Clause 3 - Resolution of Disputes

Part of Special Educational Needs and Disability Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:30 pm on 29th March 2001.

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Photo of Tim Boswell Tim Boswell Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Education and Employment) 1:30 pm, 29th March 2001

Once again, I am grateful to the Minister for taking pains to go through the considerations put before her. A potentially negative way of interpreting the search in which the Committee is collectively engaged would be to put pressure on local authorities, which are not behaving as well as they might in this area. More positively, one might encourage them gradually to emulate good practice and to ensure that the measures are a positive benefit to their affairs and not an awkward hoop through which they must leap.

That thought is nowhere more appropriate than when considering the potential for putting pressure on inevitably vulnerable or comparatively inexperienced parents who feel that their rights amounted simply to a friendly chat and did not extend as far as taking the matter to a proper tribunal, if necessary. Having been involved in the establishment of the tribunal and having served, although in a different capacity, on a tribunal, I consider it important to have that backstop.

The Minister will remember my saying on Second Reading that we would not want the tribunal to be the first resort, but it is essential that there is a last resort. She has helpfully explained the guidance and how it is being set up to encourage local authorities to act well, and she repeated the specific safeguard that was enunciated by her noble Friend Baroness Blackstone. We are satisfied with her response. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.