LIST 99, the register of teachers and education staff barred from working with children for serious misconduct including paedophile incidents and drug offences, contains 2,100 names, school standards minister Stephen Byers told Parliament this week.
Mr Byers was defending the powers of the Secretary of State to be responsible for striking off teachers in child protection cases. He said the issue was too serious for an untried and untested General Teaching Council.
"In the 12 months to March 31, 1997, the department has dealt with no fewer than 458 misconduct cases; in 125, individuals were barred from a school and from taking part in its activities, and 12 individuals had employment restrictions placed upon them.
"That clearly shows we are not considering only isolated cases. Unfortunately, hundreds of cases a year - the majority concerning misconduct in relation to child protection matters - have to be dealt with by the Secretary of State," Mr Byers said.
Speaking in a debate on the Teaching and Higher Education Bill, he said his department would work with the Home Office and Department of Health to establish a central register, backed by a new criminal offence preventing such people from working with children.
Mr Byers said: "By providing the Secretary of State with a continuing role in child protection matters, we shall be able to guarantee our children the security they deserve."
The minister said the GTC would be able to dismiss teachers on grounds of professional misconduct or incompetence.
A new amendment to the Bill prevents teachers resigning to avoid being reported on these grounds.
The House of Commons also agreed an amendment that will prevent teachers during their induction year working in schools under special measures. Local education authorities will decide whether probationary teachers meet the required standards.