HC Deb 19 July 1993 vol 229 cc94-117

Lords amendment: No. 178, in page 88, line 38, at end insert— ("() in relation to the planning of special educational provision as provided in section 151 or")

Mr. Forth

I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse)

With this it will he convenient to consider also Lords amendments No. 188 and Government motion to disagree, No. 189 and Government motion to disagree, No. 190 and Government motion to disagree, No. 191 and Government motion to disagree, No. 192 and Government motion to disagree, No. 193 and Government motion to disagree, No. 196 and Government motion to disagree, No. 199 and Government motion to disagree, No. 209 and Government motion to disagree, and Government amendments (a) and (b) in lieu.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Although your predecessors in the Chair may have used the form of words that you have just used, when people come to read this debate, will they be able to see the selection sheet, or the list on the amendment paper? My impression is that, although the selection sheet is useful to us in the short term, it is not the sort of document that can just be quoted for the record.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The answer is that we find it useful because it saves time.

Mr. Forth

The amendments move us on to part III of the Bill. The principal aim of part III is to improve the arrangements for all pupils who have special educational needs. The Government are determined that the new SEN regime should benefit all pupils with special needs—those with and those without statements—and that it will be fully compatible with the new arrangements envisaged by the Bill, and as agreed by the House and another place, for the management of schools generally.

Ever since we issued our consultation document "Access to the System" and our White Paper "Choice and Diversity" last summer, we have been at pains to listen carefully and with an open mind to all the views of those involved with children with special needs. My right hon. and noble Friend the Minster of State and I have discussed the issues over many meetings with representatives of the special needs organisations as well as with teachers in schools, mainstream and special, around the country. In particular, the Special Educational Consortium has played a constructive part in that dialogue. The Bill, as it incorporates the Government amendments made in another place, provides for the enhanced SEN regime which we want to see established.

Our principal aim will be to improve the arrangements for pupils who might need assessments and statements and to give additional rights to their parents while also dealing with provision for pupils who have special needs but do not require statements. Our proposals therefore assign important roles to both local education authorities and schools.

I want to make it clear that LEAs will retain substantial responsibilities in this area. They will conduct assessments and make statements. They will arrange appropriate provision and ensure that it is closely monitored and reviewed. They may, as a result of a Government amendment, provide support services to all maintained schools. Until stage 3 of the development of the Bill's proposals, they will have important planning responsibilities for the provision of school places. At all stages, LEAs may establish new special schools and they must always keep the arrangements that they make under review.

Schools, too, have vital responsibilities to all pupils with special educational needs. All schools, LEA maintained as well as GM, are increasingly responsible for their own affairs. It is at the school level that parents and pupils have direct contact with those who can most effectively and quickly assess and meet special educational needs. Thus, all maintained schools will henceforth be required to draw up policies for all pupils with special needs and to report annually to parents on the implementation of those policies. Furthermore, their work will be inspected every four years, and inspectors will pay particular attention to the special educational provision that they make. Moreover, by introducing a code of practice, the Bill establishes a new common framework for special educational provision.

Both LEAs and—as a result of a Government Lords amendment—all maintained schools will be required to have regard to that code, which will therefore serve to promote common expectations and co-operation and consistency of practice among all directly concerned with SEN pupils. My right hon. and noble Friend and I have maintained that the code, provisions elsewhere in the Bill and our commitment to provide clear guidance to all interested parties make for a more coherent and comprehensive framework for the effective development and delivery of special educational provision in future.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

How does my hon. Friend envisage local authorities being best able to provide these services? At present, local authorities have teams of educational psychologists with proper back-up. Will that remain in place and under the control of local authorities, or will it float away and turn into some other sort of arrangement?

Mr. Forth

By and large, that sort of provision will continue to be made by the local education authority, because we have ring-fenced this area of specialist provision and made it an exception to the usual trading restrictions that will be placed on LEAs—that is an important feature of what we have done. I am glad that my hon. Friend has given me the chance to stress it.

Some concern remained in another place that responsibility for special educational provision should be concentrated purely on LEAs. That is why the other place passed a number of amendments on the subject. I have no doubt that the intention was good, but I believe that the amendments went too far. Their fundamental effect would be to impose a duty on LEAs to plan all arrangements for special educational needs. That would severely erode the right of schools that have opted to leave their LEAs to run their own affairs. The Government cannot accept that; it cuts across the whole philosophy of GM schools.

Mr. Spearing

Will the Minister assure us that schools that prefer GM status—he said a few moments ago that he hoped that many more schools would choose it—and want to "run their own affairs" will not exclude pupils with special educational needs, thereby imposing an even greater responsibility on LEAs?

Mr. Forth

Not as I understand the question. Our proposals in the Bill, together with the amendments tabled in lieu of the Lords amendments, will make the necessary provision for children with special educational needs, with or without statements, in the GM sector. That will run in parallel with provision in local education authority schools.

I accept the basis for the concern expressed in another place; indeed, my colleagues who take a great interest in these matters left my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and me in no doubt about those concerns. That is why my right hon. Friend tabled amendments in lieu of those agreed in the other place. I hope that they will achieve the objectives that my hon. Friends have in mind and will also deal with the concerns that were expressed in another place. Those concerns gave rise to the Lords amendments, which go too far.

Amendment (a) would require the authority to consult the Funding Agency for Schools and the governing bodies of any maintained schools—local authority or grant maintained, mainstream or special—for the purpose of co-ordinating special educational provision. That duty would be part of the duty to keep their arrangements under review and would impose a clear requirement for the co-operation and consultation that the Bill envisages.

Amendment (b) would place a similar duty on the governors of maintained schools. They would be required to consult other governors, the authority and the funding agency for the purpose of co-ordinating special educational provision for their pupils. The LEA would have a similar duty in respect of nursery schools.

The amendments deal with the broad strategic considerations and with day-to-day issues that affect schools. Thus the authorities' reviews of the arrangements that they would make would be informed by the views of the funding agency and the schools in the area. At the same time, all schools would discuss with each other and with the appropriate authorities the steps that they would take to meet pupils' special educational needs. In each case, the explicit aim is to promote the fullest possible consultation and co-ordination.

Alongside those arrangements, clauses 6 and 18 already require the funding agency and the LEA to provide each other with reports, returns and information. That matter was dealt with at great length in Committee. Hon. Members will recall that we amended clause 18 to require that in making regulations under that clause the Secretary of State must ensure proper provision for information about the education of children with special educational needs.

Clause 146 ensures that the governing bodies of self-governing schools must provide LEAs with whatever relevant information they require in relation to the school or registered pupils at that school. Additionally, our amendments would require the parties to consult each other for the purpose of co-ordinating special educational provision. Therefore, the planning system w ill ensure proper and sensible coverage of special educational needs in an area between those responsible for making that provision. It will also allow grant-maintained schools the freedom to participate in considering that provision without intruding on their autonomy, which is their essential characteristic.

