§ Mr. Willis
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans he has to amend the regulations governing the criteria under which church schools can veto school closure plans proposed by local education authorities. 
§ Ms Estelle Morris
Under Schedule 6 to the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, School Organisation Committees and Adjudicators are required to have regard to any guidance given by the Secretary of State when deciding whether or not to approve statutory proposals for changes to schools. The guidance on statutory proposals says that, in deciding proposals to close or reduce the capacity of denominational schools, care should be taken to consider the effect that this will have on the balance of denominational and non-denominational provision. Where the local School Organisation Committee cannot reach a unanimous decision on a proposal, it is passed to a schools Adjudicator to decide. The guidance also says that, where the relevant Church group on the School Organisation Committee has voted against the closure of a denominational school, the Adjudicator should not take a decision that will, when taken with any other related changes, reduce the proportion of such denominational places within an LEA area. We have no plans to amend this aspect of the guidance.