§ House again in Committee.
§ [Amendment No. 272ZB not moved.]
§ Clause 143 [Extension of function of London Residuary Body.]
Lord Peston moved Amendment No. 272A:
Page 137, line 7, at end insert—
("( ) In discharging its functions under this Act the London Residuary Body shall be treated as a principal council for the purposes of Part V A of the Local Government Act 1972 (Access to meetings and documents) and shall be a body to which the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 applies.").
§ The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 272A I shall speak also to Amendment No. 272B, on which the main emphasis of my words will fall. The Committee is discussing the extension of the life of the London Residuary Body and what will happen to the assets connected with the proposed abolition of the ILEA.263
§ I must apologise to the Committee. Before the break I understood that the noble Lord the Leader of the House made a number of observations about the London Residuary Body and they sounded rather interesting to me. However, we were proceeding at such a pace that unfortunately I did not take a proper note. I hope therefore that I shall be forgiven if I raise matters to which, in a sense, he has already responded.
§ In the first place, it must be recognised that the Inner London Education Authority owns a vast amount of valuable property. When this Bill becomes an Act, that property will devolve to the individual boroughs and I suppose that one of the interesting questions which this Chamber will be discussing in due course relates to that transfer. En passant, I should mention another matter that we have not discussed and which interests me as a general proposition—presumably we shall discuss this matter on Thursday—namely, that property which belongs to taxpayers will be taken from them as a result of this Bill and given to other bodies involved with the polytechnics and the grant-maintained schools. I mention that merely in passing, however, since Amendment No. 272A is not concerned with that matter.
§ Amendment No. 272B is essentially a probing amendment which raises questions about the disposal of properties. I suppose that the noble Baroness was right earlier when she accused me of pessimism. I must tell her that I am about to be pessimistic once again. Essentially the concern is with properties which are dedicated to education in one way or another either in the form of educational buildings or in the sense of dedicated playing fields and so on. Uppermost in my mind is the question of the criteria that will be applied when such properties are disposed of.
§ If I understand the law correctly, the duty of the LRB when disposing of any property simply consists of obtaining the best commercial value for it. That is my understanding of the present legal position and as it will apply to the disposal of ILEA properties under this Bill if it becomes an Act. We should not like to see that happen if it is fairly obvious that such properties could be better used for other purposes. That is a source of concern to these Benches.
§ Let me take the example of playing fields. I do not wish to emote over the value of playing fields or to assert that all character-building derives from what happens on the playing fields, but I am bound to say that I believe that boys playing football on Hackney Marshes on a Sunday (and one can see there hundreds of games of football being played) are better occupied than boys who are going around spreading graffiti on walls. Playing fields are on the whole a good thing.
§ If it should turn out that playing fields are, in some sense, surplus to the requirements of individual boroughs—and my argument is always a question of "if"—and it falls to the LRB to dispose of those properties, we feel that the LRB should be able to dispose of them not in order to obtain the highest commercial or development value but to obtain what is almost the reverse—the lowest commercial 264 value—by preserving them as playing fields. That is simply an example. Similarly, it seems to me that if it is a question of buildings that are not required for educational purposes in the maintained system, should people of a charitable nature come along who felt that they could make use of those buildings for suitable educational or related social purposes but could not possibly meet the development value of buildings, then at least it would be possible to dispose of the properties to them.
§ I should like the noble Baroness to reassure me that I am right. I believe anyway that the Secretary of State has power to intervene on matters of that kind and declare that such playing fields should remain as playing fields and not be used as the basis of development for, say, a block of flats. I believe that that is the case and I should like confirmation of it.
§ This amendment has been tabled in order to clarify the position and make explicit that the direction-making power (if it exists) is for educational purposes and not for other purposes. In particular, we believe that the Secretary of State ought to be in a position to intervene, and indeed should intervene by way of direction, so that property of an educational and community value is not sold or at least is not sold without due consideration, explicit argument and proper consultation. That is the basis of our argument.
§ I reiterate that this is a probing amendment. I do not intend to divide the Committee on the issue. We should like to use the discussion as a basis to discover rather more about what may be happening and in particular to declare that we want many of these properties protected for educational and similar purposes. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Hooper
I believe that the noble Lord was speaking to Amendments Nos. 272A and 272B. As I understand it, as well as the property matters to which the noble Lord referred, these amendments are largely concerned with the extent to which the LRB will take account of education interests in discharging its functions in relation to ILEA and the transfer of education responsibilities in inner London generally.
Clause 158 requires the LRB to comply with any directions given it by the Secretary of State. In issuing any such directions the Secretary of State would of course be under his duty under Section 1 of the Education Act 1944:to promote the education of the people of England … and the progressive development of institutions devoted to that purpose, and to secure the effective execution by local authorities, under his control and direction, of the national policy for providing a varied and comprehensive educational service in every area.That, in short, explains why this part of the amendment is unnecessary. The Secretary of State will of course want to ensure that the LRB acts in accordance with the educational interest of inner London. In any event, he will be under a duty.
It is not inconceivable that the Secretary of State might, in certain circumstances, direct the LRB to accept less than the full market value of a particular piece of property, if that would be in the educational or other interests of boroughs. But it would be difficult for the LRB to take that sort of decision without guidance by the Secretary of State. I have 265 already explained to the Committee in answer to a question on another occasion from my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing that we recognise the importance of sports facilities; and we are of course willing to discuss specific issues with those with an interest in sport. In the meantime any arrangements which the Inner London Education Authority might wish to make on the disposal of property is of course subject to consent from the Secretary of State.
There are, I think, two other points raised by this amendment. The first is that meetings of the board of the LRB should be open to the public, and their papers published. This is not, of course, the case with the LRB at present, nor do I think it would be appropriate in the future. The London Residuary Body is in existence for a specified period only, to carry out as quickly as possible certain transactions which are, to a large extent, of a commercially sensitive nature. It would not be appropriate for the meetings of the board to be treated as though they were the meetings of a borough council. Questions arising on the work of the LRB at the moment are dealt with as necessary by the Secretary of State for the Environment, and questions relating to the LRB's work on ILEA would similarly be raised with my right honourable friend in future. That is the proper line of accountability in this case.
A second point raised by the amendment is that the inner London boroughs should designate members to serve on the LRB. Quite apart from the fact that to do so would mean trebling the size of the body, and completely overbalancing its present expertise, we do not believe that the nature of the LRB's tasks is such as to require such a large change in its membership. There is, however, some slack in the membership of the LRB in relation to what is permitted under the Local Government Act 1985, and it may well be that it will be appropriate for the Secretary of State to appoint a number of additional members with specific experience in education in order to inform the hoard's discussions. This is something to which we shall be giving further attention.
In the light of what I have said I hope that the noble Lord will not wish to press his amendment.
§ Lord Peston
I thank the noble Baroness. She will not be surprised to hear that I am not happy with the answer although I am not too unhappy. I should have liked her to have gone further on the openness point because I believe that it is a good thing. I do not believe that most of the matters I have in mind could be described as commercial incompetence. I am concerned with the disposal of valuable community assets. I should have thought a degree of openness in justifying that would be a good thing.
Having said that, I shall think more carefully about what she has said. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 272B not moved.]
§ Clause 143 agreed to.266
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Clause 144 [Development plans for education]:
Lord Kilmarnock moved Amendment No. 273:
Page 137, line 29, after ("areas") insert—
("( ) consult organisations representing Head Teachers of schools in their area").
§ The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 273, and Amendment No. 274 to which I am also speaking, are simple amendments. They affect Clause 144, which lays down the ground rules for the development plans. I had the impression from our earlier debates that the Government attach considerable importance to these development plans, not only as rigid blueprints of what the new LEA plans to do, but also as a consultation process. I understand from the intervention of the Leader of the House, when he wound up on the debate that we had before dinner, that the Government will be bringing forward amendments at Report stage to allow appointments to positions to take place during the development phase. One of the reasons why the Government rejected the amendment which I moved was that they felt that it would hold up this process in some way.
Clause 144(3) provides that in preparing a development plan a council shall, according to the Bill,
consult the local authorities for adjacent areas".
It shall also take into account,
any guidance given by the Secretary of State".
All that I am seeking to put into this clause is that it should also consult organisations representing head teachers of schools in their area. I should have thought that that would be a sensible provision. If there is a provision to consult the local authority for adjacent areas but not to consult those who have hitherto been responsible for the running and administration of the schools, there seems to be a gap.
§ I know that the noble Baroness and, I think, others have referred to reasonably friendly consultations taking place between the boroughs and ILEA. But it would seem to be sensible that we should have on the face of the Bill that the head teachers of the schools—the people who had been the frontline runners of the schools that will be transferred to the local authorities—should be in at this stage of the development plan. That is the sole purpose of these two amendments. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Hooper
I had rather assumed that the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, was tabling these amendments as probing amendments. I therefore hope that I shall be able to reassure the Committee on the point that they raise.
Amendment No. 273 would require inner London councils, in preparing their development plans, to consult organisations representing head teachers of schools in their area. I think that in many ways, such consultation is certainly common sense. The head teachers in each area will have a crucial part to play in advising the new local education authorities and in helping to establish new working arrangements. But I draw the Committee's attention in particular to Clause 144(3)(b) which requires councils to take into account any guidance given by my right honourable 267 friend as to consultation. Members of the Committee will be aware that the draft guidance which the department published three weeks ago made clear, in paragraph 45, that councils should consult all groups with a direct interest. That would plainly include heads, and indeed other teachers, both in schools and colleges.
If that is not clear enough, the fact that the guidance is at present in draft form means that the final guidance can—if it is indicated that it is not absolutely clear—be clarified in this respect. So I doubt whether it would be appropriate to specify whether councils should do this on an individual basis or formally through the teachers' associations. This is something which they will wish to decide in the light of local circumstances, although I would naturally expect that the representative associations and union would wish to engage in discussion with local councils about their plans; and indeed we are very much encouraging them to do so.
Amendment No. 274 goes on to require my right honourable friend, in issuing his guidance, to take account of the views of head teacher organisations about the way in which it should be published. As I said, the draft guidance has been sent to the bodies representing head teachers, and we shall naturally take into account any points they make, especially on the content of the guidance, but also on its presentation.
I must say, however, that it would be rather odd to require my right honourable friend on the face of the Bill to take into account the views of only one group, however important that group may be—and I do not wish to under-emphasise the important role of head teachers—in relation to the way in which the guidance is made public rather than what it actually says. I hope that in making the Government's position clear I have set the noble Lord's mind at rest and that he will therefore be willing to withdraw his amendment.
§ Lord Kilmarnock
I did not say that this was a probing amendment because I had rather thought the noble Baroness had assumed I would not press this to a Division at this time. She is perfectly right and of course it is. I must confess that I have not read the full draft guidance. I read a summary of it, which was quite long, but I have not read the draft guidance line by line. I think it runs to something like 40 pages. Perhaps that was remiss of me.
I am certainly prepared to accept what the noble Baroness says and, maybe, these would be the natural group to be consulted at this stage. Before withdrawing this amendment I should like to say that head teachers are quite clearly crucial to getting the new system off the ground. So I hope that when the guidance is firmed up—I think the noble Baroness said that it was only draft guidance and that there would be a final version—it will make this point very plainly to local education authorities. If that is the assurance that the noble Baroness is giving me, which I think she is, then I am perfectly happy to beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.268
Baroness Seear moved Amendment No. 273A:
Page 137, line 33 at end insert ("; and
(c) and any trust established under section 145(5A) of this Act,").
§ The noble Baroness said: With the permission of the Committee I should like also to speak to Amendments Nos. 274BZB, 274BZC, 274BZD, 274DZB and 274EZB. I am very much hoping that we shall find agreement with the Government on these amendments, because they are about a specific matter with which I believe the Government have very considerable sympathy, and that is provision for handicapped children, particularly residential schools for handicapped pupils.
§ The Government must be very well aware of the enormous importance of these schools, both to the young people who are in them and to the families which they serve. I have contact with—as I am sure have many members of the Committee—people who are using these schools, and the whole of their lives would be radically changed, and changed for the worse, if this provision was not available.
§ We are therefore asking that the position should be safeguarded by the establishment of a trust, so that there is no question of these premises, which are no doubt valuable, being used for some other purpose. This is a specific objective of the very greatest importance to be served by the establishment of a trust, in order that these residential schools for the handicapped may be maintained on a basis of permanence. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Hooper
I appreciate the noble Baroness's concern over the future of the residential schools for children with special educational needs maintained by the ILEA. There are 30 of them, 27 of which lie outside the ILEA boundary, either in the outer London boroughs or counties in the South-East of England.
About half of the schools are for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. The others cover a range of handicaps such as moderate and severe learning difficulties, autism and delicate children. At present there are about 1,000 pupils attending them. Most of the children are of course placed by ILEA but, in common with other residential special schools, they admit children from other LEAs. There are three residential special schools located in inner London boroughs and responsibility for them will fall to the relevant borough council. But the Government are aware that responsibility for the other 27 cannot be allocated in quite this straightforward way.
The department's draft guidance on the future provision of education in inner London addresses this point. While the guidance asks inner London borough councils to state their intentions within their development plans with regard to this group of schools, we recognise that there will need to be further discussion before firm proposals can be made as to their future.
As my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal explained earlier, we shall shortly be sending out to interested parties invitations for the first meeting of a working party which is to be established to consider this matter. The interested parties will, of course, be the 269 ILEA, the outer and inner London borough councils and those county authorities where these schools are located.
Through this working party, it will be our aim to reach agreement that either a borough or the LEA in which a school is situated will take on responsibility for these schools. There are precedents. When Middlesex disappeared as a county in 1965, the new outer London boroughs were able to decide among themselves responsibility for those Middlesex special schools which lay outside the county. However, I do not want at this stage to prejudge in detail the outcome of what may be the working party's deliberations.
The amendment proposes the establishment of a trust to run these schools, as the noble Baroness explained, although it does not say how this trust would be financed. It would presumably need to employ its own staff and expert help or to buy it in. The central thrust of our proposals for the provision of education in inner London from April 1990 is, of course, that each borough—like metropolitan LEAs elsewhere in the country—should be able to develop its own education service, including special education provision.
