Education (Scotland) Bill

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st January 1969.

Alert me about debates like this

Order for Second Reading read.

4.19 p.m.

Photo of Dr Winnie Ewing Dr Winnie Ewing , Hamilton

On a point of order. I rise, Mr. Speaker, because of a disability which will possibly prevent me from participating in this debate in the way I would have liked.

I did not receive a notice of the business of the House for this week. I appreciate that this was not the result of anything other than a gap in the arrangements of the House of Commons for persons in my position, being a party of one. However, I thought that the matter had been settled some time ago, since when, on the whole, I have received notices of business, with the exception of two weeks.

I did not receive this week's notice and, as a courtesy to me, the Liberal Party Chief Whip was good enough to give me a copy of his party's Whip. Unfortunately, by a further coincidence, an error appeared therein, and the Second Reading of this Bill was put down for Wednesday. [Interruption.] I trust that hon. Gentlemen opposite will listen to what I have to say. I applied for an interview with the Government Chief Whip last May. I am still waiting for my interview.

I have been patient about my position in the House. I remind you, Mr. Speaker, that I know that in the House of Commons I am not regarded as a patty, in view of the definition of "party" given to me by the former Leader of the House, who said that a party consisted of two people, and I am only one. Although I am just one when I cross the Scottish border, I am like Cinderella, being magically transformed into a party with all the responsibilities of a party [Laughter.] Some hon. Members may consider that remark worth sneering at. I am sorry for that because, I am describing the real position in which I find myself. I carry the responsibility of representing one-third of the voters of Scotland, as revealed by the last local election results. It is a responsibility which I do my best to discharge, but if I am not to receive notices of business of the House then it is unfair to me and unworthy of the House.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

I did not know the point of order which the hon. Lady was going to raise until a moment or two ago. I have sympathy with the point of view she has expressed. I understand that the business for this week was announced before the House rose. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear "] Order. On the other hand, the hon. Lady raised this matter with me and I raised it with the Leader of the House a little time ago, and I understood that arrangements were being made so that she should get the same sort of notice of non-party business as that which goes to other hon. Members. Perhaps the Leader of the House can say a word about this?

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

You are quite right Mr. Speaker. I thought that this arrangement had been made. If there has been a mishap, I am very sorry. I am anxious to help the hon. Lady. If I can be her Prince Charming, as she says she is Cinderella, I shall do all I can to see that she is well informed.

Photo of Sir Harmar Nicholls Sir Harmar Nicholls , Peterborough

This seems to be a make-do-and-mend affair. I have every sympathy with the hon. Lady, but is there not any informal arrangement to deal with this matter, apart from depending on the good will of the Leader of the House? Is it incumbent on the hon. Lady to find out about the business? Have we to rely on the OFFICIAL REPORT being sent to us? While I am all in favour of this matter being settled in a friendly way, we ought to know the formal position of an individual hon. Member who is not a member of a particular party.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

The formal position is that all hon. Members are guided by what is on the Order Paper and by the Business statement made by the Leader of the House on Thursday, but there are mysterious people, of whom Mr. Speaker has no official knowledge, called Whips and usual channels. They manage to percolate information to hon. Members who belong to their particular political parties. The case of the two Nationalist hon. Members was raised with me some months ago. I took it up with the Leader of the House and I thought that it had been straightened out. In this case, however, it seems that the error is due to an error on the Liberal Whip. That is a matter which the hon. Lady must take up with her friend, the Liberal Whip.

Photo of Mr George Lawson Mr George Lawson , Motherwell

Further to that point of order. Is it not the case that we are all entitled to receive, and I take it that we do receive, HANSARD? AS you have said, in HANSARD there are specific details of the business. Since this is a day which is usually important to Scottish hon. Members, are we not entitled to take it that those who represent so many Scottish constituents will be particularly concerned to see that they do not miss the business relevant to Scotland which has been put down for today?

Photo of Dr Winnie Ewing Dr Winnie Ewing , Hamilton

May I make a further point, arising out of the point made by the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson)? I took most careful note, on the last day before the Recess, of the business proposed for this week, but it has been my experience—which is not long—that sometimes through the parties business is altered by arrangement between those regarded as parties. I am then left in a position of not getting the notice. This is a coincidence. It is very unusual, but it is most unfair to imply that I am not paying close attention to the business of the House.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. We are drifting from points of order to points of argument between hon. Members. Mr. Ross.

