Clause 22 - Penalty notices for parents

Anti-social Behaviour Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:30 am ar 8 Mai 2003.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Ceidwadwyr, Surrey Heath 10:30, 8 Mai 2003

I beg to move amendment No. 54, in

clause 22, page 18, line 23, leave out 'or a head teacher'.

Photo of Mr Bill O'Brien Mr Bill O'Brien Llafur, Normanton

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment No. 154, in

clause 22, page 18, line 25, leave out 'of a prescribed description'.

Amendment No. 55, in

clause 22, page 19, leave out line 13.

Amendment No. 56, in

clause 22, page 19, leave out lines 14 to 18.

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Ceidwadwyr, Surrey Heath

We now come to another important group of amendments. Our amendments Nos. 54, 55

and 56 are grouped with the Liberal Democrat amendment No. 154. They deal with the Bill's changes to the Education Act 1996. Amendment No. 55 is crucial, and Opposition Members feel most strongly about it, as do many of those who represent the teaching profession. The Minister will be aware of that, as will his colleagues in the Department for Education and Skills.

Classroom teachers do not want the power that the Government propose to give ''authorised staff members'' to start issuing penalty notices. I understand that. I have explained my links with the education world and the fact that members of my family have been heavily involved in teaching and education. Almost all the teachers in my constituency to whom I have spoken are aware of the proposals—much has been said about them in the various professional and trade union publications—and they say, ''You have simply got to stop this.''

Most schools have one or two parents from hell, the kind of intimidatory parents who may live in traveller encampments, some of whom might come to the school armed. The teachers feel genuinely under threat. We have seen some tragic cases of teachers being threatened. The teaching unions often speak of the number of violent incidents. Sometimes the teachers are the victim of violence from the children; disruptive teenagers can be extremely threatening and sometimes attack teachers with weapons.

It is even more frightening for those who are sometimes referred to as NQTs—newly qualified teachers. They come straight out of teacher training college to schools in rough inner-city areas and suddenly find parents bursting into the school. If the Government get their way, such parents will burst through the security measures, wielding weapons and demanding, ''Why have you issued a penalty notice?'' As a result, fewer people will volunteer to go into teaching, and an even greater shortage of teachers is the last thing that the Government want.

It is not the Minister's fault, but the Government are under huge pressure because schools throughout the country are laying off staff. The Education Secretary has tried to blame the LEAs for hanging on to what he called the missing millions, but the vast majority of schools—including all the schools in my constituency—say that whatever money the Government claim to have given them has more than been wiped out by the increase in national insurance. The salary bills have increased because of the rise in national insurance, and all the teachers and heads in my constituency are asking what the Government are up to.

The Government may be giving with one hand, but they are taking away more with the other through the national insurance increase and the costs of bureaucracy. It is not surprising that every secondary head in my constituency and a number of primary heads have written to me in extremely strong terms, saying that they are losing teachers. Then, just as that is happening, the Government come along with something that the teaching profession does not want. It all very well saying that head teachers, with the backing of the governing body and the LEA,

should have responsibility for some of those powers, but it will not work for ordinary classroom teachers. I cannot stress too strongly that we must have amendment No. 55. I hope that the Minister will accept it, as he did the previous amendment.

I turn to the wider issue of truancy. Since the Government came to power, there has been a big increase in the absolute number of children playing truant at least once from primary and secondary school. Truancy increased by 17.16 per cent. between 1996–97 and 2001–02—the last year for which figures are available. These are Government figures. There has been an increase of 14.75 per cent. in the rate of pupils playing truant. That is a huge problem. I recognise that the Government are trying to tackle it in the Bill, and we are not critical of that at all. Indeed, the concept of parenting contracts originally appeared in a Conservative consultation document in 1996. This Government took it up in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, and now we have this Bill. There is no difference between the two main parties on the principle of what we are trying to achieve.

The concern is not only that truancy is increasing. We believe from discussions with head teachers throughout the country that schools under-report the number of half-days lost through unauthorised absence. We think that there is under-reporting because schools have to declare the figures publicly and they might reflect badly on them. Given the increasing number of children playing truant at least once and the disincentive to report truancy, we conclude that the problems of truancy are getting worse. We hope that some of the measures in the Bill on which we agree with the Government will cause those trends to be reversed. However, the wrong way to tackle the problem would be to put the teaching profession, particularly ordinary classroom teachers, under huge pressures, so I do not believe that the Government have thought this measure through correctly.

