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Clause 191

Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 pm on 26th March 2009.

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Powers in relation to schools causing concern: England

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

Photo of David Laws David Laws Shadow Secretary of State (Children, Schools and Families)

I welcome the Minister for Schools and Learners to our discussion of the clause.

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 am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for welcoming me back to the Committee to look after the clause. I wondered whether he wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, North on doing a sterling job of dealing with more than nine hours of scrutiny.

Photo of David Laws David Laws Shadow Secretary of State (Children, Schools and Families)

Indeed, I did. I also want to congratulate the Minister on being one of the members of the Committee who was not absent without authorisation this morning. Before the Under-Secretary leaves the proceedings completely, I thank her very much for presiding over such a long sitting today and particularly for doing so with great patience and for taking all the interventions. I congratulate her on not necessarily hitting a huge number of sixes, but on staying at the wicket for a long period and not allowing many balls to get past her. Even though she was to some extent let down by the absence of some of her colleagues this morning, she has done a fine job for her Department and for the Government.

May I also say that it is a great pleasure to see the interest being taken in education today by the Government’s Deputy Chief Whip? It is always very encouraging indeed when one finds colleagues trying to improve themselves by taking an interest in areas outside their remit.

Photo of Siôn Simon Siôn Simon Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills

Can the hon. Gentleman confirm that he is referring to the fact that the Government’s Deputy Chief Whip was in the oral evidence sessions on more than one occasion for at least half an hour—if not an hour and a half—as I noted at the time? Does he mean to refer to that and did he notice that himself?

Photo of David Laws David Laws Shadow Secretary of State (Children, Schools and Families)

I do not want to go too wide of clause 191, but I fear either that there is great competition for places in the Government and the education Department or that the Deputy Chief Whip is concerned about the management of parts of the Bill.

To return to the clause, we are coming to an important area of the Bill, which contains not only part 10, but part 11, which deals with complaints. I want to register, because I am aware of the time—

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch

Order. I interrupt the hon. Gentleman now because clause 191 merely introduces schedule 13. I think the hon. Gentleman intends to speak to the contents of that schedule. If that is so, the time to do that is in the next debate, which will be on the question that schedule 13 be the 13th schedule to the Bill. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will keep his remarks on the clause brief.

Photo of David Laws David Laws Shadow Secretary of State (Children, Schools and Families)

I certainly will. I merely wanted to draw to your attention, Mr. Chope, and to the Committee’s attention that the part of the Bill that clause 191 ushers in is important, and that in spite of the late hour it is important that we give it adequate scrutiny. We have the potential next week to cover the other items in the Bill. I realise that this is a detention for Labour Members who were absent without authorisation this morning, but if the Government want to continue our consideration—

The Chairman’s attention having been called to the fact that fewer than seven Members were present, he accordingly suspended the proceedings.

Other Members having come into the room, and seven Members being present, the proceedings were resumed.

Photo of David Laws David Laws Shadow Secretary of State (Children, Schools and Families)

I think I had concluded my introductory comments on clause 191. I do not know whether the Minister wants to respond.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 191 ordered to stand part of the Bill.