4.26 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The last major measure of educational reform in Scotland was the Education (Scotland) Act 1945, consolidated in the Act of 1962. It is time to look again at the principles behind it. The changes in the Bill have been discussed fully with the local authority associations and the main teachers' organisations.

One change, I know, is controversial, but the others are likely to prove generally acceptable; they take account of what has happened in education in Scotland in recent years. In most cases we are amending the original Act and are doing so by substituting new Sections for those which are out-dated in some respects. We are also introducing some entirely new provisions.

The result is a Bill which makes a number of miscellaneous changes and indeed which amends or replaces 71 of the 140 Sections of the Act of 1962 which are still in force. It may be that we shall require to have a consolidation Measure after this Bill has been enacted.

It may be for the convenience of hon. Members if, before going through its more important Clauses, I give some indication of the main themes. In the first place, the Bill brings the Statute into line with recent developments in policy and practice. The Act of 1945 was written in terms of a system of school education which envisaged a sharp distinction between primary and secondary schooling and a clear-cut selection for certificate or non-certificate courses at the time of transfer from one to the other usual in Scotland at the age of 12.

In practice, this distinction is now blurred and secondary education is increasingly organised on comprehensive lines. Every education authority in Scotland has submitted a scheme for such reorganisation and, apart from a few outstanding points in two or three areas, these have been approved. About half of the secondary pupils in Scotland are already attending schools organised on comprehensive lines and the proportion will increase as new comprehensive schools and extensions come into use during the coming years.

There have been many other changes since 1945. The expenditure of the education authorities is no longer supported by specific grants. We have new and better ideas for the education and ascertainment of handicapped pupils. We recognise more and more the need to develop leisure time activities especially for our young people. All these developments are reflected in the Bill before the House.

In the second place, we have taken the opportunity to prune the Act of provisions which have become obsolete, some of them dating back to the Act of 1872.

Thirdly, we have simplified some of our procedures which have proved unnecessarily complex or unduly time-consuming, for example, in the reorganisation of endowment schemes or the making of regulations.

Finally, and this is perhaps less apparent because most of the amendments concerned are minor and included in the Second Schedule to the Bill, we have given greater discretion and responsibility to the education authorities by deleting from the Act at several points the requirement that action should be taken only with the approval of the Secretary of State.

The matters in question range from the approval of subjects in a secondary course to the erection of safety barriers at schools. We recognise that education authorities can and should accept greater responsibility than was thought fit about a quarter of a century ago.

I turn now to the Bill itself. I propose to deal with those Clauses which are of particular importance. Clause 1 is a good example of the themes which run through the Bill. It brings the provisions of the Act of 1962 more closely into line with the realities of Scottish education today; it simplifies and loosens existing central controls, and gives the education authorities—and the teachers themselves—greater freedom and greater responsibility in the detailed running of the educational system.

It also deletes from the 1962 Act a provision which I consider is a survival from another era and is no longer desirable, that is, the power of education authorities to charge fees in their schools.

The Clause replaces the first three Sections of the present Act by four new ones. When hon. and right hon. Members compare the two groups of Sections they will find the following main changes. First, the Act of 1962 regards education as divided into three distinct parts—primary, secondary and further education. The Bill speaks of two—school education and further education. This is not merely an administrative or drafting convenience. It reflects the facts.

School education is one integrated process. Traditionally, it has been divided into two stages—primary and secondary—and since this distinction is still important for some purposes—for example, the qualifications and salaries of teachers—it is preserved, newly defined, however in the Bill.

The division at this stage is becoming less sacrosanct with comprehensive secondary education and the disappearance of a momentous selection procedure at the age of 12; the teaching in primary departments of subjects like mathematics and French formerly regarded as suitable only for secondary departments; the development of common courses in the first year or two of the secondary school—all these reduce the significance of the old distinction.

Against this background it seems right to amend the Statute and emphasise the unity of school education rather than the parts into which it may, for convenience, be divided. In the course of rewriting these sections we have deleted a number of restrictive conditions regarding the place and content of primary and secondary education.

