HC Deb 03 April 1984 vol 57 cc828-68
Mr. Speaker

I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

Mr. Clement Freud (Cambridgeshire, North-East)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I listened most carefully to the points of order after Question Time. Would you make it clear to the House that the debate continues until 10 o'clock?

Mr. Speaker

I do not know for how long the Opposition day debate is likely to continue. The hon. Gentleman's point of order is not a matter for the Chair.

4.34 pm
Mr. Giles Radice (Durham, North)

I beg to move, That this House, aware of the concern felt by parents and teachers about inadequate educational provision in many parts of the country and believing that the future of this nation depends on developing the skills and abilities of all our people and that therefore investment in education ought to be increased rather than diminished, deplores the Government's curbs on local authority educational expenditure which, as Her Majesty's Inspectors have warned, are already threatening standards in our schools; and deeply regrets the Government's plans (Cmnd. 9143) to cut back on educational spending. Most hon. Members would agree that education is vital to the individual citizen because it gives him or her the knowledge, understanding, experience and self-confidence to participate in and contribute to the development of society. It is vital because it provides a means of social mobility—a way of ironing out some of the enormous inequalities and handicaps of environment and background. It is vital because, by opening up access to language and literature, to music, drama and art, to scientific, mathematical and technical achievement it helps to improve the quality and standard of life.

Education will be equally important for the nation as a whole in the critical years ahead as North sea oil runs out —the Government have not made the best use of North sea oil—when Britain's greatest asset will be its human capital, the skills, abilities and intelligence of all of its people. The most effective way to develop that stock of human capital is through education in our schools and colleges.

If we are right in believing that education has that importance, it follows that investment in education and spending on education should be a top priority. The merest glance at the latest White Paper, "The Government's Expenditure Plans 1984–85 to 1986–87", reveals that the Government have not made education a top priority. It is clear from table 1.14 that the big increases in spending have been in agriculture, which is up 40 per cent. since 1979, in law and order, which is up 33 per cent., in defence, which is up by 23 per cent. and paying for unemployment, where the cost has nearly trebled.

By contrast, education spending has remained roughly stable—indeed, it represents a declining share of total spending. Perhaps the clearest indication of the Government's priorities can be shown by comparing defence and education spending. In 1978–79 we were spending nearly £600 million more on education than on defence, whereas in 1983–84 we are spending more than £2 billion more on defence than on education. In 1984–85, it is planned that the gap will widen still further to well over £3.5 billion in what are referred to in the White Paper's jargon as "cost terms".

The Secretary of State, at a recent meeting with the executive of the National Union of Teachers, as reported in the Teacher magazine on 16 March, had the honesty to admit that education is not a top Conservative spending priority. I am impressed by the Secretary of State's honesty. To be fair, I have been impressed by that at other times. But I challenge him to provide a justification for spending so much more on weapons and the armed forces than on the education of our children. I thought that the Secretary of State might intervene at this point.

The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Sir Keith Joseph)

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) for giving way. I hope that we shall intervene no further in each other's speeches in this short debate.

I said that the Conservative Party had fought and won two general elections on an undertaking, which we have fulfilled, to protect and increase public spending in real terms on four great sectors: defence, law and order, the health services and retirement pensions. The hon. Gentleman misleads the House and the country by misquoting me.

Mr. Radice

No. The Secretary of State has just confirmed my words. The implication was that education was not a top priority. I stand by what I said, and the right hon. Gentleman has confirmed it.

Mr. Freud

Will the hon. Gentleman give way on this point?

Mr. Radice

The hon. Gentleman can make his own speech. We do not have much time.

Mr. Freud

It is on this point.

Mr. Radice

I shall give way, but this is the last time.

Mr. Freud

The hon. Gentleman said that we do not have much time. Surely five and a half hours is ample time. This is a Supply day on education, generally admitted to be an important subject. Why is the hon. Gentleman saying that we do not have much time?

Mr. Radice

I know the hon. Gentleman's real interest in education. His intervention was not sensible. It was more frivolous than I would expect of him. I hope that he does not mind me saying that.

I should like to make the Secretary of State's case for him. He will claim today that the Government have managed to keep education spending roughly stable in real terms during their period of office and that spending per pupil has never been higher. However, I say strongly that it is ludicrous for the Minister to take credit for that achievement, if achievement it can be called. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] If Conservative Members will contain their impatience, I shall tell them the reason.

The Secretary of State knows as well as I do that the real reason why education spending has kept level is that local education authorities, particularly Labour authorities, have responded to the wishes of their communities and protected their educational budgets by spending beyond what was planned by Whitehall. In 1982–83, local authority educational spending was nearly £400 million or 4.2 per cent. above the rate support grant settlement figure for education. In 1983–84 the figure was £700 million or 7.5 per cent. above the RSG for education. Those figures make it abundantly clear that it is the local education authorities, particularly the Labour authorities that the Secretary of State accuses wrongly of overspending, that have saved the Secretary of State and enabled him to claim that he has kept spending stable. The reality is that the Secretary of State has been basking undeservedly—and will try to bask again—in reflected glory.

There is also the issue of falling rolls. The Secretary of State knows perfectly well that, apart from the efforts of Labour local authorities, the other reason why spending per pupil has risen and there is a marginal improvement in the pupil-teacher ratio, which I welcome, is falling rolls. Even this Secretary of State cannot claim responsibility for them.

However, I blame the right hon. Gentleman for the Government's plans to cut educational spending by 6.9 per cent. in real terms for the coming year. As spending will be falling faster than pupil numbers—they will fall by about 2 per cent. in the coming year—that implies a fall in spending per pupil, and despite falling rolls, little if any improvement in pupil-teacher ratios.

It is possible to argue, as did a leader in The Times Educational Supplement, that the White Paper represents only plans and that the spending cuts implied in the White Paper may not happen. I hope that they do not. Sadly, however, there are already reports that local education authorities, faced by the severe targets and penalties regime and the prospect of rate-capping in 1985–86, are already cutting their budgets. In some instances, local education authorities hardly famous for being big spenders, such as Devon, East Sussex and Somerset, are cutting back. However, more progressive authorities such as Newcastle and Cleveland, which so far have done everything possible to protect their educational budgets, are also being forced to rein back. Therefore, in future the local education authorities are unlikely to be able to come galloping, like the United States cavalry, to the Secretary of State's rescue, as they have done so often in the past.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Radice

Yes, but this is the last time.

Mr. Greenway

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. This is a central point. He said that the pupil-teacher ratio is in question. What is the ideal pupil-teacher ratio in his view?

Mr. Radice

The ratio should be much lower than it is now. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Of course it should be. I rejoice that it has been reduced somewhat, but that is because of falling rolls, not because of a deliberate act of policy. The Labour local authorities with the best PTR record have kept the national average down. We should remember that 1.25 million pupils are still in classes of over 31 pupils. I note that no significant improvement in PTR is planned in the next three years.

Another of the Secretary of State's arguments is that he claims that there is scope for the redeployment of existing resources.

Mr. Barry Porter (Wirral, South)

There is.

Mr. Radice

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman is interested in the debate. He is not normally interested in education matters. We welcome him to our debate.

The Secretary of State claims that there is scope for redeployment. It is up to him to prove his case. Is he telling the House that authorities such as Birmingham and Hertfordshire should pay for our schools by cutting the wages of already low-paid dinner ladies by between 5 per cent. and 25 per cent.? Is he still insisting, as he did in Question Time, that there can be no improvement in the PTR and book provision unless the teachers are prepared to accept a 3 per cent. increase, which the right hon. Gentleman knows is below the rate of inflation and the going rate? Most fair-minded people would call that blackmail.

The Secretary of State's final argument is that somehow the level of resources does not matter. The Opposition freely admit and accept that, even with a similar level of resources and, equally important a similar social background, some schools and authorities perform better than others. To that extent, money is not everything. The quality of teaching is vital, but that also involves money, as the Secretary of State well knows. I should like him to admit that for the past three years his own advisers on quality and standards—Her Majesty's Inspectorate—has warned him about the impact of financial stringency on educational provision. I am sure that the Secretary of State knows the HMI reports by heart. All the same, I shall quote parts of the reports and I shall go on quoting from them until he admits that resources matter.

Sir Keith Joseph

Not until 10 o'clock.

Mr. Radice

No, not until 10 o'clock.

In its latest report, the HMI said: Last year's report pointed out that LEAs and schools were surviving financially by doing less and that they were obliged to take the less in the form it came to hand rather than by shaping it to meet educational priorities. Even with evidence of much sharper management, that is the ground that is being held. It is characterised by levels and standards of resources which are sometimes inadequate to maintain the status quo (already limited in many cases); by significant disparities between and within schools; and by schools in general being less than well placed to respond constructively and enthusiastically to the many calls for educational improvement and change that come from the education service itself and from parents and society, and which often require either extra educational range or diversification or both. The inspectorate reported that in primary schools there were shortages in remedial teaching, in mathematics, in science in music and in art and design. In secondary schools there were also shortages of specialist teachers, as shown in a quarter of all returns made to HMIs for individual schools.

At primary school level, book provision was judged to be unsatisfactory in two-fifths of local education authorities. At secondary level it was even worse—unsatisfactory in three-fifths of local education authorities. There were significant shortfalls of materials and equipment in both primary and secondary schools. As expenditure is squeezed, "pay as you learn" is increasing. Conservative Members do not object to parents having to pay for education directly out of their own pockets, but we reject the view that a child's right to decent educational provision should depend on where he or she lives.

Members will know from their own authorities and from correspondence with parents and teachers that the overall provision is likely to worsen rather than to improve in the coming year. We already have examples of local authorities who are cutting back. East Sussex is cutting back by £1.7 million. This will mean a loss of 150 teaching posts—I admit that one-third of these are due to falling rolls but two-thirds are not — and cuts in the school library service. Hampshire is cutting back by £800,000 which will mean the loss of 250 teaching posts and a further cut in capitation. Devon is also cutting back. It is failing to increase capitation in line with inflation, it is cutting teacher supply and it is cutting in-service training, something that I would consider very important and dear to the Secretary of State's heart.

What is so extraordinary to my mind, however, is that, in view of the evidence provided by the HMIs and of the reports now coming in of what is being decided by local education authorities, the Secretary of State is not demanding publicly that those local authorities that are not now providing an adequate level of service bring their provision up to standard. Perhaps it is because they all happen to be Conservative authorities. Instead, he fulminates against Labour authorities such as ILEA which maintain an adequate level of provision.

I hope that the Secretary of State has read the excellent report on improving secondary schools in ILEA by an independent committee chaired by David Hargreaves. Its proposals should be of great interest to the Secretary of State and I hope that he and his Minister have already read them. The report is one of the most important to have been produced in recent yars. It points out that the Inner London education authority has exceptional problems, including a much higher average level of pupils from one-parent families, greater deprivation and poverty and one in six pupils without English as a first language.

The report concludes that, if the committee's proposals for reform are to be implemented, ILEA must continue to maintain its level of provision. In a warning to the Secretary of State, who persists in his ludicrous plan to abolish ILEA and to cut its budget—or does he persist in it? One does not know from the reports one reads—

Sir Keith Joseph

Yes, I do.

Mr. Radice

In that case, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will heed the warning from this committee when it comments: we do not assume a decline in resources. If this occurs then the constraints against development will be vastly greater than they now are. Looking further ahead, I am deeply disturbed by the negative tone of the Government's Green Paper on public spending over the next 10 years and what it has to say about cuts in education spending. I am also—and l have to say this to the Minister—dismayed by the so-called great debate on higher education which, in reality, is perceived by the Government as little more than a smokescreen for cutting provision. It is about time that the Secretary of State and his Cabinet colleagues understood that spending on education is not, as they apparently believe, inherently wasteful, a mortal sin, something that has to be cut back. They should realise that we are a rich nation that can well afford to invest, in a steady and sustained way, in education. Even this Government project an annual growth rate of 2.25 per cent. per annum for the next five years, so, even on the Government's figures, there are extra resources. The question s riot whether we can afford to invest but whether we can afford not to do so.

As Tom Stonier, professor of science and society at Bradford university, has recently reminded us, when we educate our children we are investing in the intellectual infrastructure of the economy. When we cut back on education we cut back on knowledge, on information, on invention, in short, on all those things that we need to survive and prosper as a nation.

