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Grand Committee

Volume 621: debated on Tuesday 6 February 2001

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Official Report Of The Grand Committee On The Special Educational Needs And Disability Bill

Tuesday, 6th February 2001.

The Committee met at half past three of the clock.

[The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Brougham and Vaux) in the Chair.]

I remind your Lordships about the special provision of having no Divisions at Committee stage as set out in Hansard on the first day. If there is a Division in the Chamber, I ask any noble Lord or noble Baroness who is speaking to sit down immediately and we shall adjourn for 10 minutes.

Clause 13 [ Accessibility strategies and plans]:

moved Amendment No. 114:

Page 12, line 5, at end insert—
("( ) In preparing their accessibility strategy, each local education authority must include the estimated costs, at current prices, of the implementation of such improvements, and must if the cost cannot be found locally, forward to the Secretary of State these estimated costs with a request for capital grant to cover those costs for the years in question.").

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 114, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 120, 129, 130, 131, 192, 193 and 194. Clause 13 requires the local education authority to prepare what is called an accessibility strategy. That is to be a forward plan as to improvements to be made to the fabric and environment of all the schools for which the authority is responsible in order to improve the accessibility of those schools for pupils with disabilities.

The requirement simply refers to planned improvements and that such a plan should be updated constantly. There is not a requirement to make those changes, as we heard from the Minister. There is no requirement necessary to make structural changes but there is a requirement to plan for improvements and regularly to update the plan. Nowhere is there included an assessment of costs for such a plan.

If there are to be improvements, they are going to cost money. A programme of improvements to all schools to improve access to and the environment within schools for disabled pupils will cost money. My amendment requires the local education authority to include the estimated costs, at current prices, of the implementation of such improvements of that accessibility strategy, which seems only reasonable. The authority, the local taxpayers and the Secretary of State all need to know how much it would cost.

Furthermore, the amendment would require the local authority to forward the plan to the Secretary of State with estimated costs included and to include a request of the Secretary of State for a capital grant to undertake the work over the years in question. By implication, if there is no capital grant, the work cannot be done.

Honesty in planning and feasibility should be watchwords for those who will have to draw up these plans. Amendment No. 120 applies to independent schools. Having made it a duty upon the local education authority to prepare an accessibility strategy, whether or not funds are forthcoming, Clause 13 goes on to require the same thing of maintained schools and maintained special schools, all the independent schools and those independent special schools which are approved by the Secretary of State. The only difference in that part of the clause is that the accessibility strategy is called an accessibility plan when it is applied to all schools.

Again, it places an unqualified duty upon the governors of those schools to implement that accessibility plan. No respite is allowed, even if it cannot be afforded.

As for local authorities, I wish to add a further provision which requires this plan for schools to include the estimated costs and to invite, but not demand, the governing body to forward those estimated costs to the Secretary of State.

I move on to Amendment No. 129 which, as before, throws an obligation to fund back upon the Secretary of State rather than on the local education authority. Again, it is important that the obligation should be for government to pass on the duty to the local education authority.

Amendment No. 130 is to emphasise, yet again, that the governors of independent schools do not usually have a pot of gold to implement the Bill as it applies to them. Therefore, the accessibility plan must include some information as to whether or not the money is available, so that they have some notion that they are doing the Government's bidding. Therefore, a view must be taken about what the resources shall be and from where they shall come.

Amendment No. 131 again throws back to the Secretary of State the need to fund what could be extensive additions to schools. In practice, the governors of a county school would presumably funnel any such request through their maintaining local education authority. The governors of a voluntary school would make a direct request to the Secretary of State, supported by the local education authority. The governors of an independent school would have to make a request for a grant, not a loan, directly to the Secretary of State.

Amendments Nos. 192, 193 and 194 would amend Clause 40, which contains the customary financial provision that the costs arising from the Bill will be met by money provided by Parliament. Interestingly, the clause is titled:

"Expenses of the Secretary of State".

It does not refer to the expenses of local authorities, schools or colleges. In other words, the Secretary of State should fund his own Bill.

The amendments would place the financial responsibility firmly on the Government, who are the proposers and sponsors of the Bill. It is for the Government to explain how LEAs—and, in their turn, schools—throughout the maintained and independent sectors will be able to meet all their obligations under the Bill if the money is not forthcoming from central government. I beg to move.

I admit that I am not totally familiar with every word of the amendments, but the principle of making sure that resources are available to do the job seems reasonable. How will the Government calculate whether expenditure is reasonable?

I support the principles behind the amendments, which are crucial to the success of the Bill. Many of us are concerned that the outcome of the Bill will be rather like the previous Government's care in the community policy, under which many establishments for people with mental difficulties were closed, but there was no care in the community because there were no resources with which to pay for it. Sending more young people to mainstream schools will save the Government or the local authority a lot of money, but we must ensure that the provision will be there in the mainstream schools to support those children.

As the noble Baroness has said, Amendments Nos. 114, 120, 129 and 130 would require responsible bodies to estimate the costs of their accessibility plans and to seek additional resources if necessary. Amendment No. 131 appears to go even further, by moving the costs of the planning duty on to the Secretary of State and providing that duties have to be complied with only to the extent that he has provided the resources.

Amendments Nos. 191, 192 and 193 would amend Clause 40, which authorises any expenditure required under the provisions of the Bill. The Bill currently makes no provision for expenditure. Clause 40 is drafted only in terms of expenditure under other Acts. The only possible need for the amendments appears to be that they are linked to the provision of resources by the Secretary of State in relation to the planning duty. The Government contend that the amendments are unnecessary and that those relating to the planning duty would place new burdens on responsible bodies.

In preparing their strategies and plans, LEAs and schools should take into account the anticipated resources to be made available to them over the planning period. The duty is clearly to plan within the resources available to the responsible body. That is realistic and common sense. To link the implementation of the duties to the provision of extra funding ignores the resources that are already available to responsible bodies, and would, I fear, merely give some bodies an excuse for not acting as quickly as we would want them to.

The Government are making £220 million available through the schools access initiative over the next three years to ensure that LEAs, in partnership with their schools, have the support to improve access by disabled pupils. We are supporting capital funding of £2 billion in total next year. These are some of the sources of funding that LEAs and schools will take into account when drawing up their plans.

The proposal that responsible bodies should forward their estimates to the Secretary of State is excessively burdensome and smacks of a great deal of sentimentality. It seeks to take away the initiative from LEAs and schools and to make their planning dependent on central government decisions.

The planning duty is not intended to make all schools accessible immediately. There are 25,000 schools in the mainstream sector in England alone and we recognise that accessibility will take some time. We also acknowledge that different schools require different amounts of work to make them accessible. Defining what needs to be done is not a job for the Secretary of State, but for planning at the LEA and school level.

It would not be right to link so directly the implementation of the new duties to resources from the Government. As I have explained, responsible bodies will already plan within the resources available to them and those resources are growing. To allow any exemption from the duty would give an excuse to slow the pace at which we are now making schools accessible to disabled children.

I therefore hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, and her colleagues will withdraw their amendments.

I was interested in what the Minister had to say about what will be required of schools. Clause 13 refers to the physical environment of schools for which they are the responsible body for the purpose of,

"increasing the extent to which disabled pupils are able to take advantage of education and associated services provided or offered by the school".
This is not the status quo, but each school starts from the base that it is required to produce plans which increase. That is what Clause 13 states. There is no flexibility for governors of a school to say that they have done all they can and need do no more. They are not free to say that. Clause 13 requires that the purpose of the planning is to increase the extent to which schools are able to make provision. It would be helpful to have clarification.

In the real world, the Minister is right to say that not every school can do so overnight; we know that. From the day this legislation becomes operative every school and LEA will be subject to the provisions of the Bill. So every school will have to provide plans to effect an increase in the provisions they make for young people with disabilities. Again, in principle, nobody is arguing with that. However, having to prepare and produce plans is burdensome. The plans have to be available for inspection. Someone has to judge whether they are acceptable. It is not enough simply to say that this will be the cost of these plans because to plan in a financial vacuum would be irresponsible. If they are going to make substantial changes, particularly structural, curricular or staffing changes, then clearly there has to be some costing of those changes, and the governors of those schools will have to make a judgment as to whether or not they can so plan.

In reply to my amendments, the Minister said the governors would have to plan within the resources they have available. It does not say that in the Bill. It does not say that the planning should be limited to what is believed to be affordable. I presume that the Secretary of State will have a view about what can or what cannot be afforded, but it would be helpful to know what will happen in practice. A school may decide that either it cannot afford to do more because it does not have the flexibility within the budget, or it may decide that it can do more but only if it has additional funds to do it. Not only would it like to do more but it probably needs to do more. It would be helpful to know what happens to either an LEA and/or a school in those circumstances.

I do not have to remind the noble Lord about the teachers' pay award because he will have been quite busy over the weekend spinning out the news about that. This morning, I met some members of local authorities who are absolutely desperate because they do not have the funding to cover the pay award. They are talking already about having to use the standards fund money—which presumably was never provided for pay awards for teachers—in order to meet the pay award that has just been announced by the Government.

Already local authorities are in some very real difficulties. The Minister has to say a little more than merely that schools do not have to make the required changes very quickly; that there is not necessarily any requirement on them to do so; and to argue against what t believe are the words on the face of the Bill. It would be helpful if the noble Lord—I think he has had enough billets-doux passed to him from his officials—would give me a very full answer as to how schools and LEAs will manage in those circumstances.

3.45 p.m.

Members of the Committee will appreciate that my French is a little rusty, but I would not define these as billets-doux under any circumstances. I shall attempt to respond to the points which the noble Baroness has made.

The thrust of my response to the amendments is that they are not acceptable because they change responsibility with regard to the plans in terms of direct expenditure and authorisation by the Secretary of State. The burdensome quality about that is in relation to that sense of its dimension as regards the development of the plans at LEA level and individually within each school.

Of course we recognise that schools and local authorities are always under pressure in relation to the best way to manage their resources. They have a whole range of obligations placed upon them as regards the pay of qualified staff within the schools. We all know that schools have to make a judgment about their budgets in order to provide the effective education of students within the context of the legal framework in which they work.

Clearly this particular Bill provides a fresh part of the framework within which they work. It is clearly envisaged that the movement towards improving access and reducing what we know to be the value of the full implementation of the policy will take place over time. It is a progressive duty against the background of the resources which are made available. In my earlier reply I gave the Government's very clear identification of additional resources at this stage which they can foresee are required in order to implement the provisions within this Bill. Significant sums are being devoted to that objective.

We need to recognise that some changes will be able to be implemented very rapidly indeed once the Bill has become law, because they involve very limited costs. Other changes will take place over time as resources become available. We can all think of schools and institutions which vary enormously in these terms. I can recall one school a few years ago which had been built on an extremely attractive architecturally designed terraced principle: but it meant that every single movement in the school involved steps. The significant change required in that school—much of which has already been implemented—was much greater than most other schools would have had to face because of the particular design of the school. The flexibility in relationship to this matter surely rests with the governing bodies of the schools and with the LEA.

When it comes to the question of how far people are falling short of the requirements of the Act and whether progress in some areas is being made as rapidly as it ought to be, the noble Baroness will appreciate that the provisions of the Act will be part and parcel of the inspection requirement for schools and LEAs. We have a structure to ensure that, over time, schools and LEAs make adequate progress on the overall provisions of the Act.

What the noble Lord has described is no different from what happens at the moment. For many years—certainly since the 1986 Act—schools have been doing what they can to improve accessibility for those with disabilities. The Bill builds on existing legislation. The Minister, referring to Amendment No. 131, said that planning does not cost very much. Local authorities might take issue with that, but Amendment No. 131 is not just about planning. If the noble Lord cares to read it he will see that the responsible body may make a request to the Secretary of State for such extra resources as are necessary to implement the accessibility plan. It is about the implementation of the plan, not just the plan itself.

It has been useful to flesh out some of the issues with the Minister, but the underlying point is that as the Bill goes through Parliament, we are raising the hopes of many people. My concern is that those hopes will be dashed when it comes to reality. The Minister gave the game away in his first response to the amendments when he said that we were are talking about planning. We are not. We are talking about delivery of a service in schools to people with disabilities. At the end of the day what will really matter is whether the service improves as a result of the Bill. Planning for the improvements will be part of that. I am concerned that we should be realistic.

Rumours are abounding that the Bill will receive very cursory attention when it gets to the House of Commons. I hope that that will not be the case. I hope that there will be an opportunity for it to be fully considered in Committee and that the process is not truncated, unless an election is called and it has to be dealt with in the sweep-up. That, of course, could not be avoided. My understanding is that this is one of the Bills at the top of the priority list and that it will be shunted through with very little debate. I hope that that will not happen, because such matters need to be considered by both Houses of Parliament. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

moved Amendment No. 115:

Page 12, line 10, at end insert—
("( ) An inspection under section 38 of the Education Act 1997 (inspections of local education authorities) may extend to the performance by a local education authority of their functions in relation to the preparation, review, revision and implementation of their accessibility strategy.").

The noble Lord said: This is a group of Government amendments relating to the duty on schools and LEAs in England and Wales to plan to increase, over time, the physical accessibility of school premises and the curriculum for disabled pupils and prospective disabled pupils. The amendments are technical in nature, but make the planning duty more rigorous. The Minister wrote to the noble Baronesses, Lady Blatch and Lady Sharp, to explain their effect, but I am happy to explain further to the Committee if that would be helpful. I beg to move.

Sadly, the Minister did not take the precaution of writing to me. I particularly want to question him on Amendments Nos. 146 and 146A. This is an odd bit of the Bill. New Section 28D imposes a duty to prepare plans on maintained schools, independent schools and special schools approved under Section 342 of the 1996 Act. I thought that special schools under Section 342 were independent schools, but I would be happy to be enlightened on that. I thought that they came under the heading of independent schools in a general sort of way. Then at the top of page 14 in new Section 28E(5)(b), the Secretary of State has a right to see the accessibility plan prepared by an independent school. For some reason, he does not have the right to see a plan prepared by a special school under Section 342 and I do not understand why not. He does not have the right to see a plan prepared by a city academy and I do not see why not. He certainly does not have a right to see a plan prepared by a maintained school. It does not appear that the local education authority has that either, so I do not particularly see what is going on there.

On page 20 new Section 28M(1)(a) refers to powers conferred on a responsible body under new Sections 28D and 28E. I cannot see any sign of powers conferred by those sections on responsible bodies; they are all about duties. I cannot see what happens to, say, an independent school which is subject to the sanctions under this section. I can see how directions may be enforced through Section 31 of the Supreme Court Act but I do not know what reasonable level of appeal that gives. The Secretary of State is here taking power to force an independent school to make a plan and then to carry that plan through. There are no financial limits on this that I can see. I would like to know how an independent school which is subject to a direction under this section deals with that, whether it has a right of appeal that is a fair and open right of appeal, or whether it is just a case of judicial review and you have to put up with what the Secretary of State says. I cannot see how the amendment adds anything to what is already in the Bill.

New Section 28M(1) refers to a "responsible body", which includes those in subsection (1)(b). Presumably the bodies mentioned in subsection (1)(b), city academies and special schools, are already subject to the duties in new Section 28M(1). I do not see what subsection (1)(b) adds to that and why you are getting anything extra and that it is necessary to impose extra duties on special schools and city academies under Section 342. If that is necessary, why are they not taken out of new Section 28M(1)?

In Section 28M(5) there is a power to enforce directions under the Supreme Court Act which is not, so far as I can see, being extended to subsection (1)(b). I do not know why not.

Later on we shall discuss Amendment No. 147 which attaches to this clause. I am not sure whether it should have been grouped with the amendments we are discussing but it seems odd that the Welsh Assembly can give directions but cannot enforce them. I shall be grateful to know why, in the context of this general discussion, the Welsh have to be disempowered in this way.

4 p.m.

The noble Lord has ranged widely over the amendments which I have proposed. The amendments provide for the normal inspection frameworks for schools and LEAs to cover their functions which relate to their accessibility plans and strategies. We will put in place a robust system for monitoring the planning duty. This will include using the normal inspection framework for schools and LEAs. As regards independent schools, the inspection frameworks may also cover inspection of the preparation, the revision, the review, the implementation and the publication of schools' plans, including the aspects relating to the Bill.

We might be asked why the proposals in the amendments were not included in the Bill from the beginning. They reflect the discussions that we had about the issues at Second Reading and are designed to make more explicit the relevant powers under the Bill. I hear what the noble Lord said about his anxieties but I assure him that the amendments are an attempt to improve the Bill in the light of our discussions. I believe that they meet his objections.

4 p.m.

I should like to ask the Minister two questions. First, what do those who may have been representing independent schools feel about the amendments? What discussion has there been with them and what was their response? Secondly, if, in the opinion of the department the inspection reports of the independent schools do not meet the Secretary of State's satisfaction, what sanction can be imposed?

If independent schools consider that the Secretary of State is proposing something that is unreasonable, they can go to judicial review and seek a judgment against that direction. I understand that the amendments result from widespread consultation. The Secretary of State at the end of the day can enforce directions in court if weaknesses are identified in the response to the Bill on the part of independent schools. Discussion took place in full with the independent schools joint council and I understand that it is happy with this section and with the entirety of the Bill. However, we do respect the probing of noble Baronesses and noble Lords on these issues.

I do not believe that the Minister answered a single one of my questions. I have no difficulty with the earlier amendments in the group; it seems entirely reasonable to extend the inspection, as suggested, and I am entirely clear about what is being proposed. I understand that I asked a number of detailed and technical questions for which the noble Lord may not have been briefed and I shall be happy to receive the usual letter.

However, what the Minister said about judicial review raises a large question. If judicial review is really what is being talked about under new Section 28M(5)(b) and if that is the process at which we are looking, it is a process in which the dice are heavily weighted in favour of the department, which could demand extremely large expenditure from an independent school without any effective redress on the part of the independent school because it would have to prove that the Minister was acting entirely unreasonably. I suspect that when the matter concerns the Department for Education, that is unlikely.

I do not know that that is the case but it seems from what the Minister said that it may well be. I should therefore be grateful for answers to all the questions I asked, if not now, then later. It is a very odd collection of powers to direct at different groups of schools referred to in different ways. I should like to understand how they all mesh together and what scope independent schools in particular have, because they do not have resource to Government money, to appeal against and deal with unreasonable demands made of them by the Secretary of State. I should also like to know why the Welsh are being disenfranchised in this. I am happy to wait for answers, but, please, I want answers to all my questions.

