§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. Speaker
Before I call the Secretary of State for Education and Science, I must announce to the House that I have selected the amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition. A large number of hon. Members are seeking to take part in this debate, and I therefore intend. between 7 o'clock and 9 o'clock, to impose the 10 minute limit on speeches.
§ The Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Kenneth Baker)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
Before referring to the Bill, I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph). During the tenure of this office he instituted major reforms in our education system, many of which have been widely welcomed by the educational world. To his credit stands the GCSE and the reform of initial teacher training. But above all his contribution was the White Paper "Better Schools" in which he raised to the very centre of the educational debate the whole question of standards and quality of teaching and pointed a way forward. He made a remarkable contribution to the education policy of our country.
Education has now become more important than at any time in the past. To a large extent, our national future depends on it. The pressure of international competition and the relentless advance of technology make it inevitable that we demand more from our education system. It needs to perform better because our situation requires it. Fortunately, there are many points of strength in our system. Many schools do admirable work. But it is now essential that that should become true for every school. We have no choice but to make it the aim of our policies. The Bill is important because it takes these polices forward.
The Bill is based upon the White Paper "Better Schools". It is an important Bill, because it gives new impetus to the Government's policies for raising the standards achieved by all pupils in our schools. Those policies are all concerned with quality—that is. what pupils actually achieve. We are working to provide every pupil, of whatever ability, with an education which fits him or her for adult life in today's world.
Three major steps forward are in hand. First, on the curriculum, we want to provide for all pupils a curriculum which develops their talents and prepares them for responsible citizenship and for finding a job in a competitive technological age. Secondly, we are reforming the examination system — the GCSE, which will be introduced this autumn and will make the 16-plus examination better serve the needs of pupils, teachers and the employers and raise standards of attainment. I want to return to that examination later. Thirdly we are improving teaching quality. The newly established council — the Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education—is setting in hand a radical reform of initial teacher training.
These are the steps which are in hand. We operate through a decentralised school system; and I believe in 183 such a diffusion of power. It is right to devolve responsibility even in a national service such as education. I have been asked frequently during the past few days whether I favour adopting the French centralised system. I want to make it clear that I do not. I think that all of society, not just our education system, can be happier and more stable if more is done at the rim of the wheel and less at the hub. This process, however, can go further, beyond the level of the local education authority to the level of the school and the community served by each school. At present, we have not got right either the balance of responsibility between central and local government or, more importantly, the balance between the LEA and all those other interests that give life to a school. Moreover, the present distribution of responsibilities varies in a haphazard and rather bizarre fashion from place to place and it is often unclear, even to those most closely concerned. The diffusion of power no longer works properly. Diffusion has become confusion.
The Bill gives a new vitality and a new clarity to our decentralised system of school education. The Bill does not change the features of the system that are working well. It preserves the particular nature of aided and special agreement schools. Such schools already have that separate identity which is a prerequisite for effectiveness. For that reason, the Bill affects neither the composition of their governing bodies nor, except for some additions, their functions. Those schools work well, and we should leave well alone.
The first main purpose of the Bill is to change the arrangement for governing bodies of schools so that parents and local community interests have a greater say. In that way governing bodies will have real identity and that sense of purpose which was always the intention of the Education Act 1944 but which has not happened. I remind the House that the 1944 White Paper said:Every school of whatever type or category must have an individual life of its own as well as a place in the local system".The 1944 Act intended each school's identity to pivot round an effective governing body, but the practice has been far from the ideal. In county, controlled and maintained special schools, governing bodies are dominated by people appointed by the LEA, their powers are unclear and often ineffective, particularly in relation to the LEA, despite the valuable start made through the Education Act 1980, governing bodies do not yet adequately inspire or harness parental concern for their children's progress, the relationship between the governing body and the head teacher is often unclear and unfruitful.
The Bill therefore radically changes the composition of those governing bodies. It also gives the governing bodies new duties, powers and responsibilities which will apply to all of them. As regards the composition of such governing bodies, part II of the Bill ends the dominance of the LEA — no single interest will predominate; gives equal representation to elected parent governors and to governors appointed by the LEA; preserves existing rights of representation of the head and other teachers, voluntary foundations and minor authorities; and provides for a new category of co-opted governors.
The new category of co-opted governors is important. Co-opted governors allow a governing body to become more broadly based and reflect the interests of the wider community served by the school. I am particularly keen to 184 get more business men and business women interested in the schools that serve their community. Many hon. Members on both sides of the House will have heard business men and business women criticise the school system and say that the children whom they are turning out are not numerate or literate. I always respond robustly to such comments, and ask the business men and women when they last went into a school and discussed with teachers what was being taught and discussed with the children what they were learning. I recognise that many business people serve as school governors, but the governing body of every school should have on it someone from the local business community. Therefore, we shall introduce amendments to ensure that local industry and commerce are represented on governing bodies.
Having more elected parent governors is good, but not sufficient. In addition, all governors will have to report to the parent body. Clauses 26 and 27 require the governors to prepare an annual report and to submit it to a parents' meeting. At that meeting the parents as a whole can make known their views about standards and other sensitive issues, which individually they may find difficult to put forward. Individual parents will also have a right to be informed about what their children are being taught. They will be involved in much wider issues such as the possibility of political bias, the nature of the sex education that is being provided, and the wider question of crime prevention. Parents will, therefore, be able to influence the way in which their children's school develops. That is a powerful extension of parental choice, and I hope that it will lead to a much greater understanding between schools and parents.
I now deal briefly with the duties and responsibilities of the governing body and the duties and responsibilities of the head teacher. Those two are critically important parts of the education system. Under clause 15, the governing body will be responsible for the general conduct of the school. Under clause 21, it will have general oversight of discipline. Under clauses 30 and 37, the governing body will be involved in the selection and dismissal of staff and, in particular, the crucial appointment of the head teacher. Under clause 17, the governing body will be obliged to publish a statement of its policy for the school's curriculum. The governors must consider the local education authority's curricular policy, but they may, for the purposes of this statement, modify it as they judge right, after receiving advice from the head. Under clause 25, the governing body will be given both information about the school's running costs and power to spend the money which the LEA will be required to allocate to it for books, equipment and stationery. For the first time the governing body will have a financial statement before it. That is a tremendous step forward.
§ Mr. Ken Weetch (Ipswich)
Before the Secretary of State leaves the point about the power and authority of headmasters, will he consider the point that if a headmaster excludes from his school a pupil who is recalcitrant and difficult, under these clauses the local education authority can compel him to take that pupil back, although the school could be disrupted and his authority wholly undermined? Does the Secretary of State intend to retain that provision, or will he alter it?
§ Mr. Baker
I shall deal directly with that point in about two or three minutes when I deal with discipline.
185 To return to the financial position, a financial statement will be prepared which the governing body will have and which will also be made available to the entire parent body. The governing body will also he able to spend money on specific items such as books, equipment and stationery. The LEA will also be free to increase this discretion to other items, and I intend to encourage that. The experiments made by such LEAs as Solihull and Cambridgeshire of devolving more control to the school is a pattern which I would like to see extended. In connection with these finance provisions, I should like to pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South-West (Mr. Madel), whose private Member's Bill last Session foreshadowed some of these proposals.
The Bill makes an important change concerning the appointment of head teachers. There will now be a selection panel which examines the candidates. It will no longer be possible for an LEA to foist upon a governing body the head teacher which the LEA may particularly want. I am keen to increase the role and influence of the head. Under clause 17 the head will determine the curriculum for the school, which must be compatible with the curricular policies of the LEA or with the policies as modified by the governors. He will be solely responsible for organising the curriculum which he has determined. Under clauses 30 to 37, the head must be consulted on all matters affecting his staff, and he will have real responsibilities, under clause 21, for discipline. I hope that this will enhance and increase the role of the head teacher in our schools.
Discipline cannot be separated from education. Without discipline in a school, no learning can take place. The Bill deals with discipline, and accepts the fact that one cannot leave discipline to the elected councillors on the education authority—it is the special prerogative of the head and the governing body. I should like to deal with two aspects of discipline: first, corporal punishment, and then the expulsion of pupils. The House of Lords in its debate amended clause 21 with the intention of abolishing corporal punishment in the state sector. The Bill does not completely achieve that, and there would have to be drafting amendments to achieve that purpose fully.
Each hon. Member will have his views about whether corporal punishment should be retained as a sanction available to the head in maintaining order in his school. Corporal punishment is now used much less than it used to be. In Scotland abolition has long been the policy. As a result corporal punishment has largely disappeared there. About a quarter of the English authorities have a policy against the use of corporal punishment. But for many schools the head and the governing body believe that it should be retained as a sanction, and it is strongly felt that to deny them this would weaken their position. Taking account of all the circumstances, we believe that the whole House should decide whether corporal punishment should be retained and my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary proposes that Members on this side of the House should be allowed a free vote on the question. If the decision is for abolition, that would extend also to Scotland.
However, as Secretary of State for Education, I think it would be appropriate for me to make my personal views known. I think that the retention or the abolition of corporal punishment should essentially be a decision for the governing body, the head and the parents and if they 186 wish to retain it in a particular school they should be allowed to do so. They would have that denied to them should the House decide to abolish corporal punishment altogether in the state sector. Accordingly, I intend to vote for the retention of corporal punishment on the understanding that it will be decided at a local level. Should that view prevail in the House, I would expect the new governing bodies in England and Wales, which of course will now have much higher parent representation, to agree with the head a suitable arrangement which would recognise the finding of the European Court of Human Rights that the philosophical convictions of any parent should he respected. I would monitor these arrangements closely, and if philosophical convictions are not being respected I should then have to consider giving parents a legal right of exemption. I do not believe for one moment that corporal punishment is the ultimate sanction in a school, but there have to be sanctions against bad behaviour otherwise a head and a governing body have 'no power. Children need to work within a formal structure. If that structure collapses, no learning can take place and the children themselves are confused and bewildered.
The ultimate disciplinary sanction is expulsion. I come to the point made by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch). The House will recall the Poundswick school case where the headteacher decided to suspend five boys who were alleged to have painted graffiti attacking and undermining the teaching staff. This led to a dispute between the governing body, which did not want the boys readmitted, and the LEA, which eventually forced the governors to readmit them. What is at issue is not only the LEA's duty to see to it that each child finds a place at school but also whether the school can educate a child so placed at it without damage to all its work.
Under the Bill as drafted the governing bodies have a right to exclude a pupil, which can be overridden by the LEA. I intend to strengthen the position of the governing body in such a case where there is a difference of opinion between it and the local education authority. I intend to introduce an amendment to propose a right of appeal for the governing body or the parent. [HON. MEMBERS: "Appeal to what?"] To the appeal committees which will be set up and which will operate locally on the admission of and selection of schools for children.
§ Mr. Fred Silvester (Manchester, Withington)
This is an extremely important matter in Manchester. Will my right hon. Friend be clear about this? I thought that the appeal committee was, in fact, substantially under the control of the local education authority. Therefore, we are going round in circles. I thought that it was understood in another place that the amendment was intended to he a reference to the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. Baker
I will certainly consider what my hon. Friend has said. Although the appeal committees are appointed by the LEA, none the less they reject between a third and a half of the appointments made by the LEA. They have established a degree of independence, but if there was a further strengthening of that independence I would be happy to consider that in Committee. I am keen to ensure that there is a clear appeal procedure against the right of the LEA to assert its position when the standing of the head or the governing body is in question.
§ Mr. Cyril Smith (Rochdale)
I back strongly what the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester) 187 has said. I have had considerable experience of appeal bodies on admissions. The hon. Member is correct in saying that the teachers are appointed by the local authority and, while a proportion of the cases are rejected, I urge the Minister to consider whether that proves what he says it proves. I do not believe that it does.
§ Mr. Baker
If there is disquiet about this, I shall respond sympathetically in Committee. I am keen to establish an appeal system. We may have to establish a separate appeal system, and I am prepared to consider it on that basis.
May I deal now with another matter that was introduced in another place, the clauses relating to political indoctrination, clauses 16 and 39? The principle is not in dispute. There is no place for political indoctrination in our schools. But it is inevitable that issues of a political character will arise in many areas of the curriculum; and it is right that these should be dealt with responsibly and objectively so that our children are helped to be good citizens. We owe it to our children to ensure that the Bill is in this respect as effective as it can be in preventing political indoctrination.
§ Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle)
Is my right hon. Friend aware of the concern in some quarters that the rightful insistence that politically contentious matters should be dealt with in a non-partisan way may lead to the erroneous impression that discussion of parliamentary democracy should be balanced with advocacy of anti-democratic, Fascist or Marxist views? Can my right hon. Friend confirm that that is not his view and that the Bill will not allow this to happen?
§ Mr. Baker
My hon. Friend has referred to clause 39 and not to clause 16. Clause 16 provides the important protection and clause 39 is concerned with balance. I sympathise with my hon. Friend, and I can do no better than quote what my right hon. Friend the former Secretary of State said to the National Council of Women on 3 March 1984:Schools have, among other tasks, the job of familiarising pupils with the values which define our society. We are surely right to expect our schools not to encourage pupils to take a favourable view of notions which are wholly alien to our society — for example that Government should be other than Parliamentary or that the rule of law should be abrogated.
§ Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)
Does the right hon. Gentleman intend to leave in these two clauses, which were introduced in the Lords, or seriously to modify them?
§ Mr. Nicholas Baker (Dorset, North)
When my right hon. Friend considers these clauses, will he carefully study the information which is put about by the British Youth Council? I am sure that my right hon. Friend will agree that it is right that young people should study how a society is organised, the politics of it, and how political parties are organised. The literature which I have before me encourages young people to study the politics of minority pressure groups, and indeed the politics of protest. Surely that is not part of political education.
§ Mr. Baker
I am not familiar with that literature, but I should be grateful if my hon. Friend would send it to me. If the literature is on the lines described by my hon. Friend, it has no place in the operation of schools.
I come to another matter which was introduced in the House of Lords, clause 24, which requires sex education to be provided, as far as is reasonably practical, in a way which encouragespupils to have due regard to moral considerations and the value of family life".I am very glad that this clause has been added to the Bill. There has been sex education in schools now for a number of years and I have no doubt that it has been generally beneficial, but it is very important for us to remember that sexual relationships should be taught and understood only as an element of wider personal relationships. It is not enough just to teach the knowledge of the physical mechanics of sex or the hygiene of sex. It must also involve loving, caring and sharing. I recognise that many schools have set sex education in a moral framework, but this does not appear to have happened in all cases.
It is crucial to emphasise the moral dimension as well as the value of family life. I recognise that this is a difficult task for teachers, and parents must be involved. We will shortly be publishing a draft circular on sex education at school. It will emphasise that parents should be given the opportunity to see for themselves the teaching materials to be used. I also think it is very important that pupils should be helped to recognise the physical and emotional risks of sexual promiscuity.
I recognise that it is very difficult to legislate in this matter, but I think that it is important for the House of Commons and the House of Lords to give a clear signal reinforcing the institution of marriage as the foundation of a healthy family life and the very bedrock of our civilisation. And we really owe it to the next generation to do everything we can to build up the children's respect for a happy family life. I hope that this clause will do that.
What really matters is what is said by the teacher in the class to his or her pupils, both boys and girls, but I draw some encouragement from the statement made by Lord Denning in the other place when he said of this amendment:It is not merely a pious aspiration, it is a duty which can be enforced by law if need be. I hope it never has to be. But this is a valuable provision to have".—[Official Report, House of Lords, 2 June 1986; Vol. 475, c. 568–72.]May I deal with one other matter which was debated in the other place—the difficult but very important issue of safeguarding freedom of speech in higher education. The House will be aware that an amendment was tabled by the Government on this matter, but that it was not proceeded with in the other place, after a commitment to bring forward an amendment in this House. I think that there is considerable public unease about the way in which certain people have been denied the right of freedom of speech at some universities and polytechnics.
I am aware that such occurrences touch only a small proportion of the many meetings that take place on campuses, but many people find unacceptable the infringement of free speech in a university or polytechnic. Universities are rightly regarded as the very quintessence of intellectual freedom. Indeed, I have been told that one of the reasons why there should be lifetime tenure for dons is that this ensures them the intellectual freedom and independence which they need to pursue their lives in the universities. They cannot demand it for themselves if it is 189 not provided for other people, and there is no doubt that the no-platform policies of certain student unions have denied the right of the freedom of expression to certain people. Members of this House have been excluded from universities and physically threatened and attacked. A Jewish society has been denied access to the rooms and facilities of a student union on the ground that the society supports Zionism, and Zionism is alleged to be racist.
Such campus censorship is unacceptable. We propose to move amendments which will safeguard freedom of speech in higher education. The House will then be able to consider the various issues of principle and practice which arise. I have already discussed with the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, the directors of polytechnics and others the form of the provision that might best secure and further our objectives. But I have made it clear that present circumstances are not acceptable.
§ Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)
Will my right hon. Friend give the House an absolute assurance that his and his colleagues' resolve on this extremely important matter will not weaken? The measures that he has announced will be welcomed on the Conservative Back Benches. Will he ensure that vice-chancellors understand the deep distress that has been caused to hon. Members and others by the antics of these hooligans and that it is in their self-interest to stiffen their disciplinary procedures, which must include the expulsion of students if necessary?
§ Mr. Baker
Whether people want to read them is not the point. The point is that my hon. Friend should be allowed to speak if he wants to. We must remember what Voltaire said—I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.That principle becomes all the more important when it is denied in our universities and polytechnics.
§ Mr. Clement Freud (Cambridgeshire, North-East)
Does the Secretary of State agree that it seems strange to people outside the House that, with the consent of the Patronage Secretary and the Prime Minister, an hon. Member was denied the freedom of speech on Thursday night, but the right hon. Gentleman is now campaigning for it in the universities? What is the difference?
§ Mr. Tony Baldry (Banbury)
My right hon. Friend referred to student unions banning free speech, but we must also consider vice-chancellors. Is he aware that, some 15 years ago, I and other students at Sussex university had to hire the corn exchange to enable our local Member of Parliament, my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery), to speak to us because the then vice-chancellor, now Lord Briggs, refused to allow us to use a room in the university? Some vice-chancellors say that we should leave it to them. We have left it to them for the past 15 years, and they have done nothing to guarantee free speech in universities.
§ Mr. Baker
That is what I said to the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals when I saw it last week. I assure my hon. Friend that, when the amendment is tabled, it will address that point about duty and responsibility.
I want now to consider the training of teachers and the GCSE. Before doing so, I should remind the House that the Bill deals with such matters as recoupments and the abolition of the two central advisory councils and the cessation of the publication of a retrospective annual report.
The Bill contains two important provisions which will improve the effectiveness of teachers. They relate to appraisal and to in-service training. The impression is sometimes given that only the bad things in schools are worth commenting upon, but all hon. Members know from first hand in their constituencies the good work which is done by teachers and children in their local schools. It is my sincere hope that we shall soon be able to restore the spirit of partnership, rather than recrimination, to the relationship between those who teach and those who set the framework and secure the resources for the education and teaching profession. In doing that, we must obviously continue to point out where improvements still have to be made and where existing practices and procedures should be changed to raise standards.
Local authorities' key role in managing the teaching force can be fully effective only if it is informed by the regular and systematic appraisal of teachers. The purpose of appraisal is to help all teachers realise their full professional potential by providing them with better job satisfaction, and appropriate in-service training and better planned career development. None could argue with these objectives.
It is my strong hope that agreement will he reached voluntarily on a national framework for appraisal in the current ACAS talks. It may, however, be desirable—and it may prove necessary—for that national framework to be provided or supported by statutory regulations. Clause 40 consequently provides for the holder of my office to make such regulations. I should leave the House in no doubt about the intention that appraisal should be secured by agreement. I look upon this as very much a reserve power.
I turn to the subject of training. Every curriculum improvement needs appropriate in-service training. To meet all of these needs effectively, a sharper financial mechanism is required. The Secretary of State does not at present have financial powers which match his many statutory responsibilities. There is an imbalance here. That is why the Bill proposes, in clause 41, that in-service training shall generally be financed through a new specific grant.
I am pleased to say that details of the proposed administrative framework for the new scheme will be issued for consultation very shortly. As to resources, the funds to be made available for next year will have to be determined as part of the overall LEA expenditure settlement for 1987–88. The Government's intention is that most types of expenditure on in-service training, including those currently eligible for assistance through the present pooling and grant arrangements, including TRIST — TVEI-related in-service training — should be eligible under the new scheme.
191 I should like now to consider the introduction of the GCSE. My predecessor announced in 1984 the Government's intention to go ahead with the reform of the school examination system at 16-plus, and that decision was welcomed by virtually everyone concerned with education in our schools.
Since 1984, there has been systematic and thorough planning for the introduction of the new examination system. Pupils will begin their GCSE courses in September of this year, and the first examinations will be taken in the summer of 1988.
We have made it clear that the purpose of the GCSE is to raise standards. The examination, which combines the O-level and CSE grades, will build on, and so reinforce, what is good in the curriculum in each subject. It will be designed to help all pupils — the lower attainers, the average, the above average and the ablest — to show achievement in positive terms.
Some people have expressed anxiety about the availability of GCSE syllabuses. I am glad to tell the House that the Secondary Examinations Council has to date approved 271 syllabuses. All subjects and all examining groups are well covered. many of these have reached the schools, which have had them in draft for some time, and the remainder are following in a steady flow. All are expected to be in schools this month.
Training for the new system is vital. We have committed £10 million towards in-service training for the GCSE, and we have allowed schools to close for two training days this term. We will see that our future arrangements for in-service training fully reflect the importance of the GCSE. Of course, pupils need books and equipment. We have already said that we will pay education support grants for extra books and equipment for the GCSE up to total expenditure of £10 million in 1987–88, and at least a further £10 million in 1988–89.
Over and above the substantial provision that has already been made, I have been considering whether it would be right to provide additional resources for hooks and equipment for GCSE courses. Local education authorities have already budgeted to spend some £40 million on books and equipment this year for this purpose. As one example, my own authority, the Surrey education committee, decided last month to spend £1 million to support the introduction of the GCSE. Therefore, resources have already been provided by local education authorities.
However, I am satisfied that, in addition to the funds that have already been committed, a further increase in expenditure is needed. I have considered this carefully and I have decided that a further £20 million on books and equipment should be spent in the current year. This is new money for the education service over and above present plans. Some £15 million will be an addition to relevant expenditure for local authorities in England and Wales and will be supported by education support grant at the rate of 70 per cent. Grant-related expenditure will he raised to take account of the 30 per cent. contribution made by the LEAs. My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Employment is making £5 million available through the Manpower Services Commission for the provision of scientific and technological equipment.
The House will recognise that in proposing to use the mechanism of education support grants I am going 192 beyond the undertaking offered by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East last December to keep expenditure for education support grant, apart from midday supervision, within the original ceiling of 0.5 per cent. The consequences of that which I am proposing today will take the expenditure beyond this figure but within the ceiling of I per cent. permitted by the Act. I think that the House will agree that that increase should be approved.
The additional expenditure now proposed amounts to over £4,000 per secondary school and over £30 for every fourth year pupil. It demonstrates the Government's commitment to the successful introduction of the new examination system. Taking account of the £10 million being made available for training this year and the £40 million which local authorities have committed in their budgets, a total of £60 million to £70 million is now being targeted to the introduction of the new examination. This represents a substantial commitment by both central Government and local government. I am confident that our decision will be welcomed not only by local education authorities which have pressed me for this and which I met this morning and by parents whom I met last week, but also by the teachers. I now look to the teachers to match the Government's commitment by taking their full part in the remaining phases of training for the new system and by giving the new examination the best possible start in September.
Making GCSE a success is important, but even more important is to make a success of school education as a whole. I remember one of the letters I got from a rather aging uncle. In it he said that H. G. Wells wrote that the race is "between education and catastrophe". That transcends political considerations and is a wise observation. The Bill creates the conditions which will powerfully promote the objective of improved education. It will do that by strengthening the position of the school, increasing the influence of parents, and promoting effective teaching. That is why it is important. It deserves a Second Reading.
§ Mr. Giles Radice (Durham, North)
I begin by congratulating the Minister once again on his appointment. As he said, his job is vital, not just for his party's prospects at the next election, but for Britain as a whole. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman was especially anxious to be appointed Secretary of State for Education and Science. That is a necessary but not sufficient qualification for a job. I hope that in his case his desire for the post is not merely because he sees education as a useful stepping stone on his way to the Tory party leadership. If he is thinking about the famous precedent for such translation, the Prime Minister, I advise him to forget it. His party is far more likely to turn to a younger man or woman—for example, his Minister of State.
§ Mr. Radice
I am glad to welcome the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman) to the debate. I hope that she will contain her impatience. Education, and therefore the job of the Secretary of State for Education, has never been more crucial for the future of Britain. As many studies have shown, in relative terms we are a badly 193 educated and badly trained nation and, as the Minister said, we have to put that right. Commitment to education must be the right hon. Gentleman's first and basic premise. We are told that he found favour with his leader because of his presentational skills. The Prime Minister may well think that the medium is more important than the message. It is fair to warn the right hon. Gentleman that he will be judged not by how well he sells himself or his party, but by the effectiveness of what he does. To quote a political slogan associated with his former mentor, the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath), what is now needed is action, not words.
When the Bill was first published, the publicity machine of the Department of Education and Science characteristically, but unwisely, proclaimed it the most important piece of legislation since the Education Act 1944. It is certainly a big Bill in the number of its clauses, lines and words, but the real test of importance is not the size of the Bill, but how far it tackles the great education issues that face the country.
Whatever else may be said about the Education Act 1944, which was the product of a coalition Government and was introduced by a distinguished Conservative Secretary of State, Mr. R. A. Butler, it did a number of things that were crucial in the context of the time. It laid down a relationship between central and local government that has lasted for over 40 years. It underwrote a historic compromise between Church and state over education. For the first time it provided free secondary education for all. Above all, it was accompanied by a new attitude to state education and to the provision of adequate resources for that education. The Bill is simply not in that league.
Let us consider the context in which the Bill is being introduced. Many people have described that context as one of acute crisis. Certainly most observers would agree that education is in a mess which is largely of the Government's creation. First, in a number of key areas our schools are desperately short of cash. Secondly, our teachers are underpaid and demoralised. Thirdly, far too many of our pupils are being deprived of adequate educational and training opportunities. Fourthly, we need to do much more to raise education standards.
I do not apologise for stressing the need for more resources. Of course money is not the whole answer and resources must be more effectively managed. As the Audit Commission points out, that includes the Secretary of State as well. As the Secretary of State's own inspectors warned in the week in which he was appointed, we shall not be able to overcome the crisis in our schools or meet the demand for raising standards without substantial extra funding for buildings, books and equipment, teacher training and for teachers' pay amongst other things.
We are told that, unlike his predecessor, the new Secretary of State will fight in Cabinet for more money for education. We welcome that and wish him well in his battle. As he knows he will have to overcome determined opposition from the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister, who have made quite clear their hostility to realistic increases in public spending and their preference for pre-election tax cuts. The Bill contains no significant extra resources for those or any other matters.
I congratulate the Government and the Secretary of State on the decision to announce more resources for the GCSE examinations. The local authority organisations, teachers' organisations and the Labour party have been arguing for this for some time, and I congratulate the 194 Secretary of State on having listened to us and accept our case. I hope that the GCSE examination will now go ahead without the trouble that has so far been experienced.
§ Mr. Richard Hickmet (Glanford and Scunthorpe)
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the additional resources that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has announced for extra books and equipment so that the GCSE can be properly funded are adequate for the introduction of the examination?
§ Mr. Radice
We asked for £20 million, as the hon. Gentleman will notice if he reads the Order Paper. There is now £20 million more for this year, and we congratulate the Government on providing that money.
§ Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth)
The Government may feel that they have provided adequate financial resources for next year's GCSE courses, but have they not left the schools with remarkably little time to ensure that the new examination is implemented effectively?