To prescribe or to approve in detail the subjects to be taught in school is no longer necessary or desirable. Here we are only recognising what has become the practice. No Secretary of State in recent times has, in fact, approved in detail the subjects that are taught in secondary schools.

I turn now to the more controversial part—the abolition of fee-paying—and to the Opposition's Amendment. It is an Amendment which is curious in many ways, because its implication is much more serious and more comprehensive than what is being done in the Bill, which removes an option still available to Scottish local authorities.

The Government have included this change in the Bill because we consider that the charging of fees at schools within the public system of education conflicts with the principle of equality of opportunity for all children. If certain educational advantages or other privileges are, in fact, conferred on pupils by attendance at fee-paying education authority schools, then these advantages and privileges are being paid for to a large extent by the community as a whole.

In many ways more important, the inclusion within an authority's educational system of fee-paying schools which are necessarily selective is impossible to reconcile with the Government's aim of comprehensive secondary education.

The two cannot, in my view, exist satisfactorily side by side. The fee-paying schools, in practice, use two methods of selection. First, the parents must be able and willing to pay the fees. Admittedly, some of these are not very high, but the effect is to exclude from these schools the children of poorer parents and to preserve the schools as essentially middle-class institutions.

Secondly, children are selected, from among those whose parents are willing to pay, on grounds of ability—in so far as this can be assessed at the age of 4 or 11. This means that these schools are continuing, and are bound to continue, to use a method of selection for secondary courses analogous to the method which we have now rejected as unfair and unreliable for the rest of our schools.

The Town Councils of Edinburgh and Glasgow, as the House will know, oppose this part of the Bill, and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary met representatives of the councils in Edinburgh in December. Nothing was said which caused us to change our minds about the proposal. The Under-Secretary asked both cities to bring forward proposals for the incorporation of their fee-paying schools into the comprehensive system

There have been some exaggerated figures circulated about the cost of the proposal. As the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum states, our estimate is that the cost of abolishing fee-paying will be about £250,000 a year. We propose to abolish fee-paying with effect from the end of session 1969–70. This will mean that the next session is the last one in which fees will be paid to educational authorities for school education. It will be for the education authorities to work out the necessary changes in the organisation of the schools concerned, with my approval, and I am sure that they will be as anxious as I am to avoid any hardship either to the pupils already in the schools or to the staffs.

The Opposition's Amendment is in very general terms. The House should realise that the present power is used only by a few authorities in relation to a few schools. It applies to 27 schools out of 3,000 in the whole of Scotland. Therefore, we must see this in proportion. When we read the Amendment we begin to wonder whether the Opposition mean some new development in their educational policies—whether, if it is desirable in the case of 27 and they have to do it in this way, they mean to spread it considerably. We look forward with interest to hearing whether the Opposition consider that fees should be charged in more areas—for instance, whether the authorities should revert to charging fees at Ayr Acadamy, at Kilmarnock Academy and at Ardrossan Academy, a practice which was abolished. This is the implication of the Amendment.

We have no evidence to suggest that there is a widespread desire among parents to pay fees for school education to education authorities. Such criticism of the Bill as has been made seems to have come from those areas where a small section of the community obtains the benefits which they attribute to fee-paying schools at the expense of the community as a whole.

The Amendment must be embarrassing for hon. Members opposite representing English and Welsh constituencies. How can they reasonably vote for it when fee-paying in England and Wales was abolished by the Education Act, 1944, introduced by Lord Butler when he was Minister of Education, with the full support of the Conservative Party of the day?

The Opposition's view now appears to be that fee-paying in authority schools is desirable, but, if so, is it desirable only in Scotland, or in all parts of Great Britain? Is this privilege to be accorded to the parents of Birmingham and London as well as to those of Glasgow and Edinburgh? No doubt we shall have some clarification on this point.

The new sections of Clause 1 also make other changes. The present power to provide a child guidance service is converted into a duty. Almost every education authority now runs such a service and the new provision does little more than recognise this development.

Education authorities' responsibilities in regard to social, cultural and recreative activities and to physical education and training are clarified. They have a duty to provide facilities for these activities for school pupils, and also as part of a course of further education or as an organised leisure time activity, and they are also given a new power to provide them for the general public. That means that the facilities which an authority provides—swimming pools, for example—can be made available to individuals and not simply to organised clubs or groups.

