HL Deb 18 July 2000 vol 615 cc847-9

(" .—(1) The Education (Student Support) (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 shall be amended as follows.

(2) In Article 2(2) (interpretation) in the definition of "fees" for "attendance on" (in each place) substitute "undertaking".

(3) In Article 3 (new arrangements for giving financial support to students)—

  1. (a) in paragraph (1) for "attending" substitute "undertaking";
  2. (b) in paragraphs (2)(h) and (7) omit "attendance on".

(4) In Article 4 (transfer or delegation of functions relating to student support) in paragraph (1)(b)—

  1. (a) for "at" substitute "with", and
  2. (b) for "attending" substitute "undertaking".

(5) In Article 7 (imposition of conditions as to fees at further or higher education institutions) in paragraphs (1), (2), (3) and (8)(b) for "attending" (in each place) substitute "undertaking".")

Lord Bach

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 178 and 179. In moving these amendments, with the leave of the House I shall speak also to Amendment No. 264.

Amendment No. 178 will enable the Secretary of State to provide financial support to students on open learning courses that do not have attendance requirements. The new clause it inserts into the Bill makes technical but important changes to existing legislation which is currently couched in terms of attendance and which prevents, for example, Open University students being eligible for the same support as students in other universities. In 2000–01 this support will be provided in the form of loans for part-time students on low incomes and disabled students' allowances for part-time students with disabilities. I know that the Open University had been concerned at the unforeseen limitations of the wording in the Teaching and Higher Education Act and we are now delighted to put things right.

Amendment No. 179 makes equivalent changes to the relevant legislation for Northern Ireland. Although the Assembly would normally prepare its own legislation in this area, by making provision directly in the Bill we are ensuring that the new arrangements can be put in place for the next academic year. The relevant committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly has approved the approach.

Lastly, Amendment No. 264 simply makes transitional provision to cover so-called "old-style loans" under the new post-16 arrangements. It is merely part of consequential amendments which replace references to the FEFCs with the LSC and the CETW. The whole of the Education (Student Loans) Act 1990 was repealed by the Teaching and Higher Education Act 1998. Order-making powers under the latter were used to ensure that the relevant provisions of the 1990 Act were preserved to cover existing student loans or students whose circumstances meant that they were still eligible for "old-style loans". This includes students on particularly long courses, the final stages of which may be funded by the LSC or the CETW. Amendment No. 264 therefore provides that the provisions preserved from the 1990 Act also apply in respect of institutions receiving funding from the LSC or the CETW under this Bill.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 178 and 179.—(Lord Bach.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Lord Carter

My Lords, before we move on to the next grouping, Amendments Nos. 180 to 182C, it may be for the convenience of the House if I say a brief word about the order in which the business on this grouping of amendments will proceed.

All the Lords amendments to Commons Amendments Nos. 180 to 182 are on the subject of sex education guidance. They have therefore all been grouped together. It is intended that we should hold a single debate encompassing all these amendments. After the debate we shall then move to a series of decisions, all of which should be moved formally without any need for further debate.

To open the debate, the Minister will move that Commons Amendment No. 180 be agreed to. At that point, the Minister will make her speech. She will then move her own amendment to Amendment No. 180; namely, Amendment No. 180A. In practice, the rest of the debate will then take place on that amendment.

Any noble Lord who wishes to speak to any of the amendments on the subject of sex education guidance—Amendments Nos. 180 to 182C inclusive—should do so at that point, when Amendment No. 180A is the Question before the House.

At the end of the debate, the Question will first be put on Amendment No. 180A and decided. The other amendments dealing with sex education guidance will then be taken in the order in which they appear on the revised Marshalled List when moved formally. They will be decided or withdrawn without further debate.

In short, it is intended that only one debate should take place on the Minister's amendment, Amendment No. 180A.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, before the noble Baroness moves the amendment, perhaps I may ask the Chief Whip a question. Is the entire debate to take place on only one amendment? Do I understand, however, that noble Lords who have tabled amendments will be entirely free, as will be the whole House, to debate any other amendment in the grouping?

Lord Carter

My Lords, that is the intention. Because all the amendments address the same subject, we shall hold a single debate on the whole grouping. Any noble Lord who has tabled an amendment in that grouping will be free to speak to the amendment. At the end of the debate, the Questions will then be taken in order. The noble Baroness, Lady Young, has agreed that this will be a good way to proceed.