Liberal Democrat amendment No. 154 is designed to deal with a Henry VIII-type clause, and we have no problem with it. In amendment No. 54, Conservative Members suggest that we should take out the words ''or a head teacher'' in new section 444B of the Education Act 1996. The provision would then refer to persons who may be authorised by an LEA to give penalty notices. That goes with amendment No. 55, which would take out the reference to other staff members authorised by the head teacher. Most crucial is amendment No. 56, which would take out the part of new section 444B(4) that states that

'' 'authorised staff member' means—

(a) a head teacher of a relevant school in England, or

(b) a member of the staff of a relevant school in England who is authorised by the head teacher''.

We would prefer penalty notices to be given only by constables or LEA officers, because they are distanced from the sharp end of the school. It would be more difficult for aggressive parents to try to get into a police station to threaten a constable, or to go the LEA headquarters, which may be miles away from the

school. It is the teachers—ordinary classroom teachers and, to some extent, head teachers—who are under threat.

The Minister must concede that there is an increase in violence inflicted on or threatened against teachers, including head teachers. All the evidence shows that, and there is huge concern about it in the profession. I sincerely hope that the Government will think again. I cannot put it any more strongly. I will listen with interest to what the Minister has to say, and I hope that he will reconsider this measure. I rather suspect that, if the Government do not drop it now, they will have to do so in another place, because I cannot believe that it will get through there. This is one of the most crucial aspects of this part of the Bill.

Photo of Annette Brooke Annette Brooke Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 10:45, 8 Mai 2003

I join the hon. Member for Surrey Heath in saying that amendments Nos. 54 and 55 are vital. I hope that he will press them to a vote. Amendment No. 154 picks up on the generality of the measure and asks for it to be clarified—if possible, in the Bill. So much is uncertain, and this is a difficult issue. All professionals will want reassurance about what exactly the legislation means.

As the Minister is probably aware, the issue of penalty notices leads to some tussling among Liberal Democrats, because we are not necessarily keen on extending penalty fines. However, truancy involves a wide range of behaviour, including unauthorised absences when we know that the children are out shopping with a parent or on their own in shopping areas. There are many local initiatives to try to tackle that. Ultimately, LEAs have a severe problem: it is costly to take the court action that is necessary in some cases, and it can drag on if parents do not turn up to hearings. LEAS therefore need measures in their back pocket to tackle the issue.

Although I am concerned about fines impinging on families and increasing their poverty, I accept that they have to be available at the end of the line. However, I am totally opposed to their being imposed by teachers or head teachers. That is consistent with what I said earlier, in that I thought that they should be separate from the school. We have had amendments inserting references to head teachers; now the Conservative amendments are removing them from the equation. I agree absolutely that they should—it is vital that the matter should be kept separate from the school.

The problem is so complex that, although fines are a blunt instrument, I accept that they are necessary. We are considering such a wide range of issues—from those involving troubled and dysfunctional families to situations in which people just do not care—that it is not right for teachers or head teachers to be involved at all. In addition, there are increasingly instances of violence between parents and head teachers. We do not wish to provoke any more direct conflict, and the measure encourages confrontation, making life more difficult for everybody.

We have recently seen reports in the press of a mother going to prison. Many of us thought that that was terrible—[Hon. Members: ''It worked.''] We have to accept that it had a deterrent effect. I am trying to demonstrate the sincerity of my support for the

amendment. However much one recoils from the notion of sending a mother to prison for her children's truancy, fines are not so different and they are important. I hope that the Minister will acknowledge my saying that some of us were wrong about that case, and that in that spirit he will accept my comments on the important amendments, Nos. 54 and 55.

Photo of John Randall John Randall Ceidwadwyr, Uxbridge

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath, I have concerns about the inclusion of authorised staff members in this part of the Bill. My hon. Friend quoted the example of inner cities. Sadly, there are problems all over the country, and it is not just in cases of social deprivation that violence is perpetrated on teachers and head teachers or—while I am on the subject—shop workers. Violence against people in authority and in other positions is on the increase.