§ Mr. Radice
We have said that this has been a rush job and that there has been inadequate preparation. However, the Government are going ahead with the examination, and in, those circumstances more resources are needed. We have argued for that, and the Government have listened. We congratulate them on that. We want them to produce more resources for the years ahead.
We should also look at how the Bill improves teachers' morale and ensures that they are properly paid. The short answer is, not at all. These are crucial issues. Every week I visit schools in different parts of the country — a practice that I recommend to the Secretary of State. Morale in staff rooms is at an all-time low. There is a strong case for appraisal, and it is true that one cannot get progress in education without good quality teachers, but I warn the Secretary of State that unless the Government ensure that teachers' efforts are properly appreciated—and properly rewarded — all the clauses in the Bill designed to improve teacher quality will prove ineffective.
§ Mr. Jonathan Sayeed (Bristol, East)
Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that teachers are, on average, £800 a year better off than they were in 1979?
§ Mr. Radice
I cannot confirm that, because I do not carry such figures in my head. I can confirm what I have already said. Teachers believe that they are badly paid. I have heard Ministers agree that that is so, and I should like the Government to accept the further point, that teachers are demoralised.
§ Mr. Radice
It is not thanks to the National Union of Teachers or to the National Association of Schoolmasters, but thanks to what teachers are thinking. If the hon. Lady doubts me, I invite her to join me in some of the classrooms in her constituency and in Lancashire, where I was yesterday.
§ The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Chris Patten)
Following the intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, East (M r. Sayeed), I may be able to help the hon. Gentleman. I think 195 I am right in saying that, following the pay increases that they have received since March, teachers will now find themselves on average 15 per cent. better off than they were when the Government came into office. Roughly translated, that is in excess of £1,500.
§ Mr. Radice
The Minister states that as a fact, but we shall have to check it. During other debates, I have been given "facts" by the Government that have subsequently proved to be inaccurate. I accept what the Minister says for the time being, but I shall check it.
In sharp contrast to the 1944 Act, the Bill does nothing to contribute to widening educational opportunities. For example, there is nothing in it about ensuring that all three and four-year-olds whose parents wish it should have a nursery place, despite the demand for increased nursery provision. There is nothing about providing comprehensive education for all—
§ Mr. Radice
—even though, wait for it, authorities such as Gloucester and Devon — hardly burning Socialist areas — are now pressing to be allowed to become comprehensive. There is nothing about assisting more young people to stay on at school after 16, although the percentage in full-time education has fallen significantly. [Interruption.] I am surprised that the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) is not more concerned about the fact that the percentage in full-time education has fallen significantly in the past two years. I should have thought that that fact would worry him, and that he would be concerned that the Bill does nothing about it.
There is nothing about giving a more secure basis for further adult and continuing education, despite the need to re-equip and re-skill our population. All these advances will be necessary if we are to do what the Secretary of State said and compete with our competitor nations, which are already providing such services.
Even on the question of raising educational standards, which has been the great cry of the Conservative party for at least 10 or 15 years, the Bill does not contribute much that is constructive. We strongly support the increase in parental representation on governing bodies proposed in the Bill.
§ Mr. Radice
I shall not give way.
Some good may also come of the teacher training provision, but only if the Government provide the cash, as the Secretary of State was careful not to do today, and if they take local authorities with them.
§ Mr. Radice
No, I shall not give way. I have given way three times already, which is more than the Secretary of State did.
There is a strong case for appraisal, but not if it is imposed from the top, as envisaged in the Bill. I recognise that the Secretary of State would much prefer this to take place voluntarily, but I do not see why there should be reserve powers in the Bill. 196 There is little in the Bill to encourage greater involvement by parents in the education of their children, and nothing to ensure that parents' complaints are properly dealt with.
§ Mr. Radice
I am in favour of annual meetings, but the hon. Gentleman, with all his experience, knows that annual meetings are no substitute for close involvement by parents in the education of their children. There is nothing in the Bill that will help to ensure that all local authorities provide adequate minimum standards of provision. It is a significant sign of the Government's complacent attitude that the Bill repeals the requirement laid down in the 1944 Act for the Secretary of State to make an annual report to Parliament. While the Government are putting obligations on others, they clearly want to remove their own responsibilities.
For all the hype, when it started its journey and before it went to the other place, the Bill was about the composition, organisation and function of school governing bodies. Of course this is an important topic, but it will not change the education system in this country overnight. The right hon. Gentleman would not claim that it would. However, school governing bodies can and should have a significant influence on schools. I do not think that these bodies can ever be more important than teachers, pupils or even parents in their day-to-day relations with schools.
The movement for reforming the composition of these governing bodies began with the Taylor report prepared under the previous Labour Government. I am surprised that the Secretary of State, unlike the Ministers in another place, did not have the generosity to pay tribute to the pioneering work of the Taylor committee. The Labour party strongly supports the increase in the number of parents' representatives. We believe that the formula contained in the Bill is far superior to the Green Paper's original proposal because it increases the number of parents without placing them in the majority. This is an improvement but it still does not do enough to recognise the need for partnership and balance so strongly recommended by Taylor and emphasised by local authorities, parents, and teachers' representatives.
Teachers are under-represented. This is contrary to the formula put forward by Taylor, and there is no provision for pupil representation. I do not believe that the Bill contains adequate provision to ensure that those involved in industry should be more closely involved in the governing of schools, and there is not adequate provision for community representation.
These matters should be corrected in Committee. Unfortunately, one of the problems that we have seen during the Bill's progress through the House of Lords is that the Government have not been prepared to listen to arguments. We also believe that the Government have failed to reach a formula on powers and functions over the curriculum, discipline and appointments that can achieve a genuine partnership between local authorities, governing bodies and head teachers.
There is ambivalence and a confusion of wording which reflects a confusion of thought which the House must resolve with the passage of the Bill. Despite a number of amendments in the other place, there has been little 197 movement by the Government during the Bill's passage. The Government have been prepared to move only when pressure has been brought to bear on them by their hard Right.
A number of amendments were carried in the other place. I hope that the Secretary of State will listen to me when I tell him that I am disappointed in what he had to say. He appeared to be attempting to appease the Right. The first amendment moved in the other place by the Cox and Marks machine related to political indoctrination. Clause 16, in subsections (3) and (4), puts the obligation on local authorities governing bodies and head teachers to forbid the promotion of partisan political views and activities in schools.
That sounds unexceptionable, but how do we define partisan in its practical application? In its strict definition, neither the Secretary of State nor I would be allowed to talk about our political beliefs or policies in schools, but surely such views should he part of the general education of young people. They should he aware of the views of political parties on matters of public concern. We must examine that problem.
Clause 24, on sex education, was inserted into the Bill literally at the last moment in another place by an amendment moved on Third Reading. The clause puts the obligation for sex education on authorities to ensure thatit is given in such a mariner as to encourage those pupils to have due regard to moral considerations and the value of family life.That seems to be a statement of the obvious. Clearly sex education ought to be, and as far as I know is, always taught in a sensible manner. The Secretary of State did not give any examples to the contrary, and I have not heard any. I would be interested to hear any examples of where it has not been taught in a sensible manner, where it was wrong and not in the best interests of pupils. I do not believe that a general clause of this kind helps to ensure that sex education is properly taught in schools. Is this not a matter that could better be dealt with by the Secretary of State's inspectors, who could issue proper advice and ensure that it was carried out?
There was also a fiasco over the new clause on the freedom of speech in higher education establishments, again introduced by the Government on the hoof on Third Reading. The chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals has warned the Secretary of State that although the universities are unequivocal in their support and defence of freedom of speech and lawful assembly—as are the Opposition—the clause as drafted would led to vexatious legislation and could actually inhibit freedom of speech. Yet the Secretary of State is still intent on introducing a new clause in Committee. He has not shown so far that he is aware of the warning from the vice-chancellors.
More generally, there is no guarantee that if the Tory Right has its way, a host of other amendments will not be put forward in Committee or on Report. Having heard some of the sedentary noises this afternoon, I am sure that amendments will be made.
The Observer was correct to warn:
The Education Bill, hailed as the most important piece of legislation since Butler's 1944 Act, is beginning to look like a resting place for floatsam and jetsam from whichever pressure group happens to he pressing at the time.
§ Mr. Radice
I shall not give way. I have give way three times already. I know that other hon. Members wish to take part and I must complete my speech and allow them to make their speeches.
The House will be aware of the background to the issue of corporal punishment. A ruling was made by the European Court of Human Rights in February 1982. It ruled that where a person holds a conviction against corporal punishment, it amounts to a philosophical conviction which is protected by the European convention on human rights. In response to that the Government introduced the Education (Corporal Punishment) Bill. which was designed to give parents the right to exempt their children from corporal punishment. The Bill was widely condemned in both Houses of Parliament as unworkable, and it was abandoned when a key amendment was introduced in the other place.
The problem is that most local authorities currently leave the decision with the school and that practice continues in direct contravention of our obligations under article 2 of the European convention on human rights. We did no hear much on that point from the Secretary of State. To remove that contravention and produce a workable and humane system of discipline, an amendment was carried in the other place which effectively abolished corporal punishment. They may have been defective in their wording but that was the intention of the amendments in another place.
§ Mr. Silvester
As a Conservative Member who voted against the Education (Corporal Punishment) Bill, may I ask why it is that the decision of the European Court cannot be met by the local authority providing a choice of schools so that a person who has an objection can choose a school in which corporal punishment does not operate? Why should that apply to all schools?
§ Mr. Radice
That is theoretically possible, but I believe that it would be unworkable in practice. That is the short answer. The Secretary of State said that the Government would be prepared to allow a free vote on the issue. Having listened to the Secretary of State, how free will that vote be'? What will the payroll vote do? We have heard the Secretary of State's view—
§ Mr. Kenneth Baker
A free vote is a free vote is a free vote. I made my position clear. I am the present holder of the office of Secretary of State for Education and Science. and I thought it right to make my personal position clear to the House and to all those who are engaged in education, but that does not bind any other member of the Administration.
§ Mr. Radice
The Opposition will vote for abolition, as we did on Second reading of the Corporal Punishment Bill —[HON. MEMBERS: "A free vote?"] We have heard the Secretary of State's view — he spoke with All the authority of his office—that we should continue to leave the decision about corporal punishment to the schools. He has said, in effect, that we should continue to remain in contravention of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights. That is the consequence of what he has said. Basically, that is a cop-out. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman has been yielding to the pressure from No. 10. We know that the Prime Minister has made her views clear in the newspapers. The Secretary of State has yielded to the pressure of the Prime Minister and to that of Conservative Members on the Right wing.
199 What position are the Government proposing to adopt in Committee? This is a crucial issue. Do the Government intend to move amendments in Committee? What will they do? If the subsection is removed in Committee, it will be difficult to restore it on Report. I am not satisfied by what the Secretary of State has said so far.
§ Mr. Kenneth Baker
Whatever may happen in Committee, an opportunity will be provided on Report for the House to come to a decision on this issue. I reemphasise that Conservative Members will have a free vote.
§ Mr. Radice
I am glad about that. However, the right hon. Gentleman has still not answered my question.
§ Mr. Jerry Hayes (Harlow)
On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. We have heard from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that the Government will not be imposing a Whip on this matter. The hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) has been asked repeatedly what his position is and it seems that he is not able to answer us. Would it be proper, in the circumstances—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)
Order. The hon. Gentleman is raising a debating point and not a point of order.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I repeat that the hon. Gentleman has raised a legitimate debating point, but not a point of order for the Chair.
§ Mr. Radice
I have made it clear on a number of occasions that the Labour party is against corporal punishment. I do not know what the problem is. It is good to see the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Hayes) in his place and listening to the debate. I am sure that he is glad to be with us, though he has only recently entered the Chamber.
§ Mr. Radice
I have learnt over the past few years that, with Britain's responsive system of decentralised local government, educational advance must be based on consensus. The greatest failure of the previous Secretary of State for Education and Science was his inability to create the necessary consensus for action. That was his problem. If the new Secretary of State is to succeed, he must bring teachers, local authorities and parents together. That represents a difficulty for the Government, because everyone knows that "consensus" is a dirty word in Thatcherite circles.
I remind the Secretary of State that the 1944 Act had a wide measure of cross-party and non-party support both within and outside Parliament. That was the position with the Bill until certain amendments were introduced in Committee in another place. Mr. Stuart McClure's book on education documents refers to the 1944 Act and states:This Act was the result of prolonged negotiations with interested bodies of all sorts, including the churches, in which R. A. Butler and Chuter Ede, then respectively President of 200 the Board of Education and Parliamentary Secretary in the wartime coalition Government succeeded in achieving a large measure of agreement.That is what the new Secretary of State must try to do. Despite the consultations over governing bodies, and despite the Bill having been introduced in another place, it is rapidly becoming extremely divisive. I have already referred to the efforts of the reactionary tendency to introduce all its pet prejudices into the Bill by the back door.
Another serious problem is that the Government are not prepared to listen to sensible ways of amending the Bill to improve the balance and quality of representation on governing bodies or to reduce the potential conflict between local authorities and head teachers.
It was to try to create the necessary consensus behind the Bill that the Opposition proposed adopting the Special Standing Committee procedure, which, like a Select Committee, would enable interested parties — local authorities, parents and teachers — to put evidence before the Committee and to be questioned upon it. Such a procedure would enable Members to come to a decision based on the hard experience of practitioners and not on their prejudices or on DES blueprints. Above all, it would show that the new Secretary of State is serious about creating consensus and agreement. Unfortunately, the Government have failed so far to respond to our representations. I urge the Secretary of State and the Minister of State to reconsider the position and to tell us this evening that they have changed their minds.
The trouble with the Bill is that it fails to address the real educational problems of underfunding, poor morale, inadequate opportunity and the need to raise standards. Judged by what is really needed, it is a poor mouse of a Bill. A number of half-baked and pious clauses have been added to it, or are proposed, that do nothing and will do nothing to help solve our educational problems, and could make them worse. The truth is that the Bill is in danger of becoming Baker's "half-baked" Bill, and I therefore advise my colleagues to decline to give it a Second Reading.
§ Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (Derbyshire, West)
I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for calling me in this debate. I am even more grateful to the people of Derbyshire, West, for giving you the chance to do so. The House sat for a long time last Thursday, but that sitting did not seem to be as long as my election day, which was four weeks earlier. After an all-night count, an all-night sitting was not too had. I would not recommend any all-night session for anyone, especially if his wife is five months pregnant.
I draw some comfort from the fact that what was probably the longest count took place in Derbyshire, but in the north-east and not in the west, during the general election of 1922, when the count commenced at 10 am on Thursday and was not completed until 1 pm the following day due to three recounts and four adjustments.
The Duke of Devonshire was one of my predecessors in the House. The story is told that one day he turned to a colleague and said, "Oh, how I hate having to make a speech," to which his companion replied, "I don't mind a bit, I just can't bear listening."
It is custom for a maiden speech to follow a set pattern in paying tribute to one's predecessor. This I can do with tremendous sincerity on this occasion for my predecessor, 201 Matthew Parris, was seen as a man of independent mind and was well respected, from what I have been able to gather since I have been in the House, on both sides of the Chamber. He had served the constituency in a very conscientious manner. Indeed, his is a very difficult example for me to follow, but I will try my best for the people of Derbyshire, West. It makes a refreshing change to see somebody going by choice from this House into the world of interviewing. Many go when they have been rejected at the ballot box, but not many by choice.
At one press conference in my campaign, I was interviewed on a barge on the Cromford canal. There a television interviewer from "Newsnight" — that is the programme that keeps getting the polls wrong — said that Matthew was somehow bettering himself. Well, Mr. Hannah would say that, would he not? However, I am sure that all hon. and particularly right hon. Members will wish Matthew well in his new and challenging job. I say, particularly right hon. Members, because they will face the excellent cross-examination that I am sure he will give them in weeks to come on a Sunday television programme.
I am of the opinion that I have the honour to represent one of the most diverse yet beautiful constituencies in the country, from its rolling hills, its unique villages and its industrial areas, to its agricultural heartland. It has lush agricultural areas, bleak moors and hill farming where people work very hard for long hours to make a living. It is, of course, well known for its various kinds of food. Its Bakewell pudding featured on television more than once during the campaign. When Lord Whitelaw was seen eating one, a lady said that she thought that the Prime Minister would not take kindly to noble Lords eating it in public, but he commented that excellent food could be eaten anywhere. In addition, we have Hartington Stilton and Thortons confectionery. Ashbourne water is famous throughout the country, but not, it seems in Brassington, a few miles from Ashbourne, where one village inn sells only a French substitute, nor at certain functions in the House of Commons where only the same French substitute can be seen.
Politically, Derbyshire, West is known for its by-elections. One newspaper said that it was the seventh in the last 100 years. I truly hope that there is no need for another one for quite some time to come.
Having just arrived from a by-election campaign, I should like to place on record my thanks to the Officers of the House and staff for their great help and assistance in my first few weeks.
It is an honour and privilege to take part in the debate on a subject that was frequently mentioned in my campaign. I should like to thank my right hon. Friend the Minister of State and the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Walden), who came and helped in the campaign. Of course, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State came also, but in a different capacity.
A number of people were extremely concerned about education. There was no doubt that a great number of very good teachers were concerned about the way in which their profession has become demoralised. I hope and trust that we shall do all that we possibly can to ensure that the teaching profession is rightly rewarded for the difficult and essential job that teachers have to do.
It is essential that we ensure that teaching staff feel that they have a profession because, although there are some bad teachers — and we need to ensure that there are 202 ways of retraining or removing them from the teaching profession— the vast majority of teachers are excellent and dedicated and need their reward.
However, just throwing money at the problem is no answer and no solution. There are without question many problems facing local education authorities, and I accept that the fall in school rolls means that there are some difficult decisions to be made. I hope that these decisions can be taken without political bias creeping into them.
Education became such an issue in my campaign that I have taken the opportunity in the last few weeks to visit a number of schools in my area, including Queen Elizabeth grammar school in Ashbourne, which, without question in my opinion, needs more money to be spent on refurbishment. Yesterday, although it seems a long time ago, I visited Ecclesbourne comprehensive school, from which the county council is currently considering removing sixth form facilities. The school has what can only be described as an excellent record in its sixth form achievements. Fifty-five per cent. of the pupils stay on into the sixth form. I believe that this figure is considerably higher than the national average. The school has another 20 per cent. going into further education.
These figures and these statistics are, indeed, a great credit to Ecclesbourne comprehensive school. It would be a great pity and a mistake if the sixth form was to be closed. Indeed, it would cost a considerable amount more to bring in a tertiary system for the school. I hope that the county council will not attempt to close the sixth form at Ecclesbourne— although, if it were to do so, it would lead to a major campaign, which I certainly would support, to ensure that the sixth form remains.
In my election campaign, Highfield school in Matlock had the rare honour of visits by the right hon. Member for Islyn (Mr. Kinnock), the Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) and a famous author, the deputy chairman of the Conservative party. The school was, indeed, very well served in the campaign. I hope that the pupils learnt a lot from the experience of having been visited by such senior politicians.
In welcoming the Bill, I believe that it gives a fundamental shift to the governing body in the management of the school for which it is responsible. I very much welcome the balancing out of the school governing body. I also think that clause 25, which will ensure that extra information, statistics and facts are available to the school governing body, is to be welcomed. I believe that it is essential that schools are seen to be not political instruments but places where one can receive school studies without the addition of political indoctrination. The Government must ensure that proper provisions are made for training and some thought given to the way in which we elect the governing bodies of schools.
I am a product of state education. Some may say that this proves that some improvements are needed. I believe that the Bill makes valiant strides in that direction. I wish it well, as I wish well the future of state education.
§ 5.7 pm
§ Mr. Clement Freud (Cambridgeshire, North-East)
It gives me great pleasure to speak after the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West, (Mr. McLoughlin), who won such a memorable, if marginal, victory against our candidate, who gave him such spirited opposition throughout that campaign. I want to tell him that, now that the ordeal of 203 the maiden speech is over, it goes uphill from here on, and we shall all look forward to hearing further and other contributions from him during his stay in Parliament.
I want first to welcome the speech of the Secretary of State for Education and Science, and particularly the new input into GCSE, especially as this will be new money for which we have always asked and which he has now given. On behalf of the alliance, I want to say that £20 million seems to us the right sum; we shall stop saying, give us more money, and undertake to be content with this input.
The Minister has persuaded us that GCSE must come this year and now the Secretary of State has enabled the finance to be made available. I wish him and the GCSE well.
When the Bill was conceived and published there were many issues that we thought it proper for the Bill to cover. We thought it essential that there should be legislation to deal with such matters as Poundswick, Honeyford, and the fact that LEAs sometimes abuse their powers by packing boards of governors with their political appointees. We needed legislation to stop the delays in determining closures and re-organisations, and to implement the Taylor report, nine years on. We think that there is also a good argument for introducing fixed terms for headmasters and for making greater provision for nursery education.
But in 55 clauses and five schedules we have something that the former Secretary of State for Education and Science described asthe largest and certainly one of the most significant pieces of legislation since the Butler Act of 1944",while Mr. Tyrell Burgess, writing in The Guardian, described it as teaching one's granny how to suck eggs in 70 pages. In truth, the Bill is somewhere between the two. It is something of a ragbag, although, in common with the 1944 Act, it is ambigious. Half of what we needed has not been included, and the rest is not as clear as it might have been. The Bill is likely to create more confusion than it solves, and will be of greater benefit to the legal profession than to educationists.
If one is to prescribe every detail, it is essential to get it right. This Bill is neither sufficiently general to give guidance and leave some discretion, nor sufficiently clear to end contention and confusion. We shall vote for the Second Reading hoping that in Committee we can make the Bill clearer and thus create a more helpful measure which we can continue to support at later stages.
On Second Reading, however, I want to discuss some specific issues with which we are not satisfied. The Government seem to believe that there is a simple mechanistic link between formal parental involvement and better education, as if parents had a sort of monolithic entity in defence of the traditional curriculum. The right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir Keith Joseph) used the term "parent" to denote not a concerned father or mother—and certainly not a single parent—but a neo or closet member of the local Tory party. When he spoke of a parent, he meant someone on whom he could rely for support.
We argue that good education is less likely to emerge from parental involvement, than from an ongoing community-based partnership between parents and teachers, or from tinkering with the structure of school governing bodies, which will make only a limited 204 contribution to that partnership. The Taylor report recommended equal representation for staff, parents, the community and politicians. I am very sorry that in this Bill, "staff" have become "teachers," and that they are not there in numerical equality other than in small schools. As Lord Taylor said in the other place:When power is being shared the easiest principle to operate and justify is the simplest; namely, equality." —[Official Report, House of Lords, 10 March 1986; Vol. 472, c. 436.]I want the Secretary of State to think carefully about the difference between staff and teachers. I make it a practice never to go to parent-teacher association meetings unless they become parent-staff association meetings. The caretaker, the school cook and the lollipop lady have considerable relevance to the well-being of an educational establishment. In Committee, I hope that this will be considered and that people other than those who are strictly academics will be eligible to take part in governing the school.
If education really is about partnership, which the Government espouse whenever they are accused of centralisation, and which the Liberal Benches at least take seriously, that partnership must be based on equality of respect and input. As it stands, the two deviations from Taylor turn the Bill away from valuable experience in the form of non-teaching staff, and contain the seeds of the Bill's failure in alienating the teaching force. We argue that the Government cannot legislate against teachers; they need their consent.
I am also sorry about pupil governors. In Committee, we shall seek to amend the Bill in that regard. I do not know what the Government have against young people. They cut their eligibility to benefits, close their access to apprenticeships, eliminate their protection under the wages councils, and then assume that they should take it all lying down by denying them opportunities to take part in the running of their schools. Is that consumer-led education policy? Is that what the former Secretary of State meant when he said:I believe in consumer power"?We want the Bill to be amended so that pupils aged over 16 can be non-voting school governors. When I was rector of Dundee university, students sat on the court of the university. They did not have a vote and, rightly, were not involved when we discussed staff misdemeanours or salaries. Why, at the age of 16, should young people not be in attendance and learn how schools are governed, especially their own schools? I should like to ask the Secretary of State what will happen to those pupil governors already in place who are, by all accounts, doing a good job. What will happen when the Bill is enacted? Will they be instantly kicked out? That would be very unfair.
We have heard much about the functions of the governing body and about the discipline and the curriculum. Despite the Lords amendments, the Bill remains dangerously muddled, leaving a head in the invidious position of effectively choosing either the LEA or the governing body. Those clauses must be tidied up so that the lines of responsibility are clear. The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) made a most important intervention: there should be an independent appeals tribunal. The local education authorities and boards of governors may frequently not see eye to eye and it is not 205 good enough to have a local education authority-appointed tribunal to look into such failures to agree. As my hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) pointed out, they are not independent.
If the system of appraisal is to have any chance of working, it must have the consent of those using it—the teachers. We would rather that the provision giving the Secretary of State power to oppose appraisal was not in the Bill, but if it is to remain, we demand at least that it is amended so that non-teaching duties are excluded. Above all, I question the wisdom of forcing through that clause at such a delicate time and in such a clumsy way, over-riding caution and the natural relations between employer and employee.
The Secretary of State made much of the fact that there would be reports from the governors and reports from the local education authorities. Yet clause 49 is sadly and surprisingly entitled:Discontinuance of Secretary of State's duty to make annual reports.Will the Minister explain why everyone must report on what happened with the exception of the Secretary of State?
I am sorry that the Secretary of State did not much like my intervention on the subject of the famous clause introduced on Third Reading in the other place. I maintain that it ill becomes a party that filibusters to gag a motion criticising the Government in the House of Commons to come out for free speech in our universities.
We consider the amendments regarding sex education and political bias to be unnecessary if the clauses on the powers in the curriculum are put right. One cannot legislate for a broad distribution of power between the LEAs, the head teachers and the governing bodies and then lay down two areas where the Government are to have effective control. That is a contradiction that is unnecessary and irrelevant.
I was sorry to hear the Secretary of State's contention that sex education should deal heavily with the family. It is right to take sex in the whole context of love and affection, but to speak too much about the family, when an ever-increasing number of children in our schools have no family, is unhelpful. I hope that he will think again. Let us widen the concept of family to include relatives, even if they have got away from, hid from and run away from each other.
This Bill is little more than window dressing, diverting attention from more important educational questions such as teachers' pay. The Bill shows that people are not to be trusted, for all the clauses therein would, in the best of all worlds, be settled by good practice. I am sorry that in this case we need legislation and to some extent more effective legislation— so we must clear it up. I am sure that we shall argue for many weeks in Committee on many of those points.
Let me end as I started. I wish the Secretary of State well. I am deeply grateful to him for removing the country's overriding fear that the GCSE examination, which we all support, would not take off because of insufficient funding. He has found the money and he has our good wishes, for his term of office and for an improved Bill.
§ Sir Geoffrey Finsberg (Hampstead and Highgate)
This is the first time in 16 years that I have had the chance of 206 congratulating a colleague on his maiden speech. As one ex-underground miner to another, it is appropriate to offer my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. McLoughlin) my warmest congratulations. We worked in the same coalfield, in the east midlands. I know the sorts of seams in which he worked. I agree that deep down the average miner is a staunch conservative, with a small c, and will support the defence policies of the leader of the Social Democratic party, not those of the Liberal or Labour party.
I compliment my hon. Friend on a moderate, modest and knowledgeable speech. It was clear that his local government experience was of great help to him. I know that when we hear from him again he will join us in some rather more robust speeches when he attacks the Opposition.
I also welcome, not merely in trite terms, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who is also my old campaigning friend. He does a superb job wherever he is asked to perform. We are fortunate that in education he is now fighting hard.
We have listened to the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (M r. Freud), but it is sad that we do not see the SDP education spokesman.