I stress that this House and the other place agreed to the Bill's provisions for the overall planning and management of autonomous and self-governing grant-maintained schools. It does pupils with special educational needs no service at all to try to make the arrangements for them separate from the arrangements for those who require mainstream schooling.

Our amendments give the added reassurance that has been sought in another place and by my hon. Friends about the Bill's system for special education needs while maintaining a school's proper autonomy within the management and funding structure for schools generally. I ask the House to agree to the amendments in the name of my right hon. Friend and to disagree with the Lords amendments.

Mr. Win Griffiths

This part of the Bill proved the most fruitful in Committee in terms of getting the Government to make some significant changes in their approach. Part of that was due to the help of the Special Educational Consortium, which pointed out the Government's errors in dealing with special educational needs. All hon. Members were helped by the consortium.

Because he wanted to accentuate the positive, the Minister spoke about some of the welcome concessions that were made in Committee. Despite those concessions, the organisations and the hundreds of people who presented material for the debates to the Special Educational Consortium are still concerned about the gaps in the Bill on special educational needs.

We have just an hour and a half to debate 95 amendments in five groups. Even if we exclude the group containing what are described as technical amendments, there is still a great deal of ground to cover. In the group being considered, there are 11 amendments and 10 of them contain important issues of principle about the way in which special educational needs are delivered. We are debating not only the roughly 2 per cent. of children whose needs are considered so great that they require statements but, the 18 per cent. of children who will need special individual help. That is a considerable part of the school population.

Amendment No. 178 requires governors in grant-maintained schools to provide information in their annual reports on special educational needs. Amendment No. 188 places a duty on local education authorities to plan and to review their provision, and amendment No. 189 makes it clear that they must examine not just what they need to provide, because in some ways that is a narrow definition and we should like to broaden it.

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Amendment No. 190 seeks to make sure that schools carry out audits to show whether their schools are accessible to children with special needs. Amendment No. 191 is an omnibus new clause that would give the LEA an important planning role, especially in terms of special educational needs. Amendment No. 192 focuses on the provision of nursery education for children with special needs and amendment No. 193 introduces an important power for an annual review of the needs of non-statemented children.

Amendment No. 196 places a duty on LEAs to ensure that special educational needs, goods and services are available to the governing bodies of grant-maintained schools. Amendment No. 199 examines the relationship between LEAs and grant-maintained special schools, and amendment No. 209 lays down a duty to direct governing bodies to make provision for special educational needs of children who do not have statemented provision. That means that the LEA can check on that in grant-maintained schools. Amendment No. 220 is technical.

Those are important, fundamental amendments and many of them are supported by the Special Educational Consortium. Its concern is that the special needs of all children and not just the 2 per cent. who require statements should be attended to. It also wants to see special education provision within a sound planning framework. By an amendment in Committee, the Government ensured that all schools will publish their policy on special educational needs. In Committee here, the Under-Secretary of State for Schools and in another place Baroness Blatch made commitments about a code of practice which, if adhered to, will be helpful. The terms of that code are improvements on the Bill's original terms. However, by themselves such improvements are insufficient.

Circular 7/91 currently governs, and provides guidance on, what steps need to be taken to meet special educational needs. As that circular is a few years old and was introduced at a time when there were few grant-maintained schools, it is valid to argue that it covered all children who needed special educational provision.

In Committee, we tried to persuade the Government to accept amendments similar to the Lords amendments, but unfortunately they were rejected. However, in the other place the Government made what is now obviously a tactical retreat, which has no real meaning. They accepted most of the amendments without a vote, but now they want this House to reject them and instead accept their weaker alternatives.

Clause 151 provides only that a local education authority should review its arrangements for special educational provision. That will take in children with statements and other children who have special educational needs, but are not statemented, in local authority schools. Although nationally that is a small minority, in some local education authorities there are a number of such schools, especially at the secondary level. So the local education authority will have virtually no role.

It is important to ensure that within each local authority area there is an overall strategy to meet special educational needs. It is a question of partnership between the LEA and the schools in its area. That does not affect the autonomy of grant-maintained schools, which is what the Minister appeared to fear in his remarks. The GM schools would have a positive role to play in contributing to the development of policy and to any review. The strategy would avoid the duplication of services and effort.

Amendment No. 191 is, in fact, a new clause, under which the strategic plan would include looking at the provision in GM schools; the direction and development of nursery, primary and secondary education in the area; the type and size of schools; and the catchment area of schools. In many ways, all those factors would turn the LEA into an enabling authority, set in a framework in which the schools, maintained or grant-maintained, would provide the service. There would be consultation with the funding agency, where it had a role.

The approach embodied in the amendments would create a new partnership that would truly set the scene for the rest of the century and the first decade and beyond of the next century, something about which the Government are fond of talking. I remind them that they accepted the amendments in another place. It is the one part of the Bill where the amendments, if accepted, would play an important part in creating a clear and stable framework in which the LEA, the funding agency, the Funding Council for Wales—if it is ever created—and both maintained and grant-maintained schools would all have a role.

Of course, under the proposed new clause the final word would still lie with the Secretary of State. Nothing could be done that he felt was unacceptable. The new clause also provides for very wide consultations with anybody who has the remotest interest in education in his local authority area. Therefore, given the aim behind it, we cannot understand why the Government want to reject it and substitute amendments (a) and (b), which are weaker.

Amendment No. 190 raises a specific issue that lies outside the general thrust of the amendments that aim to provide a coherent planning framework. It deals with access arrangements and would ensure that there was a regular review of them. That is an urgent requirement. The National Union of Teachers and the Spastics Society have commissioned one of the Government's favourite firms, Coopers and Lybrand—on which they relied so much for the development of their LMS provisions—to carry out an access review, which eventually saw the light of day in a report entitled "Within Reach". It highlighted the fact that there is a paucity of information, in both local authorities and the DFE, about school buildings. Local authorities tended to have on file only the original plans of a school. The DFE had little idea of the size of schools, the number of floors or the age profiles of pupils. The same applies to the Welsh Office.

The survey shows that 16 per cent. of primary schools and 17 per cent. of secondary schools felt that they were wholly inaccessible to children with special educational needs, while 46 per cent. of primary schools and 18 per cent. of secondary schools said that three quarters of their space was inaccessible. In the secondary sectors there were, and still are, some glaring access problems, with 41 per cent. of libraries and 30 per cent. of science, art and music rooms being inaccessible. Some 55 per cent. of secondary schools and 65 per cent. of primary schools do not have suitable toilets for children with special educational needs.

There is no doubt that if the duty in the amendment were included in the Bill, it would ensure a regular review. It would enable the Funding Agency for Schools—and the funding council, if it were to be created in Wales—and local education authorities to determine their capital grant allocations. They would be able to see where their priorities lay. It is important that the amendment be sustained because although they try to cover the general planning issues, Government amendments (a) and (b) do not cover the specifics.

