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Clause 4

Volume 978: debated on Tuesday 12 February 1980

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Governors' Proceedings And Tenure Of Office

I beg to move amendment No. 4, in page 4, line 45, at end insert—

'and as to the publication of information relating to those meetings and proceedings.'
The amendment ensures that subsection (1) provides sufficient scope for the making of regulations concerning the publication of information about the meeting and proceedings of governing bodies. I do not think that anyone will object to the amendment.

We discussed the matter during the course of the previous Government's Bill last year, and there was agreement then. I am sorry to see that the hon. Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett) is not in his seat. There was agreement on both sides of the Committee at that time that it was important that governing bodies' minutes were made public. During the Committee stage of that Bill there was considerable bipartisan agreement that some record of the proceedings of governing bodies should be made readily available to those directly interested. The Labour Ministers in that Committee undertook to make suitable provision. All that we are doing is to ensure that that can be done under the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move amendment No. 5, in page 5, line 11, leave out subsection (3) and insert—

'((3) Where an aided or special agreement school has an instrument of government made after the coming into force of section 2 above, any decision taken at a meeting of the governors shall, if it is of the kind specified in subsection (4) below, require confirmation at a second meeting of the governors held not less than twenty-eight days after the first.'.

With this it will be convenient to take amendment No. 6, in page 5, line 36, leave out subsection (5).

We are moving faster now, and can join the two amendments. The amendments were brought forward because of discussions in Committee.

When discussing clause 4 at that time, my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee), who is in the Chamber, drew my attention to the concern felt by the Churches that the requirement for a second meeting to consider the matters listed in subsection (4) should be automatic. Their anxiety was that the provision that required a second confirmatory meeting only when requested by two or more governors might not provide sufficient protection for foundation interests on matters of fundamental importance.

The Bill was drafted in its present form in the belief that it provided sufficient protection for foundation interests. In view of the concern that has been expressed we have tabled the amendments to make the second meeting automatic, as requested by the Churches. It is being introduced for the protection of the foundation governors, so that no change can be made on something that affects them without a majority of foundation governors being present at the meeting. If they are not present at the first meeting, the second meeting will be automatic rather than it being asked for by two or more governors. I commend the amendments to the House.

I am deeply obliged to my hon. Friend for introducing the amendments. I am grateful to him also for telling me that I am in the Chamber. That is a reassuring thing to know.

I think that my hon. Friend will accept that a number of the possible decisions under subsection 4(4) are of a major order. They are fundamental, and could be of great importance to schools. As originally drafted—although not intended—it appeared that a decision to hold a second meeting might be called only if required by two or more governors.

I deployed the arguments in Committee, and I do not need to go over them now. This is typical of the way in which my hon. Friend approached his work throughout the long Committee stage. He has been very responsive to arguments that have been put to him, and I am very much obliged to him for his approach.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 6, in page 5, line 36, leave out subsection (5).—[ Dr. Boyson.]