Clause 1

Children, Schools and Families Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 1:00 pm ar 28 Ionawr 2010.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Pupil and parent guarantees

Amendment proposed (this day): 40, in clause 1, page 3, line 3, at end add—

‘(11) A pupil or parent guarantee shall not be capable of creating any obligation in respect of whose breach any liability arises in contract or tort.’.—(Mr. Gibb.)

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Ceidwadwyr, Southend West

I remind the Committee that with this we are discussing the following: amendment 154, in clause 1, page 3, line 3, at end add—

‘(11) A parent who believes that a pupil or parent guarantee is not being delivered may appeal to the head teacher in the first instance, and if not satisfied to the governing body, and  thereafter to the local authority within whose area the school is located. There will be no further appeal to the Secretary of State or to the Local Government Ombudsman, and no obligation shall arise from the guarantee whose breach would create the basis for a challenge through the courts.’.

Amendment 128, in clause 3, page 3, line 28, leave out subsection (1).

Amendment 118, in clause 3, page 3, line 29, leave out from ‘after’ to the end of line 35 and insert ‘subsection (1) there is inserted—

“(1A) A failure by the headteacher of a school to comply with any requirement (including a requirement to have a regard to guidance) imposed on the head teacher by virtue of subsection (2) of section 1 of the Children, Schools and Families Act 2010 (pupil and parent guarantees) shall not be a complaint to which this Chapter applies;

(1B) A complaint to which subsection (1A) applies shall be made to the governing body of the school about which the complaint arises.”’.

Amendment 119, in clause 3, page 3, line 36, leave out subsections (2) to (5).

Amendment 129, in clause 3, page 3, line 36, leave out subsection (2).

Amendment 156, in clause 3, page 5, line 20, at end add—

‘(6) The Local Government Ombudsman will not investigate complaints relating to the Pupil and Parent Guarantees which are regarded by the Ombudsman as unreasonable or vexatious.’.

Amendment 181, in clause 3, page 5, line 20, at end add—

‘( ) Any complaint made about the performance of a pupil guarantee or a parent guarantee shall be considered taking into account the resources made available to the school or the local authority to be able to comply with the guarantee.

( ) It is not intended to grant the pupil or parent a right to monetary compensation for any failings to comply with, or comply fully with, any pupil guarantee or parent guarantee.’.

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

I thank the Minister for the clarification. It does not, however, deal with the point about whether complainants can take legal action themselves in court. I listened carefully to what the Minister had to say in response to amendment 40 and was reassured to an extent that it is not the intention of the Minister in charge of the Bill for members of the public or parents to be able to take legal action either under the law of contract or under tort in the courts. However, I think that it would not detract from the Bill if we had an explicit clause along the lines of provisions in the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 to make it clear beyond doubt that this is not a guarantee that can be challenged or enforced in a court of law. I do not believe that that would in any way detract from the thrust of what the Minister hopes to achieve by clause 1. What I had feared when I tabled the amendments was that the Government’s response to them would be that we have to leave that as a possibility in order to make the guarantees bite. That was not the Minister’s response and therefore I do not believe that it is the thrust of the policy behind the guarantee.

Given that there is no intention behind the policy or no expectation that in a minority of cases parents will take schools to court, and given that a clause along the lines of section 111(6) of the 1998 Act would not therefore detract from the Government’s policy objective,  I cannot see why together we cannot work out such a clause, along the lines of amendment 40, and return to the matter on Report.

Given the reassurance from the Minister and given those thoughts, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes 8, Noes 4.

Rhif adran 3 Decision Time — Clause 1

Ie: 7 MPs

Na: 4 MPs

Ie: A-Z fesul cyfenw

Na: A-Z fesul cyfenw

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.