We recognise that, again like all other LEAs, the inner London boroughs will need to share their expertise in special education. But the department's Inner London Unit will be offering guidance as development plans are drawn up, in order to ensure that the necessary co-operation is built in. We are confident that in this way a strong special education service will be maintained, with an important element of local control. So I trust that with that reassurance of how we are planning to go about this situation the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.
§ Baroness David
May I ask the Minister a question which I do not think she answered in the course of her remarks? Do the staff of these schools and the parents know what is going on at the moment, because there must be quite acute anxiety about their position?
§ Baroness Hooper
As I said, guidance was distributed some three weeks ago to a very wide variety of people. I expect that the staff will certainly be aware of what is said in that and can go some way in being able to reassure the parents. As regards the establishment of the working group, I am not sure but I think that it was announced by my noble friend this afternoon, and therefore people might not be aware of it.
§ 9 p.m.
§ Lord Carter
Although the amendment refers only to residential schools for handicapped children, the Minister in her answer widened the scope to deal with special education generally. I shall do the same. The amendment refers to residential schools. As the Minister said, there are only about 1,000 children with special educational need in boarding schools. There are 5,000 children with special educational need in day schools. They must also be considered.
270 There are 8,300 children in inner London who have statements of special educational need. As we know, there are many more without statements. There are 6,600 in special schools, 495 in specialist units in mainstream schools and 1,200 receive individual support in mainstream schools.
The residential school that I referred to at Second Reading illustrates the problem that the successor to ILEA and the boroughs will face in handling this matter. It is the only boarding school for children with impaired vision in the ILEA area. The figures are for all the children with impaired vision in boarding and day schools, and 52 per cent. of the children either at the boarding or the day schools are from outside the ILEA area. Obviously, there must be something in the development plans for this trust or whatever is used to deal with the problem.
Reference was made to special boarding schools outside London. As the Minister said, there are 27 of these. It seems that the Government do not have the first idea of a policy because all we are offered is a working party. We are not told what is the Government's view on how the problem should be handled. Also there is the problem of the use of central services and resources.
At page 9 of the draft guidance for ILEA which has already been referred to one reads:The Secretary of State's initial view is that in general he would expect each borough to maintain any ILEA special school which is within its area, although decisions about the allocation of institutions to councils will reflect the totality of councils' plans, in order to ensure the satisfactory maintenance of provision in inner London".I have read that three times and believe that it is Civil Service jargon for saying, "We have not the first idea of how to do this. Will you please tell us how to do it?"
I referred to the only boarding school in London for the visually impaired. It is in Wandsworth. I referred also to it at Second Reading. Only seven out of 61 children come from Wandsworth. There are a further eight from the other ILEA boroughs, so only a quarter of the children, 15 out of 61, at that school come from the ILEA area. The other three-quarters come from the outer London boroughs and the Home Counties. As we know, the provision of special education is extremely expensive. The fees at that school are between £15,000 and £17,000 per head per annum. I repeat the question I asked at Second Reading. Is Wandsworth really equipped to take over a school with an annual budget of about £1 million where only seven out of the 61 children actually come from Wandsworth? That is only 11 per cent. of the children involved.
It is true that in the leaflet that Wandsworth has produced it claims that it wants to take over all 12 special schools in its area. This refers to the amendment moved by the noble Baroness. In reply to an earlier amendment the Minister said—I wrote the words down when she said them:The policy provision for funding should be located at the borough level".That presumably is to apply to special education. But what about the special schools which, through the accident of history, are in the poorer boroughs? Are they to rely on central resource grants to provide the special education in their areas, or are they to rely on 271 the kind of trust which is only to deal with the residential schools that the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, has referred to? All of this indicates the lack of planning and forethought that has entered into the Government's thinking on ILEA in relation to special schools. I hope that the noble Baroness will either be able to accept the amendment or to return at a later stage with some better ideas than the Government have produced so far.
§ Baroness Hooper
I shall try to meet one point as well as the general points that the noble Lord, Lord Carter, has raised. As I understand it, the amendment addresses specifically the cases of the 30 residential schools. That is why I confined my remarks to that factor. We have considered the general provision for special educational needs, and the cost element to which the noble Lord has drawn our attention is not really a problem because the cost follows the child. The recoupment takes place at full cost. Even if the example he quoted for Wandsworth were to exist where only a small number of local children were in the school, for children coming from other areas the full cost would be met in a similar way to what happens in other parts of the country. I do not foresee any major change or problem in that respect.
§ Baroness Seear
The response of the noble Baroness to the proposed amendment was sympathetic in tone, but all we have had as a hard offer is a working party. The noble Baroness says that the boroughs will continue to be responsible for special education provision for their own areas. Once again this raises the problem of what happens if a borough finds itself in financial difficulties.
The whole subject of the provision for handicapped pupils is of an order of its own. It is not the same kind of problem as the ordinary provision of schools for ordinary healthy children. The costs are very great, the anxieties are very great, the problems of dealing with such children are specialist and it requires specially trained staff to provide that education. Are the Government prepared to go any further and say that they will stand behind these schools in some way, so that this essential provision, both for the children and their families, can be guaranteed? If the boroughs cannot provide it, will there be some other provision, either through the trust as suggested in the amendment, or in some other way? Are the Government prepared to say that they give this high priority and that they will see that adequate provision is made for young people of this kind? Can the noble Baroness reassure us more on this issue?
§ Baroness Hooper
Because we have requested the boroughs to address this concern in the development plans they are to bring forward, we shall be looking closely at those plans to ensure that the provision is adequate. In terms of any other support, as I said, these arrangements are made in other parts of the country and therefore I see no reason why London boroughs, provided that they go about it the right way, should not be perfectly capable of and responsible for handling these needs.
§ Baroness Seear
I am not reassured that these schools will still be in operation and providing the service required in a few years' time. However, this is a probing amendment. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 274 not moved.]
Lord Peston moved Amendment No. 274AZA:
Leave out clause 144 and insert the following clause:
§ ("Development plans.
§ —(1) Not later than such date as the Secretary of State may direct, each inner London council shall prepare and publish a draft development plan—
- (a) providing full particulars of the manner in which the council proposes to perform the functions of a local education authority including separate consideration of inter alia the items set out in Schedule (Items for inclusion in development plans) to this Act;
- (b) providing a list of the property belonging to ILEA which in its opinion needs to be transferred to it for the purpose of enabling it properly to perform its LEA functions; and
- (c) specifying all schools and other bodies or institutions which it proposes financially to maintain.
§ (2) The council shall carry out consultation on the proposals contained within its draft development plan in such a manner as is requisite to bring the same to the attention of those persons (both inside and outside its area) who may be affected by the performance by the council of its LEA functions, including parents, governors, students, churches, the ILEA, staff employed within the education service, voluntary organisations, employers, adjacent boroughs and bodies representative of such persons and bodies.
§ (3) Not less than three months shall be given in respect of the consultation required under subsection (2) above.
§ (4) The council shall make public available and take into account all representations received in respect of its consultation and having made such amendments to the draft development plan as it considers appropriate, shall approve its development plan for submission to the Secretary of State.
§ (5) Upon receipt of a development plan the Secretary of State shall forthwith seek the advice of Her Majesty's Inspectorate on the contents thereof and shall—
- (i) approve the plan if advised that it provides reasonably for the establishment and maintenance of an efficient and effective comprehensive education service for its area and is consistent with the provision of such service by adjacent LEAs;
- (ii) refer the plan back to the council for reconsideration, if advised that it does not so provide.
§ (6) The Secretary of State may, for the purposes of assisting councils in drawing up draft development plans, or development plans, give guidance in respect of the contents thereof, and a council shall take into account any guidance so given.").
§ The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 274AZA, I should like to speak to the corresponding schedule under Amendment No. 274ZZB. It may be helpful for the Minister to know that this is not a probing amendment but one that we intend to pursue fully.
§ If we are to devolve education to the individual boroughs, we have to take seriously the way in which they will exercise their responsibilities. More importantly, they have to start to face the reality of education planning and decision making. The Government recognise that. Therefore, we enter the area of development plans and so on. In moving the amendment, we are emphasising the nature, scale and complexity of the problems and our view, which we have argued on many other occasions in connection with the Bill, that the Government have not thought this through. The draft guidance is a botched and not fully analysed document. Like so much else of the Bill, it is based on the premise that it will be all right 273 on the day. However, it will not be all right on the day unless we amend the Bill and do much more about it than we have so far done.
§ Perhaps it would be helpful for me to draw the attention of the Committee to the schedule that my noble friend Lady David and I have set down. This brings out the scale and complexity of the problem confronting the individual boroughs. I say "brings out" because I do not wish to vouch that we have covered the whole ground. If we had been able to think about it a little more and had not been so preoccupied with moving amendments, we could probably have provided an even longer list. This is at least a beginning, and pretty much the kind of thing that will have to be covered.
§ It would have been interesting to ask whether those noble Lords who so blithely voted for the abolition of the ILEA and who said that it would be all right to let the boroughs become education authorities fully appreciate that this is at best a minimum statement of what will be involved. Although I did not speak on the previous amendment, I draw attention to the arrangements that will have to be made under subsection (6) for the education of children with special needs, in particular those not provided for in borough schools. I should like to emphasise—I was remiss in not having done so earlier—the many worries of those people who have written to me and to other noble Lords.
§ One serious matter that has been raised is the long and short-term provision for children in hospital. Another concern that I wish to put on record from the letters that I have received is about schools dealing with children with mental handicap. This is an immensely difficult question, and people are struggling all the time against insuperable odds. That comes under the same heading, and is another problem with which the authority will have to concern itself.
§ Bearing all that in mind, the development plan is vital. We have discussed staff. The authorities will have to recruit staff, but it is not a matter of recruiting any old staff; the problems involved require experience and judgment. Management in this above all other areas cannot be bought off the management supermarket shelf. One cannot say, "You are a manager. Come and run our education system". That talent is scarce. In that connection, the noble Lord said that the Secretary of State will have powers and that on Report there will be amendments concerning those powers so that he can take a direct interest in the early appointment of senior staff in connection with these matters. We certainly look forward to that.
§ What does this amendment seek to achieve? First, in referring to the schedule, we are seeking to achieve that all possible aspects of educational provision are fully covered by the individual boroughs—the new authorities. That must be common ground with which we all agree. Secondly, as a matter of principle and good practice we believe that the new bodies must consult properly with all interested parties; not least parents but also staff, Churches and other people who take an interest in these matters. We believe in this consultation because we think it is right to consult, and we believe that if one consults the 274 matter is carried out more efficiently. In other words, we take a positive view of the value of consultation.
§ The boroughs have been given this draft guidance document. Our own reading of it—and I should like to know the view of the noble Baroness—is that the draft guidance issued to the boroughs is weaker than that offered by her department in Circular 3/87 and, in particular, was weaker in connection with consultation. We should like to hear from the noble Baroness whether that was a slip of the word processor or was intended.
§ In relation to consultation—and again this seems to me to be common sense—it would make good sense to have a draft development plan in the first instance and then to consult, review and moderate the draft development plan to produce the actual development plan. Indeed, in other guidance that the DES has given that is how it suggests that people should operate. We should like to know why it is not suggested that the department operates in this way.
§ Perhaps I may emphasise another matter which we have consistently argued from these Benches. We propose that Her Majesty's Inspectorate's advice should be sought on the educational validity of the development plan. I am drawing attention to what we believe are the inadequacies of the draft guidance. We are not surprised at the inadequacies because we are not surprised at anything in this horribly rushed Bill. Therefore, in a sense I am boring on about the nature of the Bill and I continue to do so because that is the case.
§ Finally, I come to the point which I have made twice, and perhaps three times will be enough for this evening.
§ Lord Peston
The noble Lord has not yet heard what it is, and he may even enjoy it this time. It is the point about real resources. The noble Baroness, Lady Seear, has raised the point and I reiterate it. We still await a modicum of an answer.
First, quite separate from the question of what real resources will be available, it seems to me—and I do not see how this is avoidable, particularly in the interim phase of the first three to five years—that if one sets up all these individual authorities, there must be a vast duplication of the decision-making and management mechanism.
All those people will have to hire their own management structures, which, in many ways, are already catered for by ILEA. However, because they are also engaged in a learning process, because they are largely starting from scratch, they are likely to have a lot of it wrong. Therefore, the transition phase must, in itself, be more expensive than what economists call the eventual equilibrium—if we ever reach it. Therefore, there is the problem of real resources.
We return to the question of what real resources will be available. As an economist, I do not understand what is the point of planning unless one is planning within a real resource framework. It is all very well to say that there are all these duties and things one would like to do, but what matters is what 275 one is proposing to do; what it costs; what are the likely resources available; how do we compare the likely resources available with the costs; and how do we then set a priority system to choose, because one is obliged to choose. Those are questions which will have to be answered. For those boroughs plunging head first into this matter that is what they will have to do, and it is not easy.
The key point is the question of the noble Baroness, Lady Seear. In the earlier main debate I heard several Members of the Committee talk about the wasteful nature of the ILEA. Therefore, the Government must be arguing that they are proposing to cut the real resources available to the individual boroughs. There will be much less available in the way of real resources.
Perhaps they are arguing that this cut will occur at some time in the distant future; that they will let the authorities get going and that they will become infinitely more efficient—although we do not see how—and make fewer demands for resources. I do not believe that that is remotely in any way what the Government have in mind. I believe that the Government intend to impose, on the basis of needs assessment, stringent and serious cuts, even well beyond what ILEA was in the process of being obliged to engage in.
I conclude by again exercising the natural pessimism of the economist by pointing out that we have, in considering the development programme, a recipe for possible disaster. My view of how to take decisions is always to look at the worst aspect to decide what to do and then, if you do slightly better than the worst, you feel a little more cheerful. I have been emphasising the worst but I hope desperately that it will not happen. My own children are past school age so it will not happen to them, but I have friends and colleagues who will be affected.