I shall write to the noble Lord to clarify those aspects which he regards as being unclear. We shall have further opportunities to consider these issues. I hope that for today he will accept that I have expressed in good faith the intent of the amendments. My reference to judicial review was naturally very much the end game where difficulties have occurred. He will recognise that there are i n fact stages prior to our reaching that final point on the unacceptability of the decision of the Secretary of State.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

moved Amendment No. 116:

Page 12, line 11, leave out ("(7)") and insert ("(7A)").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[ Amendments Nos. 117 and 118 not moved.]

moved Amendment No. 119:

Page 12, line 23, at end insert ("and must prepare further such plans at such times as may be prescribed").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[ Amendment No. 120 not moved.]

moved Amendment No. 1.21:

Page 12, line 28, at end insert—
("(7A) An inspection under the School Inspections Act 1996 may extend to the performance by the responsible body of its functions in relation to the preparation, publication, review, revision and implementation of its accessibility plan.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 121A:

Page 12, line 28, at end insert—
("(7A) In the case of an independent school, the accessibility plan shall state that the Governors are expected to take reasonable steps over a period of years to ensure that disabled pupils and adults can gain access to the principal parts of school buildings, but that they shall not be under any requirement to make all parts of their premises accessible to disabled people.
(7B) In the case of an independent school, accessibility plans and strategies shall not oblige a school to alter or adapt their premises in ways that would change or damage features of their building which have historic or architectural significance.
(7C) In the case of independent schools, accessibility plans and strategies shall not impose any requirement to alter or adapt their premises until at least 20 years have elapsed from the date on which the plan was prepared.
(7D) In the case of independent schools, accessibility plans and strategies shall be based on recommendations made by the Independent Schools Inspectorate.").

The noble Lord said: Amendments Nos. 121A and 131 A were debated last Tuesday. Therefore I shall not move them. I speak to Amendments Nos. 128B and 129ZA.

The noble Lord will be able to do so when we come to the amendment. There are other amendments before it.

[ Amendment No. 121A not moved]

If Amendment No. 122 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 123.

The noble Baroness said: I should prefer to see something on the face of the Bill and, if necessary, in a schedule to the Bill rather than requiring yet more regulations. It is, thus, an argument to cut down bureaucracy as well as the secondary regulations that follow from a primary Bill. I beg to move.

We need to clarify what is education and what are associated services for the purposes of the planning duty. The face of the Bill is not the right place to do that, so we need regulations, as that would be more appropriate.

We have already discussed the regulation-making power in Clause 10. We need a separate regulation-making power for the purposes of Clauses 10 and 13, because the coverage of the two duties will be somewhat different. The services covered by the planning duty will be narrower than the anti-discrimination duties since the planning duty is limited to improving the physical environment of the schools. It would be unrealistic and indeed unreasonable to expect LEAs and schools to plan for activities that take place away from schools' premises, over which the LEA and the school have no control.

When speaking to a similar amendment on Clause 10, I said that the regulation-making power will allow us to clarify the position where there are grey areas as to whether a service constitutes education or whether it is an associated service. These regulations underpin the planning duty and will make sure that LEAs and schools are clear what that duty entails. In the light of this, therefore, I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, feels able to withdraw the amendment.

I have no choice but to withdraw the amendment. I am concerned about the plethora of information and regulation. If the Government have done the work on this—it is a Bill that will go on the statute book very quickly—they will be aware of the distinction between associated services and education. In view of some of the earlier debates in Committee, it will be difficult to have a defining line between the two. We need to make a distinction between associated services and education to avoid the real danger of grey areas. For many children, education is more than just the teaching of English, mathematics and science. We have given many examples of that. I am sorry that that cannot be done in the Bill or a schedule to it so that we could all see it now. I have no choice but to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

moved Amendments Nos. 123 and 124:

Page 12, line 31, leave out ("The Secretary of State may by regulations") and insert ("Regulations may").
Page 12, line 39, leave out subsection (11) and insert—("(11) In relation to Wales—
"prescribed" means prescribed in regulations; and
"regulations" means regulations made by the National Assembly.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

moved Amendment No. 125:

Page 13, line 3, leave out from ("to") to end of line 11 and insert ("the arrangements and facilities available and planned for the assistance of disabled pupils").

The noble Baroness said: The last part of Clause 13 lists what the governors of a school have to include in their annual plan of work to be done to make the school more accessible for young people with disabilities. Such a list makes the Bill excessively bureaucratic and the items in it will inevitably become the only information given in the report.

Rather than attempting to list some of the information that is expected to be included in the annual plan, it is better to make a general requirement to cover all the arrangements and all the facilities available and planned for the assistance of disabled pupils.

My amendment follows the same thrust, but its aim is to reduce bureaucracy and to make the requirement to meet obligations for disabled people more understandable and more flexible in terms of the particular needs of the young people and the particular provision to be made by schools and LEAs. I beg to move.

We are competing with the elements and I am not sure that I heard everything that the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, said, but I think I got the gist of it.

The clause amends Section 317 of the Education Act 1996 to impose an additional duty on maintained schools to include information on the accessibility plans they have prepared under the planning duty in their governors' annual report. Maintained schools are already required to include certain information about what they have done for disabled pupils.

We are confident that the provision is clear as it stands. Changing the wording would probably cause confusion for maintained schools.

There is a fine balance to be struck between placing duties on schools and reducing burdens on them. I recognise and sympathise with the point made by the noble Baroness. We do not want to add undue extra burdens. Maintained schools will simply have to include their accessibility plans—which will have already been drawn up—in their governors' report.

We must ensure that we get the information we need. Being vague about the information to be included in the annual report will probably be unhelpful to schools. In the light of that, I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 13, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 14 [ Accessibility strategies and plans: procedure]:

4.15 p.m.

moved Amendment No. 126:

After Clause 13, insert the following new clause—


(" . Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools shall report to the Secretary of State on—
  • (a) the quality of the provision made by schools for children with special educational needs and disabilities;
  • (b) the extent to which schools have used their delegated budget to meet the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities;
  • (c) the quality of policies drawn up by schools under section 317(5) of the Education Act 1996;
  • (d) the extent to which the objectives for schools' policies are achieved;
  • (e) the quality of the plans drawn up by schools under section 28D of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995; and
  • (f) the extent to which the plans drawn up under section 28D of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 have been implemented by schools."
  • The noble Baroness said: I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 127 and 128. These three amendments come from the Special Educational Consortium. Initially they look remarkably similar. However, they would fulfil three different purposes. Amendment No. 126 ensures that Ofsted monitors aspects of the school's performance in respect of its duties to children with special educational needs and disabilities.

    The second amendment, Amendment No. 127, is to ensure that the LEA monitors the school's provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities. Amendment No. 128 is to ensure that Ofsted monitors the performance of the LEAs and reports to the Secretary of State on what the LEA is doing in respect of children with special educational needs and disabilities. It also creates an additional duty to draw up regulations to monitor LEAs in this respect.

    I should like to take a little time to explain the amendments at greater length. A number of concerns lie behind Amendment No. 126. The first is that Ofsted should report from time to time on how well schools are doing in meeting their responsibilities to children with special educational needs and disabilities. Secondly, the special educational needs and disabilities issues should be addressed together. Thirdly, there should be greater clarity about the use of schools' delegated budgets in relation to special educational needs. We touched on that issue in discussing the first set of amendments.

    The first concern, that Ofsted should report from time to time, and that school accessibility plans should be inspected by Ofsted, is addressed by government Amendment No. 121, which we have now accepted. We welcome this amendment and the recognition that this aspect of schools' work needs to be inspected.

    The second concern that this amendment is designed to address is that of the separate structures around special educational needs and disabilities which will lead to duplication of effort. The aim is to find a range of ways to bring together approaches to special educational needs and disability issues.

    It is hoped that by bringing the monitoring of schools' responses to special educational needs and disabilities together in national inspection, Ofsted would support a more integrated approach to the two aspects of work, and report from time to time on how schools are doing nationally.

    The remaining concern that underlies this amendment is the lack of clarity about the special educational needs element in the school's delegated budget; namely, how much it should be and what it ought to be used for. Schools have a statutory duty to set out in their special educational needs policy how they allocate resources to work with children with special educational needs. A study in 1995 by the University of the West of England highlighted the fact that many schools were not addressing this aspect of the policy adequately; some were not addressing it at all. Work arising from a more recent study in education with the evaluation of parent partnership services suggested that there was currently little change in the situation.

    I know that the Government have been consulting on the revised code of practice on these issues, and that they are also consulting at the same time on the revision of the Special Educational Needs (Information) Regulations. Changes had been proposed that would require greater clarity in relation to the budget that is delegated to schools for SEN work and what it should be used for. However, many people who saw the draft code of practice did not see those changes in the proposed regulations, and there has been no mention of these since. There is no reference to them in the SEN update published in December 2000 which sets out, the Government's response to the consultation process on the code of practice.

    I am looking for a reassurance that the Government are proposing to go ahead with proposals for the revision of these regulations, which would be welcomed, as well as some detail about what the revised regulations would require.

    I turn to Amendment No. 127. Section 127 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 sets out the statutory framework to the code of practice for securing effective relationships between local education authorities and maintained schools. Many of the frameworks developed by the local education authorities under this code of practice are focused primarily on the national curriculum key stage outcomes for children at the schools. Some LEAs include indicators of school effectiveness in meeting special educational needs. However, the concern underlying the amendment is to ensure that special educational needs issues are addressed as a matter of course within those responsibilities.

    The second concern is that disability issues should be addressed within the same framework and at the same time. This second concern is a theme for the Special Educational Consortium throughout the Bill; namely, that if special educational needs and disability issues are not addressed side by side in the same clauses, they will become separated and efforts made to address those issues will be duplicated unnecessarily.

    In tabling Amendment No. 127, we seek a reassurance that the special educational needs code of practice will, when the revision is completed, reflect the monitoring duties of the LEA and make explicit reference to the importance of including special educational needs and disability measures of school performance within the monitoring framework developed under the School Standards and Framework Act. Secondly, we seek a reassurance that the code of practice for securing effective relationships between the local educational authorities and maintained schools will in future make reference to the need to monitor school performance on special educational needs and disabilities.

    Finally, I turn to Amendment No. 128A. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that Ofsted monitors the performance of local education authorities in respect of their duties to children with a disability or with special educational needs; to ensure that Ofsted reports its findings to the Secretary of State; and to create a duty to draw up regulations to monitor the performance of local education authorities in the performance of their duties to children with special educational needs or a disability.

    Part of the purpose of the amendment mirrors that of Amendment No. 126; namely, to ensure that Ofsted inspects the local education authority's accessibility strategy. That purpose is now being met by the Government's Amendment No. 115. We welcome the amendment and the recognition that that aspect of the work of LEAs needs to be inspected.

    The second subsection of this clause, however, seeks to establish performance indicators relating to the performance of LEA duties on special educational needs and disability. Currently, the Audit Commission uses two indicators of how LEAs are performing on special educational needs: first, the number of statements maintained by the LEA; and, secondly, the percentage of statements drawn up within the statutory timescales.

    While those two indicators are of interest, they are quite inadequate to reflect the wider work of the LEAs on this issue. We should like to see LEAs monitored on a much wider range of issues, to include measures of parental satisfaction, measures of success in meeting SEN in the early years and other indicators such as the information provided for schools and for parents, indicators on the allocation of resources to SEN and indicators on the outcomes for children with SEN or disabilities. Such monitoring would not necessarily have to be undertaken by Ofsted or the Audit Commission but we know that there has been some consideration of those issues within the department and we should like it to be considered as a prerequisite for these purposes. We want to know what is the Government's thinking on the monitoring of LEA performance in special educational needs duties and to seek some reassurances that that work is going ahead. I beg to move.

    I rise briefly to support the noble Baroness. Dropped into my box this morning was a copy of Local Education Authority Support for School Improvement. Page 42 states:

    "Overall, provision for SEN is the weakest aspect of the work of LEAs".
    The figures here show that the schools which were adjudged unsatisfactory were greater in number than those which were judged good or satisfactory added together.

    Amendments Nos. 126 and 128A, which I shall take together, would place specific duties on Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools to report to the Secretary of State on the accessibility plans for children with disabilities and the policies and provisions for SEN drawn up by schools and LEAs, and require the Secretary of State to monitor the performance of LEAs against specified indicators. So it is the Government's view that these amendments are necessary and I hope that I can give the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, the reassurance that she seeks. Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools already has the power to advise the Secretary of State at any time on any matter related to the provision of education and a duty to provide advice and support on such matters as the Secretary of State specifies in a request to him. Ofsted inspectors evaluate and report on the quality and range of opportunities for learning provided by a school for all its pupils, including those with SEN and disabilities. They also consider a school's policies and plans, including its SEN policy, which will include information on how resources are allocated among pupils with special educational needs.

    The Secretary of State can use his powers under Section 2 of the Schools Inspections Act 1996 and Section 38 of the Education Act 1997 to require a report from Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools on any school or LEA functions relating to education. Noble Lords will remember that I gave a commitment last Tuesday that, once the Bill is enacted, the Government will ask him to look at the impact on inclusion of the provisions of new Section 316(3), to be inserted in the 1996 Act by Clause 1. We will expect Ofsted to take account of how schools are implementing the guidance contained in the revised SEN code of practice in future inspections.

    Her Majesty's Chief Inspector already has the power to inspect LEAs. SEN is one of the core activities of an Ofsted LEA inspection. The noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, has said that it may not currently be one of their strongest areas. We hope that this Bill will rectify this and lead to improvements.

    As the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, has already said, Government Amendments Nos. 116 and 121, which have just been agreed, will provide for the normal inspection framework for schools to cover functions that relate to accessibility plans. That includes their preparation, their quality and their implementation. Amendment No. 115 would secure a similar effect for inspections of LEAs. I hope that having heard my reassurances, the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw the amendments.

    Amendment No. 127 would impose a specific duty on LEAs, when carrying out their duties under Section 127(6) of the School Standards and Framework Act, to take into account the same range of factors as in Amendments Nos. 126 and 128A. Again, the amendment seems to be unnecessary.

    The duty imposed on LEAs by the School Standards and Framework Act to promote high standards of education for all pupils covers children with special educational needs and disabilities. LEAs already take the factors set out in Amendment No. 127 into account when carrying out those duties. They will be able to do the same in relation to the new duties under Clause 13, when they come into effect. On request, a school must provide any information required by the LEA to discharge its functions. LEAs have the right to inspect any of their maintained schools to enable them to exercise any of those functions, although they would generally be able to obtain the information they needed without using that power.

    Maintained schools are accountable through their governing bodies to their maintaining authority and to parents. The noble Baroness was concerned about the allocation of resources in schools for special educational needs. However, school governing bodies have to use their best endeavours to ensure that children with SEN get the help called for by their learning difficulties. They must report to parents on how they do that and publish comprehensive information about their SEN policies, including how resources are allocated for children with SEN, as well as how they evaluate the success of the education that they provide for those children.

    LEAs have statutory duties to identify, assess and provide for children with SEN and to keep their arrangements under review. They, too, are required to publish a range of information about their SEN provision. We propose that it should be enhanced by information on their SEN policies and plans for providing SEN support and the arrangements of what schools might be expected to provide from their budgets for SEN.

    Perhaps I may go back to what I said in addressing the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne. There will be improvements of this kind. Of course I sympathise with the aim of promoting better monitoring and accountability. However, I believe that this will happen and I do not think that we need add to the statutory framework to achieve that.

    We propose to enhance the guidance in the final version of the revised SEN code of practice, to which the noble Baroness also referred, to bring together, highlight and provide guidance on the strategic roles and responsibilities of both schools and LEAs for children with SEN, including their responsibilities in relation to funding.

    We will cross refer to the separate duties they will have for increasing the physical accessibility to school premises and the curriculum to people with disabilities, and highlight the role played by other partners. This should provide a better understanding, particularly among parents, of who is responsible for what, as well as helping to secure greater monitoring and accountability for SEN.

    I hope that in the light of these reassurances the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

    4.30 p.m.

    I am grateful to the Minister for her full reply. She spelt out a good deal more of the Government's thinking underlying monitoring and inspection of the special educational needs and disability provisions. I am also glad to have her reassurance that with the revision of the special educational needs code of practice we shall have cross-reference between the two codes. That will be extremely useful.

    I do not think that the Minister mentioned the Government thinking on special educational needs information regulations. I wondered whether anything could be added to that. The noble Baroness may like to write to me about that issue. We shall look carefully at what she said and thank her very much. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    [ Amendment No. 127 not moved.]

    [ Amendment No. 128 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

    [ Amendment No. 128A not moved.]

    Clause 14 [ Accessibility strategies and plans: procedure]:

    moved Amendment No 128B:

    Page 13, line 24, at beginning insert ("in the case of a maintained school,").

    The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 128B, I speak to Amendment No.129ZA.

    Amendment No. 128B is a paving amendment. However, I wish to take advantage of the reference to maintained schools by asking the noble Baroness one question. Would it not be more efficient in the maintained sector for an LEA, with a group of schools in one area to allow some schools to specialise? Some schools might be allowed to specialise in children with mobility problems or others in children with audio or visual problems. That seems a less expensive and demanding way to get this programme off the ground, rather than to insist that every school to provide accessibility contemporaneously.

    Amendment No. 129ZA relates to independent schools. The Independent Schools Council is not entirely happy about the aspects of this Bill which relate to accessibility. I set down several amendments in that context last Tuesday.

    Perhaps I may ask the noble Lord a number of questions. This is a probing amendment. First, may independent schools charge for extra services which are supplied? The independent school with which I am familiar has a considerable reputation for dealing with children with dyslexia and Asperger's syndrome. The school could not cope with 30 per cent of that kind of pupil unless the parents could pay for the extra teachers for dyslexia whom the school employs.

    My second question is this: who will pay? Most independent schools are non-profit making organisations. Therefore the reality is that, however one looks at it, if the parents of children who have the problem are not paying, the other parents will have to pay. While it is reasonable that other parents should be asked to make a donation or a voluntary contribution, I am not sure what is the position in relation to human rights if other parents are forced to pay the cost of what might be expensive alterations and so on, or extra staff.