Mr. Harry Greenway

The hon. Gentleman's heart is in the right place. He makes an important point in saying that there must be proper access for disabled children and others, but one cannot go the whole distance with him. People will assume that he believes that there should be 100 per cent. access in all schools, which is unachievable.

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Mr. Griffiths

In fact, that is what I did not say, although I might like it to be true. I am not arguing that case, nor does the amendment. The amendment states only that local education authorities should review the accessibility of schools and that the schools themselves should consider their accessibility. If they have the money and deem it appropriate to do so, they should take steps to carry out the necessary changes. It is not only a case of spending money on, for example, fitting ramps or lifts; it is a case of raising the awareness of schools and their governing bodies of how to make their schools more accessible.

Accessibility can often be achieved by constructing the timetable in a way that is more sympathetic to children with special educational needs and who have access problems. Let us not run away with the idea that the amendment aims to ensure that every school has 100 per cent. access in a relatively short time. We may reach that point one day, but for the moment the amendment would ensure that reviews of accessibility are carried out.

Amendment No. 192 deals with the broad provision of nursery education for children with special educational needs. Local education authorities already have a duty to provide nursery education for children over two with such needs. Some local authorities are already examining the broad provision, but there should be a duty on local authorities to carry out that task. It would be of great value in reducing special educational costs later in a pupil's career because the sooner a pupil's special problems are tackled, the better. Amendment No. 192 neatly deals with a problem which is not specifically mentioned in the Government's amendments, other than briefly in paragraph (b) of amendment (b).

Lords amendment No. 196 would give local education authorities the power to ensure that there is a full range of special educational provision available on which grant-maintained schools can draw. The Government have already accepted an amendment allowing local education authorities to sell special educational goods and services to grant-maintained schools, and we are grateful for that.

The amendment underlines that provision, but would give local authorities an additional duty which is to ensure that a full range of services is available on which grant-maintained schools can draw to meet their special educational needs. It will not necessarily mean that they will be goods and services that the local education authority will provide, but there will be a duty to ensure that a full range of services is available—what could be called a safety net. Although the Government have tabled their own amendment, we hope that they may, even at this late stage, have a change of heart and accept the Lords amendment.

The Special Educational Consortium already has evidence that schools are buying cheaper services and that unqualified adults are being used to help to mind children with special educational needs. I hope that it will provide the Department for Education with chapter and verse on those important points. A survey of 40 local education authorities, which was published only last week, revealed that 40 per cent. of them were already cutting spending on teachers employed to aid children with learning difficulties, and that services such as remedial reading, the educational psychology service and support for children with behavioural difficulties were all threatened and being cut.

The Minister may say that, under the statementing provisions, that should not be possible, because statements mean that needs must be provided for. Staff must be available to meet those needs, either by making the statement or by ensuring that it is adhered to. Many children, however, do not qualify for statements but still have special needs. Clearly, they are suffering because of the existing pressures on the system.

The Lords amendments are to be preferred to the Government's amendments which are weak because they set a limitation which could be the subject of endless litigation. With reference to the co-ordination of services, the same phase appears in Government amendments (a) and (b), both of which mention the extent to which it appears necessary or desirable for the purpose of co-ordinating provision for children with special educational needs". We believe that it is desirable to provide the co-ordinating role, with no qualification; there should be a duty in the Bill to do so. We hope that the Government will go a little further along the path that they are already travelling and give all children with special educational needs the high quality service that they should have.

Mr. Tim Rathbone (Lewes)

The House has benefited from the erudite and intellectually stimulating speech by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Schools and, equally, from the vigorous and challenging speech by the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths)—which, I understand from my hon. Friends who served with him on the Committee, he has made before.

As my hon. Friend the Minister knows, I urge the Government to adopt a much more generous attitude to the provision of nursery schooling. Like some colleagues in another place, I believe that there are few things that the Government can do which will have a greater effect on a child's attitude to schooling and which will influence the effect of that schooling on the rest of his life than the funding of nursery schooling. In that regard, I realise that I am not completely in accord with my hon. Friend the Minister. However, in my heart of hearts, I hope that the Government will reconsider this issue.

Amendment No. 191 returns the responsibility for the strategic planning of education to locally elected education authorities. Like the hon. Member for Bridgend, I believe that that would help to plot the future for LEAs as enablers rather than providers. At this late stage, I urge my hon. Friend the Minister to reconsider his decision to disagree with amendment No. 191 and to substitute something which, at the best is more bland, and at the worst, undercuts the principle of the amendment.

My second point is about amendment No. 192, which relates specifically to the provision of nursery services for children between the ages of three and five who have special educational needs. It is not limited to children with statements. The amendment is designed to ensure that, within three years of the Bill becoming an Act, the Secretary of State will review the provision arid the desirability of extending nursery provision to all three and five-year-olds and the parents of those children.

Most LEAs prioritise nursery places to children with special educational needs. Therefore, for most LEAs, the new duty would involve no increase in provision. It would make explicit what LEAs are already providing. The few LEAs which do not follow that course would be directed to provide such provision. Even at this late stage, I urge my hon. Friend even after his excellent explanation of the Government's intentions with regard to the Bill, to reconsider that particular point.

Mr. Pope

Having served on the Standing Committee which examined the Bill, I am grateful for this opportunity to make a final brief contribution to the debate. When I spoke on Second Reading last November, I said that the most vulnerable children at school are not the 2 per cent. of children who have statements, but those in the wider group of 18 per cent. of children who have special needs and do not have statements. I expressed concern that the Bill as it was then worded did not protect the needs of those children.

It should come as no surprise to those of us who served on the Committee that, more than eight months after Second Reading, the Government are trying to remove from the Bill amendments Nos. 188 and 189 which seek to protect the children whom I have described. The Minister said that the Government believe that amendments Nos. 188 and 189 impinge on the autonomy of GM schools. However, the people who are running GM schools, the teachers, head teachers, governors and parents, recognise the need for a wider strategic function across the LEA area, especially with regard to children whose special educational needs fall outside the particular expertise of a particular school.

With regard to amendment No. 191. I am all too well aware that including "local education authority" and "plan" in the same sentence is ideological anathema to the Minister. Mentioning LEA in an amendment is bad enough, as we learnt to our cost in Committee. However, to mention planning as well is calculated to cause outrage on the Government Benches.

The Government have not made clear to the House or to the Committee how the relationship between LEAs and the new Funding Agency for Schools will operate. Members of the Committee will recall the rather unconvincing performances of the Minister as he tried to explain how that relationship would work. The Minister began by saying that the functions would be shared. He then said that the funding agency and LEAs would work in parallel. As parallel lines do not meet, that does not seem to be a very sensible way to provide for and plan our children's education.

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At least amendment No. 191 outlines a mechanism under which LEAs and the funding agency could work well together. Without amendment No. 191, the FAS and the Secretary of State would be working in the dark. That is not unusual for the Secretary of State, but I do not see why we should force that on the FAS.

