Saturday, October 31, 2009

News From the House

The Early Day Motion now has 61 signatories which is a substantial increase in recent weeks. People might want to check to see if their MP has signed and if they haven't, contact them and ask them to do so.

We need to apply pressure to raise this issue in the House because at Business questions on 29th October, Graham Stuart asked Harriet Harman, at 36 mins into this recording, for a debate in the House over the issue of the weaknesses in the Badman report. Harriet Harman said that this could usefully be debated in Westminster Hall or upon the adjournment.

Transcript here, - see annotations below.*

Of course, a debate in Westminster Hall is a way of sidelining the issue. A debate in the House of Commons would be subject to a vote, ministers are more likely to attend and there is more chance of the issue being taken seriously. Westminister Hall Debates are less likely to embarrass the government into actually listening to its populace.

"In December 1999, a new meeting place was opened up for debates - Westminster Hall.

Westminster Hall sits alongside the main Chamber, and is aimed at fostering a new style of debate. Sessions are open to all MPs, who sit in a horseshoe arrangement which is meant to encourage constructive rather than confrontational debate

The meetings are presided over by a Deputy Speaker and there are no votes."

The first reading of the draft legislation "Improving Skills and Safeguarding Children" in which changes to the registration and monitoring of home educators will be after the Queen's Speech on November 18th. There will be a second reading a week or two later. Then the bill will be debated and voted upon in the House and then go through to the Lords.

For more on how bills progress, go here.

Of course, we must also keep an eye on the Apprenticeships, Skills, Learning and Children's Bill, which is due for debate on the Lords Amendments on Wednesday 11th November.

Update: From Comments to the They Work for You Site:

"The issue Graham Stuart raises merits much more than a debate in Westminster Hall since the proposed legislation (the Safeguarding Bill) that springs from Graham Badman's report into Elective Home Education has huge constitutional implications for all families in this country, for it will, in all likelihood determine that the duty to ensure that all children receive a suitable education will rest unequivocally with the state.

We envisage that in years to come, when it is clear that the state has failed to ensure that a large number of children have not received a suitable education,(of course almost universally in their schooling system), that the government of the day will live to regret this legislative appropriation of parental duties.

This appropriation of parental responsibilities is but one of the huge issues that is at stake here. There are sadly many others. If we progress further down the route of state intervention into home education, it won't just have implications for home educators. It would impact upon education law for every family in England.

The full consequences of Mr Badman's proposals haven't been touched upon before the House, and deserve a full debate in the widest possible arena."

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