    I realise that the noble Baroness may not be able or want to answer all these questions immediately. I hope that she will write to us if that is not possible. I am not trying to be unreasonable.

    Does any of the £220 million to which the noble Lord referred for the schools access initiative go to independent schools? Finally, what sanction is there against independent schools if they fall behind in carrying out their access policy? Who would that hit? Would it hit the governors, the parents or the children? Who goes to prison? That is the ultimate bottom line. That is a question to which I do not know the answer. I beg to move.

    I appreciate the very reasonable way in which the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, proposed the amendments. I shall try to reply in kind.

    The clause joins local authorities with their responsibilities. Of course, independent schools do not have those responsibilities. The amendments are therefore misplaced in that respect.

    Clause 14 states:

    "In preparing their accessibility strategy, a local education authority must have regard to"
    and, of course, the strategies also apply to independent schools.

    This part of the clause relates to the question of the maintained schools. I was not intending to make a point over the location of the amendment because I was seeking to reply to the questions raised by the noble Lord.

    On the general principle, it is clear that we are seeking to make progress in increasing physical accessibility to children who attend all schools and therefore we expect the independent schools to be no exception. They must plan within the context of their anticipated available financial resources as part of the same framework that we expect in the maintained sector.

    I turn now to some of specific points raised. I was asked whether there can be a charge for extra services. In some specific circumstances, it will be made clear that these are resource charges and that will be permitted. More generally, the position we seek to achieve is that all children who attend independent schools benefit from the school's provision for its community. That does not mean that they all partake equally of all the facilities available. A child can go to an independent school and be a poor sports person and therefore not take advantage of the school playing fields, but no one would decry that provision being made by the school for others. Likewise there would be an expectation that the school should provide adequately for all those who attended and many students who went along with some disability would be expected to be included within that, with the proviso that in special cases there might be special charges.

    On the question of sanctions, we are not anticipating anyone going to prison, to use the graphic phrase of the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne. However, the Bill empowers the Secretary of State to take action against the proprietor. I know that that is not a term as it stands at present which is beloved by some sides of the Committee, but it is the legal term. The Secretary of State would have the power to direct the proprietor to take appropriate action where, quite clearly, the school provision was outwith the requirements of the law of the land, as would be the case once this Bill was enacted.

    It is the case that the schools access initiative is directed at the maintained sector, but that does not preclude the possibility of the independent sector participating in certain projects and grants from which it would benefit. However, the main provision clearly relates to the maintained sector.

    I hope these are adequate replies, and where I have been deficient, I shall write to the noble Lord about the matter.

    The noble Lord makes light of the possibility of anyone going to prison. I know why he has done that because it is a rather extreme resolution of a problem. The noble Lord will need to be more specific in relation to the question that has been posed by the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, and in fact was posed by me on an earlier amendment.

    What are the sanctions? The noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, lightly dismisses the fact that someone may go to prison, but nevertheless follows that up by saying that, as the noble Lord suggested, at the end of the day the Secretary of State can take the proprietor to court. If that happens and the school is found guilty, what are the sanctions? What happens then?

    The second part of the question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, which is most pertinent, is that in most independent schools, the sole funders of the school are the parents of the children who attend the school. Therefore, any penalty on the school or indeed any action taken on the part of the school may well have been taken with the full agreement of the governing body, and/or the parent body. If the parents and/or the governor, as well as the owner of the school, are culpable, who bears the brunt of the sanction? At the end of the day, what can happen to a school? Simply because the school did not meet its obligations under the Act, could the Secretary of State effect the closure of the school?

    It is important to know who is at the end of the line. Simply to use the word "proprietor" is not good enough. We have had a long debate—and we shall have another in a moment—about the word "proprietor". Very often the schools are owned by the parents or at least, the only reason the school is in existence at all is because the customers, that is the parents of the children who attend, are the sole funders, and therefore the school exists simply because of the governing body and the head teacher and teachers who run it.

    I am most grateful to the Minister for his helpful and constructive reply. The only point I should like to make is that he referred to the same financial framework as for the maintained sector but it is not the same financial framework. The maintained sector is financed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the taxpayer; private schools are not. As the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, said, the proprietors are trustees because almost all those schools are companies limited by guarantee. The proprietors have no possibility of gaining financially from the success of the school, and equally they are not liable for the failure of the school. They are merely liable for the direction of the school. The money comes from the parents, and reasonably, belongs to the parents. We need to look more closely at this aspect which we cannot do now, in Committee. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    [ Amendments No. 129 and 129ZA not moved]

    moved Amendment No. 129A:

    Page 13, line 38, at end insert—
    ("( ) In preparing guidance under subsection (1)(b) or (2), the Secretary of State (for England) and the National Assembly for Wales shall consult the Disability Rights Commission.").

    The noble Baroness said: I hope that it is self-explanatory and that the Minister will be able to say that this will in fact happen, but it is important to put it on record that that will happen as a matter of right. I beg to move.

    4.45 p.m.

    I think that the noble Baroness is right and it should happen. I echo her again in saying I hope that the Government will agree to this.

    I can be helpful. I can give the Committee a commitment today that we will consult with the DRC when preparing planning duty guidance for LEAs. I can also make that commitment on behalf of the National Assembly, who confirm that it will also do so.

    I am grateful for that answer and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    [ Amendments Nos. 130 to 131A not moved.]

    moved Amendment No. 132:

    Page 14, line 1, leave out ("proprietor") and insert ("governing body").

    The noble Baroness said: I have re-read the response by the Minister to my suggestion that the word "proprietor" should be replaced by the words "governing body". Absolutely nothing in what I have read convinces me that my amendments are any less valid. The noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, has just said that the word "proprietor" is not the most appropriate word. The people concerned are trustees and governing bodies and it seems to me that to use the word "proprietor" is an anomaly in the Bill.

    I have gone over the arguments which I will not repeat but I feel just as strongly about the matter and it is something to which we shall return again and again. I have reflected on what has been said since we last met. I hope that the Minister may also have done so and will come up with a more encouraging reply. I beg to move.

    I feel I am not going to be any more encouraging but I admire the noble Baroness for her persistence. I have some sympathy with her about the use of legal terminology that is not consistent with everyday use. However, I have given up the battle whereas she goes on fighting.

    I can only reiterate what I said when we discussed this on an earlier day in the Committee. The term "proprietor" covers those responsible for the management of schools, including independent schools, whether profit-making or non-profit-making. The definition was originally set out, as I believe I implied but was not sure about last time, in the 1944 Education Act. We want all schools—including all independent schools—to be covered by all of the new duties. These amendments, I am advised, would prevent this.

    During Committee stage on Monday last week, the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, said that independent schools had governing bodies and that was the reasoning behind her amendment. But I understand that that is not the position. However, every independent school will have a proprietor within the legal definition contained in the Bill

    The Bill uses the definition of proprietor in the 1996 Education Act. This will cover all the arrangements that exist in all independent schools. A tribunal will be required to use the definition contained in the Bill and it would make for lots of legal difficulties if it simply consulted a dictionary and used a dictionary definition. I hope that that is a little more helpful.

    The tribunal will only have to use the definition because that is the definition that the Government will make sure is in the Bill. That does not make it right, nor does the fact that it appeared in the 1996 Act, and certainly it does not make it right that it appeared in the 1944 Act. If one looks up the dictionary definition of "proprietor", it does not fit the description of people we are talking about. I believe that that is wrong. I will continue to fight for a change in the Bill but I will not labour the arguments which, at this stage, do not bear repetition. I do not believe it will be fruitful to return to this issue at this Committee stage but we shall return to it. I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    [ Amendments Nos. 133 and 134 not moved.]

    Clause 14 agreed to.

    moved Amendment No. 135:

    After Clause 14, insert the following new clause—


    (" . In the 1995 Act, insert the following section—

    "Accessible information policies

    28EA.—(1) Each local education authority must prepare in writing and in accessible format a policy (their "accessible information policy") for ensuring that all written information available to non-disabled children and parents is available to disabled children and disabled parents in their preferred, accessible format, at the time they need it.
    (2) Each local education authority must appoint a named officer to be responsible for implementing and monitoring the accessible information policy including planning localised production of information in accessible format and disseminating advice and information to schools, disabled parents and disabled pupils.
    (3) It is the duty of each local education authority to implement their accessible information policy.
    (4) It is the duty of each local education authority to publicise their accessible information policy to disabled children and parents.
    (5) Each school must prepare in writing and in alternative formats a policy (their "accessible information policy") for ensuring that written information available to non-disabled pupils and parents is available to disabled pupils and parents in their preferred, accessible format, at the time they need it.
    (6) It is the duty of each school to implement their accessible information policy.
    (7) It is the duty of each school to publicise their accessible information policy to disabled children and parents.
    (8) Guidance under subsections (1) to (7) may be issued—
  • (a) for England, by the Secretary of State; and
  • (b) for Wales by the National Assembly.
  • (9) "Written information" includes correspondence, curriculum information, reading materials required to support a child's learning and any other type of information which is otherwise made available to pupils or parents.
    (10) "Accessible format" means information in large print, in braille, in Moon, on tape, on disc or in another electronic format, on video, in easy English or in any other format designed to be accessible to disabled people who have difficulty reading standard print.
    (11) "School" means—
  • (a) a maintained school or a maintained nursery school;
  • (b) a pupil referral unit;
  • (c) a city technology college, a city college for the technology of the arts or a city academy;
  • (d) an independent school; and
  • (e) a special school not maintained by a local education authority."").
  • The noble Baroness said: I speak to Amendment No. 135 which would add a new clause to the DDA requiring each local education authority and school to prepare, implement and publicise an accessible information policy. The amendment, which has the support of the RNIB, seeks to ensure that disabled pupils and parents have access to written information in their preferred format at the time they need it. The purpose is to make sure that sensory impaired and other print-disabled children have access to the same information as their non-disabled peers. Without such access to essential curriculum information and reading materials, they cannot have real educational equality.

    "Print disabled" means anyone with a cognitive, physical or sensory impairment who cannot access standard written information. Such children have a variety of information needs. For example, in the case of blind and partially sighted children, information is required in large print, braille, moon or on tape. It is also becoming increasingly important for visually impaired children to be able to access information from the Internet.

    A recent survey of 1,000 blind and partially sighted children and young people published in Shaping the Future by the RNIB in 1999 found that information—class handouts, study materials, books and test and exam papers—was often not available to these children when they needed it. For instance, more than one in three secondary pupils and a quarter of parents of primary school children said that they usually had to wait for handouts, and only two out of three mainstream pupils usually received their school books in the format they required.

    There were particular difficulties with tests and examinations. One in four of the pupils questioned did not always get test or answer papers in the right format; one in five pupils said that test or exam papers had not always arrived on time.

    Clearly, these findings have implications for how well blind and partially sighted children and young people achieve at school, college and university. This evidence shows that current requirements of LEAs and schools to provide for disabled children's needs in this respect are wholly inadequate. It is not that accessible information cannot be provided but rather that there is insufficient awareness of accessible information issues and a lack of strategic co-ordination.

    A duty to develop and implement accessible information policies would enable teachers, SENCOs and LEAs to meet needs for accessible information in a more coherent, planned and effective way. The role of the named officer would be the linchpin of this new, holistic approach. Very often teachers face huge difficulties in obtaining appropriate curriculum materials, establishing which books and papers are available in alternative formats and where one might go to get prompt, high quality modification and transcription. The named officer's role is to help provide solutions to such problems—to plan localised production and disseminate information and advice.

    The problems relating to accessible information are well understood by the Secretary of State for Education and Employment who is keen to make progress on the issue. Ensuring that print-disabled children and parents receive information in their preferred format at the time that they need it will happen only when LEAs and schools are under explicit statutory duties to develop and implement accessible information policies. I hope that my noble friend the Minister will be able to help on this issue. I beg to move.

    This amendment is one of the better proposals. It deals with a very real problem and, very properly, includes parents. If the parents are to have a full input into a child's education, they must have information about what is going on in the classroom. Many of the suggestions made under subsection (10) of the amendment are good practice. A local education authority that does not have such access is breaking virtually all current law. So it must be taking place—unless we have one of the world's worst education authorities hiding somewhere. We must ensure that it takes place. Other groups will also benefit from this. I have received briefing related to those with eyesight problems. Dyslexics and other groups would benefit from this service. Those with hearing disabilities may well be assisted by some of the proposed formats.

    We must make sure that there is provision in the Bill. The noble Baroness puts forward an amendment which I like and can read easily. That probably means that it is not legally or correctly drafted. That is the rule of thumb that I have usually applied to everything since I have been in this Chamber. However, we must make sure that this matter is covered and I look forward to the noble Baroness's answer.

    I support extremely briefly and very warmly the amendment that the noble Baroness has moved so well and so comprehensively. It seems an entirely sensible and practical way of going about it to ensure that disabled children and their families, for example, dyslexics and the visually impaired, are in fact included. We cannot talk about inclusion unless we make sure that they know how to be included.

    Whilst of course we are sympathetic with what lies behind this amendment, I have to tell the Committee that this new clause is extremely wide-reaching. It seeks to require LEAs and schools to ensure that disabled pupils and their parents have access to material in their preferred alternative format. This is rather impractical, however. Their preferred alternative format might be either extremely expensive or indeed extremely rare. The duty seems to be absolute: the new clause has no concept of reasonableness within it. In the context of disability discrimination legislation, the concept of reasonableness is well understood and in practice works well for disabled people. To abandon that test would undermine all existing disability discrimination legislation which is certainly not something that the Government wish or indeed are willing to do. This new clause would also impose a significant additional burden on both LEAs and schools, a burden not considered necessary by the Government. In particular we do not consider it appropriate to require LEAs to create a specific post and appoint a member of staff to fill it.

    Putting to one side the absolute nature of this new clause, it does raise the issue of alternative format material in more general terms. Children who need to access material in alternative formats in order to allow them to access education will almost certainly have a statement of special educational needs. That statement will set out the support and help that the child needs and could well include the need to provide material in alternative formats.

    An additional safeguard for pupils is provided by the inclusion statement of the National Curriculum Handbook—"The Access for All Statement" of the equivalent document in Wales—to which all teachers must have regard. The curriculum guidelines provide similar guidance for teachers in Scotland. The handbook sets out a number of requirements in respect of disabled pupils which include: enabling the fullest possible participation of pupils with disabilities and making provision, where necessary, to facilitate access to activities with appropriate support, aids or adaptations; using texts that pupils can read and understand; and using visual and written materials in different formats, including large print, symbol text and Braille.

    I turn now to parents. Part III of the DDA is relevant here since services offered to parents are caught by the provisions of that part in relation to access to goods and services. That means that information about those services may have to be provided to parents in alternative formats, where it is reasonable for the school to have to do so. For example, it may be reasonable for a school to have to provide a letter to a disabled parent about a school trip in an alternative format. I hope that in the light of what I have said my noble friend feels able to withdraw her amendment.

    I am extremely surprised at the comments of my noble friend. In fact, I am astonished because this amendment is most constructive. When the Minister suggests that there is no provision for the word "reasonable", she should offer to insert the word "reasonable". We are here to discuss the issues as quickly as we can. To say that because the word "reasonable" is not in the amendment, ergo we cannot accept it is quite nonsensical. It is said that the measure would be expensive. This is the whole purpose of spending money. If a blind child cannot have Braille and cannot see what needs to be learnt, that child has no education. The Minister's point of view would prevent that difference from being provided. If a deaf child needs a hearing aid or some assistance, they are having no education either. Will my noble friend think again about the issue? I recognise what she said about the other provisions and the other means of tackling it. The amendment is wrong, but the Government should accept the point that has been made and address it on Report. I should like a warm response from the Government.

    5 p.m.

    Before the Minister responds may I support the noble Lord, Lord Ashley of Stoke, and add children with learning disabilities to the list of children with hearing impairment and children with visual impairment.

    I agree that if proper provision is made, most of the requirements that have been mentioned will already be met. The problem is that we do not know how to pin that down. Could some guidance be given to parents? As I have said a dozen times, all the voluntary bodies spend ages tracking down such information. That is one reason why people are so keen on having it. The eternal paperchase, form-filling and waiting in corridors is one of the major problems.

    We might make progress if Ministers give us more guidance or show us where we can find these things. Perhaps they could amend the Bill to bring the information closer together.

    I am happy to write to the noble Lord, Lord Addington, and others about where such guidance for parents is available. The Government are unhappy with the amendment not just because it has no concept of reasonableness in it—although that is a very important problem—but because all the other safeguards for pupils, in particular those who need access to alternative formats that would be provided in the statement, make it unnecessary. All children who are blind or have serious visual impairment will have a statement setting out their need for an alternative format. The schools and LEAs concerned are responsible for providing that. It goes a little beyond what my noble friend, Lord Ashley of Stoke, was saying.

    In the light of that further explanation, I hope that my noble friend Lady Wilkins feels able to withdraw the amendment.

    I thank noble Lords for their strong support for this amendment, and I thank my noble friend the Minister for her rather disappointing response. I would be grateful if she would be willing to meet me and other noble Lords to thrash out any possibilities for change. I shall read carefully what she has said. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause 15 [ Residual duty of education authorities]:

    [ Amendment No. 135A not moved.]

    moved Amendment No. 136

    Page 15, line 36, after ("281") insert (", 28K(1)").

    The noble Lord said: This amendment and the others in the group are technical government amendments. The last time I used that phrase it provoked an extensive debate, so I use it slightly more guardedly this time. I hope that the Committee will welcome our concession and that it will help to ensure that the debate is precise and limited. Amendment No. 202 is a technical amendment to Clause 42 to allow for different commencement dates for the different parts of the duties on post-16 providers under Clause 27 to take reasonable steps to ensure that a disabled student is not substantially disadvantaged in comparison with students who are not disabled.

    We have listened carefully to the points on post-16 implementation which were made at Second Reading and in Committee. We believe that it is reasonable for implementation of the post-16 duties to be so staged that those which can be brought in sooner should be, but institutions and LEAs have a reasonable but not excessive period to plan and implement those which take a little longer.

    We said in the Explanatory Notes to the Bill that the duties not to discriminate and to make reasonable adjustments to non-physical arrangements such as policies, practices and procedures would be implemented by September 2003. We want to do better than that and we have looked again at the timetable. Subject to the Disability Rights Commission being able to get the necessary codes in place in time, we hope to bring these provisions into force a year earlier, in September 2002.