There are obvious priorities for investment in education on which many could agree, such as a continued—and I stress the word—expansion of under-five provision, and improving levels of achievement in our schools. Here the Secretary of State has put forward his own plans for reform and, as he knows, we gave his proposals a conditional welcome. That is the way in which an Opposition should act and I wish that the Conservative Opposition had had more of the same attitude in the 1970s. We gave them a conditional welcome, especially as the right hon. Gentleman appeared to acknowledge that comprehensive schools had improved their standards.

However, we warned him, as I warn him again today, that his proposals will need extra resources if we are to have reform of examinations, development of the curriculum, a better quality of teaching and in-service training. These things cannot be done without extra money.

We need a coherent solution of the problems of the 16 to 19-year-old age group which faces a crisis of major proportions — mass unemployment, inadequate training and too few staying on at school. We should also take the opportunity of any shortfall in the number of 18-year-olds to widen substantially access to higher and continuing education. This is a relevant, realistic and necessary programme for investment.

Mr. Porter

How much?

Mr. Radice

If the hon. Gentleman will contain his impatience, I will tell him. There will certainly be the money and the resources required to finance such useful investment. That is not the problem. What is lacking is the right attitude of mind, the imagination and the will which, I fear, will never come from this Secretary of State and this Government. What is needed is a Labour Government, under the leadership of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, which understands that investment in our children is investment in our country's future.

4.59 pm
The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Sir Keith Joseph)

I beg to move, To leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: welcomes the improvements in the level of educational provision since 1979, including the increased proportion of under-fives in school, the lower pupil-teacher ratio in primary and secondary schools, the expansion of non-advanced further education and the growth in participation in higher education and endorses the Government's policies for raising the standards and effectiveness of the education service within the resources available We must all try to be brief during this truncated debate. There are twice as many Members on the Government side of the House listening to the debate as there are on the Opposition side of the House.

Mr. Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield)

There are twice as many Conservative Members altogether.

Sir Keith Joseph

If the Opposition really believed in the motion, there would be more support than the five members of the Labour party present.

Mr. Sheerman

There are only nine Conservative Members present.

Sir Keith Joseph

That is nearly twice as many.

It appears from the speech made by the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) that the Labour party still lives in a land of make-believe, with no financial constraints. Today, the hon. Member, who I know takes the subject of education intensely seriously, has continued the Labour party practice of making promises and half-promises to almost every interest in the land.

I shall not spend too long on this subject, but when the Labour party was last in power its profligacy in its first years led to the arrival of the International Monetary Fund and, as a result, sharp cuts in public expenditure, including one of no less than 4 per cent. in real terms in education in one year. The last Labour Government belatedly recognised reality in their last public expenditure White Paper. They then announced plans for education that meant an increase in real terms of barely 1 per cent. for the next three years. They called for economies to be made on running costs in schools and for a reduction of nearly 20,000 in the number of teachers as rolls fell, raised charges for school meals, imposed a cut of 20 per cent. in capital expenditure on schools and a cut in previous plans for student numbers in higher education. That was the Labour party's record after a few years in office.

Today, the Labour party has discovered a new word with which to justify its policy of profligate spending. They call it "investment". However, there is no virtue in investment unless it is effective investment; there is no merit in investment for its own sake. It is a means to an end, in this case the means to good education. There is no evidence that the Labour party has understood that, while resources matter, much better use can be made of the vast resources available to education.

I shall show now what has been done in the past few years, and I shall meet squarely the criticisms made by the hon. Member for Durham, North. Let me remind the House of a few statistics. Since 1978–79 — the last Labour Government year — the number of pupils has fallen by about four times as much as spending on schools. In other words, the Government have deliberately kept their reduction in spending on education to only part of the reduction that has occurred in school rolls. This means that expenditure per pupil in real terms is at record levels, having risen since 1978–79 by nearly 13 per cent. in primary schools and by 9 per cent. in secondary schools.

Secondly, the pupil-teacher ratio in January 1979 was at 18.9:1. I am glad to say the pupil-teacher ratio this year stood at 17.8:1—a substantial fall. It is now at its best level ever. Thirdly, a slightly bigger proportion of the under-fives are in schools than ever before. Fourthly, substantial resources have been made available to meet rising demand for non-advanced further education.

These and other improvements—for example, in the provision of books, which rose by nearly 10 per cent. in real terms in 1982.83 — have been accompanied by savings in less important educational sectors and services. Expenditure on school meals has been cut by nearly a third in real terms in the past four years, wile the poorest families continue to get free meals. The rate of removing surplus school places has accelerated. If all local authorities followed the example set by the most efficient, the available resources would go that much further.

The hon. Member for Durham, North said that these figures are true only because of overspending, largely by Labour local education authorities. I fear that the hon. Gentleman has misunderstood the position. He has forgotten that the Government put aside what was called an unallocated margin for local education authority expenditure. Appropriating legitimately, for the purpose of the argument, the same proportion of that unallocated margin as is represented by the educational share of local authority expenditure, there was not an overspend to anything like the extent that the hon. Gentleman claimed. There was overspending of about £250 million, but I have to tell him—alas, with some regret—that some of that was Conservative overspending. It was not all Labour. The Government deliberately planned for the improvement in the pupil-teacher ratio and deliberately reduced the spending on schools by significantly less than the fall in the pupils in those schools. That is why the Government are entitled to take some credit for the record levels of pupil-teacher ratio, and as I shall show, the record level of class size.

Mr. Radice


Sir Keith Joseph

I shall allow the hon. Gentleman only one intervention.

Mr. Radice

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that local authorities have spent more than he planned they should spend and that therefore they—as well as the falling rolls — must take much of the credit for the increased spending per pupil and for the decline in the PTRs? The Secretary of State must give them some of the credit. I am disturbed that the Secretary of State is now planning for a reduction in the cost per pupil and for little improvement, if any, in PTRs.

Sir Keith Joseph

Calculating on my feet, I can give credit for the lower pupil-teacher ratio to the extent of about a third of the overspending of local education authorities.

The hon. Member for Durham, North laid much stress on the HMI reports. We have read them; they contain many things that are satisfying and many that are not. [Laughter.] Hon. Members may laugh, but I doubt whether many teams of Ministers in the Department of Education and Science over the years have read all the HMI reports. I know that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister scrupulously read every one when she was in that Department, but I beg leave to doubt whether every one of her predecessors did so.

The HMI report from which the hon. Member for Durham, North quoted related to the autumn of 1982. I am glad to say that there have been significant improvements since then. For instance, there was a sharp rise of about 10 per cent. in the provision of books in the year 1982–83. The report for the year ending autumn 1983 will be published later this year. I have no idea what will be in it, as it is entirely the product of the HMI.

I agree with the hon. Member that the recently published Hargreaves report on secondary education in ILEA, which I have read, contains many good things. I am glad to see the attention that the report gives to the issue that the Government take most seriously — the importance of raising the standards of secondary education for all abilities.

I must tell the hon. Member for Durham, North that, despite his doubts, there is scope for further redeployment within existing spending. I have some evidence that hon. Gentlemen will surely take seriously. In 1982–83, 15 local education authorities succeeded in reducing their cash expenditure on school meals by between 20 and 32 per cent. below their 1979–80 level while maintaining a full meals service. I am not taking into this calculation the three authorities that went further than that, and saved more money. Had all authorities reduced net expenditure by 20 per cent. —I am taking the lower end of the bracket — below the 1979–80 level, more than £70 million could have been freed for other purposes. What those 15 local education authorities have done—they are not even all Tory authorities — could surely be done throughout the country by other local education authorities.

I shall not talk today about the possibilities of saving which have been demonstrated to different extents throughout the country in heating, in the speed with which surplus places are taken out of use and even—although one has to go gingerly about this—in cleaning services. It is regrettably true that savings now made by many local education authorities would have to be used to help them get down near to their targets, to avoid paying penalties. However, that only reflects the folly of some local education authorities in refusing to redeploy from overspending unnecessarily in some part of their services at an earlier date.

I have to acknowledge, before hon. Members seek to interrupt me, that some local education authorities have sought efficiency over the years, and have precious little scope left now for redeployment. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment recognised their legitimate expectations in the debate on local government that took place a few weeks ago.

I want to emphasise again that the pupil-teacher ratio is at the lowest —the best—level ever, 17.8:1. The improvement is even sharper than the Government planned, to some limited extent because of the overspending to which the hon. Member for Durham, North referred.

The size of classes is a record low, with significant, if not enormous, falls in the size of classes in the last five years. However, I freely acknowledge that, despite the best ever pupil-teacher ratio, there are constant claims that this or that element in the curriculum is at risk, and/or that not enough remedial teachers are at work. I take these points very seriously. Where this is so—I realise that it is so in some places—I believe that, at least in some cases, the problem arises because the available teachers are not being used to the best effect. There are important and difficult management responsibilities here for local authorities, head teachers and heads of department. h may be that in some cases too much of the improvement over recent years in the pupil-teacher ratio has been used for a general reduction in class sizes, and that marginally larger classes would enable more remedial teaching to take place, and the curriculum to be better protected, without taking away from the important lesson preparation and other work that teachers have to do. It is only by some such analysis——

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)


Sir Keith Joseph

No, I shall not give way. I am stating something that I believe to be true. We can debate it another time, but there is not time today, if hon. Members are to have a chance of speaking in the debate.

The difficult task of teacher deployment has a relationship with the protection of the curriculum, and with the provision of remedial teaching, and the fall in the pupil-teacher ratio in recent years should give scope for good management to protect the curriculum and remedial teaching.

As important as the good management of teaching resources is the effectiveness of schooling as a whole. That is why I wish to remind the House briefly of the north of England programme of the Government, a programme announced by me on behalf of the Government at the north of England conference in January this year. This is a five-pronged programme, including the reform of teacher training, more and better in-service training, an agreed curriculum which would be of great help to teachers and pupils and a transformation of examinations over the next five years, I hope, involving a move towards grade-related criteria that will present pupils of all levels of ability with clear attainable aims at different grades.

Those aims will represent higher standards than now in most cases, because we believe that the potential of young people of all abilities is nowhere near being fully developed at present. But, because we recognise that examinations are not all, the fifth prong of the programme is the introduction nationally, after pilot schemes, of records of achievement. The Government are now discussing these aims with local education authorities and with teachers.

I want merely to name the other additional and parallel aims in education that the Government have. We aim at, and are starting upon, the injection of a technical and practical element in the curriculum for all abilities, and pilot schemes under the technical and vocational education initiative are in hand. We aim to seek to widen the degree to which girls take other than traditional feminine subjects in the curriculum. We aim to broaden A-levels. We aim to define more demanding primary phase objectives. We aim to encourage discussion in the classroom so as to improve articulateness. I apologise for the horrible noun, but the alternative, oracy, is even nastier. We seek to inject relevance as well as breadth, balance and differentiation into the classroom, and we seek to increase economic awareness.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I have to decide by the end of June what to do about the 16-plus examination. I wish to remind the House that the numbers of higher education students are up sharply —50,000, or 13 per cent., more on a record vintage than when Labour were last in office. The demand for advanced and further education is expanding. The Government welcome warmly the initiative of the committee of vice-chancellors and principals in setting up a committee on standards in higher education at universities under the chairmanship of the vice-chancellor of Lancaster.

It is early still in the life of this Parliament. The question is whether Labour will learn the two crucial lessons about education. The first is that money is not the only factor, although of course it matters in education. Far more improvement can be achieved by the initiatives that the Government are taking than merely by more money, from wherever it comes. Secondly, before extra money is sought, existing huge budgets should be more effectively spent.

I hope that the House will reject the motion, and that my right hon. and hon. Friends will vote for the amendment.

5.18 pm
Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

I am sure that the Secretary of State was mightily helped by his hon. Friend the Member for Wirral, South (Mr. Porter), not from a sedentary position, but from a recumbent position, from whom I am sure we shall hear a brilliant speech on education later.