In this amendment we aim to be constructive and to suggest ways which might minimise some of the damage. If the noble Baroness can bring herself to say something more positive about the real resources and, as we asked earlier, about guaranteed resources we will perhaps be reassured—or less not assured.
§ Baroness Young
I have listened to the noble Lord, Lord Peston, on many occasions during the progress of this Bill and have frequently found myself in agreement with him. However, I am bound to say that his last remarks did not reach the standard which I at any rate have come to expect from him.
The noble Lord put forward arguments for his new clause—I understand he spoke also to his new schedule—but in the draft guidance, which we have now all had an opportunity of reading, his points are largely covered. Of course a local education authority, a borough taking over educational responsibilities, must draw up a plan. Quite properly the noble Lord lists in his amendment what must be considered. However, I understand that that is what the draft guidance says.
The noble Lord said in the course of his remarks, if I understood him correctly, that it is important to get the inspectorate's advice. I have no doubt—and I am sure that my noble friend Lady Hooper will 276 confirm it—that when my right honourable friend the Secretary of State looks at the plans he will be taking advice from the inspectorate and others on whether or not the London boroughs have drawn up plans which meet the requirements of their areas.
The noble Lord then said that there will be increased management costs. I find that difficult to believe. One of the criticisms of ILEA is that although there has been an enormous drop in the school population the number of administrators has increased since 1980. That is an irrefutable fact. I see no reason to suppose that management costs will increase.
As regards resources, we have had this argument several times, but if ILEA is to reduce its expenditure by 12 per cent. clearly there will be fewer resources. That does not mean to say that education may not improve. It is a question of what one does with the money available and, in the schools specifically, what expectations one has of the pupils. It is nothing to do with resources available.
I do not believe that these amendments are necessary. I am sure that my noble friend Lady Hooper will, without difficulty, satisfy the Committee that the Secretary of State has clearly thought of these points and will pay attention to them when approving the plans.
§ Earl Russell
It strikes me that we are today dealing with a kind of mini-Bill. In effect, we had this afternoon a Second Reading debate which we concluded at about six o'clock. We have now begun a Committee stage, so to speak, anew. That illustrates how many measures are packed into this Bill. Incidentally, if this were in law a single Bill, as it is in fact, it would be out of order to take the Second Reading and Committee stage on the same day.
What is unusual here is that in starting a new Committee stage we have the Opposition attempting to write the Bill as we go along because we believe that a great deal of it is not yet written. It is clear that on this side of the Committee people wish services to continue. We keep reiterating this point because over and over again we find an ambiguity at the very heart of the Government's case on this subject. On the one hand, the Government tell us over and over again that the service is too expensive; it wastes money and costs must be reduced. On the other hand, as soon as any Member of the Opposition begins to ask whether the Government wish the service to continue they say "Yes, of course we do".
I can understand that in some kind of double visioned heaven the Government might have both those objectives and pursue them honestly at the same time. But in the real world down here, sober, and on earth, there comes a point where the Government have to choose between their objectives. They have to say whether they wish to reduce the cost or whether they wish to continue the service. If the Government wish to convince Members on this side of the Committee that they want to continue the service then they should join in what I believe are genuinely constructive attempts being made to write, as it were, a new Bill to ensure the service will continue. If they do not wish the service to continue, then I believe that they should come clean and say so and then we may be able to join issue on what many 277 of us on this side of the Committee suspect are the real issues. It is time that people on the other side of the Committee absorbed the basic message of commercial practice; namely, you cannot have something for nothing.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
I do not know whether the noble Earl has ever been in local government. I should know but I do not. If he has—I notice that the noble Earl is shaking his head—he would know that very often two councils next door to each other obtain quite different value for money. One will get a far better education service for the same amount per head than another. That is a fact and that is what local government is all about. That is why we are convinced that local government should be linked to the democratic process.
I can understand that an amendment of this kind dampens the best of motivations, but it completely takes away the power of local government. When councillors meet they have a mandatory duty; they have functions to perform and matters that they are permitted to do in education. They have many models to look at in other education authorities. They will have guidance and it will be for them to decide. Some local authorities will be much more successful than others and people will vote for them accordingly.
When we discuss the problem of resources, the needs element in the support grant will take great account of the different requirements in different authorities. That having been done, the local authorities will know what grants they are receiving; they will set their rate and subsequently, under the new system, they will collect their money in a different way according to what is decided in this Chamber. The local authorities will then see the results of their actions.
To talk about this subject as though it had nothing whatever to do with local democracy and local government is a little misleading. At the same time I understand what the noble Lord, Lord Peston, is attempting to do. He is trying to make sure that the new local authorities understand their duties. I believe that they are not so daft; they are used to local government and they will find that they have far more flexibility within an all-purpose authority to cross the boundaries of different departments and so have their resources adjusted in the way that they want. They will be like other all-purpose authorities. I do not see why this measure should not work and I do not believe the amendment is necessary.
§ Lord Hylton
As regards the question of resources, I understand that in the past five years the expenditure of a London fire authority increased by 82.5 per cent. and that of the Metropolitan Police by 67 per cent. Those are two examples of non-elected statutory bodies in the London area. When one considers the inner London boroughs' social services, their expenditure went up by 64 per cent. We have to remember that a good number of them were rate-capped.
During the same period the expenditure of ILEA increased by only 43 per cent. I wonder if there is 278 some lesson to be learned there. Can the Government give some really cast-iron assurance that what the noble Baroness from the Government Benches was saying a moment ago would happen, will happen; that is, that the resources element will cope with the clear, well-known and thoroughly studied problems of the inner London boroughs, or will we end up with a much worse service than that which we have now?
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Baroness Hooper
I accept that in moving this amendment the noble Lord was not moving it as a probing amendment. I also recognise that in tabling these amendments, in any event, he is taking a most constructive approach, which I very much welcome. I believe that the amendments contain a good deal more detail than is either necessary or appropriate for primary legislation, but they nonetheless deal with important questions which we have addressed in our draft guidance on the preparation of development plans, which we shall want to discuss in more detail with the inner London boroughs during the coming two years.
One effect of the amendments would be to require the inner London boroughs to prepare draft development plans by a date to be specified, to publish those plans for local consultation with specified interests, and then to submit a final version of the plan to the Secretary of State for approval. No date is specified in the amendment for this last step. The Secretary of State would then have to seek the advice of Her Majesty's Inspectorate on the development plan, and, depending on what that advice was, would be required either to approve the plan or to refer it back to the council for further consideration. I have to say that this makes it look very much like another delaying tactic.
Amendment No. 274ZZB sets down a list of items that need to be covered in boroughs' development plans. The list contains 37 items. I can say to the noble Lord that there is one category which they have missed, which I learnt of recently, and that is the instruction of London taxi drivers in "the knowledge". Nevertheless, I have checked the list in the schedule against the draft guidance which the department issued a few weeks ago, and all but about nine of the items in the list are clearly dealt with in our guidance, as my noble friend Lady Young assumed. Indeed, some have been the subject of discussion earlier today.
Some of the items in the noble Baroness's list that are not in the guidance at present are not ones which it would be appropriate to ask of boroughs at an early stage in drawing up their plans. The arrangements for the provision of physical education in relation to the adequacy of on-site facilities will, for example, be a matter to be discussed between the borough and its teachers. Other items, however, I think we could usefully add to our guidance—just as the proposers of the amendment could usefully have added to their list if they had chosen to do so. However, it is encouraging that both sides of the Committee are in close agreement about the broad information which is required. But I need hardly say that the Government do not believe that it would be right to 279 include in primary legislation a detailed list of the type proposed in the amendment.
Perhaps I may make some further comments on the amendments. We certainly believe, as is made clear in the Bill and in the draft guidance, that boroughs should take account of local opinion when drawing up their development plans. Indeed, it is central to our proposals that for the first time local people will have a chance to shape the education service in their area.
However, we do not believe that it is right to impose the precise manner in which consultations should take place in the way which has been proposed. In the last resort it is the boroughs who will be taking on the responsibility for their local education service. It is they, as democratically elected bodies, who must decide how to set about consulting on their proposed arrangements. Further, the draft guidance makes it clear that we expect local councils to continue the process of consultation after the development plans have been published.
These amendments, on the other hand, envisage that the development plans would be subject to approval by my right honourable friend and so become, as it were, set in concrete. It is not clear whether the proposers of the amendments believe that once the transfer of responsibilities had taken place a local education authority would be able to change aspects of its development plan. But in any event the Government believe that it is necessary to preserve flexibility for what will, after all, be local education authorities in their own right, once they have assumed education responsibilities. So while the development plans would provide a basis for local consultation and for the necessary decisions on staff and property transfer, we do not see that there will be any advantage in making them binding in a way which would place on these local education authorities a constraint which did not apply in relation to all others.
Naturally, my right honourable friend will wish to discuss the implications of the development plans with the councils concerned and in doing so he will take full account, as has been hoped for, of the views of HMI. Indeed, the department's Inner London Unit has a member of HMI attached to it to assist with this process from the outset. But it would be wholly wrong for the legislation to prescribe the HMI's advice and only that advice should determine the decision of the Secretary of State.
Much has been said again about resources. It has been suggested that the Government are expecting boroughs to cut spending by various amounts compared with what ILEA spends now. I must reaffirm that we have no such target. We believe that there is considerable scope for savings but that these can come mainly from reductions in administration and support services rather than from teachers or other important facilities.
As my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal made clear earlier on about our proposals for local government finance, the transitional arrangements from 1990 to 1991 will be such that domestic ratepayers and community charge payers in inner London are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged as a result of the abolition of ILEA. In the longer term, it will be 280 for each borough to decide on the level of provision for its area, as it will be for every other education authority in England.
In short, on the basis of these amendments I believe that noble Lords opposite share very largely the Government's view of the best way to handle the process of transition. We believe that it will be more effective if we allow a greater degree of flexibility than is envisaged in these amendments. We certainly believe it necessary to be much clearer about the target date for transfer and to make that date as early as possible. On this basis I hope that the proposers of the amendment will feel able to withdraw.
§ Lord Carter
The noble Baroness referred to savings which she foresaw through the reduction of support services. Which support services did she have in mind?
§ Baroness Hooper
I said that these would be administrative and support services. It is largely in the administrative services that we expect to see possibilities for savings.
§ Baroness Blackstone
Perhaps I may draw to the attention of the Minister one particular aspect of the draft guidance. It suggests on page 1 that many areas will need to be the subject of discussion between the department and councils and ILEA as appropriate. I think it woud be very helpful if we could have some clarification as to what "ILEA as appropriate" means. I should have thought that ILEA would have to be consulted about almost every aspect of this transfer, if it is to be achieved in an effective and efficient manner.
Perhaps I may give one or two examples. There is of course a huge amount of work to be done, despite what some Members of the Committee said earlier. Only three boroughs have done very much in terms of getting the planning process under way. It is suggested that staff who work in schools and colleges should be transferred by order to the borough in which they are situated. But I think many people may be unaware of just how many staff in the ILEA are not attached to any particular school or college, and therefore cannot simply be transferred to the borough concerned.
I shall give a few examples of this. There are 3,000 central administrative staff. While mentioning those I should like to pick up a point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Young. She suggested that there has been a growth in the number of administrative staff in ILEA, despite the fact that the number of pupils has declined.
Yes, there has been a growth, and one of the most important reasons for that growth is the abolition of the GLC. Before the GLC was abolished ILEA used the GLC as an agent to provide many of the services that are necessary, such as valuations, surveying, architecture, legal services, accountancy and other services. As it happens, I oversaw the transfer of many of those staff whom I am sure the noble Baroness would agree were utterly necessary in order to maintain a single function local authority.
I also wish to point out another important fact. It is not the case that many of the people who are 281 classified as administrative staff in the CIPFA statistics are administrators. I do not think that we should be constantly carping and critical of administrators. Any large public authority needs administrative staff to keep it going. But many of the people in that category are providing various forms of specialist services in advising schools and indeed providing direct support to teachers in the classroom. Of these inspectors and advisers are perhaps the best example.
But in addition to those administrative staff there are some 2,000 buildings and maintenance staff who are not attached to particular schools or necessarily located in particular boroughs. Much of that work in ILEA is done on a quadrant basis. They must all be considered and divided up. This provision says nothing about supplies. It was agreed by the Government when the GLC was abolished that it would be sensible for ILEA to take over the GLC's supplies functions, and that in doing so it would be possible to provide an efficient service not just for ILEA but for a number of other local authorities in the London area and way beyond it.
There are 2,300 teachers who are not attached to a particular school. These comprise supply teachers, home tutors, peripatetic music teachers and PE teachers who are based in sports centres. In the light of all this, it seems quite extraordinary that this draft guidance does not suggest that ILEA should be consulted on all matters regarding transfer because I cannot think of a single area where it will not be necessary.
As regards administrative functions, quite a lot of work is delegated to the divisional officers in ILEA, and although eight of these cover the same area as the boroughs there are two that do not. They cover more than one borough. Those staff have all got to be divided up, and the only way that that can sensibly be done is to involve ILEA in proper consultation.
A number of Members of the Committee have referred to the particularly acute problems of transfer in such areas as special education, adult education and further education. Again I see no possibility of doing this effectively without the direct involvement of ILEA. In addition to those services, no one has yet referred to the fact that in-service training for teachers is of course run centrally by the authority. There are 27 specialist teacher centres which either cover the authority as a whole or alternatively cover parts of the authority. There is no way that individual boroughs will be able to make sensible decisions about issues of this kind without again the direct involvement of ILEA.
The noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, said that local authorities understand their duties. I have no doubt that they do understand their duties in a general sense, but we are talking about the most complex service in local government—that is education—and I think it is fair to say that in the inner city the range and complexity of those services will be greater than in some other parts of the country.
I have not mentioned property transfer, which is another difficult and complex area. It seems to me that the guidance given in this document is 282 extraordinarily vague and needs to set out in much greater detail what is expected of these boroughs which have never been education authorities. Finally, it is exceedingly important, as the amendment suggests, that there should be proper consultation of all interested parties before final decisions are made. I support the amendment.