    We also said in the Explanatory Notes that the duties to make reasonable adjustments to physical features and provide auxiliary aids and services would be implemented later, by September 2005.

    At Second Reading, a number of noble Lords proposed that the physical features duties should be brought forward to 2004, to bring the date into line with the long-planned implementation date for physical features adjustments for service providers under Part III of the DDA. We are not in a position to accede to that, but we believe that having reviewed the timetable we can identify one important area where there is scope to accelerate this timetable. I refer to the area of auxiliary aids and services, which includes equipment such IT and braille printers and services such as note takers, signs for deaf people, and so on.

    A great deal of that is provided in post-16 learning. The additional costs are likely to be less than those of adjustments to buildings, and the lead times required for implementing them are self-evidently shorter. We believe that by September 2003 sufficient of the additional government resources will have come on stream to make it reasonable to expect LEAs and institutions to meet their duties in respect of auxiliary aids and services.

    We therefore propose to bring forward the proposed date of implementation to September 2003 while retaining September 2005 as the implementation date in respect of adjustments to buildings. I hope that noble Lords will feel able to welcome this change and accept that the other amendments are technical ones. That was conveyed to the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, and the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp of Guildford, by my noble friend in a letter of 15th January. I beg to move.

    I have two questions. I have gone through each of the amendments and am looking for the specific dates. Am I to understand from the Minister that those are dates that the Minister intends to bring in the proposals? The year 2002 does not appear to be written into any of the amendments. Do the Minister's remarks subsume my Amendment No. 198 and the amendment supported by the noble Baroness, Lady Wilkins, which include bringing forward Sections 13 and 14 to 2002?

    The dates will be included in the orders which need to be made to implement the legislation. I referred to the dates in the Explanatory Notes outlining the background to the Bill. It is not the case that what I have said today covers Sections 13 and 4.

    On Question, amendment agreed to.

    Clause 15, as amended, agreed to.

    Clause 16 agreed to.

    Clause 17 [ Jurisdiction and powers of the Tribunal]:

    moved Amendment No. 137:

    Page 16, line 27, after ("parent") insert ("or with the leave of the Tribunal, the child").

    The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 137, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 143. Before moving these amendments, I should like to say that when I was unwell last week, I was most grateful to my noble friend Lord Morris of Manchester for moving the many amendments I had tabled and for reading my speeches to the Committee. I hope that the Committee did not find them too boring but I was grateful and regretted that I could not be present for those amendments.

    As we have already dealt with the principles underlying these amendments—that is, that the child should have a right to participate in issues relevant to his or her future, especially with Amendment No. 90, moved by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas—I do not propose to say very much. There is nothing more boring than repetition, unless that be very long speeches! I will make just one observation, namely that Amendments Nos. 137 and 143 would enable a child to take a case under the DDA if the tribunal agreed, regardless of the parents' wishes. The amendments are important because it needs to be acknowledged that parents and children often disagree. At least, my children often disagree with me but because I am so soft they usually get their own way, but that may not happen in every family. We want what is best for the children and that applies as much to disabled as to non-disabled children. The parents should not be able to veto the wishes of the child, much as some of them would like to do so.

    At the very least, the wishes of the child should be considered by appropriate bodies. I should be grateful if my noble friend the Minister would agree to give a warm response to this amendment and, if not, that she will consider it.

    I was in much the same position as the noble Lord, Lord Ashley, in that I was unable to move my first amendments to this Bill and he very kindly spoke most ably to them on my behalf. I am extremely grateful to him. I now support the two amendments that he has put forward and one of my own, Amendment No. 141.

    My party is particularly keen on giving the children concerned as far as is possible and sensible—and it very often is extremely sensible—a say in their future. These amendments will go a long way towards that and I hope that the Government will see their way to accepting them.

    I was very sorry that my noble friend Lord Ashley of Stoke was unwell last week. We missed him and I am glad that he is better today. Previous discussions in this Committee illustrate all too well how difficult an area this is; it really is very tricky. However, the parent's right to bring disability discrimination cases in relation to school education is the best way to assure an effective determination of a child's rights. Parents will have a better chance than the child of identifying discrimination and challenging it. In cases where there is a difference of opinion between the child and the parents, it would be very unhelpful to exacerbate that difference.

    Even in the informal environment of the tribunal an unassisted child is likely to be at a disadvantage which may lead to increased use of representation generally, affecting in turn the informality of those proceedings. Different rights of access could also lead to confusion between SEN cases and disability cases before the tribunals, especially where there is some overlap between the two. My noble friend is probably not suggesting that children should be given an unfettered right to bring their own cases to the tribunal but even allowing children that right in specified circumstances risks adding significantly to the length, the cost and the complexity of hearings.

    However, we think it important that the views of children and young people should be taken into account. That commitment has led us to propose very important changes in relation to the procedure of the existing tribunal. These will strengthen the rights of the child in relation to hearings and formalise the tribunal's established procedure whereby they already accept evidence from the child. Formalising it is crucial here. It is our intention that the equivalent regulation for disability cases at the reconstituted tribunal should reflect those for SEN cases, so that they benefit from the practical experiences of the operation of the SEN regulations and facilitate the hearing of joint SEN and disability cases where this is appropriate.

    I hope that, in providing this explanation of the extent to which we are strengthening the rights of the child, this will persuade both my noble friend and, indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, that what we are doing is establishing improved rights of the child. In the light of that explanation, I hope that the amendment will be withdrawn.

    5.15 p.m.

    We have touched on this aspect of the debate before but where a young person, particularly of upper secondary school age, is aggrieved by the provision that has been made for him and wishes to pursue that, we have already said it is inconceivable that the school will take action against itself, or that the LEA would support an application to the tribunal against itself. The young person may well have parents who are no longer in loco parentis, because of intervention by the courts, or the young person may have no parents and may simply be orphaned. In that case, who speaks for the child?

    It seems to me that there needs to be some facility whereby the child's interests can be championed and, if not by an adult who would have a very real vested interest in not pursuing a case to the tribunal, it should be possible to have access to a third party, or, in the event of a particular grievance and—I believe the caveat is in the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Ashley of Stoke—with the leave of the tribunal; in other words, the tribunal should be in a position to make a judgment as to whether it believes that the competence of the young person is sufficient to sustain a complaint to the tribunal.

    In the case of an orphan, I assume that the child's guardian would bring the case. I do not think that any child under the age of 16 who is orphaned is without a guardian. However, if the child is in care, the local authority rather than the LEA has the responsibility. So it is the social services department of the local authority that would bring the case on behalf of the aggrieved child. Then, of course, it is up to the tribunal to decide, taking into account as objectively as possible all the views that are heard, who is right and to make the appropriate provision available.

    I am sorry but it is fanciful not to accept that, because the LEA is not technically the authority, or the authority is not technically the LEA, they are all of the authority. Certainly, in court an LEA is often regarded as the local authority in a particular aspect of a case. Therefore, a local authority to would, in effect, be taken to court by itself. I wonder about the independence and the proper interests of the child being respected if the carer of the child is the local authority and the local authority is caring for the child under domestic arrangements but the child, when at school, is the responsibility of the LEA. At different parts of the day he will be a local authority subject and also an LEA subject. There needs to be some facility for a child who feels aggrieved, especially one of secondary school age, to have their case heard if the people in the children's home will not take the case, the school will not support the case and the LEA or the local authority will not support the case against itself.

    We should be a little careful about describing a tribunal in the same terms as a court. The tribunal is set up to ensure a proper discussion in an atmosphere somewhat different from that of a court when there is a dispute.

    I understand that some social services departments have brought SEN tribunal cases against their own LEA, so the noble Baroness is not right to suggest that that could never happen and that a local authority is one body for that purpose. I expect the social services departments to act appropriately and to bring a case on behalf of a child who is aggrieved and unhappy.

    I thank those who have supported my amendments and I thank my noble friend for her response. I will make a bargain with her. I will take account of the advances made by the Government, as she suggests, if she will take account of the strong feeling of the Committee. Let us reflect on how we can go forward to help each other on this important issue. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    moved Amendment No. 138:

    Page 16, line 37, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall").

    The noble Lord said: I shall speak also to Amendment No. 140. I hope that we agree that if a tribunal establishes discrimination, the priority should be the welfare of the child who suffered the discrimination. That is the purpose of the amendment.

    New Section 28I(3)(b) permits—that is the operative word—the tribunal to make an order if it finds that a claim about discrimination is well founded. The amendment would require—not just permit—such an order to be made with a view, in the convoluted language of the Bill, to obviating or reducing the adverse effect of the discrimination on the child. That is very appropriate. I would probably have used different language—perhaps "to deal with"—but I put the exact wording to the Committee.

    It may not always be possible to remedy the damage caused to a child by discrimination, especially if it is severe. There may be serious psychological effects or the child may have left the school concerned. The damage is then done. That strengthens the case for putting pressure on the tribunal to make an order that will help the child. It should be a requirement, not a possibility. For example, if a child leaves a school because of a hostile or unsympathetic attitude or because of bullying, they may need personal tuition or counselling or both. The Bill should put pressure on authorities to provide such remedies when they are clearly necessary.

    The purpose of Amendment No. 140 is to enable tribunals to order the payment of compensation—perhaps one of the more controversial issues in the Bill. I know that many people are unhappy with the idea of compensation for discrimination.

    As drafted, the Bill bans the tribunals from awarding compensation. That ban is entirely unreasonable and it should go. We seem unanimous on education remedies—and of course education remedies are crucial. We are all agreed that we must have education remedies. But some noble Lords, including myself, believe that compensation should be paid not as an alternative to education remedies but as an addition and as a powerful incentive for the prevention of discrimination.

    Disabled youngsters suffering race or sex discrimination may obtain compensation. It is observed that the same children should have it refused to them as regards similar provision in education simply because it is an education remedy. In addition, it is possible that any education remedy may come too late to prevent damage to the child's development or self-esteem. As I mentioned a moment ago, the child may have left by the time the damage is done.

    That would be very unjust. A child receives no compensation from the tribunal simply because it is not allowed to award compensation. Going to court is not a satisfactorily, readily available option. We must look at what motivates authorities. I have no doubt that the payment of financial compensation in education, as in every other field, would provide an incentive to authorities to prevent discrimination. What could be better than that: justice for the child and pressure to prevent discrimination. That would be particularly true if the number of discrimination payments were regularly published in the form of a league table.

    I am well aware of the argument that payment of compensation would divert money from providing education remedies which could benefit many children. That argument is relevant and would apply only if excessive compensation were paid—many thousands or millions of pounds—as in those crazy cases where celebrities go to court and receive a few million pounds because someone said they were an idiot or frivolous. I do not have that in mind. I have limited compensation in mind, rather like the small claims court—limited, but not so limited that it has no effect on the authority. The maximum amount could be laid down in regulation. Above all, the individual has a right to some benefit if discrimination is established. I see nothing wrong in that.

    It would be tedious and costly if compensation could be awarded only by the courts. As the tribunal has to take account of all aspects of the case, it is likely to throw out any compensation. I hope that my noble friend will begin to meet me for once. Any compensation awarded by the tribunal and not by the courts should be because the tribunal has taken account of all aspects of the case. I beg to move.

    I wish to support Amendments Nos. 138 and 140 moved in the name of my noble friend. I do so mainly because the threat of being forced to pay compensation concentrates the minds of recalcitrant authorities so that they do not discriminate in the first place. If schools or LEAs face the prospect of paying out a sum in compensation, it is hoped that they may be more inclined to spend those resources to prevent the discrimination taking place.

    The fact that a person under the age of 16 will not receive compensation while someone over that age might win a case for exactly the same injustice seems grossly unfair. Moreover, as my noble friend Lord Ashley of Stoke pointed out, if a young person is discriminated against on the grounds of sex or race, he will receive compensation. It is discriminatory in itself that it should not be the same in relation to disability. There will be exceptional cases where it is not possible to get an educational remedy for an act which has taken place which has put the child at a substantial disadvantage, for example, the child who is not allowed to go on a year six school trip or is not allowed to take part in the end-of-year school play. In those cases compensation is the only means to address the hurt to that young person. I hope that my noble friend the Minister will reconsider and include financial compensation in the SENDIST armoury.

    5.30 p.m.

    I speak to my Amendments Nos. 155 and 156. My Amendment No. 155 is being moved following the receipt of briefing material from The Law Society of Scotland, the consortium Children in Scotland and RNIB Scotland. This amendment is relevant to the Scottish situation. The proposal to exclude financial remedies in cases of discrimination against school pupils may possibly be appropriate in the English and Welsh context, where the SEN tribunal scheme is already well-established but seems to me a rather poor graft on to the Scottish system; that is, that these matters are dealt with in the sheriff court. There is indeed some doubt that this was adequately consulted upon in Scotland.

    The sheriff court is an admirable institution, but it is not a cosy place. I was very much at home as a social work department court duty officer. However, most citizens do not look forward to a visit to the sheriff court. The sheriff court always has the powers of a financial remedy. It is odd to try to deny the sheriff court its usual powers, especially as the rural and remoter areas are most likely to produce cases for which there is no educational remedy.

    There are at least three issues behind the amendment. The first is that already spoken about, the powers and traditions of the sheriff court. The second is the fact that discrimination against school pupils is not being dealt with as seriously as discrimination against older students. The third is that the treatment of school age discrimination will not be dealt with in line with other equal opportunities legislation.

    Because I believe that Scottish children deserve to be treated before the law in the same way as adults in educational matters, I believe that the Bill should give the sheriff the opportunity to force the issue with education providers. They must be focused on their task of providing what they should provide, and not just be able to walk away without doing anything, muttering some feeble excuse. In any case, they must live up to the duty set out in Section 15 of the Standards in Scotland's Schools etc Act 2000 to provide a mainstream place on request in most circumstances.

    Finally, and very briefly, I speak to Amendment No. 156. This amendment clarifies that damages for discrimination will be equal under Chapter I to those in Chapter II of the Bill. The amendment clarifies that injury to feelings is a substantive reason for damages in both chapters.

    I support the noble Lord, Lord Ashley, the noble Baroness, Lady Wilkins, and my noble friend in these amendments. I have always felt that the fact that there should be no compensation in educational matters is unacceptable. As I have already said—and I believe I said it at Second Reading—if one followed the logic that the money might be better spent on somebody else that would mean that every single claim that is laid against hospitals would be invalid. I feel that this is something of a slap in the face for the whole principle of inclusion.

    The Bill provides a wide right of redress for disabled pupils in school who have experienced discrimination. It will echo that for children with SEN, with an emphasis on remedy by educational means rather than financial compensation. That might involve allowing a pupil to participate in a theatre visit, for example, or to take part in a lesson or other activity from which he or she had been unfairly barred. If the discrimination resulted in the child missing education, a school might be ordered to provide additional tuition to allow them to catch up. The tribunal may require the school to change its policy on bullying in order to meet the needs of disabled pupils. Alternatively, it may order the school to offer the child pastoral support to come to terms with the effect of the discrimination. All of that should put the child's education back on track, which is what we are concerned about.

    We are mindful of the reasons for the DRTF's recommendation that the jurisdiction of the SEN tribunal should be extended. The DRTF was impressed by the work of the tribunal in hearing SEN appeals, particularly the less formal nature of the process, which reduces the need for parents to pay for formal legal representation.

    Allowing for the payment of financial compensation would undermine the ability of the tribunal to be informal and user-friendly, as we want it to be, and to base its decisions on what is best for the individual child in educational terms. It might well create a culture of litigation, resulting in the process becoming more formal, more adversarial and possibly more acrimonious. It would certainly encourage greater use of paid advocates, which we want to avoid. The Committee surely does not want to jeopardise all that is good about the tribunal for the sake of what in many cases would be a very small sum of money. Financial compensation paid to parents of disabled children who have suffered discrimination may soothe feelings, but it misses the point that the child has been denied an opportunity to learn and it takes the focus away from the child's needs.

    I shall not pretend that financial compensation is a simple issue, though. There are clearly precedents in sex and race discrimination cases, as the noble Earl said. We are proposing financial compensation as a means of redress for cases of disability discrimination in non-school further and higher education settings. However, the sex and race discrimination legislation was introduced 25 years ago, when there was no alternative to redress through the courts. If that legislation was being enacted today, a different forum for redress might be considered appropriate. The fact that there is no financial compensation does not mean that there will be no costs for LEAs and schools that discriminate. If the tribunal orders a remedy, there is likely to be a cost to the school or LEA that has discriminated. However, the money that they spend will go directly towards improving the educational experience of the child. That is the right approach.

    The same arguments apply in Scotland. Educational remedies are paramount for a disabled child who has suffered discrimination in school. It is important that disabled children in Scotland, England and Wales have the same rights.

    We have consulted across the whole of England, Wales and Scotland on the Bill. We commissioned the University of Edinburgh to support the consultation exercise in Scotland to ensure proper coverage. We want the same provision across Great Britain because the issue of equal rights is a matter reserved to the UK Parliament. There is no reason to have a different approach in Scotland from that in England and Wales. A disabled child who is discriminated against suffers an educational loss whether he lives in Stirling, Sunderland or Swansea. I know that strong views are held on the issue, but, having heard what I have said about the importance of educational remedies, I hope that my noble friend and the noble Earl will not press their amendments.

    Perhaps I may make two comments about the response of the noble Baroness. First, it is important that some public mark identifies the local authority as a discriminator. That the local authority has had damages awarded against it is a better headline. Everyone knows what has happened.

    Secondly, by not having a financial remedy it is perhaps too easy for education authorities in difficulties just to walk away.

    The whole purpose of the Bill is to prevent LEAs from walking away in these circumstances. As far as publicising the findings of a tribunal, I accept what the noble Earl says: that it is right that it should be made known if an LEA has discriminated. But I do not believe that there is anything to prevent that happening.

    I ask the noble Baroness to provide to the Committee the rationale. Why does a child in a school who has been discriminated against not have the availability of compensation, yet a non-school based child or person also discriminated against does?

    It is rather more difficult to specify precise educational remedies when talking about further and higher education than it is for children in schools. The circumstances are rather different. For those reasons the Government reached the conclusion that it is right with respect to school children to have a clear educational remedy to support that child's educational future. However, if a university has been found to discriminate and it has already damaged the opportunities of a young person in relation to his future career, a slightly different approach is right. Indeed, that is exactly what was recommended by the DRTF.

