Lords Amendment

– in the House of Lords at 5:57 pm on 23rd July 2002.

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14Before Clause 18, insert the following new clause—

"Control of regulation

(1) In relation to the conduct of education in schools and nursery schools, the Secretary of State and local education authorities shall have a duty to limit new regulation and to control the amount of material they send to governing bodies and head teachers.

(2) The Secretary of State must publish an annual report to Parliament, setting out any progress he has made in the preceding year in seeking to control or reduce the volume of regulations, circulars and codes of practice that he or his predecessors have published, and reporting any representations he has received from governing bodies, head teachers or teachers' representative bodies about the burden that regulations impose.

(3) Each set of regulations, circular or code of practice issued by the Secretary of State shall include a statement by him of the time he expects it will take for governing bodies or head teachers of schools, or nursery schools, as appropriate, to read, consider and implement the regulation, circular or code of practice concerned.

(4) In making his estimate under subsection (3), the Secretary of State shall impose no additional burden on schools or nursery schools to provide him or local authorities with information."

The Commons disagree to this Amendment but propose the following Amendment in lieu thereof—

14A Page 23, line 44, at end insert the following new Clause—

"Annual report on circulars etc. sent to schools.

(1) The Secretary of State shall in respect of each academic year—

(a) prepare a report listing—

(i) documents sent by him during the year to all governingbodies of maintained schools in England or to all headteachers of such schools,

(ii) documents (not falling within sub-paragraph (i)) sent by him during the year to all governing bodies of maintained schools in England of a particular kind or to all head teachers of such schools of a particular kind, and

(b) lay a copy of the report before each House of Parliament.

(2) The National Assembly for Wales shall in respect of each academic year prepare and publish a report listing—

(a) documents sent by the Assembly during the year to all governing bodies of maintained schools in Wales or to all head teachers of such schools,

(b) documents (not falling within paragraph (a)) sent by the Assembly during the year to all governing bodies of maintained schools in Wales of a particular kind or to all head teachers of such schools of a particular kind.

(3) The documents referred to in subsections (1) and (2) do not include any document sent by the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales—

(a) otherwise than in the exercise of functions relating to education, or

(b) at the request of the person to whom it is sent.

(4) In this section "academic year" means a period beginning with 1st August and ending with the next 31st July."

Photo of Baroness Ashton of Upholland Baroness Ashton of Upholland Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Sure Start, Early Years and Childcare), Department for Education and Skills, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Sure Start, Early Years and Childcare), Department for Work and Pensions, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Early Years and School Standards)

I beg to move that the House do not insist on their Amendment No. 14 to which the Commons have disagreed, and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 14A in lieu thereof.

In moving this Motion, I wish to begin by saying that we all share the desire to ensure that that teachers, head teachers and governing bodies do not need to carry out unnecessary tasks. No one could disagree that we need to do all we can to enable teachers to focus on their core tasks. So it is not that intention which we are debating; we are discussing the means of giving effect to that intention. I also wish to say that the original Lords Amendment No. 14 is not the way to do that. Trying to legislate in the way proposed in that amendment is not only unlikely to be successful; more importantly, it carries a serious risk of being counter-productive. I should like at the outset to make two points that I believe are very important.

First, there cannot be an assumption that all new regulation is inherently bad. As a result of perfectly sensible pressure from the Opposition, we will be making new regulations in a number of new areas. If we had in place a duty of the sort proposed in the original Amendment No. 14, it would put our ability to do that in jeopardy. I know that that is not the intention, but it is the effect. I also make it clear that this is not a problem about the drafting of the amendment; it is a fundamental problem with the approach.

Secondly, much of the material that is sent to schools is intended to be helpful, and is recognised as such. If we send material connected with the national literacy and numeracy strategies, for example, it will help teachers, saving them time and boosting achievement. That, of course, is a perfectly sound investment. So I agree absolutely that it is good to cut out unnecessary and unhelpful material. Again, however, that is not the effect of Amendment No. 14. Its effect would be to cut back material that may be highly beneficial to schools and to children.

