HOUSE OF COMMONS
Standing Committee E
EDUCATION BILL [Lords]
Thursday 12 May 1994
Adjourned till Tuesday 17 May at half-past Ten o'clock.
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[SIR DAVID KNOX in the Chair]
Mrs. Ann Taylor (Dewsbury): On a point of order, Sir David. On Tuesday I asked the Government not to table any hasty amendments. Before the Minister looks at the selection list, I am not complaining about hasty amendments which the Minister does not realise have been tabled. I am asking the Minister, through you, Sir David, to consider tabling amendments which would be of benefit to us all and which arise from the concerns expressed this morning in a report on racism in schools. The report shows that racism is a very real problem which must be tackled and that not enough is being done to tackle it. One of the reasons for that may be that teachers—including newly qualified teachers—do not have sufficient guidance, experience and training in how to tackle such problems. Will the Minister respond—as I understand that the Department have not yet responded—to that report at some stage? More importantly for the Committee, will the Government consider amending the Bill to ensure that teacher education deals with and prepares teachers for what happens in schools when there are problems of racism? That is particularly important for the Bill's school-based teacher training proposals, because if a school that has embarked on school-based teacher training has problems of racism, its staff may not be able to make trainee teachers adequately aware of what is happening and of what they need to do to tackle the problem.
The Chairman: As the hon. Lady will appreciate, that is not a point of order and it is certainly not a matter for the Chair, but the Minister has heard what she said and he may wish to respond.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Further and Higher Education (Mr. Tim Boswell): I am grateful, Sir David, and I appreciate the way in which the hon. Lady made her point. My Department has not yet had an opportunity to study that report. Before I respond to the substantive point that the hon. Lady made, perhaps I might say that I am sure that all Committee members will be sorry to hear of the sudden illness of the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith). We wish him well—
Ms Estelle Morris (Birmingham, Yardley): He has died.
Mr. Boswell: I am very sorry to hear that sobering news. I am sure that all my hon. Friends and other hon. Members will wish to pay tribute to him. I think that the hon. Lady is right to introduce an important matter to the Committee. We shall reflect on the report when we have had an opportunity to study it. It is open to the hon. Lady to table her own amendments. We 36 can then consider whether we deem any to be appropriate, and we may be in touch with her before then. I remind her that the criteria which are set out in the circulars for the accreditation of teachers for primary and secondary teacher training do not at present mention the issue of racism, but there is no reason why subsequent revisions could not make them do so.
Mr. Bryan Davies (Oldham, Central and Royton): On a point of Order, Sir David. I am shocked, as is everybody in the Committee, by the news, which has apparently been confirmed, of the death of my right hon. and Learned Friend the Leader of the Opposition. Is it possible for any member of the Committee to ask for an Adjournment, or can only the Government Whip do so? Do the Government recognise that many of us are shocked by what has happened and would appreciate an Adjournment?
Mr. James Pawsey (Rugby and Kenilworth): Further to that point of order, Sir David. I associate myself very much with the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member of Oldham, Central and Royton (Mr. Davies) and by my hon. Friend the Minister. The right hon. and learned Member of Monklands, East was a well respected man of enormous integrity and great courage. Conservative Members—I believe that I speak for all my hon. Friends—are deeply distressed at this most unfortunate and desperately untimely news. We would very much like to associate ourselves with the remarks that have been made. Conservative Members understand how distressed Labour Members must feel. We feel for them at this most difficult time.
The Chairman: Order. I think that it would be sensible if I suspended the Committee for five minutes to allow discussions to take place. I believe that a proposal may then emerge.
Mrs. Ann Taylor: I should like to thank Ministers and Conservative Back Benchers for the comments that they have made in the very difficult circumstances that we face. The news has been a great shock to Labour Members and to everyone in the House. We are very grateful for the assistance, as well as the comments, of Conservative Members. I understand that it is the Government's intention to adjourn the Committee for today. That is entirely right. My colleagues and I appreciate that mark of respect for John Smith.
Resolved, That the Committee do now adjourn till Tuesday 17 May at half-past Ten o'clock.—[Mr. Wood.]
Adjourned accordingly at nineteen minutes to Eleven o'clock till Tuesday 17 May at half-past Ten o'clock.37
THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:
Knox, Sir David (Chairman)
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Davies, Mr. Bryan
Foster, Mr. Don
Griffiths, Mr. Win
Morris, Ms Estelle
Squire, Mr. Robin
Taylor, Mrs. Ann