CSF Bill, Second Reading House of Lords, 8 March 2010

The Second Reading of the CSF Bill was the first opportunity for peers to voice their views on its many parts. Once again the section on home education took up much of the time, with four peers making it the central theme of their speeches. Twelves speeches included reference to Clause 26, which out of a total of seventeen seems to be good going; this of course included two from each of the front bench team of the main parties and one from the LibDem spokesperson, all of which could not fail to mention this controversial subject. In all, around 45 minutes out of 3½ hours were spent speaking on the topic of home education, which is a slightly smaller percentage (21%) than was achieved in the Commons Second Reading (24%).

Again the hard work of HE families was noted; Baronesses Verma and Bottomley both mentioned the piles of letters about Clause 26 with which peers had been bombarded. Well done to all who have found the time in the middle of teaching your children to participate in a “Teach Yourself Politics” course. Whilst it appears from various comments made on the night as if this clause – if not the whole Bill – is not going much further than the wash-up, it is also clear that the Bill’s demise will not be the end of our efforts to protect our freedoms in this respect.

Looking ahead therefore to what may or may not lie beyond the General Election, I want to urge all HE families not just to watch the videos of those who spoke up on our behalf, but also two in particular from those who spoke in favour of Clause 26. The first is Lord Soley, who, whilst not being supportive of our concerns, I think did express genuine alarm at the tone of some of the comments in response to his post on the Lords of the Blog site. Now discussion there was not helped by the arrogance of a poster who goes by the name of McDuff, who seems to me mainly intent on stirring up arguments to undermine HE. Him apart, there is a need  to make reasoned arguments on such forums as it is one place where some of those who vote on our futures go to hear our voices. Lord Soley was clearly taken aback by the number of views and comments on his post, but was far less impressed by the quality of some of the contributions. Whilst I know many of us just want politicians to leave our families alone, the reality is that they won’t, so we need to win over as many as possible with reasoned arguments not tirades of frustration. I don’t know if Clive Soley would ever defy his party’s line on HE, but I would like to think it would be worth trying to persuade him.

The speech from the other Lords of the Blog author, Baroness Deech, was very different though.  [Her post on HE are here & here.] She is a deep-seated opponent of un-monitored HE, but what she did provide in her speech was a clear explanation of why this subject will not now go away. In one paragraph she referred at length to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, one of Badman’s favourite topics. This and various aspects of the European Convention on Human Rights are where the real roots of this issue can be found and listening to the Baroness’s eulogy of them highlights the strength of  some people’s faith in them. Given that her father had to flee Vienna and Prague in 1939, it was very surprising to hear her sing the praises of Germany’s ban on HE, which was brought in by the totalitarian regime her family escaped from. She followed that comment with the assertion:

It is the duty of home-educating parents to secure for their children the education pledged in international treaties; the parents do not have stand-alone rights to determine that education in any way that they wish without state regulation.

This of course opens up the bigger, and global, discussion of where does the authority of things such as the UNCRC and ECHR come from? I don’t remember being asked if I wanted to be governed by them. However, that is a discussion for another time and perhaps place. For now, can I urge HE families to listen to these two supporters of Clause 26 and learn from what they said and how they said it.

The full text of the Second Reading debate starts in Hansard on here and the full video can be viewed here.

I cannot embed the play-list here, so please click the link below to go to the play-list on Dailymotion if you want to view them all at once – that will take about three -quarters of an hour.

Full Play-list – once there click ‘Watch playlist’

If you want easily to select a particular video they can be found embedded on the following pages:

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