The Department has produced one Green Paper and one White Paper since October 2005. These were:
“Reducing reoffending through skills and employment” (Green Paper) published on 15 December 2005 and;
“Further education: raising skills, improving life chances” (White Paper) published on 27 March 2006.
The Department always seeks a full range of views when drawing up and framing legislation. Consultation is a key part of the policy-making process; both informal and formal. The Department holds regular meetings with representatives of the principal stakeholder groups for our policy areas and with relevant experts. Organisations and individuals can also contribute to the Department's formal consultations which abide by the Code of Conduct on Consultation. Known stakeholders are alerted to the fact that a formal consultation is taking place. As required by the Code, the Department then gives feedback on the responses received and on how the consultation process influenced the policy decision.
Four Government Bills have been introduced to Parliament by the Department in the current parliamentary session, the Children and Adoption Bill, the Childcare Bill, the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill and the Education and Inspections Bill.
The Children and Adoption Bill was published in draft for pre-legislative scrutiny by a joint committee of both Houses, and the Government published their response to the report of that committee before the Bill was introduced to Parliament. Prior to that, the policy proposals on which the Bill was based were subject to full consultation through the Green Paper “Parental Separation: Children's Needs and Parents' Responsibilities”. Discussions were held with key stakeholders throughout the preparation of the Bill.
Full consultation was carried out on the Childcare Bill, including discussions with stakeholders and a formal consultation from 15 July to 7 October 2005. The Department published a response to this consultation, “Report on Responses to Consultation on Legislative Proposals for the Future of Childcare and Early Years Provision in England”, in late October 2005, copies of which can be found in the House of Commons Library. Regular meetings were held throughout the framing and drafting of the Bill with key stakeholders including provider organisations, children's charities and local authority representatives.
The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (SVG) Bill was subject to extensive consultation prior to introduction. A range of consultations have informed the development of the centralised vetting and barring scheme for which the SVG Bill will provide the statutory framework. In April 2005 a consultation was carried out on proposals for the vetting and barring scheme (VBS). Further engagement with stakeholders on the policy detail was carried out in December 2005, and January, March and April 2006 on the Independent Barring Board (IBB). The Department continues to consult with stakeholders as the VBS systems and processes are developed in more detail.
Proposals for the Education and Inspections Bill were set out in the Schools White Paper “Higher Standards, Better Schools for All—More Choice for Parents and Pupils” published on 25 October 2005. This followed on from the DfES Five Year Strategy published in July 2004 which was extensively consulted upon. In addition, it enacts the policies that were set out in the 2005 Labour party manifesto. The Department discussed the White Paper with a very wide range of stakeholders over recent months.