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Education and Skills Bill

Volume 705: debated on Tuesday 11 November 2008

Read a third time.

Clause 8 [Sufficient relevant training or education]:

1: Clause 8, page 4, line 29, after “learning,” insert “including a substantial amount of time spent away from the individual’s work station,”

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is crucial to the definition of “education and training”, which in turn is crucial to the Bill. It is vital that the concept of education and training requires,

“a substantial amount of time spent away from the individual’s work station”.

Unless the Government can ensure this, the Bill will be left with a fatal loophole. To plug it, we urge the Government to accept this amendment or to find another way of guaranteeing the same result. I beg to move.

My Lords, I appreciate my noble friend Lord Layard’s dedication in promoting the interests of those young people learning while in work. It is our policy that learning for those in work should be personalised, high quality, accredited and delivered in a way that engages the young person and suits their individual needs and interests. Some young people learn best when they can see the immediate practical relevance and application of what they are learning. I absolutely agree with my noble friend that the learning that young people are undertaking must be of the very highest quality, that it must involve actual, guided learning, and that young people must be learning new things, not simply doing their day-to-day jobs.

I know that my noble friend previously had concerns that Clause 8 as drafted could allow a “way out” for employers, but the clause states that a young person can be deemed to be participating in enough training if they are participating in a course or courses leading to an accredited qualification that has been assigned enough guided learning hours. This does not mean that employers can simply sign a young person up for a qualification for which they already have the skills and get them accredited without providing any actual guided learning. That would very clearly not meet the terms of the legislation.

I said on Report that we would consider whether, in the specific and limited case where employers are providing and funding the accredited training themselves, there is more we need to do to ensure that the clear requirements set out in the legislation, as I have just described, are actually adhered to in practice. Having considered this further, I can say today that we will indicate in statutory guidance to local authorities that where a young person is registered as participating in employer-funded training, we expect the authority proactively to check that a course involving actual guided learning is being followed. Given that I agree with my noble friend that it is unlikely that a high quality learning programme would not involve time away from the work station, we will also indicate in the guidance that we would expect a substantial amount of the guided learning to be away from the work station. We will ensure that this is also set out in the guidance that we have promised to give to employers, and on which we will consult with employers and their representatives.

I am grateful to my noble friend for continuing to raise these important issues, and I hope that he will be reassured that we are equally committed to ensuring the quality of the learning experience for young people. I hope also that he will agree that the commitments I have made today emphasise this, and that he will withdraw his amendment and support this important Bill.

My Lords, my noble friend and I are delighted with that reply and extremely grateful to the Minister for the undertaking. It is wonderful news for young people and illustrates, if I may say so, two of the strengths of this Government: their willingness to listen and their commitment to offering the best possible chance to every young person in the country. I thought that, without a guarantee, one could not call this a landmark Bill. With it, however, one certainly can. On that basis, I am happy to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

2: After Clause 59, insert the following new Clause—

“Review of initial operation of Chapter

(1) The Secretary of State must appoint a person to conduct a review of the initial operation of this Chapter.

(2) The person appointed must make a report to the Secretary of State on the review within a reasonable period after the school leaving date for 2016.

(3) The Secretary of State must lay a copy of the report before Parliament.

(4) The Secretary of State may pay to the person appointed such remuneration and expenses as the Secretary of State may determine.”

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment is a commitment to undertake a review of the enforcement process for young people who do not comply with the duty to participate so that we can be clear that the system is effective in reinforcing compulsion, and so that we may learn any lessons to improve the system. I shall also take the opportunity to reassure noble Lords about the design of the enforcement process and to reiterate some of our commitments to ensure that young people do not enter the process if they have unmet needs and that they receive all necessary support to help them participate. We are absolutely clear that the voices of young people should be heard throughout the process and that they should be offered appropriate support and a real learning option before any enforcement action can be started.

If young people are failing to participate, a local authority must engage with them, find them an option which suits them and help them to take up learning again. This will be monitored by an independent panel—independent because it will be chaired by someone outside the local authority. The panel will scrutinise the local authority’s actions and can overturn an attendance notice if it thinks that the local authority has not offered enough support. We have given a commitment that young people will be able to make representations to these panels at every stage and bring someone with them or even send someone in their place if they are not able to attend.

I reiterate that, even after enforcement action has been formally started, there will be a process of administrative sanctions, support and dialogue with a young person before anyone can reach the youth court. If a young person re-engages in learning or has a reasonable excuse at any stage, all enforcement action will cease.

I will set out the process again for clarity. If a young person has got to the stage of being issued an attendance notice, they will have to fail to fulfil that without a reasonable excuse before being given a fixed penalty notice. If the young person pays the fixed penalty notice, they will not proceed to prosecution in the youth court. If they do not, only then could the local authority even consider bringing a case to a youth court. The young person can appeal to the independent panel at any stage and, whether they appeal or not, the local authority would need the panel’s explicit agreement to take the case to a youth court. No young person will be able to reach this final stage without refusing to participate, in full knowledge of the consequences and rejecting all the support offered at every stage. It is our firm belief that very few young people will ever reach the final stage of the enforcement process.

The purpose of the review to which we are committing in the amendment is to confirm that this is the case and to make sure that the support and enforcement system achieves what we want it to, which is making sure that young people participate so that they can achieve, progress and reach their full potential. We will, of course, trial the system over the next five years, working with local authorities and other key stakeholders to test non-statutory elements such as how the independent panels should work, what experience their members should have and what types of training they should be given.

The amendment makes clear that we will also review the whole enforcement system after the legislation comes into effect, and the amendment places this commitment on the face of the Bill. We have said that the review will be complete by 2016, which will allow it to consider the experiences of the first cohort of young people to be required to stay until they are 18. The review will be chaired by an independent person to ensure that it is robust. I hope that noble Lords who have raised concerns about the enforcement system will welcome the amendment, which provides for a full review of its operation soon after commencement. I beg to move.

My Lords, while we share the Government’s ambition to see each and every 17 and 18-year old receive the best education or training to help them realise their full potential, our main concern throughout the Bill has been the issue of compulsion and the attendant sanctions this brings. Our desire in all this was to ensure that no young person received a criminal record simply because they were disaffected with the system, especially at such a critical age and stage of their life, when a criminal record could be disastrous.

