Children, Schools and Families Bill

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 8:18 pm on 11th January 2010.

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Photo of Andrew Miller Andrew Miller Chair, Regulatory Reform Committee 8:18 pm, 11th January 2010

I have referred the hon. Gentleman to proposed new section 19G, which concerns appeals. The regulations should, in my view, provide for the registration to continue automatically in the event of an appeal.

Finally, I wish to say a few words about special educational needs. In the old county council structure in Cheshire, a significant number of SEN appeals were conducted at a very high level by volunteers. People with little or no means were reliant upon the voluntary sector to make representations on behalf of their child within the appeals mechanisms. At the opposite, more wealthy, end of the county, however, people were represented by highly qualified lawyers. That cannot be right. We must have equality in the SEN appeals process. The right of access for those children whose cases need representation must be absolute, and there must also be fairness in the quality of that representation. Whatever the detail of the steps that will be taken to strengthen the process, I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will ensure that children of all backgrounds have both a right of access and the right to the same quality of representation.

This is an important Bill that builds upon the building blocks to which I have referred, and I hope that when it passes through Committee, it will emerge as a measure that helps to build further upon those building blocks. On that basis, I support the Bill.

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