§ Sir Geoffrey Finsberg
It is fascinating if he is here because no one knows who he is. I wonder whether we heard Liberal policy or alliance policy. Whichever it was, it was no policy. It was picking up a bit of an item here, looking at it and saying, "Well. if we had suggested it, it might be a good idea, but coming from this Government it cannot be." That was all that we heard in a rather strange speech. The hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) copped out in his inability to tell us whether his colleagues would have a free vote on the issue of corporal punishment. He said, "But, of course, it is Labour party policy." This means that there will be a three-line Whip to make Labour Members vote for the retention of the clause or the abolition of corporal punishment. I hope that the public will take that into account.
I want to concentrate on three points. I welcome the principle of assessment. I also hope that it will come into operation by agreement, but if it has to be brought in by regulations, so be it. Assessment is common in industry—those of us who are personnel specialists know that it is fair and practical. It is long overdue.
Those of us who have visited British schools over many years and have been governors and managers know that there are some appalling teachers and some superb teachers. Why should they get exactly the same salary? Why should children be subject to a lottery of which of those two types of teacher they receive? I wish to see the poorer teacher helped to attain the standard of the better teacher. That is what assessment is all about.
I am delighted that in Committee the Government will introduce an amendment that will allow free speech at universities. As a former governor for 25 years of the Polytechnic of North London, I saw the successful efforts over many years to deny free speech to visiting speakers, and that was monstrous.
207 We need to keep an eye on student unions. Should they still be compulsorily financed? Should they be financed by those who do not wish to join such unions? The continuation of that policy is hardly in line with the freedom of choice that Conservative Members support.
On 2 May I was unable to conduct my normal monthly surgery for a variety of reasons. I received a letter dated 29 April from the president of the university of London's union which said that she was coming to my surgery. I had her telephoned at once because there were fewer than three days before my surgery to say that I was sorry that I could not be there. It is well known that I am always delighted to see people by appointment.
It was subsequently reported to me that there was a mini-demo at my surgery by students. I deprecate that, because that is not what advice bureaux are for, but there is something more sinister. Someone from the university of London sent me a poster which states:No housing benefit next year. Demonstrate against your local Tory MP in Hampstead and Highgate. Meet Friday, 2 May … go to his surgery and disrupt it.That is no different from disrupting free speech. When a surgery attended by elderly people with their problems is disrupted, they are scared. It is worse than that, because the poster has on it "Union approved poster". It is approved—this speaks for itself— by Ms. Liz Davies who is said to be a member of the Labour club and is its education and welfare officer. Why does such a poster have the union's official stamp on it?
I have three questions. When my hon. Friend the Minister replies to the debate, will he say simply whether he joins me in condemning this monstrous attack on the advice bureaux which we all hold and where we are pleased to see constituents, of any political persuasion, with their individual problems? Will my hon. Friend condemn that absolutely? Does the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) join me in that condemnation, because I would make the same condemnation if any Conservative students put up a poster telling people to come and disrupt a Labour Member's advice bureau? Is this now Labour party policy as it was approved by someone from the Labour club?
§ Mr. Andrew F. Bennett
I make it clear that I deprecate anyone setting out to disrupt a Member of Parliament's advice bureau. It is another matter if someone wishes to demonstrate, but to suggest, as that poster does, that anyone should disrupt proceedings, is to be deplored. However, I make it clear that there is a great deal of feeling about the board-and-lodging elements and other such matters. It would be helpful if at some point in the debate the Government would tell us whether they are backing off the housing benefit issue, as rumour has it that they will do.
§ Sir Geoffrey Finsberg
That is the sort of answer that I would have expected from the hon. Gentleman. He is an hon. Gentleman and I felt that he would condemn that roundly. As I said earlier, I am always delighted to see people who ask to see me and I try to fix a mutually convenient appointment. However, people must realise that it does their cause and case no good to behave in that childish and stupid way.
I also want to know the opinion of the president of the university of London's student union and the president of 208 the National Union of Students, and I shall be writing to them to ask. I hope that I shall be given a straight answer. I also hope that I shall find out why somebody authorised that sort of poster.
The Bill is important for a variety of reasons. I welcome what my right hon. Friend said about additional resources for the GCSE. I hope, as has been made clear by the hon. Members for Durham, North and for Cambridgeshire, North-East, that the NUT will respond positively at once by giving its wholehearted support. I hope that it will not isolate itself on this issue as it did on pay until its veto was removed.
Finally, I welcome the fact that the Bill will give more parent power to those with children at school. This, if I may say so to the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East, is community involvement. Parents are there as part of the community. Local authorities are there as part of the community. We do not want any other representatives in that sense, as I think the hon. Gentleman put it, to represent the community.
The Bill also gives more power to governing bodies and lessens the growing politicisation practised not just by some teachers, alas, but by many Socialist local education authorities, which are removing Conservative governors from governing bodies. That is not right. Nor should Conservative local education authorities remove Labour nominees. I served on governing bodies in the days when London's education authority was always Labour controlled. Until recently it practised the principles of fairness and gave seats in proportion to party strengths. That does not apply any more, but the Bill will put that right.
All that I shall say, apart from telling my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Fox), who is Chairman of the Committee of Selection, that I do not wish to be selected, is that I wish the Bill well and hope that it proceeds rapidly on its passage and soon becomes law.
§ Mr. Derek Fatchett (Leeds, Central)
I hope that the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg) will forgive me if I do not respond immediately to some of the points that he has just made.
I want, on behalf of my right hon. and learned Friends, to congratulate the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. McLoughlin) on his maiden speech tonight. It showed a keen interest in his constituency, and I suspect that before too long we shall hear a much more robust contribution from him. It is appropriate that he selected education as the topic for his maiden speech. I suspect that on the morning of 9 May the hon. Gentleman's numeracy increased somewhat and eventually he was able to count up to 100 with a clear lead over his Liberal opponent. I congratulate him on that result in one sense. He was always able, during the course of that by-election, to state clearly and with principle his party's policies, and that is a course that all candidates in all elections should try to follow rather than seek to deviate for the sake of short-term popularity.
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not mind if I make one further point. Our paths nearly crossed because I was asked to be the minder — if that is the appropriate modern term—for the Labour candidate in the Ryedale by-election. Perhaps I was fortunate not to go to West Derbyshire, but I am sure that the hon. Gentleman and I had one experience in common and that is that we found 209 in both those by-elections a growing and keen interest in education. That is why it is appropriate that he should speak on that issue this evening.
I found that more and more parents are anxious about the quality and quantity of education provision. They find it difficult to believe, whatever statistics the Government bring forward, that the quality of education has not deteriorated markedly over the past few years. They expressed that anxiety in relation to their children and in many cases in Ryedale, and I suspect in West Derbyshire, in relation to their grandchildren. There was a real feeling that there was a need to look again at education and to provide the necessary and adequate resources that are so important to maintain standards in education. I was disappointed that the Secretary of State, in his maiden contribution on education, scarcely addressed the question of resources. Whether we like it or not, resources are crucial to an improvement in education standards.
Her Majesty's inspectors recently published a report on the effect of local authority and expenditure policies on education provision in England. It is clear enough from page 6, paragraph 8, that Her Majesty's inspectors accept that there is a link between resource allocation, expenditure and standards. They said:Though the relationship between the quality of work and levels of resources is acknowledged to be complex and direct causal links impossible to make, the data and its analysis confirmed that there is a statistically significant association between satisfactory or better levels of appropriate resources and work of sound quality, and between unsatisfactory levels of resources and poor quality work.The evidence is clear. We need more resources to improve the quality of work. If one looks at the detail of the inspectors' report in relation to the provision of books and the scandalous condition of so many school buildings in Britain, it is no wonder that parents in Ryedale and West Derbyshire and in many other parts of Britain were worried about education standards and provision.
Those worries will not be eased by bringing in pious clauses such as those in the Bill. Those worries will be eased only when the Government have the commitment — not the public relations — to provide the necessary funding and resources to make sure that each and every child in Britain has an acceptable and decent standard of education. The Government, and the Secretary of State in his speech this afternoon, show no commitment towards that objective.
I want to make three detailed comments on the Bill as it stands, or as it may stand after its Committee stage. First, I want to comment on the relationship between local education authorities and school governing bodies on the curriculum. We are running tremendous risks in the Bill if the final responsibility for determining curriculum is vested in school governing bodies rather than local education authorities. I raise that concern with the Minister and I hope that he will respond to it when he replies.
My concern is simply that at a time of scarce resources, when it is clear that in so many schools parents are buying not just luxuries but essentials, it may be possible, if we give the final decision to governing bodies, that those in the more affluent areas of a local education authority, or in a more affluent local education authority, will decide that they want to fund privately, external to the education system, an additional course or teacher. If that power is with the governing body, it will create an unacceptable differential between schools. I hope that that is not the 210 Government's intention in relation to the powers that are given to governors in terms of the curriculum. I feel that the final power in curriculum matters must be and should be vested with the local education authority.
I turn to the proposals that the Bill makes in terms of the relationship between teacher, local education authority, governing bodies and the Government. The Secretary of State said, in opening, that he would like to see an educational partnership. I am sure that all hon. Members would like to see that. I fear that the Bill does little to enhance the possibility of partnership between teacher and Government in two respects. One is of lesser importance than the other. Of lesser importance is the strong argument for giving teachers a greater say in governing bodies. Questions of proportion may need to he debated and decided. It is clear that the Government are not committed to extending the teacher's voice regarding school governing bodies.
I turn to the possibility of introducing teacher appraisal by way of legislation. I feel strongly that appraisal can work only if it is positive rather than negative—positive in the sense that it encourages teachers to improve standards, to have self-appraisal, and to develop self-. confidence in the classroom. If the purpose of appraisal is to weed out inefficient teachers or teachers who do not easily fall into a mould, appraisal as a technique will be self-defeating and will create many problems in our education system.
If we are to introduce appraisal by way of regulation and legislation, the consensus that is so important for that partnership to which the Secretary of State referred will disappear. The teachers are close to a possible agreement at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service regarding appraisal. Appraisal imposed by the Government would be much more difficult. I think that teachers of all unions and of all political complexions will resist and resent the Government imposing appraisal on them.
I turn to a matter that is not in the Bill as it stands but to which the Secretary of State referred — that is, a clause to ensure the freedom of speech in higher education institutions. As one who wholeheartedly supports freedom of speech, I fear that the Government are likely to make the problem worse rather than better. We must recognise that there is no such thing as an absolute freedom of speech. Parliament and legislators have always taken the view that freedom of speech must have conditions and limits. When Conservative Members look as if I have come forward with some profound revelation, it is no such thing. The libel laws have always limited our freedom of speech. For instance, Parliaments have limited freedom of speech in respect of racial comments and racial incitement.
§ Mr. Fatchett
I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman in a few moments.
We are not talking about an absolute freedom of speech. It is much more difficult to draft a concept that is not absolute. I fear that drafting a non-absolute concept will lead to the difficulties to which my hon. Friend referred. I shall give way to the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) because he may wish to respond to my comments. It would he unfair not to allow him a bite at the cherry at an appropriate point for him.
We have never seen freedom of speech as absolute. If we provide freedom of speech, we have a responsibility not 211 to abuse it. I think that there is plenty of evidence to show that freedom of speech is deliberately and concertedly being abused by members of the Conservative party to provoke violence and reaction on university and polytechnic campuses. I shall cite my evidence, which is fairly substantial. I refer to an article which appeared in The Guardian on Saturday 31 May this year. The article said simply:A leader of the Federation of Conservative Students wrote to an organiser of the British National Party proposing joint 'direct action' to disrupt the meetings of left wing students.Where are the voices raised in the Conservative party on such issues? Will the Minister and the hon. Member for Luton, North condemn those tactics?
Before the hon. Gentleman gets to his feet and condemns them, he might refer to the guide produced by Gordon Libby, another member of the Federation of Conservative Students. The document, entitled "The Gordon Libby Guide to Disrupting NUS Conference", was published in 1984. Obviously, it is essential reading for all the hard men of the Right wing of the Conservative party. It is worth while looking at the tactics set out in Gordon Libby's guide because they have been repeated on university and polytechnic campuses in this country. The guide included thoughtful recommendations such as:Always be provocative. Remember you are not here to persuade the closed minded leftists, you are here to wind them up so much they lose control and disrupt the conference" It is suggested that they should shout out things like "You red fascist scum."[Interruption.] I am glad that the hon.Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh) is much amused by those comments. When members of the Conservative party talk about free speech, they must dissociate themselves from the tactics and behaviour of the Federation of Conservative Students.
I have provided the chairman of the Conservative party, the right hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit), with a full dossier on the behaviour tactics of the FCS and details of what it has done to disrupt the principle of freedom of speech. He has not done so. When the Tories get rid of that element within their party, they can come to the House of Commons and talk abour freedom of speech.
There is one other aspect on the freedom of speech that I wish to mention.
§ Mr. Fatchett
I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman in a moment.
I feel strongly that freedom of speech must be exercised with responsibility. In the spring of this year, the hon. Member for Luton, North planned a visit to Leeds polytechnic, which is in my constituency and which is part of a multiracial community. The hon. Gentleman tried to go to Leeds with a blaze of publicity and said that he was defending freedom of speech. The hon. Gentleman wanted to speak at Leeds polytechnic. Nobody denied him that right. I have a simple view that, without publicity, nobody would want to listen to the views of the hon. Member for Luton, North. I am quite happy for him to have a telephone box meeting at Leeds polytechnic.
However, I disagree most profoundly—I feel that the hon. Member was responsible for it—with the literature that was put around regarding the meeting. It was 212 scandalous, provocative and racist. It was designed deliberately to stir up trouble at Leeds polytechnic and, I suspect, in central Leeds as well. The hon. Gentleman has a responsibility in that respect. I shall listen to him only when he distances himself from the disruptive tactics and the scandalous propaganda and literature put out about that meeting. When he does that, he can lecture me about freedom of speech.
§ Mr. John Carlisle
As a vice-president of the Federation of Conservative Students, may I say that the federation completely deplores the disruptive tactics, which the hon. Gentleman described, that are alleged to have been used by members of the FCS. We do not employ the tactics employed by our opponents on the far Left. I dissociate myself and the association from such tactics.
I was somewhat heartened to hear the hon. Gentleman say that he upheld the right of freedom of speech, but he went on to qualify it. Will he confirm that at the time he was quoted correctly by a newspaper and gave advice that a democratically elected Member should not come to his constituency to speak because of the large ethnic population in that part of the country? Will he confirm that he supported the no-go area policy for Members simply because there were members of the ethnic population in that community? Even if we believe the hon. Gentleman's sincerity with respect to freedom of speech — which I doubt — how can he possibly extol that freedom, yet say to other Members, "You are not welcome to come to my constituency because your views might offend members of the ethnic population."? Is there now a no-go area for Members of Parliament?
§ Mr. Fatchett
The hon. Gentleman has raised two points. First, it comes as no surprise that he is a vice-president of the FCS. I suspect that its tactics are close to his politics. I would take him much more seriously if action were taken to get rid of those disruptive elements. There has been no action by the chairman of the Conservative party or by the vice-president of the FCS.
Secondly, the hon. Gentleman quoted only part of my comments, which did not surprise me. At that time, I and the director of the polytechnic said that we felt that it was inappropriate for the meeting to be held in the spring of this year, because we felt that the hon. Gentleman was clearly and deliberately using that platform as an opportunity to create provocation, violence and difficulties in a sensitive inner-city area. The director of the polytechnic and I are on record as saying that we would welcome the hon. Gentleman to the polytechnic in conditions and at a time that were more suitable. We suggested that he should come back in the autumn of this year. I should have thought that, if the hon. Gentleman contacted the authorities of the polytechnic to say that he wanted to come on another occasion, an invitation would be issued to him. If the hon. Gentleman wants to come on another occasion, I ask him to distance himself from the disgraceful literature and the tactics that were used to advertise the previous meeting.
§ Mr. Fatchett
I shall not give way. I have answered the hon. Gentleman's point clearly. He will have an opportunity to make his own speech later.
§ Mr. Carlisle
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for an hon. Member to attack another hon. Member with blatant untruths and then not give him the opportunity to put the record straight?
§ Mr. Fatchett
The hon. Gentleman will have the opportunity to make his own speech later. I fear that he is bringing his FCS disruptive tactics to the Chamber. That is unfortunate.
Freedom of speech is not an easy topic. The Conservative party, through its student movement, has a bad reputation. I am afraid that, in drafting legislation, we shall not support the principle of freedom of speech but shall make it that much more restrictive.
The Secretary of State will regret the legislation. It is not in any sense fortunate for the right hon. Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker) that his first major intervention as Secretary of State for Education and Science is one that brings forward this Bill. The legislation is flawed in many respects. The Bill and the right hon. Gentleman's speech go no way towards solving the substantial difficulties in our education system. Until resources are found, all the sweet words and all the proposals in the Bill will do little to improve the education provision for our children.
§ Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)
I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for calling me to speak after the disgraceful contribution of the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) and the aspersion that was cast on an hon. Member. I am grateful for the opportunity at the start of my speech to put the record straight about the meeting at Leeds polytechnic. It involves a former hon. Member, Mr. Christopher Price, who is well respected by both sides of the House. The meeting at Leeds polytechnic was cancelled— as the hon. Member for Leeds, Central should have had the courtesy to say — because the booked room was unsuitable. A new venue was found later.
I welcome the Bill in principle. It is needed by the education system. We welcome the fact that there will be greater parental involvement and that funds will be made available for the GCSE. We welcome the monitoring of our education system which will be undertaken by those who are not involved with the local education authorities. We especially welcome the disciplinary measures. I welcome the comments of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on corporal punishment. They will receive majority support among Conservative Members. We welcome also the other measures and wish the Bill a fair wind.
I should like to confine my remarks to the new amendment at which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State hinted and which presumably will be tabled in Committee. That important amendment on freedom of 214 speech will allow Members of Parliament, whatever their party, to go to places of learning—which should be the homes of free speech—to give their views without fear or hindrance and, perhaps, more importantly, will allow others to make their views known to hon. Members.
The saddest aspect of what I and many others have suffered is that those who wanted to hear us speak—in many cases they have not been of our political persuasion or been in agreement with what we might say—were prevented from listening to us, and more importantly, from making their views known to us.
I was especially distressed that the president of the National Union of Students, Phil Woolas, declared after the Bradford incident—when I was knocked to the ground and physically attacked by people at a meeting —that the provocative nature of my speech made the attack plausible. I did not say a word at the meeting. That type of irresponsible comment by a man who purports to represent thousands of students should be noted by the House.
The amendment on freedom of speech has been tabled following violent attacks on various visiting speakers. It is necessary because many meetings—in my case, five of the past seven—have been prevented from taking place, for various reasons. The amendment is necessary because certain universities and colleges of further education persist in passing no-platform policies—no platforms for racists, however they are defined and no platforms for anti-semitics, and even ladies like Mrs. Victoria Gillick have been denied a platform al certain universities.
The background to the amendment is one of rooms being cancelled at short notice. Indeed, some colleges and universities have prevented rooms from being booked. My hon. Friends the Members for Leicester, East (Mr. Bruinvels) and for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) have faced that problem.
§ Mr. Cash
Has my hon. Friend had an opportunity to consider whether those universities and polytechnics have provisions in their charters that preclude the type of activities that he has just described? If my hon. Friend has not had an opportunity to look into that aspect, perhaps he will draw the attention of the Minister to it so that it is considered. It would be a serious offence to break with the provisions of a charter in a material respect.
§ Mr. Carlisle
I concur with that point. Only this week I received a letter from an academic at Oxford university which confirmed that view. The universities and polytechnics are breaking their charters by preventing these meetings from taking place.
The amendment is necessary because of violent picketing which has meant that visiting speakers, including me, have feared for their physical safety and that of not only the students who wish to come to the meetings but of the security officers, the police and everyone involved in the meetings.
The weasel words of the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) said that there are limited forms of freedom of speech, and accused the Federation of Conservative Students and others of stirring up the problems that had arisen and of using the tactics and literature that he thinks could incite violence. The type of literature which has been surrounding me at the meetings I have had to attend has been quite disgraceful. The literature was inflammatory and almost crossed the laws 215 of libel. The literature was virtually the same style throughout the meetings I have attended. That is why there is no doubt that it is inspired by the Left and within that I would include many Opposition Members.
No Conservative Member is frightened of vigorous heckling or opposition to our meetings. However, we object to physical intimidation of those who want to go and express their views. This part of the Bill is necessary for various reasons. Unfortunately, one reason is the incredibly weak response by the vice-chancellors and principals of further education colleges to the events which have taken place. I must say to them and to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who will be very involved in this, that the basis of the various edicts and statements from the vice-chancellors is just not good enough.
The hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) said in another context that words are not enough and that we need action. I endorse that sentiment. We need action from the vice-chancellors and we certainly need an absolute guarantee that they will do all in their power to ensure that platforms are available for people, from whatever political hue, to be allowed to express their views. That has not been the case over the past few months, possibly even over the past few years. If the Bill stiffens the vice-chancellors in their determination to allow meetings to go ahead, and if the security at the meeting can provide the speakers and those attending the protection that they need, the Bill will certainly have achieved something.
I was concerned when the vice-chancellors, under Professor Shock, put forward their own guidelines to various vice-chancellors and talked about meetings perhaps having to be postponed or cancelled because of controversial speakers. No definition of a controversial speaker was suggested, and as long as those speakers speak within the laws of the land, which are comprehensive, there is no right for anybody in a place of academic learning to deny a platform to those who wish to use it.
The Bill is also necessary because of the weakness of vice-chancellors and others who take virtually no action against those who offend. You will be aware, Mr. Deputy Speaker, of the recent events at Bristol university where Professor John Vincent's lectures were abandoned because he was physically attacked and the meetings ended in mayhem. The students who came before the court were merely fined and slapped on the wrist. They were not expelled from the university. The taxpayer has the right to ask whether such students should be able to continue their studies at the taxpayers' expense when they are intent on disrupting meetings.
At the university of East Anglia, which I attended recently, the meeting was again prevented by the antics of the far left. Video cameras were on hand to show pictures of those who offended, which I believe included two members of the academic staff. I was especially concerned that no action was taken against those offenders. That is why this provision is necessary in the Bill. I say to those vice-chancellors and to the Members of another place that if they had the courage to accompany me to some of the meetings and to the universities and colleges and see what I and others have had to experience, perhaps they would understand the full extent of the problem we are facing.
The Bill is also necessary because of the vicious nature of the opposition shown towards speakers, the violence which I and others have seen first hand from those who 216 can only be called the Fascist Left, and the disruptive and disgraceful literature which has been circulated before meetings inciting people to physical violence to try to prevent them. My right hon. Friend the former Secretary of State for Education and Science was right when he described such people as barbarians. Their intent is obvious. They wish physically to prevent meetings from taking place and physically to prevent hon. Members and others expressing their views and, perhaps more importantly, perhaps prevent others expressing opposition to the speakers. There is no doubt that that opposition is politically inspired and, I believe, supported by many Opposition Members. I believe that it is inspired by the anti-apartheid movement in my case, the anti-semitic movement in other cases and by the Marxists and far Left. I hope that when the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) replies to the debate he will join me in complete condemnation of those extreme political groups which have certainly disrupted meetings.
The Bill is also necessary because of the physical attacks upon students at university, especially members of the Federation of Conservative Students. I shall not list again, as I did in a recent Adjournment debate, the sort of attacks that some students have suffered at the hands of the far Left. I shall not list the meetings that have been denied to the FCS by massive amounts of money being extorted by students unions in terms of freshers evenings by being told at the last minute that facilities were not available, by the physical attacks on and off campus that members of the FCS have suffered and by the inability of many students unions to provide rooms in which to hold meetings, especially for the FCS. Those students now regrettably need the protection of the House to uphold the right of freedom of speech in the same way as we need the protection of the House.
We must hope that if the Bill is passed—I hope that it will be passed with the full support of those who uphold this right — there will be a new determination by the vice-chancellors to ensure that the disgraceful scenes which have taken place at universities never happen again in this country. I do not want to see police forces and policemen on university campuses, nor does any hon. Member. However, if we have reached the stage where there are students who are intent on violent disruption we must demand the protection of the law and the vice-chancellors must stiffen the protection they give as well as stiffening the discipline they exercise over those who offend. I say to the vice-chancellors, through the medium of the House, that there should be no doubt that when the offenders are caught. which they will be and are being, there should be no alternative but expulsion. I think that the House and the Government would demand that.
The University Grants Committee must seriously consider withdrawing funds from the universities which offend because that may be one way in which we could get the message across. The saddest fact of all is that many universities are concerned that this is taking place on their campuses because it puts off prospective students. My hon. Friend the Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Hickmet) was very concerned about his own university in Hull. Because of the problems, parents are bound to be dissuaded from recommending their children to attend such universities.
I speak with deep and bitter personal experience because of what I have suffered over the past few months, which has been shared, unfortunately, by some of my hon. 217 Friends. I welcome this initiative by the Government. I know that it has been called a dog's dinner in legislative terms and that there may well be difficulties, but it shows that the Government have a spirit and a determination to stamp out, once and for all, the opposition to the freedom which we uphold in this place more than in any other, the freedom of speech and the right to be heard. For that I welcome the Bill.
§ 6.9 pm
§ Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
We have just heard a long speech on one subject, but we are dealing with a big Bill. All those of us here who have participated in education debates —there are quite a few who have not—know that.
I should like to read part of the motion in the name of my right hon. and hon. Friends, which will bring us back to the rest of the Bill. The parliamentary Labour party believes that the Billdoes nothing to widen educational opportunities nor to raise educational standards for all pupils; fails to provide the additional resources necessary for the improvement of standards of provision and achievement in education; and, like many previous and current Government proposals, is a totally inadequate response to the crisis in our schools brought about by the Government's policies.Those are the realities with which we are contending. The Bill is a feeble and backward attempt, in line with many other feeble and backward attempts, to prove that the Tory party is not responsible for the crisis and chaos in our schools when everybody knows that it is.
An unnecessary turmoil in education has been thrust upon our country by the Conservative Government. In their attempt to bring back the elitism of the past, to which they constantly hark back anti from which they cannot get away, and in order to have the best for themselves and their children, there are no depths that they will not go to. The Minister yawns because he has heard it before, but we have heard and seen before the antics of Right-wing Tories such as those who have just been speaking, and of Tory Governments, when it comes to the education of our children.
As a valuable by-product of the onslaught launched against it, education has been brought to the centre of the stage. I said to the previous incumbent of the Secretary of State's office that he had done things that united the teachers against the Government. Although the Government did not want education to be in the centre of the stage, as a result of what they did, they brought it there. Now they are panicking, because what happened in Ryedale and Derbyshire, West and, previously, in Fulham, and what is now happening regularly, has frightened them. They can see power eluding them and they feel that somehow they must cling on.
We have had the assisted places scheme. We have almost had the voucher scheme, which many members of the Government still believe in. We now hear something about Crown schools, whatever they are — centres of excellence, we are told. The children of fairly well-to-do people will go there. Parental choice has been pushed to the point when it means that certain schools will attract middle-class parents, and have all sorts of virtues, and then there will be the downtown schools, in the state in which the Government have placed them.
Now we have from the other place a Bill that the former Secretary of State boasted was the most important measure introduced in England and Wales since the 218 Education Act 1944. God preserve us when that comes from a Minister who has p [tinged the whole of our education system into a deep crisis. What does he know about the Education Act 1944, having left us to face all the realities of what is now happening to our children? The Bill might be important to a Tory Government who have wrought havoc on state education for seven years to save money at the expense of our children and the teachers, in particular.
Sadly, the Bill is a missed opportunity to tackle the real problems facing schools and education today. It grapples with none of them. The hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg) made a speech earlier, and it was a godsend to him that some nitwit encouraged people to demonstrate outside his surgery. One would have thought that the whole Labour party was encouraging them. My hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) had to put the hon. Gentleman right. The hon. Gentleman spent 99 per cent. of his speech on that subject and never dealt with anything in the Bill.