I remember that some years ago, during an Adjournment debate just before a recess, the hon. Member for Gedling mentioned that one of the problems in today's society is a lack of respect. It was a very good speech; I have always remembered it. We know that that is a commonly held view because many of our constituents constantly tell us that there seems to be a lack of respect in today's world. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath, I have many teachers in my family. I married one, so I am not going to do down the teaching profession—that would not be good policy. It is sometimes said that, over the years, one or two members of the teaching profession have not brought it the respect that it should have. However, that is only a small minority.

To legislate in this way may lend the teaching profession a little respect. Over the years, I have come across many parents who are think that they can dictate what should be done, that their son or daughter is paramount and that the teaching staff do not know what they are talking about. It may help if they know that teachers have the power to impose these measures, but I have a feeling that, in today's world, that may result in much more pressure on the staff and on the school generally, as the hon. Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole said.

Such problems regularly occur in one school in my constituency, which has been trying to sort them out. When new head teachers have arrived, some of the local families—I might say clans—have almost inspected them and tried to stare them out, which must be very frightening. Happily, things have improved for various reasons and the situation is now under control. The Minister for School Standards visited the school recently.

The hon. Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole was right: truancy covers a wide spectrum of society. Some people take unauthorised absence by taking their children out of school for holidays. The head teacher of the school to which I referred said that some of the families were slightly dysfunctional and that the kids might get more educational benefit out of being taken away for three or four days than they would if they were in school. That could be authorised: the

head teacher has the power to do that. However, many people take their kids out of school purely because going on holiday is a little cheaper in term time.

I understand the budgetary requirements of a family: I have three children and, as we know, hon. Members' holidays are taken in the school holidays. The prices necessarily go up in that period, and I understand the constraints, but taking children out of school does not give them a proper message about showing respect for the rules as they grow up. We cannot legislate for that, but it must be instilled in children because it could be said that the current generation of parents missed out on it, and that is why we have had some of the problems.

If I had not heard many members of the teaching profession say that they do not want the provision, I would have been neutral on the subject, because some teachers might require these powers. However, the Government should seriously consider that view, given that most hon. Members have had representations to that effect, unless we are to add to teachers' burdens and make recruitment and retention even more problematic—and there are problems with recruitment and retention in London and throughout the country. In trying to solve the problem of anti-social behaviour, we might be making it more difficult to tackle.

Photo of Liz Blackman Liz Blackman Llafur, Erewash 11:00, 8 Mai 2003

I have no problem with penalty notices being served on parents. It is part of the range of policies in the Bill, which uses a staged approach that is absolutely right. On Second Reading, some Opposition Members opposed this provision because they felt that it would break down the trust between the head teacher, the teachers and the parents, and we have also discussed trust this morning. I have no truck with that argument. If schools can demonstrate that parents are flouting a series of supportive measures intended to get the child back into school, the trust has already gone.

However, I have some concerns about bureaucracy because the head or a senior member of staff may be tied up pursuing the fixed penalty notice through its course. Heads and teachers are busy people who already have a heavy administrative work load. I seek some reassurance from the Minister on that and on intimidation, which is another concern that has been expressed this morning. The Opposition have used the idea that the head teacher would authorise NQTs to issue penalty notices as a way of completely demonising and exaggerating the provisions. That is to be deplored, as there is no way that that would happen. We need clarification.

Photo of Mr Matthew Green Mr Matthew Green Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol, Ludlow

My point follows from the contribution of the hon. Member for Erewash (Liz Blackman). I am particularly concerned about the catch-all nature of the term ''authorised staff member''. I share all the sentiments expressed by Opposition Members about the fact that teachers should not issue fixed penalty notices. If the Government insist on pushing the measure through, they should consider its current catch-all nature. The clause states that an authorised staff member is

''a member of the staff of a relevant school . . . who is authorised''.

We have already been accused of trying to scaremonger about NQTs, but members of staff include school secretaries and caretakers. There are clearly groups of people whom the Government do not intend to hand out fixed penalty notices.

