HL Deb 18 January 2005 vol 668 cc741-70

8.35 p.m.

House again in Committee on Clause 72.

Lord Filkin

moved Amendment No. 133: Page 41, line 12, leave out "and generally to secure" and insert— (2A) In the exercise of their functions the Agency shall have regard, in particular, to the desirability of securing The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 133, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 135, 135A and 136. These comprise a general policy statement about the objectives of the Training and Development Agency for Schools. In its current form, it already appears in the 1994 Act and is similarly worded in the national curriculum requirements.

Amendments Nos. 133,135 and 136 are government amendments and are intended to remove ambiguity in the wording of Clause 72 which might prevent the agency taking on the full range of activities that the Government had intended. The combined effect of the amendments is to remove any doubt that the agency can take on work in relation to the whole of the school workforce and to affirm that, in doing so, it should have regard to the development of children and young people, whether they are educated in school or elsewhere.

The amendments are intended to make clear that teachers of 14 to 19 year-olds in every institution are captured, along with those who deliver childcare to pre-school children. The changes that we propose are technical and do not alter the policy intention of creating a framework that allows the TDA to operate effectively within a broader remit.

I turn to Amendment No. 135A and shall respond in anticipation of what the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, might say. Members of the Committee will already appreciate that the Government believe it is critical that school staff have all the support that they need in addressing issues of pupil welfare in our schools. It is, of course, part and parcel of the overall responsibility of anyone who works with children to secure their safety and well-being.

At the same time, while it is important, this is just one of many desirable outcomes for our society to which a high-quality school workforce should contribute. Thus, we believe it is unnecessary to put in the Bill an exhaustive list of those outcomes because Clause 72 could be extended virtually indefinitely.

Therefore, the Government cannot support Amendment No. 135A for the simple reason that it would add to the Bill needlessly, but they can support its intent in that we are fully aware of how important the agency work is to the promotion of child welfare. I say that, in particular, given that I have responsibility for vulnerable children and for safeguarding children who may be at risk. That work will continue and, as this is an integral element of the work of teachers and of many others in the school workforce, it will form part of the agency's objectives by virtue of subsection (2)(a) of the clause.

All qualified teachers already train to secure children's welfare as part of their initial training. Indeed, a requirement in awarding qualified teacher status provides, in particular, that candidates who wish to be awarded QTS must first show that they understand the statutory responsibilities, including in respect of children's welfare.

But, of course, the Children Act, and the way in which children's trusts and local authorities address the responsibilities under the Act, will undoubtedly enrich—as it will need to do—the thinking in local authorities, in trusts and in the school workforce about how better to address children's welfare in schools and the contribution that schools can make to safeguarding children and their wider welfare. That is part of the ongoing challenge that all those institutions face, and I am sure that the TDA will make an important contribution in supporting them in developing more effective ways of addressing children's welfare. It is important that they do that, but I do not think that it will be necessary to place a statutory exhortation in the Bill. I hope that that has been helpful. I beg to move.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford

I have to confess that I have been caught slightly short on this one as I had not noticed that one of our amendments had been included in this group. In addition, I do not think that I have any briefing for Amendment No. 135A, which I believe came from the NSPCC.

The amendment reflects our slight disquiet about the Bill in that we do not feel that it fully reflects the children's agenda. We made that point fairly substantially when we talked about the inspection aspects of the Bill. This amendment injects the same element into the training and development of teachers that we were anxious about as regards children and young people in the Children Act; that is, our constant debates on whether it should involve just children or children and young people. In the end the Act reflected the consensus that it needed to be both children and young people and preparing children and young people for adult life. The amendment goes back to those debates.

I hear what the Minister said. My noble friend Lady Walmsley, who is on a Select Committee visit to Washington, probably has stronger views than I have about it. But we will look at the amendment and perhaps have further words with the Minister about it.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Hanningfield

moved Amendment No. 134: Page 41, line 13, after "the" insert "behavioural, The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 134 would include as a duty on the Teacher and Development Agency a requirement to ensure that the school workforce was well fitted and trained to promote the behavioural development of pupils.

This amendment returns us to a similar theme to one that we discussed at some length in our first day in Committee. However, the difference is that in this instance it would put the emphasis on the agency to prepare future teachers and indeed non-teachers with the ability to handle bad behaviour and promote and enforce expected levels of discipline.

As my noble friend Lady Morris pointed out during our earlier deliberations today, good discipline is one of the key determinants in producing a successful and conducive environment in which pupils are able to learn and teachers are able to teach. Therefore I believe that it is important that as part of the training process prospective teachers are schooled in the necessary techniques and ways in which good discipline and order can be maintained both in the classroom and in the general school environment.

Furthermore, it is important that teachers and other support staff are educated in techniques that can be employed to deal with unruly behaviour. Again, this could be incorporated in the training provided by the agency.

The Minister may, I suspect, tell the Committee that such activities are already in place. If that is the case I see no harm in incorporating such a requirement into the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Dearing

I will be brief. We earlier heard the argument that looking at the behavioural performance of children should be included explicitly in the duty of the inspectorate. The Minister argued that that was not necessary. He may well be right. But it would be helpful—as has been proposed here—to include it as one of the major points in which would-be teachers have to be skilled before they are set loose in the classroom. It is a major requirement nowadays. I welcome the noble Lord's initiative in tabling the amendment.

Lord Filkin

Yes, perhaps surprisingly, I do too, while, not surprisingly, not necessarily thinking it needs to go into the Bill. I welcome it because we had a good debate on earlier clauses about how important getting an even stronger grip on behaviour in our schools is in terms of attainment for all pupils. That is not to belittle the considerable progress that has been made by the Government in this respect, nor to over-dramatise the extent of the problem.

There is plenty of evidence that shows that many teachers think that behaviour in their schools is reasonable and not a major source of problem. But there is also evidence that a proportion of them think there are problems, or that there are problems from time to time. Therefore, I do not think that for a second we take this as, "It is all all right then, we do not need to worry about doing anything else". That is not the Government's stance.

I want to signal that this has been part of the TTA's brief. I shall briefly touch on some of the things it has done. It is essential that the strategy is part of the TTA's future role in giving the best possible thought to trainee teachers, leaders in schools, teachers at different stages of their careers and all the school workforce. It is relevant to addressing behaviour issues. We would be foolish if we thought that we wanted to stay where we are. We want to go further on the issue.

Let me give a little flavour on the matter. The behaviour and attendance strand of the national key stage 3 strategy already helps schools to create and sustain a positive environment for teaching and learning. The key stage 3 behaviour and attendance strand represents a commitment to every secondary and middle school to support behaviour and attendance issues. One of its key aims is to reduce teachers' stress over the management of behaviour and develop schools and institutions that consistently manage behaviour attendance well. This is achieved by providing school staff with the skills to manage behaviour and attendance.

All qualified teachers are already trained to deal with poor pupil behaviour as part of their initial training. But to what extent do they exit with the confidence and skill to do it well, and can we go further? The legal requirement of QTS requires that candidates must demonstrate and promote the positive values, attitudes and behaviour that they expect of pupils. The award must demonstrate that they have a range of strategies to promote good behaviour. So, again, that element of the architecture is in place; the challenge is, can it go further?