The Secretary of State, in his inimitable way—and I always pay tribute to him—initiated the HMI reports, and we are grateful for that. I often wonder whether he did it inadvertently because they are so damning when one reads them, and it is good that they are. The Secretary of State is always saying that there is no virtue in investment unless it can be justified. That carries the oblique implication that, with regard to education, somehow it cannot be justified. We usually hear the slogan that the Prime Minister got from somewhere that one does not solve problems by throwing money at them. When the right hon. Gentleman said that about money, the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud) said, "but it helps". Of course it helps. It does not help if large amounts of money are wrested from education — no matter how many lovely nouns such as "articulateness" are used.

I hope that the critieria that the right hon. Gentleman applies to education are also to be applied to such matters as nuclear weapons, the Falkland Islands and the Common Market. Vast amounts of money are being thrown at those problems—and are not solving them—while money is being taken away from education. Last year, no less than £12 billion flowed from this country to our competitors. Even if only a small paert of that had been spent on education, it would have helped our economy and put people back to work.

Various articles have been written in The Times Educational Supplement during the past few months. In December it stated: Rate-capping would force local authorities to keep to Government targets for education spending and thus strip them of decision-making. An article in July referred to the HMI report for 1982. We are awaiting the new report, which I hope will be published soon, and which I am sure will provide a great deal of evidence about cuts. The article is headed "Cuts: holding the line—just".

The Conservative party is eternally talking about higher standards in education. I could open practically any page of last year's HMI report and would find it deeply critical of standards—even though the HMIs do their best to be polite in their criticisms. The report states: though the ground is being held, it is important to remember what ground. Last year's report"— the report for 1981— pointed out that LEAs and schools were surviving financially by doing less and that they were obliged to take the less in the form it came to hand rather than by shaping it to meet educational priorities. Even with evidence of much sharper management, that is the ground that is being held. It is characterised by levels and standards of resources which are sometimes inadequate to maintain the status quo, (already limited in many cases). On the next page, the report talks about the cuts in in-service training and states flatly: Weaknesses noted in the provision for in-service training and induction are likely to relate at least in part to shortage of advisers. In other words, there has been a cut in the necessary number of advisers for the vital in-service training of teachers.

I advise all education committees, one day in each year, to visit the schools in their areas and to study what is happening in them. If they did that, they would learn a great deal about what is happening to the fabric of the schools — for example, the lack of painting. Many schools have not had a proper coat of paint for 12 years.

As I have often said, practically all the primary schools have lost their remedial reading teachers. Conservative Members talk about raising standards of education while they cut the opportunities for our children in the state system to learn to read. Our children should be able to go into the secondary schools without being embarrassed by problems that have not been solved because of the lack of remedial teachers.

Standards are bound to suffer, not least because of the Secretary of State's speech in Sheffield. The number of peripatetic music teachers and music instrumentalists, who are so necessary, is being cut. Many teachers have unemployment hovering over them. That is the reality. I accept that falling rolls have given us a better pupil-teacher ratio. The rate at which the Government wanted to sack teachers has been resisted, so they are staying in the schools until, eventually, they leave at the top end. In time, the pupil-teacher ratio will get worse.

Once again, composite classes have been introduced into primary schools—the same classes as we managed to get rid of years ago. There is a large variation within a one-year age group, yet we find that composite classes covering a two-year age group have been reintroduced. Teachers and education administrators fought against that for years. Children are having to share books while the Secretary of State asks teachers to accept a 3 per cent. rise because, if they do not, there will not be sufficient money to buy books. Teachers are being blackmailed. They are being told to ask for less cash so that the remaining funds can be used to buy books. That is a cut in education, and Conservative Members know that. Education standards are sliding, and all the talk of standards becoming better and better will be of no use unless there are sufficient teachers.

I want to compare the lack of proper investment in education with the massive investment in private education. Massive amounts of money are being taken from our children for the assisted places scheme. In those schools, the pupil-teacher ratio——

Mr. Porter

What ratio does the hon. Gentleman want?

Mr. Flannery

The hon. Gentleman, among his other mutterings, asks what ratio I want. I want the same ratio in state schools as there is in private schools, where the children of Conservative Members are looked after magnificently with small classes. The classes in the state schools are so large that they present a danger to the education of our children.

The hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East asked a question last February about the assisted places scheme. Most people think that there are only three or four places in each private school. Some private schools are verging on having 50 per cent. of their children in the assisted places scheme. Well over 100 schools have more than 20 per cent. of their children in the assisted places scheme. Money that should be invested in the state system —money from taxpayers, who do not know where their money is going—is being given to an elitist group to strengthen private education at the expense of the education of our children.

We need more investment in education. It is a wonderful area in which to invest. Too much investment is going to private education while there are cuts, cuts and more cuts in the state system. We ask the Secretary of State once again to study his Sheffield speech, and especially the aspect — which he did not develop sufficiently—of money. He must realise that investment in education, even if a little of it is frittered away here and there, is necessary if the fabric of education is to be held together and, I hope, advanced.

5.29 pm
Mr. Derek Spencer (Leicester, South)

I think that I can claim that I have done my bit in Leicester to improve the pupil-teacher ratio. My opponent whom I defeated last June is now teaching in a school in that city. If we had really favoured the private sector at the expense of the public in the way the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) has just declared, I cannot think that the 9 June result in Leicester, in which two Conservative Members were returned and his party lost two Members, would have been what it was.

There are important lessons for the Labour party to be drawn from the educational experience in Leicester in the past three or four years. Although that experience comes out of the private sector and has given rise to an increase in the private sector, the lessons are for the public sector as well. It cannot be claimed that Leicester is an area that has been under-resourced from the point of view of public education. In my constituency, where 28 per cent. of my constituents are of Asian origin, there has been a considerable allocation of section 137 money. A number of projects which the local education authority has put forward have taken advantage of the inner area programme. The authority is a known over-spender; it proudly proclaims that it is over-spending. It had 35 more teachers in the past year than it was aware of until the fact was pointed out by the district auditer.

Against that background, is there any glory, reflected or otherwise? Experience suggests not, because there have been two endeavours which give the lie to the claim that allocation of resources is really what education is all about. The first such endeavour is the setting up of the grammar school in Applegate street, starting in 1981. This was set up, in the teeth of the recession, by a group of private individuals. It got hardly any money from industry; it was a charitable trust set up by a number of private individuals. The building that they purchased was a school with a respectable and honoured tradition, which had stood empty since 1980. As a result of their efforts and endeavours, that school, which was formerly the Alderman Newton boys grammar school and before that the Wyggeston boys grammar school, was bought in 1981 for £135,000.

With a loan, the building was rehabilitated, laboratories were put in, and staff were hired. They had the good fortune to get somebody who was meet for the role of waving what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science described as the magic wand —they got a Yorkshire man as headmaster. Already the school has made tremendous progress. It started with 100 children and now has 320. It is expected that in September of this year there will be 400, and ultimately it is planned to have 520. It is so ambitious that it has already applied to join the assisted places scheme. There may be the criticism that that was perhaps an over-ambitious application, but it is one which I hope that in the fullness of time my right hon. Friend will look at favourably.

That is the first lesson for those from less-favoured places to learn from Leicester. Thus I appeal across the Chamber to the hon. Member for Hillsborough, who really ought to come with me to—[Interruption.] We regard this as a serious and important matter and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will treat it accordingly. It is not a matter for levity.

A number of people attached to the Ashfordby street mosque have opened a school above the mosque. In terms of resources, it is about as under-resourced as it would be possible for a school to be. I asked one of the founders of the school what the investment was to start with. The answer was "Nothing". He said that a group of friends and he—all Moslems—clubbed together and put up £150 in the first instance. They bought some tables and chairs and some second hand books. They started with about 30 to 40 girls—because it was intended that this should be a secondary school for Moslem girls—and since then the school has expanded——

Mr. Flannery

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Mr. Spencer

Not until I have finished this point.

Mr. Flannery

The hon. and learned Gentleman has mentioned me. He should give way.

Mr. Spencer

If the hon. Gentleman does me the courtesy of listening to what I have to say, he may find that his intervention is not necessary and I shall be able to finish more speedily.

There are now 115 children in that school and there are 50 to 60 on the waiting list. The staff numbers 12 and some of the children who attend the school are the children of unemployed people. The subscriptions to the school come in part from the Asian business community of Leicester.

In these two examples — the grammar school in Applegate street and the Moslem girls' school in Ashfordby street—I believe that there is a lesson for the House. Before I give the lesson to the hon. Gentleman, however, I will give him the opportunity for which he asked a few moments ago.

Mr. Flannery

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman really advocating, in 1984, that we go back to the voluntary schools that he has just talked about, that we begin from nothing and set an example? Is that really what he wants us to introduce into the education system?

Mr. Spencer

The burden of my speech is about to come, and in it I shall answer the question which the hon. Gentleman has just put.

The question is: why has it come about that people of different races, different religions, different creeds, in Leicester have felt obliged to resort to self-help of that sort? The answer is—and this is at the heart of this debate — that it is because of the way in which the Labour-controlled education authority has allocated its resources. It has quite deliberately set its face against single-sex schools, knowing that a sizeable section of the community in Leicester, irrespective of race, creed or colour, want them. Whether it be the part of my constituency nearer the country, near the Jonathan North girls school, which is over-subscribed, or nearer to Highfields, which is a predominantly Asian area, the cry is the same—"We want more single-sex provision in this city."

That cry fell on deaf ears in the Labour-controlled local education authority until quite recently when it felt obliged to make a cosmetic response because of political pressure. Its response was only cosmetic, and due to a political change of control in the past week it is no longer in a position to decide the issue. I am confident that a Conservative-controlled education authority will be much more sensitive in its reallocation of resources, to ensure that there is proper provision for single-sex education in Leicester, which is required throughout its scope.

The complaint in Leicester is that the resources which have been available to the local authority have not been used in the way that the people wanted. Resources were made available to it from the inner area programme and by section 137 grants but it has been said by the local people that the authority was not sensitive to its religious and social needs. They say, "You are not sensitive to our requirement for single-sex education." That is why there is an important lesson to be learnt from this experience.

Mr. Freud

Was single-sex education requested in respect of boys or for both boys and girls?

Mr. Spencer

By a process of elimination and by applying the ordinary rules of gender, the hon. Gentleman will find that if one has single-sex education for girls it will follow that there will be single-sex education for boys. There is a demand throughout Leicester for single-sex education for girls and boys once they have reached the secondary stage. There is a lesson to be learnt from that experience in Leicester over the past few years.

Investment in education is so often about items other than money. The argument in Leicester has been about the way in which money is spent and not about the amount that has been available. It is around the allocation of moneys that the argument has raged. It is no good Labour Members mirroring the insensitive approach of their colleagues on Labour-controlled authorities. If they do so they will show themselves to be completely out of touch with the real education requirements of our communities.

Without enterprise, without conviction and without energy, and with the irresolute approach of the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice), who spoke from the Opposition Front Bench, we can expect a lack of progress. However, if we display energy and the attitude to limited resources that has been adopted in Leicester, there is room for a great deal of progress.

5.44 pm
Mr. Clement Freud (Cambridgeshire, North-East)

I shall not take up directly the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Spencer) because I believe that Leicester has had enough publicity for one day. I wish to commend the Opposition on this, their 12th allotted day, on choosing what is perhaps the most important subject that they have yet chosen for their allocated days of debate. It will be known in the House that my colleagues and I feel badly about the small number of days that are allocated to the Liberal and Social Democratic parties, but I am delighted to congratulate the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) on instigating a most important debate.

This is a debate on investment in education, and for that reason it is not just another education debate. I compliment the draftsmen of the motion because there is much within it with which it is hard to disagree. The Secretary of State, who has now left the Chamber, spoke as he so often does about money and the fact that there are bad teachers. He is fond of saying that there is no correlation between additional spending and improved standards. I take his point, but the cost-effective use of more money is better than the cost-effective use of less money.

I am always irritated when the right hon. Gentleman prides himself on the improved pupil-teacher ratio. Much of the improvement was achieved by local education authorities causing their county councils to suffer penalty, and it is wrong to pride oneself on the achievement of something that for which the instigator was punished—by oneself.

When the hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson) was a Minister at the Department of Education and Science —he is now the Minister for Social Security—he said that he knew teachers who could do a magnificent job of teaching a class of 30 and more children and that he knew other teachers who would have a riot with one dead chicken. He argued that it was therefore more important to concentrate on the quality of the teacher rather than on overall numbers.