Photo of Siobhain McDonagh Siobhain McDonagh Llafur, Mitcham and Morden

To steal an idea from my hon. Friend the Member for Crawley (Laura Moffatt), does not the hon. Gentleman consider that the best people to issue notices would be school dinner ladies? They would have no fear of issuing them and they would do so appropriately. Many parents would not wish to mix it with the dinner ladies.

Photo of Mr Matthew Green Mr Matthew Green Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol, Ludlow

The hon. Lady faces the problem that most school dinner ladies now work for companies that are contracted to do the job for the school, so not all of them are regarded as staff members. We are getting even more ideas from Labour Members now. Will they stop at truancy? Will riding a bike the wrong way down the school drive or smoking behind the bike sheds incur a fixed penalty notice?

The clause states that regulations may make

''provision for determining the local education authority to which a penalty is payable.''

The money is payable to the LEA, and the school can be authorised by a member of the LEA. This may be the Government's way of filling the black hole in education funding. I realise that I am probably stretching the point. I was not going to make that point—I was pushed into it.

There is also a point of principle. The police are allowed to keep money from speeding notices only because it is used purely to cut speeding and improve road safety. Nothing in the Bill that says that the money from penalty notices will be used purely to reduce truancy. No amendment on that has been tabled, but the Government could examine the principle; otherwise, there will be potential conflicts of interest.

To return to the main point, if the Government insist on pushing through the measure, they should clarify who is an authorised member of staff. At the moment, the definition is wide ranging. The Government clearly do not plan for a newly qualified teacher to be handed the authorisation to slap penalty notices on truants on their first day at school.

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Ceidwadwyr, Surrey Heath

I am prompted to rise by the Minister saying ''Ah!'' in a significant way. He was obviously anticipating that he would be able to say that the definition will not cover newly qualified teachers. Does the hon. Member for Ludlow agree that in many schools that have massive problems, particularly in some of the difficult inner-city areas, the vast majority of staff have qualified as teachers only in the past one, two or three years? The legislation contains no restriction to stop an authorised member of staff being a newly qualified teacher.

Photo of Mr Matthew Green Mr Matthew Green Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol, Ludlow

That is precisely my point, and the Government should examine it. There is a potential problem, as the hon. Gentleman said, especially in

some London schools, where it is rare to find a teacher who has been there for more than three years, such is the turnover of staff. Many teachers move from inner-London schools after their first two years to seek employment elsewhere. That is unfortunate because we need the most experienced in the more difficult schools, but there is a move away from that.

Highly experienced teachers seem to like to move to beautiful Shropshire when they reach their 40s. That is great for us, as we have wonderful schools and wonderful teachers, but it does not help the staff salaries bill, because they are the more expensive teachers. That is another related problem.

Overall, the Government must clarify the definition if they want to push the power through. They will have problems in another place on the provision in general, so they will have to make it clear that only senior members of staff may issue fixed penalty notices. I would prefer it if the provision were not passed at all, but leaving it as wide as it is could cause unwanted side effects. More experienced members of staff are more likely to be able to issue penalty notices without it leading to violence. The rising incidence of violence against teachers by parents is a growing and concerning trend, and the more experienced a teacher is in dealing with both parents and pupils, the more likely they are to avoid such dangerous situations.

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Clause 22 does not require anybody to issue a fixed penalty notice; it simply introduces a power to do so. Head teachers and senior school staff will be able to make professional judgments about whether to use the new power.

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Hold on a second. I will give way once I have got into my stride and said one or two things to which the hon. Gentleman may want to respond.

Amendments Nos. 54, 55 and 56 appear to suggest that teachers are not to be trusted with the new power, and that they are incapable of deciding who is able to use the power and in what circumstances. A lot of silly stuff has been said, if not in the Committee, then before it started, about every class teacher and all NQTs being obliged to use the power. I reject that.

Before discussing the amendments, we had a debate—I believe that the Liberal Democrats were on one side and the Conservatives on the other—about whether it was a good idea for certain organisations to see themselves as being apart from all those important issues. We need light rather than heat on this important issue.

Some of the comments that were made by the hon. Member for Uxbridge were depressing. It worries me to have to say it, but we need to remember why we are here and why we were elected. Were we elected to accept the world as it is? Are we happy with it and with the levels of violence that occur? Do we believe that all such circumstances should be dealt with by the police and the police alone?

