Clause 77

Education and Skills Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:15 pm on 28th February 2008.

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Application of Chapter to institutions in England only

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

I beg to move amendment No. 142, in clause 77, page 47, line 39, leave out from beginning of line 39 to ‘Chapter’.

Photo of Hugh Bayley Hugh Bayley NATO Parliamentary Assembly UK Delegation

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment No. 143, in clause 77, page 47, line 40, at end add

‘shall cease to apply to independent educational institutions in England.’.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

The purpose of the amendment is to enable me to raise a minor drafting concern brought to the attention of members of the Committee by a supplementary briefing prepared by the Independent Schools Council on 21 January. It made the following point:

“Much of Part 4 Chapter 1 of the Bill restates Part 10 Chapter 1 of the Education Act 2002, with consequential changes made to reflect the proposed transfer of regulatory functions from the Secretary of State to Ofsted. However, we note that Part 10 Chapter 1 of the former Act does not appear to be expressly repealed”.

I tried to find the repeal but could not find it either. The briefing went on to say that that is what it

“would expect since independent schools should clearly not be expected to comply with two contrary systems of registration and regulation. We recommend consultation with Parliamentary Counsel to ensure that, should Part 4 Chapter 1 of the Bill become law (as we hope it will not), any lack of clarity over the status of the existing registration provision be removed on the face of the Bill.”

Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners)

Clause 77 applies chapter 1 of part 4 of the Bill to independent educational institutions in England. Chapter 1 of part 10 of the Education Act 2002, which sets out the current statutory framework for independent schools in England and Wales, will be amended by the Bill so that it no longer applies to independent schools in England. In its place, the provisions in part 4 of the Bill will come into force, subject to the will of Parliament. Those are the substantive issues that we will come on to discuss in detail.

The current regulatory regime set out in the 2002 Act will continue to apply to independent schools in Wales, but hon. Members might have noticed that the Government have tabled an amendment to provide a framework power for the National Assembly for Wales—I think that it is contained in a new clause to replace clause 132. That will provide the legislative competence for the Assembly to make legislation relating to the regulation and inspection of schools in the independent sector. The framework power will allow the Assembly to develop an approach to monitoring the education provided in Welsh independent schools in a manner that meets the needs of Wales. It will also enable the Assembly to make changes comparable to those made for England if it decides after further consideration and consultation to do so.

The amendments would have no substantive impact on the operation of the clause and, indeed, would not assist readers because they would remove the helpful reference to the legislative framework for Wales. The amendment is therefore unnecessary and I respectfully ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw it.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

I am grateful to the Minister for that partial explanation, but I still do not understand how it is that chapter 1 of part 10 of the Education Act 2002 will be removed, since clause 77 merely states that references in chapter 1 of part 4 of the Bill are to apply only to England. It does not take out the references in chapter 1 of part 10 of the 2002 Act, so those provisions will still apply.

Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Minister of State (Schools and Learners), Department for Children, Schools and Families, Minister of State (Department for Children, Schools and Families) (Schools and Learners)

I always seek to be helpful to the hon. Gentleman. I had not planned to say anything else, but I refer him to paragraph 13 of schedule 1— [ Interruption. ] After that musical accompaniment, that is all that I need to say.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools)

I will ponder the Minister’s words after the Committee to see whether he is correct, but on the basis of his explanation, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 77 ordered to stand part of the Bill.