Is it not right that the vast majority of representations made from the county of Leicestershire, including the representation of the Conservative-controlled Leicestershire county council, are powerfully and vigorously against most of the recommendations in the Bill? Is the Bill not regarded by most people in the county as divisive, removing or reducing local powers and doing nothing whatever to assist the education authorities and other groups to meet the growing needs created by the cuts that the Government have imposed on our county?
The hon. and learned Gentleman will be disappointed to know that the representations that we have had have been nothing like as categorical as he has insisted they are. Indeed, the majority of the representations that we have had may have objected parts to some of our reform Bill, but they have accepted other parts. No such categorical statement on the whole of the Education Reform Bill as he suggests has been received by the Department.
Is my hon. Friend aware that in fact Leicester county council is controlled by the Labour party and the alliance together, not by the Conservatives, as the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) said? Is she also aware that that council does not allow parents to send their children to local education authorities in other areas, across the border, as it were? Has she had any representations from parents who find that there are schools just 100 yards down the road to which they cannot send their children, but instead have to send them sometimes seven miles or more to school? Has she had any representations requesting inclusion in the Education Reform Bill of freedom of choice across borders?
Our proposals within the Education Reform Bill on the matter of open enrolment will certainly mean that parents will have an opportunity of ensuring that they get the school of first choice for their children. This is an extremely important principle of freedom of choice for parents. I am a little surprised to learn from my hon. Friend that the authority is not allowing children to cross boundaries, because it is my understanding that there is the ability for children to cross boundaries under present legislation.