Local education authorities have been a success because the role that was carved out for them by the Education Act 1944 was one of partners with schools. The 1944 Act lasted so long because it commanded consensus. The Government's opposition to amendment No. 191 shows that they are not interested in creating consensus. If they were interested in doing that, this Bill would not be the 18th or 19th piece of legislation to come before the House since 1979. The Government are much more committed to ideology and to seeing LEAs withering on the vine. If the Government want the Bill to work and to avoid the ideology-driven fiasco that we saw over testing. they should, even at this late stage, reconsider and accept amendment No. 191.

The thrust of amendment No. 192 refers to children with special needs who do not have statements. Under the Education Act 1981, there is already a duty on LEAs to provide appropriate education for pre-school children who have a statement of special needs. Most LEAs—and certainly most Labour-run LEAs—prioritise nursery places for children with special needs who do not have statements.

The crucial point relates to the remaining LEAs which do not provide such nursery places. Amendment No. 192 would force those LEAs to prioritise nursery places to ensure that they are available first to children with special needs who do not require the protection of a statement. There is a great deal of evidence that that would bring wider acknowledged benefits to many children with special needs and provide them with the benefit of nursery education which they would not otherwise receive if the amendment is disagreed to. Amendment No. 192 is a common-sense amendment and I hope that the Government will accept it, at least in principle.

Sir John Hannam (Exeter)

I, too, pay tribute to the work of the Special Educational Consortium and Paul Ennals, who has kept us so well informed of the needs of children with special educational problems. I fully support the Bill's aim of giving all children the educational opportunities that they deserve and I congratulate my hon. Friend the Minister on all that he has done to try to meet the needs of a very important group of children—those with special educational needs. We are taking big steps forward in part III and my concern is to ensure that we do not leave any gaps in local provision through which various handicapped groups might fall.

The Lords amendments would strengthen various aspects of provision, for example, for the under-fives and those attending different types of schools. I accept that the amendments might not be exactly right. However, I have been reassured by statements made by the Minister of State in the other place, Baroness Blatch, particularly when she underlined parental choice for special schools. My hon. Friend the Minister will recall my amendments on Report and our discussions at meetings in the Department. I thank him for the steps that have been taken to reassure our excellent special schools that, because of their independent or trust status, they will not be obscured from parental choice.

However, I am concerned about two problems. One has been mainly resolved by Government amendments (a) and (b), which move us some way towards addressing a problem that we identified earlier—the need for a coherent framework for planning and co-ordination of special needs provision throughout a local authority area.

The fear has been widespread that, in pursuing academic excellence, grant-maintained schools would do their best, overtly or covertly, to keep out some children who need more of their attention. Several organisations have made representations to us about that matter and some evidence of that has already been identified by one or two representative organisations. Unless there is a collaborative overview of local provision, such gaps could develop still further.

I welcome most warmly the Government amendments: first, requiring a local education authority, when reviewing its own provision for children with special educational needs, to consult other bodies in the area; and, secondly, requiring governing bodies to consult LEAs and other bodies in carrying out their duties towards children with special educational needs. However, it would help if my hon. Friend the Minister spelt out one or two practical implications of the amendments.

For instance, will there be guidance outlining the decisions that a governing body would be required to consult on? One example is of a grant-maintained school which, for some reason, is gradually running down its specialist facility for children with special educational needs in order to improve its examination results, and in so doing would not be proposing a change of character of the school and therefore would not have to publish its proposals. Would the guidance ensure that such an intention would require consultation? If such a proposal was discussed with the funding authority or the local education authority and was objected to, what would happen? Would it go to the Secretary of State for his decision, or would the governing body still be able to carry out its original proposal?

Under the Office of Standards in Education four-yearly school inspection programme, will it also be required to consider the degree to which the special educational needs policy is being undertaken in accord with the local authority's review? It would be extremely helpful if Ofsted could be asked to consider the appropriateness of the governing body's policy in the light of any comments already made by the local education authority or other consulted bodies. If I could have reassurance on the working of my hon. Friend's helpful compromise proposals, I would be very happy to support them.

A rather more disquieting Government amendment is No. 203, on the duty of the district health authority or the local authority to help the local education authority. We are again considering collaboration between statutory agencies. Many concerns have been expressed about the problem of bringing together statutory agencies in order to carry out Government policies. The problem has been expressed many times by hon. Members.

The Children Act 1989 recognised the importance of that matter, with the requirement that local education authorities, district health authorities and other relevant bodies should co-operate with a social services department when a need is identified. In the legislation. there was a perfectly respectable and reasonable let-out clause for circumstances in which the local education authority did not consider that the help that was requested of it was necessary or that offering such help was incompatible with its other duties. We might have expected such a let-out clause in this legislation. It was anticipated that there would be something similar in the Bill.

Hon. Members have often discussed problems of families who are desperate for speech therapy and other services. Unseemly quarrels have developed between various authorities that are unable to agree exactly where responsibility lies. The Bill provides the opportunity to clear up such confusion. Amendment No. 203 allows a new, unprecedented let-out. Under subsection (3) (a), even when the need for help has been established—for example, for speech therapy, which is essential for hearing-impaired children—the district health authority can still claim lack of resources as an excuse for non-provision. The subsection allows the district health authority to determine whether it is reasonable for it to comply, unlike elsewhere in the Bill, and certainly in subsection (3) (b), where the local authority is not given the same excuse of lack of resources.

I must therefore ask my hon. Friend why the national health service executive, on behalf of the district health authorities, has been able to negotiate a much more comprehensive let-out clause in this Bill than other local authorities have. I refer in particular to housing and social services. I also ask my hon. Friend to consider leaving out subsection (3) (a) and putting district health authorities on the same footing as local authorities, or, alternatively, spelling out exactly when it might be reasonable for a district health authority to plead lack of resources. We need that transparency in the Bill. I hope that the Government can accept the thrust of those concerns. On all other points I warmly support what is being done for children with special educational needs.

Mr. Spearing

In the second half of his speech, the hon. Member for Exeter (Sir J. Hannam) identified the loophole which should not exist. His remarks will receive widespread support. However, in the first part of his speech he referred to amendment No. 209 and Government amendments (a) and (b) in lieu. The hon. Gentleman spoke of consultation, instead of their Lordships' suggestion that a duty be laid upon the local education authority and on the Secretary of State.

Although the hon. Gentleman wants reassurance on consultation, there is surely nothing in statute better than a duty that is securely identified. As I understand it, no such duty is laid upon any body or person to secure the coherent development and oversight of all education in a local education authority. I will be corrected if I am wrong, but it seems that earlier Bills and this one withdraw the authority that was laid on individuals or bodies in the 1944 Act to achieve a purpose that the whole nation and all hon. Members wish to see. That is one of the main flaws in the Bill.

When I first spoke in the House from the Labour Benches, in the mornings I was winding up my duties to about 500 young people between the ages of 12 and 18 who were my responsibility, not as a head but as a housemaster in a large secondary school. Many of those young people were unhappy. I spoke about unhappy young people and our duty to them.