We had hoped that this could be dealt with by the civil, rather than the criminal, courts, but after hours of discussion that proved unworkable. We then thought we had cracked the problem by writing into the Bill that the sanctions would not constitute a criminal act for the purpose of the Bill and so would not lead to a criminal record, but that would have introduced changes to the law that would have resulted in much wider implications than this Bill alone, and it would have been very late in the Bill to introduce such changes, not to say somewhat above my pay grade—or non-pay grade, as it is in your Lordships’ House. The Government constantly reassure us that the checks and balances put in place by the Bill will make criminalisation extremely rare. We hope that it will not happen at all. However, we welcome the independent review offered by the Government.

We thank the Minister, the right honourable Jim Knight MP, the Bill team for its help throughout the Bill but particularly on this issue, and the officials at the Ministry of Justice for their time and patience in reaching this conclusion. I also thank noble Lords across the House who have been staunch supporters of our attempt to avoid criminalising young people. I sincerely hope that all will be done to help young people to take up learning and training before any damaging sanctions are imposed.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for agreeing to our proposal at a meeting last week to put a review of the Bill’s enforcement elements into the Bill, and that that should be carried out by 2016, when one whole cohort of young people has gone through the system.

As the noble Baroness knows, we have been consistent in opposing the compulsion element of the Bill. We believe that the Government could have put all the duties on local authorities, employers and indeed themselves to help young people carry on in education or training until they are 18-plus without criminalising them. We laid various amendments to remove the compulsion element and replace it with an entitlement to free tuition up to level 3, but sadly we were not in a position to win that argument because, unfortunately, the Official Opposition would not allow the noble Baroness, Lady Morris of Bolton, and her noble friends to support us. That would have been the simple way of addressing the issue of criminalisation.

So we were reduced to mitigating the effects as far as possible. I am pleased to say that the Government have come a long way towards us by accepting our learning and support contracts under another name, clarifying that there will be no custodial sentences and ensuring that young people will be able to appeal in their own right at every stage of the enforcement process. This amendment is another of those concessions.

The Government claim that the full enforcement process will not be necessary except in a tiny minority of cases. We challenged them to prove that by laying a review of the operation of enforcement before Parliament at an appropriate stage after enactment. I am glad to say that they have taken up that challenge, which indicates that the Minister is very confident in what she says.

I have a few questions, however, about the operation of the criminal offence, about which I have given the Minister notice. First, when the Home Office issues guidance to the police about the relevance of disclosing offences under what are currently known as CRB checks, will it be made clear that the offence of non-participation in education under the Bill will not be considered relevant and therefore not disclosed? Secondly, will the Minister give me a similar assurance on employers’ discretion, when filling positions exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, that this offence should not be relevant in an objective assessment of the candidate’s ability to undertake certain roles, since it is not a violent or deception offence? Finally, will she clarify the position of 18-plus year-olds who have been convicted of this offence after they turn 18 compared with those who have outstanding fines when they turn 18? I would like an assurance that they too will not be liable for a custodial sentence and that the offence will be spent in two and a half years.

I look forward, if the Bill is ever fully enacted, to scrutinising the review carefully in 2016.

My Lords, I thank the noble Baronesses for their response and support for the amendment. I offer the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, the reassurance that I think she is looking for. Having said that, I do not think that I will ever be able to reassure her until we have finished the review, which we are absolutely committed to undertaking for exactly the reasons that she espouses. We are confident that a tiny number of young people, if any, will reach the stage where they incur a criminal sanction.

When the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act provisions are reviewed, which the Government have committed to do, we will work closely with the Ministry of Justice on disclosure. We recognise that there is a strong case in the disclosure period for fines for these offences to be reduced. We will be working with the Home Office on using these offences as an example in its guidance on disclosure when it is reviewed. I can assure the noble Baroness that we will be answering her concerns through guidance and taking great care to make sure that all the professionals who work with young people through the administrative and then the youth justice enforcement regime have proper, full and appropriate guidance.

This is about raising participation in education and training for young people. We know that it is through participation and progression in education and training that young people are best served by this Government and by the education system.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

3: Before Clause 66, insert the following new Clause—

“Screening and assessment for specific learning difficulties

(1) The following shall be screened for risk of specific learning difficulties—

(a) each pupil in a maintained or voluntary aided school—(i) before his sixth birthday;(ii) in the second year after completion of Key Stage one; and(iii) in the first year after Key Stage two; and(b) each person sentenced to imprisonment in one of Her Majesty’s Prisons or a Young Offender Institution or a Secure Training centre for a period of not less than 6 months shall within one calendar month of the commencement of his sentence.(2) The screening referred to in subsection (1) shall be carried out by a prescribed person with prescribed qualifications.

(3) The specific learning difficulties referred to in subsection (1) are—

(a) dyslexia;(b) dyscalcula;(c) dyspraxia;(d) dysgraphia;(e) attention deficit disorder;(f) attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder;(g) Meares-Irlen syndrome;(h) a high level of co-morbidity of any two or more of the above conditions.(4) Every pupil referred to in subsection (1)(a) and every person referred to in subsection (1)(b) who is identified as being in need of support as a result of a condition mentioned in subsection (3)—

(a) shall be entitled to that support, and(b) shall if appropriate be nominated for a full assessment.(5) Anyone nominated for a full assessment under subsection (4) shall—

(a) be entitled to receive it within three calendar months of nomination; and (b) shall be entitled to appropriate support from a date not later than three calendar months after the assessment; and(c) shall at the time the result of the assessment is communicated to him receive specialist advice on the nature of his need and the strategies for coping with it.(6) The assessment referred to in subsection (4) shall be carried out by a prescribed person with prescribed qualifications.

(7) In this section “prescribed” means prescribed by order by the Secretary of State.

(8) The Secretary of State may, by order, specify conditions to be added to those referred to in subsection (3).”

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I acknowledge gratefully the permission that your Lordships have given me to move this amendment. I should explain that I have not in any way resiled from my overall objective of having every child screened for dyslexia in early school years. Teachers really need to know what is going on in the heads of the children whom they teach; the damage that can be done if that is not understood can be remarkable and can last a lifetime.

