Clause 1 - Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Schools in England

Education Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:25 am on 22nd March 2005.

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Photo of Angela Watkinson Angela Watkinson Shadow Minister (Education) 9:25 am, 22nd March 2005

I beg to move amendment No. 5, in clause 1, page 1, line 16, leave out

‘be appointed for a term of more than’ and insert

‘serve more than two consecutive terms of’.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship in Committee this morning, Mr. Forth. I confess that I suddenly find myself in difficulty, because the set of amendments that I was given or their numbers bear no relation to those that I see on the amendment paper. I shall proceed as best I can.

The amendment would restrict the term of appointment of the chief inspector to no more than two consecutive terms. That seems to us a sensible limitation on such an appointment. The amendment would provide a control in the Bill, against very long service by one person in that post. A sensible 10-year term would seem the most appropriate maximum.

Photo of Derek Twigg Derek Twigg Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Schools)

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship today, Mr. Forth. I shall be brief.

Clause 1 re-enacts the provisions of the School Inspections Act 1996, which, in turn, re-enacted the original provisions of the Education (Schools) Act 1992. It includes a requirement for the chief inspector to be appointed by the Queen in Council for a maximum of five years, but places no further restrictions on the reappointment. Those arrangements balance the need to safeguard the integrity of the post, by limiting the length of the term of office, with the need to ensure that the most suitable candidate may be appointed.

We remain committed to making recommendations to Her Majesty about the appointment of the chief inspector on the basis of merit and ministerial accountability. We would not usually reappoint without competition for more than two terms, save in very exceptional circumstances for a short period. However, it is right to retain the flexibility to extend the appointment for a further full term, on the basis of open competition, if the candidate is the very best for the job. I therefore urge that the amendment be withdrawn.

Photo of Angela Watkinson Angela Watkinson Shadow Minister (Education)

Bearing in mind what the Minister has said, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 1 agreed to.