Clause 39 - Application to the Isles of Scilly

Special Educational Needs and Disability Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:45 pm on 3rd April 2001.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Andrew George Andrew George Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

As the Member of Parliament for the Isles of Scilly, I am grateful for the opportunity to comment on the clause, which I welcome, because the Isles of Scilly are indeed a special case. They are often referred to as the Fortunate Isles, and they were certainly fortunate in 1997, when I was elected as their Member. I am confident that they will continue to be so for many years hence. The Isles consist of five inhabited islands with a population of about 2,000, although they are visited by many thousands of people each year. I hope I am not straying from the terms of our debate in saying that, despite foot and mouth, they remain open for business—a point relevant to the question of education on the Isles.

The Isles of Scilly present particular challenges. They perform all the functions of a county council and a district council. They provide a water authority, which was never privatised, a sea fisheries committee, an airport authority and a number of other authorities. In fact, despite their small population they have more statutory functions than most county councils and metropolitan authorities.

On reading the clause, I was surprised to discover use of the phrase ``as if''. The fact is that, rather than operating as if it were a county council, the Isles' small authority operates as a local education authority and a county council, providing a number of functions that extend far beyond those provided by many other UK authorities. I would therefore question the use of the phrase ``as if''. I am sure that the Minister is right to ensure that the provisions of the DDA apply fully to the Isles of Scilly, despite the obvious geographical challenges that arise from their island setting.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to welcome the clause and to refer to the success of the Isles of Scilly. They are indeed fortunate isles, and I am sure that they will be fortunate to receive visits from many other hon. Members present and not present.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 39 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 40 to 42 ordered to stand part of the Bill.