These are fundamental points, but perhaps even more fundamental is the concern that, rather than reducing the level of prescription that schools face, the duty proposed might in fact increase the level of prescription. The reason is simple. Through this Bill we have set out to deregulate. We have been absolutely clear about saying that we believe that education legislation is over-prescriptive and that the level of regulation is too great. And in a very consistent way, we have set out in this Bill to begin to change that. The way we have done it is this. We have taken a piece of over-prescriptive primary legislation and repealed it, but taken a power to make secondary legislation. We have made clear that the regulations we will make will be significantly less prescriptive than the primary legislation that has gone before. But the crucial point is that if we cannot make regulations, we cannot deregulate.

The implementation of this Bill will require the making of significant numbers of regulations. The repeal of detailed primary legislation will be brought in at the same time as the new regulations. If we cannot make the regulations, we shall be unable to commence the repeals, and the chance to reduce burdens on schools will be lost.

So, the approach set out in Amendment No. 14 would mean that we would be unable to implement the deregulatory agenda that I hope we all wish to see, freeing schools from unnecessary prescription. In addition, there is a risk that the amendment would mean that schools would not receive useful information that would help them in their daily work, but also potentially that they would be uninformed about key aspects of their work.

Consider the biggest documents we have sent to primary schools in the last academic year: the single largest document at 224 pages was the special educational needs toolkit; the second largest at 210 pages was the special educational needs code of practice; the third largest at 200 pages was the schemes of work for citizenship, helping schools to introduce that new subject to the curriculum; the next at 158 pages was the Early Literacy Support Programme—an optional but widely welcomed measure to help children having difficulties with literacy at key stage 1; the next at 115 pages was the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document 2001; the next, at 74 pages, the "Schools—achieving success" White Paper; and then 72 pages on springboard 6—lessons for use in booster classes. The latter is also an optional but widely welcomed measure which is useful for those children struggling to reach level four at key stage 2—the level that we believe is necessary for children to access the secondary curriculum. I could go on but those seven documents comprise almost 60 per cent of the pages we sent to primary schools last year.

I am not sure that any noble Lord could say which of those documents might be considered unnecessary for schools to see, particularly not the two largest, the special educational needs toolkit and the special educational needs code of practice which together comprise almost a quarter of the pages sent by central government to primary schools; not, I imagine given the lengthy debates about the importance of citizenship we have had during the course of this Bill, the schemes of work for that subject; and not, I expect, the teaching materials relating to literacy and numeracy that have received such a warm welcome in our schools. I hope that no noble Lord would argue that we should keep teachers in the dark about their pay and conditions. That leaves the White Paper. I can imagine the outrage that would be expressed, quite rightly, if the Government gave teachers no opportunity to take part in the consultation on our plans for the next few years.

I understand that the approach of Amendment No. 14 may be well intentioned, but it would be counter-productive. It would be counter-productive because, first, there would be a danger of an adverse impact, because the Government would be prevented from acting quickly to address important issues. Secondly, there could be an adverse impact on schools not receiving important information which would help them to do their job more effectively or implement legal requirements, such as those relating to special educational needs. Thirdly, there would be a serious risk that the amendment would stand in the way of the very serious attempt to deregulate which we have begun in this Bill, because deregulation requires us to issue new, less prescriptive regulations. We cannot have a situation in which any of those things happen.

The Government's approach in Amendment No. 14A seeks to avoid all of those difficulties but also to reinforce their efforts to reduce burdens on schools. As noble Lords will be aware, this amendment received careful consideration in another place and creates a duty for the Secretary of State to report annually to Parliament on the number of documents that the department sends to schools. We have achieved a great deal in the past three years. There have been about one-third fewer documents sent out this school year compared to 1999-2000. Amendment No. 14A will be a transparent means of demonstrating that we mean what we say in reducing burdens on schools.

We also recognise the point made in another place that, while the department's communications are valuable, they are not always of universal interest. We shall look further at better ways of targeting our communications even more directly to the intended audience, and of signposting our documents clearly.

As I have said in previous debate, the Secretary of State is engaged in a wider look at the issue of teacher workload and burdens and will respond on these matters formally in the autumn. An annual report to Parliament will add to our efforts in this area by providing even greater transparency in regard to the department's communications with schools.

I shall return in a moment to the other amendments standing in my name.

Moved, That the House do not insist on their Amendment No. 14 to which the Commons have disagreed, but do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 14A in lieu thereof.—(Baroness Ashton of Upholland.)