§ Baroness Hooper
Perhaps I may assure the noble Baroness that there is nothing sinister in the words, "discussion [with] ILEA as appropriate". We intend to involve the ILEA fully in all aspects of the transfer of functions and hope for its full and effective cooperation as soon as possible.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Lord Peston
Perhaps I may say to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, that we think that the Government are wrong. Let there be no doubt about that. However, given that the die is cast, the next stage is to make the best of what is happening. The amendment is intended to be constructive and to help the new local education authorities in their task.
I should have been more reassured if the noble Baroness, in her considerate reply, had said that the Government would consider re-writing the draft guidance along the lines suggested. The Government recognise the problem; otherwise, there would not have been a draft guidance in the first place.
Perhaps I may respond to the interesting contribution of the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, by saying that it is one of the mysteries of local government that there is no very evident explanation of why some local authorities are more successful than others. I shall not make any political points. However, the subject has been studied by economists in some detail. Even within a local authority, schools which apparently have exactly the same resources and everything else produce extraordinarily different results. Clearly variety is characteristic of local government.
If we are to decentralise, then I grasp the straw of variety. I hope that some of the authorities will take the opportunity to achieve new things. My emphasis is on the fact that the contributions throughout the experiments will not be the positive and successful ones which we are looking for, but rather the negative ones and the failures. However, I entirely accept what the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, has said about the variety of local government.
There is a further complexity, in that one can talk about the local authority fine tuning its education system to meet its requirements. However, the essence of the problem and what the whole debate has been about is that many matters are London-wide. Problems cannot be defined as pertaining to individual authorities. That is the logical error and the reason that I am afraid that the experiment will go wrong.
Having said that, I find some aspects of the reply of the noble Baroness quite helpful. I shall return to the theme again, I hope constructively. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendemnt.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 144 agreed to.283
§ 9.50 p.m.
§ Clause 145 [Responsibility for schools]:
§ [Amendments Nos. 274EZA to 274BZD not moved.]
Lord Taylor of Blackburn moved Amendment No. 274CZA:
Page 138, line 33, leave out ("On the abolition date—").
§ The noble Lord said: I wanted to speak to my three amendments together. That is why I did not move the amendment earlier. If I am in order I shall move them in this way.
§ The Government proposals will mean yet another upheaval for governing bodies only a short time after the reconstitution arising from the 1986 Education (No. 2) Act. That reconstitution will take place in September 1988 for county schools and in September 1989 for the voluntary schools. In some cases governing bodies will have been in being for only two terms at the very most.
§ Subsection 8(a) is undesirable. The Government's proposal to remove ILEA appointees will mean a considerable change in the membership of the governing bodies. Subsection 8(b) would mean an unnecessary upheaval. ILEA intended to recommend to governing bodies that they co-opt representatives of black and ethnic minorities, staff support and members of the business community. The combination of Subsection 8(a) and (b) will add significantly to the disruption caused by abolition and further upset the system.
§ The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Grantchester)
Do I understand that the noble Lord is moving Amendment No. 274CZA?
§ Baroness Hooper
As I understand it, in addition to moving that amendment the noble Lord was also speaking to Amendments Nos. 274DZA and 274EZA.
These amendments would mean that rather than boroughs having the opportunity to replace ILEA nominees on school governing bodies from 1st April 1990, they would have to wait until 1st September to be able to do so and that the governing bodies themselves would then have to wait for a further year before they could replace any co-opted members. I can see the argument that this would help to preserve continuity. But, especially given the new and important responsibilities which fall to governing bodies under the Bill, we feel that it is vital that those who are intended to represent the local education authority on the governing body do so effectively from the word go.
Clause 145(8) as drafted specifically states that the provision for removing ILEA-appointed governors is without prejudice to their being appointed again, if the new LEA so wishes. There is therefore ample scope for maintaining continuity where the borough believes it necessary. Where the nature of appointments to a governing body changes as a consequence of new appointments it is only right that the co-options to the governing body should reflect 284 that also, and that a governing body should not have to wait for a year or more before it could make any necessary changes in that area.
I recognise the noble Lord's concern and interest in this matter. I hope that he will be satisfied by my explanation of the existing provisions and that he will not press this amendment.
§ Lord Taylor of Blackburn
I am not happy because I do not believe that the Bill provides for the continuity that I should like to see, especially since the existing arrangements have been operating for only a short time. I cannot see any point in pressing the amendment further but I hope that the Minister will look very closely at the situation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendments Nos. 274DZA, 274DZB and 274EZA not moved.]
§ On Question, Whether Clause 145 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ Lord Morton of Shuna
One can best look at the point that I wish to raise by first looking at subsection (4) of this clause, which provides, obviously correctly, that designated schools cannot be closed without following the procedure laid down in the Education Acts. Then one sees that a designated school is such school as the Secretary of State designates in an order as shall relate to that inner London council and which had previously been an ILEA maintained school.
In our present situation of falling school rolls and other demographic changes, it may well happen that there are too many schools in the borough for efficient use. So far as I can see from the Bill, and certainly as it appears from Clause 145, in those circumstances the Secretary of State can designate only certain of the schools in the borough as necessary to be taken over by that borough. If I have read the Bill correctly—and no doubt the Minister will tell me if I am wrong or if there are some other provisions—it would mean that such schools would fall through the trap, so to speak, and close. There would not be any consultation process either with parents or other interested bodies as to whether that or another school should close. That problem does not appear to have been dealt with in this Bill.
The possibility of schools falling through the trap occurs because the Secretary of State has no duty to designate each school which is an ILEA school to one of the various inner London councils. Therefore there could be schools which are not designated. I should like to know whether that is the case and, should I be wrong, where the provision can be found. Otherwise it appears to me that this is an omission from the Bill.
§ Baroness Hooper
The flexibility to designate schools outside a borough's area is designed to cover two specific cases. First, ILEA maintains a number of schools completely outside the inner London area (and this is a matter that we have already discussed), most of them catering for children with special education needs. We do not wish to preclude those schools from being transferred to one of the 285 boroughs. I imagine from what the noble Lord has said that he also accepts that point.
Of course it would be possible for such schools to be transferred to a local education authority outside inner London if it seemed to be more appropriate under Clause 146(2). In order to remove any possible misunderstanding on this point, at Report stage we shall table an amendment designed to make quite clear that the provisions for the designation of schools in Clause 145 extend also to the designation of schools to a local education authority outside inner London.
However, there is also the possible case of a school which is near a borough boundary and which primarily serves a borough other than the one in which it is located. The borough that it serves may wish to be responsible for administering that school either by having it formally designated under subsection (3) of the clause or by agreement with the host borough under subsection (5). The borough in which the school is located may be equally happy with that arrangement.
I cannot see the point in removing that flexibility. That is not to say that there will be many or even any such cases, but we simply wish to leave open that possibility within the general provisions of Clause 145.
§ Lord Morton of Shuna
No doubt it is my fault but I do not think that the Minister answered the point that I was endeavouring to make. If there is a borough that has within it five secondary schools, say, but it should only have three because of the number of children that it contains, what is to prevent the Secretary of State from saying, "This borough needs only three schools" and designating the three of his choice? Then the other two, which have no connection with any other boroughs, close because they have not been designated, so far as I can see under this clause. There is no consultation process because subsection (4) deals only with schools which have been designated.
It appears to be a mistake that has slipped through. I am sure that the Secretary of State and the department would not wish schools to be closed without the consultation process. It seems that there is a possibility of something having gone through by mistake. That was the point. It was not the question of schools on borderlines or outwith the area but of too many schools in the one borough.
§ 10 p.m.
§ Baroness Hooper
I thought that the noble Lord was concerned about the possibility of flexibility in this case. In preparing their development plans under Clause 144 councils will be required to specify all schools inside their area which are currently maintained by ILEA and therefore to anticipate the kind of example that the noble Lord has given us.
In case there is something into which we should look in more detail in respect of schools that are no longer required, I shall look again at the clause and come back to the noble Lord in some way.
§ Clause 145 agreed to.286
§ Clause 146 [Transfer of property, rights and liabilities]:
§ [Amendments Nos. 274EZB and 274EZC not moved.]
Lord Morton of Shuna moved Amendment No. 274FZA:
Page 139, line 21, at end insert—
("(6) The Secretary of State shall consult each Inner London Council before making an order transferring property to any local authority other than to an inner London Council within whose area it is situate;
(7) In consulting Inner London councils under subsection (6) above, the Secretary of State shall inform them of the principles upon which he is proposing to make his decision, and no such transfer of property shall be made other than in accordance with principles applicable to all Inner London Councils or all local authorities, as the case may be.").
§ The noble Lord said: This amendment concerns the clause relating to the transfer of property rights and liabilities. The provisions here are of very considerable importance as the Inner London Education Authority has nearly 1,500 sites and 3,000 individual buildings.
§ In view of the integrated pattern of educational provision in inner London there could be competing claims for buildings of certain types, such as special schools and sports facilities, but there are no statements of principles for transfer. For example, is transfer to go to the majority user with guarantees to the minority users? Inevitably borough development plans will throw out competing claims which, because of the inadequate timescale, will in practice fall to be dealt with by government officials who are likely to be unaware of the full circumstances.
There ought to be—and this amendment aims to put it in—the necessity or requirement for consultation before making the transfer of property. The amendment states that the Secretary of State,
shall consult each Inner London council before making an order transferring property to any local authority other than to an inner London Council
and that the inner London councils, in consulting, shall be informed of the principles on which the Secretary of State is proposing to make his decision; and that no such transfer shall be made other than in accordance with principles applicable to all the councils.
§ The problem is (as we considered in the debate on clause stand part) that there are properties which are outside the inner London area. There is, for example, for historical reasons a small children's cemetery in Kent, and how that will be transferred and to whom will obviously be a matter of some difficulty. Various other properties such as sports centres are outside the area. Are they to be transferred to the local authority that they are in, if they are outside the inner London area? Are they to be transferred to a different inner London authority so that it can use these out-of-its-area facilities and how are they to be paid for?
§ If, for example, a sports centre in Bromley is to be transferred to Bromley and used by Bromley Borough Council for its own purposes, how will it be financed? Is each inner London authority being charged for that use or will they get facilities for using 287 it? It is for these reasons that consultation is essential. We believe it is necessary that there should be some principle which would apply right across the board, and be stated to be there, so that people in the various local authorities know the principles on which the Secretary of State is acting and know that he does not apply an ad hoc principle to each individual case. I beg to move.
§ The Earl of Arran
If taken literally, this amendment would require the Secretary of State to consult each and every inner London council before making an order transferring property to any authority other than an inner London council within whose area the property was situated. If that is actually the noble Lord's intention, I have to say that it seems to be a somewhat cumbersome procedure. It would mean that a property transaction which affected only two boroughs—for example, at the western edge of inner London—would also have to be the subject of consultation with boroughs several miles away who had no interest whatever in it.
But it may be that the noble Lord's intention is not properly reflected in his draft, and that what he is actually concerned to ensure is that the boroughs involved in anything other than a straightforward transfer of property to the council in whose area it is situated should have a chance to offer their views. That is eminently reasonable, and indeed it is already reflected in our draft guidance on development plans.
Perhaps I may quote a few sentences from the guidance. Paragraph 39 says:… Councils may in general expect to inherit the ILEA property located within their area for which there is a continuing educational requirement. There may in addition be property located in one council's area but which has traditionally served another area or would be of more educational value in serving the area of another council than in remaining with the 'home' council. Where a council can make out a strong case for inheriting property located outside its boundary, the Secretary of State will be prepared to consider this, in the light of any representations made by other bodies. The Secretary of State will consult interested parties and the London Residuary Body as necessary in cases of dispute".So the position is already clearly laid down in our draft guidance, and, subject to any modifications arising from the current process of consultation on the draft, will be reflected in the statutory guidance to be issued after Royal Assent.
There is a further aspect to the noble Lord's amendment, which is essentially that the Secretary of State must make clear to councils the principles upon which he is proposing to make a decision of this kind about property transfer, and that he must act in accordance with principles which apply equally to all boroughs.
It is of course a fundamental principle of administrative law that the Secretary of State should follow common principles in deciding different cases. If he failed to do so, his decision would be liable to judicial review. Again, our draft guidance sets out the principles in paragraph 38 which the Secretary of State would expect to follow. Perhaps I may quote briefly again:Councils should note that the Secretary of State will be prepared to transfer to them only that property clearly required in connection 288 with their LEA functions. All surplus property will pass automatically to the London Residuary Body in accordance with the provisions of Clause 156.Then, there are the points which I have already quoted about the possibility of transferring property to an authority other than the one in which it is located, where another council can make out a strong case that it would be of more educational value for the property to be so transferred.
The guidance continues to make clear thatin the case of an institution mainly based in one borough but having some of its facilities located outside that borough, (or for example) where playing fields in one borough serve a school in another … the Secretary of State will in general be guided by the principle that institutions should remain as an entity, and that they should transfer to the predominant owner, using the location of the largest area of floor space as an initial criterion, but taking account also as appropriate of the intensity of use of each site".All this serves to demonstrate, I believe, that the noble Lord's amendment is unnecessary, as the Government fully intend to embody in their statutory guidance the principles he is proposing for the face of the Bill. I hope therefore that in the light of these arguments he will not seek to press his amendment.
§ Lord Morton of Shuna
The Minister referred to "statutory guidance". Is that guidance to have the force of a statutory instrument, or is it just guidance?
§ Lord Morton of Shuna
Under the statute, where? Which section? So far as I am aware, this guidance is just a document that comes from the Department of Education and Science. Is there to be an answer, or shall I go on? If we are talking about consultation that is fine. Paragraph 39 of the guidance states that the Secretary of State will be prepared to consider inheriting property located outside a boundary in the light of representations made by other bodies. The question I should like to ask is: let us say that borough A wants this property outside its boundaries. How are the other councils to know that it wants it unless there is such consultation as I suggest in the amendment?
Speaking as a lawyer, I am becoming more and more irritated by the idea that we do not need guidance in primary legislation because it is somewhere in some statutory instrument that may be passed at some time in the future, after the Act is passed. That seems to me to be a totally irresponsible way of revising legislation, and it just will not do. Is the guidance just to be ordinary guidance, or is it to be some form of statutory instrument, once it has been decided what form the guidance is to take?
