§ Question again proposed.
§ Mr. Amos
It is not often that I am interrupted by the Prime Minister, in whose name the Business Motion stands.
By moving this timetable motion, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House is allowing the Opposition to get themselves off the hook of more incompetence and more embarrassment. So much for the Opposition's promised unremitting attack on the Bill. Perhaps it will materialise next week before consideration of the Bill is completed. We look forward to that.
The Bill is essentially about education. It deals with the same concepts as those in the Education Reform Act, except that the terminology of this Scottish Bill is better. The phrase "self—governing schools" is a more accurate description than "opting—out schools" because the schools will not be opting out of state control. Indeed, they will not be opting out of anything unless the parents vote for it in two ballots, and opting out can then take place only if the Secretary of State confirms that decision.
The Bill is about a permissive power. The philosophy of the Conservative party is that people are free, that people should be free to do what they want within reason and that it is up to the state to justify why that freedom should be curtailed. The near—hysterical reaction by the Labour party and the original disruption by certain Scottish National Members showed what they really fear—parental choice. They do not trust parents to come to sensible decisions for their own school, their own children and their own community. If they trusted parents, Opposition Members would not object to them having the opportunity of a ballot. They do not trust parents even with the safeguard of the second ballot and confirmation of the Secretary of State. That hysteria springs from the Opposition's realisation that the concept of schools becoming self—governing will prove popular. If they believed in their own rhetoric and that the idea will never catch on in Scotland, why have they opposed it with such vehemence?
On the question of a change of character for a school—a power that already exists, except that no ballot is needed for it—why should parents not have that right? Comprehensivisation is not the last word in education and never will be. The hon. Member for Dundee, East referred to this point and I repeat: if parents want to choose selection on academic grounds, I say that we should let them. We should break down the barriers between the second—rate inner—city comprehensives and the nice 275 middle—class suburban comprehensives. Let us have social mixing based on merit and let us not prevent it by selection based on parental wealth or simply on where people happen to live. We have selection at the moment, but it is selection by stealth. Let us have selection in the open and on merit. The present comprehensive system of selection by stealth is wrong.
In conclusion, I believe firmly that the Bill is about choice, responsibility, diversity and freedom. It is not so much about schools opting out of an education authority's control, but rather about opting in to a new era of opportunity and diversity in the state sector. The question which the Opposition must face and not duck is not how they can prevent schools from becoming self—governing, rather why are schools so dissatisfied with education authority control that they want to become self—governing.
Let us grasp the challenge of change and the opportunity to extend responsibility. The Bill has nothing to do with market forces, rather the conscious, rational and democratic decision of parents and local communities to have a greater say in the future of their children.
§ 10.4 pm
§ Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline, West)
I will not follow the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Amos) in going through his reasons for supporting the Bill. It strikes me as strange that any Conservative Members who are serving on the Committee should support the guillotine motion: they seem to have enjoyed the Committee so much that they might want it to continue ad infinitum. They seem to have had an enjoyable time, but whether they have advanced the thinking on Scottish education is another matter.
On Second Reading, I remember crossing the Chamber to have a word with the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth)—perhaps one should not do that. I said to him in friendly terms, which was stretching my tolerance quite a bit, that the trouble with him was that he actually believed that the Bill would make a great change to Scottish education. He has all the beliefs of the zealot. He did not argue with me. I also said that little of our legislation on education will alter children. At the centre of anything that we do about education, we must consider the children.
I want to consider the process of legislation in this House. I hope that I carry the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) with me, as I believe that, in a previous incarnation, he was something of a management consultant. If we were to look to our proceedings in managerial terms, does he believe in all honesty that anyone would support the way in which we deal with legislation? Here we are in the Mother of Parliaments in the closing years of the 20th century carrying on in an adversarial manner over something that affects the fundamentals of human life—how one educates a human being. We are considering the education of nursery school children as well as those aged five and over.
We have heard stories of how Opposition Members—who do not have the advice from people in the Box—have had to rely, rightly or wrongly, on information from pressure groups outside the House. In other systems of government, pressure groups are invited to the legislature and are party to what is tantamount to a Select Committee stage. Things are done in the open. The difference here is that the only pressure groups that have had anything to do with the formulation of the Bill are those that adhere to 276 Tory party philosophy. No other pressure group in Scotland, whether it is the Educational Institute of Scotland, the experts in education, the Scottish Secondary Teachers Association or those dealing with the sensitive issue of special needs education, have had any say in the formulation of the Bill.
To use a Shanklyism: "I left school at 14; I never had much education; I had to use my brains." I am always sensitive about the educational process and I carefully guard how we change that process. In Scotland, rather vaingloriously, we prize what we do in education. I believe that we exaggerate our competence. We may have been extremely good in the past, but in international terms I doubt whether we will be as good in the 1990s as we were in the 1890s. That is another matter. We are altering the basis of education by a Bill that is adversarial. We cannot gainsay that.