The opportunity that your Lordships have given me is to enable Her Majesty’s Government to make a statement about what they intend in moving in this direction. The movement may seem small, given that dyslexia was first raised in this House in 1970 as a result of the work of the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Manchester, as he now is, and special educational need was first recognised as a result of the brilliant report in 1978 of the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, whom I am glad to see in her place, which was incorporated into the Education Act 1981. That is all a long time ago. I think that the Minister will promise us legislation in the next Session; I can promise her relentless pursuit in this direction from all of us between now and then. I beg to move.

My Lords, I have added my name to this amendment. Like the noble Lord, Lord Elton, I am extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to raise points that I have raised before in this House. I make no apology for raising them again. I very much appreciated the meeting that the Minister and her officials arranged last week to discuss these issues and the detailed letter that she has sent to those of us who took part in the meeting. I say that because, in this amendment, I do not just include the learning difficulty, dyslexia; other learning difficulties are mentioned in subsection (3) of the proposed new clause.

Noble Lords will not be surprised that my concern is very much based on those who come into custody. I have already explained to the House that in 1999, thanks to having a speech and language therapist carry out an assessment in a prison in Scotland for the first time ever, I found that discipline, education and healthcare staff were made aware of a whole range of problems faced by young offenders. Armed with that, they were able to institute proper programmes to help to give those young offenders a start in life.

I then began campaigning to have speech and language therapists on the staff of every young offender establishment, secure training centre and youth place of custody, to make certain that that assessment was given to every young person. The great thing that came out of all this assessment in the young offender establishment was the realisation that this should have happened a long time before, preferably before all these young people started school. Without people being alerted to their difficulties at that stage, the young people were frankly unable to engage with the teacher and, therefore, with the education system.

The implications of all this have been stated over and over again. I could list the number of Ministers to whom I have referred this matter since 1999, in many cases twice: Mr Charles Clarke, both as Education and Home Secretary; Dr John Reid, both as Health and Education Secretary; and Mr Jack Straw, both as Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Justice. There have been numerous Ministers, including Hilary Armstrong, the previous Minister for Social Exclusion. All listened, all agreed, but nothing happened.

The nearest that we got to anything was when in 2005 Mr Paul Goggins, then the Prisons Minister, was charged by the Secretaries of State for Education and Health and the Home Secretary to examine the question of money. It all boiled down to who was going to pay the £33,000 a year to fund a speech and language therapist in each young offender establishment. Of course, the cost savings of having a correct assessment made that £33,000 pale into insignificance. I gnashed my teeth when I heard the Prime Minister at the time demanding £90 million for his respect agenda, £30 million of which came from the Home Office, because less than £1 million would have funded these speech and language therapists—and what is more respectable than to be able to conduct relationships with your lips rather than with your fists?

I hope very much that the Minister, in considering the new Bill, which I understand will include new arrangements for juveniles, will review all the evidence put to her and other Ministers and officials over the past nine years to my certain knowledge and probably longer. Evaluation has been carried out by academics; observations have come from people working in the field. Advice comes from all quarters, all of which seems to be disregarded. We owe a duty to these young people to let them engage with the education system. We have an opportunity to do so in the next Bill. I hope, therefore, that having reviewed the evidence, the Minister will ensure that measures are in that next Bill to make certain that every child has this assessment to enable them to set off on the road that we would all wish them to be on.

My Lords, I add my voice to those describing the enormous importance of this amendment. I am grateful that we have been able to hear an able defence of it. The crucial word in the amendment is in subsection (5), which says that anyone nominated for a full assessment should be entitled to receive “appropriate” support. It is of the greatest importance that schools, particularly when they deal with children under the age of six, should not be able to get away with saying that there is support and extra help, with classroom assistants and other people who can help these children to get started.

Anyone who supplies support to children with dyslexia, or any of the range of problems coming under this heading, must have had special training and must be an expert. A non-expert may be full of good will but may do more harm than good to a child because she will not have the expertise and the child will not progress. The child will feel that his position is hopeless and will therefore get worse. A child, as we heard not long ago, can learn more in eight weeks from an expert than in many years from someone who has not been trained. I hope that, in the new Bill, it will be emphasised that when every child enters school they will be assessed and have appropriate access to a genuine expert teacher and not simply be propped up by someone who has not been trained.

My Lords, it would be difficult to argue against the amendment and I defy the Minister to try to smuggle it into a non-statutory framework. Our knowledge of the behavioural aspects of the human being has expanded so much that this kind of screening has become essential.

My Lords, I will say a few words about the processes that we have gone through to get here. Having received the Minister’s letter, I appreciate that there is a considerable degree of commitment to carrying this further. Dyslexia was first mentioned in statute in the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. The 1981 Act said that we should do something about it and legal action has been taken on numerous occasions. There have been few Acts since then about which we have not thought that we have got it right. We have said that there should be greater entitlement and that these problems must be addressed. Ministers—whatever colour rosette they wear on election day—have all said, “Yes, we have done more than before. We have talked to and engaged with more people. We have done so much more than ever before”. But we have never reached a sufficient bite point. Often, that is because of a failure to identify those who should be receiving the help. Also, everyone defends their budgets. How do we say which proportion of the budget should go towards the problem?

I recognise the limitations of lists. As the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, said, one term cannot cover everything, but it is appropriate to talk about dyslexia because it was used to cover virtually all the conditions in this list at a time when we understood the process less well. You may be going through the process and not know what is in front of you. You may refuse to recognise dyslexia and say, “Can we have yet another test or assessment?”. It is always possible to deal with it in that way. You can give someone a little bit of extra help.

However, as the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, just pointed out, inappropriate help is probably the best way to put somebody off the educational process. That is one problem with the Prison Service. Most prisoners are education self-excluders by the age of 14 at the most. Half the prison population has dyslexia or one of the other conditions in this list. Most of them have problems with acquiring education and therefore acquiring employment. The Minister has an opportunity to say what commitment the Government will give.

I hope that the whole House will remember that, when you go through this process, there will always be a series of opt-outs. One is that people will disagree about what dyslexia really is. I remember as a 16 year-old being dragged along to a conference on dyslexia by my mother, where I shifted chairs around. Sulkily, I sat down to listen to part of the conference. I remember a long discussion between two people about what exactly dyslexia was. I then heard somebody criticise them by saying that we had got over the problem 10 years before. The dancing on the head of the pin that can be done in academic circles defies belief. It was first said of economists that, if you laid them all end to end, they would never reach a conclusion. Take three or four more disciplines, stick them together and the possibilities are infinite. There can be great agreement on about 90 per cent of these problems. We must deal with the real problems and, for once, do whatever we can to ensure that initial teacher training contains enough to enable teachers to stand a chance of recognising dyslexia.