§ The Earl of Arran
If the noble Lord would care to read Clause 144(3)(b) he will see:take into account any guidance given by the Secretary of State (whether as to the contents of the plan or as to consultation with any other persons, and whether as to such plans generally or as to the particular council's plan)".
§ Lord Morton of Shuna
I am sorry to keep on with this subject, but we have been through guidance in a whole variety of Bills in the very short time I have been here. Guidance can take all sorts of forms. The guidance to which I have been referred could be just 289 a letter. It may well be that the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, can indicate without speaking that it is there. That does not make guidance statutory. That the Secretary of State says that one thing would be good and another would be bad is not a statutory form of guidance that we can debate as a statutory instrument and approve or negative. There may be reasons for not having the guidance there, but there is no reason for not having the principle in the legislation.
We are being told once again that there is no need to state the principle in the Bill, but that we should trust the Minister. To repeat what I have said more than once, I hope that, for the sake of his health, Mr. Baker is not to be the Minister for the rest of time. Ministers and governments change, and attitudes change. It is better to have a provision with full statutory force.
I am sorry that we have been given no satisfactory answer. I may have been slightly irritable and firm on the matter, but it is one about which lawyers feel strongly. I think that it would be appropriate to take the opinion of the Committee.
§ 10.16 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 274FZA) shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 28; Not-Contents, 75.290
|DIVISION NO. 2|
|Airedale, L.||Lawrence, L.|
|Baldwin of Bewdley, E.||Lockwood, B.|
|Birk, B.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Blackstone, B.||Monkswell, L.|
|Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.||Morton of Shuna, L.|
|David, B.||Perry of Walton, L.|
|Dean of Beswick, L.||Peston, L.|
|Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.||Raglan, L.|
|Dormand of Easington, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Fisher of Rednal, B. [Teller.]||Rochester, L.|
|Gallacher, L. [Teller.]||Seear, B.|
|Taylor of Blackburn, L.|
|Grey, E.||White, B.|
|Ampthill, L.||Cowley, E.|
|Annan, L.||Cox, B.|
|Arran, E.||Craigmyle, L.|
|Bathurst, E.||Croft, L.|
|Beaverbrook, L.||Davidson, V. [Teller.]|
|Belstead, L.||Denham, L. [Teller.]|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Eden of Winton, L.|
|Braye, B.||Elliott of Morpeth, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Fortescue, E.|
|Bruce-Gardyne, L.||Gainford, L.|
|Burton, L.||Gisborough, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Glenarthur, L.|
|Caldecote, V.||Goold, L.|
|Camden, M.||Grafton, D.|
|Cameron of Lochbroom, L.||Gray, L.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Gridley, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Halsbury, E.|
|Carr of Hadley, L.||Harvington, L.|
|Clinton, L.||Henley, L.|
|Coleraine, L.||Hereford, Bp.|
|Colnbrook, L.||Hesketh, L.|
|Hives, L.||Pym, L.|
|Holderness, L.||Radnor, E.|
|Home of the Hirsel, L.||Renton, L.|
|Hooper, B.||St. John of Fawsley, L.|
|Johnston of Rockport, L.||Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.|
|Kimball, L.||Selkirk, E.|
|Knutsford, V.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Lindsay, E.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Long, V.||Strange, B.|
|Lyell, L.||Swinton, E.|
|Margadale, L.||Thomas of Swynnerton, L.|
|Mersey, V.||Trafford, L.|
|Monk Bretton, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Morris, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Nelson of Stafford, L.||Young, B.|
|Newall, L.||Young of Graffham, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 10.25 p.m.
§ [Amendment No. 274FZB not moved.]
§ Clause 146 agreed to.
§ Clause 147 [Establishment and functions of staff commission]:
Lord Morton of Shuna moved Amendment No. 274GZA:
Page 140, line 6, at end insert—
("(5) The Staff Commission and the Secretary of State shall so exercise their functions under this section as to secure that employees of ILEA are afforded all reasonable priority in the obtaining of employment upon or as soon as practicable after the abolition date with a relevant authority.").
§ The noble Lord said: The purpose of this amendment is to strengthen the security, so to speak, available to employees of the Inner London Education Authority during the transfer period. Clause 147 establishes a staff commission and states that the Secretary of State may give directions—not, on this occasion, guidance—on procedure. It makes various provisions, the intent of which is to assist the transfer of ILEA employees, especially teachers, to the various councils and the residuary body.
The amendment strengthens that clause by adding the words:
The Staff Commission and the Secretary of State shall so exercise their functions under this section as to secure that employees of ILEA are afforded all reasonable priority in the obtaining of employment upon or as soon as practicable after the abolition date with a relevant authority.
The intention is to endeavour to make it worthwhile for ILEA staff to stay with that organisation, as it is essential that adequate staff remain until abolition, without feeling that they have insufficient security and therefore fade away and apply for other jobs. Without adequate compensation there is a severe risk that the education service will face a breakdown as key staff leave.
§ The GLC, in dealing with its own winding up, introduced through the staff commission a weak ring-fence procedure for the benefit of all Greater London local government employees, but it had no teeth and was widely ignored. The worry for the staff of ILEA is that that should not be a model and that we should have a method of retaining staff within ILEA until its abolition because if that does not happen chaos will result. The only way of securing that staff have an 291 incentive to remain is to offer some security after abolition that they will be transferred within a reasonably short time and have the priority to which they are entitled in this amendment. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Seear
I support this amendment both from the point of view of giving a fair deal to the staff and, equally important, in regard to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Morton, that two years will pass between now and the transfer. Unless an amendment to this effect is accepted a great many of the staff are likely to look elsewhere for jobs. We understand that this has already happened. The Government will say that it is due to uncertainty. Others may view the word "certainty" with even more dismay than "uncertainty" because they do not share the Government's enthusiasm to be transferred to the tender mercies of, say, Lambeth or Southwark council. They will busily look for jobs elsewhere and they will get them because of the shortage of teachers.
If the Government do not want to find that they are transferring to local authorities schools with extremely depleted staffs, they would be well advised to accept this amendment.
§ Lord Trefgarne
The noble Lord and the noble Baroness may rest assured that the Government are in complete sympathy with the intention behind this amendment to ensure that the inner London councils, when filling their education-related posts, first consider applications from ILEA employees. The Government repeatedly made clear their intention in this respect in another place. Indeed, the words "reasonable preference" were used and these are very similar to the phrase "reasonable priority" used in this amendment.
I am sure that we all accept that it is very important that ILEA's skilled manpower should not be lost to the boroughs. That is one reason why the boroughs should be pleased to consider ILEA applicants first. The other reason is that the interests of ILEA employees need to be protected. If an ILEA employee is fully competent to fill a borough vacancy, then he or she should get the job. It will be for the Staff Commission, as it was at the time of the abolition of the GLC in 1986, to work out with the boroughs the details of how best to ensure that ILEA employees are given this priority consideration.
We have said in another place, and it is repeated in the draft guidance, that the Staff Commission should be in full operation before the deadline of the publication for the boroughs' development plans, which is February next year, 1989. With the reassurance that we envisage the Staff Commission's contribution to resolving staffing issues to be critical, particularly in respect of ensuring that ILEA employees who apply for education-related jobs in the boroughs are given priority consideration, I ask that the amendment be withdrawn.
§ 10.30 p.m.
§ Lord Monkswell
Before the noble Lord sits down, perhaps I may ask him why he keeps inserting the 292 words "education-related employees"? I am a little suspicious of that phrase in the sense that it sounds as though the Government are saying that the only employees of ILEA who are important are the teachers and all the administrative, ancillary and support staff are virtually unnecessary and irrelevant. I hope that is not the Government's position. I suggest that a few words from the Minister might help in clarifying the position.
§ Lord Trefgarne
It is the case that there are very many hard-working, effective and successful administrative employees working in ILEA. But the Government have also made it clear that they believe that there are areas within that particular ambit which may be the cause for some concern as regards ILEA. I dare say that there will be some administrative officials in ILEA who will not necessarily find employment with the boroughs. I hope that they will find appropriate employment in another or in a related field.
As I have said, I am sympathetic to the thought at least behind the amendment. I have said that I do not believe that it is necessary to write that kind of provision into the Bill given the effect of the guidance and of the Staff Commission to which I have referred. I shall be prepared to consider finding words that will put into the Bill in another way the Government's thoughts to which I have referred tonight.
§ Lord Morton of Shuna
I am very much obliged for that because, as I thought I said—or at least, as I intended to say—one of the fears is that the Staff Commission will be as toothless a tiger as the GLC Staff Commission which could really only offer encouragement. Something more is required, and in view of the Minister's encouraging words I hope he will return with something stronger. In the light of his undertaking I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 147 agreed to.
§ Clauses 148 and 149 agreed to.
§ Clause 150 [Compensation for loss of office or diminution of emoluments]:
Lord Rochester moved Amendment No. 274HZA:
Page 142, line 29, at end insert ("or subsequently acquired by him by reason of a variation in his contract of employment which was intended solely to ensure that, in the event of loss of employment by reason of redundancy, he would be entitled to be compensated on a basis not less favourable than that applicable to other employees of ILEA.").
§ The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendment No. 280F, with which it is grouped. Clause 150(3) and, in so far as it affects ILEA, Clause 185 of the Bill are designed to prevent ILEA from entering into contracts with its employees which would have the effect of enhancing their contractual rights to compensation in the event of redundancy. Both clauses are retrospective to 20th November 1987—that is, the date of the Bill's introduction in another place.
§ These amendments are not intended to undermine the main purpose of the clauses, but merely to introduce limited exceptions which would enable 293 ILEA to correct certain anomalies in the contractual rights of its employees, so as to secure equality of treatment among them in the event of loss of employment through redundancy arising in consequence of the Bill.
§ I am advised that under longstanding provisions of the Greater London Council's staff code, GLC and ILEA employees enjoyed certain contractual entitlements to compensation in the event of redundancy. In some respects those entitlements were superior to those laid down in government regulations at the time of the abolition of the GLC. However, Section 53 (3) of the Local Government Act 1985 preserved contractual rights to compensation acquired before 2nd March 1984.
§ When the GLC was abolished, on 1st April 1986, staff who were then made redundant received compensation from the London Residuary Body on the basis of their GLC contractual entitlement where this was more favourable than the statutory basis. Staff transferred to successor bodies—such as ILEA and the London Residuary Body—by designation order under Section 52 of the Local Government Act 1985, retained the benefit of their GLC contractual terms which will accordingly apply in the event of their subsequent redundancy—whether by reason of ILEA abolition, or otherwise.
§ Although the vast majority of former GLC employees were transferred to ILEA in the aforementioned way, and in the event of their becoming redundant on ILEA abolition they could claim compensation on the basis of their GLC entitlement, there are some former GLC employees, now employed by ILEA, who will not so benefit. Those employees were not designated in a statutory transfer order and were therefore directly recruited to ILEA on the basis of new contracts of employment.
§ In the general turmoil attendant on GLC abolition, and on the new ILEA taking over, a process of recruitment had to be hurried through. As a result of this, employees were given contracts which were not in all respects as favourable as they would have been had they merely continued under their GLC contracts. To some extent it was a matter of chance who was transferred to ILEA by statutory order, and who by direct recruitment. Thus certain officers in the GLC architects' department were so transferred; but staff doing comparable work in the engineering department were directly recruited. In some cases the difference could have a crucial effect on the amount of compensation to which they would be entitled in the event of redundancy.
§ Clauses 150 and 185, to which these amendments relate, overlap in many respects. They would prevent ILEA from correcting the anomaly to which I have already referred, which could operate in a harsh, unfair and discriminatory way. Therefore the object of the amendment is merely to enable ILEA to remove this source of discrimination by raising the redundancy entitlements of all staff to an equal level, but not to a level higher than that already enjoyed by the bulk of existing employees.
§ The amendments are not intended to enable ILEA, in anticipation of its abolition, to raise everyone's entitlement to a new level; they are intended simply to 294 ensure that in the event of redundancy, staff of like age and service are compensated on the same basis.
§ I hope noble Lords will forgive me. I am sorry that this is somewhat detailed. Perhaps I may now describe in a little more detail the relevance of these amendments, first to Clause 150 and then Clause 185. Subsection (3) of Clause 150 provides that compensation for redundancy is to be paid only in accordance with the regulations. Subsection (4) creates an exception to the rule by preserving the effect of contractual terms acquired before 21st November 1987.
§ Amendment No. 274HZA is designed to widen the scope of this exception by enabling rights acquired subsequently to be preserved where they had been acquired under variation of a contract and the sole purpose of the variation is to ensure that all employees are treated alike by improving the terms to a level as favourable as that already enjoyed by the general body of existing employees. I hope I have made that clear.
§ Clause 185 is wider in scope, but also has the effect of preventing ILEA from correcting the anomalies which I have endeavoured to describe. The clause would render any change in contractual terms designed to remedy this deficiency void and of no legal effect. Again, the amendment has the limited purpose of preserving the validity of terms designed to put disadvantaged employees on the same level as that enjoyed by other employees.
§ Although Amendment No. 280F does not strike at the main purpose of the clause, it is discriminatory in its effect in that it applies to contracts between a local education authority or certain governing bodies and any person employed wholly or partly by those bodies in connection with their functions under the Education Acts 1944 to 1988. The clause thus applies to all ILEA employees. As regards county councils, outer London borough councils and metropolitan district councils, which are all local education authorities, the clause means that those councils can give improved rights to redundancy compensation to their employees in, say, the social services, housing and recreation departments, but not to employees in their education departments and not to employees in other departments who spend even a small proportion of their time on work for the education service. I suggest that this differentiation of treatment between different classes of employee is discriminatory and unfair. Amendment No. 280F would correct this anomaly.