§ Mr. Gerald Howarth (Cannock and Burntwood)
If the hon. Gentleman is complaining that the measure has been formulated only inside the Conservative party and by Conservative party pressure groups, how does he account for the fact that the leader of Strathclyde regional council, Charles Gray, said that he had dreamed up these proposals five years ago?
§ Mr. Douglas
I will bear many burdens in my political life, but the opinions of Mr. Charles Gray are not a burden that I will bear this evening.
I do not know who has been caught out. I accept that there may be support for the Bill in Scotland. What I am talking about is the fact that the Government are trying to impose a timetable on the Bill. I have been around long enough in the parliamentary process to know that Governments win. I am complaining that we have become a legislative sausage machine.
When I show parties of schoolchildren through the House, I show them the volumes of Acts that have been passed by Parliament. If I take out an edition from the 1930s, it is a slim volume; I know that there have been amendments to much of that legislation. When we get to the 1970s and the 1980s, there are numerous volumes. So we have become a legislative sausage machine. It is impossible for any hon. Member to have a comprehensive knowledge of the technical aspects of all legislation, particularly education measures.
We try to kid the electorate that we are experts and are competent on a range of legislation. That is not true. 'We cannot produce good legislation by the present process. The imposition of a timetable motion to back up the adversarial process is guaranteed to produce bad legislation, whatever Government are in power. We have to find different means of producing legislation. We have them, but the only occasion that I was involved in the Committee stage of a Bill when we started off with the Select Committee procedure was when we dealt with a measure on deep ocean mining. We had all the experts before the Select Committee. I am not saying that I agreed with the legislation, but technically it bears examination.
Putting aside the legislative process, I shall deal with the social philosophy underlying the Bill. The hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) is not here at the moment, The Government can claim that, if it is possible to have self—governing schools, people will avail themselves of the 277 opportunity in the Bill to do so. Whether it is Paisley grammar school or another school that is under threat, someone will make use of the option.
As soon as a school—perhaps in Fife, although I hope not—is under threat of closure, a group of parents will form a pressure group. They will look for the medium—term advantage to be gained by coming out of the system. The result will not necessarily be chaotic or totally disruptive, but there will be an emulative effect related to snobbery. There can be no gainsaying that. I have nothing against Paisley grammar school, but the whole process will lead to people wanting their children to go to a school that is "better".
In Scotland we have historically gone against that. Rightly or wrongly, people in England have been for it. They have had a tradition of grammar schools, but our tradition has been basically comprehensive. The Under—Secretary of State for Scotland, who went to school in Arbroath, knows that—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) wants to go back to Burns's time. If we go back, we shall find that the farmers gathered together and put their pennies in to create a school. We have evolved from that system and said that the best and most equitable way to provide education is for state and local authorities together to finance it, to remove the concept of snobbery, which the Bill is designed to introduce.
The Bill is designed to be socially disruptive, not only to the educational system, but, fundamentally, to the democratic views held in Scotland. If the English want their educational system, that is fine. However, the Scots have historically related their educational system to their view of democracy.
The Scottish educational system, which comes from the Church, is a democratic one. The hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross (Sir N. Fairbairn) asked about Scottish history. Anybody who knows anything about Scottish history knows that the Scots' views on democracy spring from, and are interrelated with, our educational system. That is what the Government do not like.
The person whose 10—year stay in power some people will celebrate tomorrow does not like or understand the fact that she is not liked in Scotland, and she does not like Scotland. The primary reason for that is the basic difference between her concept of democracy and that of the Scottish people. The Prime Minister has a Socratic, Platonic view of who should govern, which is that he or she who knows, should govern. I shall not return to basic philosophy but she thinks that she knows what is best. However, the Scots fundamentally reject that concept and believe that the individual knows what is best.
The Scottish school system promotes that concept. That is why, if a disruptive element is introduced, it will destroy and undermine the social cohesion that we have in Scotland. That is why I am against this measure on educational, egalitarian and social grounds. It is not that I think that everything in the Scottish education system is perfect, but if we are to alter that system, we must listen openly, not covertly, to the people engaged in Scottish education today. We must listen to their views and try to determine what type of education will benefit the democratic and social cohesion of Scotland after 2000 AD.
278 The young people who will be involved in the education process are not merely those who will be affected in 1990, when the provisions of the Act come into force. They are the ones who will produce the type of society that, industrially, commercially and above all socially, we want after the year 2000.
This is not the way to deal with social and educational legislation. It is an insult—not just to the people of Scotland, but to the democratic parliamentary process—to deal with a social measure in this way. If the Government want to have timetables and if it is essential to them to have benchmarks and to pass legislation, we should look for a newer and better approach to this type of legislation and to open it up, initially, to Select Committee procedure.
Some people have talked about imperilling the Union, and some hon. Members have said that we are a unitary Parliament. I accept the strictures of that argument, but we are not a unitary Parliament. People in Northern Ireland have, and have had to have, a different view, and there has been great pressure for devolution there. There were many difficulties about Stormont, and I said to the then Prime Minister, "If you abolish Stormont, you will spend the rest of your time trying to recreate it."