Only one subject came out of the speech of the hon. Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle). We have had two one-subject speeches. Meanwhile, the whole Bill is under consideration. [Interruption.] You should not start telling me to go steady. I shall make the speech that I want to make. You stopped us speaking last Friday morning, you free speech people. That is the reality.
§ Mr. Flannery
I know that, but Tory Members do. and they did last Friday, those free speech wallahs.
The Bill offers no positive suggestions for improving the lot of our children, our teachers or our schools. It suggests no clear way of improving the quality and standard of the curriculum or of teaching itself. It fails to outline any strategy for revitalising the weakened profession and the education system that it has planned so carefully.
What does the Bill do? It shifts the emphasis in the management of schools from the local education authorities, which have been democratically elected and which have a partnership with parents, teachers and governors, to the governing bodies in partnership with Government. The Government talk about favouring local government, but they are strengthening central Government and weakening local government through that partnership.
§ Mr. Key
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that one of the problems that we face, particularly in shire counties with hung councils, is that the local education authorities are not representative of the people who elect the councillors to those authorities? We find that the balance of power is held increasingly frequently by co-opted members.
§ Mr. Flannery
Of course I do not agree with that. The hon. Gentleman knows that I hold him in considerable respect, but not when he talks rubbish such as that.
Secondly, the Bill increases the influence of a central Government determined to impose their own ideological educational imperatives on the schools, and it guarantees the alienation of precisely those people whose support in delivering the education service is absolutely necessary. In other words, it is a continuation of the attack on the 219 teaching force, without which no Government can educate our children. That force has been demoralised by the Government, and they are continuing that demoralisation in the Bill. The Bill shows not one iota of recognition of what has been done to the teaching force by the Government holding down their wages, saving money and handing out £0.25 billion to their friends in Johnson Matthey Bankers when they could have given it to the teachers. The Government should have done that instead of giving the money to useless people like that.
The Bill downgrades the importance of the professional input of the teachers into the good management of the schools. The passage of the Bill through the other place enabled the most backward supporters of the Government to rubbish the teaching profession. That is precisely what the Bill aims to do. Those Government supporters spread misinformation about the teaching profession. Such misinformation has resulted in fundamental parts of the Bill. The political assumptions of the Bill and the public image of schools and teachers that it promotes will have to be countered. The hard fact is that any amount of manipulation and distortion of our education system cannot go on any longer, and the Tory party knows that.
The Bill was in being before the Government knew the results of the by-elections. A start had been made on it, and now they are landed with it. It is an impossible Bill. Everybody knows that it is useless and should be thrown out. I am sure that many Tory Members who are educationists realise what they have been landed with. It is similar to when the ridiculous Bill on corporal punishment was produced as a result of what happened in the European Court of Human Rights. It said that some children in a class could be caned and others could not. So the teacher would have to say to a child, "You are misbehaving. Can I cane you or can't I?" What utter nonsense. I served on the Committee of that Bill and the chaos was unbelievable. It was similar to the chaos that the Government have produced in our education system.
The Government are worried that the electorate has now seen through it all. The game is up. [Laughter.] Conservative Members may force their laughter, but the Conservative party is in a frightful dilemma and does not know which way to turn. They must face up to the opinion polls, which show a 40 per cent. following for the Labour party and only 30 per cent. for the Conservative party. The Government are getting ready to provide more money, not because they think it is moral and right to do so, but because they must in order to survive.
The Bill is a throwback to the gang of Black Paperites who began their attack on education 10 years ago. They were ennobled by the Government for their efforts to roll back the great democratic advances that had been made, particularly in comprehensive state education. That cannot be done. Those advances cannot be rolled back by rubbishing the state education service or starving it of funds.
The Conservative party does not understand the state system of education. It deplores in its very bones the fact that the system is educating our children to higher levels than ever before. That is why Conservative Members try to rubbish the examination results achieved through state education which are massively higher than they have ever been in our history. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Flannery
Thank you Deputy Speaker, but this hon. insist that he is heard.
The hon. Member for which, for sheer hypocrisy, was almost beyond belief He —
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that we cannot tolerate the use of that word directed to an hon. Member.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman is not entitled to allege that another hon. Member is indulging in hypocrisy. He should find an alternate way of expressing his view.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. Before the hon. Gentleman finds some other way of expressing his view, he should withdraw what he has already said.
§ Mr. Flannery
I shall withdraw it if I must, but I have used that word before and not had to withdraw it.
The hon. Gentleman visits South Africa frequently at the expense of South Africa house. He upholds the way of life of the South African Right wing against black people. I cannot understand how he dare lecture us about democracy.
§ Mr. J. F. Pawsey (Rugby and Kenilworth)
I was not surprised to hear the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) say that we had heard his speech before. He was right, because he makes the same speech every time. He described the Bill as impossible, and he was as wrong on that as he is on most matters.
I welcome my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to his new responsibilities and congratulate him on his splendid speech and on the Bill. It will do a great deal to remedy the acknowledged defects in the education system and to improve both the quality and standards of education in our schools.
The hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) described my right hon. Friend as being half-baked—
§ Mr. Pawsey
Then he described the Bill as being half-baked. It is a real baker's dozen, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there is plenty of icing on this cake.
I was pleased to hear what my right hon. Friend said about the GCSE. He gave a clear commitment that it would go forward this year and mentioned an additional £20 million of new money, which would amount to about £4,000 per secondary school. The Government are to be congratulated on the depth of their commitment to this important new examination.
The hon. Member for Durham, North made an unfavourable comparison between the Bill and the Education Act 1944, and he was less than his normal generous self. He will come to accept, as most other hon. Members already do, that this is a major educational reform and that it will do a great deal to answer what the 221 right hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Callaghan) described as "the great debate". The agonising is over and the time for action is now with us, and the hon. Gentleman will see that action during the coming months and years.
The Bill is both imaginative and practical. It encompasses a range of measures from curricula to discipline and from school governing bodies to better training. They are all important and underline the Government's determination to improve education.
In the past we have been accused of being long on rhetoric and short on action, and it has been said that parents' and teachers' expectations have not been fulfilled, despite the best pupil-teacher ratio ever and the highest level of per capita spending. The Bill gives my right hon. Friend a marvellous opportunity to build on the foundation that was well established by our right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph), who is to be congratulated on all that he has done for education. In the years that lie ahead he will come to be regarded as an outstanding Secretary of State. He has laid a solid foundation of which this Bill will be the first major stone. It will prove to be a watershed in education policy.
As many hon. Members wish to speak, I shall concentrate on two main issues: governing bodies and teachers. However, I shall first touch briefly on two other items: political indoctrination and corporal punishment. I was once sceptical about political indoctrination, but now I believe that it does occur. What is more, it is becoming increasingly prevalent. It is damaging to both teacher and pupil because it reduces a teacher's standing when that teacher is seen to be partial in the classroom towards the pupil. It is regrettable if, as the result of biased teaching, they develop a false sense of values or understanding. That is not education; it is indoctrination.
§ Mr. Greenway
Will my hon. Friend join me in picking up the argument advanced by the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) that neither the Secretary of State nor he could state our political position in schools? Does my hon. Friend agree that that is complete nonsense? Obviously I could enter a school and state my political position on anything. Providing I state alternative political positions, I would be putting forward a balanced view and would be enabling pupils to choose. That is what education is about, and it is time that the hon. Gentleman learnt that.
§ Mr. Pawsey
I am grateful for that useful intervention, and I look forward to my hon. Friend developing that theme during his speech.
I was pleased to hear my right hon. Friend's clear commitment to retaining corporal punishment, and I was delighted to hear him say that we would have a free vote on this issue. That compares favourably with the attitude of Opposition Members who, despite questioning, have still failed to say where they stand on the question of a free vote. Will the Opposition allow their hon. Members a free vote or will they be whipped into the Lobbies? [Laughter.]The hon. Member for Durham, North finds that amusing, but he will have cause to laugh on the other side of his face because this is an important issue and the public will see it as such. This is an issue on which a genuine free vote should be allowed. I am disappointed that Opposition Members do not share our concern about this.
§ Mr. Andrew F. Bennett
I am absolutely amazed. Twelve months ago the hon. Gentleman went through the Lobby whipped on a Bill on corporal punishment, yet suddenly he thinks it is great to have a free vote. The hon. Gentleman should make it clear that the free vote is an attempt to get the Government off a difficult political hook. He should stop trying to make a virtue of it and accept that it is political expediency. On this side of the House we stick to our principles: we are against corporal punishment in schools.
§ Mr. Pawsey
If the hon. Gentleman wishes to stick to his principles, there should be a free vote. If he believes all his colleagues will vote in the way that he thinks they will. he should put that to the test. I challenge him to give the issue a free vote, but I am sure he will not take it up.
I regret the decision taken in the other place. Corporal punishment has a respectable place in Britain's schools. It is not frequently used, and it is more of a deterrent than anything else. The decision reached in another place was not helpful and there were no suggestions as to what should take the place of corporal punishment. Other countries have been quoted, but it is forgotten that in France, for example, when a child is suspended from school, social security benefits are also stopped for that child. The Lords should have devoted a little more thought to this issue.
The Bill re-emphasises the parental role in schools and recognises that education is a partnership between teacher, parent and child. It reinforces the belief that, in the overwhelming majority of cases, parents know best what is right for their children. For far too long parents have been bystanders, helplessly watching while their children's education has become less relevant to the practical world. The proposals in the Bill will ensure that parents are given a voice equal to that of the LEA nominees. Henceforth, each school will have an annual meeting when the governors must answer to the parents for the way in which the school is run. Nothing so concentrates the mind as being answerable and subject to cross-examination by one's peers in public. That in itself will help to ensure that schools are more closely aligned to the practicalities of the job market.
When parents are in a position to influence schools they are less likely to tolerate second-class subjects in second-class schools. The Bill will ensure that great emphasis is placed on what is recognised as the core curriculum—those subjects necessary for people to obtain employment and to enjoy a reasonable standard of living. It will be a case of peace studies out and technical studies in.
I do not suggest that this single measure will automatically unlock the door to better standards and improved quality. I recognise that, in some areas, it may be difficult to get parents to participate. I am convinced, however, that those areas will be in the minority and that, in general, parents will be anxious to participate in the running of their youngsters' schools.
Parents recognise the importance of education and that is why this debate is taking place. Parents know that, like the love of a good woman, education is indeed beyond price.
§ Mr. Pawsey
I thought that that might interest the hon. Gentleman. He is always keen on good women!
223 The debate is a direct response to parental disquiet about schools and the education system. Most parents care about education and the Bill attacks some of the proven inadequacies.
Clauses 3 to 14 relate to school governing bodies. There will be four categories of governors — parents, LEA representatives, teachers and those co-opted by the other governors—and they will serve for four years. The hon. Member for Durham, North—I am sorry that he has left the Chamber—was a little disparaging about this. I believe that governors are important in the life of schools, and the Bill will do much to underline their importance. It will ensure that they have a much greater part to play in the administration of schools.
The LEAs will continue to determine policies for the overall management of schools but, henceforth, the governing body will be able to determine policy within the school. Clause 25 makes provision for the LEA to pass funds to the governing body to cover the cost of books and other items which it believes desirable. In short, it gives more autonomy to individual governing bodies and head teachers.
Schools will be able to respond quicker to the perceived needs of the pupils. They will be able to decide for themselves whether funds should be spent on new video equipment or on books. This is a measure of devolution and must be welcomed. The LEAs must also provide each school with a statement of its running costs. Effectively, the LEA will have strategic powers, but the governors will decide the policy to be adopted in their schools. Henceforth, schools will be a triumvirate, with the LEAs, parents and heads coming together on the basis of near equality.
I wish to enter one caveat—perhaps my hon. Friend the Minister, when he replies, will comment on it. It is essential that parents are able to obtain relevant information which will enable them to make a sound judgment on the running of the schools. The Bill also seeks to help heads and provides them with a better legal basis than at present. This should be widely welcomed because the head is the key figure in any school. I have long held the view that where there is a good head there are good staff, and a good staff equals a good school and sound education.
Let me return to the make-up of the governing body. I said that governors have the power to co-opt. When that power is used wisely, any shortage of expertise or knowledge within the elected governing body can be made good by specific co-options. If the governing body lacks the expertise of an accountant able to examine the LEA's figures on the school's running costs, that accountant could be co-opted. The additional co-opted members could represent industry to the advantage of business—a point made by my right hon. Friend in his opening speech.
All these measures confirm the importance attached to the new reformed governing bodies. The new powers will encourage more people to come forward, providing a better range of expertise and knowledge, which, in turn, will improve the quality and relevance of education.
The Bill will also ensure that teachers enjoy a professional status by ensuring professional standards, and that means appraisal. For that reason, reserve powers on this issue will be introduced. A fair system of appraisal will be introduced which will bring with it better 224 promotion prospects for the good classroom teacher. There will be an improvement in the opportunities for in-service training. These measures are long overdue.
I refer to an excellent speech made by my hon. Friend the Minister of State at Leicester on 17 March in which he said:In the end the benefits our children get from being at school are primarily the achievement of their school teachers. All the other educational facilities are simply a means of helping teachers in their work. The first and most essential need of any school is good staff and very little can be achieved unless we have enough teachers of the right quality.That is a clarion call for professional standards in a professional teaching force.
If I may digress for a moment, hand in hand with professional standards goes a professional salary. That is why I have argued in the House and elsewhere that the £1.25 billion available for teachers' pay over a time scale of four years should be concentrated into a narrower period and, what is more, it should be front-loaded. I am not saying that this funding, which is over and above any normal increases in teacher remuneration, should be unconditional. In addition to appraisal, teachers would be required to accept those duties which have long been taken for granted but which came into question during the dispute. Appraisal will improve career prospects for the good classroom teacher, and that is important at a time of falling rolls when promotion is no longer as swift as it was. I welcome the provision which will enable the Secretary of State to respond to local authority bids for in-service training, provided that they clearly underline the benefits of such training.
I welcome the Bill. I believe that it will prove to be a turning point. It is a positive move to reform schools through their governing bodies. I believe that it will be applauded by parents and teachers as a major step towards improving the quality and standards of state education.
§ Mr. Ken Weetch (Ipswich)
I consider all Education Bills from the point of view of a practitioner. Before I came here, I did 20 years in the trade—10 as a schoolmaster and 10 training teachers. Examining the Bill purely from the point of view of a practitioner, I find some useful things in it.
The trailers for the Bill implied that it would be one of the most important pieces of legislation since the Education Act 1944. It is hardly that, but it says some significant things. I am sorry that it has become a cookpot for people's prejudices. They have thrown their prejudices in as they have passed by. I notice that The Times described the Bill as a Christmas tree on which everybody hung something as he went by. That is true. The Bill set out to redefine the responsibilities of local education authorities, governors and the teaching profession.
§ Mr. Chris Patten
Like the hon. Gentleman, I read with interest the Times leader to which he referred. Is he also interested in the fact that a fortnight before, in another leading article, The Times had advised us to hang yet more things on the Christmas tree? Perhaps the consistency of The Times leader writers is not now what it always was.
§ Mr. Weetch
I am surprised about that. Although I thought that The Times was a little Right wing, I thought that it was consistent from week to week. I shall look up the Minister's reference, as I am a little surprised.
225 My point still stands, however. The Bill started out as one thing, and it is rapidly becoming a series of others. It is right to involve parents much more in the nation's schools. It has always surprised me how little influence parents have brought to bear since the war. Local education authorities have always been well organised, as have teachers' organisations and the Government bureaucracy, but parents never have. They have been organised late in the day. I welcome the fact that the Government have done something to strengthen parents' influence. After all, it is their children who are being taught. That is often forgotten. Parents care a great deal about what happens and know what their children are, or are not, getting. Parents are much wiser on these matters than many people suppose.
It is also forgotten sometimes that, through rates and taxes, parents pay for it all. If they pay the piper, they should be able to call some of the tune. A sound relationship between parents and schools can have a profound and constructive influence on the performance of the school and the teaching profession, for the good of education as a whole.
I regret the fact that for much of the post-war period parents have not been as involved in education as they should have been, as they have frequently been unwelcome when they have attempted to bring their interest to bear. I know of some schools where parent-teacher associations are still not very welcome. That is to be regretted. Parents have not been well organised as a pressure group, but I hope that that will change. The Bill's central aim of involving parents is constructive, although the relevant provisions should be amended in Committee.
It is right to clarify the functions and responsibilities of local education authorities, governing bodies, headmasters and staff. There has been confusion about responsibilities from time to time. No one interest should predominate. It is also desirable to define the powers of governing bodies and how they can be exercised in regard to matters such as the curriculum, discipline and standards of schools.
The Secretary of State said that good discipline and the ability to keep order and a peaceful atmosphere in schools were the key to good education. He is right. If there is not reasonable discipline and order, one will never teach anything. The critical question is whether the Bill will achieve that aim. In several respects, however, the answer is no.
The Bill proposes the concept of balanced representation on school governing bodies, no interest allegedly being predominant. It is surprising, therefore, that the representation of teachers is underweighted as schools get bigger. That is a critical mistake. I shall not quote figures, as that would be more appropriate to a Committee speech than one on Second Reading, but as a school increases in size, teacher representation gets proportionately worse while that of other categories such as parents increases. There is no balance in that. Moreover, the arrangement undervalues the section of representation that has day-to-day responsibility for good education and for promoting good teaching. That is an unfortunate way in which to start off the concept of balance in the Bill. If I am on the Committee I shall try hard to have that clause amended, because it is clearly wrong-headed.
The second example relates to conduct and discipline and is about who bears responsibility. If a school has no discipline within its walls, little of any account will be taught there. I say that as a former practising schoolmaster 226 who still thinks like a schoolmaster. If there is no order in a school, there is no education either. I am alarmed about clause 21 and hope that the Secretary of State will be a good deal more resolute about the appeals procedures than he seemed to be in his speech. I taught in difficult schools in inner-city areas, where weak discipline schools did not survive. It was as simple as that.
The sting in the tail of clause 21 is quite vicious. It says that in the last resort the local education authority can order a headmaster and staff to take back individuals or groups whose behaviour could have been violent, antisocial in the extreme or akin to disruption. It will be able to force the headmaster and staff, against their better judgment, to take back such people. That is not right, and if such a course of action is forced on the headmaster and staff we can say goodbye to discipline in our schools. Who is taken back should be a matter for the headmaster and staff, and no decision should be forced on the headmaster. If that happens, the headmaster and staff will be humiliated and lose their authority.
I listened carefully to the Secretary of State's remarks about the right of appeal. I hope that we shall not be fobbed off with a paper exercise and that the right of appeal will be genuinely independent. There should not be any right of appeal at all and the headmaster's word, if supported by the governors, should be the end of the matter. This is because the headmaster has the day-to-day responsibility at the sharp face for keeping order and for teaching. He should not be buried under a mountain of worthless paper that detracts from his position. If there is to be authority and good standards in our schools, the headmaster and his staff must be supported at all times. There should be no political interference from a local authority which wishes to smooth over a difficult situation —not to get justice, but simply to get a convenient settlement and to sweep the difficulties under the carpet.
I should like to speak in more detail about teacher appraisal. I spent 10 years in that field looking at people teaching in schools of one kind or another. The practice of teacher appraisal is fraught with difficulties. It is difficult to appraise the performance of a teacher, and the first key question that one must ask is: what is the teacher being appraised for? Is it to find out basic things about his professional standards and whether he is fit to continue in classroom teaching? If that is so, Governments have been falling down on their responsibilities for the last 50 years. A professional teacher leaves college or university with a qualification and is then on professional probation. In many cases that probation is pathetic. Nobody cares whether the teacher sinks or swims, and I have seen many young teachers driven out of the profession. Before the Government embark on a new series of measures, they should consider whether they are trying to work the old measures with any degree of consistency.
I read a recent speech by the former Secretary of State. Speaking to the Industrial Society, he said that the idea of linking appraisal to salary had been given up. Perhaps when the Minister winds up the debate he could tell us whether that is the case, or appraisal will be used as a factor in determining salary. In his speech the former Secretary of State said that he did not want appraisal aligned to any scheme of pay or to any scheme of instant reward. I am not encouraged by the clause in the Bill. but it is encouraging to note that the former Secretary of State said that appraisal was to be introduced voluntarily. That is the only way in which it will work.
§ Mr. John Powley (Norwich, South)
I take the point that the hon. Gentleman makes about teacher appraisal. Does he agree that every time a teacher is promoted or is moved up the scale, or moves from one school to another, he or she is appraised in some way before entering another grade with better remuneration?
§ Mr. Weetch
I accept that point. If anybody in the teaching profession aspires to promotion and wants to get into the higher reaches of the profession and become a headmaster, along the way there must be some element of appraisal. In our present system of education people are promoted for some weird and wonderful reasons. I would rather have a regularised system of appraisal, provided it is done in a proper way, than the hand-to-mouth system that exists in some of our schools now. I accede to much of the spirit of the intervention.
I should like to make two further points, the first of which is about two clauses in the Bill. One point is about sex education, and the other is about political education. If there is to be political or sex education, it should be carried out in a professional, balanced and constructive way. Those should be the ethics of the teaching profession. In my experience, indoctrination is often counterproductive. When one tries to influence young people to go in one direction, more often than not they will go in the opposite direction. Nevertheless, the point about balanced and constructive education stands. We should have political education in schools, because such education is part of citizenship training.
Has the Minister any substantial body of evidence to show that the course of political education is being widely, in detail and substantially perverted? The answer must be, "No, not on a widespread scale." The vast majority of teachers in ordinary schools are teaching in a professional way. There are exceptions. One can go into some inner-city areas where a Wendy house is sexist, and Janet and John books are too heavy an emphasis on being heterosexual. One should not adapt legislation to iron out small lunatic sections when the vast bulk of teaching is fair.
§ Mrs. Edwina Currie (Derbyshire, South)
Does the hon. Gentleman accept that it was Members of the Labour party who, in the other place, proposed a whole series of amendments that would have much the same effect as the clause that he is criticising, and produced plenty of evidence to support them?
§ Mr. Weetch
I cannot answer that question. I never follow the events of the other place, which fill my head with fog. I accept the hon. Lady's point. However, the Government should be careful before they use the heavy hand of legislation to interfere in a professional matter which, in the majority of cases, is being properly conducted. They should examine their conscience on that point.
With that, I give a cautious welcome to large sections of the Bill, although in Committee many of its discrepancies will have to be ironed out.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I remind the House that the 10 minute limit on speeches came into effect at 7 o'clock.
§ 7.1 pm
§ Mr. Robert Rhodes James (Cambridge)
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) for talking 228 about the Bill, using his profound knowledge. I express gratitude to the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud) and other hon. Members for their reference to the admirable maiden speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr McLoughlin). The hon. Member for Cambridge, North-East, like me, came to the House through a by-election, so we know what the experience is like.
The Bill places the House in a rather surprising and surprised position. What began as a modest and almost uncontroversial measure to implement the proposals of the White Paper "Better Schools", has, in its progress through the other place, assumed a quite different character. If all the rumours that we hear are true, the Bill seems destined to suffer further expansion before reaching the statute book. I express my warm admiration, affection and regard for the former Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph). Although our paths diverge on many matters of policy, my admiration and our friendship have not ended.
From what force came the inspiration for the amendments moved in the other place? They have extended, and have sought to extend further, the scope of the Bill. New clause 16, which forbids the promotion of partisan political views in the teaching of any subject, is the classic example of what my former headmaster used to describe as ingenious but idiotic. My hon. Friends might applaud the abolition of teaching of Marx and Marxist economics in schools. I would also cheer if we sought the removal of Hayek and Friedman. That would not distress me too greatly. However, would it then be illegal for me to give courses on Lord Randolph Churchill, Mr. Gladstone, Ramsay MacDonald —
§ Mr. Rhodes James
Or, indeed, royalism, an evil and worrying thing. Would we have to follow the Russian example, in which new histories of the second world war completely omit any reference to Stalin? I suggest that, in the long catalogue of legislative nonsense, this clause is in the Edward Lear class. I hope that my hon. Friend and the Committee will look hard at this clause as amended in another place.
§ Mr. Rhodes James
No, I will not.
On the failed Lords amendments on the freedom of speech, I have more sympathy with the Government and my hon. Friend the Minister. The orginal wording produced in the other place was too wide and hopelessly impractical. Lord Beloff, among others, was quite right to express criticism of it. It was wise of the Government to withdraw it. Nonetheless, there is a problem, one magnified recently by the fate of a constituent of mine, Mrs. Strachan, who, when working at the North-East London Polytechnic, was beaten up in her own classroom. The appalling organisation of the polytechnic would not even, beyond a mild reproof, deal with the students who did it. Any institution that cannot protect even its own staff, let alone visiting politicians, deserves censure and opposition. Although I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North, (Mr. Carlisle) on many things, I do on this subject.
In 1971 we had in Cambridge what is known as the Garden house affair, in which deplorable things were done 229 —ironically, under the leadership of Professor John Vincent. Sentences were passed and it was made abundantly clear that students and academics are as subject to the law of the land as the rest of us. Since then, we have had no trouble. I ask my hon. Friend, although I sympathise strongly with the motivation of the amendments, to consider whether this is necessary. The fact that we may have craven and inept vice-chancellors and principals does not affect the fact that the law is there. Again, this is a matter for the Committee to debate, because often what we need is enforcement of the present laws rather than the creation of new ones.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Patten) knows about the proposals, under the European Commission regulations, for the employment of women in universities. I do not care particularly whether my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science or my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Employment destroys the proposal. I earnestly suggest that it should be destroyed. It is already difficult enough for women to get employment in higher education. If there were an amendment to section 51 of the 1974 Act, that could become even more difficult.
The Bill deserves "modified rapture", and my hon. Friend will know the origin of that phrase. However, I hope that the my right hon. Friend The Secretary of State and the Committee will address themselves seriously to the points that I and other hon. Members have made.
§ 7.8 pm
§ Mr. D. E. Thomas (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy)
The Bill addresses itself to the structure of the education system at local and school level, to its content at local level in terms of the development of the curricula and to the financial management of resources at school level.
I welcome the participation in the structure of education by parents, the LEAs and the teachers. It is a model that I have always believed should be followed in all public services, in that one should look for co-operation between the deliverers of the service, its clients and the authority that has statutory responsibilities for the services.
The point that most concerns me about the proposed structure for the governors of schools is the proposals for the grouping of schools under clause 9. I mention this particularly as the Welsh Office Minister responsible for education is listening. He is well aware of the issue of schools in areas where the LEA has a bilingual policy, but has not established bilingual schools. I refer in particular to the case of Gwent. Schools that are grouped together should represent the linguistic diversity of the communities and schools or units which are part of the grouping. That also applies to the curriculum.
The sections of the Bill which will deal with the school curriculum need to be read in the context of the latest document on local authority policies for the school curriculum. That is contained in the response to the 1983 curriculum review which was published earlier this month.
The review makes it clear that the Government regard it as important thatThe Secretaries of State, the LEA and the school each need a curricular policy in order to discharge their respective functions.230 In terms of the governors' role in developing curricula, that is clearly the most specific statement that we have had on the need for a community-based approach to curriculum. I welcome that principle.
Clause 17 (2)(a) stresses that representations made by persons in the community that is served by the school should be taken into account when developing the curriculum. That is a key factor for language provision in Wales and for the provision for cultural and multi-cultural diversity in inner cities and communities throughout Britain.
It is important that that aspect of community representation must be read as including provision for ethnic minority communities to allow them to make representations and for the issue of community languages in both primary and secondary schools to be included in the curricular discussion. I am not suggesting that the governors of schools should be wholly responsible for deciding that languages other than English should be provided for within the curriculum. However, as representatives of the community, the governors should have that role in curriculum development. It is essential that these aspects of curriculum development in the locality should be seen alongside paragraphs 52 and 53 of the local authority response to the curricular review and the response to Swann.