The Opposition Front-Bench spokesman on policing, the hon. Member for South-East

Cambridgeshire, is present and will know, as I do, that the Conservative party is desperately trying to convince the country that, despite the record police numbers that we have achieved, the Conservatives would be able to provide many thousands more, although they have not identified where the money will come from. I also heard a spokesperson for the Opposition on the radio today or yesterday saying that the police should be concentrating on rural crime, but in the Committee the Opposition say that the only people who should be allowed to use fixed penalty notices to deal with truancy are the police—

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The police and the LEA, but not in any circumstances—

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Ceidwadwyr, Surrey Heath

On a point of order, Mr. O'Brien.

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I will give way to the hon. Gentleman in a minute, to avoid his point of order.

The head teachers and governing bodies of some, if not all, schools have the managerial skills to decide which individuals are capable of using the powers, and who should be authorised to use them. We cannot just accept that because violence is used against staff in such circumstances they should not be allowed to do so. Violence is used against staff in other circumstances. When detention and other sanctions are taken against children, a minority of parents sometimes exhibit incredible behaviour. Would it be said that that also was an issue for the police or the LEA, and that the school had no responsibility to provide enforcement in those circumstances?

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Ceidwadwyr, Surrey Heath

The Minister must not overstate his case. I can respond to some of his more high-flown rhetoric and his points about the police later. However, my point was that when he began his remarks he said that we must give power to the heads or to senior staff. As he knows, the Bill does not specify senior staff—it is unrestricted. He must understand that, while we in the Opposition are not accepting the world as it is, we have to communicate to him that the organisations that represent head teachers and teachers do not want those powers, because they will put teachers in a vulnerable position. His own Back Benchers will have received the same representations from those organisations as we have. The teachers do not want those powers because they are there to teach, not to take on extra risks. He is failing to address that concern.

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

It is wonderful when Conservative spokesmen become the lobby for the teaching organisations and teaching unions. Half the education reforms that have been pushed through would never have been passed if we had listened to what teachers wanted and what they were prepared to put up with at the time. Pain is often associated with change, and we must look at the reality of what we are trying to achieve and whether or not it is achievable. I accept that we are operating in a difficult area. However, we should not just accept it if the lobby

says, ''No, we do not want it''. That is not a good argument for anyone to advance.

Why do we want to restrict the provision to senior staff? I am the father of an NQT—I have never called her that before, not being into education jargon, but I thought that I should do it now, so that I can take Hansard home and show our Nicola what I have just done to her. It is not appropriate to delegate the powers to certain people.

What if the NQT were an ex-police officer? In order to chill out, I sometimes watch films such as ''Kindergarten Cop'', in which Schwarzenegger plays what we would call an NQT. Why must we specify in every circumstance a head teacher or a single member of staff? Have we no trust in the school establishment's ability to take sensible decisions about who should use the powers?

Photo of Mr Matthew Green Mr Matthew Green Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol, Ludlow 11:15, 8 Mai 2003

The Minister said that all of us are here to change things; we do not necessarily accept things as they are. However, we are also here to ensure that we do not create open-ended powers that somebody somewhere might abuse. One of the aims of this Committee is to ensure that the law is tight enough that it cannot be abused later. Our concern is that this is not tight enough. The Minister's words are reassuring, but the Bill, as drafted, leaves it entirely to people's judgment. By and large we trust people's judgment, but the law should not rest on the judgment of teachers, staff or anybody else.

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

We clearly disagree. Let me put on record the Government's view, so that others can comment on what we are actually proposing. We expect most penalty notices to be issued by local education welfare officers, who also organise prosecutions for truancy. We believe that it is also right to give head teachers and senior school staff authorised by them the power to do that. We intend to use the regulation-making powers in the Bill to limit to senior staff those who may be authorised by head teachers to issue fixed penalty notices; that is not in the Bill. By senior school staff, we mean deputy heads, assistant head teachers and staff at the level of heads of department.