Photo of Baroness Blatch Baroness Blatch Conservative 6:00 pm, 23rd July 2002

rose to move, as an amendment to the Motion, That this House do not insist on their Amendment No. 14 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 14A in lieu thereof, leave out from "No. 14" to end and insert ", do disagree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 14A in lieu thereof but do propose the following amendment in lieu of the Commons amendment—

14BPage 23, line 44, at end insert the following new Clause

"Control of regulation (No. 2)

(1) In relation to the conduct of education in schools and nursery schools, the Secretary of State, the National Assembly for Wales and local authorities shall have a duty to limit new regulation and to control the amount of material they send to governing bodies and head teachers.

(2) In pursuance of the duty in subsection (1) the Secretary of State shall in respect of each academic year—

(a) prepare a report listing—

(i) documents sent by him during the year to all governing bodies of maintained schools in England or to all head teachers of such schools,

(ii) documents (not falling within sub-paragraph (i)) sent by him during the year to all governing bodies of maintained schools in England of a particular kind or to all head teachers of such schools of a particular kind, and

(b) lay a copy of the report before each House of Parliament, and include within it comparative statistics in respect of each of the two preceding academic years on documents falling within this subsection sent out by him.

(3) In pursuit of the duty in subsection (1) the National Assembly for Wales shall in respect of each academic year prepare and publish a report listing—

(a) documents sent by the Assembly during the year to all governing bodies of maintained schools in Wales or to all head teachers of such schools,

(b) documents (not falling within paragraph (a)) sent by the Assembly during the year to all governing bodies of maintained schools in Wales of a particular kind or to all head teachers of such schools of a particular kind.

(4) The documents referred to in subsections (2) and (3) do not include any document sent by the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales at the request of the person to whom it is sent.

(5) Each document issued by the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales shall list within it previous relevant documents issued by the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales and shall state clearly those documents which are superseded by the current document.

(6) Each document issued by the Secretary of. State or the National Assembly for Wales shall state clearly the persons for whom the advice and guidance is intended.

(7) The purpose of this section is to ensure that the volume of direction and guidance given by the Secretary of State and the National Assembly for Wales shall not interfere unduly with the professional judgement of teachers, nor impose on head teachers and governing bodies unreasonable burdens of compliance, and it shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to have regard to this purpose in the preparation of documents to which this section applies.

(8) In this section "academic year" means a period beginning with 1st August and ending with the next 31st July.""

Photo of Baroness Blatch Baroness Blatch Conservative

My Lords, the one issue on the lips of governors, head teachers, teachers and parents is that the volume of regulations, guidance, guidelines and extraneous material that is sent to schools by the DfES is a serious concern. The most frequent reason given by most teachers leaving the profession is the same—too much bureaucracy, too much interference and too many government initiatives.

I have been struck by the incredible efforts made by Ministers at the department over recent days to duck out of accepting a duty to limit regulation and the volume of paper sent daily to our schools. The government amendment does not go far enough. It is pathetic to invite teachers to accept that the Secretary of State will have regard to the desirability of providing information about good educational practice. I refer to the desirability—not the duty—to limit regulation.

The National Union of Teachers has produced a good paper with some interesting comments. It speaks for teachers in our schools. At Third Reading the Minister said that my amendment was,

"lacking in that it does not address the issue of the quality of information issued. I know from my own experience of being both responsible for issuing information and being on the receiving end as a chair of governors until last year that it is the quality equally as much as the quantity—indeed, more so—of the communication or regulation that is of paramount importance".—[Official Report, 3/07/02; col. 261.]

I should say that I prefer the phrase "chairman of governors" to "chair of governors".

I agree with the Minister's comments about the quality of communications. However, we all agree that too much information is sent to schools, whether it is well intentioned and has good substance or does not have such good substance.

Many teachers do not feel in control of their work. They regard not being in control as a real cause of distress. That is brought about by the pace and manner of change that occurs. Much of that change is ill thought through, such as the companies measures that we have discussed today. Teachers are given insufficient support to meet those changes. They resent having to engage in tasks which do not support learning.

The NUT study of teachers' workloads quoted a teacher as saying that despite the plethora of new announcements, initiatives and requirements launched annually, in her entire career she had never seen a notice or an announcement requesting her to stop doing something rather than do something.

