Peter's principle

Civil servants have been very inventive during the passage of the education Bill, finding a real treasure-trove of "technical objections" to trip up unwary MSPs.

Thus you cannot have a headteacher providing education, Peter Peacock, the deputy minister, revealed during last week's third stage of the Bill. Only an education authority has that duty and it must be in the singular - the plurlity is not a legal entity.

It also emerged that MSPs cannot go around calling for Gaelic education to be provided where there is "reasonable demand," since this was not defined. Funnily enough, neither was "unreasonable expenditure" in relation to special needs, although this wording seemed OK. It was, however, a Labour amendment. So we think we now know how the system works.

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