Sunday, 28 February 2010

Dealing with the Lords

So the CSF Bill has reached the Lords. It had its first reading on 24th February, the day after it cleared the Commons with great chunks of the Bill left unscrutinised. The second reading is on 8th March. Given the unseemly haste, which smacks of desperation, I fully expect the government to push for the committee stage to start on the 22nd, that being the earliest possible date under the normal Lords operating procedures.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Home Education is holding a meeting and inviting peers along to learn more about the subject. It is clear from postings by some members of the Lords that they hold many of the same misconceptions and misunderstandings as everyone else and the hard work that home educators did in educating MPs and some media people is going to have to be done again.

The bad publicity and falsehoods paraded after the Khyra Ishaq case might have made the job a bit harder, because we now also need to demonstrate that the assertions of Ed Balls and the BBC are false and would probably make things worse. As such, I'm going to try and turn the tables and argue that because hard cases make bad laws, now is actually a very bad time to be discussing regulation of home education because of all the media hype, the lack of time for proper scrutiny of the legislation, poor LA performance and anything else. Such important legislation should be considered away from hype and knee-jerk reactions, so if anything, the Lords ought to either delay the committee stages or agree to remove the home education clauses from the Bill so that they may be properly considered later.

Of course, this does set us up for 'later', but given the raised profile over the past year, it is likely that we'd get stuck with that anyway. If Labour win then we're all screwed anyway, because we'll get exactly the same stuff pushed at us, but hopefully the Conservatives and LibDems now know that this is a hornets' nest to be approached with extreme caution.

So, in response to the Something Must Be Done lobby, I propose to counter with But Now Is Not The Right Time!

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