In this debate I feel rather like the 91-year-old lady who was recently accused of driving at 15 mph on a motorway when everyone else was driving rather quickly. I understand that this is a debate which will continue until 10 o'clock, but all around me are hon. Members who feel that something unexpected will take place. This debate can continue until 10 o'clock. I trust it will, and I hope that I do not suffer a fate similar to that of the lady of 91, who was arrested and prevented from further driving. Unlike the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, South, I do not feel that there are any restrictions on me. He told us that it was a short debate and that he had to move without delay from one topic to another.

I shall move gently and begin by talking about political education. I remind the Secretary of State, who was worried recently about peace studies, of the Thompson report on youth services, which was shelved through lack of investment. The report stated that just as there are social skills which enable one to feel at home in society so are there political skills which enable one to change the system or to keep it as it is if someone else is trying to change it. The report expressed a need for a level of political literacy. I would want to know more——

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle)


Mr. Freud

I shall not give way because this is a long debate and the hon. Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh) will have plenty of time to advance his own arguments in his own speech. I shall give way to anyone who has already spoken because it will be fair to do so. I wish the hon. Gentleman well in catching the eye of the occupant of the Chair. He has four hours and 11 minutes in which to do so.

Much of the political education in schools is passive and informative. I am not deeply concerned, as is the Secretary of State, about uneven political input because schools have boards of management and boards of governors, and, for better or worse these still bear party political representation.

I should like political teaching to take place in schools. I know that it may not be even, but the one benefit of local authorities' appointing governors and managers to boards is that they can monitor the even-handed input.

All hon. Members must have been saddened at the statistics relating to the last election. The estimated turnout of 18-year-olds was under 60 per cent. Those young people had been looking forward to their first vote for three years, but only six out of 10 exercised their right to vote. About 25 per cent. of 18-year-olds were not registered. In the second year only half of that 25 per cent. registered, and they probably registered, not because of their deep desire to vote, but because they realised that they would not receive the junk mail that one receives if one is on the electoral register and that they might miss out. It was that, rather than political awareness, that made the figures look better.

I send 18th birthday letters to all constituents of that age on the electoral register. Frequently someone complains that they did not receive a birthday letter when all their friends did. I have to say, "That is because your parents forgot to put you on the electoral register." It ill becomes us as politicians to do so little about the instruction of young people in their political rights.

Many of us, especially hon. Members who sat on the Committee to consider the Education Act 1981, are concerned about the non-implementation of recommendations in the Warnock report. All that the Act has done is to enshrine in law the definition of special needs. Catering for the needs of the 18 per cent. who have chronic learning disabilities on top of the 2 per cent. who are handicapped requires substantial investment. We are debating investment today.

The problem is extraordinarily difficult. Dyslexia is a huge grey area. All hon. Members will have been asked by a constituent what is being done about a particular dyslexic child. I listened to the Secretary of State with care. It is right to say that a good teacher with a big class could take one or two more pupils and so release another teacher to handle remedial education.

Perhaps I am most unhappy about the mentally handicapped 16 to 19-year-olds. There is no statutory provision in education for them. Some local authorities look after that age group. I hope that statutory provision will not stop at the age of 16, but will be stretched to include the 19-year-olds.

Mrs. Warnock, as she then was, expressed a fear that local authorities would use what she said in her report to save money. She said that she was frightened that her recommendations would allow handicapped children to be integrated into schools when insufficient money or resources were available to teach them as they should be taught. Her fears have been realised.

I know of many children, because people write to me about them, who have been integrated in a normal school. They are pushed into the dining room in a wheelchair and receive only one or two hours' education a day. For the rest of the time they have to amuse themselves. That is where I should like the investment to be made.

Hon. Members have referred to the assisted places scheme, which I have mentioned on a number of occasions. About £16.5 million has been invested in that scheme and it is spent on a small group of children in the private sector of education. The public sector could do with that amount of money, small though it is.

I represent a rural constituency and I have been worried, recently more than previously, about the closure of village schools. I am now persuaded that in some cases the closure of small village schools is right. The principle of keeping a school for the sake of it, which was Liberal policy, must be re-examined. There are disadvantages in a school with few pupils and therefore few teachers.

But closures should be examined on educational rather than party political grounds. I am delighted to see the Secretary of State nod his head. Closure must be granted only after full consultation with the local community. On a number of occasions, but not to an occupant of the present Front Bench, I have taken constituents to Ministers. They may have spent weeks or months working on their presentation. They bring along children and present letters from parents and governors, and samples of work. I have been sad at the perfunctory way that Ministers behave. I have heard them say that that is the second or third such case in a week. I do not accuse anyone presently on the Government Front Bench, but that is my experience of the attitude in the Department. It has made me apologise to my constituents.

Sir Keith Joseph

I know that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, the Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) often receives letters of thanks for the courtesy and care with which he has heard a case by a delegation. Even I have been known to receive such letters. We certainly do not treat such cases perfunctorily. I hope that the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud), will be courteous enough to send us any such complaints at once so that if we have been in error we may learn.

If the hon. Gentleman hears that a disabled child has been put into a normal school and has not been treated adequately in the parents' view I hope that he will send the details to a Minister in the Department—not publishing it of course—so that if we think that we can help in any way we can look into the case. I cannot promise that any of us can make things right. There can be differences of opinion, but we should like to know of any such cases.

Mr. Freud

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that intervention. I made very clear to his predecessors my dissatisfaction with the treatment accorded to the village school representatives whom I brought to the Department, but I repeat that none of the present occupants of the Front Bench was party to that.

On the second point, the whole House will be grateful. I do not believe that anyone would publish the names or case histories of handicapped people. In this debate on investment in education, I am saying quite simply that there is a duty which local education authorities are sometimes unable to execute due to lack of investment. I shall certainly write to the Department next time I hear of such a case. The Secretary of State will agree, however, that there is an inherent lack of finance which makes it impossible, unless parents are able to help out, to find the right people to spend sufficient time on the children who came into the schools as a result of the 1981 Act.

Returning to village schools, the Government should encourage local education authorities to take advantage of falling pupil numbers not by penalising the authorities but by encouraging them to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio, to make better equipment provision and to increase nursery provision. I accept that closures will sometimes be necessary for educational and even for financial reasons, but it must not be party political, motivation should be paramount, and full public consultation should take place before any decision is reached.

One of the greatest evils when small schools are threatened is assassination by rumour. Someone has only to mention that a school may be at risk for parents of two, three and four-year-olds to decide to send their children elsewhere. The numbers in the threatened school then fall and the education authority closes it. Too often, education officers and members of the controlling political group consult the public only after they have made up their own minds about what should be done. Consultation must be genuine and it must be seen to be genuine.

Falling rolls should provide an opportunity for greater investment in 16-plus teaching and in general community use of schools. I am privileged to represent a county which pioneered the village school concept, which I am sure is close to the Secretary of State's heart. Such a school was not open just for so many hours per day, so many days per week and so many weeks per year. It was part of the community. The Women's Institute met there. The sports club met there, and the only playing field in the town or village was maintained by the school for the community. I support that concept and it should be borne in mind when one considers the current fall in numbers which in due course will be reversed. I know that it is easy, perhaps even essential, when in Government to relate pupil numbers to teacher numbers. Bearing in mind the needs of the community, however, the few years of declining birth rate and thus fewer pupils provides a tremendous opportunity to prepare the schools of this country for the influx that will follow. The graphs show that there will be fewer pupils for five or six years and that the numbers will then return to present levels. When closures are contemplated they should be treated as a challenge and considered in the light of community—not just youth—need. By the year 2000, 16-plus and adult courses could well be integrated into the schools. I mind education that looks too closely ahead. It should gear itself not just to the next election or the next 10 years but at least to the end of the century.

Finally, I make a plea to the House. We must fight the philistine approach to education whereby young people are trained for employment without necessarily developing their full potential in other areas. That is perhaps where I feel most at odds with this Government's policies.

6.4 pm

Mr. George Walden (Buckingham)

I am tempted to follow the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud) on the subject of village schools, as I share his interest and solicitude, but I feel that I should take a wider view as we are debating matters affecting the country as a whole. I echo the hon. Gentleman's congratulations to the Opposition on devoting half a Supply day to this subject and I share his gratitude for that, although I am a little suspicious about the motives of the Opposition as they sometimes seem less interested in education than in agitation.

Some Conservative Members suspect that some Opposition Members are Marxists. I believe that that is sometimes rather a charitable view as, although Marxists are wrong, they are rigorously wrong. So often what is lacking among the Opposition is any kind of rigour. Instead, we have a kind of vulgar Marxism. That is not intended to be discourteous in any way. Marxists are very rich in the vocabulary of abuse and I borrow the expression from them. That is germane to the debate because vulgar Marxists think in simplistic, materialist terms about issues such as education. They believe that economics is everything and they take a crude, simple, economic view of Marx.

Let us suppose for a moment that not all Opposition Members are Marxists. Let us assume that some of them are Socialists. That, too, is germane to the debate as one of the most impressive Socialists in Europe now is President Mitterrand of France. Unlike the Opposition, he does not worry about the need for a lick of paint on some of the schools. He makes unprecedented announcements from the Elyséee about the need to improve the quality of education and specifically historical education in France. I find that courageous and impressive, be he a Socialist or otherwise. The Opposition have a great deal to learn from other Socialists in Europe, who are concerned more about quality than about the condition of the paintwork.

I do not wish to sound dogmatic in my turn. Economics matters. Money clearly matters. The hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice), who led for the Opposition, made an important point when he referred to the recent publication of the Government's Green Paper on priorities in public spending and taxation. Much has been said about books in today's debate. The Green Paper is a very important book and is far more readable than many people think. It shows that we now have a Government with the courage and foresight to look ahead and to consult the people of this country about priorities. It is well worth reading. It also shows that we have the first Government in decades to have a coherent economic policy.

I go further. To some extent I support what the hon. Member for Durham, North implied about the need to consider priorities overall. Like all hon. Members, I can see the problems in education in my constituency. I know where I should like more money to be spent and I can see where a lick of paint would be useful. At the back of my mind, however, is the Green Paper. I believe that we are right to be rigorous in education.

We can explain that to people in this country only if we are rigorous in other areas. We must be rigorous in our defence spending. In that context, I welcome the recent measures of the Secretary of State for Defence to ensure that he gets value for money too. We must be rigorous in regard to Europe—thank goodness, thanks to the efforts of the Prime Minister, we are—and in regard to the Health Service. In all those areas, we are seeking quality and value for money. We are not hard-faced. We are being sensible, because we have a coherent economic policy.

To that extent, I support what has been said by the hon. Member for Durham, North. The Government must be careful in presenting our policies on education, and must make it clear that we are not singling education out for harsh treatment but that what we are doing is part of a coherent pattern. The problem is often a one of emphasis and communication. It is not unreasonable, when we are spending more per pupil than every before, to ask for a reasonable return on that investment. It is not reasonable to ask the taxpayer to cough up £14 billion and expect him to ask no questions. It would be odd if other major public spenders, such as the military, took that attitude but is one that, as a relative newcomer to the world of education, I often encounter.

Parents know what is important, even if some Opposition Members do not. When parents express anxiety about education, they are anxious — in my experience—not about money, but about standards of discipline, and quality of teachers. The real investment in education is not to be measured only in terms of money but in terms of higher standards. Real investment is investment in better teachers. Real investment in the future means getting away from the tired old egalitarianism of the past and into something much more dynamic and realistic. I do not want to indulge in too much party polemic—although there is a place for it. Education is too important for that.

So far, the debate has concentrated too much on money and statistics. We all know that the real problems lie elsewhere. The Opposition sometimes suggest that money is a substitute for individual effort and excellence. That attitude could do real damage. We would be fooling people if we led them to believe that there were so.

I wish to make two concrete points. First, both sides of the House will agree about the importance of the quality of the teachers. One does not have to be a Marxist to recognise there is a link between quality and financial incentive. I am glad that ways are being sought to reward the most competent teachers and to give them some hopes for their future careers and some recognition in terms of pay.

