Clause 16 - Extent

Education and Adoption Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 14 July 2015.

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

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

With your permission, Mr Chope, I would like to consider clauses 16, 17 and 18 together. These are technical clauses which set out when the provisions in the Bill will come into force, their extent and the title by which the Act will be known, subject to Royal Assent. Clause 16 provides that the Bill applies to England and Wales only. As hon. Members will be aware, England and Wales are a single legal jurisdiction. However, as the explanatory notes set out, the provisions of the Bill apply only to schools and local authorities in  England, as education is devolved to Wales. It will be for the Welsh Government to take a decision to apply these new provisions in Wales. The Bill does not apply to Scotland and Northern Ireland, which have their own legal jurisdictions. They legislate for themselves upon educational matters.

Clause 17 provides for the commencement of the Bill, subject to Royal Assent. Clauses 1 to 14 will come into force on days appointed by the Secretary of State in commencement regulations. As we have discussed, the provisions for failing and coasting schools will come into effect at different times. No child should spend a single day in a school that is failing to provide an acceptable standard of education. For that reason, we will implement the provisions for failing schools as soon as possible after the Bill receives Royal Assent. For coasting schools, the draft regulations are clear that we will not identify any school as “coasting” until the 2016 results are available, and the relevant section will be commenced accordingly.

Clause 18 sets out that the Bill should be known as the Education and Adoption Act, should the Queen give her consent. That is considered to be a logical title. I therefore move that these clauses stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch

I am happy to allow these three clauses to be debated together.

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Education)

Thank you, Mr Chope. I am happy to concur with your decision from the Chair to do that. I do not have much to say, other than to point out that we discussed earlier in the course of the Bill that the Government are now proposing to water down the proposals for so-called “EVEL”—English votes for English laws—and since they had two sets of proposals for EVEL, I said that this might be categorised as the lesser of two EVELs. Now it seems that that might be reversed and that some of the concessions given with regard to EVEL earlier in the course of our parliamentary procedures might be withdrawn because of a hissy fit from the Leader of the House following the SNP’s decision to vote on the foxhunting regulations.

I raise that because clause 16—perhaps confusingly, for some Members—says that this Act extends to England and Wales, being the legal jurisdiction. That throws up why the Government’s approach to all this could fall into confusion; perhaps it needs to be taken at a steadier pace, with some sort of constitutional convention. I raise the point that it could be technically possible under this Bill—although highly unlikely—that a school located in Wales could seek to open an academy in England. It might be technically possible; I do not know. Certainly, the issue of legal jurisdiction mentioned in clause 16 raises a lot of interesting questions; but I am not going to press them at this stage.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 16 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 17 and 18 ordered to stand part of the Bill.