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Lords set for a busy session of legislation

Education teams in the House of Lords are gearing up for a tougher session than in the last Parliament, with two Bills likely to come to the Upper chamber.

The Government's planned legislation designed to make opting out more attractive is expected to start in the Lords before Christmas.

The Government's team will be led by the hereditary peer, Lord Henley, who has had previous experience of piloting through contentious legislation.

Lord Henley deputised for Baroness Blatch in leading the Government side during much of the 1993 Act which brought in regular inspection of schools.

He has no official deputy, but Baroness Miller acts as the Conservative whip in the Lords.

She is relatively new to the Lords and has made a name campaigning to get more women into politics.

The Government also draws on the expertise of group of peers that includes Baroness Perry, a former chief HMI and former vice-chancellor of South Bank University; Baroness Young, former education minister; Lord Skidelsky, professor of political economy at Warwick; Lord Stockton, former chairman of Central London Training and Enterprise Council, and Lord Lucas, a hereditary peer with interests in education.

The Labour Opposition has a new leader, Lord Morris, a former academic who now chairs the council of the Prince of Wales' Institute of Architecture. Lord Morris was principal of St David's University College, Lampeter, between 1980 and 1991.

The newest member of the team is Baroness Farrington, who has had a long career in education, serving on the former Burnham negotiations on teachers' pay. She is a long-standing member of Lancashire county council and chaired the education committee between 1981and 91.

Baroness Blackstone, Master of Birbeck College, retains a place on the team, though she is also the principal spokesman on foreign affairs, as does Lord Peston, former professor of economics at Queen Mary College. The team also includes Lord Ponsonby, hereditary peer, who has been an Opposition education spokesman since 1992.

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