I say to the House, rather obtusely, that if the Government continue to treat Scottish legislation in this way, they will be the disruptors of the Union: they will produce the friction. Scotland is not like Northern Ireland; with respect to my Welsh colleagues, it is not even like Wales. Scotland is a nation, and the Government are imperilling the social cohesion of that nation. If they continue to do so they will also imperil the Union. Scotland will gang its ane gae, and the Government of this day will bear the responsibility.
§ Mr. Michael Irvine (Ipswich)
When earlier this evening the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) said that all six members of the Committee who represented English constituencies would be regarded as aliens anywhere in Scotland, he was not only being offensive; he was being inaccurate. Some of us are of good Scottish stock and proud of it.
After the selection of Committee members had been announced, an article appeared in one of the less reputable Scottish newspapers saying that the Committee had been packed with six English bovver boys. I had my aunt on the telephone from Edinburgh: that good lady did not give a damn about my being described as a bovver boy, but was outraged that I had been described as an Englishman. Hon. Members such as the hon. Member for East Lothian who dismiss us so lightly and offensively should think again. It is, I think, quite noteworthy that even the Glasgow Herald was constrained not long ago to pay tribute to the assiduity of English Members' attendance in Committee, and the force with which we had put our arguments.
§ Mr. Leigh
The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) has just made a remark. He has not been a member of the Committee as we have; he has not been reading the Glasgow Herald as we have. Whatever our views on the constitutional question, what the Glasgow Herald actually said—I am being entirely fair to it—was that the English Committee members turned up and 279 argued their case, and there had been no criticism from the other side of the work that they had put into the Committee or of the care and diligence that they had devoted to the Bill.
§ Mr. Irvine
I accept and adopt those sentiments.
The hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. McLeish) has had rather a rough time in the debate. He started the Committee very well: his performance on the sittings motion was well up to standard. Things went wrong later, part of the reason being simply that in this Committee the Government case has been argued exceptionally effectively. It has not been one of those Committees in which Members on one side sit down and get on with their correspondence: quite the reverse. Debates have been very effective, and all Members on both sides have joined in with a will.
I think that that came as a surprise to Opposition Members on the Committee; it certainly came as a surprise to the hon. Member for Fife, Central, and I think that that was what threw him. He had expected to spend the entire time haranguing the Government and attacking the Bill. Suddenly he found that his own policies and arguments were coming under detailed scrutiny, and their weaknesses were being exposed. Suddenly he realised that the Bill was not imposing anything on Scottish parents; on the contrary, it was giving them greater choice. If they do not want to exercise that choice, that is a matter for them. They do not have to choose to opt out.
The hon. Member for Fife, Central had a difficult time. He had a particularly embarrassing time when we were debating amendment No. 40. He actually threatened to vote against his own amendment. Opposition Members have said hard things about the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth), but he kindly and courteously intervened and guided the hon. Member for Fife, Central away from potential embarrassment. His threat was not carried out.
As all the Committee members will know, it was Strathclyde regional council, and in particular its leader Mr. Charles Gray, which eventually did for the hon. Member for Fife, Central. During the course of the Committee, we all came to describe Mr. Gray affectionately as Sir Charles Gray. Quite possibly one day he will reap his reward for the very convincing way in which he demolished the hon. Member for Fife, Central.
There was certainly filibustering in the Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) has referred to the strange occasion when the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Madonald) stopped in mid-sentence. I do not want to say anything against the hon. Member for Western Isles or cause him undue embarrassment, because some of his contributions were very effective. However, Hansard records that he had been called to order on eight separate occasions within 10 minutes for wandering away from the point. After being called to order eight times, the hon. Member for Western Isles stopped at the end of his sentence and remained standing. This has been mentioned before, but I cannot refrain from repeating what happened; it deserves recapitulation. The Chairman said:Order. Let us be clear. The hon. Member must not stand without speaking, because it cannot be recorded in Hansard. It cannot be said that during the day the hon. Member has shown a lack of words, but. if he has now run out of words, we may make progress."[Official Report, First Scottish Standing Committee, 21 March 1989; c. 250.]280 That gives the House some of the flavour of what has been happening in Committee.
The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) represents the other extreme. Reference has been made to his behaviour. He never runs short of words. They pour out like a great Highland waterfall, whatever the hour of day or night. He rants. We heard a prize rant the other evening when he went on about political extremists and ideologies. A crazed look entered his eyes. He began to talk about the full moon and fangs growing. I think he had my hon Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) in mind. Again that gives the House the flavour of what has been happening in Committee.
Most offensively of all, the hon. Member for Dundee, East ran down the Corridor to Committee Room 9 to vote in the Committee on the Local Government and Housing Bill which is concerned entirely with English legislation. Unlike the English members of the Committee on the Self-Governing Schools etc. (Scotland) Bill, he did not have the courtesy to continue to participate in debate.
Opposition Members must be rescued from themselves. The guillotine is a kindness to them. The sooner it is introduced, the better for them and for us.