    I thank all Members of the Committee who have taken part in the debate. I thank the Minister for her response, although I do not agree with it. She said some interesting things. She mentioned the educational remedies. I said that we all agree with the need for an educational remedy. When a child has suffered discrimination, the permanent need is for the educational remedy. But I want a payment of compensation in addition. When talking of the educational remedy, my noble friend said that that is what we are about. It is not what we are about. We have agreed on the educational remedy. This amendment is about the payment of compensation. That is specified in the words of the amendment.

    My noble friend said she wants a user-friendly tribunal in the interests of the children. I cannot imagine any child becoming unfriendly when compensation is paid to him. This will make it more friendly. If some people who have discriminated get cross because they have to pay compensation, that is just too bad. They deserve that. They have asked for it. They have to pay compensation instead of being let off with a smile. Discrimination damages disabled people. It is a very serious thing to do. It can undermine their self-respect and self-esteem. I am very sorry that my noble friend cannot accept the amendment.

    She says that, if my amendment were accepted, at tribunals we shall have paid advocates. I am not condemning the role of solicitors and barristers but some of them receive very good salaries. I cannot see many solicitors and barristers going to tribunals for the small amounts of money I have in mind. They go for the top jobs and not the little jobs. So I do not think that my noble friend need worry about these well-paid advocates spending weeks arguing about disabled children. If her arguments are valid that we should not pay compensation for discrimination, she should go to the race and sex commissions and say "It's all nonsense. Don't do it." It makes nonsense to pay compensation for such things if her arguments are valid. I recognise that we can discuss this matter later on Report. I am sure that the Chief Whip wants at all costs to avoid Divisions when we reach that stage. We shall try to reach an amicable agreement if we can. I thank my noble friend for her response and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    5.45 p.m.

    moved Amendment No. 139:

    Page 16, line 40, after ("relates") insert—
    ("( ) may in particular take account of—
  • (i) any personal hurt experienced by the person concerned:
  • (ii) any experience denied the person concerned because of the unlawful discrimination; and
  • (iii) any necessary changes to accessibility strategies and plans to ensure that the unlawful discrimination does not happen again;").
  • The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 139 is a probing amendment that has the support of the Special Educational Consortium. It seeks to test out the limits of the Government's interpretation of remedies and whether the redress will effectively deter those authorities that fail to respond to the Bill's goals. However, I should point out that the SEC recognises that this would stop short of financial compensation.

    As the Minister said on Second Reading, the Bill seeks to establish certain rights and a means of redress and sets a framework which encourages a change of attitude. In order for the Bill to achieve its purpose, therefore, it is important to ensure that the means of remedy is effective. As presently drafted, it is unclear whether Clause 17 will achieve this. My concerns are in relation to the limits of discriminatory practice on which the Bill offers redress and whether the redress offered effectively compensates those discriminated against or deters offending authorities from continuing to discriminate.

    For instance, would the tribunal be able to offer an effective remedy for the personal hurt to a child for the discrimination he or she has suffered? Let us take the case of a disabled girl who was prevented from inviting her classmates home in the holidays because the school's SENCO thought that the other children were not ready to be friends with her. That deeply upset the child, who never had the confidence to take the initiative again. When asked, she said that she had no friends in the school, because they had been taught that she could not think. If it was found that that was unlawful discrimination, how could the deep hurt of the child be put right?

    Would the tribunal be able to offer remedy to a disabled pupil who had been denied an experience such as taking part in the school trip or end-of-year play because of discrimination? For example, one wheelchair user was told that he could not go on the geography field trip with his classmates. He therefore not only missed the trip, but he missed also the opportunity to do the field work needed for his GCSE. A child was excluded from taking part in the school play "Hello Dolly" because, being a wheelchair user, she could not join in the dance scene. If it was found that that was unlawful discrimination, could the school be ordered to include a child left out of a school trip or activity? Could that be done in time? If it could not be done in time, what could be done to put right the hurt afterwards?

    Lucy Mason, a disabled teenager, says that she has often been excluded from activities. The two things that she most wants are for someone to say "Sorry.", and that she can be confident that it will not happen again. If it was found that there had been unlawful discrimination against her, could the tribunal order someone to say "Sorry.", and could it order a school to draw up a plan to ensure that the discrimination did not happen again?

    Could the tribunal order the school to amend an existing accessibility plan to achieve the same end? The Bill's notes helpfully suggest that the tribunal might be able to make an order regarding staff training or offer additional tuition. Those seem inadequate to the many circumstances and different forms of discrimination that may arise.

    Those children not only need this legislation to offer them rights in education, but also to give them effective redress. I hope that the Minister will be able to tell us how these concerns might be met, especially if the right financial compensation is denied. I beg to move.

    Having listened to the noble Baroness, Lady Wilkins, I believe that my Amendments Nos. 140A, 142, 144 and 145 deal with a completely different subject. Therefore, in fairness, the noble Baroness, Lady Wilkins, should have her amendment considered on its own.

    I am quite happy to reply to my noble friend Lady Wilkins. I very much appreciated the way in which she moved the amendment. The Bill already provides that on a successful claim of disability discrimination, the tribunal can make any order which it considers reasonable. The Bill also provides that, in deciding on the type of order it will make, the tribunal may, in particular, grant a remedy which will negate or reduce the adverse effects of the discrimination.

    The first two factors which the amendment of my noble friend Lady Wilkins seeks to insert are already provided for in the Bill. A remedy taking account of personal hurt might be a written apology to the child. The noble Baroness, Lady Wilkins, identified a case which seemed to be quite straightforward. The tribunal might say that an apology to the child was what was necessary, because the young person in that case was being discriminated against. A remedy might take account of the experiences denied to the child by offering additional tuition to help the child catch up on lessons missed due to discrimination. We believe that the Bill provides for several of the instances which the noble Baroness identified to us today.

    The difficulty we have with the amendment is in the third part of it which asks the tribunal to do something which it does not have the power to do. It is suggested that it should have the power to order LEAs or schools to make changes to their "strategies and plans". Enforcement of the duty to plan, as we discussed earlier this afternoon, lies with the Secretary of State in relation to England, and the National Assembly for Wales in relation to Wales.

    It is right that that should be the case because the duty to plan is strategic, and it would be an enormous task for the tribunal to review the full range of evidence in the detail required to make findings and orders in relation to breaches of the duty in these respects. If the tribunal had to do this as part of a disability discrimination appeal, it would make it impossible to maintain the speed of disposal which is so important in these individual cases, and certainly would be important in the three cases which were used as an illustration this afternoon. It would add greatly to the length, formality and complexity of the hearings when the whole concept behind the tribunal is that it should be composed and be arranged in such a way that it can give effective remedy as rapidly and sympathetically as possible.

    I hope, therefore, that the noble Baroness will be able to withdraw the amendment.

    I thank the Minister for his response which I shall read carefully. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    [ Amendment No. 140 not moved.]

    Clause 17 agreed to.

    Clause 18 [ Procedure]:

    I should warn the Committee that if Amendment No. 140A is agreed to, I cannot call Amendments Nos. 141 to 145 inclusive because of pre-emption.

    moved Amendment No. 140A:

    Page 17, line 1, leave out subsection (1) and insert—
    ("(1) The Tribunal shall establish the procedures to be followed on a claim of unlawful discrimination under this Chapter, and shall take into consideration any advice on procedure offered by the Secretary of State.").

    The noble Baroness said: In speaking to Amendment No. 140A, I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 142, 144 and 145.

    Clause 18 continues with the procedure to be followed by the tribunal in hearing claims of discrimination. The opening subsection to Clause 18 sets out that the Secretary of State can make regulations as to the proceedings of the tribunal and as to the procedure required for making a claim.

    The second subsection is a long one and provides what those regulations may include. In effect, it tells us what the present Secretary of State wishes to include in the regulations that he intends to produce.

    The tribunal was established under previous legislation and is already in existence. We must assume that competent people have been, and will continue to be, appointed to the tribunal. They are not to be simply ciphers of the Secretary of State doing whatever he tells them to do. They are responsible people who are capable of establishing the best procedures to be followed in this additional duty of hearing appeals relating to discrimination on the grounds of disability.

    The tribunal has demonstrated its ability to manage its own affairs. The fact that it has established the procedures that it and the advocate have to follow greatly adds to its authority and competence. The tribunal will naturally take note of any advice that the Secretary of State may offer, but it should not have to be subject to the heavy hand of regulations from the Secretary of State about how to run its affairs.

    The first two amendments in the group would remove the provision for regulations and replace it with the competence of the tribunal. The second, which follows on from the first, would delete all the possible regulations listed in subsection (2).

    New Section 28J(7) says:

    "Part I of the Arbitration Act 1996 does not apply to proceedings before the tribunal".

    However, the Bill goes on to say that regulations may be made covering such proceedings and that those regulations will correspond to some or all of the provisions to be found in Part I of that Arbitration Act. In other words, as I understand it, the Arbitration Act does not apply, and yet the Secretary of State may have second thoughts and produce regulations for all or a part of that Act to apply to all hearings of the tribunal.

    Again, the Secretary of State must make up his mind whether the Arbitration Act shall apply, rather than leaving it open to some future regulation. We all know that regulations are subject to much less scrutiny than primary legislation. I have already argued that the tribunal ought not to be over-burdened with regulations anyway. Its members are competent people—or if they are not, competent people must be appointed to it.

    My Amendment No. 144 would leave in the provision that Part I of the Arbitration Act 1996 should not apply, but would remove the provision for regulations. However, it would give the Secretary of State the power to direct that certain parts of the Arbitration Act should apply if there is a need to take cognisance of all or part of it in a very difficult case.

    Amendment No. 145 would make a similar amendment to subsection (8) of Clause 18. I beg to move.

    I am grateful to the noble Baroness for separating this issue from the previous one, because I agree that this is a difficult enough issue without being complicated by an additional debate. The provisions that the amendments desire to remove are virtually identical to those in Section 336 of the Education Act 1996, by which governors proceed to the tribunal and the SEN appeal. We believe there is an advantage in the two procedures being identical. We have chosen, as far as we can, to replicate for disability cases the existing provisions governing the tribunal's procedure.

    There are a number of reasons for that. First, it would facilitate the joining together of SEN and disability cases where appropriate. That can be a great advantage to the individual concerned. Secondly, LEAs and those who support and advise parents are growing in their familiarity with the existing procedures. We are worried that new ones would cause unnecessary confusion. Thirdly, the SEN procedure is now proving itself. It has been tested and is working. That is why we are seeking to replicate it as closely as possible.

    On the issue of the regulation-making powers, I have listened carefully to what the noble Baroness had to say. The powers in fact give a framework within which the tribunal can operate in an independent and impartial way, without interference. It is imperative that there should be a universal procedural framework applicable to those bringing claims before the tribunal. I cannot see how two separate ways of formulating procedural rules for the same tribunal would be in any way helpful.

    Although the noble Baroness has stated that this would happen only in exceptional circumstances, giving the Secretary of State the power to make procedural directions in cases that were already live and under consideration before the tribunal would add delay and bureaucracy. It might also be thought that it could compromise the judicial independence of the tribunal because the Secretary of State would be acting upon the scene on which they were seeking to reach judgment. It is conceivable—not under our present Secretary of State, of course—that the DfEE itself could be joined to the party in a particular case where an LEA or school is accused of discrimination and its defence is that it merely followed departmental guidance. The Secretary of State should surely not have the power or be seen to have the opportunity to make procedural directions that could affect the outcome of such a case. We have sought to keep the tribunal as independent as possible from such a possibility.

    Amendments Nos. 144 and 145 would trigger the provision of the Tribunals and Inquiries Act, requiring consultation with the council on tribunals prior to the Secretary of State issuing directions. This could introduce considerable delay before individual cases could be heard. There is no doubt that with regard to the operation of the tribunal, we are all seeking for it to be as prompt as possible in considering potential and malpractice so that the remedy should be available as quickly as possible.

    I hope that in the light of both comments, the noble Baroness might feel able to withdraw her amendment.

    6 p.m.

    The Minister's answer was more than convincing—certainly the second part. I accept that I may have fallen into the trap of interfering with the independence of the tribunal. I acknowledge that explanation. I am trying to avoid what seems to be cumbersome. Again, I am never impressed by saying that it happened in a previous Act—although l may well have been part of government when it happened.

    It seems unnecessary to say in one part of the Act that,
    "Part I of the Arbitration Act does not apply",
    and then provide a regulation power to apply it in part or in whole depending on whether the Secretary of State at some future date deems it appropriate. First, I do not think that the Secretary of State has used that power in the 1996 Act. We are now entering 2001, it has not been used, so perhaps the provision need not have been there. It would seem far better—having listened to the convincing answer of the Minister—to say that Part I of the Arbitration Act shall apply where appropriate. That leaves the tribunal entirely independent and free to use, refer to or take into account Part I of the Arbitration Act where appropriate. It would then not have to rely upon making a case to the Secretary of State and waiting for an order to come before Parliament to introduce the use of that part of the Act. I remain unhappy about the wording on the face of the Bill but I am totally convinced by the arguments made by the noble Lord to my particular amendments. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    [ Amendments Nos. 141 to 145 not moved.]

    Clause 18 agreed to.

    Clauses 19 and 20 agreed to.

    Clause 21 [ Roles of the Secretary of State and the National Assembly]:

    moved Amendment No. 146:

    Page 20, line 20, at end insert—
    ("(1A) Subsection (I B) applies in relation to
  • (a) special schools which are not maintained special schools but which are approved by the Secretary of State, or by the National Assembly, under section 342 of the Education Act 1996; and
  • (b) city academies.
  • (1B) If the appropriate authority is satisfied (whether on a complaint or otherwise) that a responsible body—
  • (a) has acted, or is proposing to act, unreasonably in the discharge of a duty which that body has in relation to—
  • (i) the provision to the appropriate authority of copies of that body's accessibility plan. or
  • (ii) the inspection of that plan, or
  • (b) has failed to discharge that duty,
  • it may give that body such directions as to the discharge of the duty as appear to it to be expedient.").

    On Question, amendment agreed to.

    moved Amendment No. 146A to 153:

    Page 20, line 21, after ("(1)") insert ("or (1B)").
    Page 20, line 26, leave out ("appropriate authority") and insert ("Secretary of State").
    Page 20, line 32, leave out ("it") and insert ("he").
    Page 20, line 33, leave out ("it") and insert ("him").
    Page 20, line 34, after ("(1)") insert (", (1B)").
    Page 20, line 35, leave out ("appropriate") and insert ("directing").
    Page 20, line 38, leave out ("appropriate") and insert ("directing").
    Page 20, line 43, at end insert—
    ("( ) "Directing authority" means—
  • (a) the Secretary of State in relation to a direction given by him; and
  • (b) the National Assembly in relation to a direction given by it.").
  • On Question, amendments agreed to.

    Clause 21, as amended, agreed to.

    Clause 22 [ Enforcement procedure: Scotland]:

    On Question, amendment agreed to.

    [ Amendments Nos. 155 and 156 not moved.]

    Clause 22, as amended, agreed to.

    Clause 23 agreed to.

    Clause 24 [ Interpretation]:

    [ Amendment No. 157 not moved.]

    moved Amendment No. 158:

    Page 23, line 45, at end insert—
    ("( ) "Accessibility strategy" and "accessibility plan" have the meaning given in section 28D.").

    On Question, amendment agreed to.

    Clause 24, as amended, agreed to.

    Clause 25 [ Discrimination against disabled students and prospective students]:

    [ Amendments Nos. 159 and 160 not moved.]

    moved Amendment No. 161:

    Page 25, line 6, leave out ("1(5)(b)(iii)") and insert ("1(5)(b)(ii)").

    On Question, amendment agreed to.

    [ Amendment No. 162 not moved.]

    Clause 25, as amended, agreed to.

    Clause 26 [ Meaning of "discrimination"]:

    [ Amendments Nos. 163 to 166 not moved.]

    Clause 26 agreed to.

    Clause 27 [ Disabled students not to be substantially disadvantaged]:

    [ Amendment No. 167 not moved.]

    moved Amendment No. 167A:

    Page 26, line 43, at end insert (", and
    ( ) in relation to any qualifying requirements or examinations needed for or facilitating engagement in a particular profession, whether set by the institution itself or by an external qualifying body, and which are adopted by the institution, disabled students are not placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with students who are not disabled").

    The noble Baroness said: This amendment seeks to impose on further and higher educational institutions a duty to ensure that, as far as possible, when students sit professional or other examinations, disabled students are not put at a disadvantage vis-à-vis other students. It links up with Amendment No. 191 which addresses more directly the issue of behaviour of professional bodies towards disabled students.

    There should be a presumption of ability and equal opportunity rather than a presumption of exclusion. The purpose of the two amendments is to bring this section of the Bill and the DDA in line with the sex and race discrimination legislation by giving disabled people protection against discrimination by professional and qualifying bodies, and to comply with the recommendations of the Disability Rights Task Force on qualifying bodies. We feel strongly that at the moment professional bodies lie completely outside discrimination law and that this is unacceptable.

    Amendment No. 167A deals specifically with examinations and entrance requirements for a profession. The qualifying bodies often have a direct educational role because they can restrict the activities of educational bodies. They may conduct examinations or other assessments as a prelude to admission to the profession; they accredit courses undertaken by bodies, including universities and further education colleges; and they may undertake courses themselves.

    They often place conditions on taking examinations at institutions—they may, for instance, stipulate what kind of exams should be taken—and sometimes they control or at least influence entry to courses either by setting the criteria for admission to the vocation or by offering sponsorship to particular individuals. Where there are a limited number of places, this effectively presents disabled people from joining a course.

    One example I can quote is that of Ali who had dyslexia and applied to do a course with a view to joining a profession allied to medicine. The university was happy to offer him a place but thought it wise to check first with the professional body. The professional body advised the university that it would be unlikely to register Ali, even though at that stage it knew only the briefest facts about his dyslexia. As a result, the university felt obliged to reject Ali's application.

    Amendment No. 191 deals more generally with the professional bodies. They can directly affect the usefulness of education received by deciding whether or not to admit a student to the relevant professional association. The piece of paper they offer may be much more useful than the degree itself. The amendment seeks to prevent the professional bodies operating blanket exclusions on disabled students without considering the real issues. There should be a presumption of ability and equal opportunity rather than a presumption of exclusion.

