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Baroness Blackstone: Can we discuss this issue when we deal with the next amendment, where it is somewhat more relevant than in connection with this amendment? I shall answer all the questions that the noble Baroness has put. It would be more appropriate, for the sake of orderly procedure, that we discuss these matters with the next amendment.
Baroness Blatch: I find it deeply regrettable that the noble Baroness has listened to three speeches so far, but has only just come in to say that she is not prepared to take these matters at this time. I do not intend to repeat what I have said. This is a matter for recommittal.
Baroness Blackstone: The noble Lord, Lord Tope, was not discussing the issues now raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch. The noble Earl, Lord Russell, discussed quite different issues. He briefly touched on this matter, but I assumed that he was going to speak at greater length on Amendment No. 139 in connection with the matters that the noble Baroness is now raising. I am trying to be helpful so that we deal with each amendment as it arises and in a way which makes it clear to everyone on all sides of the Chamber what is being discussed.
Earl Russell: I am in the Minister's hands here. I had been considering not moving Amendment No. 139, but since this matter has arisen and it clearly needs clarification, I will follow the Minister's preference as to whether we deal with it now or I move Amendment No. 139 to see whether we can get any further. What does the Minister prefer?
Lord Tope: I was going to give the Minister a few more minutes to contemplate the prospect of having my noble friend in her hands, to use his words. One of the reasons that we were contemplating not moving Amendment No. 139 corresponds with what I said at the beginning of the Committee stage today. I said that I intended to write to the Minister to set out the legal advice that we have had in order to give her the opportunity to consider it and seek further advice. We shall put down a Motion for recommittal. We shall consider what to do about that in the light of her response and those of the usual channels.
Of course we have no objection to pursuing the matter today, but I felt that we would make more progress when we have all had an opportunity to consider the legal advice that we are receiving, possibly even as I speak, but certainly the advice that we received over the weekend and earlier today. That is why my noble friend was considering not moving Amendment No. 139 today. It was not because we were going to drop the issue, but exactly the opposite.
The regulations arise as regards the GTC--that is to say, the references in these amendments to Clause 1(3) and Clause 5(1). During the debates last Tuesday the Committee indicated its concern about the regulations. We sought to reassure Members of the Committee by indicating that we agreed to consider the amendment about whether regulations on the GTC clauses should be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. We shall return to that.
In particular, Members of your Lordships' House indicated their concern about Clause 1(3) which will enable the Secretary of State to make regulations about the composition of the GTC. Again, here, the regulations could be used to set out the framework for the composition of the GTC, but also allow the GTC scope to set out some of the detail of the future arrangements. This is the case with many other professional bodies.
We indicated clearly that one of the reasons for the timing is that before we finally propose precise regulations on issues such as the composition of the GTC, we want to engage in wide consultation to ensure that all interested parties have had an opportunity to comment on the arrangements.
The GTC will be a major public body. It is right, however, that regulations should set out the framework within which it will operate. The GTC will be an independent body, working with us to raise standards, and the power to make regulations does not give the Secretary of State powers to interfere in its day-to-day business, even if he wished to do so. I do not envisage that there will be any areas where we will not be able to achieve a broad consensus, so I expect the regulations will, following consultation, carry the support of the profession, the public, the council, and, indeed, this House. Nevertheless, we are considering the question of the affirmative resolution, as against the negative resolution, and shall return to that at a later stage.
On the point raised about Amendment No. 136 and the GTC making its own statutory instruments, we do not see a need for such a power. It would be odd if the GTC could make its own statutory instruments and we do not intend to provide for it to do so.
On the second batch of regulations which will be provided under the Bill--I refer to those relating to the induction of newly qualified teachers--we did not give a commitment. We do not think that it would be a good use of parliamentary time to make any regulations made under Clause 13(1) of the Bill subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. The note we have placed in the
Our intention is to consult next month on the detail of the induction arrangements as a basis for preparing regulations. I hope your Lordships will agree that this is the right way of ensuring that those regulations reflect the views of teacher trainers, employees and all with an interest in securing the highest standards of professional competence in our new teachers; and also that the new arrangements are manageable and unbureaucratic; and have strong support across the system.
In relation to the regulations on fees, we had a pretty full debate last Thursday on the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, which sought directly to implement the recommendations of the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee. I do not want to detain the Committee for any longer than is necessary, but I should like to repeat the commitments that we made then. First, we made the commitment to come forward with an amendment at Report stage which would make the regulations under Clauses 16 and 21 for the 1999-2000 academic year subject to affirmative resolution. Those regulations will bring about the effective change of system. We remain of the view that those are the key regulations, rather than those which deal with the transitional period and which will be made later this year.
Our second commitment, which I am happy to repeat, was that we would further consider the recommendation of the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee that the choice of either affirmative or negative resolution should be left open for further regulations. It was probably in that context that the noble Lord, Lord Tope, thought that he heard me use the word "cumbersome", which may indeed have been the case. We see some difficulties with that recommendation, but will come back with a clear view on it at a later stage.
As drafted, these amendments would, if passed, make all future regulations under the relevant clauses subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. In relation to Clause 16, new regulations will be made every year. The changes from the previous year will in many cases be very minor indeed--for example, they might simply uprate the levels of grant and loan in line with inflation. I do not believe that affirmative resolution is a good use of your Lordships' time in those circumstances; nor, I should add, did the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee insist on it.
Given the undertakings that I made last Tuesday, last Thursday and today, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment in anticipation of the Government returning to this at a later stage.
Lord Tope: I am grateful to the noble Lord for that response. The Government are clearly right to be carrying out extensive consultation and we would all support that. However, whether it is right to present the Bill to us before that consultation has even started is more questionable. Nevertheless, this is the Bill that we have before us and that is the legislative process in which we are engaged. As I have said, we are going
I was also pleased to hear the noble Lord's undertaking to return to this at a later stage. I hope that that later stage will be the next stage because I am certain that we shall continue to pursue this matter vigorously on Report. We would all be saved a lot of time, trouble and upset if the Government could give such an indication at an early stage. Although many of us find it unsatisfactory to be in this position, such an early undertaking would at least reassure us that we shall have a further opportunity to consider the matter when the consultation has taken place and when we have the much-talked-about "flesh" on the "skeleton" that is now before us. For the time being, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.