§ Because of the detailed nature of the background to these amendments and also because their aim is so limited and, it seems to me, so modest and reasonable, I wrote to the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, about them last week, to give the Government notice of what I proposed to say today. I very much hope that as a result either the amendments will be accepted in their present form, or the Government will agree to introduce others at Report stage worded in a way that is not only acceptable to them but also meets the concerns expressed to me by representatives of the employees who are involved. I beg to move.295
§ Lord Morton of Shuna
I strongly support these amendments and I hope that I shall not be too repetitive. It seems to me on the information I have that there are various other points which can be made. It is not only necessary that there should be equity in dealing between various members of staff of the same grade and with the same service. It is obviously wholly wrong that a mere matter of chance should decide whether or not the employment and therefore the redundancy period shall be transferred from the GLC.
But in addition that will affect the keenness of the staff of the Inner London Education Authority to remain until abolition. These people who were transferred other than by the statutory transfer are, I am informed, key personnel in the finance, legal and property services, among others, and they are most at risk in losing what equity would say was their entitlement to redundancy. If they do not have this they are the people most likely to go and find another job before ILEA winds up. If that were to happen it would be very difficult indeed for the Inner London Education Authority to continue to operate until its limiting date, and it is essential that it should so operate.
In addition to that there are the obvious dangers to which the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, has referred of having inequities between staff of the same grade. There is also the difficulty that if it remains as it is the residuary body will have to deal with redundancy payments and have to look at thousands of individual contracts of employment and exchanges of letters which could be disposed of if it were possible to accept at least the thought behind these amendments so that one treats everybody of the same grade and the same length of service in the same way. That is the basic purpose behind this provision. It is an important matter and I hope that the Government will be amenable to looking at it.
§ 10.45 p.m.
§ Lord Trefgarne
I am sorry that owing to a number of changes in the Front Bench team, or at least in the allocation of amendments, I have not had a chance to see the letter of the noble Lord, Lord Rochester. But I hope, nonetheless, that what I say will reassure him, and indeed the noble Lord, Lord Morton of Shuna, too.
There is a category of ex-GLC employees who, because they were recruited by ILEA under Section 52 of the Local Government Act, have lost the more generous contractual rights to redundancy compensation which they had as GLC employees. In this respect they are less well off than the majority of their ex-GLC colleagues who were transferred to the employment of ILEA and so retained the rights to redundancy compensation which they enjoyed as GLC employees.
In addition it appears that some of those GLC employees who were recruited to the employment of ILEA were led to believe by ILEA that they would retain the more generous provisions they had enjoyed as GLC employees. That unfortunately was not the case.
296 Turning to the resolution of this problem, I want to draw a distinction between those ex-GLC employees who were recruited in the belief that their GLC terms would be protected and those who were recruited in the knowledge that their GLC terms would be replaced by ILEA's standard contractual terms. The first group certainly deserve our sympathy. The second group present a rather less good case for they are no worse off than the bulk of ILEA employees.
What we believe is required is a discretionary power to reinstate the redundancy compensation terms of that first group should they be made redundant—those ex-GLC employees who were recruited to the employment of ILEA in the belief that their contractual right to redundancy compensation would remain unchanged. This would be achieved by giving to the London Residuary Body a discretionary power to provide such redress. There is no need to amend the Bill in order to provide this discretionary power; the compensation regulation which we intend to make under Section 24 of the Superannuation Act 1972 will provide the necessary vehicle.
With this assurance of the Government's intention to give to the LRB this discretionary power I hope that the noble Lord will accept that we intend to deal sympathetically with the situation which has led him to move this amendment, and I hope that he will withdraw it and also what I believe is in effect the consequential amendment to Clause 185; that is, Amendment No. 280F. I recognise that that amendment does not deal with quite the same point but I hope that the noble Lord will be satisfied by the reassurance that I have given.
§ Lord Rochester
I am not altogether satisfied. I thank the noble Lord for what he has said about those who were recruited to the ILEA in the belief that they were to be accorded favourable treatment. As regards those who did not have that belief, my information, it may be wrong, differs from that of the noble Lord in that they are not in the same position as the general body of employees. For that reason I am disappointed at what he has said.
However, this is a complicated matter. Rather than pursue it further tonight, I shall study closely what has been said. I am sorry that the letter, which I took some trouble in writing last week, has not reached the Minister. Perhaps he can do me the courtesy of reading it and, before Report stage, considering whether, in the light of its contents and what I have said tonight, he is more favourably disposed towards the amendments. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 150 agreed to.
§ Clauses 151 and 152 agreed to.
§ Clause 153 [Repayment by London Residuary Body of loans to ILEA]:
Lord Peston moved Amendment No. 274JZA:
Page 145, line 7, at end insert—
("() In making an order under subsection (2) above the Secretary of State shall provide that the sums deemed to have been borrowed
are determined according to common principles to be applied equally to all inner London councils.").
§ The noble Lord said: Amendments Nos. 274JZA and 274KZA to which I shall speak concern a minor accounting point dealing with the way the London Residuary Body will deal with borrowing and the calculation of interest. Looking at my amendments and at the text of the Bill, it seems to me that that is obviously what the LRB ought to do. The amendments concern how the sums deemed to have been borrowed are determined—namely, according to common principles—and how the implied or actual interest is calculated. They seem to be obvious and I hope that the Minister will tell us that that is what the Bill means, that we do not have to worry about that problem and that the individual borrowers can count on being treated in a fair way, in the accounting sense. I beg to move.
§ Baroness Hooper
I hope that I can reassure the noble Lord. Clause 153 follows the model of the arrangements established at the time of the abolition of the GLC, which provided for deemed borrowing by successor authorities. The purpose of that was twofold: to provide for the smooth transfer of outstanding liabilities and to protect third parties who were owed money at the time of abolition. We expect the detailed operation to follow the model of the 1985 Act also.
I should first perhaps emphasise that one aspect of the 1985 procedures which we expect to mirror is that of consultation with interested parties before any orders are laid before Parliament. This will of course include the order-making arrangements for deemed borrowing. So the Government will have discussed the proposed arrangements with all the inner London councils before they are put into effect.
It is against this background of consultation that I should like to consider the two amendments. Our basic intention is that all the boroughs should be treated in the same way when we come to determine deemed borrowing. In the case of the GLC—which, as I have said, is the precedent we shall be following—deemed borrowing for all authorities was determined by a common formula based on the population of the council's area. The terms for repayment and payment of interest were likewise set across the successor authorities.
We would not wish to rule out special arrangements in respect perhaps of a particular debt if an inner London council so wished, and after full consultation. But I can assure the Committee that the basic principle will be one of common treatment for all councils. I hope that that provides the reassurance the noble Lord was seeking.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 153 agreed to.
§ Clauses 154 to 166 agreed to.298
Lord Birkett moved Amendment No. 274ZA:
After Clause 166, insert the following new clause:
§ ("The Horniman Museum
§ .—(1) On the abolition of ILEA the Secretary of State, shall make a recommendation to Her Majesty in Council that the Horniman Museum known also as the Horniman Public Museum and Public Park Foundation, should be vested in a body of trustees appointed by him and supported by monies provided by Parliament, and Her Majesty may then by Order in Council constitute such a body and make further provisions as appears to Her Majesty to be necessary or expedient for giving effect to the recommendation.
§ (2) In this section "the Secretary of State" means the Lord President of the Council.").
§ The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment perhaps the Committee will allow me to speak to Amendment No. 274ZB at the same time. The two relate to the Horniman and Geffrye Museums.
§ In moving these amendments I hoped to be able to say to Members of the Committee that I felt sure that they would all want to wish those two distinguished and imaginative museums a hopeful and bright future. The very welcome and encouraging remarks made by the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, in her opening remarks this afternoon lead me to suppose that that is the case. Indeed, her announcement that after abolition both the Horniman and Geffrye Museums would become independent and would be centrally grant aided in some ways goes rather further than my amendments. In the case of the Horniman Museum it echoes very much the amendment which is now before the Committee.
§ The amendment relating to the Geffrye Museum was different. It suggested that the museum should come under the wing of the Museum of London. It was felt that the Geffrye Museum, not being quite as large or self-sufficient as the Horniman, might need that protection. In fact I think it is very welcome that the Geffrye should also be independent. Who would not rather be independent than under the wing of even so imaginative and well-meaning an institution as the Museum of London, for which I have the greatest possible respect? In that way I think that the proposal is very satisfactory indeed.
§ That arrangement also removes one possible hiccup whch had occurred to me. Wiser drafters of parliamentary legislation than I had pointed out to me that these two amendments, taken together, amounted to a possible hybridisation of the Bill. What the noble Baroness has proposed does not do so. In that respect it is altogether more satisfactory. The noble Baroness referred to the possibility that the two museums might have to be parked, as it were, with the London Residuary Body in the meantime if arrangements could not be made quickly enough. I am bound to say that if one has to stand in a lay-by the LRB is as nice a lay-by to stand in as any and I have the greatest respect for its work. I think that Sir Godfrey and his colleagues have done with enthusiasm and good sense a job that most people would have regarded as quite beyond the pale. However, I suspect that there is probably time enough for the arrangements to be made without those two museums having to be parked anywhere.
§ It only remains for me to issue a small warning about the funding of the museum. It is very important that between now and the abolition of the ILEA the 299 levels of funding should not decline so steeply as to endanger the museums, and if they do, those funding levels should not be regarded as the norm.
§ I should like to make one last small caveat about capital funding. Capital funding is often forgotten because it is so incalculable—one cannot say what it will be from year to year. It is not an academic question because at this moment the Horniman is building one of the most joyous and eccentric extensions to any museum in London. It is in fact putting up the Coombe Hill conservatory. That is a kind of do-it-yourself Victorian conservatory kit which was found some time ago, and with the help of English Heritage the museum has been gradually putting it up. I must say that this conservatory kit is so large that I cannot imagine who could possibly have wanted to buy it as a private citizen in Victorian times. Nevertheless, it is going up. It will be a welcome addition and will be exciting, but we shall need to think about capital funding. So while welcoming very strongly the words of the noble Baroness, I beg to move.
§ 11 p.m.
§ Lord St. John of Fawsley
It gives me great pleasure to support the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Birkett. It is fitting that this amendment should be moved by a Cross-Bencher since it is one that commands support from every part of this Chamber. I am especially pleased to support the noble Lord since I had the privilege of knowing his father, who was as distinguished for his love of the arts, and literature in particular, as he was renowned in the practice of the law.
When one talks of the press one tends to think in terms of newspapers such as The Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian and the Independent—I hope I have covered myself sufficiently by mentioning those four—and one forgets that a large part of the press is purely local in character. Papers such as the Northamptonshire Chronicle and Echo or the Essex Chronicle are papers by which people are probably influenced in many cases much more than by skimming through more pretentious journals.
I believe that it is the same in the world of museums and galleries. Of course when that phrase is used there comes to mind the British Museum or the National Gallery, but there are other smaller institutions which are not household names but which are equally important in the museum and gallery world. I first visited the Geffrye Museum when I was Minister for the Arts and I found it a most rewarding and stimulating experience. I should like to take this opportunity to pay a tribute to Geoffrey Daniel, who was the director at that time and who was so devoted to the work of the museum—work cut short by his sad and premature death.
The Geffrye and the Horniman museums are very popular, particularly among young people. Over the years thousands of children have first made their acquaintance with the world of the arts through those museums. That is something for which we should be deeply thankful. We live in an age of material affluence which at the same time suffers from spiritual starvation, and such institutions offer something of 300 great importance to meet that need. I often think that the Government might reflect further on the fact that there are thousands of societies and institutions which are much smaller than the ones that we are discussing today but which need much smaller amounts of money. In fact, they can survive with very small help from the Government, but without that help they will simply go under.
When I first raised this question in this Chamber in April I received an encouraging reply from my noble friend Lady Hooper. She has been even more encouraging today. She has not been as good as her word; she has been better than her word, and has thrown in some encouraging words about Morley College (which played such a crucial part in adult education) and the City Lit., where I once gave lectures in public speaking when I was struggling at the Bar and was very glad to receive a guinea for each lesson. I am indeed grateful to my noble friend for her encouragement. I should like to refer to her, no doubt out of order, but suitably, I hope, as "Glorious Gloria", in this respect.
We have heard this Bill being debated without the bitterness it might have aroused because in so many ways the Secretary of State for Education has been flexible and reasonable in his response to meeting legitimate needs and points of grievance.
§ Lord St. John of Fawsley
Although that sentiment does not seem to command universal consent, it is one which I sincerely feel. We should have been in much more difficulty with this Bill had it not been for that approach.
However that may be, with these amendments there has been a most encouraging response. It is not a matter of party politics. I have seen great changes take place in the party political world, I have not changed but, alas! the world around me has changed beyond recognition. I remain what I always was—an old-fashioned Catholic Unionist! But others have moved in different directions. The Stuarts have been succeeded by the Hanoverians; and the Stuart cause is always lost. I accept that; that is inevitable. But it is worth saving something from the wreckage from time to time, and the Geffrye and Horniman Museums are two jewels which are well worth salvaging.
§ Baroness Birk
I, too, am delighted to have been joined in this amendment by three colleagues from different parts of the Chamber. As the noble Lord, Lord St. John, said, they have expressed the views probably of all Members of this Committee, with no party affiliations.
I, too, was delighted to hear what the Minister said this afternoon. It will mean a diminishing amount of anxiety, not only for those of us who are anxious about the museums, but for the directors and the staff of the museums who are most concerned about their future. These are two local London museums, but whose interests are spread much wider; they command large numbers of visitors every year.
301 I should like to ask the Minister one or two questions. Perhaps she can answer them in so far as is possible. She stated that the museums may be "garaged", so to speak, in the London Residuary Body, until the arrangements have been worked out. I hope that this may not be necessary. We have seen the situation with regard to Hampstead Heath, which is still rattling around the London Residuary Body. I believe that the quicker the arrangements are made, the better it will be. Also, it will be far more satisfactory for the staff of the museums, and for the visitors. It is true that there will be time enough to get the museums on to their new footing within a year or even sooner. Can the Minister give us any joy by stating that the matter will be proceeded with very quickly?
I should like to know whether the support services— which now come from ILEA—will be supplied by the London Residuary Body. The noble Lord, Lord Belstead, mentioned the resources support services coming from the body. I should like to know whether the same applies to the museums. It is important to know what will happen in the two years before the transfer about the finances for the museums, because they must be able to keep going.
