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Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. I interrupt her only to say that I answered that point by saying that all that is listed in part 12 of the teachers' pay and conditions. I gave two specific examples: first, dealing with cover, attending staff meetings and so on, and, secondly, staff appraisal.
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the noble Baroness saidwe can consult Hansard tomorrowthat Regulation 6 sets out the conditions under which teachers can be employed. It does not; it simply sets out the job description almost of a teacher, with the exception of staff appraisal, that these unqualified people, working under unqualified people, will carry out.
As I said, the nominated teacher can be a totally unqualified person. We mentioned the overseas teacher but it can be someone barely into, not out of, training school. The noble Baroness was generous in referring to teaching Portuguese. Let us enter the real world. These regulations apply to all schools and all subjects. Let us talk about maths, geography, history and Englishsome of the fundamental subjects. I halfway meet the noble Baroness in that I think that there is a role for instructors in vocational subjects and in the practical side of music and in some language teaching. But that is a very different kettle of fish from what these regulations are licensed for. It is possible under these regulations for an unqualified assistant working under an unqualified teacher to be the whole class teacher for as long as two years or more with a single year group of children. For two years out of their five years in school some children could be subject to that kind of unqualified teaching. As I said, that is against a background of more teachers than ever teaching subjects for which they are not trained. This measure will add insult to injury for our children.
Where is the clarification? It is not here. Where is the professional freedom for qualified teachers when their role in the classroomthe qualified teachers' roleis taken by an unqualified teacher for very long periods of time?
Let us make no mistake, the regulations before us make it possible for an assistant without qualifications to work for up to two years and beyond under another person who is also possibly not qualified without the latter having to be present either in the classroom or in the school. The regulations say nothing whatever about the conditions of supervision or the number of assistants who can be working under a professional.
I shall take the noble Baroness and the Government at their word, but the teachers will be watching the matter very closely, and so will the governors and the parents. At the end of the day the loser is not me, speaking for the Opposition, or the Minister as a Minister in this House. If things go wrong and our worst suspicionsand those of good professional teachersare realised, the losers will be the children.
I shall not change the habit of a lifetime in this House by putting the Motion to a vote, but I shall say that I agree wholeheartedly with the noble Earl. The sooner the rules are changed so that we can look at regulations and amend them to make them more workable and more consistent with primary legislationand more especially with the fine words of Ministers and the Governmentthe better. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
The noble Baroness said: I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 177H and 179A. All these amendments stand in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Kingsland. They relate to the electronic monitoring requirements that are imposed on three types of offender: first, those offenders who are serving custody-plus sentences and are then released on licence; secondly, those offenders who are serving intermittent custody sentences and are released either temporarily or permanently on licence; and thirdly, those offenders who are serving suspended sentence orders.
Under the Bill, all these sentences can include a number of requirements on offenders serving their sentences in the community such as a curfew, unpaid work, or a prohibition on certain activities. My amendments probe the circumstances in which electronic monitoring will be used to enforce offenders' compliance with such conditions.
In the type of cases I have outlined, the Bill provides that when a licence contains either a curfew condition or an exclusion requirement, the court must ensure that that requirement is monitored electronically. One presumes that that means by the usual devices, such as the use of a tag or perhaps reporting via voice recognition. With technology as it is, matters may develop. The Bill sets out the proviso that that is to be the case unless,
Therefore, my question is obvious: in what circumstances do the Government envisage that it will be inappropriate to monitor a curfew or an exclusion requirement through non-electronic means? What types of non-electronic means would be employed, and what kind of test is it envisaged that the courts would apply in arriving at the conclusion that electronic monitoring was "inappropriate"? Would defence counsel simply have to make an objection to the imposition of such a requirement or would evidence of the reasons for it being inappropriate be required?
Those will be important issues because the kind of offenders for whom curfew or exclusion requirements might be appropriate will include burglars or those convicted of domestic violencepeople who are serious offenders. It is important that the Bill is clear
I apologise in advance for the length of time that I shall take on these amendments. It will help the Committee eventually because they are all grouped together, but it certainly takes some time to go through them.
Amendments Nos. 177H and 179A relate to the court's powers to order that electronic monitoring should be used when a number of other requirements, such as unpaid work, prohibited activity or supervision requirements, are included as part of the offender's licence conditions. In contrast to the dutywith the exception to which I referred previouslyto impose electronic monitoring in the case of curfew or exclusion requirements, the court is to have complete discretion to order electronic monitoring in these latter cases.
Therefore, I tabled the amendments to try to obtain an explanation of how the Government see electronic monitoring being used by the courts in this contextparticularly, in the context of sex offenders who are given short custodial sentences and are then subject to supervision requirements on their release. Will the need for public confidence and public protection be taken into account in deciding whether to tag such offenders? Or is it the Government's intention that electronic monitoring should be used in order to ensure the offender's compliance in cases such as that of the offender who commits perhaps a minor assault, spends two weeks in custody and is then given an unpaid work requirement on release? How widely do the Government intend that the discretion to order electronic monitoring should be used in the tens of thousands of cases in which custody plus and intermittent custody will be imposed each year?
It is important to ensure not only that the offenders comply with the conditions that are imposed on them when they are released into the community, but also to ensure that the public are protected to the greatest possible degree. Therefore, I would be grateful for further clarification from the Government on the role that they expect electronic monitoring to play in securing those aims.
I turn to Amendment No. 177J which relates to the new sentence of intermittent custody. It relates to Clause 176(8) which allows the Secretary of State to make an order requiring the courts to specify particular periods or particular parts of the week when making intermittent custody orders. The fact is that the wording in subsection (8) means that the essential element of intermittent custodythe precise nature of temporary licence periods during which the offender will be released from gaol for a short timeis being left entirely to secondary legislation. In the White Paper at paragraph 5.33, the Government say that intermittent custody would come in two forms, and only two forms; namely,
The powers given to the Secretary of State under the Bill to specify the precise nature of the intermittent custody periods go much further than the weekends or weekdays options mentioned in the White Paper. So far because this matter was not debated in another place, we have had no explanation from the Government of exactly what they intend by these provisions. That is why I have tabled these amendments. In another place the amendments were tabled but they were knocked out by a timetabling Motion.
We are being asked to agree to allow courts to impose part-time gaol sentences, but the extent to which those sentences are part time appears to be left entirely to the Secretary of State and secondary legislation. I am hoping that the Minister will assist us to take a leap into the dark by shining some light on the matter.
Finally, I come to Amendment No. 177K. It would insert three new subsections into Clause 177 which would prohibit the courts from passing a sentence of intermittent custody on certain categories of serious offender. It is intended as a probing amendment to ask the Government to explain the types of offence for which a sentence of intermittent custody would be imposed. As we have heard in previous debates, it is effectively a part-time gaol sentence.
New subsection (1A) in the amendment would prevent a sentence of intermittent custody being passed on any registered sex offender regardless of whether or not the offence for which the sentence was passed was a sexual offence. A similarly worded exclusion of course already exists for the home detention curfew scheme, which provides for early release on electronic tags. That is reproduced in Clause 236(4)(e). New subsection (1B) of my amendment would prevent intermittent custody where the offender was being sentenced for an offence committed against a child and in new subsection (1C) where the offender was being sentenced for a class A drug dealing or trafficking offence.
As I read the Bill, there is no restriction whatever on the kind of offender who might receive intermittent custody orders. I have tabled these amendments to try to obtain an explanation of the Government's objectives. I beg to move.
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