The TTA will, through its development of CPD, continue to develop strategies for achieving the high standards for the school workforce generally. It has already done that successfully in respect of the standards for both teachers and higher-level teaching assistants. So the TTA has had a range of roles in initial teacher training on behaviour, in newly qualified teacher induction, in postgraduate professional development for teachers, in the national programme for specialist leaders in behaviour and attendance and in the standards of support staff remodelling and training for support staff.

I have absolutely no doubt that my Secretary of State will expect the clearest focus by the TDA for the future on how its working in partnership with the schools and other parts of the educational system can go further and faster on this agenda, because, without wanting to overplay it, we know it matters massively to improve it. I do not necessarily promise that I will be able to bring noble Lords added richness at a latter stage of our discussions in terms of the specific chapter and verse. If I can, I will. But I would not want the Committee to be in the slightest doubt about how essentially important this is to the Government, as it is to many parents. If noble Lords have any doubt on that, just read my new Secretary of State's speech to the northern schools conference a few weeks or so ago. So I agree with the spirit while still not thinking that putting it into the statute is needed.

Lord Hanningfield

I should like to thank the noble Lord for those words. As I said in my introductory remarks, this was a big issue at the time we were discussing Part 1 of the Bill and what Ofsted was required to inspect the school for. We are back to the subject in the training of teachers. It is a fundamental issue in the improvement of our schools. I was pleased to hear the Minister acknowledge that.

I was very tempted to vote on the matter tonight. I certainly would not win a vote now, so it might be better to leave it to the next stage, when I probably would win it. The Minister said at the end of his comments that he will reflect on the matter. So we will expect the Government to do that, particularly if they want to see this legislation through before a potential general election. Given the strong words of the Minister, perhaps before the Report stage the Government could reflect on both areas of the Committee's concern and come back with their own suggestion or support some suggestion that we put forward. I hope that the Minister might reflect on that and perhaps even communicate with us on it before the Report stage.

In view of what the Minister said to me just before we came back after dinner—I think that we would all like to get Part 3 finished tonight, and we are certainly going to finish at ten o'clock—I shall not press for a vote now.

Lord Dearing

Given the choice between the two parts of the Bill, I am convinced that Ofsted are considering the matter seriously, so the amendment would be my preferred choice, if there was an issue of choice. If the lads and lasses who are teachers can do it, it solves the problem. The inspectors cannot solve it.

Lord Hanningfield

I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Carter)

Before I call Amendment No. 135, I should tell the Committee that if it is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 135A on grounds of pre-emption.

Lord Filkin

moved Amendment No. 135: Page 41, line 14, leave out "pupils and to prepare pupils" and insert "children and young people and to prepare children and young people

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 135A not moved.]

Lord Filkin

moved Amendment No. 136: Page 41, line 15, leave out "adult" and insert "later

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Morris of Bolton

moved Amendment No. 136A: Page 41, line 18, leave out from "schools" to end of line 20. The noble Baroness said: This is a probing amendment to explore the issue of training in relation to teachers in school and non-school environments. In particular, we hope to use the amendment as a way to explore the relationship between the Training and Development Agency for Schools and the training of teachers in the learning and skills sector, especially with regard to further education.

It seems to me—I am sure that the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—that Clause 72(3)(b) applies to FE college teachers. Schools do not employ them, but their work nevertheless consists of teaching. Does that mean that they are in fact included in the definition of the school workforce with their initial teacher training, therefore coming under the auspices of the agency? I would be interested to hear to what extent that affects the Further Education National Training Organisation, the Learning and Skills Council and further education colleges.

The Minister will be aware of the DfES consultation on the future of initial teacher education for the learning and skills sector last year, in which the then Higher Education Minister, Alan Johnson, stated: although recruitment to the learning and skills sector must follow a different model reflecting the diversity of the sector, there are many lessons to be learnt from the success in the school sector". The Minister will also be aware of the clear view that came through in response to that consultation that the learning and skills sector needed a TTA-type organisation to set and implement professional standards and improve funding arrangements. Given that background, I hope that the Minister will be able to clarify whether the agency will have a role in the training of teachers in the sector. If not, are teachers from the sector to be excluded from the provisions under Clause 76 that would allow them access to financial support? I beg to move.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford

I should just like to say how important the amendment is. It is important for us to get clear precisely who is covered by the TDA and who is not. I also agree with the noble Baroness that we should be concerned with the training of teachers in the further education sector.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth

I speak from the Back Bench. I cannot speak from the Front Bench, as my noble friend has already spoken. As a former teacher in FE for 14 years, I think that the amendment is useful. I remember that in those days not all of my colleagues had the necessary skills—that is being kind to them—to deliver everything that was required up to the standard required. There were people who did not have teacher training qualifications and would have benefited from them. That is very important in the FE sector, and I back the amendment all the way.

Lord Filkin

Clause 73(3) enables the Training and Development Agency for Schools to engage in activities that may benefit not only persons who work in schools but those who teach elsewhere. We propose that the agency should have scope to cater for people working outside schools because some teachers are not simply based on school premises but nevertheless have a teaching function. For example, there are teachers who work in the museum service and others may be catering for special needs outside the school environment. Teachers are also employed in a variety of settings that offer outdoor and experiential learning. However, we have proposed that the agency's scope to cater for people working outside schools should be more limited than its ability to provide for those who work in schools. For example, the agency would not be able to fund the training of administrative support staff other than in schools. The TDA's objectives set the outside parameters on how it may exercise its function. They do not necessarily require the TDA to undertake work in relation to the whole school workforce as defined in the Bill. That the TDA will be able to undertake work which benefits people who teach but do not work in schools can be beneficial for the reasons I gave with regard to those two examples.

We believe that it would not be desirable to exclude such types of teachers from access to the activities for teachers that the new TDA will be undertaking. If the professional skills of a teacher employed by a museum can be developed through the same kind of continuous training that would be available to another teacher employed by the school, it would seem sensible to include them.

This power will also be of value at the interface of the school with other types of education. For example, in the field of 14-to-19 education, we should seek to dismantle the barriers which exist between what goes on in schools and what goes on in sixth form and FE colleges rather than erect new ones. However, I was emphasising the interface. I shall return to that point in a moment.

Without the ability to carry out activities in relation to people who teach outside schools, it is hard to see how the TDA would be able to make an effective contribution to this process and in particular to exercise some functions jointly with the agencies responsible for workforce training in the further education sector and other bodies in the way in which Clause 89 envisaged. But those words are the key ones—to make a contribution to this process, in particular to exercise some functions with the other agencies responsible.

In response to the direct question about how it affects, for example, the Learning and Skills Council and colleges of further education, it does not directly legitimate the TDA to do teaching work in those institutions: it legitimates them to work with FE training bodies. The White Paper,Success for All, set that out as the Government's policy and stance.

I should make clear that while we wish there to be scope for joint working between the TDA and its counterparts in the further education and children services spheres, the Government do not foresee a role for the TDA as the main funding agency for either of those sectors. That is important. I hope, therefore, that what I have said has been helpful in clarifying the probing amendment.

9 p.m.

Baroness Morris of Bolton

I thank the Minister for his clarification. I should like to talk in particular to people involved in FE. I understand what the noble Lord says. However, the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, is important. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 72, as amended, agreed to.

[Amendment No. 136B not moved.]

Clause 73 agreed to.