    An example of a professional body is the Law Society which regulates entry to professional legal training such as the legal practice course available at some universities. Such organisations need to start taking responsibility for facilitating opportunities for disabled people. Without Amendment No. 191 the professional bodies may remain untouched by the new law and continue to bar disabled students from many of the professions which they are well suited to join. I beg to move.

    I support the amendment strongly but briefly. It is surely quite wrong that professional bodies should remain outwith the law, as the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, says, untouched by the DDA. Many professions are well suited to people with disabilities who may be debarred or stopped before they can start on a course.

    6.15 pm

    I understand the wish to make sure that the requirements set by professional bodies are caught by disability duties, but the Bill is not the right vehicle. We are already committed to action in a much wider way in relation to public sector bodies as I will explain.

    Amendment No. 167A seeks to place duties on institutions not to discriminate against disabled students in qualifying requirements or examinations for entry into a particular profession, whether set by the institution or a qualifying body. The Bill already places universities under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to their examination arrangements where they place disabled students at a substantial disadvantage, so to that extent the amendment is not necessary. But the qualifying requirements for a profession are set by the professional body, not the educational institution. The most effective way to catch these is to deal with those bodies.

    Although there is no specific provision in the DDA dealing with qualifying bodies, they will be covered by Part III of the DDA where they are providing a service to the public. Whether they are doing so will be determined on a case-by-case basis. I must admit that this is a very grey area of law.

    Where qualifying bodies are covered by discrimination legislation, they are covered by employment provisions—as in the Sex Discrimination Act and the Race Relations Act—rather than the education provisions. This Bill deals with the education provisions of the DDA. It is significant that the Disability Rights Task Force included a recommendation on qualifying bodies within its employment, rather than its education, chapter. That is an important issue and its implications need further consideration and, in due course, consultation.

    Amendment No. 191 seeks to require professional bodies to promote equality between disabled and non-disabled people. The Government agreed, in the equality statement of November 1999, that public bodies must take a lead in promoting equal opportunities, and we committed ourselves to putting that obligation into legislation as soon as parliamentary time allowed. We have already done that in relation to racial equality through the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000. That places a duty on public bodies, when carrying out their duties, to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between people of different racial groups. We shall take similar action on disability and sex equality too.

    The DRTF recommended that public bodies should be under a duty to promote equality of opportunities for disabled people. Given our commitment to legislate, we shall be responding to that recommendation when we make our formal and public response to the DRTF report at the end of this month.

    We have already asked the DRC to consider, with the other equality commissions, the scope for including voluntary guidance or mechanisms in advance of legislation. That will help guide public bodies in the lead up to such obligations becoming law.

    In the light of these explanations, I hope the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, is able to withdraw her amendment.

    The Minister said that it is an employment question, not an educational question, but in the case of Ali, which the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, quoted, the professional body had a great influence and he was prevented from pursuing his chosen course. Surely that was an educational question, in Ali's eyes anyway.

    This Bill is not the right place to amend provisions that are made by professional bodies of this sort. The right place to do that is in future legislation that relates to employment, since professional bodies are about preparing people for particular occupations and particular careers. Educational institutions will, under the legislation—through proper examination procedures, for example—already have to make sure that they do not discriminate against disabled students.

    Further education is often seen as practical training. Surely that is very similar to professional qualifications.

    Further education provides a whole range of vocational qualifications, and in making that educational provision, further education providers will not be able to discriminate under this legislation. In dealing specifically with professional bodies, we need to legislate in a different context.

    I am grateful to the Minister for her reply to this, and I am heartened by what she said. We had some difficulty placing this particular amendment, and came up with this format which indirectly sought to put pressure on the qualifying bodies by trying to make it an act of discrimination if the colleges and the universities themselves did not take action to facilitate it. I am heartened by the fact that already within the legislation both the colleges and the universities will be acting discriminatorily if they pursue the sort of action that Ali experienced here. It is important that this will be in Hansard and people will recognise that this is implicit in the actions that they have to take. I am also heartened by the fact that the Government propose to come back with legislation in response to the Disability Rights Task Force proposals. I know that at the moment the whole issue is something of a grey area and that there are great difficulties in bringing cases under these sorts of provisions. That is partly the reason that we tried to introduce this under the Bill. We look forward to seeing what is proposed by the Government and for the moment, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    moved Amendment No. 168:

    Page 26, line 43, at end insert—
    ("( ) Regulations may make provision, for the purposes of this section—
  • (a) as to circumstances in which it is reasonable for a responsible body to have to take steps of a prescribed description;
  • (b) as to steps which it is always reasonable for a responsible body to have to take;
  • (c) as to circumstances in which it is not reasonable for a responsible body to have to take steps of a prescribed description;
  • (d) as to steps which it is never reasonable for a responsible body to have to take.
  • ( ) In order to comply with its duty under subsection (1), a responsible body may in particular take steps to—
  • (a) adjust premises;
  • (b) adjust course content, including work placements;
  • (c) adjust teaching arrangements;
  • (d) provide or arrange transport to and from a further education institution:
  • (e) provide or arrange additional teaching;
  • (f) provide or arrange communication support or services;
  • (g) provide or arrange materials and information in alternative formats;
  • (h) provide or arrange staff training;
  • (i) employ support workers;
  • (j) change policies, practices and procedures.").
  • The noble Lord said: I wish to move Amendment No. 168 tabled by me and my noble friend Lady Darcy de Knayth.

    Clause 27 brings disabled students within the scope of the Disability Discrimination Act and naturally we welcome that inclusion unreservedly. The clause is part of a cluster of clauses that explain what discrimination against a student or prospective student means. However, this part of the Bill is rather thin on the detail of how inclusion of these students can be made to work. Indeed, it seems at times a little more forthcoming on the considerations which might tell against catering appropriately for the disabled student.

    Lest the imagination of the responsible authorities should fail, we have sought in this amendment to remind them of what might be appropriate. Clearly, not everything can go into the Bill, so we have paved the way for regulations and provided some broad indications of what may be useful. Even though we are in the Moses Room and have recently suffered a storm of biblical proportions, I cannot claim that the list is the list of Solomon, but it may help to reassure any authority disposed to imagine all sorts of adverse consequences for other students in meeting the needs of disabled students.

    It is wrong that disabled students should have to face not only the normal strains of college life, but the hazards of their disability and, in addition, a battle to get the support that they need. RNIB experience suggests that students all too often have to find out what is available or what could be available if greater effort were made and then to fight a battle to get what the) need. The amendments are designed to help to move the responsible agencies towards taking the initiative and sparing the student unnecessary hassle and the need to keep asking—especially when, as sometimes happens, grudging responses give the impression that charity is being sought.

    I am sure that we all want to extend the rights agenda for disabled students. I beg to move.

    I warmly support my noble friend. I hope that the Minister will agree to put a reference to regulations in the Bill and in particular that transport and support workers should be included. Transport is a major problem for disabled students in further education. Lack of transport can prevent a disabled student from pursuing his chosen and otherwise accessible course.

    In higher education, a big problem is the employment of support workers such as interpreters, note-takers and personal assistants. The legal and financial responsibilities of an employer and having to train personal assistants are a lot for a student to take on. This all takes time and energy, both of which might be in short supply. It would be relatively easy for the institution, which is already an employer, to set up an employment agency. I am told that some do, but it is not very common. There would then be the added benefit of a pool of workers in its employ who could provide useful back-up when a support worker is ill. I hope therefore that the Minister will respond positively.

    I understand that in proposing that the Government should take regulation-making powers of this type, the noble Lord's intention is to promote clarity for both providers and learners. We are proposing similar powers in respect of corresponding provisions for schools.

    However, it is important to look at all proposals to take regulation-making powers on their merits. We are not persuaded that the arguments are as strong for similar powers for further and higher education, which has a more diverse group of providers, catering for a predominantly adult population, many of whom attend quite short courses.

    In that context, it is less apparent that the Government can sensibly determine sets of circumstances that are or are not reasonable, or which adjustments are always or never reasonable. That is more properly a matter for guidance, through the DRC's code, and for sensible interpretation of such guidance by institutions and, if cases are brought—which I hope they will not be—by the courts.

    The amendment lists the steps that responsible bodies may take to comply with their duties under the clause. It is a helpful and uncontroversial list, but the most appropriate place for such lists and the examples to illustrate them is in the code that will support this provision. The list of steps that an employer might have to take to comply with his duty to make reasonable adjustments was included in Part II of the DDA. However, circumstances have changed. In 1995, the concept of reasonable adjustments was new and the government of the day felt it right to put an illustrative list on the face of the Bill.

    We consulted on the basis that the provisions in respect of further and higher education would be accompanied by a code. That approach has been widely supported. We take the view that we should not try to put provisions that are clearly suitable for such a code on the face of the Bill unless there are compelling reasons to do so. There do not seem to be such reasons in this case. The list is helpful and reasonable—indeed, it is one of which Solomon would have been proud. It accords with the wide duty we have put in the Bill in respect of further and higher education, which does not limit the reasonable steps that an institution might have to take to avoid substantial disadvantage. We will pass on our understanding of that to the DRC, which will develop the code.

    Perhaps I may say a few words to the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy de Knayth on the subject of transport. The Bill will place a duty on education providers to make reasonable adjustments to policies, practice and procedures or to any arrangements for services that place the disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in comparison to non-disabled persons. They will have to make sure that in operating their transport policies they do not treat disabled students less favourably than the non-disabled. They will also have to consider reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled students are not put at a disadvantage relative to non-disabled students. That will apply to transport. I hope that provides some reassurance to the noble Baroness.

    Before my noble friend decides what to do, I thank the Minister very much for her comments. Does she also agree that the question of support workers is vital for those in HE Perhaps institutions might be willing to take on—

    Yes, of course I accept that support workers are terribly important in this sector.

    I welcome the fact that the Government want the same things as we want, except that they are not prepared to put them on the face of the Bill in the same way. The Special Educational Consortium has pressed me on these amendments. It will no doubt speak to ministerial officials in due course. I hope that we may be able to approach the issue from a slightly different angle on Report. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    [ Amendment No. 169 not moved.]

    [ Amendment No. 170 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

    [ Amendments Nos. 171 and 172 not moved.]

    The noble Baroness said: In moving the amendment, I return to this theme; I referred earlier to a paragraph in the Bill. This really is sheer gobbledy-gook. Clause 27 (4) states:

    "In determining whether it is reasonable for the responsible body to have to take a particular step in relation to that person in order to comply with its duty under subsection (1), regard shall be had to the extent to which taking the step in question is consistent with compliance with that request".

    I believe that that is otiose. The Bill will not lose anything by having the provision removed. I beg to move.

    6.30 p.m.

    I am sorry that the noble Baroness thinks this is gobbledy-gook. I admit when she reads it out that it does not sound entirely clear but I wish to reassure her that it is.

    It is important for students who may benefit from the right of the Bill to have the ability to keep their disability confidential if they wish. We want to make it absolutely clear to institutions that when discharging their duties under Clause 27 to make reasonable judgments, they should take into account the need to maintain confidentiality in respect of an individual student if a request has been made by a student. Subsections (3), (4) and (5) are meant to provide the clarity on this point that both individuals and institutions need. I do not know whether, in the light of the assurance I have given, the noble Baroness will feel satisfied. That is the purpose of those subsections. If we were to cut them out, I do not believe that that clarity would be there, particularly for institutions.

    The one defence I would not use for keeping the provision in is clarity. As an analogy, it is rather like saying that when determining whether to teach reasonably young people English one shall have regard to the extent to which the school taught English adequately. It is such a convoluted contortion of a paragraph. The explanation given by the noble Baroness has not helped me. However, no doubt we shall return to the issue on the Floor of the House. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause 27 agreed to.

    Clause 28 agreed to.

    Clause 29 [ Right of redress]:

    moved Amendment No. 174:

    Page 28, line 22, leave out from ("made") to end of line 24 and insert ("to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal in England and Wales and to industrial tribunals in Scotland").

    The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 174, I shall also speak to Amendments Nos. 175, 177, 209 and 211.

    The aim of this series of amendments is to move the enforcement of disability rights in further and higher education out of the courts and into tribunals which are more accessible and would have greater relevant awareness and experience of disability issues. We were talking a little while earlier about the difficulties of going to court on disability discrimination issues and, because of the difficulty of taking such cases to court with all the costs and complexity that this entails, many disabled people do not pursue this course of action. The switch proposed in this series of amendments would ensure that the new rights of disabled learners in further education and higher education were much more readily enforceable.

    The amendment has been supported by the Royal National Institute for the Blind and in a recent study they have pursued called The Price of Justice: Towards Effective Enforcement of the Disability Discrimination Act, they have documented the very considerable barriers to disabled people in bringing discrimination cases before a county court. At autumn 2000 only 25 cases had been brought to the county or sheriff courts under Part III of the DDA as against over 5,000 similar cases to employment tribunals.

    The barriers to bringing cases into courts were shown to be the costs involved, the complexity and the lack of disability awareness on the part of judges. The conclusion that the RNIB derived from this was that under the present system disabled people's rights of access to goods and services are virtually unenforceable. The recommendation was very firmly that all disability discrimination cases should be commenced in a tribunal.

    The Independent Review of Anti-Discrimination Legislation carried out by Professor Hepple and his colleagues at Cambridge University, for similar reasons, recommended that discrimination cases should be heard in tribunals. A good deal of concern was expressed on the Disability Rights Task Force about the suitability of county courts for dealing with cases of discrimination, and similar concerns were expressed by the Commission for Racial Equality and the Equal Opportunities Commission in their recent reviews of anti-discrimination legislation.

    A SENDIST tribunal is already being established. The aim would be that it would be appropriate to establish a separate division of that tribunal in order to cater for the differences which exist between school and post-school cases. The tribunal would, by and large, be a far more suitable place to hear such cases. There is a precedent for this in the field of social security tribunals, and the feeling is that it would be a good idea to go forward in that direction. I beg to move.

    I have to say I am a bit worried about this amendment. Is it not very important that discrimination on the grounds of disability has the same profile as that against sex and race? I think it should not be marginalised into a tribunal. The noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, has said that there is a difference between school and post-school anyway, so that this would be something new for any tribunal to sort out. I should prefer it to be given the same profile as that in relation to sex and race. I shall be interested to hear what the Minister says.

    Not half as interested as the Minister was to hear what the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy, had to say, because I agree with her completely. She has effectively presented the basis of the argument that we have unleashed as to whether the tribunal or the courts should provide redress and effective action. Here we are dealing with the relationship between students and their institutions. It is very different from the relationship within schools and pupils under the age of 16, where it is clear that one of the merits contained within our proposals, as the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy, indicated, is that it keeps the disability issues four square with the issues on race and sex discrimination. The institutions expect to meet any failure on their part in the courts of the land, rather than with a tribunal, which is designed for a different purpose from the relationship between students and institutions.

    The difference is that in the case of the student, it might be that some aspect of real expense and compensation was involved in the discrimination against them, with which the courts would be able to deal, We have already discussed this afternoon why it is inappropriate for the tribunal to be dealing in that way with regard to students under the age of 16.

    The nub of the Government's position has been exemplified in the discussion in the Committee. I understand the intent behind the approach of the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, and her reservations about the way in which the courts may have acted in the past.

    There is an ongoing process under my noble and learned friend Lord Irvine at the present time of modernising the civil courts in order that we can see more effective redress of grievances across the range of cases brought before the civil courts. Therefore, if there are anxieties about the way the courts have dealt with race and sex discrimination in the past, then that is where change needs to be effected, and any such benefits of course would obtain also in relation to disability. However, we do not believe that the case has been made for putting the position for students beyond 16 and their different relationships with their institutions full square with pupils in schools. That is why we ask the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp of Guildford, to withdraw her amendment.

    I thank the Minister for his reply. I should point out that there is a precedent here in relation to employment tribunals. He is right to say that there is a different relationship between students and their institutions and between schools and their institutions. I take that on board, and this is why what was suggested was a different division of the same tribunal.

    However, there are other areas where tribunals are used, certainly as a first port of call in cases of dispute, and as I pointed out from the evidence that is available, people are more ready to take a case to a tribunal than to a court. There is some concern that the DDA s not working in that respect and that it is too difficult to take cases to court. Again, going back to our discussion earlier on the qualifying authorities and the examination authorities, he courts have not proved to be totally satisfactory.

    I accept for the moment what the Minister says. We shall consider these issues and perhaps return to them later. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    [ Amendment No. 175 not moved.]

    moved Amendment No. 176:

    Page 28, line 28, leave out ("injury to feelings") and insert ("any personal offence caused").

    The noble Baroness said: Clause 29 seeks to extend protection for the disabled student by providing that if the student claims that he has been discriminated against, contrary to the provisions of the Bill, then he can pursue that claim for damages through civil proceedings. Under such civil proceedings the court might award compensation to the student. Subsection (2) of the clause states that included in any such compensation for damages, the court may include compensation "for injury to feelings".

    The intention of this subsection is obviously to assert that as well as compensation for, for example, loss of teaching time or education provision, or financial loss, the court may order compensation for any emotional hurt caused to the disabled person.

    "Injury to feelings"—the term used in the Bill—is a very difficult concept and not easily defined or measurable. To try to improve on the phrase "injury to feelings" and to make it something more measurable and which any tribunal or court could assess, I recommend in my amendment that the words "injury to feelings" should be replaced by "any personal offence caused". That is much more direct, to the point and more likely to be the case. I beg to move.

    We are in areas of considerable subtlety here. The Bill refers to "injury to feelings". The noble Baroness, Lady Sharp of Guildford, has her views on the matter and of course the noble Baroness, Lady Wilkins, in Amendment No. 139 had the phrase "any personal hurt experienced". We are all trying to define as accurately and as effectively as we can the problems against which a grievance can be identified.

    The basis of the Government's position with regard to its phrase "injury to feelings" comes under Parts II and III of the Disability Discrimination Act. Therefore, there is a great deal to be said for consistency in those terms.

    I hear what the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch., says about the different ways that the question could be phrased, but that is the basis for the choice. Our anxiety is that if the amendment were accepted, the difference in wording between identical provisions in this Bill and the rest of the Disability Discrimination Act could cause confusion.

    I recognise that the parliamentary draftsmen may not always have quite as subtle an approach as others who are having a second shot at it. However, that is the basis of the phrase in the Bill before the House.

    6.45 p.m.

