Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Clause 2

Part of Education and Skills Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 5th February 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools) 5:00 pm, 5th February 2008

If the Minister has issued guidance—this is really what the amendment is about—to say to local authorities that the circumstance that I and the hon. Member for Yeovil are alluding to will always be and should be regarded as a reasonable excuse then that is fair enough, but that is not where we are. Clause 39 is invoked when the local authority gives written notice to the person who has not been attending. At that point, as the Bill is drafted, the person can tell the local authority that they have a reasonable excuse within clause 39(2)(b) and then the local authority can respond to that reasonable excuse.

The Minister also cited clause 42, which is about the attendance panels, by which time there has been not only the written notice, but the attendance notice. The person has to appeal against that attendance notice. The matter gets referred to the attendance panel, which has to meet. It hears from the person, who has had all these enforcement notices issued against him or her, what the reasonable excuse is. That is why I am disappointed by the Minister’s response.

The amendments are reasonable. Amendment No. 5 simply says:

“The Secretary of State shall specify by order arrangements and duties applicable to a person to whom this Part applies who has significant responsibilities for caring for parents, siblings or other close relatives.”

Amendment No 6 is similarly worded but for

“who has significant responsibilities for caring for their own children.”

That gives the Minister the opportunity to provide the guidance that we are seeking and that he is intimating in his response.