Those ideas may not be welcome in those quarters of the teaching establishment where competition in any form — whether between pupils or between teachers — is suspect, but I hope that the Secretary of State will not allow that hostility to hold up progress on that front. I recognise that there may be financial problems, but, thanks to our coherent economic strategy, there may be a little bit more to be spent at the margins in the next few years. I hope that it will be spent on the quality of education and of teaching. I would leave the paintwork for a year or two more. I am not opposed to paying teachers more, but the structure of the teaching profession could be dynamised in other ways, and the extra money could be used as an incentive.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

I am interested in the hon. Gentleman's remarks about the quality of teachers. We all want to improve that quality. However, it is fairly easy to agree about the difference between an excellent teacher and a hopeless teacher, who should not be in the classroom at all. It is much more difficult to differentiate between average teachers. That could lead to divisions within the profession. Also, one should remember that some children relate to one person and some to another, and that someone who is not a good teacher for certain pupils may be excellent for others.

Mr. Walden

I recognise those problems. The area is a complex one. However, the existence of those problems, which is not in doubt, should not be used as an excuse for inactivity.

Secondly, we are now rightly emphasising technology and science. For reasons that I do not have to spell out, this is an essential new development and is in the interests not only of the country but of the future of education. However, I am worried about the exclusive terms in which the Secretary of State's recent speeches on this theme seem to be interpreted in some parts of the education world. the new emphasis is a corrective stress. It is not a takeover bid by science against the arts. We do not have to make a simple choice between arts and sciences, but there may be conflicts about time, energy or resources, and as a newcomer to the world of education, perhaps I may be allowed to suggest a simplistic solution. One solution may lie in greater individual effort by the teacher and the pupil, or, in other words, in the theme of increased expectations which sums up what is vital in education today.

I recently hazarded to some senior educationalists the suggestion that a little more homework might be called for to cover any conflict between the arts and sciences. It might cut into the three and a quarter hours that the average child spends watching television, but such a sacrifice is, perhaps, to be encouraged by teachers and parents. The reaction to my suggestion was one of shocked surprise. Clearly I had touched on an educational taboo. There are many such taboos. I was therefore glad to read, by chance, a letter in The Times the next day from Dr. Rice-Evans. I do not know Dr. Rice-Evans, and I did not put him up to it. He said, in talking about the need for a wider sixth form curriculum", that we might require all university candidates to offer five A level subjects (at their present standard), three in their mainstream and two to broaden their horizons. Thus a potential scientist might take, say, Latin and economics in addition to three sciences". Dr. Rice-Evans continued: To achieve this an accelerated and more demanding pace would be required throughout a pupil's school career, but especially in the primary schools which now compare so unfavourably with preparatory schools. That may be a terrible thing to say, but we must put aside all class inhibitions and recognise that it is more than likely to be true.

Finally, I should like to summarise the Government's position, as I understand it. The Government are asking for better standards from fewer children with the same amount of money. That seems to me to be an eminently reasonable demand. I am sure that parents will not be scared into taking a different view by the vulgar Marxists on the Labour Benches.

6.19 pm
Mr. Sean Hughes (Knowsley, South)

Conservative Members often refer to politics as the art of the possible, wrongly attributing the term to Rab Butler, but I wish that the Government would realise what is possible. Instead, they seem to be obsessed with the idea that public expenditure is evil and must be curbed. I happen to believe that "public expenditure" are not dirty words. That is not to say that I believe that throwing money at a problem solves it, but some problems cannot be solved without money. It makes sense to spend money on educating people to develop their talents and skills, not just to develop talents which can be harnessed for the benefit of the national economy but to enable people to become rational and civilised human beings. It worries me that in education debates we become so bogged down in the minutae of economic jargon that we sometimes miss the argument.

I can produce statistics to prove that less money is being spent on educating children in areas such as mine, which suffer from acute deprivation. The education budget in my borough has been reduced. Next year Knowsley will spend £52,500 less on 16 to 19-year-olds in non-advanced further education; that is a reduction of 18.5 per cent. in cash terms, or 23.5 per cent. in real terms. The total net expenditure on education will increase by £363,600, which is a 0.5 per cent. increase in cash terms but a 4 per cent. reduction in real terms. There will be a reduction of 6.7 per cent. in cash terns on equipment, tools and materials in secondary education, which is an 11 per cent. reducion in real terms. All this comes about because the borough forecasts that there will be no increase in the percentage of income funded by Government grants, because teachers' and staff wages will not be increased and because the authority will spend less on administration, supplies and equipment.

In any civilised society, we must begin with some shared assumptions. It is a common goal that everyone should be allowed to enjoy what a civilised society accepts as the finer experiences of life. Hon. Members will accept the importance of reading. I recall that the Bullock report stressed that the ability to read was crucial, not just because we have become a society of form-fillers but because the inability to read seriously impinges on the freedom of the individual. Had Lord Bullock visited my constituency, he would have found an entire culture based on form-filling. Since many of my constituents depend on benefits, they must wade their way through a series of obstacles that would make the Grand National look like a flat race.

Sir Keith Joseph

I ask this question entirely neutrally, since I do not know the answer. Is the number of children in Knowsley increasing or decreasing? If we knew that, we could make a better judgment about the figures which the hon. Gentleman gave.

Mr. Hughes

The number of children is decreasing, but that does not weaken my point.

The ability to read, scan and precis is not a luxury in my constituency but a prerequisite for survival. However, the twist as usual is that we have greater problems in that area than in most others because the stark, unchallengeable, fact is that millions of children in one of the most advanced and civilised societies in the world never read books outside of school. The rich variety of experience, as well as the sheer pleasure to be derived from literature, is denied to many, yet we blithely accept suggestions which show that on the altar of public expenditure cuts the promotion of reading will be sacrificed. In view of the time limit, I shall produce no more statistics to prove that that is happening, but this year Knowsley would have to spend 19.3 per cent. more on equipment than it did in 1979 just to keep up.

Conservative Members may produce statistics to try to show that matters are not that bad. However, I spent 12 years teaching in a large comprehensive school and I can tell the House that there were not enough books to go round. The idea that every child has a textbook in his desk or satchel for every subject is not true, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) said. When I was head of a history department, I could not allow more than one class in one year to take home textbooks. We did not have enough books to allow three classes to use them in the same year. That is what is happening in our least prosperous areas. That is what the percentages mean and that is the problem that the Government are exacerbating.

I appreciate that elections will not be won on manifesto commitments to increase literacy, but I believe that it is a crime to deny people the tools to develop their reading ability. It is all very well for the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Walden) to talk about quality in education and to call for a return to basic standards. Nothing is more basic in a civilised society than the ability to read. but the Government's plans will do nothing to encourage its development. That is why I hope that the House will support the Opposition motion.

6.27 pm
Mr. David Model (Bedfordshire, South-West)

I wish to welcome some recent events in education which run counter to much of what has been said by Opposition Members. The first event is the 350 new posts created in universities, which will come into effect this October. Adding the new posts that were created last October, there will now be 592 new posts mainly in the sciences, but not entirely, which will benefit industry and universities. More are to follow. Secondly, I welcome the announcement that new posts will be created in information technology. That is good for the universities and polytechnics, and I hope that it will mean closer liaisons between the two, possibly leading to mergers of some institutions.

I also welcome the increase in funds to the adult literacy and basic skills unit. By 1986–87 the provisions will have increased to £2 million, and I especially welcome the fact that the unit can now sponsor local development projects and can give small grants to help the establishment of voluntary organisations. I admit that the unit asked my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for more funds, but in his letter of 6 March he said that beyond 1985 it was impossible to provide the level of financial support for which the unit asked. However, the increase shows the Government's commitment to improving education. If in 1985–86 unemployment is as high as it is now, the Government appear not to have closed the door to increased funding in that area.

Thirdly, I welcome the fact that in-service training grants will be extended to further education teachers who will take part in the youth training scheme as it moves into its second phase in September. If we can provide better qualified further education teachers, we must then ask whether more youngsters will enter colleges for the YTS this September. I believe that they will. If that happens, I hope we can iron out possible problems of local authority spending on this project and the whole question of rate support grant.

Following on from that, there are now in-service training grants for schoolteachers and for further education teachers. The next natural step, which I hope the Government will take, is to have in-service grants for lecturer retraining and training in universities.

The recent decision by the Department to let polytechnics and local authority further education institutions sell their expertise on a commercial basis is very welcome, because it will improve not only the links of those institutions with local industry but also their funding. The important point is that the Advisory Council for Applied Research and Development report said that any proceeds accruing to institutions should remain with them and not be offset by clawback arrangements. In some areas polytechnics and colleges of further education will be able to sell much of their research and thereby generate funds. I hope that, because some are doing well, their funds will not get tangled up in rate support grant calculations and that local authorities will not suffer because they have generated so many funds from polytechnics and colleges following the Government's welcome decision to let them go into this sphere.

I want to say just a word about capital and equipment spending. The Government have said that there is a 5 per cent. increase in equipment grants for universities in 1984–85 compared with 1983–84. That immediately raises the parallel question of the amount that may be spent in schools on books and equipment. Much of this is often tied up with the removal of surplus places. Some local education authorities may say that they could generate income by allowing surplus places to be used for other activities out of school hours. It is not beyond the wit of LEAs to do that. Bearing in mind the fact that the Manpower Services Commission and colleges of further education could probably make use of the surplus places, local education authorities should satisfy themselves and the Government that they are not being inactive about the problem of surplus places and that they are generating income which could be put to good educational use.

In relation to the Green Paper, Cmnd. 9189, there should be more co-operation between the CBI and the TUC to get people who are leaving industry to go into teaching. We must urgently consider support for people who go on accredited courses while they are unemployed and who may render themselves disqualified for some supplementary benefit. Industry should be allowed the same sort of tax relief if it funds university development as is available in the United States and Europe.

On future education spending, the Green Paper says: There will be pressure for a further increase in the participation of under-fives, though it is currently at a record level of 40 per cent. In their compulsory school years children should have access to the most modern teaching techniques and to the best teaching possible. What the Government have recently done shows that they are working towards that. When considering what we should do in relation to the Green Paper, we should remember that, vital though preschool provision is, it is the compulsory years that are most vital. By funding better in-service teacher training and the use of microcomputers in schools, the Government are giving an absolute commitment to raising teacher quality and educational opportunities.

6.34 pm
Mr. James Molyneaux (Lagan Valley)

The Opposition motion expresses a view about educational provision in many parts of the country and refers to the future of the nation. Therefore, it goes wider than education in Great Britain. The curbs are designed to have an effect on the whole of the United Kingdom.

The general effects have been dealt with by the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice), speaking for the Opposition, and by the Secretary of State for Education and Science, who has put the Government's case in his customary civilised manner. I was disappointed that neither of them, admittedly in the short time at their disposal, dealt with student grants. However, I trust that the Secretary of State and his Department will take account of what has been said about this aspect of the Budget in the debate. The likely changes in the payments of student travel expenses are of perhaps the greatest concern to two categories, first, students from Northern Ireland attending English universities, and secondly, students from England and Wales attending Northern Ireland universities.

Mr. Radice

Does the right hon. Gentleman remember that at Question Time student travel grants were referred to by me and that my question was answered then by the Minister?

Mr. Molyneaux

I appreciate that and I am grateful to the hon. Member for putting it on record.

In regard to the first category that I have mentioned, many Ulster students have to study at universities in Great Britain because their chosen courses are not available in Northern Ireland. That is understandable when one recognises that, excellent though they are, our two Northern Ireland universities cannot be expected to offer a range of courses comparable with those available at national level.

My hon. Friend the Member for Upper Bann (Mr. McCusker) has been conducting correspondence and making representations on behalf of this category of Ulster students to the Northern Ireland Office Minister responsible for education, pointing out that a Hate rate travel allowance would be grossly unfair to those students who have to make even limited journeys by air and sea to Northern Ireland. In a letter the Northern Ireland Minister has made the astonishing statement that the Government propose to be guided by the principle of parity — not parity with Scotland, but parity with England and Wales. In Scotland, of course, conditions much more closely resemble those affecting Ulster students. The Minister, the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Scott), went on to admit frankly that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland had indicated that he had no intention of making the corresponding changes in Scotland. The Secretary of State for Education and Science may say that the problem I have described is one for his relevant colleague in Northern Ireland. Even if that is the case, I trust that the Secretary of State for Education and Science will recognise the injustice of the Government opting for parity with England and Wales rather than with Scotland.