We cannot be dependent on a Minister’s enthusiasm. In the meeting, the noble Lord, Lord Elton, pointed out with a degree of delicacy that I am afraid I do not possess that Ministers tend to come and go. I remember David Blunkett saying when he was at the Department of Education that he was enthusiastic about dyslexia and something should be done, when he knew that he would be moved after the coming general election. Ministers do not stay for ever. Unless some structure is put in place, all their statements mean nothing. Ministerial enthusiasm will always be there and Ministers will always be moved on in a few years’ time.

I hope that the Minister can start to address these points. There is no one simple answer. Unless proper screening is backed up by a long-stop, people will always be missed. The best chance of success is cutting the amount of missed people to a minimum.

My Lords, we are particularly lucky to have my noble friend Lady Warnock in her place and to hear her endorsement of the proposals and her backing of the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Elton. I join others in expressing the gratitude that we all felt to the Minister for the time and detailed attention that she gave us last week on this whole issue and for the valuable range of experts whom she brought with her, all of whom addressed the subject and were working as hard as they could for the right solution.

I am entirely in favour of what everybody else has said. However, on prisons, I have considerable sympathy with the frustration of my noble friend Lord Ramsbotham at what has happened over so many years. Again, I suspect that it all has something to do with the churn of Ministers and sometimes even the churn of civil servants; a lot of the experience gets lost.

We will hear a lot of our points answered when the Minister replies. However, we know that prison governors are autonomous in their own prisons. They can decide what to do about pay, for example. Equally, a lot is being done to improve prison education, which one hopes will be rolled out—if not, we will all quickly be on the trail yet again. However, if prison governors can pay their inmates more for working in the kitchen, or wherever, than attending the education and skills training that would better equip them for the outside world, that battle will be lost. I hope that the Minister will address that issue as well as others.

My Lords, I shall let the House into a little secret. Over the past few months, my party has been reviewing its education policies. I can tell the House that, although Ministers may not have listened to the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, the Liberal Democrats have. All the elements of the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, are already in our policy paper. All we need to do is elect a Liberal Democrat Government and we will get all these good things.

My Lords, I am not sure about that. But I support the forceful points that my noble friend Lord Elton made both today and in Committee. Far too many children with learning difficulties are undiagnosed, and it has a major effect on their ability to participate in school, to keep up with their peers and to engage with their education. From personal experience I know the difficulties that a child can face when he suffers from a learning difficulty. Without diagnosis, the problems can only multiply.

I was encouraged by the brief exchange that we had on this topic on Report, in which the Minister indicated that a review of dyslexia is being undertaken. I hope that she will be able to expand on that. I know that she had a fruitful meeting with Members of your Lordships' House. I believe that a diagnostic reading test at the age of six, or after the first year at school—this is one of the Conservative education policies—is vital in preventing children with learning difficulties slipping through the net into underachievement and disillusionment. This issue goes right to the heart of so many of our discussions on the Bill. One of the key elements in keeping children fully engaged with their education—and more, to inculcate them with a love of learning that will benefit them so much in later years—is to identify their individual needs and to ensure that they are catered for. My noble friend is right to say that identifying specific learning difficulties must be a priority. To do anything else would be to fail some of the most vulnerable children in our schools.

My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their kind remarks and for the passion that they have brought to this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Elton, triggered—as he has done previously—an important and enlightening debate which gives me the opportunity, for which I am grateful, to put on the record some of the comments made in the letter I sent to noble Lords.

It would be foolish of me to comment on Ministers coming and going, but I shall comment on their enthusiasm, which I am glad has been noted. I, too, am enthusiastic about this issue. However, noble Lords are not interested in that; they want to hear what we are going to do. I do not want to make any jokes about waiting for a Liberal Democrat Government, because we need to get on with the task. I thank noble Lords for the helpful discussions that we have had with my honourable friend, Sarah McCarthy-Fry, the Minister responsible for this matter in another place. I am absolutely sure that the debate will be the beginning of many conversations that we will have with your Lordships on this subject, to which I look forward.

I share noble Lords’ concerns that we should continue improving the school workforce’s identification and teaching of children with special educational needs, and that we must continue improving educational provision in custodial settings, including for prisoners with learning difficulties. However, as noble Lords are aware from discussions and from the correspondence last week—I am glad that noble Lords found that helpful—we are currently addressing these concerns in ways that are different from those proposed in this amendment.

There is already a statutory duty placed on schools to use their best endeavours to ensure that necessary provision is made for pupils with special educational needs. That is a very important duty. The professional standards for teachers require trainee teachers to demonstrate that they can make effective personalised provision for those they teach, including those who have special educational needs.

The Training and Development Agency for Schools is encouraging training providers to use new specialist units which include material on learning and teaching for pupils with dyslexia or who require support with speech, language and communication. The noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, is absolutely right to highlight the importance of high-quality training for all our educators. As the noble Lord, Lord Elton, is aware, although we cannot require higher education institutions to include these specialist units, we expect that, with support and encouragement, nearly all providers will be using them by the end of this year. I believe that that will meet noble Lords’ concerns about initial teacher training.

We have also developed the inclusion development programme for the serving school workforce. In addition, we have asked Sir Jim Rose, who noble Lords recently had the opportunity to meet, to make recommendations on the identification and teaching of children with dyslexia. I think that he indicated at our meeting that he was drawing the definition of dyslexia quite widely. He will report early next year. We are also preparing our action plan responding to John Bercow’s important review of speech, language and communication provision, which we plan to publish before the end of the year. We have already announced £12 million to take forward his recommendations.

The noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, and the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, raised concerns about the education of young people in custody. We intend to place statutory duties on local authorities to fund and commission education in juvenile custody. That will include legislation relating to those with special needs. In the mean time, we are developing training materials on dyslexia and speech, language and communication needs during 2009-10 for those responsible for the education of young people in custody.

On the education of adults in prison, through the Learning and Skills Council we are broadening the assessment requirement for learning difficulties which is placed on offender learning and skills service providers, with effect from August 2009. As noble Lords are aware, the Learning and Skills Council is developing tools to identify additional learning needs and a training programme to support their use.