Clause 74 [Membership etc. of Agency]:

Baroness Morris of Bolton

moved Amendment No. 136C: Page 41, line 35, at end insert— () In appointing the members of the agency the Secretary of State shall have regard to the desirability of including persons who appear to him—

  1. (a) to have experience of, and to have shown capacity in—
    1. (i) teaching in schools,
    2. (ii) teaching in higher education (other than training teachers), or
    3. (iii) training teachers, or
  2. (b) to have held, and to have shown capacity in, any position carrying responsibility for—
    1. (i) the provision of education in schools,
    2. (ii) the provision of higher education (other than the training of teachers), or
    3. (iii) the training of teachers,
    and in appointing such persons he shall have regard to the desirability of their being currently engaged in the provision of, or in carrying responsibility for, such matters.
(2) In considering the appointment of members in accordance with subsection (1) the Secretary of State shall have regard to the desirability of including persons whose relevant experience or responsibility is, or was. in or in relation to—
  1. (a) institutions of a denominational character, or
  2. (b) teaching persons with special educational needs."
The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 136C would reinstate provisions that are found in the Education Act 1994 but which have been omitted under paragraph 11 of Schedule 14.

I do not think that it is much to ask that the Secretary of State should "have regard to the desirability" of including members of the agency who are experienced and competent in the fields of education and teacher training. I would hope that most noble Lords would agree with me that this is an eminently sensible provision. The amendment would not compel the Secretary of State to appoint only those who are education professionals. It is simply a measure that will encourage the serious consideration of what constitutes the necessary qualifications for a successful appointment to membership of the agency. It recognises that expertise is important and that there must be very good reasons not to consider it as a fundamental criterion for the appointment of the agency's members. I look forward to the Minister's explanation of why the Government have left the provision out of the Bill. I beg to move.

9 p.m.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford

We have a great deal of sympathy with the amendment.

Lord Filkin

As the noble Baroness, Lady Morris, indicated, the 1994 Act requires the Secretary of State to have regard to the desirability of including among the members of the TTA's governing body, a range of different types of person. They reflect the range of the TTA's functions when it was established.

The provisions have been excluded because, while they were sensible in 1994, in other respects the world has moved on. Even for teacher training alone, the range of providers nowadays goes far wider than the university sector. In future, under its new remit, the Training and Development Agency for Schools will go much wider than teachers, to include other sorts of staff who work in schools. The variety of experience that could prove valuable among members of the agency will similarly be much wider.

The important question is not, therefore, whether schools and universities, and denominational and special-needs interests, should continue to have a strong voice in the TDA's activities. Clearly, they must; but the question is whether it would be right to accord a privilege to some of the parties who will have a close interest in the TDA's activities, at the expense of others. The removal of the requirement is not an attempt to disenfranchise those parties from consideration; it is a recognition that the agenda of skills and interests needs to be substantially wider.

Members of the TTA will continue to be selected through the normal public appointments process. Those procedures offer important safeguards and a good degree of transparency. It is therefore right to leave future Secretaries of State enough latitude, in appointing members of the TDA, to ensure that membership is appropriate for the width of interests necessary. One might well ask why we do not put the whole list of interests on to the statute book. It would be long; it would be difficult to be comprehensive; and, in five years' time, the list would probably have changed. Therefore, it is important that the TDA's membership reflects as far as is practicable, consistent with being able to make good-quality appointments, the width of its interests. That undertaking will govern the Secretary of State in making those appointments. I hope that that response is helpful.

Baroness Morris of Bolton

I thank the Minister for his reply. I understand how a broader remit is sought. I am not sure how my amendment runs counter to that. However, I shall read in Hansard what the Minister said. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 74 agreed to.

Baroness Morris of Bolton

moved Amendment No. 137: After Clause 74, insert the following new clause— "ANNUAL REPORT TO PARLIAMENT The Agency shall produce an annual report that shall be laid by the Secretary of State before both Houses of Parliament for approval by affirmative resolution. The noble Baroness said: This amendment need not detain us very long. Its purpose is to give a higher profile to the Training and Development Agency for Schools' annual report, laid before both Houses of Parliament by the Secretary of State. I say "higher profile" because avid readers of the Bill will be aware that such a provision is tucked away in paragraph 18 of Schedule 13.

The annual report is a standard tool for assessing and communicating the progress of government agencies to the executive and legislature. It is important to realise that the annual report will often represent the only opportunity for Members of this House and another place to hold the Government and the Training and Development Agency for Schools to account for their performance. Given that it concerns the vital issue of the quality and quantity of our teacher training, that should be recognised as such by having this provision as a standard clause in the Bill.

In deciding to "promote" this provision from Schedule 13 to a new Clause 75, I have also taken the opportunity to leave out sub-paragraph (b) of paragraph 18. It states that the agency, may arrange for the report to be published in such manner as the Agency consider appropriate". That seems an example of superfluous drafting. As the arrangements for the publication of the report are entirely up to the agency—something that it would surely have taken upon itself under Clause 80(1) or paragraph 1 of Schedule 13—I cannot see why the provision is necessary. I beg to move.

Lord Filkin

I shall attempt to be as commendably brief as the noble Baroness, Lady Morris, while not avoiding the issue. At the end of each financial year, the TTA has laid before Parliament an annual report of its activities, together with its audited accounts. It has done so and, indeed, it should do so. The report and accounts outline the agency's main activities and performance during the previous year. It also indicates the extent to which the main objectives and targets set out in the agency's corporate plan have been achieved.

In addition, both the chief executive of the agency and the Permanent Secretary in the department are accounting officers and thus directly accountable to Parliament for the taxpayers' money that the agency spends. These procedures will continue to apply after the Training and Development Agency takes over. To put it clearly, it will continue to present its annual report and accounts to Parliament, as well as being at large to be summoned by the Education and Skills Select Committee to give evidence and to be cross-questioned on its report and accounts as well as its achievements. Again, that is as it should be. Having given that undertaking, I hope that it will not be necessary for the noble Baroness to press the amendment.

However, where I would differ is on the assertion that this should be subject to affirmative resolution of both Houses. I think that that would cloud the constitutional relationship. Essentially the TDA has a budget and agenda set by the Secretary of State. If the Secretary of State has set its direction and priorities, the TDA, or the TTA as now, has the duty to fulfil those requirements and is accountable to Parliament for whether it has been effective and efficient in the fulfilment of those objectives. But, without in any way being disrespectful, it is not for Parliament to set its priorities and directions; that is a matter for the Secretary of State. The Select Committee can say that it thinks that those priorities and directions are wrong and debate that with the Minister, the Permanent Secretary or the chief executive, but I do not think that it is for Parliament to agree to what the agency is doing. It is for Parliament to cross-question, to challenge and to say that it could be done better.

None of that takes away from the importance of parliamentary scrutiny, not only because that is what democracy is about, but also because it contributes to the performance of agencies if they are challenged effectively. I hope that, with those rather long-winded explanations, the noble Baroness will be sufficiently comforted not to press her amendment.

Baroness Morris of Bolton

I thank the Minister for that reply. He gave a very similar response to an earlier amendment I pressed that sought affirmative resolution of a report, but I thought I would have another go. Again, I shall read with interest what he has said, although I take his point. Part of the impetus for the proposal was to seek greater visibility in the Bill.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford

I thank the noble Baroness for giving way. I should like to get in a brief word before she withdraws her amendment.