I was encouraged to see that more than one third of the authorities responding to "Better Schools", gave detailed attention to the issue of a multicultural approach to the curriculum. I would expect that within the context of the new structure proposed for curriculum assessment at governor level much progress can be made in the communities.
I remember hearing Sheila Browne, a former chief inspector of schools, stress to the Select Committee that it was important that each school should assess its contributions to its community each year. The governors should be able to to do that under the Bill.
Clause 24, which deals with the provision of sex education, is controversial. It might appear to be a form of bias in favour of one sexual preference. It states thatthose pupils to have due regard to moral considerations and the value of family life.That might be a form of propaganda for heterosexuality. I say that in the mildest possible way because I do not want to excite Conservative Members on this issue. However, we must accept and understand the issues of homosexuality, lesbianism and other varied sexual preferences in a tolerant society. The clause would or could undermine equality of approach to that matter. That may he what some hon. Members would want.
Finally, I would like to consider the financial controls on schools as set out in clause 25. Here again I welcome the structure that we are offered. For the first time it gives the responsibility for financial management of schools to the local education authority. We accept that the school budgeting may be managed by the governors. All that structure on financial management at the chalk face is rendered redundant if we read the other two relevant documents about the financing of schools published in recent weeks—the HMI reports on England and Wales. They show that there is a disparity of provision between schools and LEAs, which means that the provision in various areas is deteriorating. The 11 to 16-year age group in particular is less well provided for than later age groups. Both reports give careful consideration to the appalling 231 position of many school buildings and of the school environment which is affecting teaching in schools. The English report states at paragraph 16 that the school sector is the one causing most concern:It is getting by and providing satisfactorily for most pupils in many places by robbing Peter to pay Paul; doing less; or with the help of sizeable contributions from parents." Parental contributions are crucial to many schools.However, they can lead to broad discrepancies between areas and within individual LEAs. Schools in higher-income areas benefit from funding from parents while those in more deprived areas do not.
The warning I issue is that although we may welcome certain of the structural changes and regard them as not essentially partisan, the Bill does not tackle the major issue about the education system: the overall provision of resources. It is in that area that anything which is done at the chalk face will be completely undermined.
§ Mr. Robert Key (Salisbury)
I start by declaring an interest in the Bill, first as a parent with children in the independent and maintained sector in the ratio of 2: 1, and, secondly, as an ex-teacher and former member of the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association and consultant to that body.
It is broadly fair to say that, until the Government took office in 1979, the national education debate was dominated by the comprehensive versus grammar selective argument, and I regret that that is still true in Salisbury. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) has had little credit for moving the debate forward from that issue. The central issue now has become the quality of education and how that can be improved for the majority of pupils in the schools that they attend.
The potency of this issue, recognised now in virtually all parts of the House, was not exclusively the discovery of my right hon. Friend the former Secretary of State. The right hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Callaghan) must be given some credit. However, his Ruskin college speech, which was intended as an agenda for action, became dissipated and blurred in the Shirley Williams debates that followed. They were intended to identify areas of concern, secure agreement and concensus and produce a programme for policy initiatives. Instead, they became little more than a public relations exercise with no identifiable outcome. The media coverage generated by the Williams roadshow did not solve anything. It publicised yet more criticism and discontent. It sharpened the sense that something needed to be done, but whatever it was, it was not happening. The debate became a warm-up for my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East activated powers long latent in the Education Act 1944. Whereas my right hon. Friend's predecessors had been content to tiptoe in the secret garden of the curriculum, he seized upon his powers to redesign the landscape—his power to co-ordinate.
The Green Paper that preceded the Bill some time ago stated that the curriculum had been overloaded so that the basic skills of literacy and numeracy — the building blocks of education—had been neglected. Schools had been over-ambitious, embarking on new subjects and new 232 methods of teaching without ensuring that teachers knew what they were teaching or whether that was appropriate to the pupils' capacities or the needs of their future employees.
The Green Paper suggested a review, and the author hoped that pupils would end up witha basic understanding of the functions of our democratic political system, of the mixed economy and the industrial activities, especially manufacturing, which create our nation wealth.My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East did not say that. It is contained in the 1977 Green Paper "Education In Schools", which was produced by the Labour party. However, it has taken 10 years for my right hon. Friends the Members for Leeds, North-East and for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker) to deliver the goods and to do what everyone said needed to be done and produce a timetable for that.
The teaching profession, at a time of falling rolls, low pay and restrictive career opportunities, has been coping with massive reform. The reform of the examination system, with the propsect of appraisal, will, I hope, be resolved by ACAS rather than through powers in the Bill.
The Bill reflects, and converts into legislation, the concern that has been widely felt for some time that parents should not have bureaucratic barriers placed between them and the schools that their children attend. The emphasis that it places on consumerism is essentially democratic and it is hard to see how anyone can argue convincingly against conferring new rights upon parents, or argue that it is against the interests of education for parents to be more closely involved in the running of the schools that their children attend. I am pleased that local community interest will be represented in a balanced way on governing bodies. As ever, there is a balance to be struck.
It has been said this afternoon that the Bill is a Christmas tree that was grown in the House and sent to the other place for decoration. It has acquired some pretty odd and heavy baubles in that place and it will need some gentle handling if it is not to keel over altogether. Let us be careful about clauses 16 and 39, on political indoctrination. I find them acceptable, but I believe that we must guard against over-reaction, which would deny the very balance that we are seeking to achieve.
I applaud the declamatory exhortation in clause 24, on sex education—few would clamour against it—but if we are going down that road I would wish to see added a responsibility towards education on substance abuse—for example, drugs, alcohol, tobacco and solvents. Adding such clauses puts considerable extra burdens on teachers, LEAs and the Department, and all of them have resource implications.
My views on corporal punishment are well known. I find it extraordinary that at a time when society is attempting to come to terms with violence we respond by insisting that the only answer is violence inflicted by adults on children. That is extraordinary and bizarre.
The hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) said that my comments on clauses 26 and 27—the annual report to parents—were mistaken. I accept that we cannot rely solely on an annual meeting. I would go further and say that what worries me about the annual report or meeting between governors and parents is that it might turn into a kangaroo court for individual 233 complaints against teachers in a public forum at which teachers cannot answer back. That would worry me very much.
It is not true to say, as some still argue, that all our education problems are about quality and not money. However, anyone who has so much as dipped into the Audit Commission's report of last month on the management of secondary education must understand that huge sums are being wasted in the system at a time when we are so obviously short of money in so many areas of school life.
That is a challenge that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State must face squarely, just as he must face the challenge of presiding over an increasingly hardworking Department which is so obviously and chronically understaffed and under-resourced. It is incapable of coping with the burdens that are now being put upon it. Education Ministers' letters win the snails' race in the life of a Member of Parliament, and Select Committees wait a year for a Government response. One example is the report on the science budget. The baubles throw into question the basic competence of the Department to cope with the job that it is being asked to undertake.
The new-found power of the Secretary of State has been taken, mistakenly, for centralism. I have heard my right hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley, the new Secretary of State, twice say that he wishes power to move from the hub along the spokes to the rim of the wheel. That is surely what the Bill is all about. It breaks new ground and creates new relationships between consumers and the providers of education. It addresses itself to the international comparisons, which we disregard at our peril.
I wish my right hon. Friend well at the start of what I hope will be a long and successful tenure of office. Parliament can set the tone and background for our education system, and the Bill will be a milestone. If children are to recapture the great educational birthright that is traditionally theirs, my right hon. Friend must achieve two prerequisites. He has re-entered the Chamber just in time to hear the two prerequisites which he must recognize.
First, in answer to my parliamentary question on 19 May, my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn), the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, produced alarming figures that showed that in the past seven years for which statistics are available the number of head teachers retiring early has trebled, that the number of deputy heads retiring early has doubled, that the number of senior teachers retiring early has quintupled and that the number of scale 4 teachers leaving has doubled. The profession at its senior end is voting with its feet, and that is in nobody's interest.
When ACAS has done its work. when we have done ours on the Bill, and when good faith has been restored, my right hon. Friend knows that he must always go to Cabinet to fight his corner and to wrestle for his Department the money that will be a necessary component in raising the status of the teaching profession. Most important of all, my right hon. Friend must set out to create a peaceful and stable education world if he is to create the framework for real progress.
§ Mr. Jack Thompson (Wansbeck)
I apologise to the House for having entered the Chamber only recently. I have been committed to other business in the House of similar importance. I intend to refer to only three issues which concern me especially. As I have explained, I have missed the earlier part of the debate.
Those who are involved in education in my constituency and county are looking for great things from the Secretary of State. Things have been so bad in the past four or five years that miracles are expected from the new incumbent of the office of Secretary of State for Education and Science. There are some doubts, however, about whether his magic wand will be made available to him or whether it will be removed from him.
The letter that we received from the Secretary of State's predecessor, the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) in response to the school inspectorate's annual report was astonishing. In my short experience in the House, it is the first time that a Secretary of State has responded in such a way to a report from the inspectorate. That surely indicates the dire and difficult situation that education faces.
When I mentioned to my constituents that the Bill's Second Reading was to be debated today, their reaction was, "Are there not more important issues to consider in the light of the present state of education?" My response was, "Fair enough, that may be, but currently the Bill is before the House for consideration."
I am fully in support of parent governors. I say that with some authority because I first became a school. governor as a parent governor about 20 years ago. It is not a new concept for me. When my child left the school of which I was a governor, I became a local education authority governor. I am now a co-opted governor of the same school and I have the honour of being the chairman of the governors. Continuity is important and one of the dangers will be the breaking of parent governors' continuity under the Bill. Difficulties will arise.
There is a three-tier system in my county. We have the five to nine-year-olds in the primary or first schools, the nine to 13-year-olds in the middle schools and the 13 to 16-year-olds in the high schools. If parent governors are to have a four-year tenure of office, there will be difficulties. For example, some children will not be in the same school for four years. Secondly, a parent will probably not want to be involved as a governor of the school which his or her child attends for the first year that the child is at the school. The parent will become interested in the role only after the first year has passed. The parent will become a parent governor eventually and by the time that he or she has his or her feet under the table and is taking an in-depth interest in the governing of the school, the child will have left.
If we are to talk about parent governors in the right context and in proper terms, they must be the parents of children who are attending the schools of which they are governors. The parent governors of my board serve while their children attend the school of which they are governors. There is an arrangement through the parent-teacher association and the parents' organisation that provides that when a governor's child leaves the school, the parent leaves the board of governors. That seems eminently sensible, but that will not happen under the Bill. There must be flexibility for the education authority. It 235 must be allowed to make some arrangement in the interests of parents and children that is suitable for the requirements of the school.
There are other difficulties. I note that in one paragraph it is suggested that the person or persons who appoint the governor can then remove him. I cannot see how that can work in terms of a parent being appointed by the parents of a school on a ballot—I assume that there will be a postal ballot—as a parent governor. The problem will arise if the parents wish to remove that governor. What do they do? Do they call a special meeting and cause problems between one group of parents and another? There will be all sorts of problems. While this should not detract from the idea of having parent governors, there should be a more flexible arrangement than that suggested in the Bill.
With regard to the curriculum, I find it difficult to understand the proposition in clause 16:It shall be the duty of every local education authority—(a) to determine, and keep under review, their policy in relation to the secular curriculum for the county".Clause 17 provides:The articles of government for every county, controlled and maintained special school shall provide for it to be the duty of the governing body to consider—It goes on to say that it is the duty of the head teacher
- (a) the policy of the local education authority …
- (c) how (if at all) the authority's policy should in their opinion be modified in relation to the school".to have regard—I find that very worrying and complex. The system that is operated in all the schools in which I am involved is that the Department lays down general principles about the curriculum and the local education authority considers this in the context of its responsibilities. Indeed, this Friday evening we will be discussing in detail one aspect of the curriculum sent to us by the local authority, and the visiting governors will be considering that aspect of the curriculum when they visit. Conclusions will then be reached that will be relevant to the local education authority's policy and to the Department's policy. I see nothing wrong with that system. What is now suggested will cause some consternation and problems as to who determines the curriculum.
- (i) to any representations which are made to him, with regard to the determination or organisation of the secular curriculum".
Clause 42 on recoupment will cause some problems in my county, as I imagine it will in many other shire counties. In essence, it means a free trade of further education students. The proposition will significantly affect the activities of shire counties closely associated with metropolitan areas. In my county of Northumberland there is a prime example. We have about 351 students now in establishments outside the county in an arrangement with other authorities which works quite well. They are in Newcastle or north Tyneside. The cost is about £600,000 a year. The students are taking courses that are either not available or are over-subscribed in Northumberland. That seems an eminently good arrangement. The suggestion is to change this so that students will be able to attend a college of their choice, irrespective of the subject that they are studying. The limited facilities for further education in the county—ours is predominantly a rural county—will be seriously affected by the students who are going out to nearby areas, as will the costings.
236 I cannot understand why clause 49 is included in the Bill. It is proposed that the schools report to the local education authorities and the parents, which is right and proper, and that the areas report to the Secretary of State, but not that the Secretary of State reports to the House. There ought always to be an opportunity for the House to discuss education across the board.
I look forward to detailed consideration of the Bill in Committee.
§ Mr. Spencer Batiste (Elmet)
It is with pleasure that I add my congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. McLoughlin) on an excellent maiden speech which amply reinforces both the decision and the good judgment of his constituents in electing him.
It was also with pleasure that I listened to the Secretary of State present his first major Education Bill. I am delighted, as I am sure are all my hon. Friends, by the grasp and good sense that he has shown after so short a time in office. That is bad news for the Labour party, but good news for anybody who is concerned about the future of education.
A good education system is an essential asset for a modern technological society. Yet there is widespread concern that our system has fallen behind those of our main competitors and a recognition that, while my right hon. Friend and neighbour the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) as Secretary of State developed strategic policies that will do much to redress the balance, they must now be implemented quickly and effectively.
Of course adequate, well-directed and properly managed funding is an essential ingredient in the success of those policies. I am delighted with the announcement today about the GCSE and the extra £20 million. I hope that everyone will note the rapid agreement of the Opposition parties that the new examination system is now properly funded, that the delays and disruption in introducing it can now be swept away, and that this important new measure can come into being quickly and peacefully. Equally, there are other major problems that require funding such as the recruitment of science teachers. In many parts of the country, this has become almost impossible.
However, providing extra money alone is not in itself a solution. The recent Audit Commission report highlighted the hundreds of millions of pounds of waste in current spending. This comes as no surprise to us in Leeds—I am delighted to see that the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) has now returned to the Chamber—where the Labour-controlled local education authority has an unenviable record of bad management, of waste and of generally giving education a low priority. We have, for example, the second lowest level of spending per pupil on education of any metropolitan district in the country, and £100 per pupil below the average. Moreover, when the local education authority was finally forced into addressing the problems posed by falling rolls, it did so in a doctrinaire and insensitive fashion that has aroused concern and despondency in my constituency and elsewhere in the city.
Last year that concern was well articulated by the governing bodies in certain comprehensive schools in my constituency. They organised a very successful campaign against the original plan put forward. The price that they paid for that within a very short time was the complete 237 reconstitution of those governing bodies and, on the most vocal and successful, the imposition of an absolute majority of Labour party nominees.
Nor is it a coincidence that in Leeds, as in other Labour-dominated local education authorities, strong and independent head teachers and public servants are under increasing pressure to toe the Labour party line or become isolated and take premature retirement.
This undesirable politicisation of our schools and the unnecessary over-centralisation of their budgets must be addressed quickly. The Bill does not go as far as I would like it to go in tackling these structural problems. I accept the lesson of our very successful industrial relations legislation when we proceeded step by step, bringing public opinion along with us at each stage and ensuring the widest possible acceptance for each action that we took. The bugs were ironed out at each stage. I accept that as an approach.
What then are the objectives that we seek in the Bill? The most important for me is the shift of power from the local education authorities to the governing bodies and the striking of a more representative balance on those bodies. It is a good Conservative instinct to devolve power to those most closely affected by its exercise.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State described his policy as trying to devolve power from the hub to the rim of the wheel. He should pursue that and trust his instincts because it is a sound policy. I should like to see the maximum possible devolution to schools of responsibility and budgetary power for the fabric, for the provision of facilities and materials, for discipline and curriculum and, above all, for the choice of staff, including particularly the head teacher.
Good leadership is just as vital to the goals and success of a school as it is in other aspects of life. That is why the selection of head teachers is crucial and should be free from political interference, as the head teachers themselves should be free from political interference in the proper performance of their duties.
Reference has been made to an effective appeals procedure against disciplinary decisions by head teachers. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will look further at that. Some colleagues will be familiar with the guidelines for members of governing bodies which have been produced by various militant organisations that prefer to remain anonymous. They have been widely circulated in many parts of the country, and are circulating now in schools in my constituency and elsewhere in Yorkshire. It is important to listen to exactly what is being said. Hon. Members may well see the very same tactics being employed in schools in their constituencies. I am talking about a comprehensive set of guidelines on how to disrupt a school's activities.
The guidelines deal with governors' meetings, the head, teaching and non-teaching staff, and pupils. Those guidelines refer to governors' meetings and say:Action at these meetings will depend on whether members are in a majority or not…When in the majority — ensure Chair and Vice are members and continually press to a vote. …Always meet as a group prior to the Governors' meeting, decide points to be raised and who raises them. The aim is to act as one while seeming to act individually …Increase the numbers of meetings to two or three per term. If non-members find attendance difficult so much the better … Pick awkward times for meetings—5.30 pm, 9 am. … Always raise pre-planned, 'unexpected' points.238 The guidelines become even more sinister when they deal with the head. They say:The Head is the single most powerful person you have to deal with in the school. His strength lies in his separateness, although this can be turned to your advantage … The head's main weaknesses lie in remoteness from some of what happens in the school, rarely having decisions questioned, and a feeling of rivalry towards other Heads and schools, especially in the falling roll situation.The guidelines then make a series of specific suggestions:(a) Constantly question statements made by the head.(b) Imply concealment of information.(c) Seek to isolate the Head from staff and Governors.(d) Visit school unannounced …(e) Ring up and question Head on any and all matters …The Objective is to keep the Head off balance, undermine confidence in policies, make staff, parents and students suspicious of Head's motives and create tension in and around Head.The guidelines identify one particular policy. They see the retention of sixth forms as being the most crucial means of undermining the head teacher. That sounds, ludicrous, but it is happening in a school in my constituency, and in many others elsewhere. I am sure that my hon. Friends will also have seen other documents.
There is an article about the police in schools that makes all sorts of absurd suggestions and that is widely circulated. It talks of the police as being the natural enemies of children, who should be warned. It says:The police 'helped' kill Blair Peach, a teacher, and too often beat up Black youths in cells and many of the children know this. It is essential that children are aware of their rights.I have another document that has been produced by the Bradford and Leeds lesbian teachers group. Mention has been made of the need to be sensitive towards the problems of homosexual teachers. I accept that, but I do not think that I am alone in finding blatant proselytising by homosexual groups in schools unacceptable and offensive. This document states:At every level of the education system students are misinformed about lesbians and denied the opportunity to explore anything other than the very conventional heterosexual relationship. Young women are forcibly directed and channelled into heterosexuality".It is, indeed, a very sad day if heterosexuality has become a crime.
Worst of all is the corrosive effect of persistent propaganda on young minds. I have with me a leaflet that is financed by a local education authority. A group of young girls were taken for the day to an Afro-Asian centre, given a lecture by the people there, and then asked to write poems. The poem of one young girl is set against a picture of two people in black masks with their arms raised in the air in clenched fist salutes. The last part of the poem reads:They don't care what happensThey've got the powerThey know they can't get caughtI hate them!They should be removed from this world.They are supposed to help people.That document was produced in a school and its publication was financed by a local education authority. I do not object to the balanced teaching of party politics; indeed, I welcome it. Nevertheless, I have anxieties about clause 16. But I object to the teaching of subversion, violence, lawlessness and distorted values.
239 The Bill goes a long way towards meeting my concerns, but if it is to succeed more parents must take a greater part in their schools' activities. With that proviso, I welcome the Bill and commend it to the House.
§ Mr. Michael Hancock (Portsmouth, South)
As my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud) said, many parts of the Bill can be welcomed, and which represent the correct course for the development of education in England and Wales. However, to describe it as the most significant piece of legislation since the Education Act 1944 is, as has been said, pushing credibility to the extremes and is seriously misleading.
Much of what Conservative Members have said does not stand up to scrutiny. I wonder whether the Government think that by including a mass of detailed regulations in the Bill education will automatically improve. Indeed, despite attempts to clarify relationships between different education organisations, such as the relationship between the local education authorities and schools over the curriculum, the issues are further confused by the Bill, and we shall seek to clarify those and other matters in Committee and during the remaining stages of the Bill.
In the few minutes at my disposal I shall try to draw out some of the points and to elaborate on those raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East. For a long time hon. Members and the public have been concerned about the composition of governing bodies. There is now a consensus on both sides of the House that there should be increased parent participation in school governing bodies. However, when it comes to the overall composition, I would prefer—and the alliance generally would prefer —to see the Lord Taylor model of equal representation on governing bodies being adopted. I believe that parents would like more teachers as governors of schools, and I believe that in all but the smallest schools non-teaching staff have a role to play on those governing bodies. It is important that we try to include those with expertise who are not teachers, but who have a role to play and who are dedicated to seeing that the school is run properly.
I shall draw attention to what else is wrong with the governing bodies of schools. For 16 years I have been a member of a local education authority, and every year the thing that causes most concern at the annual meeting is the proportion in which school governorships are given out. It is ludicrous that in a county such as Hampshire, which is the largest spending local authority in Great Britain, some councillors sit on four or even five school governing bodies. They do so solely to exercise some sort of political control. Incidentally, I am talking not about a Labour-controlled authority, but about, until quite recently, a heavily Conservative-controlled authority.
I deal now with what parent power can mean to a school. Along with parent power, we must try to introduce some community power. We must allow schools to open up more than at present. In my constituency space is at a premium, and it is ridiculous that playing fields should be left unused for so many hours. We must break down the prejudices of head teachers and allow the community into our schools.
240 Now for some of the clauses that deal with the curriculum. I believe that the Government may have laid a minefield for themselves to walk into. I sincerely hope that the Government will look closely at the drafting of clauses 16 to 19, and allow amendments in Committee to make clear which responsibilities lie with the local education authority and which with the governing body. As drafted, I am sure with many head teachers will find themselves in a difficult position, standing between their employer and the wishes of the governing body, if there is a disagreement on curriculum policy. At present there is a vague area.
Some Labour peers argued in another place, and some hon. Members, especially Labour Members have argued again this afternoon, for the main responsibility of the curriculum to lie with the local education authority. However, if we are to have more effective governing bodies, and therefore better schools, they need sufficient local autonomy to adapt to local community wishes.
However well the clauses on the curriculum are drafted, there is bound to be a grey area where responsibilities are divided between the two groups. There needs to be an appeal procedure to adjudicate between the two. That procedure could also be employed in a school such as Poundswick. The appeal mechanism needs to be visibly independent, and above all needs to be able to make decisions quickly. In the past, education has suffered badly from the length of time that delays were allowed to continue and undermine the confidence of the teaching profession.
The question of discipline once again raises many doubts about the best way to deal with it. Clarification is needed in the clauses to separate the roles of the head teacher and the governing body, but more important is a properly set up appeals procedure independent of the LEA and the governing body. Such a mechanism is needed. It should not often be used, but it should exist and be in place soon after the Bill becomes an Act. The proposals in clause 22 for the appeals procedure are inadequate and may not necessarily exist when an incident occurs. I hope that in Committee hon. Members will reconsider the clauses dealing with this part of this involved and complex legislation.
Once again corporal punishment needs to be thoroughly considered. One cannot simply cane schools into becoming better and more profitable. The use of canes in schools will achieve nothing. At least one Conservative Member, who is strongly against the use of the cane, said today that he sees no rhyme or reason, at a time when we are trying to discourage people from violence, for introducing corporal punishment or indeed allowing it to continue in our schools. It solves no useful purpose whatever.
The provisions on teacher training are some of the most important to the teaching profession. I urge the Secretary of State and the Government most strongly not to introduce heavy-handed regulations, but to try to bring about their objectives by consent. The last thing that schoolchildren and teachers need is for old wounds to he reopened by a ham-fisted attitude of the Department of Education and Science hell-bent on forcing through appraisal against the wishes of the teaching profession when progress can be implemented in a more constructive and consultative manner.
Industrial relations in the teaching profession have improved of late. It would be wrong to see that 241 improvement undermined by thoughtless regulations being forced through. I seek a commitment from the Minister of State when he replies tonight that he is not prepared to see such an attitude persist. I hope that he will not embark on a system of appraisal that will further demoralise an already punished profession, as the teaching profession sees itself at present.
There is a consensus that more needs to be done continually to train and update teachers in new methods and techniques. That is something that meets with the approval of hon. Members on both sides of the House. The real test of the Government's sincerity in this area will be the resources that they are prepared to put in. This is the one part of the Bill that requires a lot of money. As the Bill is only enabling legislation in this respect, I shall be interested to hear how much money will be allocated specifically for this purpose—not old money, or money redistributed in the education budget, but new money that will be brought into the budget for the specific purpose of upgrading the in-training facilities that are to be offered to all teachers.
I add a note of caution. The grant-aiding power gives the Secretary of State direct control of the curriculum by allowing him to be the arbiter of the courses for training or re-training to which the resources should go. The Secretary of State may decide to favour one subject to the detriment of others. This could affect the power of the LEA and the school governing bodies to determine their priorities within their areas. In addition, it is not fair on teachers whose subjects the Government choose not to favour. This is another aspect of the Bill that needs to be thought through carefully, with all interested parties being involved in the discussion.
It would appear that once again I have not had very much time to elaborate on the purposes or the thoughts that need to go into the Bill. It is important that the Government have taken the first of what I hope will be many steps to improve the education system. Much of the Bill goes a long way to dispel the fears about the problems that the country is facing, but it would be a mistake for any Secretary of State to believe that the Bill, by seeming to cast a spell over education, will by some form of magic, solve the problems of education. The problems go far deeper than that, and I hope that in Committee the Christmas tree which the Minister of State described on more than one occasion will grow into such proportions that it embraces the thoughts and ambitions which hon. Members on both sides of the House have for the education service.
§ Mr. Gerald Bowden (Dulwich)
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for seeking constructively to redefine the relationship between the local education authority, its teachers, its parents and its governors. I should declare an interest, because at different times in my life I have fulfilled all four of those roles, sometimes two or more simultaneously, within the Inner London education authority. During those years there has been no doubt that within that relationship ILEA has played a dominant part and has adopted a patronising approach not only to its teachers but to its governors and parents. I welcome the Bill because it seeks to enhance the status and importance of governors and parents for the benefit of the children whom the local education authority is there to educate.
242 I first became a governor of a primary school. It was noticeable in that school that ILEA sought to belittle the governing body, indeed in a literal way. The governors' meetings were held in the library of the school. The library tables and chairs were designed for six or seven-year-olds. The governors sat around the small tables on the small chairs. In an immediate sense, that was the way in which we were given a sense of our small importance.
Within the framework of the agenda, ILEA dictated what should be on it. It put on matters of substance which it said must be discussed by the governors and which it required them to take note of, and report on. The Bill will reduce the importance and the dominance of the education authority in its relationship to those it serves. That would take effect in several ways.
I welcome clause 25, which provides that the governing body shall have a financial statement from the local education authority on how money is being spent in its school. I hope that that financial statement will be a detailed statement. It is of little help to governors perhaps not versed in business affairs to know whether a global sum for transport or a global sum for maintenance or for any other allocation for the school represents value for money. It would be helpful to the governing body if it had a breakdown of, for example, the cost of providing a coach week by week to take children to the sports field and back again. With that sort of breakdown the governors can judge whether the service provided by the education authority and the transport division represent value for money or whether resources spent on the transport department could be better spent at the chalk face.