§ Mr. Donald Dewar (Glasgow, Garscadden)
Several times this evening it has been said that a number of alien figures far removed from mainstream Scottish life were on the Committee. After the last speech, that point is not one that I need labour.
I congratulate my hon. Friends on their hard stint on the Committee. I particularly thank my hon. Friends the Members for Fife, Central (Mr. McLeish) and for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith). But I include in my thanks all Labour members of that Committee, who tolerated a great deal of provocation, operated in very difficult circumstances, and stuck to the arguments extremely effectively. It was hard pounding, but my hon. Friends did their job, and they wish to continue doing so.
Our basic complaint is that the guillotine will crush into the straitjacket of a timetable a very large number of important points concerning the future of Scottish education. They include the future of further education, testing in primary schools, the establishment of technology academies, the appraisal and dismissal of teachers, and even the office of lord rector and its position in our universities.
Debate on all those matters will be compressed into a short time with only one pause for breath—when, very conveniently if somewhat illogically, the Committee will not sit on a certain Thursday simply because the Conservative party conference in Scotland is being held that day. We are entitled to protest about that, and we certainly do so.
Right hon. and hon. Members listening to the debate may have grasped the fact that this is an unusual Bill. It is unusual because it deals with a highly controversial remodelling of Scottish education, and makes a central attack on the basis of our school system, for good or ill, that came upon us totally unexpectedly. I accept that it was one of the very few occasions when the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) was out of step and doing his own thing in the Scottish. Conservative party.
During the last general election, I clearly remember that, when the news came through about schools in 281 England opting out, the chairman of the Conservative party in Scotland, Lord Goold, and the junior Minister at the Scottish Office hurried to put out a statement reassuring Scottish public opinion that there was no question of opting out being introduced in Scotland. It was not a question of the Conservative manifesto being silent on the subject but of a specific assurance from the Conservative hierarchy that Scotland did not need to worry because opting out would not happen there. For that reason alone we are entitled to take a serious view of what has happened since.
I recognise that, because of the Conservatives' weakness in Scotland as a result of the electoral disaster that overcame them there, the Government were unable to mart the Scottish Standing Committee in the normal fashion and in the way that we have come to understand and expect. One might have expected the Government to handle that situation with a little delicacy and tact. I cannot prove this, but my opinion—it is shared seriously by a number of my right hon. and hon. Friends—is that, for perverse reasons, the Minister set out to pick a task force to ram the Bill through in the most offensive and abrasive manner he could possibly manage.
The Government put together—I use the term again —an offensive collection of English Back Benchers, many of whom are connected with the No Turning Back group. That group would be the first to admit that it is an extreme Right-wing group within the Tory party—[Laughter.] Well, I had the misfortune to read one or two of its pamphlets, and the rather silly laughter from the Conservative Benches does nothing to destroy the weight of the point that I make.
I pay a compliment to Conservative Members such as the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown). That hon. Gentleman came to the Committee with a well-deserved reputation for being offensive, and he lived up to it. He is, if I may say so, the parliamentary equivalent of a walking breach of the peace. [Laughter.] We can laugh about it, and I invite laughter at this stage—but I am making a serious point at the same time. I do not like that combination.
I have not sat through the entire Committee proceedings, although I have dipped into the Committee stage. It became clear that many hon. Members on the Committee were treating it as if it were a public school jape in which points had to be scored. If they could irritate, that was a victory, and if they could reduce the Opposition to fury, that was a major triumph. That is hardly the way in which to conduct a serious debate about Scottish education. Much of the debate was conducted on the basis of total ignorance.
I read in the Committee Hansard that my hon. Friend the Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith) referred to the "qualy". Anyone of my age group who has been to school in Scotland, or anyone who takes an interest in Scottish education knows what the "qualy" is, but it was greeted with cries of, "What's that?" from English Conservative Members. It was clear from one of the speeches about Roman Catholic education in Scotland that an English member of the Committee did not understand that Roman Catholic schools were part of the state system. He did not understand the fundamental basics of the Scottish education system, yet he was 282 clowning, cavorting, criticising and ramming down our throats his particular prejudices as though it were a virility symbol to do so.
§ Mr. Allan Stewart
The hon. Gentleman referred to his hon. Friend the Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith), but in col. 381 his hon. Friend referred to religious education as the teaching of witchcraft. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that?
§ Mr. Dewar
There is some dispute about that. However, the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) may object to remarks from the Opposition as being wrong. At least Opposition Members knew about Scottish education, which is more than can be said of some of the imported forced labour serving on that Committee.
To take an example of the way in which the Committee proceedings were conducted, I draw attention to a speech by the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes. Perhaps I should make it clear that he is referring to the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth), as it is such an unlikely passage.