Earlier in Committee we considered the role of the chief inspector. Provisions for the inspector to present his annual report to the Secretary of State, who must lay it before Parliament, are set out in Clause 3. The procedures are exactly the same. The report is then submitted for detailed scrutiny by the Select Committee. Equally, however, those provisions are set out in the main body of the Bill as distinct from being part of a schedule. Is there a particular reason why, as the noble Baroness pointed out, the provisions covering the annual report of the TDA are hidden at the back of Schedule 13 while the provisions for the chief inspector are set out in the Bill itself?

Lord Filkin

I will take a closer look to see whether the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, has caught us out in an incongruity, although I hope she has not done so. I have no idea why this provision is set out in a schedule, which may well annoy the noble Baroness, Lady Morris. I am told that the provisions for the TDA follow the 1994 Act.

Baroness Morris of Bolton

I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp. The amendment seeks visibility and to ensure that this very important report from the TDA is located in a more accessible part of the Bill rather than being buried away. For the moment, however, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 13 [The Training and Development Agency for Schools]:

Baroness Morris of Bolton

moved Amendment No. 137A: Page 119, line 6, leave out sub-paragraph (4). The noble Baroness said: I was struggling tiredly through the dense undergrowth of Schedule 13, ticking off the rather sensible provisions so beloved of parliamentary draftsmen, when I was jolted from my stupor by the well documented—I have to be very careful how I say this—"Treasury tentacles" and their manifestation in paragraph 5(4). This basically states that the Chancellor must sanction any direction by the Education Secretary on the payment of salaries and expenses to members of the agency.

I might understand such a provision in respect of, say, pensions, but surely the members' salaries come from the DfES budget. I hope the Minister can enlighten me on the purpose of the spending round, where the Chancellor agrees the DfES budget, if the department then has to go back to the Treasury for permission on how to spend its budget.

I am sure that some Members of the Committee will be thinking the same thing as me—that sometimes it really does seem to be "Brown's Britain". I beg to move.

Baroness Andrews

I am sorry the noble Baroness is alarmed by the schedule. You toughen up after a while in this House.

The effect of the amendment essentially would be to remove the statutory obligation on the Secretary of State to seek Treasury approval before setting any salaries, fees, pensions and allowances payable to members of the agency's board; before setting the allowances for members of the agency's committee; and before directing the agency to pay compensation. This obligation has been in place for the past decade by virtue of paragraph 5 of Schedule 1 to the Education Act 1994. I should add for absolute clarity that members of the TTA do not receive remuneration at present.

The Committee may be aware that the practice of requiring in primary legislation that the Secretary of State obtain Treasury approval for these kinds of payments in relation to non-departmental public bodies has changed since the TTA was established in 1994. Even so, it remains the case that Treasury approval should be obtained in certain circumstances. This is supported by government accounting requirements and guidance.

So when we came to design the Bill we had nevertheless intended to retain the requirement for Treasury approval for the remuneration of members of the Training and Development Agency for Schools. We also envisaged retaining the same requirement in respect of pay and conditions of the staff, as outlined in paragraph 6(4) of Schedule 13.

However, the amendment so eloquently proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Morris, has prompted us to reconsider this view and to ask whether the retention of these statutory requirements is really necessary. We have concluded that there may well be a good case for removing this restriction from the face of the Bill. We should like to examine the issue in more detail before reaching a final view. Were this change to be made, it would have no effect on the applicability of the government accounting rules, including any future modification.

I crave the indulgence of the Committee to leave the question in abeyance for the moment in the expectation that I will return with firm proposals at Report.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford

I congratulate the Minister on saying "boo" to the Treasury on one or two occasions. It is very unusual. So frequently we say "Well, it was in the Bill before and we have always had it". I am delighted to hear that this has been questioned from the start.

Baroness Morris of Bolton:

I thank the Minister for that answer. I am very pleased because trust is at the basis of all this. As the Americans say, in decision-making you devolve power down to where the rubber meets the road. I look forward to seeing the Government's decisions. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Morris of Bolton

moved Amendment No. 137B: Page 119, line 30, leave out "for any purpose" and insert "fit in furtherance of any of the objectives set out in section 72(2) The noble Baroness said: This is a straightforward amendment to ensure that committees set up by the agency must be established not for any old purpose but with a view to achieving the objectives of the agency, as set out in Clause 72(2).

I am sure the Minister will agree that the amendment tightens up the drafting of the Bill and rules out some absurd possibilities—I am not saying they will happen, but they might—such as the Training and Development Agency for Schools establishing a committee on changes to the off-side rule or a committee to abolish global poverty. Although that would be a very good committee, I am not sure that it would fit with the Bill.

This is slightly tongue-in-cheek but the amendment would improve the drafting of the Bill. I beg to move.

9.15 p.m.

Baroness Andrews

This is a jolly little amendment. It is clear that the noble Baroness is on the side of the angels at the moment. She is opposed to the unrestricted proliferation of committees, and we certainly agree with that, whether the committees in question are part of a funding agency or any other body.

It is clear that the noble Baroness also believes that the activities of the TDA should concentrate to the exclusion of all else on furthering the statutory objectives laid down in Clause 72(2). In that she is also right, and again, we agree. The TDA has a large and challenging agenda, and all its time and effort should be bent towards it.

Sadly, having said all that, we cannot support the amendment not, as I hope I have made clear, because it is wrong-headed but because it is unnecessary. The agency's objectives clearly constrain the substantive activities it may undertake by virtue of the specific wording of its functions in Clauses 75 and 80. It does not make sense to suggest in the Bill that the agency would establish a committee unrelated to activities that it can lawfully undertake.

Paragraph 18 of Schedule 13 reproduces exactly the corresponding provision in Schedule 1 to the Education Act 1994, including the seemingly loose words that the agency may establish a committee "for any purpose". The noble Baroness gave two examples; I shall give another two. The wording does not mean that a committee may be set up on the state of North Sea fish stocks or the performance of the England cricket team. Incidentally, this is a good opportunity to congratulate it, on behalf of the House, on its excellent performance yesterday. All the agency's substantive activities are bound by its objectives, and it will only establish committees designed to contribute towards its achievement.

I can see why the noble Baroness tabled the amendment, but it would be otiose to adopt it. It would also display a certain lack of trust and, since she has spoken powerfully about that, I am sure that she would agree. I hope that, on those grounds, the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Morris of Bolton:

I thank the noble Baroness for her reply. It is interesting that I chose football as an example, and she chose cricket. I think this is to do with growing up in the north-west, when councils would discuss everything and anything not to do with them, rather than getting on with what they needed to do. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 13 agreed to.

Clause 75 agreed to.

Clause 76 [Forms of financial support under section 75]:

Baroness Morris of Bolton

moved Amendment No. 137C: Page 42, line 10, leave out subsection (2). The noble Baroness said: I am being my noble friend Lord Hanningfield at the moment, so I hope that the Committee will bear with me as I read this out, unencumbered by the facts.

Amendments Nos. 137C and 137D are simple probing amendments designed to elicit from the Minister an explanation and further details of the conditions under which the Training and Development Agency is able to provide financial support.

Given that the agency is extending its remit to provide support to all members of the school work force, I would be interested to learn a little more of how the operation will work in practice. We have learnt that, despite this extension of the agency's remit, it will receive no additional financial support. Therefore, it is important for the Minister to provide an assurance that the new reformed agency will have sufficient resources to carry out its existing and new functions.

