Wednesday, 6 November 2019
Education (Student and Parent Charter) Bill 2019: Committee Stage
Lynn Ruane (Independent)
I am glad that the Minister referred to amendment No. 31 at the end of his reply because my insistence on pushing this amendment is linked with that amendment. They are both about being able to ensure the ombudsman will have some power in these matters. The Minister referred to being able to informally end disputes before they reach a certain point, but the ability of the ombudsman to intervene at an early stage will be removed by section 10. I am willing to consider whether amendment No. 10 fundamentally changes the role of the ombudsman in such matters. There is support for the amendment. I do not want to insert a provision into the Bill that will have a negative effect in that regard. However, I do not wish the Bill to leave this House without the acceptance of either amendment No. 10 or amendment No. 31. I am willing to hold back on amendment No. 10 and see what the Minister and his Department will come back to me with on amendment No. 31 which relates more to a preventative measure. Amendment No. 10 would provide direction in worst case scenarios, whereas amendment No. 31 aims to prevent matters from ever getting to that point. I would far prefer a preventative measure to be included than what is included in amendment No. 10. I am willing to withdraw the amendment but reserve the right to resubmit it on Report Stage.