My task"—said the hon. Gentleman modestly—in the Committee is to ensure that there is no backsliding. Opposition Members do not understand how meek, mild and reasonable my hon. Friend the Minister is.That certainly says something about the hon. Gentleman's ideological position. He went on:To ensure that there is no backsliding, it is essential that he has strong men behind him. It is an excellent Bill, but my hon. Friend the Minister has a reputation for conceding amendments to the Opposition."—[Official Report, First Scottish Standing Committee, 16 March 1989; c. 17.]We can take that at two levels: if we accept it as a serious comment, it is simply alarming—or we can take it as an asinine display of stupidity. I leave the House to decide which is more plausible.
Of course the Committee has ended up in trench warfare. I regret that, but I do not believe that it is our fault. The first day on which the Committee sat—excluding the day of the disruption—we did not start at 10.30 am and sit until 1 o'clock. We had a sittings motion that took us into the depths of the night, and we sat until after 11 pm on the first day.
In my 15 years in the House—no one could say that I did not serve my time in Scottish Committees—I cannot remember such a timetable motion. Clearly it was designed and tabled with the intention of bulldozing the measure through with absolutely no concern or consideration for Scottish opinion.
Great play has been made of the fact that an amendment was tabled which would have had an unintended consequence. When that was recognised, the amendment was withdrawn. A mistake was made in an amendment and an attempt was made to withdraw it. What I find significant is not that in all those hours a mistake was made by the Opposition—it would be remarkable if no mistakes were made—but that when attempts were made to withdraw the amendment, attempts were made, clearly out of spite, to retain it in the debate and the Minister adopted it into the Bill, presumably because he saw it as a chance to claim a victory and embarrass our side of the Committee, although he clearly did not think that there was any educational case for it, as it was not in the Bill originally. It is such frivolous matters that are so offensive.
283 The Bill has been an unpleasant business. What has happened has not reflected any credit on the Minister, his colleagues and, ultimately, the House. This abrasive approach to Scottish business and insensitive conduct will breed cynicism and a certain disenchantment with the democratic process. The hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Amos), who had a well-written speech, spoke of our hysterical over-reaction to the Bill, which showed that he does not understand what Scottish education feels about this measure. It no doubt looks like hysterical over-reaction from his point of view and that of his English constituents, but in Scotland there is deep opposition to, and deep distrust and deep dislike of this measure. It is genuinely seen as a root-and-branch attack that cannot be justified. The way in which the Bill has been handled and rammed through in Committeee has added to the disillusionment and anger about what is happening in this country.
The Bill will damage confidence not only in the Government—there is little enough confidence to damage —but in the system. I take no pleasure from that and I do not like it. If this is to be the model of what is to come from the Secretary of State, I strongly advise him, for the sake of all of us, to have second thoughts.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Malcolm Rifkind)
In the 15 years that I have had the privilege of serving in the House, this has been the most extraordinary debate on a timetable motion that I have experienced. The hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) told the House that the Opposition are using every means at their disposal to resist the Bill. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) told us that this is one of the most detested Bills that he has experienced. He criticised my hon. Friends from English constituencies for the many hours of hard work that they put in on the Committee. He did not inform the House—and if his protestations are to have the slightest merit, he should have done so—that he did not serve on the Committee. Why, on a Committee on which the Secretary of Scotland was serving with other hon. Members—
§ Mr. Rifkind
The hon. Gentleman cannot avoid the fact that I played a considerably greater part than he did. He seeks, with synthetic fury, to suggest that the Opposition —[Interruption.]
The debate has been consistent with the principle of the dog that did not bark in the night. We did not hear the normal references to the Government trying to stifle debate. The hon. Member for Garscadden could hardly accuse the Government of trying to stifle debate when last night part I, which deals with opting out, was completed before the motion came before the House. All the clauses dealing with self-governing schools have been fully debated and are not affected by the motion.
Furthermore, we did not hear, because we could not hear, that the Bill is being rushed through—for the simple reason that, before the Committee stage began, the Opposition said that they would like between 120 and 130 hours to consider it. How much time will we have as a 284 result of the motion? Some 156 hours will be spent considering it, which is more than the Opposition asked for. The Government have responded to the Committee by agreeing to amendments and making concessions as a result of the arguments that have been used. No fewer than eight amendments have been accepted, and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary has agreed to consider 25 issues raised by the Opposition and Government Back Benchers.
If the House or the Opposition do not believe my comments about the way in which the Opposition have handled the debate, they should consider the views of an organisation that is not entirely friendly to the Government—the Forum on Scottish Education. I should inform the House of its members so as to establish their credentials for saying how the Opposition have handled this matter. Its members include not only the Church of Scotland education committee but the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the Educational Institute of Scotland, the National Union of Students, the Scottish Trades Union Congress and the Association of University Teachers. In a statement published on 2 May and embargoed until 4 May—today—the Forum on Scottish Education says:The Forum on Scottish Education…has unanimously condemned time wasting by MPs who are members of the Standing Committee considering the Self-Governing Schools etc. (Scotland) Bill.
§ Mr. Home Robertson
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for the Secretary of State to break the embargo on that statement and to read it out the day before?