Furthermore, how will the agency judge the criteria for making any financial award available? How will the agency decide whether to award a grant or a loan? Furthermore, what is meant by "other payments", as specified in Clause 76(1)? How many individuals, does the Minister envisage, will the agency assist on an annual basis, and what will be the percentage breakdown between individuals who are teachers receiving support and other members of the school workforce? Is it likely that teachers will still receive the lion's share of any support?

Amendment No. 137D is designed to elicit from the Minister an explanation of the rate of interest at which the agency will be able to make available any financial support. Is it to be charged at normal high street rates or at rates similar to those charged by the Student Loans Company?

Can the Minister provide the Committee with the assurances that we are looking for today? I beg to move.

Baroness Andrews

Before I address the questions that the noble Baroness has raised—some of which I cannot answer in any detail, so I shall have to write to her—let me explain what will be achieved by the amendment. It is extremely important.

The amendment would remove two provisions which feature in the corresponding sections of the Education Act 1994. They would make it extremely difficult for the new agency to exercise its funding functions effectively. If passed, the amendments would make Part 3 of the Bill virtually impossible to operate. I am sure that noble Lords would not want that to happen. It would be especially unfortunate in view of the warm welcome that the government proposals have received.

Amendment No. 137 would delete subsection (2) of the clause. The subsection allows the agency to make financial support available under such terms and conditions as it thinks fit, subject to the subsequent provisions of the clause and to the general duty that falls on all public bodies to act in a reasonable and rational way.

At the very least, that change would limit the terms and conditions which it was able to set to those described in subsections (3) to (6) inclusive. It would make it near-impossible for the agency to carry out its business.

I will give an example. Since 2000, the TTA has administered the teacher training bursary scheme. If this Bill were enacted, it would continue to do so by virtue of the power in Clause 75. Payments to training providers in respect of the scheme comprise a principal sum of £6,000 per eligible student plus a handling fee for the provider. Under the conditions of the grant, the provider is required to pass on the £6,000 in full to the eligible student.

The amendment would make a wholly desirable condition of that sort unlawful. Among other things, it would make unworkable a scheme that last year gave us the largest intake of new trainees in 30 years.

The effects of the second amendment would not be so drastic, but they would still be undesirable. By deleting subsection (3)(b), the amendment would prevent the agency charging interest on any grant that it had paid out but which was due for repayment as a result of a condition of the grant not having been met.

There are several circumstances which might call that provision into play. For instance, payments to training providers are mainly made on the basis of student numbers. Sometimes, those numbers are based on estimates of future recruitment. Some students drop out of their course before the payments fall due. It is clearly right that any payments made in respect of students who turn out not to be there at all should be reclaimed and the sums involved put to other uses. Without the ability to charge interest on such sums, the agency would be unable to incentivise prompt repayment. There would be a strong incentive—a perverse incentive—not to repay. We do not want that state of affairs. It has also been a remarkably effective deterrent. In recent years, TTA officials are unable to recall a single instance of the payment of interest being demanded from any of its grant recipients.

Taken in a different way, the amendments would do serious—in the first case, possibly terminal—damage to the TTA's ability to function effectively. That is why we cannot accept the amendments.

The TTA is getting an extra £71 million in 2005–06. How it awards its grants will be a matter for it to determine according to its own criteria. The proportion that goes to teachers—as opposed to non-teachers—is not yet fixed but teachers will still get the lion's share.

The noble Baroness asked what was meant by "other payments" as well as grants and loans. These are payments which will sweep up and catch other forms of funding and will allow for flexibility—for example, if the TTA has to pay a debt under a contract owed by the training provider.

The noble Baroness asked me other questions that I cannot answer in detail on the basis of the information that I hold, but I will write to her and ensure that copies of letters will be circulated.

Baroness Morris of Bolton

I thank the Minister for her full and detailed reply. I look forward to receiving further information. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 137D not moved.]

Baroness Morris of Bolton

moved Amendment No. 138: Page 42, line 25, leave out subsection (5). The noble Baroness said: I move this amendment on behalf of my noble friend Lord Hanningfield. We have tabled it because we hope that the Minister will be able to explain what exactly would be lost from the Bill if the amendment were accepted. As far as I can understand it, subsection (5) provides that when the Training and Development Agency for Schools makes any type of payment to a training provider under the conditions of Clause 76(4) and the training provider uses a subcontracted training provider, the subcontractor's fees are regarded as the training provider's fees.

I am sure that it is a simple matter, but will the Minister give me an example of when this provision might be invoked? I certainly understand the principle—that this provision gives the Training and Development Agency for Schools a measure of control over the use of its financial support so that subcontracting arrangements are not allowed to become unaccountable—but I am curious how this provision might be implemented. For example, if a person has a serious accident preventing him continuing his training with the subcontractor and he seeks a reimbursement of his fees, will the original training provider be liable for that reimbursement? I do not wish to suggest that this provision is unnecessary, but I would welcome some clarification from the Minister on its exact purpose and implications.

Amendment No. 139 is very similar to Amendment No. 138 in that it is designed to test the Government's thinking behind the provision. If there is an excellent training provider that for one reason or another has a precarious financial position, would Clause 76(6) preclude the Training and Development Agency for Schools from sensible measures that might avoid the closure of that provider? For example, it seems to rule out any notion of match-funding and so on. That seems a fairly rigid approach. However, I expect again that there may be a simple reason for it, of propriety or some such reason which I have missed. Perhaps the Minister can enlighten me on the reasoning behind the two provisions and why they are necessary. I beg to move.

Baroness Andrews:

I am extremely pleased to be able to do that. I hope that I can give the noble Baroness the examples which she requested of how the provisions will operate. She is right that the reasoning is a mixture of propriety, financial accountability, transparency and good financial management. If we removed these provisions from the Bill it would certainly have a number of unwelcome effects, notably on individual trainees and serving members of the school workforce undertaking continuing professional development—CPD—activities.

Clause 76(4) gives the TDA power to control or prohibit the levying of fees or charges by training providers by condition of grant. It is a necessary power. It means, for example, that a body providing a CPD activity for a particular school or individual teacher may be prevented from charging the person or the school involved. That power might be invoked, for example, where the level of the grant that the training provider received from the TDA was already set at a level calculated to cover all the provider's costs. So there would be no question of getting something extra. Funding for many existing TTA schemes, including subject knowledge enhancement courses and refresher courses for returners to teaching, is already calculated in that way.

Amendment No. 138 would remove Clause 76(5) which provides an important adjunct to this basic fee-control power. Noble Lords are right that the provision is designed to operate where one training provider acts as a banker in respect of TDA grants which are eventually destined for two or more training providers. In such cases the clause gives power to the TDA to control or prohibit the charging of fees by the other training providers as well as by the banker.

I shall give an example. Since 2002, the Graduate Teacher Programme has been administered through a network of training providers called designated recommending bodies. The designated recommending bodies place trainees in the schools where they will actually be trained and will oversee the quality of their training. They are currently funded for this task by grants of up to £4,500 per trainee, which they can divide by agreement with the individual schools—those that relate to training, depending on what costs fall to whom.

A designated recommending body could be prohibited under subsection (4) from levying any charge on either of the schools on whose behalf it acts, or the trainees that it places in them. However, it is also important that the prohibition should bite the schools themselves and that they should not be allowed to charge any fee to individual trainees whom they employ as unqualified teachers, subject to terms set out in the school teachers' pay and conditions document.