The commonplace in the staff room was that it was possible for young people who were unhappy at home to cope, provided that they were happy and making progress at school. It was possible for young people who were not making progress and who were unhappy at school to make progress if they were happy at home. However, if they were unhappy in both places, there was a poor outlook. That was more than 20 years ago.

Today, I fear that there is a higher proportion of unhappy young people in that age group. The problems that all of us face in our constituencies at least will not be lessened by that fact and the platform that they have in future for learning to become responsible and happy adults and parents will thereby be diminished.

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My hon. Friends—others wish to speak, so I shall be brief—have spoken of special needs. All children in schools have special needs. However, the distinction is that some pupils have more special needs than others. Pupils are not categorised. Their needs are a continuum. We all know that pupils have different needs.

The problem is that figures such as 2 per cent. and up to 20 per cent. of pupils who have needs that are not statemented covers the fact that, in any learning group in any school, there may be up to a third or more pupils who are not making progress, especially at the secondary stage where, obviously, there are alternative attractions.

I suggest that the Government's refusal to take special needs as defined by statute seriously enough to accept the Lords amendments is a backward step. They will be either contributing to more unhappy pupils or not relieving the unhappiness that already exists.

There is an equally important provision in amendment No. 191 relating to the overall planning of education in any one area. The amendment states: (2) A local education authority, and the governing body of any school with duties under this Parliament … shall implement the terms of any plan approved by the Secretary of State under this section and shall bring forward as appropriate relevant proposals for this purpose. (3) A strategic plan compiled under this section shall have effect for such period of not less than four years as the Secretary of State shall specify. How can one plan for the effective education of all pupils in an area—that is what parents want—without some coherent forward planning based on birth rate, the rising fives, form entry and the geographical location of different schools so that at least teachers and those responsible for that education know what is coming? If there is any uncertainty in any learning environment, the quality of learning is likely to be diminished. Many of the provisions in this Bill will programme uncertainty.

One thing that could help is acceptance of the fundamental responsibility for coherent planning for the total educational resources of the area. That is what parents want. As a result of not supplying that planning and not accepting the amendment, and by breaking up some of the fundamentals of the 1944 Act, the Government are doing a disservice not only to the pupils of today but to those of tomorrow and the population as a whole.

Mr. Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford)

I am fully aware of the time, so I intend to be brief. The Government have taken the correct approach. I am relieved that my right hon. and hon. Friends have objected to this group of amendments. Contrary to what the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) said, this builds on the 1944 Act—it does not destroy it.

I am especially concerned about amendments Nos. 188 and 199. It is wrong to say that the insertion or deletion of a couple of words would not make a difference to clause 151. It would move the provision from a review to direct involvement and, especially in my local area of Waltham Forest, interference. I shall dwell on that in a moment. The Government have clearly identified the power to interfere and, by objecting to the amendments, tackled it.

In that context, amendment No. 199 provides for the insertion of a new clause after clause 156. That new clause would make this part of the Bill unbalanced. The wording would make the Bill far too wide and place far too heavy a burden on the schools. I am glad that the Government have spotted that and tabled their own amendments.

The two amendments that my right hon. and hon. Friends have tabled will do the job that is required. That is essentially what Conservative Members should welcome. The amendments give a far better definition and get rid of the anxiety that I and others in the educational establishment who are involved with special needs children have about the ability of local authorities to interfere in what they believe might be their responsibilities if and when schools opt for grant-maintained status.

Mrs. Anne Campbell

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Duncan Smith

I shall not give way, because I am conscious of the time and I believe that others wish to speak.

I wish to raise with my hon. Friend the Minister a problem that is not tackled specifically or well by this section of the Bill. I wish to highlight the matter and ask the Department to examine it. Since the 1988 Act, the processes for becoming grant-maintained have become well understood by schools and local authorities. Whether the proposal to opt out is opposed or the school takes up the option, people understand how to go through the process.

The process which leads into the run-up to opting for grant-maintained status is the setting of a formula for local management of schools. Schools may at some point express an interest in moving towards grant-maintained status. Whitefield school in my area has expressed such a desire. My hon. Friend the Minister has visited it. Such schools are at the mercy of an ill-disposed local education authority which wishes to oppose opting out early on, even before the LMS stage. I wish to highlight that problem.

Recently, my local education authority decided that its special education budget was overspent and demanded that cuts of some 2.5 per cent. be made by special schools in the borough. Without becoming too political, one accepts that such decisions have to be made, whatever the complexion of the local authority.

Whitefield school, which my hon. Friend knows, is a national institution, which provides an excellent set of standards, as well as teacher training to degree level. The local authority, understanding that the school has a desire or intention to consider grant-maintained status, has skewed the requirement to make cuts so that Whitefield will bear the brunt of the cuts. It will have to make cuts of some 4 per cent. rather than 2.5 per cent., as was originally mooted in discussions.

I am worried that the school has already begun to wind back certain areas of provision. Such cuts will drag away provision in certain teaching departments. As my hon. Friend knows, the loss of staff will be a savage blow to such a centre of excellence as Whitefield. I use the case to demonstrate to my hon. Friend how an LEA can use the scope it already has. I am glad that my hon. Friends on the Front Bench have not allowed that scope to be increased by the Lords amendments, but there is still much scope for such practices to continue.

In conclusion, I request that my hon. Friend take note of the problem, and that the Department pay particular attention to local education authorities which are ill disposed to the process of opting out and to schools which have expressed an interest in becoming grant-maintained, although not necessarily a commitment to it. The Department should watch them carefully to see that they do not step over the line by imposing requirements, interfering and making cuts on a scale which is unfair to such schools.

Given the complexity of some of the arrangements for special needs schools to become grant-maintained, perhaps my hon. Friend the Minister will take into consideration the possibility of steering a flagship school through the procedures, linking them carefully with the Department, once it has applied, so that we can test the requirements as the school goes through the process, and the school gets it right from stage to stage. Others who wish to follow might well learn from the experience. That experience would be publicised and could perhaps be put on a fast track. We could then understand more clearly where the difficulties lie.

I strongly support allowing special needs schools to go grant-maintained if they so choose, but we do not have the scope to make mistakes and alterations as we go along, as we have done since the 1988 Act. I urge my hon. Friend to take note of that and seek, in the course of practice rather than legislation, to see whether it would be possible.

Mr. Miller

When I returned from a civic service yesterday, I saw the Prime Minister on television. I was expecting to see something on "Jurassic Park". but unfortunately found myself watching something pre-Cambrian. However, in his considered words, he said that he wanted to work with teachers, and the whole House will welcome that statement.

In accordance with the Prime Minister's statement, the Minister might like to consider the National Union of Teachers' brief on amendments Nos. 191 and 192, which makes the same point as the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Rathbone) did in his considered contribution.