I am aware that the Government are full of good intentions to remove burdens on teachers. However, a full-blooded commitment—as my amendment provides—would impress teachers rather more than having regard to the desirability of reducing burdens on them. The greatest thing that the House could do today would be to accept the amendments and to tell teachers, as the Bill completes its passage through both Houses, that the Secretary of State accepts with grace a duty to limit regulations and to control the amount of material that is sent to schools.

I believe that the Liberal Democrats will support the Government, while requiring them to have regard to the desirability of reducing the burdens on schools. As Conservatives, we support head teachers, teachers and governors in wanting a positive duty on the Secretary of State to reduce paperwork—not simply to have regard to the desirability of doing so. Fine words and good intentions are not good enough. I beg to move.

Moved, as an amendment to the Motion that the House do not insist on their Amendment No. 14 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 14A in lieu thereof, leave out from "No. 14" to end and insert ", do disagree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 14A in lieu thereof but do propose Amendment No. 14B in lieu of the Commons amendment.[Baroness Blatch.]

Photo of Baroness Ashton of Upholland Baroness Ashton of Upholland Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Sure Start, Early Years and Childcare), Department for Education and Skills, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Sure Start, Early Years and Childcare), Department for Work and Pensions, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Early Years and School Standards)

moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 14B, Amendment No. 14BA:

14BALeave out subsection (1) and insert—

"(1) In considering whether to issue any guidance or other circular to the governing bodies or head teachers of maintained schools in the exercise of functions relating to education, the Secretary of State and the National Assembly for Wales shall have regard to—

(a) the desirability of providing information about good educational practice, while recognising the professional expertise of teachers,

(b) the benefits that are expected to result from the issue of the guidance or other circular, and

(c) the desirability of avoiding—

(i) the sending of excessive material to governing bodies or head teachers, and

(ii) the imposition of excessive administrative burdens on governing bodies or head teachers."

Photo of Baroness Ashton of Upholland Baroness Ashton of Upholland Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Sure Start, Early Years and Childcare), Department for Education and Skills, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Sure Start, Early Years and Childcare), Department for Work and Pensions, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Early Years and School Standards)

My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 14BA as an amendment to Amendment No. 14B, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 14BB to 14BF—which are in the spirit of that which the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, seeks to achieve.

Earlier, I outlined some of the difficulties with an approach that seeks to place limits on the Government's ability to regulate. I pointed out that the Government's approach has been to repeal detailed provisions in primary legislation by making less detailed provisions in secondary legislation. I am advised by parliamentary counsel that it is unacceptable as a matter of law to have a duty in primary legislation that restricts the ability to make secondary legislation and am bound to accept that advice. Nonetheless, I recognise the importance of taking proper account of workload factors and have made my position clear throughout the progress of the Bill.

I am sure that all noble Lords agree that we must not be placed in a position in which documents of the sort that I described cannot be sent to schools—and I am certain that is not the noble Baroness's intention: material such as the special needs toolkit; schemes of work for national curriculum subjects; numeracy and key stage 3 strategies; and major policy documents—many of which seek the views of teachers. It must remain possible for the Department to send to schools material that helps them to discharge their duties to pupils. It should remain possible for the department to continue to provide advice in relation to important national priorities. If anyone should be consulted on the Government's policies for schools, teachers must be consulted.

Government Amendment No. 14BA achieves that objective while placing on the face of the Bill the importance of avoiding making excessive demands. It places a duty on the Secretary of State in this area for the first time and recognises that the Secretary of State is well placed to share information and to provide advice and good practice. It ensures that the Secretary of State must take account not only of the benefits of issuing guidance and other documents but also of the desirability of avoiding excessive burdens.

Amendment No. 14BA accepts that it is helpful to state clearly for whom the advice and guidance is intended and which other documents are superseded—which has been the department's practice for some time. The new subsection (1) replaces the existing subsection (1) and Amendment No. 14BF deletes subsection (8)—which, as drafted, does not work legally but does point to two important issues, which are the professionalism of teachers and the importance of avoiding unreasonable burdens. Those two points are picked up in new subsection (1), so subsection (7) can be deleted.