At present, prosecution is the only sanction available to promote and to enforce school attendance. Penalty notices will provide a quicker, cheaper alternative for use in cases in which parents need a sharp reminder of their responsibilities. Prosecution can be expensive, time consuming and heavy handed for parents who are not hard-core offenders. Our overriding objective is to get the pupil who is truanting back into school. Education professionals will be able to choose the most appropriate method to do that.

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Ceidwadwyr, Surrey Heath

I am glad that the Minister is now on to the serious point and not on his rather fanciful comparison of the Secretary of State for Education and Skills to Arnold Schwarzenegger. The situation that the Minister describes, whereby guidance is to be given, is surely nothing like as good as being specific in the Bill. If he were to propose some Government amendments to restrict the responsibility, we would

have a different debate. However, he must understand the point that the hon. Member for Ludlow and I have made: many schools—some in inner-city areas and others elsewhere—have few experienced staff other than the head. Even the Minister's guidance will not deal with that.

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

In those circumstances, the head will believe that there is nobody worthy of authorisation. He will therefore use the power; he will not delegate it. I cannot see a problem with that. Penalty notices are part of a range of options in a wide-ranging strategy to tackle truancy that includes national publicity, truancy sweeps, electronic registration and fast-track prosecutions as well as parenting contracts for truancy. 99

The amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole relates to the regulation-making power, which will set out the precise circumstances in which penalty notices may be issued. Removal of the words ''of a prescribed description'' would limit the breadth of the regulation-making power. As a result, it could not be used in a variety of circumstances. It is important that we retain the power to make such regulations.

We intend that the regulations will specify the circumstances in which a teacher might issue a penalty notice; they will be different from those in which an education welfare officer or a police constable might issue one. They operate under different circumstances and are subject to different duties arising under other legislation. For example, we would not want schools to issue fixed penalty notices to people other than their own pupils. Different regulations will be needed for different people. We would not want the same restriction to apply to constables involved in a truancy sweep.

Photo of John Randall John Randall Ceidwadwyr, Uxbridge

The Minister is making a quite persuasive case. Teachers would not mind those powers but for the fact that they are not confident of the police reacting quickly enough should something happen—whether in the school or, if they live locally, at home. If they could have confidence that a 999 call would get an instant response, the Minister's point would be valid.

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I accept that we need to try to provide all members of the community, not only the teaching profession, with the confidence that back-up will be available when needed. However, unless we involve other agencies in the enforcement of antisocial behaviour orders, the police will never be able to give such an assurance because, no matter how many police officers we provide, they will be stretched every which way. We need other agencies to join in that responsibility.

The Department for Education and Skills will consult local authorities, teachers, the police and

others about regulations or guidance made under the Bill. That process will determine how fixed penalty notices should operate according to who issues them. We need to take on board the expertise of the police about exactly how and when to issue fixed penalty notices, as well as that of the LEA and school staff.

Opposition Members have made it a fundamental issue. I think that that is a big mistake. We need to push back some of the barriers. We need to work at it. I do not suggest that it will be easy, but we cannot simply accept things as they are, backing off because of lobbying or because of the actions of a minority of violent parents. Those issues have to be dealt with. We have to find quick and cost-effective methods of allowing people to deal with them.

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Ceidwadwyr, Surrey Heath

The Minister is right to say that we believe that it is a fundamental issue. He is wrong to say that it would depend on the police, because we have not sought to take the LEA out of the equation. We accept that LEA officers, who are remote from the potentially violent parent, could do things.

My hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge spoke about schools not getting an instant response. That happened recently at Shawfield school in my constituency; I received a letter about it only yesterday. Although Surrey police are excellent, on that occasion the school did not get an instant response. We cannot put vulnerable teachers in that position. We shall press amendment No. 55 to a Division.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed: No. 55, in

clause 22, page 19, leave out line 13.—[Mr. Hawkins.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 6, Noes 9.

Rhif adran 3 Adults Abused in Childhood — Clause 22 - Penalty notices for parents

Ie: 6 MPs

Na: 9 MPs

Ie: A-Z fesul cyfenw

Na: A-Z fesul cyfenw

Question accordingly negatived.

It being after twenty-five minutes past Eleven o'clock, The Chairman adjourned the Committee without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned till this day at half-past Two o'clock.