Likewise with maintenance. Those of us who have served on governing bodies over the years have seen the protracted negotiations necessary to get even the smallest job done—for example, a wash basin fitted in an art room where children are painting and need to wash their hands rather than go to the cloakroom. The time that has been spent by the architects' department and other parts of the organisation as represented in overheads and cost to the authority would horrify those who are of a practical turn of mind and who would know what would be in the outside world the cost of providing such a facility. Therefore, I hope that clause 25 will enable governing bodies to have a precise breakdown of how the money is being spent, even to that detailed level if necessary.
I welcome my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's suggestion that an amendment would be made in Committee to allow governing bodies to co-opt to their number people with experience in reading balance sheets who could interpret financial and business statements. A lay body will need that sort of assistance when it comes to make a judgment on the financial statements before it. That would be a great help in ensuring that governors are truly responsible for the welfare of the school and was seeking the best value that it could from the resources available. The requirement of holding annual meetings and producing reports would be a way of ensuring that the governing body felt that sense of responsibility to the pupils, parents and community.
The report should not only quote the school's financial situation and set out its budget, but should set out its priorities. We have already discussed whether a school should decide in what direction money should be spent. With such a statement before them the governors would be in a better position to decide whether they needed to augment teaching or another aspect of the school's work. 243 The report should also state achievements in other areas —academic, sporting, music and social. A statement of policy is essential for a governing body to know how it is succeeding in its direction or control of the school. It is even more important for parents who are choosing a school to know what policies are in the minds of the governing body and in the forefront of the school's objectives. That would give parents a far better choice in choosing the school that they think best for their child.
Statements should make clear the school's policy on discipline. It has always surprised me, when we come to debates or discussions in the House and corporal punishment is mentioned, that a group, rather like the Pharisees of old, put on that holier-than-thou expression which says, "I am virtuous. Unlike other men I do not believe in corporal punishment."
I do not regard myself as being on the Right wing of the party or indeed on the Left wing. Nor shall I be labelled as being on any particular wing or part of the party. However, I know where I stand and I have no wish to see my children beaten or to see other children beaten. But I would have a greater sense of reassurance if they were in a school which had that sanction. It would not be beyond the wit of any governing body or draftsman to make sure that legislation can meet the requirements of a wider community as well as those of the immediate community, so that parents have a choice. If a school's policy statement says that corporal punishment is an available sanction, it would be for parents to choose whether they wanted their children to go there. They should not be dictated to by those who sit remote from violence in the classroom, in this House enjoying a sense of moral virtue in making such statements.
The Bill produces a framework in which parents can make a choice. When parents can make a choice, there is some sense of progress in education. In London, the quota system which says that schools must be held down to a limit to ensure that all have an equal spread is wrong. If schools were allowed, on their policy statement and on the statement of their achievements and their report, to recruit to their capacity rather than to the quota laid down, there would be some sign of an improvement in education by it being parent-led.
I welcome the Bill because it is a step in that direction. I was going to describe it as a modest step, but it is a firm step, although not too stretching a step. I am sure that it will be for the benefit of the children who grow up in Britain and require the support of our education system in the years to come to prepare them for life that lies ahead.
§ 8.4 pm
§ Mr. Fred Silvester (Manchester, Withington)
On 11 February I and several of my hon. Friends introduced a private Member's Bill to try to bolster the right of free speech in universities. I am delighted that in another place the Government have now decided to accept that principle. Our Bill is better than the amendment proposed in another place and if they are having difficulty I suggest that they look at it. However, I welcome that and I shall say no more about it other than that it is good to see it on its way.
The crucial element in the Bill is whether we are prepared to put our trust in the new system of education provision in Britain. We are, as I understand it, trying to 244 bring to bear on the government of schools the coalition of the parent, the teacher and the lay governor. That triumvirate will essentially be the engine by which a particular school makes its way. Therefore, schools will develop in various ways with various advantages and disadvantages and from that series of decisions will come the choice which people in the state system can enjoy.
If that is our objective, the one fear that I have about the Bill is that we are not carrying our faith through. On a number of points in the Bill we do not seem to be trusting the new governors as much as we should. The point about discipline has been admirably described by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) and I shall not go over that again. My hon. Friend the Minister knows the difficulties that have arisen with the Poundswick school in Manchester. They have simply brought to the surface the basic problem of whether the headmaster and the governors have the right to determine how discipline shall be enforced in schools. That responsibility must lie with those who wish to determine a school's ethos and to enforce it. Anything which is done to take away that right will undermine the value of a school and the power to make it a good school.
I opposed the Education (Corporal Punishment) Bill, as I said when I intervened earlier, because it was a pig's ear of a Bill. It contained the nonsense of people registering to show whether they wanted to be caned. It was a daft Bill. I still think that my proposal, which was rejected by the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice), is the one that we shall end up with. However, on the same principle, if I believe in the triumvirate running schools, whether I believe in caning in schools or not, is immaterial. What is important is whether the people running the school believe in it and think that it will enhance the value of a school. The parents and governors make that decision and I would leave it to them. Therefore, my right hon. Friend has made exactly the right decision.
I am a little worried about the curriculum. As I understand it, under the Bill the local education authority is to set out document A on curriculum. It can then be topped up by the Governors in document A2. It can then be varied a little by the headmaster, provided that he carries the Governors with him, with document A3. That could be a recipe for some difficulty. I can foresee that in a nice local authority where everything is sweetness and light, that would be fine, but in some of the heavier city authorities, that could lead to a great deal of conflict.
When my hon. Friend the Minister is putting the system to the test in his mind, I urge him to play one of those end games and see what would happen in ILEA or Manchester where conflict might arise. I urge him to put the rights of the governors in respect of the curriculum on a level with those of the headmaster, pre-eminent above those of the local authorities. That is of great importance.
I add to that another area which is not covered by the Bill; that is the problem of admission to schools. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State kindly said that he would pass appeals on discipline over to the appeal system for admission to schools. That does not give me much confidence, because I am not happy with that system either. At the moment, the local authority has the power to decide which children should go to which schools according to the catchment areas it defines.
In Manchester—I am sorry to be parochial, but it is an obvious example—there has been a switch of children to the south of the city and the difficulties experienced 245 between authorities are now being experienced within the city boundary. One area of the city is expanding, leaving behind empty schools in another part of the city. The local authority is not prepared to switch resources from the rattling area to the full area. The governors ought to have power, if necessary, to put in a portakabin, or whatever is necessary, to take children from their area.
I urge my hon. Friend to say something about clauses 43 and 44. The Bill seems to provide a means whereby schools can apply to become aided schools and, as such, acquire additional powers. That has always seemed an admirable way to proceed. It might he worth considering whether they should have to buy themselves into that system as proposed by the Bill. At the moment, they must find the money that the local authority found previously. I should like to see some experiments in which the Government would pay the money to the local authority to get a few switches over, without cost to the governors of the schools. I do not suggest that we do that on a grand scale, but it would be an experiment worth trying.
I shall emphasise the basic point of the Bill. In the debate, analogies and similes have been made about Christmas trees, and so on. Let me stick with the analogy of the Secretary of State about the rim and the hub. We do not quite know who is on the rim and who is on the hub. In my picture book, it is quite clear that central government is on the hub and the parents, governors, teachers and schools are on the rim. I am not quite certain where to put the local authority. The problem about the education system is that none of us is clear about where to put the local authority. The Bill must face up to that. Central Government carries the can. Local people make education by building schools, to which they send their children, raising money, and doing all the things that make a good school. If we must squeeze somebody, let us squeeze the local authority.
§ Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)
This is an auspicious day for the Secretary of State for Education and Science. Unfortunately for him, I believe that the Bill is inauspicious. However, I have no doubt that the Secretary of State, with his customary flair, will make the necessary political mileage out of it. In my view, the Bill is a miscellany of a number of relatively small and uncontroversial statutory administrative adjustments. Many matters are causing concern in the educational world.
The Bill attempts to tackle the concerns by legislation. Hon. Members may know that before I became a Member of Parliament I spent 14 years in the classroom. I do not believe that the Bill will do the trick, because I do not think that the concerns are susceptible to improvement by legislation. Indeed, legislation may complicate matters a great deal. Court actions can be taken. Lawyers will become busy. Case law can be established. A whole new —dare I say it— administrative bureaucracy may arise around those statutes.
Clause 24 relates to instruction on human reproduction. Clause 40 relates to appraisal of performance of teachers. Having been involved in both those subjects in the school classroom, I can assure hon. Gentleman that good will, understanding and sympathy are the things which make those work. Law is a long way from that. Certainly, we require money as a basis for education. Certainly, we require law. But good will in the school and 246 good will between all those involved, especially parents and teachers, is what makes things tick. It is not only good will but confidence based on performance. I do not say that in the narrow, Josephite way of the former Secretary of State.
Clauses 48 and 49 are susceptible to legislation. The clauses would remove two duties laid clearly on the Minister, and now the Secretary of State, in the 1944 Act. Clause 48 removes the statutory injunction to appoint two advisory councils for education. Clause 49 removes the obligation on the Secretary of State to make an annual report to Parliament in respect of his powers. Those are two classical matters and duties that are susceptible to legislation.
I am sorry that the Secretary of State, in his opening remarks, did not refer to the abandonment of obligations placed on him by Parliament. Parliament placed the obligations on the Secretary of State in 1944. The Conservative Government were looking, at that time, to the future of post-war reconstruction. The debates on those clauses are important. I have read them. They were non-party debates. The then Mr. R. A. Butler outlined the need for advisory councils to deal with many of the ills that exist today. He foresaw many of the relationships with which we are grappling now. There was full-hearted accord in the House—it went across every party—for the inclusion of key clauses 4 and 5 in the Education Act 1944.
As a professional teacher, I was appalled when successive Secretaries of State from both parties failed to carry out the injunctions of those parts of the Act. On 22 October 1971, I raised, with notice, an Adjournment debate. The then Minister for Education, who is now the Prime Minister, pointed out that she had failed to obey an injunction of the House regarding section 4. In the House, she refused to comply with it. She said:The background is completely different and it is against this background that the position of the C.A.C. should be viewed now."—[Official Report, 22 October 1971; Vol. 823, c. 1197.]The right hon. Lady was arrogating to herself that part of an Act of Parliament which, as Secretary of State, she had the duty to comply with.
I was astonished to learn that any Member of Parliament, any democrat, could blatantly make such a statement. I do not believe that the officials of the Department would have advised her to do such a thing. I do not think that the most skilful Sir Humphrey could have succeeded. It was part of the attitude of the right hon. Lady to Parliament and to education. Therefore, nothing that has happened since and nothing that the right hon. Lady has said or done since has surprised me. If she could have done that, what could she not do?
On 17 July 1984, I raised the matter at Prime Minister's Questions. The right hon. Lady said:I do not think that I was ever taken to task for refusing to obey the law in the Education Act 1944."—[Official Report, 17 July 1984; Vol. 64, c. 168.]In subsequent correspondence, the right hon. Lady would not admit that she had done so. I say that almost by way of example, because it typifies the Conservative party's attitude to education. It wants to put into education some of the inadequacies which it may correctly see, but it believes that it can be done by statute, coercion and bargaining. That was the hallmark of the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph).
247 The Government want to get rid of the provision that the Secretary of State must report annually to the Parliament on the discharge of his statutory duties. I suggest to the Secretary of State that, in Committee on the Bill, he should read those sections of the 1944 debate in Committee relating to the function and purpose of the central advisory councils, and the importance of an annual report to Parliament by the Secretary of State—not only on the activities of the central advisory councils which have the power, under section 4, to bring any matter they think fit to the Secretary of State, and to consider why they have not been used by successive Secretaries of State of all parties. I suggest that it would be a good idea—turning over a new leaf in the Conservative party's and the Government's educational history—for the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider clauses 48 and 49 and to maintain sections 4 and 5 in the Education Act 1944 which, under R. A. Butler and a united House, laid the successful foundations for our current educational system.
§ Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)
I add my congratulations to those already offered to the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. McLoughlin) on his maiden speech and to my right hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker) on his comprehensive and valuable first speech on education as Secretary of State.
I shall concentrate on the implications of clause 49. I agree with those who are sad that the proposal for pupil governors has not been included in the Bill. I have sat on school boards that included pupil governors and always found them to be sensible, genuine and interested in their school. However, I believe that pupil governors should be at least 16, and possibly a little older, and should not be involved in confidential information about staff. I commend the proposal to my right hon. Friend. Pupils are responsible enough to be school governors and would be a valuable addition to school boards.
School discipline is an important subject because many teachers say that their authority in schools is undermined more by bad discipline than by anything else. They say that, more than any other factor, bad discipline is lowering their morale. It is essential to consider that aspect. The House has a responsibility to back the teachers in their difficult job. Discipline is an important and integral part of education and should be considered in that light.
School discipline, like all discipline, must be based upon self-discipline. In the end, there is no other acceptable form of discipline for an individual or for society. Self-discipline comes from a pupil's acceptance of religious and/or moral codes. Sadly, religious education in schools is in a perilously weak position. However, it is good to note that church schools are flourishing. Parents have shown a strong demand for church schools, principally because they are clear about where those schools stand on moral issues and about the discipline and standards of behaviour that they impose on pupils—Christian standards.
Ten of the top 17 schools in the Inner London Education Authority area are church schools but, sadly, ILEA at its first meeting as an elected body passed a resolution that the church had no valid role to play in schools. That resolution is to the eternal shame of ILEA and the Labour party. Church schools are popular because discipline in them is clear and is based upon Christian 248 ethics. They can be compared with some county schools. Recently, the Religious Education Council said that two thirds of primary schools were vague in their teaching of religious education. Teachers handling the subject are not suitably qualified to handle that situation. In a quarter of all comprehensive schools there is no religious or moral education after the third year of education. That is serious, but it is not surprising. Dr. Scotland, a senior lecturer in religious studies at the College of St. Paul and St. Mary in Cheltenham, recently wrote to me saying that inGloucestershire only 8 secondary schools out of 40 are teaching a GCE 'A' level RE course. In Somerset the figure is only 3 schools out of 30. In Avon the picture is slightly better with 19 out of 61.This means that the supply of suitable, well-qualified teachers will dry up soon unless we take positive action.
In many cases children are not being taught the difference between right and wrong. Is it surprising that children do not live together harmoniously, as they should, within a school and within a community? Is it surprising therefore that there is appalling soccer and other violence? Violence occurs because a child has not learnt at a crucial age to respect the validity of every individual and to love his neighbour as himself, which principle is basic to the Christian religion and to many others. It is important to teach children self-discipline.
Corporal punishment has a certain validity. It is worth raising this matter especially firmly now when there is so much serious lack of discipline. I know of schools not far from this building in which some groups of children are trotting about like packs of hounds, completely out of control and intimidating pupils and teachers. That is not right. Lack of discipline in schools damages the education of everyone, and we must understand that.
Those who want to abolish corporal punishment, such as members of the Labour party, must come up with a feasible alternative, but they have not done so. If corporal punishment is abolished, more children will be before the courts and more will be suspended from school or expelled. What other sanctions can be imposed? The Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment has suggested that children be put on report and that a child carry a sheet with him to each class on which teachers write whether he has behaved satisfactorily. However, sometimes children put those sheets in the bin and take no notice. They are not interested in lines— anyway, lines are not constructive educationally. Why should children be forced to do mathematics as a punishment? It damages the subject.
Corporal punishment has a part to play, but it must be reasonably administered only by the headmaster or deputy headmaster or by his specific appointee. It should be administered only as a punishment for serious offences, such as gross bullying. Even then it may not be the right form of correction for a child. It is valid in certain circumstances, and I believe that people recognise that.
It may be valuable to have a national referendum on corporal punishment. I think that the country would like to have its say. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is right to ask schools to decide what disciplinary procedures they will use. The governors, the head, teachers and parents should be involved in that decision. Discipline in schools cannot be decided at Westminster, in Strasbourg, at town hall or county hall — it must be decided in the school.
§ Mr. Greenway
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his support. He has a long record of success as a schoolmaster.
I should like to ask my hon. Friend the Minister some important questions. Will the decision by governors to institute corporal punishment be reversible? If so, how regularly can that be done? Will Labour Members have a free vote on this subject? I fear that the Labour party is bound by Labour party conference decisions on this matter and that its members will not vote freely even if the Whip is taken off. The Labour party conference has decided what Labour Members of Parliament should say in the House. Therefore, the Labour party is not democratic on this, as on so many other issues.
We have to be wary of where the Labour party would like to take us on school and family discipline. I believe that it is the aim of the Labour party to take us into a situation such as that in Sweden where children of five are given letters at school to take home to their parents and are instructed in school to go to the police station if they are smacked by their parents, and it is promised that the police will take action against their parents. I fear that that is the way of the Labour party. The country is concerned about it and the House should also be concerned.
I hope that the House will decide to continue with reasonable corporal punishment because it has a substantial part to play and has a value in schools. However, it must not be overplayed.
§ Mr. Guy Barnett (Greenwich)
I owe you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and the House something of an apology for not being able to attend a large part of the debate because of duties outside the Chamber. It is a subject for which I whould have liked to attend the whole debate. I hope that the House will accept my few comments on this Bill.
I shall not take this same line as the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) on corporal punishment, in which he obviously takes a considerable interest, except to say that my experience as a teacher taught me that the very opposite of what he said is true. When corporal punishment was abolished in the school in which I taught the standard of discipline rose.
I believe—other hon. Members have said this and it has been said elsewhere—that the Bill is a major missed opportunity. In no sense does it compare, as some people have foolishly sought to compare it, with the great Education Act 1944. It is a great missed opportunity because it appears to many people outside the House and to me that it is something of a deliberate attack on local authorities and the teaching profession.
The House must realise that some of the great educational advances in this country have take place because of chairmen of education authorities and chief education officers of local parties.
§ Mr. Barnett
Yes, of both parties. We could mention many individuals who have contributed. I listened with care to the speech of the hon. Member for Dulwich (Mr. Bowden) who is not in his place now. As usual, it was an attack on the Inner London education authority. He failed to mention the kind of contribution made by Sir Ashley Bramall of the Labour party and Peter Newsam, as education officer of ILEA, who made a significant 250 contribution to the development of education in my area. I must also mention people like Sir Alec Clegg who have made enormous contributions to the development of education. It would be sad if the Bill was seen as an attack on the local education authorities which, in a sense, it is.
It derives in part from the Government's obsession with centralisation in education. Instead of having, as we have had in the past, a partnership of local authorities, parents, teachers and governors running the education system in their areas, the move is quickly towards a partnership between governing bodies and central Government. That is a retrogade step and it will hardly encourage local education authorities to make the same significant contributions as they have made in the past.
Perhaps a more serious feature of the Bill is what I believe is an implied attack on the teaching profession. One of my hon. Friends has already referred to the balance of places accorded to teachers on the governing bodies. I believe that we have to recognise sooner or later that if we are seriously concerned, as I believe everybody in the House is, about the desperate need to raise standards in our schools, we must recognise the enormously important role of the education authorities, the officials and the inspectorate and the role of the teaching profession. To have denied teachers what I believe to be their proper measure of representation on the governing bodies, based upon their own professional experience and competence, is a grave error. I note that the larger the school, in general the smaller the proportion of governors who come from the staff of the school concerned
I have long thought that one of the reasons why standards in schools have not risen and are not as high as most of us would like, apart from the failure of the Government to spend sufficient money on education, is the damage they have done to the morale of the teaching profession. Ultimately, the success of the system depends upon the teachers more than anyone else. The provisions for the composition of governing bodies, as the Government have drafted them, are a slight to the teaching profession, quite apart from the contents of clause 40.
I congratulate the Secretary of State on his appointment, and I know that he has taken a more liberal view than his predecessor on clause 40 and its contents and regards it as something of a backstop. I welcome that. I have already expressed my feelings on clause 40 in the House.
Along with my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) and my hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Dormand), the chairman of the parliamentary Labour party, I speak for the National Union of Teachers. The NUT has always been strongly in favour of appraisal. That needs saying again and again because it is often suggested from the Conservative Benches that the NUT is bitterly opposed to the idea of appraisal of teachers. It is welcomed and always has been. What the NUT objects to is the tying of appraisal to negotiations about salary increases to which it has long believed teachers are entitled and salary increases which teachers have long since been owed.
I find clause 40(1)(b) very upsetting. I speak as an ex-teacher. The clause refers to "engaging in other activities". Those of us who have been teachers, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing), me and others, have engaged in activities outside school hours. We have voluntarily and happily given literally hours of our time during the week and at weekends and 251 enjoyed doing it because of the enormous sense of vocation which affects the entire teaching profession. I believe that it is a grave mistake to suggest to teachers that they somehow have responsibilities outside school. I hope that this clause can be tightened up so that, even if the Secretary of State decides that he needs to implement it, there can be no question of appraisal governing that aspect of a teacher's contribution to the life and work of a school.
I welcome the involvement of parents as governors in schools. However, important as that is, I believe that the prime responsibility must rest first with the local education authorities and secondly with the teachers, as it has in the past. I believe that a growing involvement of parents in schools can only be a good thing. I have argued that for many years but I believe that any steps taken by the Government, through legislation or in other ways, to devalue the contribution of the local education authorities or the teaching profession only be very damaging indeed.
§ Mr. John Powley (Norwich, South)
I am glad to have an opportunity of giving a general welcome to the Bill. I hope that hon. Members will look on the Bill in the same way as they look on the changing face of commerce and industry. Just as commerce and industry are moving along and we have to change the atmosphere in that area of activity, so I believe that education is moving on. I see the Bill as a reflection of some of the changes taking place in education, and it enables us to build on the Education Act 1944 and subsequent Acts to improve our education service.
I encourage hon. Members on both sides of the house and people outside the House to try to put behind them the unfortunate happenings of the past few months, in the teachers' dispute and the GCSE dispute. We all understand that that happened, and we all have our different points of view, but I urge everyone to put those disputes and differences behind them and acknowledge the advantages of the Bill, which enhances the education service. They should not look back in anger and malice, but should look at what the Bill can do to enhance the reputation of the education service.
I welcome the announcement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on the extra funding for the GCSE. Again, may we take my right hon. Friend's positive announcements for what they are? I believe that they are a genuine attempt to bring the GCSE to fruition, with the benefits that we believe it will bring, so that we can get it under way, get the teachers trained in the use of the new curriculum, and introduce it into the schools so that, in due course, the examinations take place in the proper manner.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State referred to the experiments in one or two counties, particularly Cambridgeshire, with new responsibilities for school governors. My right hon. Friend may be interested to know that I was a governor of the school in Cambridge where the experiment was first introduced. I little thought then, when we discussed and considered the experiment, that I would be speaking subsequently in an education debate in the House.
I recall that the governors approached the experiment with trepidation. They were not sure whether it was the right way to go. I say with modesty that I saw the potential 252 of the experiment. The matter went to a vote, and the majority of governors saw the wisdom of the experiment. I am no longer a governor of the school, because I have moved to my new constituency home in Norwich, but the school saw the opportunities that were presented by the experiment to further the interests of the school. The governors were given greater responsibilities, which I think they should have. It is pleasing to know that those greater responsibilities will now be exercised throughout the country.
In the short time at my disposal I should like to refer to a provision which I am pressing my right hon. Friend to introduce on freedom of speech at universities. I wish that I did not have to refer to it. I was born and bred in the university city of Cambridge, with all its colleges. I moved to Norwich, with the university of East Anglia. It has been a part of my life to participate in student activities of all sorts. One has always had the belief that places of higher education are there for people with young inquiring minds, enabling them to take part in the learning process while discussing things and sharing and swapping political opinions of all natures. Whether or not I agree with those opinions, people are entitled to express them. Whether those who hold the opinions come from the extreme Right, the extreme Left, the middle or wherever, they should be able to express them in an atmosphere free from interference with their expression. For a long time, that was the case.
Unfortunately, of late, a minority—I hasten to add that it is only a minority—of students have sought to inhibit the free speech of those whose opinions with which they disagree. That is a shame. It must be guarded against. I should like to relate three incidents at the university of East Anglia, and I do so with regret.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Parkinson) and I were on a platform at the university of East Anglia with our wives. At a given moment, eggs were thrown at us. Some students, again a minority, sought to break up the meeting. Months later, in a demonstration, my constituency offices were invaded by a few militant students. Property was damaged, articles were stolen, and my staff were harassed. Of more recent note, my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) was prevented from exercising his right to free speech at the university of East Anglia.
In none of the incidents that I have just related to the House was any disciplinary action taken by the authorities. A code of conduct has been agreed by the vice-chancellors and principals, and there is a code of discipline at the university of East Anglia. The incident in which my hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North was involved was videoed and photographed. However, with all that evidence, with the codes of conduct and the disciplinary guidelines, it did not prove possible to discipline the culprits. If we go on in that way, and if those who perpetrate such activities — I repeat that it is only a minority—are allowed to get away with the inhibition of free speech, we are going down a sad road.
In the knowledge that the codes that already exist have not proved effective, the Government have a responsibility to give the universities and colleges up and down the country —not not just in my constituency—the means by which the authorities can discipline those who seek to inhibit freedom of speech. The Government will certainly have my support for such measures as they introduce. They must be introduced carefully. I believe that they will 253 have the support of the overwhelming majority of ordinary people who, even though they disagree with the Right, the Left or the middle, still believe—long may it remain so—that people should be entitled to express their opinions without fear or malice, or the fear of being injured, so that political opinions can rightly and properly be expressed in this country. That right should be enshrined in the legislation. The Government have a responsibility to take action. I shall look at the measures that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State introduces in Committee to ensure that those freedoms are preserved.
§ Mr. Jonathan Sayeed (Bristol, East)
Education has been one area in which the Government are perceived to have performed rather less than convincingly. In spite of the long-running sore of the teachers' dispute, I believe that accusation to be unfair. Whether fair or no, it still has been the general perception, but I am convinced that, after my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's speech, that will no longer be the case.
Although, in real terms, teachers are £1,500 a year better off than they were in 1979, I still believe that many are underpaid. Teachers should not find it difficult to achieve the modest lifestyle which most people would expect. The solution to that problem is in their own hands. Teachers should accept what any other person would accept as reasonable. They should accept job description. One cannot say what a job is worth unless one specifies what the job is. Teachers should also accept assessment. Why should teachers who are excellent be held back by the few who, if they cannot be retrained, should leave teaching?
Pay was cited as a reason for the persistent disruption of education, but the reasons for the dispute were more complex than that. The bitterness has had more to do with the low morale of teachers, which in turn has resulted from the declining respect in which the public has held the profession. That declining respect stems largely from a belief that schools are too often failing to instil the standards of self-discipline and the basic skills that a child needs to face the world. Yet it should be remembered that it is not only teachers who are responsible for that. We live in a society where individuals can all too often blame amorphous bodies for their shortcomings, and parents must accept that they cannot expect others alone to do what they should be doing.
The one person who cannot stand condemned for thinking, caring or listening too little is my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph). If he is to be accused of any offence it is, perhaps, that in the pursuit of open-mindedness and consultation he may have given the impression of vacillating, and may have lost an early opportunity of presenting to the nation the clear coherent structure for secondary education that we all desire.
The Bill does not stand alone but follows Green Papers, White Papers, discussion documents and earlier Acts. It should be considered not in isolation but as part of a continuing process of advancement in the education structure. Therefore, I welcome the greater representation of parents on governing bodies introduced in the Bill, and hope that it will reduce the inappropriate influence that political placemen have wielded in recent years.
