady Young. The Government are absolutely committed to having a majority of Church governors in voluntary-aided schools.
As regards his second question about the establishment of state-funded schools for other religions, it will continue to be the case that there will be opportunities for voluntary bodies or groups of persons
There have been five applications for voluntary-aided or grant-maintained schools from the Moslem community. Two were rejected by previous Secretaries of State and one was withdrawn. Two applications for Moslem grant-maintained schools are currently under consideration. Of course, each must be considered on its merits and the right reverend Prelate will understand that it would be wrong for me to comment on individual cases.
Lord Gisborough: My Lords, in view of the dangerous result of single-religion schools in Ireland and the attempts to mix children up at an early age, is it not rather dangerous to encourage too many single-religion schools?
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, the current situation is that if people wish to promote state-funded schools, they are able to put forward proposals. But they must meet certain criteria, including that they are able to offer the national curriculum. It is not a matter of encouragement, but of enabling people who wish to make the case for such schools to be able to do so.
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, will the noble Baroness accept not only that the document was not in the Printed Paper Office during the course of this week but that throughout the consultation period it has not been available to Members of this House or shadow Members at all? In fact, I received my copy this morning, which I passed on to my noble friend Lord Pilkington, with the results of the consultation. I find that very disturbing. In future, we should like to be able to obtain copies. Not only was it not in the Printed Paper Office but that office was not aware of the document itself. Although I knew the document existed, it took five telephone calls to the DfEE before I received confirmation that it did exist and that I would be receiving a copy.
Secondly, what are the distinguishing features, under the new arrangements, between a Church school and a foundation school, which will be the option for grant-maintained schools?
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