Friday, November 03, 2006

Further to Andrew Adonis's unintentionally misleading statements about 'consultation'

From Lord Avebury P0631104

Tel 020-7274 4617

November 1, 2006

In Monday’s debate on Muriel Turner’s amendment you said that the trade unions concerned had been ‘thoroughly consulted’ about the proposals in question, although the General Secretary of the GMB, Paul Kenny, said in a press release issued last Monday and repeated in the next day’s Guardian:

"The amendment on school support staff should either be withdrawn or voted down. …It is a recipe for religious intolerance”.

"The amendments has (sic) been introduced with no consultation whatsoever with the trade unions representing the school support staff. Matters relating to faith schools raise complex and sensitive issues, and as a matter of principle no new legislation should be introduced until there has been widespread consultation and agreement."

I also hold a transcript of recording of a telephone call made to the House just before the debate from the General Secretary of the NAHT, another union deeply involved in this issue, expressing surprise about the amendment and irritation bordering on contempt for it.

Please could you let me know

1. whether you or any Minister has written on this matter to the General Secretaries concerned about this issue, and if not, the reasons for not doing so.
2. what documentation you had sent to the unions ‘previously’; on what date; and how each of the unions indicated to you that they were ‘supportive of the changes that we were making’.
3. whether you will have copies of any papers that were tabled at last Thursday’s meeting placed in the Library of the House
4. whether the union officials who attended last Thursday’s meeting had a mandate to agree with your amendments.
5. whether you consider that getting the agreement of “workforce agreement monitoring group”(Col 60) is an adequate way of consulting unions about proposals that may affect the life prospects of thousands of their members?
6. whether you will provide the names and positions of those constituting the “all” in your assertion that

“all [members of the workforce agreement monitoring group] recognise that these were minor amendments that were a sensible response to ensuring remodelling took place in VA schools, and that VC and religious foundation schools were not unnecessarily hamstrung as to what role their head could play”.
7 whether you consulted the NAHT, the specialist union whose members are affected by the head teacher amendment, and if so how;
8. whether, in describing the consultation as “thorough”, you will say how that description fits with the Cabinet Office Code of Practice on Consultation, and whether it was subject to any of the six consultation criteria described in the Regulatory Impact Unit document of January 2004.

The Lord Adonis,
Department for Education & Skills,

PS to Private Secretary:
Since writing to Lord Adonis at lunchtime, I have seen a copy of the
press release issued by UNISON yesterday, , and also
of the letter from Steve Sinnott of the NUT to the Secretary of State,
copy attached.

Please will you see that this additional evidence is placed before the
Minister so that he can take in into consideration in replying to my


Eric Avebury

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