    I am sorry again that the intellectual rationale offered by the Minister is that the wording has been used before, so the Government are being consistent. There is more than half a point in the noble Lord's statement that this is being compared with a very recent Act of Parliament. However, injury to feelings is a difficult concept to measure. There are many situations in which one might have hurt feelings. If any personal offence is caused by the specific activity that is the subject of the case before the tribunal, that is a far more direct description. However, I shall not press my amendment further. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    [ Amendment No. 177 not moved.]

    moved Amendment No. 178:

    Page 28, line 35, leave out ("(as the case may be)") and insert ("(in Scotland)").

    The noble Earl said: Here we have a selection of Scottish amendments, starting with Amendment No. 178, which would remove any ambiguity about the remedies that will be available in Scotland under this section. It says that the remedies will be those available to the Court of Session.

    Amendment No. 206 would extend the period in which a complaint about possible discrimination may be laid. The extension is very reasonably made, to allow a complaint to be made after whenever the discrimination is noticed or realised rather than just within six months of the start—or is it conclusion?—of the discriminatory action. It is surprisingly easy for the subjects of decision-making to be unaware of the unsatisfactory nature of decisions handed down to them. Six months may well be a very short time in which to come to a conclusion that a complaint is substantive. Similarly, finding some advocacy support and insight can be difficult for many people.

    Amendment No. 207 is identical to Amendment No. 212. They are focused on the use of the correct legal terminology in Scotland. I am certain that the Committee would wish this to be both clear and accurate. The words "sufficient evidence" are the correct words when the value of evidence is being determined in Scots law. This is a very straightforward amendment.

    Amendment No. 208 is similar to Amendment No. 213. They are both aimed at remedying the position of certificates of evidence. For this amendment, I must confess my indebtedness to the briefing of the Law Society of Scotland. The amendment would remove the presumption that a document purporting to be a certificate of evidence is a certificate unless it can be disproved by the other side. The amendment would require the person who relies on a document as a certificate of evidence to prove its authenticity if challenged. The other side ought not to be required to prove that the certificate of evidence is not genuine. The amendment would rightly place the duty to establish the genuineness of evidence on the person relying on it. I beg to move.

    I have dreaded this moment ever since the Chief Whip a fortnight ago prevented me from going to a Burns supper where I could have received some elucidation on these matters and made me stay in the House to deal with English and Welsh matters instead. The noble Earl will recognise my limitations in responding to him on aspects of Scottish law. I will deal with each of the amendments as precisely as I can.

    First, on Amendment No. 178, as the High Court in Scotland is a supreme court and the Court of Session is a term specific to the Scottish legal system, we are not quite clear why any aspect of confusion should arise.

    Perhaps I might respond immediately. Those briefing me were unhappy about the use of the words "as the case may be" and felt that their removal and the substitution of "in Scotland" would make the position as clear as possible.

    In which case we shall look at that aspect again.

    Turning to Amendments Nos. 207 and 212, the provisions in the Bill mirror equivalent provisions in the DDA. The problem with the amendments is that they would introduce an inconsistency with references elsewhere in the DDA to the precise term "conclusive evidence". Furthermore, the term "conclusive evidence" seems to work equally well whether used in Scotland, England or Wales, although I heard what the noble Earl said about the aspect of sufficient evidence.

    Legal confusion in these issues is of no benefit to disabled people north or south of the border and our search for consistency with the DDA across the whole of the UK except Northern Ireland is the basis of our position and why we feel that the introduction of the distinctive and different phrase suggested by the noble Earl would not be wholly appropriate.

    Turning to Amendments Nos. 208 and 213, the provisions in the Bill which the noble Earl seeks to amend mirror equivalent and non-controversial provisions in the DDA. There is nothing sinister about provisions of this nature; they are there simply for reasons of administrative convenience. Let me explain what I mean.

    The Bill as drafted ensures that a respondent to a claim of disability discrimination will have a defence if the act was done to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by a Minister of the Crown by virtue of any enactment. A respondent will be able to prove this defence by producing an appropriate certificate to which the noble Earl referred. This does not mean that the person bringing the claim cannot challenge the authenticity of a document purporting to be such a certificate but it ensures that a challenge will only be made where there are genuine grounds for suspecting the certificate's authenticity.

    Amendments Nos. 206 and 210 relate to Schedule 2. Amendment No. 206 has the same effect for the schools provisions of Schedule 2 and the tribunal as Amendment No. 210 has for further and higher education and the courts.

    I understand why the amendments have been put forward but they are not necessary. Circumstances could indeed arise in which an act of discrimination had taken place but which the complainant could not reasonably have known about at the time or within the six month period during which proceedings may be brought before the tribunal or the courts. But under paragraph 10(3)and paragraph 13(3) inserted by the schedule the tribunal and the court respectively may consider any claim which is out of time if, in all the circumstances of the case, they consider that it is just and equitable to do so. That the complainant could not reasonably have known about the discriminatory act at the time it occurred will be among the circumstances of the case that the tribunal, or the court as the case may be, may properly consider. With those reassurances in mind, I hope that the noble Earl will see fit to withdraw his amendment.

    I am grateful to the Minister for his response. On the point about attending Burns suppers, that is an excellent remedy for the problem.

    We have already dealt with Amendment No. 178. On Amendment No. 207, the Scottish legal system understands the odd occasion when English legal words end up being dealt with in Scotland. As regards the words "conclusive" or "sufficient", if this were a Scottish Act the word "sufficient" would have been used, but it is a United Kingdom Bill and we have more than one legal jurisdiction, so I suspect that we shall have to live with the position.

    On Amendment No. 208, I shall be interested to hear what those briefing me have to say about the noble Lord's response. I suspect that they will persist in the view that proving a certificate of evidence is the wrong way round. However, I shall say no more on that because I am dependent on briefing on that point.

    On Amendment No. 206, I am more than heartened by what the noble Lord said as regards the six-month cut-off period; namely, that consideration may be given to a later period in exceptional circumstances. He explained that point very well. Therefore I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause 29 agreed to.

    Clause 30 [ Occupation of premises by educational institutions]:

    On Question, Whether Clause 30 shall stand part of the Bill?

    Unless I have read the Bill wrongly, I regard this as one of the most important provisions in terms of property and alterations to buildings.

    In Clause 30 the Bill is entering dangerous waters and I invite the Government to leave it out altogether. A college of further or higher education is most likely to comprise many different and separate buildings. The college may own the freehold to some of them and some of the land, but, especially in the case of some colleges in inner cities, it is also likely that some of the premises used will be leasehold, rented in some form or another from the owner.

    Where the college is the tenant in some form of leasehold for some or all of the premises that it uses, Clause 30 gives the college rights over the landlord in pursuit of compliance with the provisions of the Bill. In other words, it allows the college to make physical alterations to the premises in order to improve accessibility for the disabled student and to do so in spite of opposition or even objection to the changes from the landlord.

    Clause 30 permits the landlord to impose some conditions. However, overall this is a dangerous precedent. It should not be within the purposes of the Bill to impose alterations to the terms of leasehold or tenancy. It should be left to the college to negotiate with the landlord within the existing legislation on tenancy and leasehold on both existing leases and proposed new leases. In such negotiations the college will need to secure the agreement of landlords that any physical additions or alterations to the premises that may become necessary in order to conform with the Bill's provisions on accessibility can be carried out. No doubt the landlord would insist that any such work is done at the expense of the college rather than that of the landlord. He might also insist that any additions and improvements are ultimately the property of the landlord. The terms of the lease need to be voluntarily entered into between college and landlord and should not be imposed by the Bill.

    I hope that I have read the Bill wrongly and that the Minister is in a position to say that this will not happen. However, if I was the owner of such land and for years a college had leased it from me, then suddenly, on the basis of negotiation, but without my consent, alterations could be carried out to my land and buildings in order to comply with the law, I would consider that draconian and extreme. This would require much further consideration. I beg to move.

    7 p.m.

    Clause 30 amends the DDA by inserting a new Section 28W and a new Part III to Schedule 4. Without the clause, many educational institutions occupying leased premises may be unable to comply with the duty under new Section 28T to make reasonable adjustments to physical features that place a disabled student at a substantial disadvantage. These provisions mirror those in Sections 16 and 27 of the DDA which apply to employers, trade organisations and providers of services who occupy premises under lease. They are not in that sense new or different from what is already enshrined in the Act.

    The effect of' this clause as a whole is that, where the lease of a property occupied by a further and higher education institution forbids an occupier from making the alterations needed to comply with new Section 28T or puts conditions on those alterations, the occupier can none the less make the alterations required under the Bill if—and this is an important condition and I hope that it helps the noble Baroness—he has the written consent of the owner/lessor; but he must apply to the landlord in writing if he wants to make the alteration. If the occupier does apply in writing, the landlord cannot refuse consent unreasonably, although he can attach reasonable conditions to the consent.

    I hope that that answers the noble Baroness's question. I feel sure that she would not want to prevent institutions occupying premises under a lease from making the alterations needed to comply with new Section 28. Of course, the institutions have to seek consent of the owner in writing.

    In the light of what I have said, I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, and the Committee will accept that Clause 30 should stand part of the Bill.

    No, I do not accept it. Owners of the land may not wish their property to be altered—perhaps permanently because some of the alterations are not reversible. Consent should be secured from the owner. If it is not, and given that the person is only renting the property, the college or institution should look round for premises which are suitable and an owner who is receptive to the notion of having alterations made.

    When was ownership usurped in this way? I find it extraordinary. If I am the owner of a building I am happy for someone to rent it on my terms for particular purposes. Why should I be compelled under the law to have alterations made—floors taken out, stairs put in or holes put through floors? I do not want them and they may affect seriously the value of the property. Who is compensated for that? Is the owner compensated for alteration to a building which makes it less saleable when the lease runs out or the renting arrangements come to an end? It is a draconian provision and I do not accept what the noble Baroness has said.

    I do not have much to add to what I have already said. I do not think the clause is draconian, because the landlord is able to make reasonable conditions on any alterations that should be made. That provision appears in legislation passed by previous Government and it does not seem to have led to serious difficulties in the DDA.

    I stand by what I have already said. It would be wholly undesirable if a disabled student in a wheelchair who happened to be doing a course in a leased building were unable to continue that course because a landlord unreasonably withheld consent for a ramp to be put in.

    If we were talking just about a ramp, this would not be an issue, but there is no limit on the extent to which the building may be altered. As I understand it, the Minister is saying that if the owner refuses to give his consent because the proposed alterations are so great as to destroy the character of the building and no conditions that could be put on the changes would make them acceptable to him, the Bill provides the power for the tenant to press ahead irrespective of what the owner feels.

    I have already made it clear that it would not be irrespective of what the owner may have to say, because the owner can impose reasonable conditions. One of those might be that the changes should not destroy the character of a building. However, that does not seem very likely.

    The noble Baroness also suggested that the value of a building might be greatly diminished as a result of alterations if the landlord wanted to sell it when the lease was up. In fact, making a building more user-friendly for a person in a wheelchair might add to its value. Any employer now has to make similar changes under the DDA where it is reasonable that they should do so. I emphasise also that educational institutions are asked only to make reasonable adjustments. Nothing unreasonable would be required.

    It would be helpful to know the limitations on alterations. I shall come back to the issue on Report, when it would also be helpful to know what rights the owner of a property has if he believes that he is going to be seriously disadvantaged either financially or in the way in which that building can be used in future. Ramps are a relatively straightforward access issue. Any building designated for public use has to have ramps. Not even the owner of a public building can escape that requirement. However, all the other alterations that might be needed could destroy the character of a building. If the Minister is saying that the fact that an alteration might destroy the character of a building constitutes a defence against it, I would like to consider that. I am not satisfied with the answer, but we shall return to the issue on Report.

    Clause 30 agreed to.

    Clause 31 [ Validity and revision of agreements]:

    moved Amendment No. 179:

    Page 29, line 44, leave out from ("substitution") to end of line I on page 30 and insert (", for paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (2), of "under section 28V".").

    On Question, amendment agreed to.

    Clause 31, as amended, agreed to.

    Clause 32 [ Interpretation]:

    [ Amendment No. 180 not moved.]

    moved Amendment No. 181:

    Page 30, line 14, after ("employed") insert ("in respect of that research").

    The noble Baroness said: I need not take long on this amendment, which is a question of definition. Under Clause 32, a student is defined as a person who receives education at an educational institution. In particular, it includes a person who carries out research under the supervision of a member of staff and is not employed by that institution.

    Many research students in universities are now employed. Some of them are employed as full-time research assistants, and in those cases they are employees of the institution. But many others do the odd hour of teaching; sometimes they work in the bar and things like that. The question is whether, in those circumstances, it is fair that they should not benefit from the terms that we agreed here as a disabled student and receive the benefits of being regarded as a disabled student. Where they are employed, I take it that the normal terms of the DDA hold in relation to employees. In this regard, where does an employee start and where does a student stop? We look for clarification from the Minister.

    This is a helpful amendment, and it has led us to look again at the definition of "student".

    However, I am afraid that this is a complex area and we cannot accept the amendment as it stands. The effect would be that someone being educated at a higher education institution in a research capacity, perhaps undertaking a PhD but who is also employed by that institution, for example as a lecturer, would be covered by Part IV in respect of some of the things that they do and by Part II in respect of other things. An individual who wanted to bring a case would then have to decide whether he had been discriminated against in one capacity or the other, and an institution defending the case would be able to bring arguments that the individual had chosen the wrong capacity.

    The creation of doubt and room for misinterpretation in such cases would be unhelpful. Enforcement of Part II is by the Employment Tribunal while enforcement of Part IV is through the courts. Researchers need to be clear as to how they can take forward claims or risk getting to the court only to find that they should have gone to a tribunal or vice versa. That could be costly and confusing for individuals, and may even result in them losing a case because they ran out of time to bring it in the correct forum.

    There is also an issue in relation to the position of an employee at an institution, for example a lecturer, who is undertaking an academic course at the institution where he or she works. We need to consider whether such a person should fall under Part II or Part IV or both. We propose, therefore, to reconsider the wording and return to this issue on Report. In the light of that, I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp of Guildford, will feel able to withdraw her amendment

    I thank the Minister. Can I take it, therefore, that the Minister will be bringing forward some sort of amendment on Report?

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause 32 agreed to.

    Clauses 33 and 34 agreed to.

    Clause 35 [ Codes of practice]:

    moved Amendment No. 182

    Page 31, line 2, leave out ("codes of practice") and insert ("a code of practice for England and Wales and a separate code of practice for Scotland").

    The noble Earl said: The amendment is aimed at the serious issue of communicating the purpose of this Bill to the public and students, pupils and parents. For very sound historical reasons the educational regimes in England, Wales and Scotland have always been different. That should be understood as an inevitability within a Union state where the institutions of the constituent parts are retained and developed. The consequence is that the context, the structure, the language, the legislation and the terminology used are all different.

    I believe that the code of practice should be an effective communicator, understandable by all readers. I strongly urge the publication of separate national codes of practice. I hope that there will be no attempt to produce a composite code in which there may well be three sets of context and terminology. Such an Anglo-Welsh-Scottish code document would be confusing, self-defeating as a means of communication and really only of use to someone studying diversity within the United Kingdom. I acknowledge that this matter is reserved to Westminster. I am also sure that there is no requirement based on that reservation to necessitate a single composite code document. Such a document would have a depressing, as well as a confusing, effect in Scotland.

    The aim of Amendment No. 184 is to include the voice of the child in the process of selecting the best way ahead. The amendment would ensure that the codes of practice promote the involvement of disabled young people, and specifically children, in the decisions that affect them. It is unfortunate that we have to acknowledge that disabled children have been largely ignored in the process of deciding what provision should be made for them. However, now there is an international obligation to give due to regard to a child's view in matters that affect the child, which is Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    Clause 25(1)(a) aims to give practical guidance. Research has shown that many disabled children have difficulty in getting their views heard and, what is more, identifies that that is often a problem to do with adult attitudes to communication. This was identified by the Joseph Rowntree Trust research, by Ward, in 1997.

    This issue of ensuring that the disabled person has the right and opportunity to be heard should be central to the Bill and, of course, the child's voice is required in Section 15(4) of the Standards in Scotland "s Schools etc Act 2000. I beg to move.

    7.15 p.m.

    I shall speak very briefly to Amendment No. 185, which is grouped with the amendments of my noble friend. This is a probing amendment that aims to ensure that, when the codes of practice are drawn up, the Government will listen to those people about whom they are being drawn up and to those who are going to use them. I hope that the Minister will be able to assure me that what is suggested in the amendment will occur, because it seems to be eminently sensible.

    I listened very carefully to the noble Earl's identification of the distinct educational tradition of Scotland to which we all pay the greatest of respect, and I understand the basis of his argument in its context. He will recognise from the way in which the Bill is drafted that other powerful considerations need to apply for the present framework that we propose.

    We intend to have two codes which cover Britain as a whole: one covers schools and one covers post-16 duties. I hear what the noble Earl has said that this, therefore, would provide a Great Britain perspective when it would apply to an education tradition very different in Scotland from that which obtains in England and Wales. Of course, we are talking here about special aspects of the education system, namely in relation to non-discrimination against the disabled and the enhancement of the rights of the disabled, and we are following the pattern which is provided nationwide in relationship to race and sex discrimination legislation also. We must beg to differ on where the priority lies. However, I merely reassure the noble Earl that no disrespect is intended towards the Scottish education system or its distinct separateness, many features of which we greatly admire. A disabled child in Scotland should not have different rights from one in England and Wales. The thrust of our proposal is to ensure similarity.

    Amendment No. 184 replicates the provision in the Bill to give the DRC the power to issue codes of practice with a view to encouraging good practice in the way that disabled people are treated in education. Involving disabled people in decisions that affect them is clearly one aspect of good practice. Many disabled children and young people should benefit from good practice in education. It is inconceivable that our provision for good practice could exclude the rights of the child that the noble Earl advanced so eloquently.

    The noble Lord, Lord Addington, sought reassurances on his amendment. The DRC is under a statutory duty when preparing codes to carry out such consultations as it feels appropriate, including publishing for public consultation proposals that relate to the code. It is inconceivable that the DRC could carry out a consultation process without including the participation of disabled people, the organisations that represent them and those to whom the practical guidance is designed to apply. I hope the noble Lord will accept that assurance

    I am grateful to the noble Lord for his replies. I was not suggesting that we should have different content in the codes. I merely wanted to get the terminology right. For example, there has been a lot of talk today about LEAs. That term means nothing in Scotland, where it is the local authority or the education committee—

    Perhaps I should have made it explicit that there is no question of the codes being developed without consultation with experts from Scotland on the particular needs of the Scottish dimension in order to cope with the problems of nomenclature that the noble Earl has identified.

