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House of Commons Hansard
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Petitions
13 December 2018
Volume 651

Petitions

Thursday 13 December 2018

Observations

Education

Home Education: draft guidance and the consultation

The petition of residents of South Walsall,

Declare that the “Home Education—Call for Evidence and revised DfE guidance” has been written following significant consultation with local authorities and no consultation whatsoever with the home education community; further that the consultation is consequently for little more than show as an intention to implement the content has already been stated; further that it seeks to encourage local authorities to breach the ECHR Article 8 and the GDPR; and further that the report provides no accessible means for a parent to address ultra vires behaviour by their local authority, where many of those authorities already act routinely in an ultra vires manner.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to withdraw the draft guidance and the consultation, until it has put in place an accessible and workable complaints procedure and further has consulted with home educating parents, as it has with Local Authorities, what the contents should include.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Valerie Vaz , Official Report, 14 November 2018; Vol. 649, c. 540 .]

[P002289]

Observations from the Minister for School Standards (Nick Gibb):

The consultation “Home Education—Call for Evidence and revised DfE guidance” closed on 2 July 2018. The relevant documents can be found at:

https://consult.education.gov.uk/school-frameworks/home-education-call-for-evidence-and-revised-dfe-a/.

As well as the call for evidence, the consultation includes draft versions of two guidance documents on the current arrangements for home education. These are intended to replace the Department for Education’s current non-statutory guidance for local authorities, which is to be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/elective-home-education.

The Department discussed home education with stakeholders in the normal course of business up to the launch of the consultation on 10 April.

All responses to the consultation will be considered before publishing the finalised guidance documents. At no point has the Department stated an intention to publish them as final versions without revision in the light of responses received to the consultation.

Representations on whether the contents of the two draft guidance documents breach Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to private and family life) or the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (as embodied into UK law in the Data Protection Act 2018), will be taken into account as we consider responses to the consultation.

The documents in their draft form contain no reference to remedies for behaviour by local authorities. This is because no special provision for this is necessary in respect of home education. The Education Act 1996 already contains general provisions for this purpose relating to local authorities. However, the Department will consider whether the finalised versions of the guidance documents should contain specific information on this.

This Department does not recognise the suggestion that consultation has been flawed or inadequate. Several thousand responses, the majority of which have come from home educating families, have been received, as well as a substantial petition, and there has been considerable opportunity for detailed comment and input from such families. Following the consultation and consideration of the responses, the two guidance documents will be published in the autumn of 2018 in their revised and finalised form. In addition, a formal Government response document analysing responses to the call for evidence, and setting out next steps, will also be published in the autumn of 2018.

Home Department

Asylum of Nelly Gelves

The petition of residents of North East Lincolnshire,

Declares that the situation in Venezuela is desperate and inhumane; further that it would be wrong for an asylum seeker of 73 years old to be returned to political and religious repression in a country where she has practically no access to money, food and basic medicines.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to support the Asylum and Humanitarian Protection of Nelly Gelves in the UK to allow her to continue to live with her family.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Melanie Onn , Official Report, 21 November 2018; Vol. 649, c. 976 .]

[P002295]

Observations from the Minister of State for Immigration (Caroline Nokes):

The Government cannot comment on individual cases, because doing so would breach their obligations to treat such personal matters in confidence.

The Government have a proud record of providing protection for those who genuinely need it, in accordance with our international obligations under the Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. Every asylum claim is carefully considered on its individual merits, by assessing all the evidence provided by the claimant against policy, relevant caselaw and available country information from a wide range of recognised and publicly disclosable sources. These include the UN and its agencies, Governments, the media and human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The Government will grant protection where someone demonstrates they face persecution or serious harm in their country and they are unable to seek protection from the national authorities or move to another part of their country to live safely. The Government are very clear that we do not return anyone who faces persecution or serious harm to their country.

There may be exceptional situations where conditions in a particular country, for example, absence of water, food or basic shelter, are unacceptable to the point that return in itself would constitute inhuman and degrading treatment for the individual concerned. Some of the factors which will be taken into account by asylum decision makers when considering the asylum claim include age, gender, ill-health, the effect on children, other family circumstances, and available support structures.

There is also provision in the Home Office policy on Discretionary Leave to allow people to stay in the UK on a discretionary basis, where they do not qualify for protection, but where there are other exceptional circumstances such that expecting them to return to their country would not be appropriate.

Those who are found not to need protection are refused and have a right of appeal to the courts. Once their appeals rights are exhausted they are required to leave the UK.  If they do not leave voluntarily, the Government will seek to enforce their removal.