If the Government want to take the words of neither the hon. Member for Lewes nor the National Union of Teachers, they may consider a letter that I received this week from the Cheshire dyslexia association, which is worried about what may happen to learning support services in the Cheshire area as a result of the Bill. It urges support for amendments Nos. 191 and 192, and says: The first amendment aims to ensure that the LEA have a planning responsibility for provision for SEN children. The teaching of dyslexic children requires particular skills and understanding and Cheshire has recognised this by providing a training course for its teachers under the initiative of the Head of its Learning Support Service". The letter then illustrates how the approach that has been adopted by the other place helps SEN children. It says: Without such a planning agency we feel that the services may collapse and dyslexic children would no longer receive appropriate teaching. The letter goes on: The second amendment aims to ensure that nursery education is available for all children aged 3–5 years with special educational needs. The social, moral and economic arguments for early intervention for children with learning difficulties are very strong. This provision would be targeted at those most in need"— and argues the moral case for such a provision.

Those are powerful words by a charitable foundation in the Cheshire area, which is doing an extremely good job for the people whom it seeks to represent. If the Minister is not prepared to accept the word of the Opposition, professional teachers or the hon. Member for Lewes, I hope that he will take those words into account.

The Government amendments will not make the necessary provision. The hon. Member for Exeter (Sir J. Hannam) invited the Minister to spell out precisely what he meant, but the Lords amendment sought to do that in a constructive way. If the Minister accepted it, he would not have to spell out what he meant, because it would be built into statute, which would he a much better way to deal with the problem.

As my wife works part-time with special educational needs children, I am not sure whether I need to declare an interest, but I certainly have an interest in the matter.

I hope that the House, and indeed the country, will listen carefully to the points that have been raised in this part of the debate. The Minister will be aware that there are great arguments in my area about whether the Government are providing proper funding for education. An all-party delegation met Government officials recently to talk about standard spending assessment expenditure, and that debate will go on; but however long that debate goes on, we should not be distracted from making sure that the proper provision is made to those who are most disadvantaged.

I shall explain why I think that the strategic plan envisaged in the Lords amendment is necessary by referring to three cases—clearly, not by name—of children whose parents reside in an army camp within my constituency. The changing domestic circumstances of, and the pressures on, armed forces personnel make that a difficult subject, and the lack of strategic planning creates a disadvantage for those people.

9.15 pm

If one finds such a simple illustration in one constituency, I am sure that it can be multiplied many times over in other constituencies. You, Madam Deputy Speaker, also represent an area with military personnel in the population, and I am sure that the argument can be found all over the country.

The hon Member for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths) said that the debate was not about statemented children—it is about all children who have special needs. It is a subject in which strategy and partnership are necessary to overcome the problems that are faced by children in rural areas and children whose domestic circumstances are difficult to handle, such as those in military areas.

The Minister must spell out his views, and I urge him in the few minutes available to think carefully about the issues raised by the noble Lords. They have hit the nail on the head on this subject, and I urge the Minister to accept amendments No. 191 and No. 192.

Mr. Win Griffiths

I wish to respond briefly to the debate. I must remind the Government that the amendments were accepted in the Lords, and they must know that virtually everyone concerned with the provision of special educational needs backs the amendments.

The Government have produced amendments (a) and (b) in lieu of Lords amendments Nos. 178, 188, 193, 196, 199 and 209, and have also produced their own amendment. But it remains an extremely weak alternative, and the original reaction of Baroness Blatch to accept the amendments was right. Concerns have been expressed by hon. Members of all parties about what might happen if the Bill is passed with amendments (a) and (b) and the rest of the clauses.

Fears have been expressed to hon. Members by a wide range of people involved in provision for special educational needs. The fear is that there is a need to have a planning duty and to have regard to special educational needs and nursery education to make sure that the best provision exists. Perhaps just as important is the fact that the amendment relating to the review of access to schools has been omitted from the Government's amendment in lieu, and that the proposal is not covered in a precise way anywhere else. Although it may become the subject of the developments outlined in the Government's amendment in lieu, there is no guarantee that the issue will be looked at specifically.

When we debated in Committee questions relating to research, the Government accepted—in clause 18(3)—the need for specific account to be taken of special educational needs. We believe that within special educational needs there is a case for taking account of the access issue. Although we have been constrained this evening by the Government's timetable motion and have not had a chance to debate even this group of amendments fully, we hope that they will reverse their decision to disagree with the amendments. We certainly propose to exercise our right to vote on what we consider to be most important issues.

Mr. Forth

First, I take issue—if that is not too strong a phrase—with the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing), who said with a flourish, "All pupils have special needs; all pupils have different needs." I made a careful note of what the hon. Gentleman said, and no doubt he meant it in his own terms. He puts an interesting gloss on the subject. I must in all fairness refer the hon. Gentleman to clause 148, which says: for the purposes of the Education Acts, a child has 'special educational needs' if he has a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to he made for him. We are not talking about the individual needs of children in the classroom in mainstream education, which I would never dispute. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman knew that, but I thought I had better put that straight in case he was just being mischievous.

Mr. Spearing

I think that I agree with the spirit of the Minister's reply. I was merely pointing out that all pupils who are not making progress and are therefore unhappy and are therefore not learning have special needs, although they may not be statemented as such.

Mr. Forth

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that clarification.

It has been alleged that the Government accepted the amendments in the other place only to oppose them thereafter. The first amendment in the group was agreed to against the will of the Government. I need not remind Opposition Members of that, as it was one of their greatest moments during our proceedings on the Bill. In line with convention, the Government then chose not to oppose the remainder of the amendments—not least to give us a chance to study their implications and to decide what we wanted to do about them.

The hon. Member for Bridgend rather seductively tried to convince the House that, where there is a partnership between local education authorities and grant-maintained schools—as he claimed is specified in the amendments with which I have asked the House to disagree—it need not affect the autonomy of grant-maintained schools. That was also the thrust of the argument advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Mr. Rathbone).

I must remind the House of the text of the amendment. It refers first to a local education authority submitting for approval a strategic plan for the purposes of section 151 and of the progressive development of educational provision—which means general educational provision, I assume—"including special needs." The amendment goes on: A local education authority, and the governing body of any school with duties under this Part, including a grant-maintained school, shall implement the terms of any plan"— the House will note the reference to the LEA implementing the terms of the plan— and shall bring forward as appropriate relevant proposals". The proposed subsection (6) says: A plan compiled under this section shall contain proposals on the following matters … the number and size of mixed and single sex schools in the authority concerned: the number and size of comprehensive or, as the case may be, selective schools in the area: the number of places available in all maintained and grant-maintained schools". That is why the hon. Gentleman cannot persuade me that that need not affect GM school autonomy. The words of the amendment from another place say precisely the opposite.

Mr. Griffiths

I pointed out that this was a partnership, and that there were two reasons why that view could be justified. First, to reach an agreed plan, there would be wide consultation, so it would be necessary for all the schools involved to agree to the plan. Secondly, it would require the approval of the Secretary of State for Education of the day. Given those two criteria, which are also in the amendment—as is nursery education, which the Minister did not mention—there is every reason to believe that a successful partnership can be developed which will not affect the autonomy of any school.