    I am very pleased about that. However, it is important that there should be separate chapters, even if there is only one document. That would obviate the need to have words in brackets at the bottom of every paragraph to explain how the situation will be dealt with in Scotland. That would merely make for confusing reading. I am not necessarily suggesting the production of separate documents, but the Scottish issue definitely needs to be addressed on an equal basis, with its own chapters.

    I could begin to accept the Minister's suggestion that my Amendment No. 184 was not necessary and that it was implicit. I will read Hansard to gain a better understanding of that. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    [ Amendments Nos. 183 to 185 not moved]

    Clause 35 agreed to.

    Clause 36 agreed to.

    member>Clause 37 [ Relationship with other Parts of the 1995 Act]:

    moved Amendment No. 186:

    Page 32, line 39, at end insert—
    ("( ) In subsection (3) of section 19, at end insert—
    "(i) the provision of work experience placements to students.-.-).

    The noble Baroness said: This amendment would ensure that disabled students could get work experience by placing a duty on the work experience provider as well as on the educational establishment. It is an issue about which I feel passionate. Work experience is at present a compulsory part of many FE, HE and vocational courses, mainly teaching, nursing and social work. If you do not complete work experience, it may be impossible to pass the course or graduate. The law will require institutions to make reasonable adjustments to work placements for disabled students, but institutions cannot control what happens to a student once they are on another organisation's premises.

    Work experience which takes the form of employment will be covered under the DDA but not that which is undertaken on a more informal basis. That is why the amendment is necessary.

    The amendment is particularly important because the Dearing Report recommended that all courses should include work experience. We are moving towards this with the setting up of the national centre for work experience whose sole job is to promote work experience in HE to universities, employers and students. David Blunkett has spoken on the importance of work experience. Research has shown that it is very important for all students, and it is probably particularly important for disabled students who can assess whether their preferred career is possible for them. They can learn about the job in a practical setting and consider and plan for necessary adjustments and support.

    Placement providers are often unwilling to make adjustments for what is often a short time, or they lack understanding. SKILL, of which I am President, has given me an example of a student with a mild hearing impairment and epilepsy. He had had no seizure for four years and embarked on a post-graduate Certificate of Education. His first two teaching placements were successfully completed but in his final placement, the class teacher refused to leave him alone in his unsupervised sessions in the classroom on the ground that "his disabilities made it unsafe for him to be in charge of the class". He failed the course, not having completed the required number of unsupervised teaching hours. Happily, the institution of higher education where he was studying allowed him to repeat the placement the following year, but he is neither eligible for student support nor welfare benefit.

    The recognition of the value of work experience is greatly welcome but unless we ensure that disabled students are looked after, we could be opening up a new area of exclusion. I try to avoid words like "disaster" or "tragedy", but it is something which should be avoided at all costs.

    I said that I feel passionate about this. I hope that the issue is close to the hearts of the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, and that the response will be positive. I beg to move.

    I support the amendment of the noble Baroness As she explained, work experience is an increasing part of student experience and it is very important that it is covered by the provisions of the Bill.

    I, too, support the amendment. It is an important matter which we must have cleared up.

    I accept what the noble Baroness, Lady Darcy de Knayth, has said: that work experience is increasingly important in higher education, and indeed, in further education. The Bill covers work experience, but does so indirectly. Perhaps I may explain.

    If a student on work experience is in paid employment, then he is already covered by Part II of the DDA as an employee. But whether or not the student on work experience is paid, the institution providing the course is likely still to be providing services caught by the Bill in relation to the work placement, for example, by helping the student to organise the placement or because it set the rules that a placement has to be part of a course. Those services will be caught by the very wide definition of services under the Bill, and education providers need to comply with their duties in how they carry out those services. The institution might have to consider helping to find a reasonable alternative placement, or altering a course to remove the requirement for a work placement.

    We believe that is preferable to the approach set out in the amendment. A duty on employers in relation to work experience students whom they do not employ would introduce a new layer of complexity that some employers would find burdensome. That might discourage some of them from offering placements and reduce the supply of placements to all students, including those with disabilities. This approach places the responsibility on the institution to work with employers and students to ensure satisfactory experiences for disabled students.

    In the light of that, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

    7.30 p.m.

    I thank all Members of the Committee who have spoken so briefly but in such strong support, and I thank the Minister for her reply. I am disappointed in it, but I want to go away and read it. As I understand it, the institution provider has an obligation, but the institution is powerless, once the student gets to the workplace, to ensure that it is carried out. I gave the Committee an example of the student whose class teacher did not have confidence in him and wrecked his career.

    I will go back and consult SKILL. I hope that the Minister will be willing to talk to me and perhaps a member of SKILL before Report. I will also read carefully what she has said. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    moved Amendments Nos. 187 to 189.

    Page 33, line 2, leave out ("Chapter II of").
    Page 33, line 2, at end insert—
    ("( ) In subsection (1) of section 57 (aiding unlawful acts), for "act made unlawful by this Act" substitute "unlawful act".
    ( ) After subsection (5) of that section, insert—
    "(6) "Unlawful act" means an act made unlawful by any provision of this Act other than a provision contained in Chapter I of Part IV."").
    Page 33, line 2, at end insert—
    ("( ) In that section, after subsection (3), insert—
    "(3A) For the purposes of Chapter I of Part IV—
  • (a) references in subsection (2) to B include references to—
  • (i) a person who is, for the purposes of that Chapter, B's parent; and
  • (ii) a sibling of B; and
  • (b) references in that subsection to this Act are, as respects a person mentioned in sub-paragraph (i) or (ii) of paragraph (a), restricted to that Chapter."").
  • On Question, amendments agreed to.

    Clause 37, as amended, agreed to.

    Clause 38 agreed to.

    Clause 39 [ Duty of Teacher Training Agency]:

    moved Amendment No. 190

    Page 33, line 40, at end insert ("and in particular shall have regard to the needs of teachers in initial teacher training to understand and be prepared for the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and of Part IV of the Education Act 1996").

    The noble Lord said: This amendment is deceptively simple on the face of it, but teacher training will be key to ensuring that education is inclusive and correct for all those who want it within the system.

    The main problem with teacher training—and indeed with the entire education system when it comes to special educational needs and dealing with disabilities—is that the training tends to be after graduation and is work experience-based. Teachers do not receive SEN training until they are already qualified.

    That is patently absurd on two grounds. The first is that we are now encouraging far greater inclusion. A teacher would expect to deal with students who have special educational needs or disabilities as a normal part of their professional experience. Providing initial training will mean that they are able to deal with it from the word go. That is surely sensible.

    The other problem is that if every member of staff at least has some awareness and some ability to cope with the situation in the classroom, they will get away from the horrible paperchase that I referred to earlier, when they find out that someone has a disability and then wonder what to do. If the teacher knows early on, information on what not to do and where to go for assistance and specialist help can be worked into their entire training process. At least we will save ourselves many problems in the long term. The hidden disabilities are probably the best example of that.

    The amendment makes total sense. Without it we will create only a half-full glass. People will still have to chase round and try to spot what is going on and get the right help. We will overload the specialist staff when the less acute problems might be dealt with by merely having some awareness within the classroom. I appreciate that this is calling for quite a radical change in the structure but I suggest that in the long term, this amendment, or something very like it, is the only practical answer. I beg to move.

    I rise to support what the noble Lord, Lord Addington, has said. Early identification is one of the key issues in this matter and the earlier difficulties can be picked up, the earlier intervention can take place. If it does not minimise it, certainly at one extreme it may even eliminate the need for special provision later on. Those of us who are parents all know how adept children are at masking what might be a sight impairment, a hearing impairment or dyslexia. They have all sorts of ways of compensating for what may later become a rather serious disability. It will be much better if, through their training, teachers become more aware of what to look for, how to test and how to pose the right questions. They can then alert the particular professionals who can come in to provide the intervention which is needed. The sooner that happens, the better it will be. This is a very fruitful area for tackling some of the very real problems of special needs in our schools.

    My noble friend Lord Rix, who has had to leave, has put his name to the amendment and feels very strongly about it.

    The Government are very sympathetic with what lies behind the amendment because we recognise the importance of teachers being properly prepared to work with a full range of pupils. If they are not, so much that the Bill is intending to do will not be achieved. I also endorse entirely what the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, has just said about the importance of early identification, because a great deal can be done if you can pick up problems that a child has early on and you can do so much to help that child deal with those problems so that he succeeds later.

    Currently, student teachers wishing to attain qualified teacher status must be able to show that they are familiar with the requirements of the SEN code of practice; that they can identify pupils with SEN; and are clear where to go in order to secure appropriate help and support. Those requirements are reinforced through induction arrangements.

    However, we are currently reviewing the initial teacher training requirements in England. The Teacher Training Agency has recently provided Ministers with initial advice on the review of Circular 4/98. That advice includes considering whether it is necessary to strengthen and update current requirements to reflect better recent legislation and special educational needs. I hope that will reassure the noble Lord, Lord Addington.

    The TTA will submit a draft revised circular to Ministers in June 2001. The draft revised circular will then go out for formal consultation in the summer and there will, as there should be an opportunity for interested parties, including those in the field of special educational needs and disability, to give their views. The revised circular will be published in February 2002 to come into effect in September of that year.

    I hope that, in light of these assurances, the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

    That was an encouraging answer until one takes into account that teachers are already supposed to be trained in relation to those matters, and they quite obviously are not. I think a little healthy scepticism is required here. However, I accept the fact that that was a very helpfully meant reply but it is something that we shall continue to look at, because, despite efforts to the contrary, we have not got it right so far. With those provisos, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause 39 agreed to.

    [ Amendment No. 191 not moved.]

    Clause 40 [ Expenses of Secretary of State]:

    [ Amendments Nos. 192 to 194 not moved.]

    Clause 40 agreed to.

    Clause 41 agreed to.

    Clause 42 [ Short title, interpretation, commencement and extent]:

    moved Amendments Nos. 195 to 197:

    Page 34, line 27, at end insert—
    ("( ) Except as provided in subsections (3) and (4A), this Act (apart from this section) comes into force on such day as the Secretary of State may appoint by order.").
    Page 34, line 28, leave out ("sections") and insert ("provisions").
    Page 34, line 34, at end insert ("(and section 41(1) so far as relating to those provisions)").

    On Question, amendments agreed to.

    moved Amendment No. 198:

    Page 34, line 36, at end insert—
    ("( ) The following sections of this Act come into force on 1st September 2002—
  • (a) section 13, and
  • (b) section 14.").
  • The noble Baroness said: The Special Educational Consortium makes a powerful case for bringing forward the planning duties in Clauses 13 and 14 to 1st September 2002. I have no doubt that if the consortium listened to the Minister earlier it might have been encouraged that a number of commencement dates are being brought forward in the Bill.

    The planning duties recognise that schools and LEAs are currently in a wide range of different positions in respect of the degree of access afforded to pupils with a disability. The duties are designed to improve access for children with a disability, recognising the different starting points. There is therefore no specific baseline requirement and little that needs to be done by schools or LEAs before these duties come into force.

    The DfEE would need to draw up regulations and guidance on the plans and on the strategies. This could reasonably be achieved in the time available. There needs to be time to advise schools and LEAs of their duties but these plans have not come out of the blue, as the Ministers have told us. The Government consulted on their proposals in March 2000 and there remain a good 18 months before the implementation date suggested in the amendment.

    An implementation date of 1st September 2002 would not mean that all schools and LEAs would have to have a plan or strategy by then, but that from that date schools and LEAs would need to start developing their plans and strategies. It is difficult to imagine what the arguments against the proposal can be. When I was first approached about the amendment, I was sceptical about bringing it forward a year because I thought that the local authorities would need more time. I realise now that it is a starting point to begin developing their plans and strategies and I believe it is eminently achievable. I beg to move.

    7.45 p.m.

    I briefly rise to say that in putting Amendment No. 198 there is no reason why the commencement date for the planning duties should not be brought forward a year to start in 2002.

    Perhaps I may speak to my Amendment No. 202A. I seek to clarify for everyone's benefit that Part I and Clauses 13 and 14 do not extend to Scotland. I support that with four arguments. The first is a cheap one. I note that the Isles of Scilly merit the whole of Clause 38. If the Isles of Scilly merit a clause, Scotland should merit a subsection.

    On a more serious basis, in the new context of legislation for Scotland, one of the first things I do on picking up a Bill is to turn to the last clause to find out whether it extends to Scotland, so I believe that this will be helpful.

    To turn it round, what advantage is there in not having such a subsection? I cannot think of any. I suspect that I am wrong in my wording, in which case I am content to be told the correct answer, on a suitable promise. I refute any charge that such a subsection would alter the Bill or pose any threat to its successful introduction anywhere in Great Britain. Finally, it clarifies the way that the Scottish Parliament must deal with the issues contained in Clauses 13 and 14.

    I appreciate the constructive way in which the amendment is being moved. It may be somewhat churlish to seem negative about what appear to be two straightforward amendments. However, they are not. To write the planning duty on to the face of the Bill would leave no flexibility whatsoever. I realise that that is the intent. It is certainly the intent of the Government that the planning duty should come into force in September 2002. However, to place that on the face of the Bill seems an unacceptable demand. That is particularly so as the amendment is defective. It will be recognised that it is not for this Bill to implement the starting date of the planning duty when the National Assembly for Wales also has responsibilities for determining the commencement in Wales. It is the intention of the Assembly to commence at the same time and we hope that that will prove the case. We accept the evidence put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, which indicates that people will be prepared and able to respond to this legislation once it becomes law. However, for reasons I have suggested, we are not prepared to put the provision on the face of the Bill although that is clearly the intent. I would not have referred, as I did, to other aspects of intent consequent upon this with regard to years 2003 and subsequently had I not been firmly of the conviction, and fully confident, that we shall see implementation of the planning duty in September 2002.

    The other amendment also has defects. I make the most obvious point: that Clauses 13 and 14 impose duties only on bodies which exist in England and Wales, hence the additional reference to SENDA. It would, therefore, seem odd to introduce a specific amendment which identifies what is already abundantly clear in the Bill. I understand the intent behind the noble Earl's amendment but nothing could be clearer about where Clauses 13 and 14 apply. In a very real sense, therefore, his amendment is unnecessary.

    Did I hear correctly that the noble Lord's objection to my amendment was as regards placing the provision on the face of the Bill? I accept that totally. The amendment is put forward in order to elicit this debate from the Minister. Did the Minister say nevertheless that it would be the intention to implement the planning duty in 2002?

    Then I achieved my desired objective and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    moved Amendments Nos. 199 to 202:

    Page 34, line 38, at end insert—
    ("(4A) The following provisions come into force as respects Wales on such day as the National Assembly for Wales may appoint by order—
  • (a) sections 1 to 3;
  • (b) sections 7 and 8;
  • (c) section 9 (so far as not brought into force by subsection (3)):
  • (d) sections 13 and 14;
  • (e) section 21, so far as it gives the National Assembly for Wales power to give directions under section 28M(1) or (1B) of the 1995 Act or makes provision in relation to such a direction;
  • (f) subsections (1) and (6) of section 41 (but only in so far as they relate to the provisions mentioned in paragraphs (g) to (i));
  • (g) in Part I of Schedule 7—
  • (i) paragraphs 1, 5, 13 and 14; and
  • paragraphs 6 to 12 and 16 (so far as not brought into force by subsection (3));
  • (h) in Part 11 of that Schedule, paragraphs 17 to 19; and
  • (i) in Schedule 8, the entries relating to—
  • (i) the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986; and
  • (ii) section 325(1) of, and Schedule 27 to, the Education Act 1996.").
  • Page 34, line 39, leave out subsection (5).
    Page 35, line 3, leave out ("subsection (5)") insert ("this section—
  • (a) must be made by statutory instrument; and
  • (b)")
  • Page 35, line 4, at end insert—
    ("(7A) Subsection (7B) applies to an order bringing any provision made by—
  • (a) section 27, or
  • (b) paragraph 2 or 6 of Schedule 4, into force.
  • (7B) The order may, in particular, include provision for the duty imposed by section 28T(1) of the 1995 Act to have effect with such modifications as may be specified in the order for a period which ends—
  • (a) on a date so specified; or
  • (b) on the making by the Secretary of State of an order made by statutory instrument bringing the period to an end.").
  • On Question, amendments agreed to.

    [ Amendment No. 202A not moved.]

    Clause 42, as amended, agreed to.

    Schedule 1 [ Responsible bodies for schools]:

    [ Amendments Nos. 203 to 205 not moved.]

    Schedule 1 agreed to.

    Schedule 2 [ Amendment of Schedule 3 to the 1995 Act]:

    [ Amendments Nos. 206 to 213 not moved.]

    Schedule 2 agreed to.

    Schedule 3 [ Responsible Bodies for Educational Institutions]:

    moved Amendment No. 214:

    Schedule 3, page 39, line 19, leave out ("section") and insert ("sector").

    On Question, amendment agreed to.

    Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.

    Schedule 4 [ Modifications of Chapter II of Part IV of the 1995 Act]:

    moved Amendments Nos. 215 and 216:

    Schedule 4, page 40, line 41, leave out ("terms on") and insert ("services").
    Schedule 4, page 40, line 42, after ("provide-) insert—
    ("( ) "Services", in relation to a course, means").

    On Question, amendments agreed to.

    [ Amendment No. 217 not moved.]

    moved Amendments Nos. 218 and 219:

    Schedule 4, page 42, line 16, leave out ("terms on") and insert ("services").
    Schedule 4, page 42, line 16, after second ("provide") insert—
    ("( ) "Services", in relation to a course, means").

    On Question, amendments agreed to.

    Schedule 4, as amended, agreed to.

    Schedules 5 and 6 agreed to.

    Schedule 7 [ Minor and Consequential Amendments]:

    [ Amendment No. 220 not moved.]

    Schedule 7 agreed to.

    Remaining schedule agreed to.

    Title agreed to.

    Bill reported with amendments.

    That concludes the Committee's proceedings on the Bill.

    The Committee adjourned at seven minutes before eight o'clock.