The Secretary of State will not, I know, seek to divest himself of responsibility for the second category to which I referred, students from Great Britain attending universities in Northern Ireland. I champion their cause because Northern Ireland people welcome the contribution of these young people to the vitality of our university life. The significance and scale of that can ge gauged from the fact that one third of the students attending the New University of Ulster come from Great Britain. The cross-fertilisation of ideas has been of great benefit to all students from the component parts of the United Kingdom. It cannot continue if travel expenses are to be pegged at what is probably an inadequate flat rate for even England and Wales. Government Departments must think again.

The Ulster Unionist party broadly supports the Conservative ethos of freedom of choice. Two important categories of students will be deprived of the right of freedom of choice, the right to attend the university of their choice and the right to engage in the course of their choice. They are likely to be compelled to restrict their choice to a university to which they can afford to travel if the flat rate travel allowance is adopted.

6.40 pm
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

I regret to have to rise at this time, so curtailing the debate, for I appreciate that many hon. Members who have sat throughout the discussion will not have an opportunity to speak.

It has been a well-informed and interesting debate. Unfortunately, the Secretary of State gave a disappointing response to our call for a discussion on investment in education, the need to expand education and talk about the future. One wonders what future the right hon. Gentleman sees for education or, for that matter, for himself as Secretary of State. It would have been nice if he had spoken more about the future and less about the past.

It would also have been nice if the right hon. Gentleman had spent some time discussing the morale of many of those who work in education. He must be aware that in the universities, polytechnics and higher education colleges there is much concern about jobs; a great deal of time is being taken up by people talking about their future employment prospects rather than with getting on with research or teaching. The same is now true of further education, where Training for Jobs has caused much despondency and concern.

Throughout our schools, right through to the nursery level, we see the same picture. Among elected representatives on education committees, administrators, teachers, students and parents there is a considerable loss of morale. The right hon. Gentleman might have spent more time endeavouring to raise morale and enthusiasm.

The Secretary of State seemed to go back to doing what spoils this House on too many occasions, the "yah boo" of what one party or another did when in government. That was unfortunate, because while I accept that the Government are spending more on education than was spent at the time of the last Labour Government, that should be the case, considering, for example, the oil revenues that are now available. The real test is whether either party spent enough.

Considering the number of people who are still totally illiterate, the under-achievement of many girls in the sciences, the shortage of skilled people for the microelectronics industry, and youngsters who are inarticulate and lacking in confidence, I fear that we have not achieved enough in education, either in terms of spending or quality. We must give young people confidence from education not only to cope with the world but to do well in it, and too many of them lack that confidence.

We must, therefore, accept that we have not done as well as we might and that to compare the performance of one party with another is not a useful exercise. Whatever we in this House say and however we vote, we will not change history. Our aim in this debate should be to talk about investment in education for the future.

In their amendment, the Government talk with pride about the number of under-fives in nursery education. That is an excellent achievement and we hope that it will be maintained, particularly as the number of under-fives increases. May we have a categorical assurance that the Government plan to maintain the proportion of under-fives in nursery schools?

The amendment also refers to the lower pupil-teacher ratio, and we are pleased about that. However, we are not certain whether that has occurred through Government planning or by accident. In their previous White Papers, they were looking for a higher pupil-teacher ratio than was achieved, so the credit must go to the local authorities.

The same applies to participation in higher education. Naturally, we are pleased that more people are going on to universities and polytechnics, but how much credit the Government can take for that is questionable. After all, they proposed cuts, originally of one in six, in staffing in universities and in the number of pupils at the university level.

In other words, the Government must be careful when making claims for their achievements in education. The improvements seem to have happened more by accident than by design. Perhaps the Government should have added to their amendment words to the effect that they have increased investment in unemployment far more than they have increased investment in education.

Although the Secretary of State said that the Government were doing well on the pupil-teacher ratio front, I suggest that they will be doing well when they have achieved the same pupil-teacher ratio in state schools as is enjoyed in the independent schools and the schools to which the Government are keen to give assistance. If it is good enough for the independents, why is it not good for state schools?

The Government must also address their mind, on the pupil-teacher ratio question, to the way in which we managed to tunnel through the bulge and make economies of scale at that point. In other words, we cannot make economies of scale as the system contracts. For example, the Secretary of State must face up to the problem of village schools. Many of them do an excellent job and nobody would want to close them. But if the number of pupils in a school drops from, say, 40 to 30, that gives a nice reduction in the pupil-teacher ratio, but if we wish to even out the ratio across the country, we must face up to the problem of closing schools and inflicting a bitter blow on many local communities.

Mr. Greenway

Will the hon. Gentleman give the PTR figure for independent schools? I have never seen it.

Mr. Bennett

It is about 10 per cent. better than in state schools. I shall check the accuracy of that and write to the hon. Gentleman.

The country can afford to invest more in education, for example from the oil revenues. On what are we spending the oil revenue at present? It would not be too bad if it were going on investment in British industry, but much of it is being invested abroad in industries which send goods to compete with our goods and destroy jobs in Britain. We should be investing some of that money in people and skills for the community.

Let us consider how much the Government spend on defence. They are even now talking about dramatically increasing expenditure on armaments. There are threats to this country, not necessarily from military invasion but from economic and cultural pressures. We need not be invaded to become economic or intellectual serfs. It is important to defend the nation not only with arms but by spending on education to ensure that we secure the intellect and skills to safeguard our position in the world.

The Government have great enthusiasm for consumer spending, and the latest consumer boom is in computers. One need only look through the newspapers to see the pressures that are being placed on households of average and above-average earnings to buy computers. It might be better for much of that money to be spent in schools so that all children have the experience and benefit of using computers.

For all those reasons, we should have heard from the Secretary of State how he is fighting to get more spent on education. The Government must show a willingness to secure a climate which generates enthusiasm for education. They should sing the praises of all those in education. It is right to point out that standards are rising in schools. The right hon. Gentleman should go out of his way to praise those in education who have done, and are doing, a good job. For example, many people in our universities and polytechnics are doing excellent research.

I have been delighted by the excellent work that I have seen in the schools that I have visited in recent months. Last Friday in Oldham I visited the Freehold community school and was delighted to see the excitement and enthusiasm there among all concerned. I urge Ministers to show more enthusiasm for the quality of education in Britain and to praise those who are doing well. I hope that when the Minister replies to the debate he will speak of those areas where he sees educational success, because I fear that too often he sells education short in harking back to the old grammar schools.

The Secretary of State spoke firmly about wanting to expand technical and vocational education from the pilot schemes into all the schools. Will he explain where the money is to come from? Is it allowed for in the public expenditure White Paper? If not, where will it be found?

The right hon. Member for Lagan Valley (Mr. Molyneaux) raised the question of travel grants and spoke of the difficulty—which does not seem to have occurred to the Government — that, if we are to have different regulations for Scotland and possibly for Northern Ireland, anomalies will arise. For example, we could find two students both staying at a university in England, one coming from Scotland or Northern Ireland and the other from England, coming under totally different travel regulations. Although they will make the same daily journey, one will have additional money in his grant while the other will not.

I should have liked the Government to use a little of their time to open up the great debate on higher education, but all the Government's projections have referred to the fall in student numbers over the next 20 years. They have not told us about the demands of society in the next 20 years, or how many people will be required in industry and the public sector, or how many graduates will be required from the universities. I wish that the Government would change the debate and, instead of asking what will be the demands of 18-year-olds, consider the demands of our society.

I firmly believe that the country's future depends on our having more people with higher educational skills, so I plead with the Minister, in the short time available, to consider the questions asked by the UGC and the National Advisory Body and say, "We want to have a debate with industry about our manpower requirements for the next 20 years."

I wanted to raise many other matters, but I shall briefly ask the Government only what they will do about educational maintenance awards. For a long time, the Government said that that was a matter for the local authorities. Some local authorities have given educational maintenance allowances, but they are now in great difficulty. If they wish to increase the payments to keep pace with inflation, they are caught by the social security regulations, which make it impossible for them to do so. I hope that the Government will take that into account.

Fewer people stay on at school, perhaps because of the attractions of the youth training scheme. Last September, about 4 per cent. fewer pupils stayed on at school. I hope that the Government will take a fresh look at educational maintenance allowances to make sure that all those who would benefit from staying on at school take that opportunity.

I want to take up several other issues if there is time but, first, I shall ask what the Government will do about the examination system, which is yet another area in which the morale of teachers has suffered. When I finished teaching in the 1970s, experiments were being carried out with the 16-plus examination, which was designed to be a common examination to be taken by all pupils of that age group. Now, most youngsters are asked to choose at the age of 14 whether to take an O-level, a 16-plus or a CSE course. Minister after Minister has put off the decision. It is regrettable that the Secretary of State put it off once again in his Sheffield speech. He talked about absolute standards. It may be desirable to introduce them, but it is more important that the Secretary of State should introduce a single 16-plus examination, which would avoid the problem for both pupils and teachers in having to decide which examination to take. I very much regret that the Government did not pay more attention in the debate to the future needs of the country to invest in education.

The people have a right to a decent education, but the strength of that right lies not in justice and fair play but in its correspondence to the country's need to maximise the abilities, skills and intellect of all our people, so that we can pay our way and defend our values and beliefs in the world. Education is not a luxury, but an economic and cultural necessity. I wish that the Government would start to invest in our future—in education.

6.53 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Bob Dunn)

As I listened to the contributions from the Opposition Benches this afternoon I was confirmed in a belief that I have held for some time — we in the Conservative party have succeeded in wresting from the left-wing educational establishment the forward thrust of educational ideas and concepts.

I remember that, during the Committee stage of the Education (Grants and Awards) Bill, the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) threatened us with an Opposition Supply day at every meeting. We challenged that but we have ended up, despite the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud), with only half a day's debate. The contributions that we have heard——

Mr. Freud

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This is an Opposition Supply day, not a half day—is it not?

Mr. Speaker

I am tempted to say, "So what?" What does the hon. Gentleman's point of order have to do with the debate?

Mr. Dunn

What we heard from the hon. Gentleman for Durham, North were not revelations about the Labour party's plans for education or expenditure levels. We have heard nothing except criticism and newspaper headlines, without the substance beneath them. The hon. Gentleman has come to the Chamber naked and is effectively indecent in his lack of educational probing, which would have been of interest to the House and the country.

The hon. Gentleman said that education was vital for social mobility and to overcome the problems of those with a disadvantaged background. From what we know of what the Labour party would do when in power, that would not be the result of their policies. We know that they would abandon and destroy the assisted places scheme, independent schools, grammar schools, parental choice, church schools and a whole range of existing alternative provisions. The hon. Gentleman was careful to distance himself from the Socialist Education Association of which he was a liberal member——

Mr. Radice

I am a member of that association.

Mr. Dunn

The hon. Gentleman still sought to distance himself from its conclusions about the future of church schools.

We heard from the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) how a future Labour Government would abolish the voluntary aided and the voluntary controlled schools, as well as the independent sector.

Mr. Flannery

I did not say such a thing.

Mr. Dun

I apologise to the hon. Gentleman, but if he did not say it today he has said it before. The Government still await the unveiling of the Labour party's Model T Ford. All that we know is that they will seek to destroy our excellent opportunities for disadvantaged children. We believe wholeheartedly that we are the party of excellence in education. Labour is the party of mediocrity and the total destruction of parental choice.

A great deal has been said today about economics and educational expenditure. I commend to the Labour party the need to investigate expenditure at every level, as approved by all education authorities. If if is necessary to save money, in the light of political and other constraints under which all authorities operate, they must consider ways of doing so. Why should not Durham county council consider the possibility of privatising more of their services, or some of them? Why should not Sheffield do precisely the same?

Mr. Flannery

The Minister should be careful this time.

Mr. Dunn

I am always careful when I speak to the hon. Gentleman. I think that the House rather likes him.

Mr. Flannery

It does not.