I recognise noble Lords’ concerns about the need to do more for children and young people with dyslexia or speech, language and communication needs and the need to do more for offenders with those needs. I share those concerns and the sense of urgency. I hope that I can reassure the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, that we will be looking at the evidence in developing proposals for the new Session. We are taking practical steps to improve the position and undertaking expert reviews which we will take seriously and move forward on with speed. I appreciate that this is a subject that we will return to on many occasions, and I welcome that opportunity.

My Lords, when the noble Baroness is evaluating the information, will she read in particular the marvellous series of reports by Professor Karen Bryan of the University of Surrey which have been made available thanks to the generosity of the Helen Hamlyn Trust? Everything that the noble Baroness needs to know about what needs to be done, and how it needs to be done, is contained in those reports.

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for what she said. There are within what she said hooks on which policies can be hung and, more importantly, urged forward in the months to come. Before I withdraw the amendment, I must emphasise the importance of getting to children early. My noble friend was talking about six; it is by six that the Jesuits need to get to a child to keep him for life, and I think the same can be said by the teachers of dyslexic children. That does not mean that you do not have a later screening, because some children slip through the net, and that is why the amendment provided for three screens.

We touched on the question of cost. I have introduced the idea of screening as something less than assessment, with an idea that this would make it much less expensive. It is not rocket science to identify children with real difficulties, and I am glad that the Government are moving towards every initial teacher training programme having a compulsory module on identification of SEN. I am a bit puzzled by the academic inviolability, for two reasons. First, the Government fund the whole education programme and therefore they are the customer. They buy the teachers, so they can specify what they want to be produced by the producers. Secondly, there is something called the QCA which is supposed to have a voice in all of this and which, as far as I can make out, operates almost entirely at the behest of the Government. So I think that any problem there can be swept away.

The real anxiety is money. My noble friend—or rather the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, although he is in fact my friend—put his finger on it: where there is more than one source of funding for one activity, no funding is forthcoming, just a cat fight. I hope that the Government’s decision to put this responsibility on to local education authorities will simplify that. However, as long as prisoners are banged up because of staff shortages due to overcrowding of prisoners, they will not be let out to receive the education. Therefore, it is essential that she and her successors pursue this matter with their colleagues who control the Prison Service.

I add my thanks to those which other noble Lords who have spoken have given to the Minister for her courtesy and patience at our meeting with her. I also thank Sarah McCarthy-Fry for coming to listen to what we at this end of the Corridor are proposing so that she can understand it at the other.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of what we are talking about. Every child is born with a divine spark of enthusiasm, intelligence and energy. When that comes up against a barrier of misunderstanding, the result is frustration and the deforming of a life. We now discover that an enormous proportion of our population—some 10 per cent, and at least 53 per cent of the prison population—are victims of learning difficulties. It is on their behalf, and the behalf of those who will follow them if we do not act, that I make this plea to the Government to carry on in the faltering but welcome steps that the noble Baroness has announced. With my thanks, hopes and a promise of not letting this matter go in the next Session or the next Parliament, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4: After Clause 80, insert the following new Clause—

“Careers education for 16 to 18 year olds

The Secretary of State shall by regulation under section 45B of the 1997 Education Act (c. 44) extend the scope of operation of sections 43, 44 and 45 of that Act to include all persons to whom Part 1 of this Act applies.”

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 7. I thank the House and the usual channels for enabling us to return to this issue. I have brought these minor amendments back after receiving satisfactory answers in the past 10 days by means of letters and discussions with the Minister and her Bill team—I thank them very much for their time—to questions that I raised on Report. I thought that it would be useful to all concerned to get their responses on to the record.

Amendment No. 4 deals with careers education. It relates to an anomaly whereby regulations already issued under Section 45B of the Education Act 1997 have extended the right to good quality careers education, advice and guidance to pupils at key stages 2 and 3 of the education system but not to 16 and 17 year-olds because they are outside the compulsory part of the system. I explicitly asked the Minister if the Government intended to extend these regulations when the learning leaving age was raised to 18. The answer that she gave me at the time indicated that the Government did not have an intention to do so. This is not quite the case, as became clear in our discussions, and reopening this question now will allow the Minister to clarify the situation and explain precisely what the Government’s intentions are in this respect.

In Amendment No. 7, on school forums, the issue is parity in head teacher and governor representation and whether we need legislation to reinforce the clear guidance already given. I received an extremely helpful letter on the issue from the Minister and am anxious that part of it should be put on the record. I beg to move.

My Lords, I shall speak to Amendment No. 4. As I am sure all noble Lords will recall, on Report I called for a review of the provision of careers education in England in order to compare the service provided in England with the all-age services available in the devolved nations of the United Kingdom. We on these Benches have made it clear that we are not satisfied that the existing structure provided through Connexions is the best that could be available to young people.

Providing careers education for 16 to 18 year-olds would be an obvious complement to the other provisions in the Bill. The thrust of this Bill is to keep those very same young people in education and training. The aim, which I have said many times before is a great one, is to provide young people with the wherewithal to stand on their own two feet and to go into the world of work with sufficient, if not always ample, skills to succeed at their chosen job or career. But that may not be enough—a great many people do not know what they want to do or might be capable of doing. This seems a natural time to provide them with specialised and professional advice on their career prospects. I believe that this would only help to reach the desired outcome of the Bill.

My Lords, I have added my name to Amendment No. 7 but I very much support both amendments. As president of the National Governors’ Association, I am particularly interested to hear what the Minister will say. The NGA and the head teachers’ association have recently entered into a joint understanding of their respective responsibilities, and it would seem entirely appropriate that there should be equal representation of both bodies.

My Lords, careers education is essential in helping young people to understand how their choices and learning will contribute to their future lives. It is great to have this brief debate; it gives me the opportunity, as noble Lords have requested, to put some important points on the record.

As I set out on Report, we have already put in place a substantial programme of work to improve the quality of information, advice and guidance, but we know that more needs to be done. To set out how the Government plan to improve the quality of careers advice in all settings, my department will publish a new information, advice and guidance strategy document in the spring of 2009. I can confirm that this strategy will look at reviewing our position on the need to extend the careers education duty to 18.

