Clause 4 - Compliance with Orders

Part of Special Educational Needs and Disability Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:45 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) 1:45 pm, 29th March 2001

I am grateful to the Minister for those comments. She started in a rather disappointing way and I was beginning to sharpen my axe for a potential vote, but she continued helpfully so I put away my axe, and I shall not press the amendment.

The relatively tight timetable is the important point. To be literary and archaic for a moment, we do not want a situation in which we put this off until the Greek kalends, or never. It wants to be done, it must be done and it is in the children's interests that it should be done. If the time scales are anything like those suggested by the Minister, they are acceptable. Even if a local authority were minded to play for time, there would not be much time to play for.

I shall try to draw the Minister on two points now, instead of dragging them into the clause stand part debate. First, what sanctions apply if a local authority—accidentally or deliberately—cocks a snook and does not comply? I should not ask a hypothetical question, but in what circumstances would the Secretary of State come down like a load of bricks, and what would be the result? It would be helpful to know that there are sanctions which, if necessary, could be enforced.

My second point—which, I confess, I had not noticed earlier—is consistent with some remarks made rather skimmingly this morning about the interaction with Wales. My reading is that subsection (2) implies that, as there will be regulations—to which the Minister helpfully referred—they would, in relation to Wales, require the agreement of the National Assembly. I fully understand that. Will the Minister tell the Committee—now or later—whether it is envisaged that the tribunal regulations will apply across the board, with the inference, subject only, for example, to provision about the Welsh language, that they will be available in England and Wales, and that they will not be different? The hon. Lady's comments are along the right lines, and I shall not press the amendment to a vote.