Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:00 pm on 24th July 2000.

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Photo of Lord Whitty Lord Whitty Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions 8:00 pm, 24th July 2000

My Lords, the aim of the guidance is that children should learn. As I understand it, the aim of all teaching is that children should learn. What they should learn in this context is that society is varied; that marriage is an important element for the stability of our society, but that there are other ways of life with which they have to come to terms.

The guidance also protects children from inappropriate teaching and teaching materials; it requires health service bodies to have regard to the guidance; and it reaffirms the rights of parents to withdraw their children from sex education.

A number of things have been said by the opponents of the Government's position which are not correct. The noble Baronesses, Lady Blatch and Lady Young, said that the guidelines have no force of law. That is not true. The Learning and Skills Bill, on which we reached consensus last week, provides clear statutory requirements on the Secretary of State to issue guidance, and heads and governors will have a clear legal responsibility to have regard to that guidance.