In this context, the strategy will need to consider several complex issues. For example, if we extend the statutory duty to 18 year-olds in schools and FE colleges, it would also make sense to place a similar duty on other providers of post-16 education, such as work-based learning providers, training providers and youth offending institutions. However, this would raise a host of practical and legal difficulties, while again not necessarily showing clear benefits. Given the lack of hard, outcome-focused measures on careers education, it might also be difficult and expensive to enforce such a duty.

We would want to go down this path only if we were convinced that it was the only way of securing the impact that we seek for all young people. The next Bill will transfer the responsibility for securing education and training provision for 16 to 19 year-olds from the Learning and Skills Council to local authorities, as noble Lords have heard relentlessly in our discussions. This, coupled with our proposals to raise the participation age and the transfer of the Connexions Service, is a significant change. It will place local authorities firmly in the lead in ensuring that all young people can access the support and provision that they need. We would need to position any change within this new landscape.

Addressing these important questions through the new strategy will allow us to give it the consideration that it deserves and, I hope, the opportunity to have further discussions with noble Lords concerned about how comprehensive the offer is for young people as they go through transition from 16 to 18 and into adult life.

I turn to Amendment No. 7 on schools forums. As we know, the role of a schools forum member is to represent the interests of schools and children in their area and not their own school. Therefore, head teachers and governors should be viewing the discussions from a similar point of view. In addition, the schools forum is essentially a consultative body and does not, in general, make decisions itself; these are made by elected members in the local authority, having first consulted the schools forum.

The Government highly value the work of governors—I cannot stress that enough—but we are also conscious that the commitment to being on a schools forum can amount to about 10 working days per year in addition to those given to the individual school as a governor. Therefore, it places an additional time pressure on people, and many governors can find the commitment too much. Consequently, some local authorities can have difficulty filling governor vacancies.

The good practice guide will continue to state that parity of governors to head teachers on a schools forum is the aim but that the precise constitution should be left to local discretion. However, we believe that the majority of schools forums, where the constitution is known, satisfy this aim.

Furthermore, we will challenge authorities with a small number of governors on the forum and support them in filling vacancies by putting them in touch with authorities that are more successful. We know that this kind of peer-to-peer working can be very productive. Therefore, we would prefer not to accept this amendment, as it could lead to a number of authorities breaching the law without them wishing to do so. We already have the power to change regulation on this subject and will do so if we find that other measures are ineffective.

The Government value the work of the National Governors’ Association and would welcome further input from it on this issue.

With that reassurance on careers and governors in relation to schools forums, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the Minister. I think we all agree about the importance of good-quality careers education backed up by information, advice and guidance. I am extremely grateful to the noble Baroness for the reassurances that she has given us on this and for the fact that the department will be working on it further and we shall be hearing about it in the Bill that comes forward in the next Session. The assurances in relation to schools forums are similarly well received. I am most grateful and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5: After Clause 155, insert the following new Clause—

“Governing bodies of maintained schools to invite and consider pupils’ views

After section 29 of the Education Act 2002 (c. 32) insert—“29A Governing body to invite and consider pupils’ views

(1) The governing body of a maintained school must invite the views of pupils about prescribed matters.

(2) In exercising any of their functions relating to the conduct of the school, the governing body of a maintained school must consider any relevant views of registered pupils at the school about matters prescribed under subsection (1) (whether expressed by virtue of that subsection or otherwise) and, in doing so, must have regard to the age and understanding of the pupils who expressed them.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (1), a governing body invite the views of pupils about a matter if they invite the views of—

(a) all registered pupils at the school,(b) such of those pupils as appear to the governing body to be affected by the matter, or(c) pupils appearing to the governing body to be representative of pupils within paragraph (a) or (b).(4) The following are the matters that may be prescribed under subsection (1)—

(a) the exercise, or proposed exercise, of a function of the governing body of a maintained school relating to the conduct of the school;(b) the exercise, or proposed exercise, of such a function in a particular way.(5) In discharging their duties under subsections (1) and (2), the governing body of a maintained school must have regard to any guidance given from time to time—

(a) in relation to England, by the Secretary of State, or(b) in relation to Wales, by the Welsh Ministers.(6) In this section, “prescribed” means—

(a) in relation to England, prescribed by the Secretary of State;(b) in relation to Wales, prescribed by the Welsh Ministers. (7) Nothing in this section affects any power or duty relating to consulting pupils which a governing body of a maintained school have otherwise than under this section.””

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16 in my name and government Amendment No. 14.

Amendment No. 5, which introduces a new clause after Clause 155, puts a clear duty on schools to invite and, crucially, to consider the views of pupils in appropriate matters, having regard to their age and understanding. The ways in which they may seek these views are broad and non-prescriptive, and the matters on which pupils will be asked for their views will be prescribed by guidance. The other amendments in the group, apart from Amendment No. 14, about which I shall say a word in a minute, are consequential or related to this key amendment.

We had two good debates at earlier stages about why it is so important and beneficial for children’s views to be considered by schools, and I will not repeat them. Since then, however, there has been a severe outbreak of agreement and good will: noble Lords will notice that the Minister has kindly added her name to mine and that of the noble Baroness, Lady Howe of Idlicote, on this amendment. I thank the Minister and her team for listening so constructively to our argument that the duty on schools to listen to the voice of the child must be clearly stated in one place and not result in schools having to look at several bits of legislation to find out what they are bound to do. I also thank parliamentary counsel for assisting us in putting together this set of amendments to achieve what we have all agreed.

Noble Lords will notice that the amendment that we laid at earlier stages also included a duty on local authorities to listen to the voice of the child. The Government have managed to convince us that that is unnecessary, as it appears in other legislation, so the first thing I ask the Minister to do when she replies is to kindly explain for the record where that duty lies. Can she also confirm that, when Ofsted inspects local authorities on their children’s services, it will take into account the extent to which they seek and have regard to children’s views?

My second question is about the inevitable regulations. Our initial amendment included any function of the governing body. This amendment states that regulations will limit those functions that are affected by the duty to listen to children. We would naturally like them to include all relevant matters on which the school community would benefit from hearing from children. Can the Minister reassure me on that? Can she give me one or two examples of which functions will be included by the regulations and which will not? We do not want children consulted just on what colour to paint the walls. Can she also tell the House when these regulations will be drafted? We all hope it will be soon.