However, numbers alone are not enough. I am glad that the Bill makes provision for the training of governors and 254 for the involvement of all parents through an annual meeting and report. Those measures will be particularly useful where parents have the ability and interest to be more actively involved. However, the difficulty is that in some of our worst schools the parents may lack the education, motivation, time or self-confidence necessary, and sectional political interests may continue to dictate.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is to he applauded for introducing the category of co-opted governors, and I hope that industry and commerce will see it as part of their civic duty to take part in the governorship of schools as widely as possible. I hope that schools will encourage pupils, possibly over 16 years of age, to attend some governors' meetings as observers so that they can see for themselves the process of decision making, and can better tell their fellows at school what is happening on the governing body. I hope that even at this late stage my right hon. Friend will consider adding that provision to the Bill.
Understandably, the Labour party has objected to the broad and as yet unspecified powers conferred on my right hon. Friend in respect of teacher appraisal. I suggest that, if it wishes those powers to be limited or more specific, the remedy lies in its hands. It should encourage teachers to see appraisal, not as a threat, but as an opportunity better to fulfil their duties to children and better to achieve their career development through counselling and training. If teachers understand that truth, an agreed and satisfactory pattern of appraisal will emerge through negotiation.
In recognising the achievements of my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East—I regret that he is not present—I congratulate him on the emergence of the GCSE examination. Since my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has clearly demonstrated the Government's commitment to education and to the implementation of the GCSE examination, I hope that we shall get equal commitment from teachers. If they feel that they need even more time to look at the syllabuses, they may be able to spend a few days of their long summer holiday doing that.
One of the benefits of the GCSE examination is that it takes education a small step away from the stranglehold of academics by supplying exams and curricula which offer obvious and practical appeal to those most affected — the pupils — and something of greater relevance to employers. Surely it was the subservience to academia that tempted the Labour party to prefer children to do badly in academic subjects at comprehensive schools to their doing well in technical subjects at secondary modern schools.
My main reservation about the Bill is that it does not contribute to a re-establishment of the broader educational system in which children can achieve their optimum level in skills appropriate to their abilities and to the economy in which they seek to work. I would not seek to lay at the door of the Labour party the blame for all the damage that has been done to our education system during the past two decades. No one party is responsible for the child-centred teaching practices under which literacy and numeracy levels have plummeted. Happily, teachers are now more ready to use a disciplined environment in which more pupils can reach their potential.
Nevertheless, the Labour party was responsible for the destruction of grammar schools. Although that was not an action of political malevolence, as some may believe, it was an action of social naivety. However, it has been done, and its cause lay in the fact that secondary modern and 255 technical schools were seen as second-rate rather than complementary and catering for different skills. Since we are left with the bricks and mortar of comprehensive schools, we must adapt that fabric to provide a streamed education with different streams concentrating on different skills, and, above all, with fluidity between streams.
The Bill is set against a background of an improvement in the teacher-pupil ratio from 18.7 in 1980 to the present level of 17.5, and a real increase of 8 per cent. in spending per pupil. But, like many hon. Members, I greatly regret the slow progress that is being made in closing redundant schools and object to the funds which underused buildings are swallowing up. Those funds should be used for educating children in the right schools. Although I accept that the main criteria are not what goes in but the products that come out, nevertheless— funds must be efficiently directed.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)
Order. The hon. Gentleman must come to his last sentence, as we are still on the 10-minute limit.
§ Mr. Sayeed
My right hon. Friend will realise that I had a number of other points which I wished to make, but I am obviously limited in time. Much has been done by the Bill and I believe that much needs to be done. I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his splendid speech and I look forward to the time when he comes back with further improvements to our education system.
§ Mr. Peter Bruinvels (Leicester, East)
I welcome the Bill, which was well heralded by the White Paper "Better Schools" produced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph). I am restricted in my comments, as there is little time.
I want to see more power for all parents, as they need to know more about their schools. I want to see better teachers and I am naturally extremely supportive of the GCSE which will demonstrate the particular skills of each pupil. We will have better teachers as a result of the Bill and the appraisal system outlined in clause 40 is to be welcomed. I also welcome the better promotion prospects that will then be available for teachers.
The curriculum is important and is dealt with in clauses 16 to 19. I believe that it is important that religious education is put back on the agenda. There should be regular school assemblies and many more inspectors should visit the schools to ensure that religious education is taught properly. There should also be properly qualified RE teachers. Politics should be removed from schools and proper moral values should be taught which will preserve family life. More support should be given to church schools. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) that church schools have had a good and distinguished record. They promote Christian life and it is my firm belief that we should have more of them.
With regard to discipline, we must cane if caning is necessary. Too many of our teachers have little sanction to discipline the miscreants and social misfits. Today, punishment is based on giving someone lines or keeping them in detention. That does not deter those who misbehave and we must punish those who do so. I am 256 pleased that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State supports the idea of corporal punishment. I hope that my constituents of Leicestershire will also support it.
Sex education is also terribly important. We must teach the decencies of life and preserve the family unit. We must make certain that parents, like teachers, have a genuine say regarding the curricula. They must be aware of the textbooks which are used. "Biology for Life", which is used by the Midland examining group, is not a book which helps sex education. I hope that when my hon. Friend the Minister replies he will consider this book and the chapter entitled "Sex without pregnancy". It describes how to prevent pregnancy, it encourages abortion without warning of the dangers and it encourages homosexuality. The book states:Homosexual relationships occur quite often in places like prisons and boarding schools where people of the same sex are cooped up together…and are not usually permanent or harmful.In my view, abortion may stop a woman from having another baby and homosexuality may lead to AIDS and a person may lose his life. It is terribly important that we promote sex education which secures and enhances family life. It is a question of good morals and good educational standards.
In the last year of Labour Government, 15.9 per cent. of students had one or more A-level passes; 23.1 per cent. of pupils had five or more O-level passes; 43.3 per cent. had one or more O-level passes, and 44.5 per cent. left with no O-levels. In 1984–85, 17.1 per cent. of all school leavers left with one or more A-level pass; 26.9 per cent. left school with five or more O-level or grade 1 CSE passes; 54.7 per cent. of students had one or more O-level or grade 1 CSE pass and only 9.4 per cent. left with no O-levels.
Far from falling standards, there has been a great improvement in educational standards. The Bill is a great achievement and I wish my right hon. Friend every success. I believe our youngsters are crying out for better education. We have the professional teachers who are paid well to give this education. I have no hesitation in supporting the Bill.
§ 9.3 pm
§ Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)
I certainly have sympathy for those hon. Members who did not manage to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in the debate. It is rather a sad fact that increasingly there are one or two hon. Members who sit through the whole of a debate but do not get called to speak, whereas one or two hon. Members manage to be called early on and then do not spend very much time in the Chamber. I believe that good manners in the Chamber are important.
I would like to join with other hon. Members from this side in congratulating the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. McLoughlin) on his maiden speech. I envy the hon. Gentleman's opportunity to meet his constituents and walk through that beautiful countryside. I thought the hon. Gentleman made a good commercial for the food and drink of his constituency. I just hope that sometime the hon. Gentleman will be able to bring down to the House some Ashbourne water and get it into these jugs rather than the stuff that sometimes appears in them.
I also offer my congratulations to the Secretary of State. I thought he gave a polished performance. There were a few hints to the press last night that he had not quite got all the money for the GCSE, but out of the hat comes 257 the £20 million this afternoon. That is a technique which he will have to polish up to draw attention away from the real issue, which is this Bill. Nevertheless, he is getting accustomed to piloting through Bills with which he cannot be completely satisfied. He did remarkably well to put a brave face on the GLC and metropolitan county abolition Bill—no doubt he will try to put a brave face on this one.
I hope that, now he is Secretary of State, the right hon. Gentleman will have left a few goodies for his Minister of State. Perhaps the Minister will be able in his winding-up speech to deflect a little attention from the Bill and announce a little more money. Many of us are worried about what will happen to students and possible deductions in their rights to housing benefit and social security payments. I should have thought that it was high time that the Government made an announcement about that. Last week, the Minister for Social Security said that the announcement would come soon. I understand that the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science said today that it would be made very shortly. It would be good if the Minister could announce that the Government are backing off from their proposals to stop students drawing those benefits.
Almost every hon. Member has said that the Bill is a shambles. A mad hatter's tea party could have produced better legislation. When he announced the Bill, the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) said that it would rival the Education Act 1944 as a landmark. That is utter rubbish. The Bill is an affront to pupils, parents, teachers and all others who are concerned with education. It is also an affront to good legislation.
I suggest that, instead of trying to rush the Bill through Parliament in the last six or seven weeks of the session, it would be far better to abandon it, go through some effective consultations and come back with a really worthwhile Bill in the next session. The Bill could well be described as a Christmas tree. The trouble is that we are long past twelfth night and it is now looking pretty tatty.
There are some Conservative Members who will remember that the Renton committee of 1975 set out clearly principles for parliamentary legislation. It set out what should he on the face of a Bill, what should be set out in schedules, what should be done by affirmative regulation. what ought to be done by negative regulation, what would be more appropriate for circulars and what should be left to common sense. I admit that they were imposed in another place, but the Government have declaratory sections which are a nightmare to turn into practice and to test in court. The part dealing with appraisal is an insult to the House of Commons -something so important is to be imposed by regulation rather than by primary legislation.
There is also a problem about how governors are to be elected. I believe that parent governors are extremely important, but there is nothing in the Bill about how we will set out an electoral procedure for electing them. I am not suggesting that that should appear in the main Bill, but it should be mentioned in regulations or possibly in the schedule. If the Government want good parent governors, they must establish a professional system for getting them elected. If people are sent good ballot papers and good material, they think that it is important. If we send out tatty bits of paper from school, we will not encourage people to feel that being a school governor is important.
258 I hoped that the Government would have agreed to the special procedure in Committee so that we could have tried to improve the Bill. We could then have got all those people who still believe that they have strong views to represent to give evidence. It seems, however, that the Government prefer to take notice of the Right wing of the Tory party, and that they want to push the Bill through with great haste. I hope that the House will vote tonight to ensure that we can have that special procedure so that we can get local education authorities, teacher unions, parents, parent-governor associations and others to give evidence. It is important that we get that procedure and it will be a matter for regret if Government Members vote against it.
§ Sir Geoffrey Finsberg
The last time that we had this special Committee procedure on a major Bill was for the Mental Health Act 1983. I was one of the junior Ministers taking it through, and its great flaw was that it had already been through one of our two Houses. If this special procedure is adopted it would be far more sensible to adopt it before it is started by the House. I put that to the hon. Gentleman as a practical point.
§ Mr. Bennett
I accept that point. But this Bill should not be stopped simply because it started in the Lords. We ought to try to improve the legislation because, ideally, legislation on this subject ought to last. If it is to last, we should be working for consensus, not just across the Floor of the House but between all the interested groups that will have to work the Act.
For over 10 years we have debated school governors but, sadly, too much of the debate has been about who ought to be the governors rather than what the powers ought to be. We have moved away from the idea of having a co-operative system of governors who are persuaded to work towards consensus and partnership towards the idea of a confrontational system.
It is important to know how many teachers, parents and representatives of different groups will be in the governing bodies because they will have votes and will make decisions on the basis of majority voting. That will be disastrous. We must work for consensus in the governing bodies—not just consensus at each meeting but consensus over a period of time. Imagine a situation at a governors' meeting where corporal punishment was discussed and the vote was six to seven either to have it or not to have it. At the next meeting three months later the members might vote in the opposite direction. Such a system is a recipe for disaster.
The Government must try hard to bring into the Bill the principle that governing bodies have to work on the basis of consensus. We have to try to ensure that people work in partnership in order to produce agreed decisions and not majority vote decisions. One of the ways to move in that direction would be to increase teacher representation on the governing bodies. If we do not do that, two things will happen. First, the governing body will not succeed in carrying the teachers with it in its decisions. That will either increase opportunities for confrontation or encourage governing bodies not to take key decisions. Either of those alternatives would be disastrous. All the evidence that I have gathered from outside bodies is to the effect that they would be happy to see increased teacher representation.
Secondly, the Government should consider carefully whether to impose one national set of conditions on 259 governing bodies. By way of example, let us look at community schools. One or two local authorities, and especially those in Cambridgeshire and Leicestershire, have developed community schools extremely well. I am a great enthusiast of community schools. In most areas, such schools establish a governing body that is responsible for the school and for all the activities that go on outside school hours of 9 o'clock to 4 o'clock. In most areas there is one governing body for all the functions.
The Bill insists that overriding governing bodies that carry out all the functions of the community schools will be broken up and that there will be a separate set of governors for the school functions. That is unsatisfactory and I urge the Government to look at it and not to break the governing bodies of community schools into sections. I deeply regret the decision of the Government to sack pupil governors and to remove the representation of ancillary staff in schools with governing bodies.
If the Government believe in encouraging pupils to take part in the democractic process, and want to tell them of the virtues of democracy, why can they not let pupils experience some democracy by allowing them to be on governing bodies at the age of 16? It is regrettable that the Bill takes away the pupils' rights to be governors in secondary schools and further education colleges until 18.
Ministers in the other place trotted out the excuse for this move as the legal problems. I challenge the Minister to come up with a single example where a governing body has been sued, and the fact that it has a pupil governor led to legal difficulties. I doubt whether he could give me one example. It is nonsense to suggest this. If it were true, the legislation would be an opportunity to sort out such problems. I should like to see pupils remain with full voting rights, but if that is the legal problem, I should have thought that we could have got round it. The hon. Member for Ealing. North (Mr. Greenway) and others made this point, and I hope the Government will look at it.
I hope that the Government will also look at ancillary representation on governing bodies. This is important because schools are successful where they are co-operative ventures—a partnership between the people who work there, the parents and the children. One of the best ways to make the ancillaries, who often play a vital part in the functioning of the school, feel that they are part of it is to allow them representation on the governing body. The only excuse that I can find for the Government pushing ancillaries off the governing bodies is that somehow it will spoil the simple principle that has been worked out. I hope that the Government will have another look at this.
The Government should also look carefully at disfranchising parents who work for the local authority. I am not certain from the wording of the Bill whether those who work for the local authority or those who work for the local education authority will be affected. Many of these people are interested in their children's education, and they have as much right to be on the governing body as anybody who does not work for local government. I press the Government to be more flexible.
The Secretary of State said that he was enthusiastic about the co-opting idea and that he would be putting down a further amendment to involve more industralists. I would certainly involve more industrialists in close links with schools. In some parts of my constituency, I would 260 welcome some industry so that there would be industrialists to be involved in the schools. In many areas, finding local industrialists who will serve on primary school bodies will be difficult. I hope that the Secretary of State looks carefully at the wording so that he does not exclude other people who can be enthusiastic governors. Some of the people from industry whom I would like to see being governors might feel that they did not have the time to take such an interest.
I welcome the proposal that the parent governors shall be able to call one meeting a year to report to the parents who have elected them. I hope that most schools will have more than one report-back meeting a year. I understand that in the other place, where the Government were successful in resisting this idea, their response was to say that there is nothing to stop parent governors from having meetings more frequently. I hope that that will be put firmly in the Bill, so that head teachers or local authorities will not say that it costs too much to send out the notice and that it is not convenient for the meeting to be had on the school premises. It is important that parent governors keep in regular contact with the parents, and that there are regular reports.
I should also have liked the Government to look at extending parent power by giving parents more power to refer educational disputes to the ombudsman, and at the development of local education advisory centres. Parents are often in considerable difficulty. They are not sure whether the school is doing the right thing by their child. If they ask advice from the school, they feel that the school will be protective of its system. They would like independent advice, and it is often not clear to parents that they can get such advice from the education offices. I would like to see some development of resources so that parents may obtain independent advice on educational matters.
I accept that the allocation of resources is still one of the major frustrations for governors. The governors may recognise the problems at the school but find that they are not able to command the resources. I do not want to press the Government too far on that point, but there have been fairly damaging reports about school buildings from the HMI, the Building Employers Federation this week and from UCATT earlier. It is frustrating for the governing body to put in requests to the local authority which states it has no resources. It is also frustrating for the local authority to put in requests to the Government and not get resources for school buildings, and I can make the same case about books.
I also think that the House will recognise that if we put our faith in governors we must accept that they will sometimes make mistakes. That is one of the penalties that we will have to pay for involving people in the democratic process. We will sometimes have to pick up the social consequences of governors making wrong decisions.
I would therefore suggest that the training of governors will be especially important. When the Minister replies, I hope that he will give us more information about how the Government intend to ensure that there is initial training and that that training is continued for parent governors whenever they are elected, for co-opted governors wherever they are co-opted, for representatives from the local authorities and for teachers. Although we accept that governors may sometimes make mistakes, we must ensure that training is available.
261 We must also ensure—I ask the Minister to give this assurance—that there is sufficient money available for local authorities to ensure that governors' meetings are properly minuted, that proper reports will be made and that resources are available so that the work can be done effectively.
In his opening remarks the Secretary of State said that he was in favour of local democracy running education. I welcomed the fact that he was not in favour of the French centralised system. However, when he discussed the Bill and such questions as changing powers between local authorities and central Government in relation to in-service training, he effectively said that he would take powers from local authorities to himself. So much for the Secretary of State's fine words at the start of his speech. It was a pity that he did not want to take the opportunity to redress the balance in favour of local authorities and is actually tending towards a centralised system.
I would urge the Secretary of State to ensure that in-service training is not simply available to teachers. Educational psychologists have made a good case about the lack of training and there should be more training and opportunities to gain more qualifications for educational welfare officers.
The Secretary of State will not be successful if he uses coercion over assessment and appraisal. If he wanted to show his good intentions to the teacher unions he could have announced today that he was dropping the relevant clause from the Bill and that he was placing his faith in negotiations, in the belief that there should be a system of appraisal that was satisfactory to everyone through negotiations rather than coercion. If he wants to coerce people into appraisal, he will not meet with success. He should have taken the opportunity to develop a new one and send a new message to the teachers' unions that he wanted partnership and co-operation rather than coercion.
I regret that the Bill does nothing to make nursery education statutory nor does it deal with the problems of poverty. It does not deal with the educational and maintenance allowances for 16 to 19-year-olds. I am sure that these measures would do a great deal to relieve the problems for parents and raise educational standards.
I greatly regret that the Government are turning the section of the Bill that deals with discipline into a debate for or against corporal punishment. The majority of our good schools—the Minister admitted that this applies in Scotland—have got rid of corporal punishment. The real arguments about school discipline have moved on from corporal punishment. I had hoped that we could spend much more time discussing ways in which we could genuinely improve discipline in schools rather than returning to the old arguments of the benefits or otherwise of flogging. If the Government want to leave the decision to governing bodies, they must consider how the decisions of individual bodies can conform to the rulings of the European Court and the convention.
The Government should understand that they cannot solve the problem of suspension with an appeals procedure. The difficulty with an appeals procedure is that schools have to live with the results of appeals. It would be pointless to have appeals if pupils and parents did not on some occasions win their appeals. If an appeal structure is established and on occasions pupils win their appeals, it will be difficult to continue properly to run a school 262 when youngsters return and say, more or less, "I went to appeal and I won. You were wrong and I was right." That will make the running of a school extremely difficult.
One of the secrets of achieving good discipline in a school is that those who try to impose the discipline must think out the consequences of their actions and stay one step ahead of their pupils. They should always be guessing what will happen when they take certain action. If they do that, they will be able more often than not to out-guess the pupils and maintain good discipline.
If an appeals procedure is introduced, it will not be possible to predict the outcome of appeals. Head teachers will be faced with the choice of taking action and taking a risk by going to appeal. If their appeal fails, discipline in the school will be undermined. I suggest that the Minister considers the penalty of suspension much more in a context in which there are not winners and losers. He should start by asking himself what is best for the pupil and what is best for the school. The Government must do a great deal more on that basis.
Do we need some of the clauses that were inserted in another place? I suggest that the Minister should think carefully about sex education. I am sure that the majority of schools already teach sex education in its context and with an emphasis on the family. There are certain individual teachers who may be perfectly able to teach accurately and effectively the biological details but whom I would not want particularly to be offering moral guidance to pupils. I am sure that the Secretary of State can think of one or two Conservative Members who were Cabinet Ministers not long ago and will appreciate that they might not be the best people to talk about the principles of family life. I suggest that it might be better to keep sex education out of the realms of the Bill and to accept that the majority of schools make extremely good provision already.
I suggest also that the Minister should give careful consideration to political bias. Nothing annoys me more when I visit certain schools than to get the impression from teachers that they are against political parties and politics generally. That is dangerous and anti-democratic. People should be proud of the fact that they have political dews. We should not mislead youngsters by giving them the idea that there is something great about being non-political, balancing everything and coming down on neither side. We should be careful about this section of the Bill.
As for the clause dealing with free speech, we should remember that when many of us were students we did not always act in the most sensible and wise way. I am sure that that applies to the Minister as well as others. Earlier in the debate one or two Members were pretty censorous of students and seemed not to accept that, with the considerable pressure that goes with trying to get good academic qualifications, students might sometimes behave in stupid ways that they will regret very soon afterwards. I suggest to the House that we look carefully at this and make something practical and workable for the vice-chancellors and principals of the polytechnics and colleges to administer rather than piously pass some resolutions in the Bill that turn out in practice to be totally unworkable.
I suggest to the Minister that the Bill is a ragbag of measures and it would be far better for the Secretary of State to take it away, give it some careful thought, put it back into some sort of logical sequence, put back in only those things for which he needs to legislate, get the resources to make it possible, and finally create a climate 263 in education where there can be a genuine co-operation and partnership between parents, pupils and teachers. In that way, we would get good legislation and, above all raise standards in the schools. That is what I am sure all parents and all Members of the House want.
§ The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science (Mr. Chris Patten)
This has been an interesting and important debate. It has ranged far beyond the provisions that we first set out in our White Paper "Better Schools". In order to do justice to the debate, I would like to spend as much time as possible responding in detail to the points made by hon. Members. This may make my speech rather less coherent and elegant than I would like it to be, but I think it important that we should answer as many as possible of the points raised.
Perhaps I can first say one or two things very briefly about the purposes of the Bill. The Bill has two main aims. They both concern the quality of education in our schools. First, we want to improve the management of schools by promoting greater democracy in our education system. We want more power for parents and local communities—I say this strongly to my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester)—in the way our schools are run. The second aim is to promote the professional effectiveness of teachers. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) —the real author of this Bill—argued that head teachers are the nearest thing to a magic wand that we have in education. I would extend that to the profession as a whole. Good teachers—and it is fortunate that we are blessed with so many—are vital to improving standards so that our children can be given the quality of education they need and deserve. Without good teachers, as I have said on many occasions, all our other aims for education are so much dust.
We are seeking to accomplish those aims within an education system which is based on the notion of partnership. Our system is different from that which exists in most other countries. Education abroad is invariably a more centralised service. Here it has always been regarded as a shared responsibility. Power has been quite deliberately fragmented between various interests. I see profound virtues in our system. It encourages liveliness and innovations; it could help to preserve liberty; and, above all, it is rooted in our traditions. We know more or less how to make it work. We have been trying to make it work for about 100 years. That does not mean that I believe it is perfect. It is not perfect and we want to improve it.
This Bill is essentially about the nature of this education partnership. We want to see it performing better in the interests of individual pupils in the nation. I want to say three further things about that partnership. First, it is not a partnership between equals. For example, the Government are not in any sense on a par with an individual school or a local authority. But while the partnership cannot work on the basis that all the partners are equal and will always agree, it obviously cannot stand the strain of perpetual disagreement. It will work best if everyone recognises their interdependence and if all of us consult and work towards broad agreement.
264 Secondly, the respective roles of the partners are not immutable. In particular, there is no absolute imperative to believe that state education has to concentrate as much power as it does at present in the hands of local education authorities. There is no reason to believe that the central role has to be as limited as it has been since 1959. Equally, there is no reason to believe that the way that the teaching profession operates and its relationship with the rest of the education service is fixed for all time. All these roles need occasionally to be reviewed and adjusted as necessary in the light of our aims for education and how well these are being fulfilled.
Thirdly, in working out the correct distribution of functions between the partners, we have to operate from a number of clear principles. The local education authority must have the power necessary to carry out its duty to secure the provision of sufficient and efficient schools for its area. It must be able to manage the schools effectively. The governing body, for its part, should be able to determine in consultation with the head teacher the main policies and lines of development of an individual school. This must mean strengthening its role and ensuring that it cannot be overridden in the exercise of the functions which are given to it. At the same time the professional responsibilities of the head teacher and staff have to be respected; in particular, the head's role should have a firm legal foundation which clarifies his or her responsibilities and preserves his or her authority.
I do not pretend that reconciling these principles is particularly easy. Some of the finer points would be difficult even for a philosopher king. Neither my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State nor I lay claim to that status, at least, not this week. Some of the interrelationships are bound to be complex, and of course anyone can construct cases where absurd positions might be reached. There is doubtless endless scope for doing an A. P. Herbert on the Bill, as the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) just demonstrated. We are, after all, talking about the relationships which govern the affairs of 28,000 maintained schools across the country and over 100 local education authorities. But a strictly mechanistic approach to the Bill's provisions on functions ignores the vital ingredient of the operation of the partnership—that is, a bit of goodwill and mutual respect—and the Bill only provides the framework for all this. But I repeat that it is our intention to change the way that the partnership actually works on the ground, shifting the focus to individual schools in the context of the communities they serve. I think that that is a change towards which we began to work in the 1980 Act. Indeed, I pay tribute to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Carlisle) for his part in bringing forward that legislation. We can develop that much further in this Bill.
The hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice) made rather a curate's egg of a speech. I thought that he was more convincing when he was being generous than when he was trying to be partisan. He was appropriately generous when he referred to the announcement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State about additional resources for the GCSE, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) also referred.
I shall briefly remind the House what we are doing. Having already spent £10 million on training for the GCSE, having learnt that the local education authorities are spending about £40 million in this financial year on the 265 exam's introduction, having committed a further £20 million through education support grant to the GCSE for the next two financial years, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced this afternoon that there would be a further £20 million available for the examination this September. I think that that was welcome to hon. Members on both sides of the House. It represents a considerable investment in the success of the exam, and I hope that we can now all work together to make it the success that it needs and deserves to be.
I was glad that the hon. Members for Durham, North and for Cambridgeshire, North-East (Mr. Freud) confirmed that they believed that enough resources were now being made available for the exam's successful introduction this autumn. The hon. Member for Durham, North went on to claim that the Bill did not do anything to raise standards. But one cannot legislate for higher standards. However, we can give those who work at the local level better arrangements than currently exist to apply their complementary skills to better effect. That is what the Bill seeks to do.
The hon. Member for Durham, North referred at length, along with other hon. Members, to the Taylor committee, especially in relation to teacher governors. I imagine that we shall have several opportunities to discuss this point in Committee, but the need to secure an appropriately balanced governing body of a reasonable size made it inappropriate to increase teacher representation beyond the level required by the 1980 Act. That is, of course, preserved in the Bill. As governing bodies will be generally smaller than at present, the teacher governor's voice will be proportionately stronger in the new situation. Teachers are already intimately involved in schools in their professional capacity.
On this occasion the Opposition are arguing harder for the Taylor formula than they did for the purposes of the Education (No. 2) Bill of 1978 and 1979. However, they will doubtless be able to explain to us in due course why they have changed their minds.
The hon. Member for Durham, North complained that the Bill does little to involve parents generally with the work of their children's schools. I am not sure that that point was supported by the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) in his interesting speech which commanded a good deal of support on both sides of the House. It was flatly contradicted by my hon. Friends the Members for Dulwich (Mr. Bowden) and for Elmet (Mr. Batiste).
Let us consider, in relation to that point, an individual parent concerned primarily with the progress of his or her child. The Bill gives to such a parent a new guarantee—the right to be told by the child's teacher what the child is to be taught. That point was also referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bruinvels) in a speech which we all wished had been longer. That parent will also be able to participate in parent governor elections and in the annual parents' meeting at which the governing body will have to give an account of its stewardship.