Mr. Dunn

When, in the 1970s, the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Callaghan), started the great debate on education, there was one big bang and then there was silence. Since the election of our Government we have seen a progression towards improvement and a better profile for teachers. I accept that many teachers do a superb job. Of course, many do not. We shall continue to insist that standards improve and that a better result for expenditure is the outcome——

Mr. John McWilliam (Blaydon)

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House proceeded to a Division.

Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (seated and covered)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can you tell us whether there is any precedent for the Opposition, having chosen a subject of major interest and importance for an Opposition day, seeking to move the closure to curtail the debate? They have not done so to ensure that a vote takes place in the closing minutes of the debate, but have done so when less than half of the time for the debate has expired. Is it not unreasonable for the Leader of the Opposition to ask you to accept the closure and to ask the House to decide on it merely to ensure that time that would have been available to Opposition Members to debate education is given to the Government for a subject of their choosing?

Mr. Speaker

Order. As the hon. Gentleman correctly says, it is an Opposition day. If the Opposition choose to invite the House to decide whether there should be a closure of the debate, that is entirely a matter for them.

Mr. Michael Mates(seated and covered) (Hampshire, East)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can you help us? What are we to do when we cannot get into the Lobby? The doorway at the far end of the Chamber was crammed. There was a queue 10 deep. I went to the door by your Chair and then you announced that the doors were to be locked. I have been prevented from voting.

Mr. Speaker

I am extremely sorry for the hon. Gentleman, but the doors are locked after eight minutes and unhappily the hon. Gentleman has been unable to vote.

Mr. Mates (seated and covered)

But, Mr. Speaker, there must be a procedure by which those who are trying to get into the Lobby are allowed in.

Mr. Speaker

If the hon. Gentleman were to get into the Chamber a little earlier, he would not find himself locked out.

Mr. Beith (seated and covered)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Further to the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Hampshire, East (Mr. Mates), I hope that you will he understanding of the hon. Gentleman's difficulty, which was genuine, and which, I think, arose because, for the fourth time in two days, Labour and Conservative Members were trying to go into the same Lobby at the same time. [Interruption.] I wonder whether, in the circumstances, you might extend the Division.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I did not hear the last comment.

Mr. Beith (seated and covered)

I asked whether, in the circumstances, exercising your discretion, and in view of the fact that having both Labour and Conservative Members in the same Lobby creates congestion, you might extend the Division on this occasion.

Mr. Speaker

I do not honestly think that that will be necessary.

Mr. Alex Carlile (Montgomery) (seated and covered)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. If it is to become a regular occurrence for members of the Government party and members of the Labour party to vote together in Divisions, would you in your discretion consider appointing additional tellers?

Mr. Speaker

Order. I must say to the hon. Gentleman that that seems to be a rather frivolous point of order.

The House having divided: Ayes 481, Noes 17.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Division No. 221] [7.01 pm
Abse, Leo Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Bruinvels, Peter
Adley, Robert Bryan, Sir Paul
Aitken, Jonathan Buchan, Norman
Alexander, Richard Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Buck, Sir Antony
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Budgen, Nick
Amess, David Burt, Alistair
Ancram, Michael Butcher, John
Anderson, Donald Butterfill, John
Arnold, Tom Caborn, Richard
Ashby, David Callaghan, Rt Hon J.
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)
Ashton, Joe Campbell, Ian
Aspinwall, Jack Campbell-Savours, Dale
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Canavan, Dennis
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Carlisle, John (N Luton)
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Carter-Jones, Lewis
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Carttiss, Michael
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Chalker, Mrs Lynda
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Baldry, Anthony Chapman, Sydney
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Chope, Christopher
Barnett, Guy Churchill, W. S.
Barron, Kevin Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)
Batiste, Spencer Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Bell, Stuart Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Bellingham, Henry Clarke, Thomas
Bendall, Vivian Clay, Robert
Benn, Tony Clegg, Sir Walter
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Cockeram, Eric
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay) Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)
Benyon, William Cohen, Harry
Bermingham, Gerald Coleman, Donald
Berry, Sir Anthony Colvin, Michael
Bevan, David Gilroy Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.
Bidwell, Sydney Conlan, Bernard
Biffen, Rt Hon John Conway, Derek
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Cook, Frank (Stockton North)
Blair, Anthony Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Coombs, Simon
Body, Richard Cope, John
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Corbett, Robin
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Corrie, John
Boscawen, Hon Robert Couchman, James
Bottomley, Peter Cowans, Harry
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Cox, Thomas (Tooting)
Boyes, Roland Craigen, J. M.
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Cranborne, Viscount
Braine, Sir Bernard Critchley, Julian
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Crouch, David
Bray, Dr Jeremy Crowther, Stan
Bright, Graham Cunningham, Dr John
Brinton, Tim Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)
Brooke, Hon Peter Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Deakins, Eric
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Dewar, Donald
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Dickens, Geoffrey
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Dobson, Frank
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Dormand, Jack
Dorrell, Stephen Henderson, Barry
Douglas, Dick Hicks, Robert
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Dover, Den Hill, James
Dubs, Alfred Hind, Kenneth
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Hirst, Michael
Duffy, A. E. P. Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Dunn, Robert Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Home Robertson, John
Durant, Tony Hooson, Tom
Dykes, Hugh Hordern, Peter
Eadie, Alex Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Eastham, Ken Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE) Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Eggar, Tim Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Ellis, Raymond Hoyle, Douglas
Emery, Sir Peter Hughes, Dr, Mark (Durham)
Ewing, Harry Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Eyre, Sir Reginald Hughes, Roy (Newport East)
Fairbairn, Nicholas Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Fallon, Michael Hunt, David (Wirral)
Farr, John Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Fatchett, Derek Jackson, Robert
Faulds, Andrew John, Brynmor
Favell, Anthony Johnson-Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn) Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Fisher, Mark Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Flannery, Martin Kershaw, Sir Anthony
Fletcher, Alexander Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Fookes, Miss Janet Knight, Gregory (Derby N)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Knowles, Michael
Forman, Nigel Knox, David
Forrester, John Lambie, David
Forth, Eric Lamont, Norman
Foster, Derek Lang, Ian
Foulkes, George Lawrence, Ivan
Franks, Cecil Leadbitter, Ted
Fraser, J. (Norwood) Leighton, Ronald
Fraser, Peter (Angus East) Lester, Jim
Freeman, Roger Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Gale, Roger Lightbown, David
Galley, Roy Lilley, Peter
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Litherland, Robert
Garel-Jones, Tristan Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)
Garrett, W. E. Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
George, Bruce Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Lord, Michael
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Loyden, Edward
Glyn, Dr Alan Lyell, Nicholas
Golding, John McCartney, Hugh
Goodhart, Sir Philip McCrindle, Robert
Goodlad, Alastair McCurley, Mrs Anna
Gorst, John Macfarlane, Neil
Gower, Sir Raymond McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Grant, Sir Anthony MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Greenway, Harry MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds) McKelvey, William
Grist, Ian Maclean, David John
Gummer, John Selwyn McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) McNamara, Kevin
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) McQuarrie, Albert
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) McTaggart, Robert
Hannam, John Madden, Max
Hardy, Peter Madel, David
Harman, Ms Harriet Major, John
Harris, David Malins, Humfrey
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Malone, Gerald
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Maples, John
Haselhurst, Alan Marek, Dr John
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Marlow, Antony
Hawkins, C. (High Peak) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Haynes, Frank Martin, Michael
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Heathcoat-Amory, David Mather, Carol
Heddle, John Maude, Hon Francis
Heffer, Eric S. Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Meacher, Michael Roe, Mrs Marion
Mellor, David Rogers, Allan
Merchant, Piers Rooker, J. W.
Meyer, Sir Anthony Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Michie, William Rossi, Sir Hugh
Mikardo, Ian Rost, Peter
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Rowe, Andrew
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Ryder, Richard
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Ryman, John
Mitchell, David (NW Hants) Sackville, Hon Thomas
Moate, Roger Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Monro, Sir Hector St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Montgomery, Fergus Sayeed, Jonathan
Moore, John Sedgemore, Brian
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Morris, M. (N'hampton, S) Sheerman, Barry
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Moynihan, Hon C. Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Mudd, David Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Murphy, Christopher Shersby, Michael
Neale, Gerrard Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Needham, Richard Short, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)
Nellist, David Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Nelson, Anthony Silvester, Fred
Neubert, Michael Sims, Roger
Newton, Tony Skeet, T. H. H.
Nicholls, Patrick Skinner, Dennis
Normanton, Tom Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Norris, Steven Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
O'Brien, William Snape, Peter
O'Neill, Martin Soames, Hon Nicholas
Onslow, Cranley Spearing, Nigel
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Speed, Keith
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Spencer, Derek
Ottaway, Richard Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Parris, Matthew Squire, Robin
Parry, Robert Stanbrook, Ivor
Patchett, Terry Stanley, John
Patten, John (Oxford) Steen, Anthony
Pavitt, Laurie Stern, Michael
Pawsey, James Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Pendry, Tom Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Pike, Peter Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Pink, R. Bonner Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Pollock, Alexander Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Porter, Barry Stokes, John
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Stott, Roger
Powell, William (Corby) Stradling Thomas, J.
Powley, John Strang, Gavin
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Straw, Jack
Prescott, John Sumberg, David
Price, Sir David Taylor, John (Solihull)
Proctor, K. Harvey Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Radice, Giles Terlezki, Stefan
Raffan, Keith Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Randall, Stuart Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Rathbone, Tim Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Redmond, M. Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S) Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover) Thornton, Malcolm
Renton, Tim Tinn, James
Rhodes James, Robert Torney, Tom
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Richardson, Ms Jo Twinn, Dr Ian
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Rifkind, Malcolm Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Viggers, Peter
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N) Waddington, David
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Robertson, George Waldegrave, Hon William
Walden, George Wiggin, Jerry
Walker, Bill (T'side N) Wilkinson, John
Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester) Williams, Rt Hon A.
Wall, Sir Patrick Wilson, Gordon
Waller, Gary Winnick, David
Walters, Dennis Winterton, Mrs Ann
Ward, John Winterton, Nicholas
Wardell, Gareth (Gower) Wolfson, Mark
Wardle, C. (Bexhill) Wood, Timothy
Wareing, Robert Woodall, Alec
Warren, Kenneth Woodcock, Michael
Watson, John Yeo, Tim
Watts, John Young, David (Bolton SE)
Weetch, Ken Young, Sir George (Acton)
Wells, John (Maidstone) Younger, Rt Hon George
Welsh, Michael
Wheeler, John Tellers for the Ayes:
White, James Mr. James Hamilton and
Whitfield, John Mr. John McWilliam.
Whitney, Raymond
Alton, David Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Beith, A. J. Steel, Rt Hon David
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Cartwright, John Wainwright, R.
Freud, Clement Wallace, James
Howells, Geraint Wigley, Dafydd
Johnston, Russell
Kennedy, Charles Tellers for the Noes:
Maclennan, Robert Mr. Michael Meadowcroft and
Penhaligon, David Mr. Simon Hughes
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas

Question put accordingly, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 206, Noes 302.