My third question is about how much notice schools will have to take of the children’s views. Other legislation, such as Section 3(5) of the Childcare Act 2006 states that the authorities “must have regard to” the wishes of the child. Similar provisions are found in Section 1(4)(a) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and Section 53 of Children Act 2004. The amendment we are now considering states,

“invite and consider pupils’ views”.

Can the Minister say whether “consider” will have the same meaning as “must have regard to” in the other legislation?

I now come to timing. Government Amendment No. 14 is about when the various provisions of the Bill will come into force, which is outlined in Clause 170. The key amendment in this group, to which I have already spoken, is Amendment No. 5, which inserts a new clause after Clause 155; I presume it will become Section 156 of the Act, if it is passed by both Houses. I have looked at Clause 170 to see when new Clause 156 will come into force, and it seems that it will be not the day of enactment but when the Secretary of State makes an order to say that it should. That is what Clause 170(4) states. What are the Government’s intentions about this? Given all the work we have done to persuade the Government on this, the last thing I want is for the Government to delay bringing this clear duty on schools into force.

Finally, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Howe of Idlicote, for being so persuasive at earlier stages of the Bill. I think she will agree with me that, as they say in football, we got a result. I beg to move.

My Lords, those of us who stressed the importance of placing listening to the voice of the child in the Bill are extremely grateful to the Government, particularly to the Minister, for supporting the well argued, detailed amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley. She is particularly to be congratulated on her persistence, and I thank her for the kind comments she made about my part. Noble Lords will, like me, wish to thank many organisations, such as Participation Works and the Children’s Rights Alliance for England, for their invaluable briefing. It is good to know that they are equally pleased with the Government’s decision, which the Minister will be pleased about.

The amendment is clearly necessary. The recently published Ofsted/DCSF survey of nearly 150,000 children and young people across 145 local authorities shows that when asked, “How much do you feel children’s and young people’s views are listened to in the running of your school?”, 34 per cent of them replied “not very much” or “not at all” and a further 7 per cent had not got a clue one way or another. The amendment, if implemented effectively, should ensure that significantly more children are involved in decisions that affect them in their education. Above all, it brings us much closer to implementing the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

I may be going over the same ground as the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, but the Government will be drafting further regulations about issues in which children should be involved. Perhaps I can raise one or two points that the Minister may be able to address. First, when are the regulations likely to be issued? Secondly, does she agree that regulations should be broad in their nature? Will they cover the wide range of school functions, including matters related, for example, to the curriculum and schoolwide policy? Thirdly, the amendment specifically allows governing bodies to consult a representative group of pupils. Would that include, for example, school councils or other collective mechanisms in schools? Lastly, what moves do the Government intend to make to ensure that school leaders and children are aware of the new duty?

My Lords, I am so glad that the Government have recognised the importance of listening to children, 19 years after Recommendation 75 of the report into discipline in schools that I was fortunate enough to chair was enthusiastically accepted. One word of caution. I am sorry that it has to be in legislation. We are a litigious nation, and it would be very unfortunate if we were to have a rash of cases of parents saying, “You were not listening to my little Johnny”. Therefore, I am glad to see the flexibility written into the amendment—the variety of ways in which consultation can take place. I merely urge the Government to maintain that flexibility clearly in the regulations.

My Lords, I follow my noble friend Lord Elton. We on these Benches have spoken in support of the various permutations of the amendments at different stages of the Bill. I think that, on Report, we saw the simplest version and agreed that taking into account the ascertainable views of children was a desirable goal.

We have argued consistently throughout debates on the Bill and outside your Lordships' House that engaging with young people is a necessity. We have had long and thoughtful debates on the consequences that young people will suffer if they do not participate in education or training. None of us wants to see the worst-case scenario, which we have striven to avoid, in which young people will be punished if they insist in dropping away from their educational duties. It is my fervent hope that the engagement necessary to help those young people participate willingly and fully can be encouraged wherever possible. It should be quite plain that taking their views into account when decisions about their future are being taken is a good idea.

My Lords, I am delighted to add my name to that of the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, in support of this group of amendments. I am sure that the whole House will agree that the voice of pupils and young people is extremely important. As my noble friend Lord Young, the Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for skills and apprenticeships, said on Report, the Government are committed to involving young people as widely as possible in matters that affect them. That is why, in the Education Act 2002, we required schools to have regard to statutory guidance about consulting pupils in decisions that affect them.

However, on Report, noble Lords made persuasive arguments for us to go further and set out the merits of placing a duty on schools to listen to the views of pupils. These included benefits for young people such as the opportunity to develop critical thinking, advocacy and influencing skills, thereby helping every child to fulfil his or her potential. I fully support the views expressed by the noble Baronesses, Lady Walmsley, Lady Howe and Lady Verma, and I very much hear the words of caution of the noble Lord, Lord Elton, about a litigious society.

The new duty in these amendments sends a clear message about the importance that we place on the involvement of pupils, which the Children’s Rights Alliance for England also eloquently advocates, in matters that affect their education and school life. Through regulations, we intend to require governing bodies to invite views on a core set of policy matters. As a minimum, schools should seek and take account of pupils’ views on policies on the delivery of the curriculum, behaviour, the uniform, school food, health and safety, equalities and sustainability, not simply on what colour to paint the walls.

We are not minded to require governing bodies to take account of pupils’ views on matters such as staff appointments or the school budget. I am sure noble Lords will understand that. As the Government have said previously, we are also keen to ensure that a duty on schools does not end up with centralised prescription. Schools will not be restricted in the matters on which they can invite the views of pupils. The regulations will simply set out the issues on which they must invite views. If they want to go further, they can.

Key to the success of this amendment will be effective implementation. We intend to consult schools, schools’ representative bodies, and children and young people on the matters that will be in the regulations and on which governing bodies should invite and take account of pupils’ views. We will of course satisfy the concerns of the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, about consulting children and young people effectively. In line with the spirit of this amendment, it is important that time is taken for proper consultation on the regulations. We plan to undertake this during the spring term, which I believe means soon in Civil Service language.

The amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, on Report included a duty on local authorities to consult children when exercising their school functions. It is important that local authorities take account of young people’s views, as they are already required to do when preparing their children and young persons’ plan.

The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, which your Lordships’ House spent many hours considering last year, introduced a duty on local authorities to involve local people in decisions—the duty to which the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, asked me to point. This means that, from 2009, local authorities in England will be required to involve local people in the discharge of their functions where they consider it appropriate. The statutory guidance produced alongside this duty makes it clear that local people include children and young people, and that information should be produced in a way that is accessible for different groups.