The hon. Member for Durham, North also complained about the additions to the Bill that were made in another place, but he rather weakened his point when he produced his own shopping list of additions which he would have liked to have made. All of them would have cost a good deal of money. I suggest that he and the House should reflect further on his liberality with additional clauses and public money.
266 I am quite prepared to let the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish intervene on the point that I am about to make. He seemed to object to the fact that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State had made it clear that we were proposing to allow a free vote, possibly on Report, on the issue of corporal punishment. My hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth chided the hon. Gentleman on that point and asked him to make clear what the Opposition would be doing about corporal punishment. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to make clear on this occasion whether the Opposition will be having a Whip or a free vote, I shall be happy to let him intervene and make that known to the House.
§ Mr. Andrew F. Bennett
If the hon. Gentleman had listened to the earlier part of the debate he would have heard the exchange when we made out positions clear.
§ Mr. Patten
I fancy that that clarity has not rung round the House quite as eloquently as the hon. Gentleman suggests. However, I am sure that there will be further opportunities for the hon. Gentleman to be as clear as mud.
§ Mr. Greenway
Will my hon. Friend note that the Labour party has said that it will not have a free vote on this matter? However, it would not have made any difference anyway, would it, because the Labour party conference has decided how the party should vote? A free vote would have no meaning even if it intended to have one. Labour party members are mandated; they are not representatives.
§ Mr. Patten
We are going rather wide of the Bill. I do not care to contemplate Labour party conferences too frequently, but I take my hon. Friend's point.
My hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. McLoughlin) made a maiden speech which delighted the House. Those of us who had the privilege and, as it turned out, the pleasure to support him in the West Derbyshire by-election know from our visits there of his 18-carat honesty and good humour, and they were both on display in the House this afternoon.
I mean no disrespect when I say that many of us will miss his distinguished predecessor. I do not wish to be kind about him only because I may need him to be kind to me in the future. I also have to confess that I recruited him to the Conservative research department from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and that I regard as an example of upward mobility. We came to the House at the same time. He was a diligent, independent-minded and witty Member. Our loss is London Weekend Television's gain, and his too, I understand. My hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West will be a worthy successor. I cannot put the compliment any higher than that.
My hon. Friend asked whether there would be more training for governing bodies, whose enhanced role he welcomed. The Government fully support my hon. Friend's view that such training is important. Clause 46 requires local education authorities to secure the provision of training for governors. The training envisaged need be neither costly nor elaborate. A number of initiatives have already started, including 10 projects in local education authorities which are to be assisted by education support grants. I know that the National Association of Governors and Managers is especially active in that field, as are other agencies. The development cost of the Open university's highly successful course was met by our Department.
267 The hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East made three points with which I shall deal. First, he referred to minors or pupils as governors. That was also referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) and by the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish. I recognise that we shall have an opportunity in Committee to deal with that issue.
The Government believe, especially in the light of the greater importance to be attached to school governorship, that it would be inappropriate for a minor to be a school or college governor. There would be numerous occasions on which minors, especially pupils of a school, would have to withdraw from governing body meetings because of the nature of the discussion—perhaps a staffing matter or the discipline of a fellow pupil—and the effect would be to create a second-class category of governor. If governing bodies wish to involve senior pupils in their work, they are free to invite them to meetings as observers. I understand that some schools find that school councils provide a useful means of involving pupils.
Secondly, the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East asked what would happen to pupil governors presently on school governing bodies. Once the provisions of the Bill come into force, the governing bodies of county, controlled and maintained special schools will be reconstituted in accordance with the provisions of clause 3, and all existing governors of whatever category will cease to hold office.
Thirdly, the hon. Gentleman asked about the DES's annual report. The point was made by one or two other hon. Members. I did not realise that we had so many avid readers. The annual report reviews the Department's activities during the preceding year, most of which are reported to Parliament or made public in other ways, when they are current. The degree of interest shown in the retrospective report does not justify the commitment of time and cost made by the Department in its preparation. Over the past five years, sales have dropped from about 4,000 to 1,000 copies, which is rather less than the deputy chairman of the Conservative party manages. The Secretary of State will continue to keep Parliament informed of the Department's activities at appropriate times, but will not in future, subject to parliamentary approval, repeat the information in an annual report after that for 1985.
The hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, North-East, the hon. Member for Ipswich and other hon. Gentlemen raised the question of the establishment of an independent tribunal to deal with exclusion cases. They were especially concerned about the position of head teachers. My hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key), in his knowledgeable speech, noted how vital head teachers are and what demands have been placed on them, especially during the past difficult year. As my hon. Friend said in response to an intervention, the admission appeal committees actively demonstrate real independence. In the light of some of the remarks made by my hon. Friends, we shall consider the matter further.
I should have thought that our amended proposals were likely to carry the support of the head teachers, which is crucial, but we are reasonably open-minded on the issue. We must balance the statutory responsibilities of local education authorities with the importance of giving heads 268 and governing bodies the support which they deserve. I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Withington that that is the balance we must attempt to strike.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg) told us in a speech that greatly interested the House — not least, his comments as a professional in personnel matters on appraisal — an appalling story about attempts to disrupt and to prevent his constituency advice bureau from being held. He asked whether I would condemn that attack, and I do so unreservedly. It was a shameful episode. I am glad that the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish expressed exactly that same condemnation.
The hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) suggested that we were giving the final say over the curriculum to governing bodies. That is not true, as was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Withington. We are talking about distributing responsibility for the curriculum, in a way that we believe is sensible, between local education authorities, governing bodies, heads and staff. I freely confess that it is not a neat solution. I admit that we could have had a nice, tidy, Prussian solution, but I do not think that that would have accorded with our traditions in this country.
The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) recycled his usual speech. He is, at least in this respect, a friend to the environmentalists. He told us that he respected my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury —my hon. Friend has the sympathy of the House.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James), in a thoughtful speech, made two points in particular that I should like to mention. He referred to freedom of speech in universities and institutions of higher education. My hon. Friend the Member for Luton, North (Mr. Carlisle) made a speech on that issue as well. He has some first-hand experience of it. I am sure that the House will join me in reaffirming that freedom of speech is vital to a democratic society. The Government accept—my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made this point clear in his speech—that it is necessary to legislate on this subject. We recognise, however, the legitimate concerns of the institutions involved. My right hon. Friend has already had a meeting with representatives, of the heads of those institutions, and we intend to continue consultations with them with a view to introducing an amendment to the Bill at a later stage.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge referred also to the European Community's equal treatment directive. He noted the obligation on the Government to fulfil their part under that directive. However—I speak with a good deal of sympathy on this subject, because I am married to a graduate of St. Hilda's — Ministers have listened to the arguments put forward by the principals of the colleges concerned.
We believe that the case for preserving the special opportunities for women to achieve senior academic positions offered by the remaining single-sex colleges deserves much more discussion. The Government have therefore cancelled earlier plans to introduce a new clause in the Sex Discrimination Bill dealing with sex discrimination appointments to posts in universities and colleges in order to allow time for consultations with the institutions most closely affected and for further representations to be made to the European Commission. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge will be reasonably satisfied with that.
269 My hon. Friends the Members for Dulwich and for Norwich, South (Mr. Powley) spoke of the powers of school governing bodies and mentioned in particular finance, where the Bill's provisions move schools to the beginning of a potentially rewarding process of delegation from the local education authority.
Because we are mindful of the strong advice of the Audit Commission about the need for these changes to be made with careful preparation and at a deliberate speed, the Bill does not force the pace of progress. However, I very much hope that local education authorities and schools will take full advantage of the flexibility allowed here, as some have done already. Generally, the allocation of functions will allow the governing body to become the focus for the identity and sense of purpose of the school. That was always intended under the Education Act 1944, and it is invariably the mark of a successful school.
My hon. Friend the Member for Withington referred to clauses 43 and 44, which contain provisions to enable controlled schools to achieve aided status. He asked especially about the compensation that might be payable by the governing body to the local education authority for capital expenditure on school premises. The amount of compensation that will arise is likely to vary from case to case. In some cases the local education authority might not have invested any capital expenditure, so no compensation would be payable. However, in other cases the LEA might have provided the whole premises for a new controlled school or in others might have provided substantial enlargements. It seems only right that, where a substantial asset passes to the governing body with no recompense to the LEA if the premises are subsequently sold, the LEA should receieve some compensation.
The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) referred to the central advisory councils. The Government have already stated their intention to discontinue the advisory councils in response to a report of the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts in 1982. The advisory councils have not reported for some time and successive Governments have relied upon advice from committees or individuals with specific remits, many of whom have given distinguished advice — for example, Lady Warnock. That approach has worked well and the Government consider that there is no longer a need for standing central advisory councils of the type provided for in the Education Act 1944. We also benefit from the reports of the Education, Science and Arts Committee.
A number of hon. Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, East (Mr. Sayeed), referred to appraisal. Much alarmist nonsense has been put about on the Government's intentions regarding appraisal. The hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock) also referred to appraisal. We want a sensitively worked out scheme carefully introduced, embodying adequate safeguards for the individual and carefully designed to help all teachers realise their full professional potential by providing them with better job satisfaction, with more appropriate in-service training and with better planned career development.
The Government see appraisal as serving a variety of purposes. The findings of the appraisal system should he taken into account when schools and local education authorities come to decide such matters as planning and in-service training provision. They should be taken into account when selecting participants for such training and in developing the careers of individual teachers. The 270 overall purpose is to secure better decisions by the local education authorities and school management, feeding through to better teacher performance and better pupil achievement. The whole objective is to help improve teaching effectiveness.
Some say that the appraisal provisions in the Bill provide an unhelpful backcloth to the talks now going on at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service where appraisal and its link with in-service training is on the agenda. That is, in my judgment, completely to ignore recent history and the painfully slow progress we have been able to make on this. I hope that agreement will be reached voluntarily on a national framework for appraisal. It may be desirable and could prove necessary for that national framework to be supported or provided by statutory regulations. The Bill provides the necessary enabling power for such regulations. Appraisal is so important as a means of improving teaching quality that we see it as essential to put this enabling power on the statute book now. I confirm to the hon. Member for Ipswich that it is not our intention to link the results of appraisal directly to pay.
A great many points have been raised during the debate, and time has not permitted me to deal with all of them. However, I hope that I have touched on the main ones. I can assure the House that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I will carefully study all that has been said, and I am sure that we will return to it in Committee. We look forward to that in keen anticipation of a well-spent July.
I believe that the provisions of the Bill on school government and teaching quality have not, before today, always received the attention they deserve. I think that the Bill has suffered the same fate. However, there has been a great deal of discussion on what is not in the Bill. I shall follow that trend only to the point of saying that the Bill. is not, as some people have suggested, a distraction from the real issues of what my right hon. Friend and I are well aware is the long education agenda for the 1980s.
The major and urgent task of raising standards requires. the involvement and collaboration of pupils, parents, teachers, governing bodies, the wider community served by individual schools, local education authorities. and central Government. The Bill provides the new and urgently needed means of securing that vital involvement and partnership through more vigorous governing bodies and a yet more professional teaching force.
Forty-two years ago we had the great Butler Education Act. By coincidence, 42 years before that there was the Balfour Act. I do not pretend that the Bill is as historically important as its predecessors, but it is not an unworthy successor, building on and strengthening the partnership that they firmly established. I commend it confidently to the House.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 296, Noes 177.273
|Division No. 217]||[10 pm|
|Adley, Robert||Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)|
|Alton, David||Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Baldry, Tony|
|Amess, David||Banks, Robert (Harrogate)|
|Ancram, Michael||Batiste, Spencer|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Beith, A. J.|
|Best, Keith||Hannam, John|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Hargreaves, Kenneth|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Harris, David|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael|
|Body, Sir Richard||Hawkins, C. (High Peak)|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Hawksley, Warren|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Hayes, J.|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes||Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Hayward, Robert|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)||Heathcoat-Amory, David|
|Browne, John||Henderson, Barry|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael|
|Bruinvels, Peter||Hickmet, Richard|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Hicks, Robert|
|Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.||Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Hind, Kenneth|
|Budgen, Nick||Hirst, Michael|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)|
|Burt, Alistair||Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)|
|Butterfill, John||Holt, Richard|
|Carlisle, John (Luton N)||Hordern, Sir Peter|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)||Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)|
|Cartwright, John||Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)|
|Cash, William||Howells, Geraint|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hubbard-Miles, Peter|
|Chope, Christopher||Hunt, David (Wirral W)|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hunter, Andrew|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Irving, Charles|
|Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)||Jackson, Robert|
|Clegg, Sir Walter||Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick|
|Conway, Derek||Jessel, Toby|
|Cope, John||Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|Corrie, John||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Jones, Robert (Herts W)|
|Critchley, Julian||Jopling, Rt Hon Michael|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith|
|Dicks, Terry||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Kennedy, Charles|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.||Kershaw, Sir Anthony|
|Dunn, Robert||Key, Robert|
|Emery, Sir Peter||King, Rt Hon Tom|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Kirkwood, Archy|
|Farr, Sir John||Knight, Greg (Derby N)|
|Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey||Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)|
|Fletcher, Alexander||Knowles, Michael|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Knox, David|
|Forman, Nigel||Lamont, Norman|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||Lang, Ian|
|Forth, Eric||Latham, Michael|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Norman||Lawler, Geoffrey|
|Fox, Marcus||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Franks, Cecil||Lee, John (Pendle)|
|Fraser, Peter (Angus East)||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Freeman, Roger||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Freud, Clement||Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)|
|Galley, Roy||Lilley, Peter|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate)||Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)|
|Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)||Lord, Michael|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Lyell, Nicholas|
|Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian||McCurley, Mrs Anna|
|Glyn, Dr Alan||Macfarlane, Neil|
|Goodhart, Sir Philip||MacGregor, Rt Hon John|
|Goodlad, Alastair||MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)|
|Gow, Ian||MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)|
|Gower, Sir Raymond||Maclean, David John|
|Grant, Sir Anthony||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Greenway, Harry||McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)|
|Gregory, Conal||McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)|
|Griffiths, Sir Eldon||Madel, David|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)||Major, John|
|Grist, Ian||Malins, Humfrey|
|Ground, Patrick||Malone, Gerald|
|Grylls, Michael||Maples, John|
|Gummer, Rt Hon John S||Marland, Paul|
|Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)|
|Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)||Mates, Michael|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Mather, Carol|
|Hancock, Michael||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Mayhew, Sir Patrick||Silvester, Fred|
|Mellor, David||Sims, Roger|
|Merchant, Piers||Skeet, Sir Trevor|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)|
|Miller, Hal (B'grove)||Soames, Hon Nicholas|
|Mills, Iain (Meriden)||Spencer, Derek|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)|
|Mitchell, David (Hants NW)||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Moate, Roger||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Monro, Sir Hector||Stanley, Rt Hon John|
|Moore, Rt Hon John||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Morris, M. (N'hampton S)||Steen, Anthony|
|Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)||Stern, Michael|
|Moynihan, Hon C.||Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)|
|Mudd, David||Stewart, Ian (Hertf'dshire N)|
|Nelson, Anthony||Stokes, John|
|Newton, Tony||Stradling Thomas, Sir John|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Norris, Steven||Taylor, John (Solihull)|
|Onslow, Cranley||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Oppenheim, Phillip||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.||Terlezki, Stefan|
|Ottaway, Richard||Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.|
|Owen, Rt Hon Dr David||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter|
|Page, Richard (Herts SW)||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Patten, Christopher (Bath)||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abgdn)||Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)|
|Pawsey, James||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Thurnham, Peter|
|Penhaligon, David||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Pollock, Alexander||Trippier, David|
|Porter, Barry||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Powell, William (Corby)||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Powley, John||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||Viggers, Peter|
|Price, Sir David||Waddington, David|
|Proctor, K. Harvey||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Raffan, Keith||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)||Walden, George|
|Renton, Tim||Walker, Bill (T'side N)|
|Rhodes James, Robert||Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Wallace, James|
|Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas||Waller, Gary|
|Ridsdale, Sir Julian||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm||Warren, Kenneth|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)||Watson, John|
|Robinson, Mark (N'port W)||Watts, John|
|Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Rossi, Sir Hugh||Whitney, Raymond|
|Rowe, Andrew||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Rumbold, Mrs Angela||Wilkinson, John|
|Ryder, Richard||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Sackville, Hon Thomas||Wolfson, Mark|
|Sainsbury, Hon Timothy||Wood, Timothy|
|St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.||Woodcock, Michael|
|Sayeed, Jonathan||Yeo, Tim|
|Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Shelton, William (Streatham)||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Shersby, Michael||Mr. Tony Durant and Mr. Francis Maude.|
|Shields, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Abse, Leo||Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)|
|Adams, Allen (Paisley N)||Bermingham, Gerald|
|Anderson, Donald||Bidwell, Sydney|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Blair, Anthony|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Boothroyd, Miss Betty|
|Ashton, Joe||Boyes, Roland|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)|
|Barnett, Guy||Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)|
|Barron, Kevin||Caborn, Richard|
|Beckett, Mrs Margaret||Callaghan, Rt Hon J.|
|Bell, Stuart||Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Campbell, Ian|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||McDonald, Dr Oonagh|
|Canavan, Dennis||McGuire, Michael|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||McKay, Allen (Penistone)|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||McKelvey, William|
|Clarke, Thomas||MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
|Clay, Robert||McNamara, Kevin|
|Clelland, David Gordon||McTaggart, Robert|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Madden, Max|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S)||Martin, Michael|
|Cohen, Harry||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Coleman, Donald||Maxton, John|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton North)||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)||Meacher, Michael|
|Corbett, Robin||Michie, William|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Mikardo, Ian|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Craigen, J. M.||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)|
|Crowther, Stan||Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Cunningham, Dr John||Nellist, David|
|Dalyell, Tam||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)||Park, George|
|Deakins, Eric||Parry, Robert|
|Dewar, Donald||Patchett, Terry|
|Dixon, Donald||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Dobson, Frank||Pendry, Tom|
|Dormand, Jack||Pike, Peter|
|Douglas, Dick||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Dubs, Alfred||Prescott, John|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.||Radice, Giles|
|Eadie, Alex||Randall, Stuart|
|Eastham, Ken||Raynsford, Nick|
|Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)||Redmond, Martin|
|Evans, John (St. Helens N)||Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)|
|Fatchett, Derek||Richardson, Ms Jo|
|Faulds, Andrew||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Field, Frank (Birkenhead)||Robertson, George|
|Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)||Rogers, Allan|
|Fisher, Mark||Rooker, J. W.|
|Flannery, Martin||Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Rowlands, Ted|
|Forrester, John||Ryder, Richard|
|Foster, Derek||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Foulkes, George||Sheerman, Barry|
|Fraser, J. (Norwood)||Sheldon, Rt Hon R.|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Garrett, W. E.||Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)|
|George, Bruce||Short, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)|
|Godman, Dr Norman||Silkin, Rt Hon J.|
|Gould, Bryan||Skinner, Dennis|
|Gourlay, Harry||Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds E)|
|Hamilton, James (M'well N)||Snape, Peter|
|Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)||Soley, Clive|
|Hardy, Peter||Spearing, Nigel|
|Harman, Ms Harriet||Stott, Roger|
|Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Strang, Gavin|
|Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith||Straw, Jack|
|Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Haynes, Frank||Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)|
|Healey, Rt Hon Denis||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Thorne, Stan (Preston)|
|Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)||Tinn, James|
|Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)||Torney, Tom|
|Home Robertson, John||Wardell, Gareth (Gower)|
|Hoyle, Douglas||Wareing, Robert|
|Janner, Hon Greville||Weetch, Ken|
|John, Brynmor||Welsh, Michael|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Winnick, David|
|Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil||Woodall, Alec|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Mr. John McWilliam and Mr. Chris Smith.|
|Lewis, Terence (Worsley)|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.274
§ Bill read a Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question put, That the Bill be committed to a Special Standing Committe.—[Mr. Fisher.]
§ The House divided: Ayes 180, Noes 266.276
|Division No. 218]||[10.16 pm|
|Adams, Allen (Paisley N)||Foster, Derek|
|Alton, David||Foulkes, George|
|Anderson, Donald||Fraser, J. (Norwood)|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Freud, Clement|
|Ashley, Rt Hon Jack||Garrett, W. E.|
|Ashton, Joe||George, Bruce|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Godman, Dr Norman|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Gould, Bryan|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Gourlay, Harry|
|Barnett, Guy||Hamilton, James (M'well N)|
|Barron, Kevin||Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)|
|Beckett, Mrs Margaret||Hancock, Michael|
|Beith, A. J.||Hardy, Peter|
|Bell, Stuart||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Haynes, Frank|
|Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Home Robertson, John|
|Boyes, Roland||Howells, Geraint|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Hoyle, Douglas|
|Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)||Janner, Hon Greville|
|Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)||John, Brynmor|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)|
|Caborn, Richard||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J.||Kennedy, Charles|
|Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)||Kilroy-Silk, Robert|
|Campbell, Ian||Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Kirkwood, Archy|
|Canavan, Dennis||Lamond, James|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Cartwright, John||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Lewis, Terence (Worsley)|
|Clarke, Thomas||McDonald, Dr Oonagh|
|Clay, Robert||McGuire, Michael|
|Clelland, David Gordon||McKay, Allen (Penistone)|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||McKelvey, William|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S)||MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor|
|Cohen, Harry||McNamara, Kevin|
|Coleman, Donald||McTaggart, Robert|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton North)||Madden, Max|
|Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)||Martin, Michael|
|Corbett, Robin||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Maxton, John|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Craigen, J. M.||Meacher, Michael|
|Crowther, Stan||Michie, William|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Mikardo, Ian|
|Cunningham, Dr John||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Dalyell, Tam||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)|
|Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)||Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)||Nellist, David|
|Deakins, Eric||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Dewar, Donald||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Dixon, Donald||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David|
|Dobson, Frank||Park, George|
|Dormand, Jack||Parry, Robert|
|Douglas, Dick||Patchett, Terry|
|Dubs, Alfred||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.||Pendry, Tom|
|Eadie, Alex||Penhaligon, David|
|Eastham, Ken||Pike, Peter|
|Evans, John (St. Helens N)||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Fatchett, Derek||Prescott, John|
|Faulds, Andrew||Radice, Giles|
|Field, Frank (Birkenhead)||Randall, Stuart|
|Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)||Raynsford, Nick|
|Fisher, Mark||Redmond, Martin|
|Flannery, Martin||Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Richardson, Ms Jo|
|Forrester, John||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Robertson, George||Stott, Roger|
|Rogers, Allan||Strang, Gavin|
|Rooker, J. W.||Straw, Jack|
|Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)||Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)|
|Rowlands, Ted||Thorne, Stan (Preston)|
|Ryman, John||Torney, Tom|
|Sedgemore, Brian||Wallace, James|
|Sheldon, Rt Hon R.||Wardell, Gareth (Gower)|
|Shields, Mrs Elizabeth||Wareing, Robert|
|Shore, Rt Hon Peter||Weetch, Ken|
|Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)||Welsh, Michael|
|Short, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Silkin, Rt Hon J.||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Skinner, Dennis||Winnick, David|
|Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds E)||Woodall, Alec|
|Soley, Clive||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Spearing, Nigel||Mr. John McWilliam and Mr. Chris Smith.|
|Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Adley, Robert||Fraser, Peter (Angus East)|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Freeman, Roger|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Galley, Roy|
|Amess, David||Gardiner, George (Reigate)|
|Ancram, Michael||Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)|
|Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)||Garel-Jones, Tristan|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian|
|Baldry, Tony||Glyn, Dr Alan|
|Banks, Robert (Harrogate)||Goodhart, Sir Philip|
|Batiste, Spencer||Goodlad, Alastair|
|Best, Keith||Gow, Ian|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Gower, Sir Raymond|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Grant, Sir Anthony|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Greenway, Harry|
|Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Gregory, Conal|
|Body, Sir Richard||Griffiths, Sir Eldon|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Grist, Ian|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Ground, Patrick|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes||Grylls, Michael|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Gummer, Rt Hon John S|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)||Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)|
|Bruinvels, Peter||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Hampson, Dr Keith|
|Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.||Hannam, John|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Hargreaves, Kenneth|
|Budgen, Nick||Harris, David|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Burt, Alistair||Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael|
|Butterfill, John||Hawkins, C. (High Peak)|
|Carlisle, John (Luton N)||Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)||Hawksley, Warren|
|Cash, William||Hayes, J.|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hayward, Robert|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Heathcoat-Amory, David|
|Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)||Henderson, Barry|
|Clegg, Sir Walter||Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael|
|Conway, Derek||Hickmet, Richard|
|Cope, John||Hicks, Robert|
|Corrie, John||Hind, Kenneth|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Hirst, Michael|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.||Holt, Richard|
|Dunn, Robert||Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)|
|Durant, Tony||Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)|
|Emery, Sir Peter||Hubbard-Miles, Peter|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Hunt, David (Wirral W)|
|Farr, Sir John||Hunter, Andrew|
|Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey||Jackson, Robert|
|Fletcher, Alexander||Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick|
|Forman, Nigel||Jessel, Toby|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|Forth, Eric||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Norman||Jones, Robert (Herts W)|
|Fox, Marcus||Jopling, Rt Hon Michael|
|Franks, Cecil||Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Kershaw, Sir Anthony||Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas|
|Key, Robert||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|King, Rt Hon Tom||Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm|
|Knight, Greg (Derby N)||Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)|
|Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)||Robinson, Mark (N'port W)|
|Knowles, Michael||Rossi, Sir Hugh|
|Knox, David||Rowe, Andrew|
|Lamont, Norman||Rumbold, Mrs Angela|
|Lang, Ian||Ryder, Richard|
|Latham, Michael||Sackville, Hon Thomas|
|Lawler, Geoffrey||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Lee, John (Pendle)||Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')|
|Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Lilley, Peter||Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)|
|Lord, Michael||Shersby, Michael|
|McCurley, Mrs Anna||Silvester, Fred|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Sims, Roger|
|MacGregor, Rt Hon John||Skeet, Sir Trevor|
|MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)||Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)|
|MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)||Soames, Hon Nicholas|
|Maclean, David John||Spencer, Derek|
|McLoughlin, Patrick||Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)|
|McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Madel, David||Stanley, Rt Hon John|
|Major, John||Steen, Anthony|
|Malins, Humfrey||Stern, Michael|
|Maples, John||Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)|
|Marland, Paul||Stewart, Ian (Hertf'dshire N)|
|Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Stokes, John|
|Mates, Michael||Stradling Thomas, Sir John|
|Mather, Carol||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Maude, Hon Francis||Taylor, John (Solihull)|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Mayhew, Sir Patrick||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Mellor, David||Terlezki, Stefan|
|Merchant, Piers||Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter|
|Miller, Hal (B'grove)||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Mills, Iain (Meriden)||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)|
|Mitchell, David (Hants NW)||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Moate, Roger||Thurnham, Peter|
|Monro, Sir Hector||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Moore, Rt Hon John||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Morris, M. (N'hampton S)||Trippier, David|
|Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Moynihan, Hon C.||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Mudd, David||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Nelson, Anthony||Viggers, Peter|
|Newton, Tony||Waddington, David|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Norris, Steven||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Onslow, Cranley||Walden, George|
|Oppenheim, Phillip||Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)|
|Ottaway, Richard||Waller, Gary|
|Page, Richard (Herts SW)||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Patten, Christopher (Bath)||Warren, Kenneth|
|Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abgdn)||Watts, John|
|Pawsey, James||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Whitney, Raymond|
|Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Pollock, Alexander||Wilkinson, John|
|Porter, Barry||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Wolfson, Mark|
|Powley, John||Wood, Timothy|
|Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||Woodcock, Michael|
|Price, Sir David||Yeo, Tim|
|Proctor, K. Harvey||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Raffan, Keith||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Renton, Tim||Mr. Petcr Lloyd and Mr. Gerald Malone.|
|Rhodes James, Robert|
§ Question accordingly negatived.277
§ Bill committed to a Standing Committee pursuant Standing Order No. 42 (Committal of Bills)