Division No. 222] [7.17 pm
Abse, Leo Clarke, Thomas
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Clay, Robert
Alton, David Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)
Anderson, Donald Cohen, Harry
Ashdown, Paddy Coleman, Donald
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.
Ashton, Joe Conlan, Bernard
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Cook, Frank (Stockton North)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Corbett, Robin
Barnett, Guy Cowans, Harry
Barron, Kevin Cox, Thomas (Tooting)
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Craigen, J. M.
Beith, A. J. Crowther, Stan
Bell, Stuart Cunningham, Dr John
Benn, Tony Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)
Bennett, A, (Dent'n & Red'sh) Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)
Bermingham, Gerald Deakins, Eric
Bidwell, Sydney Dewar, Donald
Blair, Anthony Dobson, Frank
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Dormand, Jack
Boyes, Roland Douglas, Dick
Bray, Dr Jeremy Dubs, Alfred
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Duffy, A. E. P.
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Eadie, Alex
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Eastham, Ken
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)
Buchan, Norman Ellis, Raymond
Caborn, Richard Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Ewing, Harry
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Fatchett, Derek
Campbell, Ian Faulds, Andrew
Campbell-Savours, Dale Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Canavan, Dennis Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Fisher, Mark
Carter-Jones, Lewis Flannery, Martin
Cartwright, John Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Forrester, John
Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim) Nellist, David
Foster, Derek Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Foulkes, George O'Brien, William
Fraser, J. (Norwood) O'Neill, Martin
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Freud, Clement Parry, Robert
Garrett, W. E. Patchett, Terry
George, Bruce Pavitt, Laurie
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Pendry, Tom
Godman, Dr Norman Penhaligon, David
Golding, John Pike, Peter
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife,) Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)
Hardy, Peter Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Harman, Ms Harriet Prescott, John
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Radice, Giles
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Randall, Stuart
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Redmond, M.
Haynes, Frank Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Richardson, Ms Jo
Heffer, Eric S. Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Robertson, George
Home Robertson, John Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Rogers, Allan
Howells, Geraint Rooker, J. W.
Hoyle, Douglas Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Ryman, John
Hughes, Roy (Newport East) Sedgemore, Brian
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Sheerman, Barry
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
John, Brynmor Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Johnston, Russell Short, Mrs H.(W'hampt'n NE)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Skinner, Dennis
Kennedy, Charles Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Snape, Peter
Lambie, David Spearing, Nigel
Leadbitter, Ted Steel, Rt Hon David
Leighton, Ronald Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Stott, Roger
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Strang, Gavin
Litherland, Robert Straw, Jack
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Taylor, Rt Hon John David
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Loyden, Edward Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
McCartney, Hugh Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
McCusker, Harold Tinn, James
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Torney, Tom
McKelvey, William Wainwright, R.
Maclennan, Robert Wallace, James
McNamara, Kevin Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
McTaggart, Robert Wareing, Robert
Madden, Max Weetch, Ken
Marek, Dr John Welsh, Michael
Marshall, David (Shettleston) White, James
Martin, Michael Wigley, Dafydd
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Williams, Rt Hon A.
Meacher, Michael Wilson, Gordon
Meadowcroft, Michael Winnick, David
Michie, William Woodall, Alec
Mikardo, Ian Young, David (Bolton SE)
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Tellers for the Ayes:
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Mr. James Hamilton and
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Mr. John McWilliam.
Adley, Robert Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)
Aitken, Jonathan Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)
Alexander, Richard Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Baldry, Anthony
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Batiste, Spencer
Amess, David Beaumont-Dark, Anthony
Ancram, Michael Bellingham, Henry
Arnold, Tom Bendall, Vivian
Ashby, David Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay)
Aspinwall, Jack Berry, Sir Anthony
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Bevan, David Gilroy
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Biffen, Rt Hon John
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Greenway, Harry
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)
Body, Richard Grist, Ian
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Gummer, John Selwyn
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Bottomley, Peter Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Harris, David
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Haselhurst, Alan
Braine, Sir Bernard Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Heathcoat-Amory, David
Bright, Graham Heddle, John
Brinton, Tim Henderson, Barry
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Hicks, Robert
Brooke, Hon Peter Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Hill, James
Bruinvels, Peter Hind, Kenneth
Bryan, Sir Paul Hirst, Michael
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Buck, Sir Antony Hooson, Tom
Budgen, Nick Hordern, Peter
Burt, Alistair Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A,)
Butcher, John Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Butterfill, John Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Carlisle, John (N Luton) Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hunt, David (Wirral)
Carttiss, Michael Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Jackson, Robert
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Chapman, Sydney Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Chope, Christopher Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Churchill, W. S. Kershaw, Sir Anthony
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n) Knight, Gregory (Derby N)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Knowles, Michael
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Knox, David
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Lamont, Norman
Clegg, Sir Walter Lang, Ian
Cockeram, Eric Lawrence, Ivan
Colvin, Michael Lester, Jim
Conway, Derek Lightbown, David
Coombs, Simon Lilley, Peter
Cope, John Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)
Corrie, John Lord, Michael
Couchman, James Lyell, Nicholas
Cranborne, Viscount McCrindle, Robert
Critchley, Julian McCurley, Mrs Anna
Crouch, David Macfarlane, Neil
Dickens, Geoffrey MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Dorrell, Stephen MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute,
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Maclean, David John
Dover, Den McNair-Wiison, P. (New F'st)
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward McQuarrie, Albert
Dunn, Robert Madel, David
Durant, Tony Major, John
Dykes, Hugh Malins, Humfrey
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Malone, Gerald
Eggar, Tim Maples, John
Emery, Sir Peter Marlow, Antony
Eyre, Sir Reginald Mates, Michael
Fairbairn, Nicholas Mather, Carol
Fallon, Michael Maude, Hon Francis
Farr, John Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Favell, Anthony Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Fletcher, Alexander Mellor, David
Fookes, Miss Janet Merchant, Piers
Forman, Nigel Muyer, Sir Anthony
Forth, Eric Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Franks, Cecil Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Fraser, Peter (Angus East) Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Freeman, Roger Mitchell, David (NW Hants)
Gale, Roger Moate, Roger
Galley, Roy Monro, Sir Hector
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Montgomery, Fergus
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Moore, John
Glyn, Dr Alan Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Goodhart, Sir Philip Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Goodlad, Alastair Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Gorst, John Moynihan, Hon C.
Gower, Sir Raymond Mudd, David
Grant, Sir Anthony Murphy, Christopher
Neale, Gerrard Squire, Robin
Needham, Richard Stanbrook, Ivor
Nelson, Anthony Stanley, John
Newton, Tony Steen, Anthony
Nicholls, Patrick Stern, Michael
Normanton, Tom Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Norris, Steven Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Onslow, Cranley Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Ottaway, Richard Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Stokes, John
Parris, Matthew Stradling Thomas, J.
Patten, John (Oxford) Sumberg, David
Pawsey, James Taylor, John (Solihull)
Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Pink, R. Bonner Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Pollock, Alexander Terlezki, Stefan
Porter, Barry Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Powell, William (Corby) Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Powley, John Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Price, Sir David Thornton, Malcolm
Proctor, K. Harvey Townend, John (Bridlington)
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Raffan, Keith Twinn, Dr Ian
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Rathbone, Tim Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover) Viggers, Peter
Renton, Tim Waddington, David
Rhodes James, Robert Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Waldegrave, Hon William
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Walden, George
Rifkind, Malcolm Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Wall, Sir Patrick
Robinson, Mark (N'port W) Waller, Gary
Roe, Mrs Marion Walters, Dennis
Rossi, Sir Hugh Ward, John
Rost, Peter Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Rowe, Andrew Warren, Kenneth
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Watson, John
Ryder, Richard Watts, John
Sackville, Hon Thomas Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Wells, John (Maidstone)
St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N. Wheeler, John
Sayeed, Jonathan Whitfield, John
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Whitney, Raymond
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Wiggin, Jerry
Shelton, William (Streatham) Wilkinson, John
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Winterton, Nicholas
Shersby, Michael Wolfson, Mark
Silvester, Fred Wood, Timothy
Sims, Roger Woodcock, Michael
Skeet, T. H. H. Yeo, Tim
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Soames, Hon Nicholas Younger, Rt Hon George
Speed, Keith
Spencer, Derek Tellers for the Noes:
Spicer, Jim (W Dorset) Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones and
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Mr. Michael Neubert.

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 33 (Questions on amendments):—

The House divided: Ayes 255, Noes 20.

Dlvision No. 223] [7.29 pm
Aitken, Jonathan Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.
Alexander, Richard Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)
Amess, David Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)
Ancram, Michael Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)
Arnold, Tom Baldry, Anthony
Ashby, David Beaumont-Dark, Anthony
Aspinwall, Jack Bellingham, Henry
Bendall, Vivian Grist, Ian
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay) Gummer, John Selwyn
Berry, Sir Anthony Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Bevan, David Gilroy Harris, David
Biffen, Rt Hon John Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Heathcoat-Amory, David
Body, Richard Heddle, John
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Henderson, Barry
Boscawen, Hon Robert Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Bottomley, Peter Hind, Kenneth
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Hirst, Michael
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Braine, Sir Bernard Hooson, Tom
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Hordern, Peter
Bright, Graham Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Brinton, Tim Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Brooke, Hon Peter Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Brown, M. (Bhgg & Cl'thpes) Hunt, David (Wirral)
Bruinvels, Peter Jackson, Robert
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A, Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Buck, Sir Antony Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Budgen, Nick Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Burt, Alistair Kershaw, Sir Anthony
Butterfill, John Knight, Gregory (Derby N)
Carlisle, John (N Luton) Knowles, Michael
Carttiss, Michael Knox, David
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Lamont, Norman
Chapman, Sydney Lang, Ian
Chope, Christopher Lawrence, Ivan
Churchill, W. S. Lester, Jim
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n) Lightbown, David
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Lilley, Peter
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Lord, Michael
Clegg, Sir Walter Lyell, Nicholas
Cockeram, Eric McCurley, Mrs Anna
Colvin, Michael MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Coombs, Simon MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Cope, John Maclean, David John
Corrie, John McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Couchman, James McQuarrie, Albert
Cranborne, Viscount Madel, David
Crouch, David Malins, Humfrey
Dorrell, Stephen Malone, Gerald
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Maples, John
Dover, Den Marlow, Antony
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Mates, Michael
Dunn, Robert Mather, Carol
Durant, Tony Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Dykes, Hugh Mellor, David
Emery, Sir Peter Merchant, Piers
Eyre, Sir Reginald Meyer, Sir Anthony
Fairbairn, Nicholas Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Fallon, Michael Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Farr, John Mitchell, David (NW Hants)
Favell, Anthony Moate, Roger
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Monro, Sir Hector
Fletcher, Alexander Montgomery, Fergus
Fookes, Miss Janet Moore, John
Forman, Nigel Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Forth, Eric Moynihan, Hon C.
Franks, Cecil Mudd, David
Fraser, Peter (Angus East) Murphy, Christopher
Gale, Roger Neale, Gerrard
Galley, Roy Needham, Richard
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Nelson, Anthony
Garel-Jones, Tristan Nicholls, Patrick
Glyn, Dr Alan Normanton, Tom
Goodhart, Sir Philip Norris, Steven
Goodlad, Alastair Onslow, Cranley
Gorst, John Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Gower, Sir Raymond Ottaway, Richard
Grant, Sir Anthony Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Greenway, Harry Parris, Matthew
Griffiths, E. (B"y St Edm'ds) Patten, John (Oxford)
Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Pollock, Alexander Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Porter, Barry Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Powell, William (Corby) Stokes, John
Powley, John Stradling Thomas, J.
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Sumberg, David
Price, Sir David Taylor, John (Solihull)
Proctor, K. Harvey Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Raffan, Keith Terlezki, Stefan
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Rathbone, Tim Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover) Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Renton, Tim Thornton, Malcolm
Rhodes James, Robert Townend, John (Bridlington)
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Rifkind, Malcolm Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Viggers, Peter
Roe, Mrs Marion Waddington, David
Rossi, Sir Hugh Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Rost, Peter Waldegrave, Hon William
Rowe, Andrew Walden, George
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Ryder, Richard Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Sackville, Hon Thomas Waller, Gary
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N. Warren, Kenneth
Sayeed, Jonathan Watson, John
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Watts, John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Shersby, Michael Wheeler, John
Silvester, Fred Whitfield, John
Sims, Roger Wilkinson, John
Skeet, T. H. H. Winterton, Mrs Ann
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Winterton, Nicholas
Soames, Hon Nicholas Wolfson, Mark
Speed, Keith Wood, Timothy
Spencer, Derek Woodcock, Michael
Spicer, Jim (W Dorset) Yeo, Tim
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Stanbrook, Ivor
Steen, Anthony Tellers for the Ayes:
Stern, Michael Mr. John Major and
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton) Mr. Michael Neubert.
Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Alton, David Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Ashdown, Paddy Sedgemore, Brian
Cartwright, John Skinner, Dennis
Freud, Clement Steel, Rt Hon David
Howells, Geraint Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Wainwright, R.
Johnston, Russell Wallace, James
Kennedy, Charles Wigley, Dafydd
Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Loyden, Edward Tellers for the Noes:
Maclennan, Robert Mr. A. J. Beith and
Penhaligon, David Mr. Michael Meadowcrort.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Mr. Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved, That this House welcomes the improvements in the level of educational provision since 1979, including the increased proportion of under-fives in school, the lower pupil-teacher ratio in primary and secondary schools, the expansion of non-advanced further education and the growth in participation in higher education and endorses the Government's policies for raising the standards and effectiveness of the education service within the resources available.