Government Amendments Nos. 14BB to 14BE ensure that Amendment No. 14BA catches only material sent by the Secretary of State for Education; that the scope of subsections (5) and (6) are clearly the same as that of the remainder of the clause; and that the drafting is legally watertight. The advantages of making the changes in Government Amendments 14BA to 14BF are clear. They ensure that due account is taken of the costs and benefits of producing documents; that the amendment is not counter-productive; and that the Secretary of State seeks to avoid excessive burdens. The amendments ensure that useful material that we all agree should be sent to schools can be sent. I beg to move.

Moved, as a manuscript amendment to Amendment No. 14B, Amendment No. 14BA.—(Baroness Ashton of Upholland.)

Photo of Baroness Walmsley Baroness Walmsley Liberal Democrat 6:15 pm, 23rd July 2002

My Lords, it may help your Lordships to be aware that my noble friend Lady Sharp will not be moving Amendments Nos. 14C to 14E.

At an earlier stage, we agreed vehemently with the spirit of an amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, because it is important to have an effective clause to reduce the burden of regulation on teachers. However, we did not support that amendment because we felt that it would have created more paperwork than it saved. Although the amendment's spirit was absolutely right, it was flawed.

The Government's response in another place, in the form of Amendment No. 14A, is not adequate because it makes no real commitment to reducing the burdens of regulation and paperwork on teachers. There is great merit in Amendment No. 14B and we are most grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, for considering our concerns about her first draft, inserting proposed subsections (5) and (6), and removing a reference to the number of pages that we felt was superficial.

We want the Bill to incorporate wording that places the Secretary of State under an obligation to reduce the volume of paperwork that goes to schools. Government Amendments Nos. 14BA to 14BF place the Secretary of State under an obligation to pay regard to providing the information that teachers need without overburdening them with paperwork. Your Lordships know how long it takes even to open our post in the mornings.

Teacher workload is one of the most important factors in discouraging people from entering the teaching profession, failing to attract high-quality recruits from universities and failing to retain high-quality teachers in the system. We want teachers to teach—to spend their time doing the work in the classroom for which their professional training has prepared them.

We welcome the wording in the government amendment that recognises the expertise of teachers. It is important not to send material to teachers that patronises them by presenting information that they ought to know anyway. We thank the Government for responding to our concerns over the past 24 hours by devising a set of satisfactory amendments. We are most grateful also to the NUT for providing us with a great deal of help and guidance. We shall support the Government amendments to Amendment No. 14B but will watch and listen. If we find that those measures are not effective in reducing the burden of paperwork on schools and teachers, we will continue to press the Government. We want to make sure that teachers can teach. At this stage, we feel that the government amendments are satisfactory and will achieve that end.

Photo of Baroness Blatch Baroness Blatch Conservative

My Lords, I am fascinated by what the noble Baroness said; it is almost diametrically opposed to what Don Foster said in another place about the amendments. He welcomed the more positive request to the Government.

I shall tell the House what "have regard" means in law. It simply means that the Government must think about the desirability or benefit, but they can then discard. The only challenge to that is procedural and does not involve the merits of the decision. The Government are entirely free to take the decision. They can have all sorts of wonderful thoughts about taking the burdens off teachers but they can continue to send down legislation so long as they can prove en passant that they thought about it.

I shall give an example of what will happen to schools. We have just considered clauses about companies, which will no doubt be considered in another place. We have the support of the Liberal Democrats on those clauses. The Minister said that she expected very few schools to take advantage of the opportunity to set up a company. However, every school in the land will receive regulations, guidance and guidelines about setting up companies; they will have to have that information just in case they are one of the very few schools that may consider doing so. However tiny the school and however preoccupied it is, it will receive all of that information.

The noble Baroness said—if she is convinced by this argument, I wonder about the Ministers in the department—that the advice of parliamentary counsel is that the Government could not, in legal terms, live with the requirement or duty to limit legislation. First, the Government do not have to pass regulations. They can merge some regulations and make more sense of them. In fact, they can decide not to send down the regulations at all; they can take a different view. The record books are littered with occasions on which governments have not followed through with regulations because they were overtaken, because the government took a different view or because there were representations from teachers who said that the provisions were no longer relevant. It is possible in law to limit regulations. If the Minister is prepared to accept that, I am surprised that they do not assert themselves more positively in the department.