One effect of subsection (5) prevents them doing that. There have been a few cases where a school has paid a trainee the unqualified teacher's salary, to which he is legally entitled, only to attempt to claw it back through a fee of this kind. We believe that that is wrong. Other instances where similar considerations could arise will occur to your Lordships, particularly when continuous professional development for teachers is provided on school premises.

The example given by the noble Baroness was the repayment of fees by a subcontractor in the event of an accident. We will have to look into that, because I do not know whether it is analogous to this matter. I am talking about some specific instances.

It is vital that the TTA should retain an unambiguous power to prevent this sort of abuse of individuals, alongside the power to regulate fee charging in general. I have been talking about one threat, so I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw the amendment.

Amendment No. 139 seeks to delete Clause 76(6). The subsection re-enacts some changes relating to fee controls under Section 5(3) of the Education Act 1994. Those changes take account of the new powers to control fee charging, for which subsections (4) and (5) of Clause 76 provide. For the past decade, Section 5 of the 1994 Act has prohibited the TTA from attaching terms and conditions with regard to moneys received elsewhere than from the agency. This has meant that the TTA has not been able to stipulate that to qualify for TTA funding—perhaps for a refresher course for returners to teaching—a university must first agree also to spend some of its HEFCE grant on that course.

I should make it clear that the TTA has never sought to act in that way in the past and I can think of no circumstances in which it would wish to do so in the future. Addressing the point made by the noble Baroness, I should also make it clear that this provision is not designed to prevent providers in receipt of TTA grants operating matched fund arrangements.

The conditions of accountability that are reflected in these arrangements are important. I hope that I have been able to reassure the noble Baroness. It will probably repay us to read it in Hansard, because there is a mass of detail, clause and counter-clause. If there are matters which I have not answered I shall write to the noble Baroness.

Baroness Morris of Bolton

I thank the Minister for that full and detailed reply. It will pay to take some time to read and digest it in Hansard. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 139 not moved.]

Clause 76 agreed to.

Clause 77 agreed to.

Clause 78 [Grants to Agency by Secretary of State]:

Lord Hanningfield

moved Amendment No. 139A: Page 43, line 24, leave out from "Agency" to end of line 25. The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is again a probing amendment, designed to elicit from the Minister a further explanation of the conditions under which the Secretary of State will provide grants to the agency.

In particular, we would be interested to learn under what terms any grants will be made available. Will the grant be made by the Secretary of State on an annual basis? Furthermore, what mechanisms are there to ensure that the agency provides value for money and is meeting its prescribed duties, as set out under Part 3? There appears to be no way for Parliament to scrutinise the work of the agency. That is an omission about which we on these Benches are rightly concerned and on which we would again welcome assurances from the Minister. I beg to move.

Baroness Andrews

The changes proposed by the noble Lord would certainly remove the power of the Secretary of State to set terms and conditions in relation to the grant that should be paid to the agency. I am afraid that that may well leave my right honourable friend unable to give the agency any guidance in the use of taxpayers' money that it received. The agency will receive, for example, £0.75 billion for the next financial year. That money will be devoted to particular activities including the agency's staffing and administrative costs.

To answer the noble Lord's question about inference, the amendment would mean that the Secretary of State could not indicate what proportion should be devoted to particular activities. At the moment she is able to indicate how the broad definitions of spending can be delineated. To remove that power would be inconsistent with the principles of democratic accountability and public sector efficiency.

I should add that the ability to set conditions of grant in no way implies any unreasonable power or purpose to restrict the agency's ability to manage its own affairs. Indeed, the agency's grant letter for the next financial year expressly provides that the agency may make its own decisions about how to distribute the funding in support of the objectives set out in the letter and the TTA's corporate plan goes on to offer an indicative breakdown of resources by policy areas as guidance. It might be helpful if I provided Members of the Committee with copies of the full grant letter which will answer, in detail, the questions put by noble Lords.

On value for money, earlier we talked about parliamentary scrutiny of TTA funding. The chief executive is the accounting officer. However, I ask noble Lords to reflect on the fact that this amendment would do serious damage to the TTA's ability to function effectively as a funding agency, responsible for a significant amount of taxpayers' money each year. It would also disrupt the chain of accountability that connects the agency, the Secretary of State and Parliament, which is not what the noble Lord intended. With a copy of the grant letter in front of them, noble Lords will have a very clear idea of the relationship with the Secretary of State, the criteria and the determination of the way that the money will be provided and funded.

Lord Hanningfield

As with several other answers, I find that answer very helpful and I thank the noble Baroness for it. I shall read the answer to ensure that we are clear about the situation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 78 agreed to.

Clause 79 agreed to.

Clause 80 [Non-funding functions of Agency]:

Baroness Sharp of Guildford

moved Amendment No. 139B: Page 44, line 45, at end insert "with the exceptions of those functions covered by the General Teaching Councils in England and Wales The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 139B relates to Clause 80, the first subsection of which is one of those subsections which makes one wonder where it begins and ends. It says: The Agency may do anything which they think fit in furtherance of any of the objectives set out in section 72(2)". The noble Baroness, Lady Morris, will be pleased to see that it is at least restricted to Section 72(2). The amendment suggests that we should add the words, with the exceptions of those functions covered by the General Teaching Councils in England and Wales". This is a probing amendment. We are asking the Minister to explain more about the respective roles of the TTA and the GTC in relation to England and Wales. According to paragraph 164 of the Explanatory Notes to the Bill: This clause provides the Agency with a new broad power to do anything they think fit in furtherance of their objectives". What does that mean with respect to the agency's relationship with the general teaching councils?

This is a probing amendment which seeks a guarantee that this provision does not overlap with the functions of the GTCs. The Teacher Training Agency is seen by the GTC for England as a key stakeholder. Contact and joint working take place at a number of levels between chief executives and senior staff from the policy, teaching qualifications, registration and professional standards teams. The TTA collaboration is central to the effectiveness of the GTCs' procedures for awarding qualified teacher status. We assume that this collaboration will continue under the new arrangements.

In Wales the TTA currently does not have as important a role in relation to teacher training and professional development. Under Clause 73 the role of the Teacher Training and Development Agency in Wales is likely to be diminished. However, paragraph 156 of the Explanatory Notes states, However, the Agency must not do anything in Wales (except where the functions have been given to them by regulations made under the Education Act 2002) unless they have been requested to do so by the Assembly and the Agency have given notice that they have agreed to such a request". What further clarification can the Minister give in relation to the way in which the agency will work with the General Teaching Council of Wales in future?

Finally, I wish to raise an issue which arises in relation to the GTC council. According to a paper presented to the GTC council at its last meeting in September 2004, The GTC for England has been involved and consulted on the major expansion of the TTA's remit", which is presumably the shift to the TDA, in relation to continuing professional development for the wider schools workforce. The TTA has identified the GTC as a likely Member of its new Programme Board and new opportunities for joint working will emerge once the formal announcement of the TTA remit has been made". In its Corporate Plan 2004–2007, the GTC sets out an argument for the need for further consideration of the GTC's remit in relation to the regulations of the wider school workforce. It says, serious consideration must be given to assuring the quality and competence of the whole of the children's workforce. Currently, the law requires only those with Qualified Teacher Status, working in maintained schools and non-maintained special schools and pupil referral units to register with the GTC. We will initiate and contribute actively to a debate about registration and regulation". What views do the Government have about the regulation of those who may be classed as teachers but who operate in such areas as the nursery centres or secure units where they effectively do not have qualified teacher status? I beg to move.