This brings me to the whole question of core financing from the centre for these museums, which at the moment are pretty stretched at £1½ million costs for the Geffrye and £.1.5 million for the Horniman Museum, and they are still finding it difficult to manage. They have been very worried that the amount from ILEA has gradually been slipping and decreasing each year. It is very important that the changeover should be got off on the right foot and conducted as speedily as possible, so that the museums can go ahead with setting up boards of trustees and can feel that they have security and a very stable future ahead of them.
We wish this every success and, although I cannot join with the noble Lord, Lord St. John, in commenting on the flexibility with which amendments generally have been received on this Bill, on the present occasion this is so and I, too, am grateful to the Minister for giving us the hope that she gave this afternoon.
§ Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge
As the fourth signatory I shall try to be the shortest speaker. I am grateful for what has been done. It is pretty sound as far as it goes. I am interested that Professor Dunning's suggestion, that the Geffrye Museum should go to the London Museum, was not accepted. I do not know whether there is any particular reason for that, and I should rather like to know. It seems to me a rather small museum to be entirely independent.
The most important thing is the question of finance. I took down the words of the noble Baroness, which were that the museums should have a secure future as independent institutes with some government support. I do not trust this Government one inch over money, and I do not think many other people do. My noble friend Lady Birk suggested that ILEA has been cutting the income of both these museums over the last four or five years, and I am afraid that they will be given too little to start with 302 and their directors will turn into what directors in this country are always being turned into, which is money raisers instead of looking after the customers.
I should like to pin down the noble Baroness in this way. I should like to get some way of finding out the exact finances proposed as soon as they are arranged, so that we can comment on them here. Then, if they are not satisfactory we ought to make a great fuss. Having said that, I am very grateful that the Government have done what any Government must do, which is to preserve these excellent museums, and I have no more to say on the subject.
§ 11.15 p.m.
§ Baroness Hooper
The Government are well aware of the valuable service provided by the Horniman and Geffrye Museums to the people, particularly the children, of London and the south-east, as my noble friend Lord St. John reminded us. We have said all along that we are anxious to preserve that service. We believe that we have now found a satisfactory way of ensuring their future; indeed, of providing for both museums to improve their standing and service in the community. I am therefore most grateful for the welcome extended from all sides of the Committee to our proposals.
These two museums provide a very distinctive service to the people of the south-east. They have both specialised in meeting the needs of schools and other educational institutions. We believe this particular ethos should be preserved. So we sought a solution that gives the museums financial stability without losing necessarily all their local involvement.
As I announced earlier—and I am very happy that these amendments give me an opportunity to elaborate a little further—we therefore concluded that in the long terms both museums should be run by independent charitable trusts. The Horniman Museum already has such a trust, as has been pointed out, although the trustees are, I understand, appointed by the Inner London Education Authority. A new trust would have to be set up in respect of the Geffrye. We wish to discuss the details of how this should be done, but I hope that ILEA will be prepared to co-operate with us in this so that work can be put in hand well before 1990, as everybody here also seems to wish. We recognise, however, that both museums have been sponsored by local government for many years. So they will need time and help to build up management systems to enable them to stand alone.
That is why we propose that if they are not fully ready to stand alone from 1990 they should pass, if necessary, to the London Residuary Body, which could provide necessary management assistance and back-up until such time as they are ready. I emphasise that we hope and expect that with arrangements being put in hand right away, this will not be necessary. Nevertheless, my right honourable friend the Minister for the Arts proposes during that interim period, if it arises, to appoint consultants expert in the management of museums to assist the Horniman and the Geffrye to prepare for the change.
What is of course critical to the success of any new arrangements is secure funding. We accept that single 303 boroughs are unlikely to be able to provide such security for these museums, faced as they will be with competing education priorities. They will, therefore, be paid a grant in the first instance by the LRB, and in the longer term via the Museums and Galleries Commission, to cover the majority of their running costs. But one of the key advantages of independent status must be the opportunity it provides for plural funding.
Nor do we think that the museums should be taken totally out of the local scene for funding as well as provision. We shall therefore be encouraging the trustees to look for a range of funding from their local boroughs, from other local authorities in the South-East whose residents gain so much from the services of these two museums, and from business sponsorship and other private sector funding. In particular, the Inner London Education Authority has in the past seconded teaching staff to both museums. We believe that this is a function which should properly pass to the successor local education authority. The department will be discussing the practicalities of that with the boroughs of Lewisham and Hackney and other neighbouring local authorities.
The noble Baroness, Lady Birk, specifically asked about support services for the museums. As I explained, these are the kinds of details that we shall wish to discuss with the museums, ILEA and the local boroughs, which we expect will be in the best position to provide these kinds of facilities.
I believe that the package I have outlined provides a secure future for the Horniman and the Geffrye museums. The details are not set in concrete. We wish to discuss them with ILEA, the boroughs and other local authorities in the South-East. There will be a lot of work to do in helping both the museums to prepare for their new status, and, as we said, we do not want to rush this unnecessarily. We shall use the residuary body as an interim home, if it becomes necessary. But we are firmly committed to securing the future of the museums. We are firmly committed to plural funding underwritten by central government as necessary.
I have noted the two caveats entered by the noble Lord, Lord Birkett. I hope that, with those assurances, it will not be necessary for him to press the amendment.
§ Lord Birkett
I am sure we all wish the museums every possible success in the future. It looks as though that is the way it is going. I just hope that the plurality of funding to which the noble Baroness referred is not so complicated that the budget falls not between two stools but several stools. That is a danger of the current philosophy of plural funding. We must hope that those running the Geffrye and the Horniman museums are skilful enough to see that properly on its way. I am most obliged to my noble co-signatories for their support on the amendment. In view of the very encouraging response we have had from the noble Baroness, I hope that the Committee will allow me to withdraw it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ [Amendment No. 274ZB not moved.]304
Lord Birkett moved Amendment No. 274ZBA:
After Clause 166 insert the following new clause:
("London Schools Music Trust.
On the abolition of ILEA the Secretary of State shall cause to be appointed a Trust to be known as the London Schools Music Trust which shall promote and coordinate those musical activities in schools which need London-wide administration, including centres and junior centres for young musicians, orchestras and other performing groups, special musical courses, concert schemes, and instrumental teaching. The administrative costs of the Trust and of its services shall be financed by monies provided by Parliament.").
§ The noble Lord said: The amendment relates to music, and in particular to the London-wide music activities of the ILEA. After the abolition of the ILEA, certain music activities will be able to continue only if some central organisation is estabilshed.
§ The Minister has made encouraging remarks today, although not exactly in terms of the amendment, which proposes a totally independent trust. However, the amendment and the proposals that the Minister has made relating to Westminster as a central guiding force in putting together a post-abolition London musical scene may not be so far apart after all.
§ Westminster has a very good reputation for funding the arts. After the abolition of the GLC, Westminster took up its artistic responsibilities with an alacrity and, indeed, generosity matched by few other boroughs. As the Minister pointed out, Pimlico, where the special musical courses now take place, is within the boundaries and therefore forms an admirable focus for a post-abolition musical scene.
§ It is a complicated issue, and I cannot go into all the details now. To refer to the London Schools Symphony Orchestra as an example, it is very important that that should continue after abolition. Anyone who has heard that orchestra I am sure will agree with me. If one played a record of it "blind", one would not believe that it is school children playing. I find it intensely moving always to hear the orchestra.
§ One must remember that it is not only the glamorous symphony orchestra that the ILEA runs; there are also the countless ensembles, steel bands, wind bands and early recorder consorts. These require a great deal of putting together. The sheer cat's cradle of scheduling holiday activities for children is very complicated.
§ There is also instrumental teaching, with special courses of all kinds. There are the activities involved in putting together concerts for young people with a concert plan for the bright and talented young musicians of London to go to other concerts and, indeed, to meet professional musicians, from whom they can learn both in the obvious ways of being taught and simply by contact with the great professional musical world. In that respect, the South Bank and the Barbican will be happy to help and to co-ordinate the activities. Both have professional musicians of all kinds coming in and out constantly. They are uniquely equipped to help in this regard, and I am happy to say that both will do so.
§ It is a complex musical picture that should be preserved. I am sure that the Committee will agree that these cross-London musical activities must not 305 be lost. Here is an opportunity for them to become even more London-wide than previously. After abolition, the organisation could well include not only the ILEA boroughs but also the outer London boroughs, the private sector and other schools. We may have an even more London-wide young musicians' orchestra than before.
§ I am sure that the Minister will not be able to say tonight how that will happen. The support of Westminster will be very welcome. I hope that an organisation as powerful as, and even more wide-reaching than the present one, can be brought into being. I trust that the Minister can reassure me that her ambition in this respect is the same as mine.
§ Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge
I should like to support what the noble Lord has said, almost in its entirety. I am not nearly as happy about the concessions which the noble Baroness has made in this sphere, which are valuable concessions, as I am about the museums, because it is clearly far more difficult to run a teaching centre which at the moment covers 18 boroughs from one borough. There is only one way in which it can be carried out, and I hope it is the way in which it will be done; namely, that the present staff of the Centre for Young Musicians should be taken over in their entirety and should be given whatever outside runners are required to coordinate the other 17 boroughs. It will not happen unlesss something of that nature is carried out.
I want to be sure that we are told what is to be done. Perhaps the noble Baroness could write to one or two of us to explain how it is proposed that it should be carried out. I believe that it is of first-class importance. The ILEA has produced something which is more or less unique, not only here but also in other countries, and is enormously successful. I am absolutely determined that I shall not let the Government wreck that. They have taken a big step towards trying not to wreck it because Westminster is a competent and reasonable wealthy borough council and the centre of this particular work is within its area. Therefore, this is not unreasonable, but it must be carried out with the greatest care, and I hope that the noble Baroness can either tell us tonight or write to us with an explanation of how it is to be achieved.
§ Baroness Hooper
The Government have on many occasions paid tribute to the high quality of ILEA's provision for the musically gifted, and in particular the Centre for Young Musicians based at Pimlico School and the London Schools Symphony Orchestra. These have a deservedly high reputation. I know that Members of the Committee share the Government's view that such opportunities for high level music tuition and performance should continue to be available. Under our proposals the inner London boroughs will each become responsible for music tuition generally in their area, as are the outer London boroughs and other local education authorities. But we readily accept that there need to be co-ordinated arrangements for provision of a more advanced nature, since the high standards presently achieved depend upon a large number of 306 receive high level instrumental tuition and, of course, to perform.
This amendment suggests one possible solution. It is a solution which would effectively take instrumental music tuition out of the domain of the boroughs altogether without giving them the opportunity to consider for themselves how best to ensure the continuation of this important provision.
I earlier proposed what I consider to be a more appropriate solution. Westminster City Council, which is likely to become responsible for Pimlico School and thus for the Centre for Young Musicians, has expressed a keen interest in becoming a lead borough in organising advanced music provision across inner London. I welcome the confirmation from the noble Lord, Lord Birkett, that Westminster has proved to be very responsible in that area in the past. The detailed arrangements will need to be discussed further with Westminster and the other boroughs. But in essence we envisage a central team of music advisers liaising with music advisers in the boroughs to ensure that gifted young musicians from all areas of inner London are able to take advantage of the facilities offered by the Centre for Young Musicians and become members of the London Schools Symphony Orchestra and other ensembles.
Other councils and other institutions may also have specific contributions to make to these arrangements; and it might be possible to seek the involvement of one or more of the London music colleges, which I am sure would provide an exciting opening for further developments. Moreover, a charitable trust, which might of course attract private sponsorship, could be established as part of these arrangements.
We envisage that most of the costs of such an arrangement will be met by the boroughs, but the Government would be prepared to consider some modest topping up finance if necessary. Therefore, I hope that the Committee will accept the Government's commitment (as the Committee has indicated that on the whole it does) to securing the future of advanced music provision in inner London, and that the development of arrangements should proceed along the lines I have described as the best way forward. Certainly I shall be happy to keep informed of progress those noble Lords who I know are particularly interested.
§ 11.30 p.m.
§ Lord Birkett
I am much obliged to the noble Baroness for confirming the Government's intention to make the post-abolition musical scene work powerfully, as I was urging her to do. It only remains for me to say that I echo some of the worries of the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, about that. It is, of course, infinitely more complicated than at first appears. I can only urge upon the noble Baroness that those very talented people in ILEA who at present run these matters and who are the repository of knowledge should be put together with all the likely authorities as fast as possible. They have a huge task ahead of them, and I believe that we should not lose a moment in getting these arrangements in hand. I see that the noble Baroness is nodding earnestly, so I hope that as soon as midnight strikes it will start.
307 In those circumstances, and with that hopeful prospect of the musical education of London continuing as excitingly as it has in the past, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 274ZBB:
After Clause 166 insert the following new clause:
§ ("Funding arrangements for certain institutions.
§ (1) The Secretary of State shall, within six months of the date of Royal Assent, provide by regulations for the funding arrangements for the institutions to which subsection (2) below refers, after consultation with the governing bodies of each of the institutions concerned and with ILEA.
§ (2) Provision shall be made under this section in respect of—
- (a) the Working Men's College;
- (b) the Mary Ward Centre;
- (c) Morley College; and
- (d) the City Literary Institute.").
§ The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment I declare an interest as the principal of the Working Men's College. I should say at once that that is not a financial interest. The title "principal" refers only to the honorary chairman of the council and was devised by the distinguished Christian Socialist, Frederick Denison Maurice who founded the college in 1854. The real boss is the warden.
§ The Working Men's College, together with the other three colleges named in the amendment, has been subjected to a considerable degree of worry about the continuation of that part of the funding which came from the ILEA. I hasten to say that the funding of the Working Men's College from the ILEA is marginal. It is not much more than 10 per cent. of its total income, thanks to wise husbandry of its resources over a period of more than a century.