Mr. Forth

The hon. Gentleman misses the whole point. Given the words that I have just quoted, it runs directly counter to the whole thrust and philosophy of GM schools. In allowing parents a chance to ballot on whether their school becomes grant maintained, we are offering them a chance to get out from under the local education authority. The amendments would run counter to that and would undermine, as they were intended to do, the whole purpose and thrust of grant-maintained status.

Mr. Miller

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Forth

No, I will not give way. I want to try to answer as many points that have been raised as I can.

The hon. Member for Bridgend went on to ask about amendment No. 190. I should remind the House that there are provisions on the face of the Bill that make that amendment unnecessary. Clause 18, for example, empowers the Secretary of State to require information relating to primary or secondary education as necessary from both the funding authority—if a section 10 order applies to the area—and local education authorities. Clause 18(3), from which the hon. Gentleman quoted a moment ago, specifically mentions special educational provision in relation to those powers. It is probably self-evident that amendment No. 190 would be superfluous if the Secretary of State used the powers outlined in clause 18, as I fully envisage he would.

We are strongly committed to encouraging the growing grant-maintained sector to apply for capital grants to improve access for the disabled. We will shortly be inviting all self-governing schools to consider the needs for that purpose. Projects to allow disabled pupils access to self-governing schools will be given the highest priority. I made that point in Committee, but I am happy to reiterate it.

Mr. Griffiths

How many of the 400 GM schools that currently exist have made capital requests to improve facilities for disabled pupils?

Mr. Forth

I cannot give the hon. Gentleman that information offhand, but I will be only too happy to do so. In the continuing round of bidding, we expect priority to be given to disabled facilities, as I have just said, and we will look extremely sympathetically at all bids made under that aegis.

My hon. Friend the Member for Chingford (Mr. Duncan Smith) asked me if we should give special treatment—he used the term "assistance", then the term "fast track"—for a special school that wanted GM status. In fairness, I do not think that we can single out particular schools for that sort of special treatment. My Department. however, will always give the maximum help, assistance and co-operation to any school that wants to know what its rights are, and how to exercise those rights and use the procedures available.

I must remind my hon. Friend and the House that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is duty bound carefully to consider all proposals on their merits and to consider any objections that may be made to them, so I cannot promise the kind of treatment that my hon. Friend had in mind. I suspect, knowing the school that he has in mind, that it will do its homework extremely well and that, were it to make such proposals, it would do so extremely effectively. I cannot say any more than that, and I do not want to prejudice my right hon. Friend's duty under legislation to ensure that things are dealt with as they should be.

My hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Sir J. Hannam) has unparalleled knowledge and expertise in this regard. I am very grateful for the help that he has given my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, my noble Friend the Minister of State and me: indeed, it was in no small part thanks to him that we tabled the alternative amendments welcomed by him, and by my hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and others. I am grateful for their comments as well.

My hon. Friend the Member for Exeter asked me some specific questions about the mechanisms for consultations. We envisage issuing guidance to the governors of self-governing schools on their duties under the law, including all the duties newly laid down under part III of the Bill, such as the provision about consultation. We shall also revise the—

It being half-past Nine o'clock, MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order this clay, put the question already proposed front the Chair, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.

The House divided: Ayes 304, Noes 252.