Given this new duty, and the fact that we do not want to impose overlapping duties on local authorities, we do not believe that a new duty is required specifically for local authorities’ school functions in England. The duty is already there for matters at a local authority level. The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act does not apply in Wales, so Amendment No. 6 would leave on the statute book the duty, in Section 176 of the Education Act 2002, on local authorities in Wales to have regard to any guidance issued by the National Assembly for Wales.

I want to be clear about the strength of this new duty. The noble Baroness asked whether the duty to “consider” is as strong as duties to “have due regard to” the views of children in other legislation. I reassure her that it is, and that governing bodies must do more than simply solicit pupils’ views. In drafting the new duty, we have sought a balance in defining a responsibility that is both unambiguous and manageable for school governing bodies. After all, that is what we need to do for it to have the desired effect. To this end, statutory guidance made under subsection (5) of the proposed new clause to be inserted by Amendment No. 5 will help schools to understand the scope of the new duty and will set out examples of how best to involve pupils and invite their views.

School self evaluation, which informs Ofsted inspection, features the role pupils play in decision-making within the school as part of the school’s discharge of its duty. The department is working with Ofsted to produce a set of indicators which will be consulted on shortly—in fact, I think that they are being consulted on now. They will form the basis for monitoring and tracking how schools discharge their duty on a consistent and systematic basis.

The noble Baroness, Lady Howe, asked how we would make schools aware of these new developments. We intend to reissue the guidance, Working Together: Giving Children and Young People a Say, to all schools, with a letter from my honourable friend Sarah McCarthy-Fry, the Minister responsible for citizenship, setting out how the new duty reinforces our policy commitment to engaging pupils’ views and involvement, and inviting schools to participate in the consultation on the regulations, which will underpin the new duty. I am also advised that we will bring it to the attention of schools via email.

I think that I may have not answered a question.

My Lords, in order to assist the Minister, perhaps I may say that my question was about when this new clause would be enacted.

My Lords, I am advised that we plan to enact this clause after the consultation. I can reassure the noble Baroness that we do not intend to drag our heels. With that, I hope noble Lords will feel able to support the amendment.

My Lords, I thank the Minister very sincerely for the helpful way in which she has answered my questions. I thank her for clarifying where the duty on local authorities lies in other legislation; for giving us examples of the functions that the duty would relate to in schools; and for telling us about the consultation and the date of that. She was very clear that the word “consider” is equivalent to the words “have regard to”. Finally, after the consultation, I hope that we will get the enactment of this clause. I am aware that Clause 170 tells us that various bits of this Bill will be enacted at different times. Obviously, it would not make sense to enact it before the consultation, but I hope that it will be enacted very soon after that. I thank the Minister for that clarification.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

6: After Clause 155, insert the following new Clause—

“Consultation of pupils: existing functions

In section 176 of the Education Act 2002 (c. 32) (consultation with pupils), subsection (1) is amended as follows—(a) in paragraph (a) (duty of local education authorities), after “authority” insert “in Wales”,(b) omit paragraph (b) (duty of governing bodies), and(c) for “the Secretary of State (in relation to England) or the National Assembly for Wales (in relation to Wales)” substitute “the Welsh Ministers”.”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 162 [Constitution of schools forums]:

[Amendment No. 7 not moved.]

[Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 not moved.]

Clause 170 [Commencement]:

10: Clause 170, page 112, line 11, at end insert—

“( ) sections (Governing bodies of maintained schools to invite and consider pupils’ views) and (Consultation of pupils: existing functions)(b) and (c);”

11: Clause 170, page 112, line 14, at beginning insert “the following paragraphs of Schedule 1—

(i) “

12: Clause 170, page 112, line 15, leave out “of Schedule 1 (and” and insert “, and

(ii) paragraph 78A,(and”

13: Clause 170, page 112, line 21, at beginning insert “section 176 of and”

On Question, amendments agreed to.

14: Clause 170, page 112, line 27, leave out “The remaining” and insert “Subject to subsections (1) to (3), the”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Minor and consequential amendments]:

15: Schedule 1, page 129, line 3, at end insert—

“Education Act 2002 (c. 32)78A After section 210 of the Education Act 2002 (c. 32) insert—

“210A Regulations under power conferred on Welsh Ministers after implementation of Government of Wales Act 2006

(1) The power of the Welsh Ministers to make regulations under section 29A is exercisable by statutory instrument.

(2) A statutory instrument containing any such regulations made by the Welsh Ministers is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of the National Assembly for Wales.

(3) The power of the Welsh Ministers to make regulations under section 29A includes power—

(a) to make different provisions for different cases or areas,(b) to make provision generally or only in relation to specific cases, and(c) to make such incidental, supplemental, saving or transitional provisions as the Welsh Ministers think fit.(4) Nothing in this Act shall be regarded as affecting the generality of subsection (3).””

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Repeals and revocations]:

16: Schedule 2, page 132, line 14, at end insert—

“In section 176, in subsection (1), paragraph (b) and the word “and” preceding it.”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass. In moving this Motion, I should like to detain your Lordships' House for a short while to say thank you to all those who have worked with us on the Bill. In particular, I should like to thank all Back-Bench Peers who have taken part in debates throughout this lengthy process, particularly the Back-Benchers on the Opposition Benches, who have been very patient with me as a new Minister, and the Cross-Benchers who have, as ever, shared their wisdom with us. Of course I would never want to forget the value of so many positive suggestions made by my noble friends on the Benches behind me. I offer warm thanks to Members on the Opposition Front Bench for their thoughtful and constructive contributions to the Bill. It has been a real honour to work with them. Lastly, I thank Anna Bush, Rupert Ainley and the very able Bill team who have supported me and my noble friends Lord Adonis and Lord Young. We are fortunate to have such able support in the department and I am very grateful to them.

This is an historic Bill. We are sending it back to the other place as a stronger, fuller and better Bill. As I said in closing the debate at Second Reading, I believe that it is a landmark Bill in education terms, possibly comparable with the Fisher Act of 1918. It is important that we press forward with it, given the climate we find ourselves in today.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Baroness Morgan of Drefelin.)

On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons with amendments.