§ Mr. Rifkind
I am happy to tell the hon. Gentleman that it was embargoed until 1 o'clock on Thursday 4 May and it is now 10.45 pm. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Rifkind
If the Forum on Scottish Education is good enough to send me a copy, I am entitled to refer to it. The forum says that ithas unanimously condemned time wasting by MPs who are members of the Standing Committee considering the Self-Governing Schools etc (Scotland) Bill.The Rev. Dr. J. Ian McDonald, Chairman of the Forum, said in Edinburgh that despite over 100 hours of debate at twenty-one sittings of the Committee, only Clause 29 had been reached.Since then we have gone a little further.
The statement quotes Dr. McDonald:'The Forum thinks that it is particularly deplorable that the concept of 'prime time', that is of debates taking place at a time which will ensure maximum media coverage, has been used tactically…in order to delay the consideration of important Clauses. The Forum calls on all Members serving on the Committee to drop disruptive and time wasting tactics and to make the best possible use of the time which remains for giving serious consideration to the remaining Clauses.'That was a statement by the Forum on Scottish Education, which includes the EIS, STUC and COSLA. If that is the forum's judgment on the Opposition, it makes the remarks of the leader of the Labour group on Strathclyde regional council positively helpful in comparison.
§ Mr. Dewar
I have not had the advantage of reading this embargoed statement as yet, but I did not notice in it any words that condemn the Opposition specifically. It 285 was a comment on the Committee as a whole. [Interruption.] Having read the record of a number of the Committee's sittings and having sat through several hours of its debates, it seems to me that the Secretary of State is, on behalf of his colleagues, going for an exercise in self-criticism.
§ Mr. Rifkind
The argument that the Government have an interest in prolonging debate on one of their own Bills —[Interruption.] That may be what the hon. Gentleman likes to suggest, but it is obvious who is condemned in the statement, to the Opposition's shame.
The Bill does not impose a single obligation on anyone in Scotland. It provides opportunities for those parents who wish to exercise them, and it is that freedom that Her Majesty's Opposition have always been adamant in resisting. They believe that they know better than the people and parents of Scotland what is appropriate for Scottish education, yet if they knew Scottish education as well as they claim, they would know that the right of local communities to control their school structure is among the finest traditions of Scottish education.
This is a guillotine motion, but it is probably the first guillotine in the history of the House that is being used for the purposes of mercy killing. It is because the Opposition are anxious to be spared the interminable embarrassment that they have experienced because of the superb way in which my hon. Friends who have served on the Committee have fulfilled their responsibilities. It is very much on that basis that I have no hesitation in commending the motion to the House.
§ It being three hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MR. SPEAKER put the Question necessary to dispose of them, pursuant to Standing Order No. 81 (Allocation of time to Bills).
§ The House divided: Ayes 214, Noes 135.287
|Division No. 185]||[10.49 pm|
|Alexander, Richard||Coombs, Simon (Swindon)|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Cope, Rt Hon John|
|Allason, Rupert||Couchman, James|
|Amos, Alan||Cran, James|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Currie, Mrs Edwina|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Davis, David (Boothferry)|
|Bellingham, Henry||Day, Stephen|
|Blaker, Rt Hon Srr Peter||Dorrell, Stephen|
|Bottomley, Peter||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||Dover, Den|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg &Cl't's)||Durant, Tony|
|Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)||Dykes, Hugh|
|Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick||Eggar, Tim|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Emery, Sir Peter|
|Burns, Simon||Evennett, David|
|Burt, Alistair||Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas|
|Butler, Chris||Fallon, Michael|
|Butterfill, John||Favell, Tony|
|Carlisle, John, (Luton N)||Fenner, Dame Peggy|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Forman, Nigel|
|Carrington, Matthew||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Carttiss, Michael||Forth, Eric|
|Cash, William||Fowler, Rt Hon Norman|
|Chapman, Sydney||Fox, Sir Marcus|
|Chope, Christopher||Freeman, Roger|
|Churchill, Mr||French, Douglas|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Gale, Roger|
|Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)||Gardiner, George|
|Colvin, Michael||Garel-Jones, Tristan|
|Conway, Derek||Gill, Christopher|
|Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)||Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles|
|Gow, Ian||Morris, M (N'hampton S)|
|Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)||Morrison, Sir Charles|
|Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)||Neale, Gerrard|
|Greenway, John (Ryedale)||Nelson, Anthony|
|Gregory, Conal||Newton, Rt Hon Tony|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Grist, Ian||Nicholson, David (Taunton)|
|Ground, Patrick||Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley|
|Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn||Paice, James|
|Hague, William||Pawsey, James|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Hanley, Jeremy||Porter, Barry (Wirral S)|
|Hannam, John||Porter, David (Waveney)|
|Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')||Powell, William (Corby)|
|Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)||Raffan, Keith|
|Harris, David||Raison, Rt Hon Timothy|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Rathbone, Tim|
|Hawkins, Christopher||Redwood, John|
|Hayes, Jerry||Renton, Tim|
|Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney||Riddick, Graham|
|Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)||Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm|
|Hind, Kenneth||Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)|
|Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)||Rossi, Sir Hugh|
|Hordern, Sir Peter||Rowe, Andrew|
|Howard, Michael||Shaw, David (Dover)|
|Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)||Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)|
|Howarth, G. (Cannock &B'wd)||Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')|
|Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)||Sims, Roger|
|Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)||Skeet, Sir Trevor|
|Hunt, David (Wirral W)||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)||Speller, Tony|
|Hunter, Andrew||Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)|
|Irvine, Michael||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Jack, Michael||Squire, Robin|
|Janman, Tim||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Jessel, Toby||Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey||Steen, Anthony|
|Jones, Robert B (Herts W)||Stern, Michael|
|Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Stevens, Lewis|
|Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)||Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)|
|Knapman, Roger||Stradling Thomas, Sir John|
|Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)||Taylor, Ian (Esher)|
|Knowles, Michael||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Knox, David||Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman|
|Lamont, Rt Hon Norman||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Lang, Ian||Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)|
|Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel||Thurnham, Peter|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)||Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)|
|Lightbown, David||Tracey, Richard|
|Lilley, Peter||Trotter, Neville|
|Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Lord, Michael||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Lyell, Sir Nicholas||Waddington, Rt Hon David|
|Macfarlane, Sir Neil||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|MacGregor, Rt Hon John||Walden, George|
|Mac Kay, Andrew (E Berkshire)||Walker, Bill (T'side North)|
|Maclean, David||Waller, Gary|
|McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)||Ward, John|
|Madel, David||Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)|
|Mans, Keith||Warren, Kenneth|
|Maples, John||Watts, John|
|Marland, Paul||Wells, Bowen|
|Marlow, Tony||Wheeler, John|
|Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Martin, David (Portsmouth S)||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Mates, Michael||Wilshire, David|
|Maude, Hon Francis||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Wolfson, Mark|
|Mellor, David||Wood, Timothy|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Miller, Sir Hal|
|Mills, Iain||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Mitchell, Sir David||Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory|
|Monro, Sir Hector||and Mr. Tom Sackville.|
|Abbott, Ms Diane||Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)|
|Anderson, Donald||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Ingram, Adam|
|Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)||Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)|
|Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)||Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald|
|Barron, Kevin||Kennedy, Charles|
|Beckett, Margaret||Kirkwood, Archy|
|Beggs, Roy||Lambie, David|
|Beith, A. J.||Lamond, James|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Lestor, Joan (Eccles)|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||McAllion, John|
|Bradley, Keith||McAvoy, Thomas|
|Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)||Macdonald, Calum A.|
|Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)||McKelvey, William|
|Buckley, George J.||McLeish, Henry|
|Caborn, Richard||McNamara, Kevin|
|Campbell-Savours, D. N.||McWilliam, John|
|Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)||Madden, Max|
|Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)||Mahon, Mrs Alice|
|Clay, Bob||Marek, Dr John|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Maxton, John|
|Cook, Robin (Livingston)||Meacher, Michael|
|Corbett, Robin||Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)|
|Cousins, Jim||Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l &Bute)|
|Cox, Tom||Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)|
|Crowther, Stan||Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Cryer, Bob||Morgan, Rhodri|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Mowlam, Marjorie|
|Darling, Alistair||Mullin, Chris|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)||Nellist, Dave|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I)||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Dewar, Donald||O'Neill, Martin|
|Dixon, Don||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Dobson, Frank||Patchett, Terry|
|Doran, Frank||Pike, Peter L.|
|Douglas, Dick||Powell, Ray (Ogmore)|
|Dunnachie, Jimmy||Prescott, John|
|Eadie, Alexander||Quin, Ms Joyce|
|Evans, John (St Helens N)||Richardson, Jo|
|Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)||Roberts, Allan (Bootle)|
|Field, Frank (Birkenhead)||Robertson, George|
|Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)||Robinson, Geoffrey|
|Fisher, Mark||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|Flannery, Martin||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert|
|Foster, Derek||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Foulkes, George||Sillars, Jim|
|Fraser, John||Skinner, Dennis|
|Fyfe, Maria||Smith, C. (Isl'ton &F'bury)|
|Galbraith, Sam||Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)|
|Garrett, John (Norwich South)||Snape, Peter|
|Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Soley, Clive|
|Godman, Dr Norman A.||Spearing, Nigel|
|Golding, Mrs Llin||Strang, Gavin|
|Gordon, Mildred||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)|
|Gould, Bryan||Wall, Pat|
|Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)||Wallace, James|
|Hardy, Peter||Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)|
|Harman, Ms Harriet||Wilson, Brian|
|Haynes, Frank||Winnick, David|
|Henderson, Doug||Worthington, Tony|
|Hinchliffe, David||Wray, Jimmy|
|Home Robertson, John|
|Hood, Jimmy||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Howarth, George (Knowsley N)||Mr. Ken Eastham and|
|Howells, Geraint||Mr. Allen McKay.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
That the following provisions shall apply to the remaining proceedings on the Bill:—
1.—(1) The Standing Committee to which the Bill is allocated shall report the Bill to the House on or before 18th May 1989.