Division No. 339] [9.30 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Dover, Den
Aitken, Jonathan Duncan, Alan
Alexander, Richard Duncan-Smith, Iain
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Dunn, Bob
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Durant, Sir Anthony
Amess, David Dykes, Hugh
Arbuthnot. James Eggar, Tim
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Elletson, Harold
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Ashby, David Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Aspinwall, Jack Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Evennett, David
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Faber, David
Baldry, Tony Fabricant, Michael
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Fenner, Dame Peggy
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Fishburn, Dudley
Bates, Michael Forman, Nigel
Batiste, Spencer Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bellingham, Henry Forth, Eric
Bendall, Vivian Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Beresford, Sir Paul Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Blackburn, Dr John G. Freeman, Rt Hon Roger
Body, Sir Richard French, Douglas
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fry, Peter
Booth, Hartley Gale, Roger
Boswell, Tim Gallie, Phil
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Gardiner, Sir George
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan
Bowden, Andrew Garnier, Edward
Bowis, John Gill, Christopher
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Gillan, Cheryl
Brandreth, Gyles Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Brazier, Julian Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Bright, Graham Gorst, John
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Grant, Sir Anthony (Cambs SW)
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Browning, Mrs. Angela Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Budgen, Nicholas Grylls, Sir Michael
Burns, Simon Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Burt, Alistair Hague, William
Butcher, John Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom)
Butler, Peter Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Hampson, Dr Keith
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hanley, Jeremy
Carrington, Matthew Hannam, Sir John
Carttiss, Michael Hargreaves, Andrew
Cash, William Harris, David
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Haselhurst, Alan
Chapman, Sydney Hawkins, Nick
Churchill, Mr Hawksley, Warren
Clappison, James Hayes, Jerry
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Heald, Oliver
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Hendry, Charles
Coe, Sebastian Hicks, Robert
Colvin, Michael Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.
Congdon, David Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Conway, Derek Horam, John
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Cormack, Patrick Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Couchman, James Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)
Cran, James Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) Hunter, Andrew
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Jack, Michael
Davis, David (Boothferry) Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Day, Stephen Jenkin, Bernard
Deva, Nirj Joseph Jessel, Toby
Devlin, Tim Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Dicks, Terry Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Dorrell, Stephen Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Kennedy, Charles (Ross, C&S) Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Key, Robert Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Kilfedder, Sir James Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
King, Rt Hon Tom Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Kirkhope, Timothy Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Knapman, Roger Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Sackville, Tom
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n) Shaw, David (Dover)
Knox, Sir David Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Shersby, Michael
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Sims, Roger
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lawrence, Sir Ivan Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Legg, Barry Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Leigh, Edward Soames, Nicholas
Lennox-Boyd, Mark Speed, Sir Keith
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Spencer, Sir Derek
Lidington, David Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Lightbown, David Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Spink, Dr Robert
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Spring, Richard
Lord, Michael Sproat, Iain
Luff, Peter Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Steen, Anthony
Maclean, David Stephen, Michael
McLoughlin, Patrick Stern, Michael
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Stewart, Allan
Madel, David Streeter, Gary
Maitland, Lady Olga Sumberg, David
Malone, Gerald Sweeney, Walter
Mans, Keith Sykes, John
Marland, Paul Tapsell, Sir Peter
Marlow, Tony Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel) Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Temple-Morris, Peter
Mates, Michael Thomason, Roy
Mellor, Rt Hon David Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Merchant, Piers Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Milligan, Stephen Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Mills, Iain Thurnham, Peter
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW) Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Moate, Sir Roger Tracey, Richard
Monro, Sir Hector Tredinnick, David
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Trend, Michael
Moss, Malcolm Trotter, Neville
Nelson, Anthony Twinn, Dr Ian
Neubert, Sir Michael Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Viggers, Peter
Nicholls, Patrick Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Walden, George
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Waller, Gary
Norris, Steve Ward, John
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Oppenheim, Phillip Waterson, Nigel
Ottaway, Richard Watts, John
Page, Richard Wells, Bowen
Paice, James Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Patnick, Irvine Whitney, Ray
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Whittingdale, John
Pawsey, James Widdecombe, Ann
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Pickles, Eric Wilkinson, John
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Willetts, David
Porter, David (Waveney) Wilshire, David
Powell, William (Corby) Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Rathbone, Tim Wolfson, Mark
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Yeo, Tim
Richards, Rod Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Riddick, Graham
Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm Tellers for the Ayes:
Robathan, Andrew Mr. Timothy Wood and Mr. Andrew MacKay.
Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Abbott, Ms Diane Flynn, Paul
Adams, Mrs Irene Foster, Don (Bath)
Ainger, Nick Fraser, John
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Fyfe, Maria
Allen, Graham Galloway, George
Alton, David Garrett, John
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) George, Bruce
Armstrong, Hilary Gerrard, Neil
Ashton, Joe Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Austin-Walker, John Godman, Dr Norman A.
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Godsiff, Roger
Barnes, Harry Golding, Mrs Llin
Barron, Kevin Gordon, Mildred
Battle, John Gould, Bryan
Bayley, Hugh Graham, Thomas
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Beggs, Roy Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Beith, Rt Hon A. J. Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Bell, Stuart Grocott, Bruce
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Gunnell, John
Benton, Joe Hain, Peter
Bermingham, Gerald Hall. Mike
Betts, Clive Hanson, David
Blunkett, David Hardy, Peter
Boyce, Jimmy Harman, Ms Harriet
Bradley, Keith Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Bray, Dr Jeremy Henderson, Doug
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E) Heppell, John
Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E) Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Burden, Richard Hinchliffe, David
Byers, Stephen Hoey, Kate
Caborn, Richard Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)
Callaghan, Jim Home Robertson, John
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Hood, Jimmy
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Hoon, Geoffrey
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Canavan, Dennis Hoyle, Doug
Cann, Jamie Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Chisholm, Malcolm Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Clapham, Michael Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Hutton, John
Clelland, David lllsley, Eric
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Ingram, Adam
Coffey. Ann Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)
Cohen, Harry Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)
Connarty, Michael Jamieson, David
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Janner, Greville
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Johnston, Sir Russell
Corbett, Robin Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)
Corbyn, Jeremy Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)
Corston, Ms Jean Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Cousins, Jim Jowell, Tessa
Cox, Tom Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cryer, Bob Keen, Alan
Cummings, John Kennedy, Charles (Ross, C&S)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE) Khabra, Piara S.
Dafis, Cynog Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn)
Dalyell, Tam Leighton, Ron
Darling, Alistair Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral) Lewis, Terry
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Litherland, Robert
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Livingstone, Ken
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Dewar, Donald Llwyd, Elfyn
Dixon, Don Loyden, Eddie
Donohoe, Brian H. Lynne, Ms Liz
Dowd, Jim McAllion, John
Dunnachie, Jimmy McAvoy, Thomas
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth McCartney, Ian
Eagle, Ms Angela Macdonald, Calum
Eastham, Ken McFall, John
Enright, Derek McKelvey, William
Etherington, Bill Mackinlay, Andrew
Evans, John (St Helens N) McLeish, Henry
Fatchett, Derek McMaster, Gordon
Fisher, Mark McNamara, Kevin
McWilliam, John Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Madden, Max Rogers, Allan
Mahon, Alice Rooker, Jeff
Mandelson, Peter Rooney, Terry
Marek, Dr John Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Rowlands, Ted
Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S) Ruddock, Joan
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Sedgemore, Brian
Martlew, Eric Sheerman, Barry
Meacher, Michael Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Meale, Alan Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Short, Clare
Milburn, Alan Simpson, Alan
Miller, Andrew Skinner, Dennis
Moonie, Dr Lewis Smith. Andrew (Oxford E)
Morgan, Rhodri Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Morley, Elliot Smith, Rt Hon John (M'kl'ds E)
Morris. Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe) Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley) Snape, Peter
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Spearing, Nigel
Mowlam, Marjorie Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Mudie, George Steinberg, Gerry
Mullin, Chris Stevenson, George
Murphy, Paul Stott, Roger
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Straw, Jack
O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
O'Brien, William (Normanton) Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
O'Hara, Edward Tipping, Paddy
Olner, William Turner, Dennis
O'Neill, Martin Tyler, Paul
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Vaz, Keith
Patchett, Terry Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Pickthall, Colin Walley, Joan
Pike, Peter L. Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Pope, Greg Wareing, Robert N
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Watson, Mike
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E) Wicks. Malcolm
Prescott, John Williams. Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Primarolo, Dawn Williams. Alan W (Carmarthen)
Purchase, Ken Wilson, Brian
Quin, Ms Joyce Winnick, David
Radice, Giles Worthington, Tony
Randall, Stuart Wray, Jimmy
Raynsford. Nick Wright, Dr Tony
Redmond, Martin Young. David (Bolton SE)
Reid, Dr John
Rendel, David Tellers for the Noes:
Robertson, George (Hamilton) Mr. Peter Kilfoyle and Mr. John Spellar.
Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Lords amendment disagreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 180, after clause 146, insert the following clause—Inspection of accounts and reports to Parliament

(".—(1) The accounts of the governing body of any grant-maintained school shall be open to the inspection of the Comptroller and Auditor General. (2) The Comptroller and Auditor General shall, in each session of Parliament, report to the House of Commons—

  1. (a) whether he has carried out under section 6 of the National Audit Act 1983 any examinations in respect of grant-maintained schools, and if he has,
  2. (b) the results of such examinations.
(3) The first report under subsection (2) above shall cover a period beginning with the commencement of this section and each subsequent report shall cover a period beginning at the end of the period covered by the preceding report. (4) In determining whether to carry out any examination under that section in respect of grant-maintained schools and. if he determines to do so, the nature of the examination, the Comptroller and Auditor General shall have regard to any relevant published report of any study promoted or undertaken by the Audit Commission under section 220 of the Education Reform Act 1988.")

Government amendment (a) to Lords amendment No. 180, in lieu of Lords amendment No. 181, in line 19, after 'Commission' insert

'for Local Authorities and the National Health Service in England and Wales'.—[Mr. Forth.]

Amendment agreed to.

Lords amendment No. 180, as amended, agreed to. [Special Entry]

("() local education authorities, and such governing bodies, exercising functions under this Part of this Act, () any other person exercising any function for the purpose of the discharge by local education authorities, and such governing bodies, of functions under this Part of this Act, and () the Special Educational Needs Tribunal")

Amendments made to the Lords amendment: (a), in line 3, at end add 'and'.

(b), in line 6, leave out from 'Act' to end of line 7.—[Mr. Forth.]

Lords amendment No. 185, as amended, agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 181 and 186 disagreed to.

Amendment (a) in lieu of Lords amendment No. 186 agreed to.

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