Photo of Lord Dearing Lord Dearing Crossbench

My Lords, I welcome the Government's response at Third Reading in this place and in the other House. I recall that at Third Reading, when commenting on an amendment proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, the noble Baroness, Lady Ashton, said,

"I wish to make clear that the Government wholeheartedly support the spirit of the amendment".—[Official Report, 3/7/02; col. 259.]

That is an important statement and I said at the time that I thought that perhaps the greatest contribution that the Government could make to lifting the standards of education in schools was to contain the excess of paper flowing into schools. As a practical administrator, what matters above all is the intent of the Government. We have had evidence—I refer to the figures given by the Minister—that the Government have been reducing the flow of paper. However, some of the paper—a large element of it—is advisory and supportive rather than mandatory and interfering. I welcome that, too.

I recognise and share the concerns of the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch. I read her words carefully. I was not sure that they were not open to quite wide interpretation. The words "control" and "limit" are not very specific.

I come back to my original point that this arrangement depends on the intention of the Government. I welcome the Government's response to the debate because, in advancing the amendments, they showed their awareness that, in addition to what has been said in the House, they needed an affirmation in the Bill about the intention in this regard. In subsection (1) of the new clause, they have provided a spur to their intent against which they can be held accountable.

I have two questions for the Minister. In the annual statement, which I believe will still come forward, does the word "document" include "regulations"? Although new subsection (1) does not refer to regulations, for reasons that I now understand, it is relevant to know the extent to which the Government have been using their regulatory power. My second small clarification arises from the debate in the other place. Does "document" include electronic mail, so that there will be a comprehensive rather than a limited statement? Subject to that, I support the Government's proposals.

Photo of Baroness Ashton of Upholland Baroness Ashton of Upholland Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Sure Start, Early Years and Childcare), Department for Education and Skills, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Sure Start, Early Years and Childcare), Department for Work and Pensions, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Early Years and School Standards)

My Lords, if I may, I shall respond immediately to the two questions of the noble Lord, Lord Dearing. We do not generally send regulations to schools but if they are included in a circular, the noble Lord was absolutely right to suggest that they would be included. He also asked about electronic communications. As yet, we do not generally e-mail schools. If we start to do so, we will of course include that in any annual report.

I am absolutely convinced, although it may not feel like that at times, that we are all of the same mind in sharing the fundamental aim of seeking to improve the communications that go to schools and not to place unnecessary burdens on them. Earlier, I described the progress that we have made in so doing. I hope that noble Lords accept our good intentions, as the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, said.

I also hope that noble Lords recognise that the issue of workload in schools cannot be solved by primary legislation alone. Amendments Nos. 14BA to 14BF are a balanced response to the issue of what can sensibly be achieved in this area through primary legislation.

I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Sharp, who pushed and prodded us to the point that we have reached. We all believe that the most important thing is that schools get the right information at the right time and that it is easy for schools to use it.

To reiterate, a degree of regulation is necessary to ensure that essential safeguards are in place. However, we are committed through the Bill to using the regulation-making powers in the Bill to reduce prescription and burdens on schools by repealing existing prescriptive primary legislation. We are committed to ensuring that regulations are fit for their purpose, of good quality and are sensibly targeted. I accept, as the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, said, that many noble Lords, including the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, in particular, will be vigilant in watching to ensure that we achieve that.

I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, that I take the words of parliamentary counsel very seriously but that I have never been accused of being under-assertive, if that is the right phrase, in the department. My colleagues may rib me considerably about that later!

Our amendments are a good way forward and they build on what is in place. I understand what the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, seeks to do. I want to capture the spirit of her amendment but to avoid the possible negative impact. The amendments will ensure that the Secretary of State will take account of the need to avoid excessive burdens and of the professionalism of teachers. Noble Lords will watch carefully over us to ensure that that is precisely what we do.

On Question, Whether the Motion shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 208; Not-Contents, 127.

Division number 3 Education Bill — Control of Regulation

Aye: 205 Members of the House of Lords

No: 124 Members of the House of Lords

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Absent: 370 Members of the House of Lords

Absents: A-Z by last name

Resolved in the affirmative, and Motion agreed to accordingly.