Lord Hanningfield

Amendment No. 139C is grouped with this amendment. Clause 80 provides the agency with a new broad power to do anything it thinks fit in furtherance of its objectives. The Explanatory Notes tell us that this will allow the agency to undertake functions such as setting standards for the award of qualifications and the administration of schemes. Subsection (2), which Amendment No. 139C would leave out, provides that the agency will be able to provide information, advice and other services to persons outside England and Wales.

There are a number of pertinent questions that relate to subsection(2). But before I mention our specific concerns, can the Minister explain how he envisages such a scheme would work in practice?

If my interpretation of the Bill is correct, this will allow the agency to carry out any of its functions outside the country including attracting, training and providing financial support to teaching recruits. Presumably, this is intended to allow the agency to recruit and attract teachers from overseas in order to fill gaps in the existing workforce.

If my reading of the Bill is correct perhaps the Minister could comment on whether such an approach is official government policy and it is felt that such a power had to be included on the face of the Bill. Furthermore, I believe that such a step raises a number of serious questions, not least how the agency will carry out such a duty in practice. Will the agency, for example, be able actively to seek to recruit new teachers in Poland with national advertisements in the press or media there? Will we recruit school caretakers in other parts of the world?

Why is it necessary to adopt such an approach? In how many and in what particular subject areas is there a shortage of teachers? Is the existing teacher recruitment campaign failing to attract the necessary recruits? Will such a power be confined to the recruitment of teachers or is it intended to cover all members of the school workforce, as I have mentioned before? What percentage of the agency's time and its financial resources will be spent in activities outside England? Will such activities be confined to other countries in the European Union, or is it likely to be global in its application? Furthermore, what impact will the agency have on the resident teaching workforce in the country in which it operates?

As I have tried to highlight, such an approach raises practical concerns, as well as wider concerns about whether such an approach should be welcomed and whether it is justifiable in the first place.

9.45 p.m.

Lord Filkin

I shall start with the question from the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, about whether collaboration will continue between the TDA and the General Teaching Council. The answer is that it will and must continue. The Government have leverage to ensure that it collaborates in the future because the grant letter, which my noble friend promised will be circulated, enjoins collaboration with all other TTA stakeholders.

This is clearly a probing amendment. It would prevent the agency providing information and advice outside England and Wales, or exercising any function carried out by the GTC. It is not the Government's intention that the TDA should, at some stage, assume the responsibility of the GTC. I hope that the GTC is clear on that. The only area in which there is significant overlap between the roles of the TDA and the GTCE in England is in offering advice to the Secretary of State on matters relating to teachers, including their recruitment, training, career development and performance management. Both organisations have those areas of interest. The Secretary of State wants advice from both of them. The nature of their advice is likely to be different, so there is no duplication. It will be advice in similar areas from different experiences and perspectives.

In Wales, the TDA may exercise no functions at all, except at the request of the National Assembly. In general terms, the TDA's main functions, whether exercised in England, Wales or both, will be those of a funding agency. The GTCs in England and Wales are not principally funding bodies, but are primarily advisory and representative bodies, along the same lines as the General Medical Council. At the same time, the GTCE exercises key functions in England. It has the power to award QTS, to impose disciplinary sanctions on teachers and to maintain a register of qualified teachers. In exercising those functions from their different perspectives, each organisation has a distinct and valuable role. The Government see no overlap or conflict.

I can best deal with the issue of providing advice, information and other services to anyone outside England and Wales by drawing attention to the department's international strategy, which was discussed in a recent Question. Essentially, an element of the strategy is to benchmark ourselves against best practice elsewhere internationally, in the same way as we talk about schools benchmarking themselves, to see whether we should be raising our ambition or whether we can learn from others to do things better. The second element of it is helping other countries to achieve their goals. A particular focus of that would be Africa, where a body such as the TDA, at a low cost to itself, has enormous potential to offer to some African countries to help them to understand effective strategies for teaching and workforce development in schools. As a society, we would not want to handicap it in doing so.

I do not think that the thrust of the amendment is about the substantial recruitment of large elements of the school workforce from abroad. However, I may have to write to the noble Lord because I am getting blank stares from the Box on this one, so I do not know whether the answer is "Yes" or "No". I think that the answer must be "No", but I shall write to the noble Lord.

I hope that my remarks have been helpful. There are one or two other points that I should touch on. Clause 73 opens a potential role for the TDA to do more in Wales, but it does not restrict it and, as now, the TDA cannot do anything unless the Welsh Assembly requests it. I hope that that has been helpful and that the noble Baroness will withdraw her amendment.

Lord Hanningfield

I look forward to the Minister's reply to my questions on recruitment overseas.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford

I thank the Minister for his response. However, so far as I know, he did not reply to my final query about the Government's views on the development of some form of regulation and registration for those who are part of the teacher workforce but who are not necessarily teachers as such.

Lord Filkin

The noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, is right. I did, in fact, refer to it during debate on an earlier amendment—although that would probably not have been read across—when I described a discussion that I had had with the chief executive of the GTC about her interest in looking at the whole issue of the regulation, registration and codes of practice around the evolving school workforce professions. While I did not express a view on what the right answer was, because it was not for me to do so and I did not know the right answer, I was certainly strongly affirmative about exploring that discussion with the other potential stakeholders because that is part of our developing agenda. I hope that that positive statement is helpful.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford

I thank the Minister for that and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 139C not moved.]

Clause 80 agreed to.

Clause 81 [Directions by Secretary of State and Assembly]:

[Amendment No. 139D not moved.]

Clause 81 agreed to.

Clause 82 [Qualifying activities and eligible institutions in relation to HEFCW funding]:

Lord Livsey of Talgarth

moved Amendment No. 139E: Page 45, line 27, at end insert "and professional development The noble Lord said: This is a probing amendment to raise funding issues relating to continuous professional development provision in Wales. Since April 2004, the General Teaching Council for Wales has administered a CPD funding programme that seeks to provide teachers in Wales with an opportunity to receive funding to meet their individual professional development needs. The funding programme is intended to give teachers the opportunity to identify their own professional development needs and to control the funding of those activities.

The Welsh Assembly Government have so far made £1.35 million available to support the programme. That provision includes funding for professional development bursaries, teacher research scholarships and teacher sabbaticals. Teachers in Wales value the role of the GTC in relation to awarding CPD grants and would be very concerned if the extended remit for the TTA or the provisions relating to HEFCW undermined the existing teacher CPD. We would be very grateful for some reassurances on that in order to allay teachers' fears if this went in a direction which they felt was undesirable. I beg to move.

Baroness Andrews

Because of the noble Lord's experience in this field, I am very grateful to him for contributing to this debate, and I hope that I can give him the assurance that he seeks.

I begin by explaining what the amendment would do and why we have a problem with it. Essentially, it would add another layer of administration within the existing system for funding teachers' professional development. Clause 82 re-enacts an existing provision from the Education Act 1994 which enables HEFCW to fund the higher education institutions that provide initial teacher training in Wales. It is an established mechanism and it works very well.

