Academies Bill [HL] — Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 7th July 2010.

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Photo of Baroness Howarth of Breckland Baroness Howarth of Breckland Crossbench 5:30 pm, 7th July 2010

My Lords, I had not intended to speak today as I have not had the opportunity, for various reasons, to become engaged in the Academies Bill. I should like to ask the Minister a couple of quite simple questions. If this proposal were to be delayed today, what timetable would there be for bringing it back in the way that the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, suggested? We are told that the Government have an education Bill coming along in the autumn. What guarantees can he give that this subject will be in that Bill?

I have heard at least four of the noble Baronesses whom I admire most in this House speak on opposite sides in this debate. I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Perry, that this subject is different from all the others. I have said previously in this House that, unless we attend to the welfare of our young people, they will never learn the other subjects that they are in school to learn. This topic attends to their welfare. It ensures that they have the life skills and confidence to move forward in all the other subjects that they are trying to achieve with all the other hopes that they have in order to attain a good life position and life skills. I talk to a lot of children and remember my life in ChildLine, and I feel that unless this is grasped soon we will lose more children who do not understand the issues.

My noble friend Lady Howe has just talked about the influences around young people. I also talk to a lot of parents. They may often feel anxious about some of these topics being taught, but they are even more anxious about the influences on their children without having facts and information. In ChildLine, I talked to one child after another one and one young person after another who had curious and false information. I am told by my colleagues still working there that that continues. I have been out of ChildLine for 10 years and it is a great indictment that we have not yet got these topics in schools so that young people have, as the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, would say, their rights, because it is a right to have this information.

The Government should grasp this nettle now so that we do not lose time and more children. If they do not and if the noble Baroness does not divide the House, I should like the Minister to give us a timetable so that we know when this can be taken forward.