HL Deb 04 May 2000 vol 612 cc188-9WA
Lord Lucas

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether all state schools will be subject to the Freedom of Information Act; and, if so, under which wording in the present Bill. [HL2253]

Lord Bassam of Brighton

Maintained schools and other educational institutions are designated as public authorities in Part IV to Schedule 1 to the Freedom of Information Bill.

For England and Wales, the designation in paragraph 52 of the schedule: "a community, foundation or voluntary school or a community or foundation special school within the meaning of the Schools Standards and Framework Act 1998" brings within the scope of the Bill institutions that are commonly referred to by the general public as "state schools" (although that term has no meaning in law).

These institutions are maintained schools, and they, along with other maintained schools in England and Wales, i.e. maintained nursery schools (as designated at paragraph 53 of the schedule), and pupil referral units as defined by Section 19(2) of the Education Act 1996 (designated at paragraph 54), are public authorities within the meaning of the Bill.

For Northern Ireland, paragraphs 61 and 62 of the schedule designate all categories of schools (except "independent" schools) as public authorities for the purposes of the Bill. The designation in paragraph 61 includes "controlled" schools within the meaning of Article 2(2) of the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1986, and it brings within the scope of the Bill institutions thought of as "state" schools in Northern Ireland, although, as in England and Wales, the expression has no meaning in law.