What really happened yesterday in the House of Lords and what does it mean for home
On one level, a private member’s bill put forward by Lord Soley had its Second Reading.
Lord Soley’s bill is not a government bill.
As I explained in previous blogs, this type of bill doesn’t make it into law, but for someone who feels strongly, it is a way for an issue to be aired.
While it is being debated though, it is generally talked about as though it could conceivably become law.
Lord Soley’s bill will trundle on for a while. There’ll be committee stage some time after Christmas where any member of the house of lords can put forward amendments; peers who spoke yesterday indicated that there were quite a lot of things they wanted to add to the bill or to take out of the bill.
And then on a whole other level there is the reaction of the government to the broader issues raised by the bill.
At Second Reading there will be a Minister responding to the bill and he or she might say the government takes the matter very seriously and is already doing xyz or that such and such a thing is already in the pipeline and will bring about improvements.
Essentially that is what happened with the previous private member’s bill debated yesterday
Alternatively Ministers might opt for saying they will ask someone to review the matter or look at issuing new guidance.
The latter is what happened with the home education bill. LINK
What yesterday means for home educators is that Lord Soley’s bill has pushed the Department for Education into making a statement about new guidelines.
(For completeness I would add that I’m aware of an alternative interpretation namely that the Government was itching to do something about home education and welcomed Lord Soley’s bill as a pretext)
As I have said, Lord Soley will carry on with his bill, but the real action will be over the proposed new government guidelines where Lord Soley has no direct influence since he doesn’t hold a government post.
In respect of these new guidelines, the Minister said that local authorities need to be able to act, but he also added that the Government thinks local authorities “already have the tools for the job.”
We don’t know what will be in the new guidelines nor when we might see a published draft. All the Minister said yesterday was that there would be a public consultation. The government has a consultation website where you can search by department and obviously as soon as I get wind of anything I will post it.
Lord Soley has therefore won some attention from the Government in response to his bill but from where he stands in wanting the law to be changed, he has also lost, since he ends by saying he fears the Minister “may be holding back too much on what the Government could do”. LINK
Current Government Elective Home Education Guidelines are here
In subsequent blog posts I will be looking at the role of Hampshire and Kent in assisting Lord Soley, and also the parliamentary written questions tabled by members of the House of Lords, as well as potential amendments to the home education bill in committee.