As the noble Lord knows, continuing professional development for teachers is funded through a number of mechanisms in Wales. They include the General Teaching Council for Wales administering funds to meet the individual development needs of teachers, and those are very much the teachers' own needs. The LEAs provide training and development opportunities for whole schools and school staff. They also include the schools' own budgets, which are used to fund teachers' development, supporting them in school and in their aspirations, and the Welsh Assembly Government's Better Schools Fund, which can also be used for development in new initiatives and priority areas. I assure the noble Lord that nothing in the Bill will affect the amount given for individually focused CPD from the General Teaching Council. I think that that was the essential question he was asking.

Essentially, these mechanisms enable the training to be provided by the most appropriate and most flexible route, whether it is development by collaboration through the LEAs or whether it is provided by an HE or FE institution.

HEFCW currently funds accredited HE institutions to provide courses of initial teacher training. Those enable trainees to reach the standard of qualified teacher status, which is required to start a career in teaching. It is a very specific remit. It is the remit undertaken by the TTA in England.

The systems in Wales are quite different. They are from full ITT to the more targeted and flexible approach which is needed to fund and arrange professional development opportunities for serving teachers, which is what we have. One could argue that we have the best of both worlds. Teachers know where to go: there is no confusion, there are no complaints about the system, and we do not want to change that.

So to put an additional function on HEFCW would essentially require new and different mechanisms to be established. It could create a degree of confusion; it would certainly create a degree of duplication and we do not believe that it would be appropriate. With the assurances that I have given I hope that the noble Lord will feel that he can withdraw his amendment.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth

I thank the noble Baroness for that reply and in particular for emphasising the partnership aspects of the functions within Wales. I certainly accept many of her arguments. I will read Hansard and consult further, but for the moment I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 82 agreed to.

Clause 83 [Grants, loans and other payments by HEFCW]:

[Amendments Nos. 139F and 139G not moved.]

Clause 83 agreed to.

Clauses 84 to 86 agreed to.

Clause 87 [Supplementary and ancillary functions of HEFCW]:

On Question, Whether Clause 87 shall stand part of the Bill?

Baroness Morris of Bolton

In questioning that Clause 87 stand part of the Bill, we are again seeking more information in relation to the powers of the Assembly to impose under this clause.

In what circumstances and how often does the Minister envisage that such functions would be used and, perhaps more importantly, can we have some idea of what these functions will consist of? Paragraph (4) would allow HEFCW—I cannot pronounce HEFCW so I will spell it out—to carry out such activities ancillary to its functions as directed by the Assembly. Again, what additional powers does the Minister envisage HEFCW taking on under this paragraph?

Furthermore, paragraph (3) would place upon the Assembly a power to consult such individuals that it thinks fit before imposing any new powers on HEFCW. Again, we are interested to learn who these individuals might be, how long any consultation might last and if the results of any consultations will be made public.

What mechanisms are there in place to ensure that the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales is providing value for money and is indeed meeting its prescribed duties as set out under Part 3? There does not appear to be any way, as set out on the face of the Bill, for Parliament to scrutinise HEFCW's work. This is an omission that we on these Benches are concerned about and again would welcome assurances from the Minister.

Lord Rowlands

I intervene briefly because I was puzzled by the nature of this amendment. The powers that were sought and conferred upon the then Secretary of State in 1994 are simply being re-enacted. Originally a Conservative administration sought such powers and now they have been transferred—as I understand it—under the transfer of powers order laid under the Government of Wales Act on to the Assembly after devolution. This is purely a re-enactment of those original powers.

While I am happy to listen to the questions of the noble Baroness, I do not think that she or any of us would want to deny the Assembly the powers that a succession of Secretaries of State have had since 1994. Like the noble Baroness, I would be grateful if the Minister could explain how these powers have been used to date. But, more importantly, why should they be denied to a national assembly? These orders would be scrutinised in detail there, in a way that this House and the other House do not scrutinise, under the provisions that have been laid down for dealing with subordinate legislation. I strongly urge that we maintain these powers for the Assembly—the same powers once belonged to a Secretary of State.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth

I endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Rowlands, has just said. I was going to make a similar point and say that it would be wrong to deny the Assembly this function. Indeed, from the audit point of view the Assembly's situation is pretty watertight. So, I would just go along entirely with what the noble Lord, Lord Rowlands, has just said.

10 p.m.

Baroness Andrews

One of the great joys of this Chamber is the tremendous support and wisdom of senior Members of the other place, who have played such a critical role in the development of these agencies over the years. So I am very grateful to my noble friend for his contribution.

Perhaps I may just answer the basic question: what does the clause do in relation to HEFCW's functions under the Bill? Essentially, the clause enables the Assembly to make an order adding to HEFCW's functions. The Assembly can add to HEFCW's functions only following such consultation as it considers appropriate. On the question of consultation, I should say that if it were necessary to have consultation the Assembly would have to consult, for example, the unions, the LEAs and the educational bodies. It would publish consultation documents and there would usually be an eight to 12-week period for consultation.

To answer the question of the noble Baroness on parliamentary scrutiny, it is very much the Assembly rather than Parliament that would scrutinise HEFCW in all its functions. So the Assembly can add to such functions only following such consultations as it considers appropriate, and it can only add a function which is related to a function of the Assembly under any enactment and if it relates to the functions of an institution that HEFCW can fund under this part of the Bill.

Those are obviously very important caveats. They ensure that under the clause the Assembly can ask HEFCW to carry out additional functions only for the purposes of the Assembly's own functions which are linked to an institution offering teacher training. So it is not a power which will give carte blanche to extend the powers of HEFCW.

The provisions ensure that the funding council can discharge its functions in relation to the Bill effectively. It ensures that if the Assembly, following appropriate consultation, determines that the delivery of teacher training in Wales can be enhanced by giving HEFCW additional functions it is able to do so.

The clause places a parallel duty on HEFCW to carry out such ancillary functions as the Assembly may direct under this part. As my noble friend said, it is very much a re-enactment of provisions in the Education Act 1984 in its application to Wales. It is not a power which the Assembly envisages using frequently, but it is an important provision. It might, for example, be used in connection with changes to ITT provision, although HEFCW does not at present fund—and we have just had this debate—employment-based courses or school-centred ITT providers.

The Welsh Assembly has announced a review of ITT provision in Wales. The review's terms of reference include looking at the availability and potential for more flexible or different types of ITT provision, including school-centred ITT and employment-based training.

So, although HEFCW has powers to provide funding for these sorts of courses, there is a range of ancillary functions in this area, such as providing advice or information to prospective trainees. Provision therefore needs to be made in HEFCW's functions to cover a possible future role.

Noble Lords asked me whether the powers had been used since the Assembly's inception. The answer is, no. But, as I have just explained, the Assembly is currently working on a review of ITT provision. If it were to decide to use HEFCW to fund employment-based training in the way I have described, it will be able to do so. The Assembly at the same time may well wish to make an order to enable HEFCW to undertake a number of administrative functions—for example, the provision of information and advice.

This is a common feature of legislation relating to educational bodies in Wales. For example, the Assembly has the power to confer additional functions on the General Teaching Council for Wales, the National Council for Education and Training for Wales and so on. So we are not doing anything new; we are not doing anything malign; and we are not doing anything underhand.

With that explanation, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her opposition to the clause.

Baroness Morris of Bolton

I thank the noble Baroness for her detailed reply. I think that I can now safely say "HEFCW". Perhaps we should have gone back to the draftsman of the 1994 Bill for clarification. I thank the Minister for those points.

Clause 87 agreed to.

Clauses 88 to 90 agreed to.

Lord Filkin

I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

House adjourned at five minutes past ten o'clock.