§ I say with grateful thanks that the colleges will have been much relieved by the statements of the noble Baroness and of the Lord Privy Seal in this afternoon's debate. If I may quote the Lord Privy Seal, he said that those measures will secure the long-term future of four distinguished adult education establishments through a guarantee of central government funding. It is rare for government Ministers in these circumstances to use the word "guarantee". I know that the noble Lord, Lord 'Belstead, will ensure that the guarantee that he gave of continued funding will be kept, and that the more detailed promises given by the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, will be also carried out.
§ There is an element of unrealism in thinking that there are vast sources of private funding to be tapped for these colleges. That must be a reservation which we have about the Government's proposals. It must also be recognised that the Government gave totally unsatisfactory answers in response to the amendments moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, about maintained adult education. If, as we fear, there are severe shocks to the maintained adult education system in London, that will mean increased pressure on the resources of the independent sector. We may have to come back, and they may have to come back, to the department and to the Secretary of State to ensure that the guaranteed funding is adequate for their new purposes.308
§ As always, we should have liked to see these assurances on the face of the Bill. If the Government had had the foresight to do that at the very beginning perhaps the anxiety which has been felt by those who serve these immensely important and high-quality institutions would have been that much less. We are grateful for the concessions which have been made, so far as they go. Perhaps the criticisms of intent could be thought to be carping.
§ Baroness Seear
I, too, am very grateful. Because of my association with, and as president of, Morley College, I wish to add to what I said earlier today. We are most grateful that this offer has been put forward. It is more than an offer, it is an assurance given to us by the Government. I noticed that the reference to the idea that the Government were going to guarantee this sum roused the noble Lord the Leader of the House from his slumbers. Perhaps he will confirm that he meant that the Government were giving a guarantee. I should also like confirmation whether it is for a limited period only and until such time as these wealthy benefactors produce the goods. Alternatively, will the guarantee continue indefinitely, assuming that the colleges have made a reasonable effort to get the money even if funds are not forthcoming on the scale that the Government hope for.
I will not dwell upon it at this time of night, but I sometimes wonder when this capitalist Government is going to say that it is just possible that the first obligations of industry are towards reducing prices and paying dividends. It is an unkind note to introduce, but I have heard so many suggestions that everything that we should like the Government to do is to be done by the private sector. At times I wonder what money is going to be left for the running of industry. However, on that slightly ungracious note and in asking for the confirmation I mentioned earlier, that this guarantee is really indefinite and into the future and not merely a temporary bridging allowance, so to speak, I join with the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, in saying that we are most grateful.
§ Baroness Hooper
I had hoped that between us my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal and I had already explained adequately the proposals of the Government for securing the future of these four important institutions. I am glad that in principle the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, are able to welcome our proposals so wholeheartedly because we believe that these proposals will also encourage a policy of flexible development, so that the service provided continues to meet the needs of its customers.
I am a little surprised that the noble Baroness questions that my noble friend really means it when he says "guarantee". I can reassure on that point, and also on the fact that the guarantee is not limited in time.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
In the light of those repeated assurances, because I understood the words "long-term" and "guarantee" in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, I believe that it is proper that I should ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.309
§ Clause 167 [Continuity of exercise offunctions]:
Lord Rea moved Amendment No. 274ZC:
Page 154, line 40, at end insert—
("( ) The functions of ILEA with regard to child guidance shall be transferred on the abolition date to a Child Guidance Council for Inner London, which shall—
§ The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment I am speaking about a very useful service provided by the Inner London Education Authority which is not mentioned in the Bill, and it has hardly been discussed today in any of the many references to the wider aspects of the activities of the ILEA. The child guidance service is an important aspect of the ILEA and I believe that many members of the Committee will not be aware of its valuable work, which is done by all the 16 child guidance clinics in London. It is criticised by very few people and it is praised by many who know of its work. It is the envy of many other cities in the United Kingdom and throughout the world.
§ The service gives support to thousands of children and parents and it relieves pressure on social services departments and schools—both special and mainstream—and also on the long arm of the law, in which I would include not only the police but also the probation service, special schools and units for young offenders. It deals with the types of problems that other people shy away from; for example, child abuse, depressed, suicidal or violent children, delinquents and school refusers, to name just a few. In my view it provides a more constructive answer to the problems of delinquency than some of those which were put forward earlier today.
§ As a general practitioner I have come to value the work of the child guidance clinics. It is extremely useful to be able to refer such intractable problems to a highly professional, multi-disciplinary team. The team consists of psychiatrists, psychiatric social workers, psychologists, social workers and other specially trained people. They look at the problems, assess them in depth and advise on what sensible steps should be taken in order to tackle them.
§ It is most difficult to measure such work in terms of cost-benefit. It is highly likely that the main benefit of the child guidance clinics is in what they prevent; for instance, the number of crimes not committed; the number of prison or borstal places not filled and the amount of legal costs not incurred. Of course the crime rate is increasing, as all Members of the Committee know, in spite of all the efforts of the Metropolitan Police. I suggest that that situation is not due to the fact that the child guidance clinics are failing in their work but that, at least in part, one of the reasons for the rise in crime is that their resources are spread so thinly and they are working against a tide of increasing social deprivation in London, which is due to a certain extent to the policies of the present Government. Those policies lead especially to the very high level of youth unemployment.310
§ Schools are not sufficiently attractive to children between the ages of 14 and 16 who are not academically minded, and I see nothing in the Bill which is likely to make them more attractive, in fact, rather the reverse.
§ I am surprised that as yet no mention has been made by the noble Baroness of this valuable service. I suggest that it would make no sense for each borough to be responsible for providing its own child guidance service. The 16 units are at present most unevenly spread. Some boroughs have none; some have more than one. The cross-borough flow is virtually the norm. As it is now, the organisation provides a valuable network for inter-professional and intra-professional contact of the workers in the child guidance service. It is also extremely useful to have this wide network for the purposes of training and in order to share expert workers between the different clinics. I suggest that if the network is broken up something good will be lost; something that is in the forefront of crime prevention, which is very much part of the Government's policy.
§ The ILEA network of special schools for physically and mentally handicapped children is an integral part of the service provided by the child guidance clinics. Therefore I hope that we shall receive further assurances that this network will be provided; that is, special schools for children with special problems.
§ The amendment is designed to preserve this valuable service. The teams working in it have been built up over many years. I feel that they are quite outside the argument about whether or not ILEA should survive. I think it would be a great mistake if, like an innocent bystander, the child guidance service were mortally wounded in the cross-fire which is aimed at the ILEA. I hope very much that the noble Baroness will be able to give us some encouraging words when she replies. I commend the amendment to the Committee.
§ Baroness David
I should like to give support to what my noble friend has said and hope that we can have a constructive reply from the Minister.
§ The Earl of Arran
I can well understand and sympathise with the noble Lord's concern. The ILEA child guidance service has a good reputation. It is based on 16 child guidance units which the ILEA operates in collaboration with specialist colleagues in the NHS.
The noble Lord's amendment however would freeze the present pattern and level of service of child guidance in London for some time, besides making it directly accountable to and funded by the Secretary of State. That cannot be right. It cannot be appropriate for the Secretary of State to fund directly the child guidance service in inner London when everywhere else in the country it is planned and financed locally. It must be a mistake to assume that the present pattern of child guidance in London is necessarily the best pattern of provision for what are to become 13 independent LEAs.
It will be for the boroughs themselves in preparing their development plans to put forward their 311 proposals on how best to ensure that an effective child guidance service will be provided in each new LEA.
In preparing their proposals, the boroughs will need help. I am happy to repeat the assurance given by my right honourable friend in another place, in response to a Parliamentary Question, that he would wish to discuss the continuation of the child guidance service in inner London with the inner London councils, the ILEA, and the relevant district health authorities. The sooner these discussions can begin, the better. In so saying, I hope that the noble Lord can be persuaded not to press the amendment.
§ Lord Rea
I do not propose to press the amendment, but I must say that that answer will give rise to a great sense of disappointment among all those who are providing this very valuable service in inner London at the moment. We shall scrutinise the noble Earl's every word in Hansard and decide how we shall come back again at Report stage. However, I must say that I am not very happy with the reply. For the present, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Lord Newall moved Amendment No. 274ZD
Page 154, line 40, at end insert—
("( ) Any voluntary body which runs youth clubs for children aged 8–16 years, and which was previously grant aided by ILEA shall continue to be so grant-aided to the same extent by the relevant borough, provided that the youth club fulfills the requirements which were previously laid down by ILEA.").
§ The noble Lord said: I believe that this is the last amendment this evening, thank goodness! The whole idea is to provide an opportunity to see the words "youth clubs" somewhere in the Bill. They are not there at the moment.
§ On 21st March I asked my noble friend Lady Hooper what the Government's intentions were regarding the funding of the youth service after ILEA had gone. My noble friend has been very kind, both then and since, in trying to educate me as to where I should find references to the youth service. She has said that in the future there will be consultations and dialogue which I think are obviously vitally important. But there are 713 voluntary youth organisations in London. They play a major part for the benefit of a great many children both disadvantaged and disabled.
§ In the past, ILEA has given grant aid of up to 65 per cent. for these youth clubs which in the main paid for the leaders' wages. Of course large sums also came from the voluntary bodies who raised their own money. But in the change when ILEA disappears the boroughs appear to have no direct commitment whatever. As I have said, I can find no mention anywhere in the Bill of youth service or youth clubs.
However, I have been told that this Bill is to be taken in conjunction with the Education Act 1944. I was informed that in Section 53 of the 1944 Act there is to be found a reference to youth clubs but I am afraid it is not there. It mentions play centres and recreation and other activities but it does not mention youth clubs. It states that a local education authority shall:
have regard to the expediency of co-operating with any voluntary societies.".
But having regard is merely taking into account or considering. There is no duty whatsoever implied.
Finally of course this matter is mentioned in the guidelines which are very appropriate but they are not enforceable; they are not law. So I thought it necessary to try and introduce the words "youth service" or "youth clubs" into this Bill. When I came to examine the Bill at some length I found in Clause 167 the words:
The abolition of ILEA shall not affect the validity of anything done by ILEA before the abolition date.".
I thought hoorah! If all these grant-aided clubs were valid at the time of ILEA they must be valid in the future because that is what it says in Clause 167. But that is really nothing new; it is just a matter of emphasis. There is no more being asked to be done and no less being asked to be done.
§ I think there are many justifiable anxieties that youth clubs will receive insufficient money to pay perhaps for the leaders' wages. ILEA had budgeted for about £36.5 million and the new idea is that £13.5 million will be allocated. If that kind of thing happens there is a great chance that many, many clubs—there are 713 youth organisations—will inevitably have to close. This is not a very happy situation. I am sure that the Government do not wish this to happen and I hope they see the point that youth clubs and the youth service should be mentioned in the Bill somewhere to give an obligation to the boroughs, particularly the boroughs who will be strapped for money and who will find this provision a difficult one to operate. I hope that the Government will find a way of somehow including "youth service" in the Bill. I commend the amendment to the Committee.
§ Baroness Hooper
I fully understand the concerns of my noble friend in this matter. Under the Government's proposals, the inner London boroughs will assume responsibility for youth service provision in their areas after the abolition of ILEA. They will have to set out how they intend to fulfil this responsibility in their development plans. We shall not seek to constrain the boroughs by imposing prior conditions about the type and level of provision they must make. They must take their own decisions based on the particular needs of their area.
The intention of the amendment is, I fully recognise, to ensure that the valuable work undertaken by voluntary youth clubs in inner London is not disrupted or diminished. I respect and indeed share the commitment of the noble Lord, Lord Newall, to the voluntary sector. But the effect of the amendment would be to oblige an elected authority to abide in perpetuity by the decisions of a predecessor body. That not only conflicts with the principle of local accountability, but it would introduce considerable inflexibility into youth service provision in inner London. I am sure that is not what my noble friend seeks to do.
The Government consider that the present legislative basis for the youth service is the right one. Existing provision is based on sections in the 1944 Education Act relating to the provision by local 313 education authorities of social, physical and recreational training and leisure time activities. One of these, Section 41(b), will be amended by Clause 104 of the Bill but will retain its force in respect of these activities. So we have no expectation of changes in existing provision based on that.
The effect of present legislation is to enable LEAs to assess the needs of young people in their areas and to make appropriate provision, taking into account provision made by the voluntary sector. This means LEAs can make a relevant, flexible response to the needs of the young people in their area, bearing in mind that these may change over time.
We shall encourage the boroughs to pay close attention to the work of the voluntary youth sector in drawing up their development plans. I have no doubt that, by the time the boroughs take over responsibility for education, they will have a clear appreciation of the work undertaken by voluntary youth organisations in their areas, and will place a high value on the cost-effective contribution made by them. I am sure that the boroughs will continue to give substantial financial and other support to this sector. The views of local communities, who use and benefit from clubs, will of course play an important part in securing continued support.
There has also been some concern about the future funding of the London-wide headquarters bodies of voluntary youth organisations which receive support from ILEA. I have had a series of meetings with representatives of many of those organisations to discuss their concerns and to see how we can bring them to the attention of the boroughs. Those organisations will be able to apply to the individual inner London boroughs to contribute to their work. However, the Government also plan to set aside a sum of £1½ million for each of three years from 1990 to assist those aspects of the work of headquarters organisations which the Government believe will support effective youth work in inner London. This gives those organisations breathing space to reorganise their finances on the basis of support from the individual boroughs and increased support from the private sector. The Government will decide nearer the time precisely what assistance is needed and how grant aid would be distributed. However, as the Committee will appreciate, the announcement of the additional aid was made for the first time today.
I hope that on the basis of what I have been able to say my noble friend will accept this reassurance and will 'withdraw the amendment.
§ Lord Newall
I am most grateful to my noble friend for repeating what she has said to me on many occasions before, apart from the nice £2½ million for those who are entitled to it.
I am still very unhappy with the fact that youth services and youth clubs, which perform such a valuable service, are not mentioned anywhere in the Bill. As they do much more than provide recreational facilities, which is mentioned in the 1944 Act, I feel that there is a need for making the matter clearer so that those boroughs which may not be totally 314 sympathetic to the idea will be directed rather than simply helped along.
I hope that my noble friend will be able to consider the matter again before Report stage. I shall read what she has said; but in the meantime I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 167 agreed to.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House resumed.