(2) Proceedings on the Bill at a sitting of the Standing Committee on the said 18th May may continue until Ten o'clock whether or not the House is adjourned before that time, and if the House is adjourned before those proceedings have been brought to a conclusion the Standing Committee shall report the Bill to the House on 19th May 1989.
Report and Third Reading
2.—(1) The proceedings on consideration and Third Reading of the Bill shall be completed in one allotted day and shall be brought to a conclusion at midnight on that day; and for the purposes of Standing Order No. 80 (Business Committee) this Order shall be taken to allot to the proceedings on consideration such part of that day as the Resolution of the Business Committee may determine.
(2) The Business Committee shall report to the House its Resolution as to the proceedings on consideration of the Bill, and as to the allocation of time between those proceedings and proceedings on Third Reading, not later than the fourth day on which the House sits after the day on which the Chairman of the Standing Committee reports the Bill to the House.
(3) The Resolutions in any report made under Standing Order No. 80 may be varied by a further Report so made, whether or not within the time specified in sub-paragraph (2) above, and whether or not the Resolutions have been agreed to by the House.
(4) The Resolutions of the Business Committee may include alterations in the order in which proceedings on consideration of the Bill are taken.
Procedure in Standing Committee
3.—(1) At a sitting of the Standing Committee at which any proceedings on the Bill are to be brought to a conclusion under a Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee the Chairman shall not adjourn the Committee under any Order relating to the sittings of the Committee until the proceedings have been brought to a conclusion.
(2) No Motion shall be made in the Standing Committee relating to the sitting of the Committee except by a member of the Government, and the Chairman shall permit a brief explanatory statement from the Member who makes, and from a Member who opposes, the Motion, and shall then put the Question thereon.
4. No Motion shall be made to alter the order in which Clauses, Schedules, new Clauses and new Schedules are taken in the Standing Committee but the Resolutions of the Business Sub-Committee may include alterations in that order.
Conclusions of proceedings in Committee
5. On the conclusion of the proceedings in any Committee on the Bill the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without putting any Question.
6. No dilatory Motion with respect to, or in the course of, proceedings on the Bill shall be made in the Standing Committee or on allotted day except by a member of the Government, and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.
7.—(1) On the allotted day paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted Business) shall apply to the proceedings on the Bill for two hours after Ten o'clock.
(2) Any period during which proceedings on the Bill may be proceeded with after Ten o'clock under paragraph (7) of Standing Order No. 20 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) shall be in addition to said period of two hours.
(3) If the allotted day is one to which a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 stands over from an earlier day, paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business) shall apply to the proceedings on the Bill for a period of time equal to the duration of the proceedings upon that Motion.
8. Any private business which has been set down for
consideration at Seven o'clock on the allotted day shall, instead of being considered as provided by Standing Orders, be considered at the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill on that day, and paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business) shall apply to the private business for a period of three hours from the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill or, if those proceedings are concluded before Ten o'clock, for a period equal to the time elapsing between Seven o'clock and the conclusion of those proceedings.
Conclusion of proceedings
9.—(1) For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed by this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee or the Business Sub-Committee and which have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall forthwith put the following Questions (but no others)—
(2) Proceedings under sub-paragraph (1) above shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.
(3) If an allotted day is one on which a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) would, apart from this Order, stand over to Seven o'clock—
(4) If an allotted day is one to which a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 stands over from an earlier day, the bringing to a conclusion of any proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee, are to be brought to a conclusion on that day shall be postponed for a period equal to the duration of the proceedings on that Motion.
10.—(1) The proceedings on any Motion made in the House by a member of the Government for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order (including anything which might have been the subject of a report of the Business Committee or Business Sub-Committee) shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion one hour after they have been commenced, and paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business) shall apply to the proceedings.
(2) If on the allotted day the House is adjourned, or the sitting is suspended, before the time appointed by this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee as the time at which any proceedings on the Bill are to be brought to a conclusion, no notice shall be required of a Motion moved at the next sitting by a member of the Government for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order.
11. Nothing in this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee or Business Sub-Committee shall—
12.—(1) References in this Order to proceedings on consideration or proceedings on Third Reading include references to proceedings, at those stages respectively, for, on or in consequence of, recommittal.
(2) On an allotted day no debate shall be permitted on any Motion to recommit the Bill (whether as a whole or otherwise), and Mr. Speaker shall put forthwith any Question necessary to dispose of the Motion, including the Question on any amendment moved to the Question.
13. In this Order—
allotted day" means any day (other than a Friday) on which the Bill is put down as first Government Order of the Day provided that a Motion for allotting time to the proceedings on the Bill to be taken on that day either has been agreed on a previous day or is set down for consideration on that day;
the Bill" means the Self-Governing Schools etc. (Scotland) Bill;
Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee" means a Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee as agreed to by the Standing Committee;
Resolution of the Business Committee" means a Resolution of the Business Committee as agreed to by the House.