Debates between Viscount Eccles and Baroness Penn during the 2019 Parliament

Wed 15th Jun 2022
Schools Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Committee stage: Part 1 & Lords Hansard - Part 1

Schools Bill [HL]

Debate between Viscount Eccles and Baroness Penn
Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We are saying that joining a multi-academy trust is a good idea and that we would like everyone to do it. We are encouraging everyone to do it, but there are no powers within the Bill to compel people. The reason we think it is a good idea is that we have seen that schools in multi-academy trusts are stronger together. Of course, it would be open for such specialist schools to, for example, perhaps form a multi-academy trust with each other. We know that there are many high-performing, stand-alone schools that have the capacity to support other schools within the combined accountability of a MAT model.

Viscount Eccles Portrait Viscount Eccles (Con)
- Hansard - -

I may be wrong, but is there not a route to making it enforceable, or close to enforceable, by way of secondary legislation, given the way in which the Bill is drafted?

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I sought to confirm the point that was directly raised by the noble Duke about the powers within the Bill, and I have been given the reassurance that there are no powers within the Bill to force an existing academy to join a multi-academy trust. I will seek further, triple reassurance on that point, but I sought clarity on it before addressing this.

--- Later in debate ---
Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I take the noble Lord’s point. I absolutely reassure him that that is not the intention. I will also go away and double check that there is not the ability to do that under those powers. Given the discussions we have had on those parts of the Bill and our commitment to reflect on them, our discussion on this issue and the reassurance that is being sought will also form part of the discussions.

Viscount Eccles Portrait Viscount Eccles (Con)
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May I just articulate another problem I have? The noble Baroness used the word “intention”. When I think about the summing up and read the summings up in Hansard, we have been presented a stream of good intentions. The problem is that I do not think Parliament is at all wise or sensible to live on good intentions; we all know where they can take you. I reiterate that it seems that the scheme of this Bill, broadly speaking, allows the Secretary of State to find a way of imposing the policy that every school should be in a multi-academy trust one way or another. At the moment, that is the position. I am afraid that both the right reverend Prelate and the noble Duke must view the future rather pessimistically.

Covid-19: Economic Costs

Debate between Viscount Eccles and Baroness Penn
Tuesday 28th July 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My understanding is that local authorities get Covid data on a daily basis and that, since 20 July, individual-level data has been available to the teams that respond to outbreaks in local authorities.

Viscount Eccles Portrait Viscount Eccles (Con)
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Bearing in mind that this excellent paper is entitled Living with COVID-19 and that at the present time we have no idea how long we will have to live with it, and given that the paper concentrates on balancing, when do the Government intend to widen the debate to bring in advice from other academically qualified people such as economists and behavioural scientists, alongside the medical advice that they now receive?

Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I can reassure my noble friend that behavioural scientists make up part of the group of experts who are contributing to SAGE. In addition to that, the views of economists in the Treasury and elsewhere are inputted into Cabinet decision-making. My noble friend is right that we are going to have to learn to live with this disease for some time, so the safe reopening of our economy is focused on getting the public to make measures such as hand washing and social distancing part of their everyday lives until we find a longer-term solution, such as a vaccine.