Clauses 7 and 8 may conveniently be taken together, since they are primarily concerned with arrangements for the transfer of pupils from primary to secondary education.

In 1945, when these provisions were originally enacted, they controlled perhaps the most critical point in a child's schooling—the point at which he was selected for a secondary course thought to be appropriate to his ability and aptitude. Anyone experienced in education knows how lamentably this failed to meet the needs and the potentials of children.

This was controlled by detailed transfer schemes involving intelligence tests and examinations—the old "qualifying", or whatever name was given in the appropriate areas—the teachers' estimates and the parent's wishes, which had to be taken into account in the selection process; and it was essential that a parent should have the right to appeal to the Secretary of State if he was dissatisfied with the decision taken about his child.

The amendments proposed in the Clauses recognise that the situation has changed. In those areas where secondary education is now comprehensive, and, in particular, where all pupils take common courses for the first year or two, transfer from primary to secondary education has in some respects little more significance than movement from one class to another. Even where selection remains at this stage for the time being, decisions taken are less likely than they were to be conclusive and final.

So long as there are formal arrangements in an area for transfer from one school and one stage to another—that is, until comprehensive reorganisation in that area is completed—it seems desirable that these arrangements should be set down in a formal scheme subject to the Secretary of State's approval.

In some circumstances it may well be more appropriate that the scheme deals with transfer from, say, a junior to a senior high school—if this is the stage at which selection occurs—than with what may well be an automatic transfer from primary to a common course in the first year of secondary schooling. The Clause as drafted will enable this to be done.

Clause 9 merits some attention. It amends Section 33, which governs the number of commencing or leaving dates which an education authority may have. At present, the Act allows an authority to have two or more dates on which children begin school, and two leaving dates, or, with the Secretary of State's approval, three dates on which children who have reached the age of 15 may leave school. In practice, most education authorities have two commencing and two leaving dates. Ten of them have an extra leaving date.

The Clause lays down that there will be only two leaving dates for all authorities. We have discussed the proposal with those authorities which now have three and do not expect the change to cause any serious difficulty.

The Clause will also allow any education authority, with the Secretary of State's approval, to have only one commencing date and/or one leaving date. I should, perhaps, make clear that no education authority, so far as I am aware, has any present intention of seeking approval of one leaving or commencing date, and there is no intention of imposing such an arrangement on any authority. Nevertheless, at some time in the future, one or more education authorities may wish to experiment with one leaving or commencing date for their area, and I would not wish to rule out the possibility of such experiments.

Clause 11 is the longest in the Bill. It substitutes 10 new Sections for Sections 62 to 66 of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1962, which deal with the ascertainment of children requiring special education and of children who should be reported to local authorities as being unsuitable for any kind of education or training.

The four most important changes which the new provisions make are these. First, education authorities are given a power to ascertain handicapped children under the age of five years. At present, they can act in respect of children between two years and five years only if the parent asks them to do so.

Secondly, the parent is given a right of appeal against the education authority's decision that his child requires special education instead of only, as at present, against the medical certificate on which the decision was based. This is because the decision is essentially an educational one, however important the medical evidence is.

Thirdly, education authorities will be given a duty to keep under review any case in which it has been decided that a child requires special education.

Finally, parents will be given a continuing right of appeal. This is important in these sometimes very distressing cases. Authorities are required to consult parents before reaching a decision that a child requires special education, and a requirement is also laid on the authorities to inform the parent at each appropriate stage of his right of appeal to the Secretary of State.

In short, the purpose of these changes is to give the authorities more effective power to ensure that such children in need are identified and can be helped as early as possible; and, at the same time, to ensure that any action in this matter is taken in full consultation with the parents and that the parents have an adequate right of appeal.

Clause 16 replaces Section 81 of the 1962 Act by a new Section which is considerably wider in scope. It introduces the term "grant-aided colleges", which will cover the colleges of education and central institutions.

Colleges of education and central institutions, although traditionally regarded as quite separate types of educational establishment, are now in many ways much alike. Both provide courses of further education of high standard, and both may provide degree courses. They are financed in the same way. Apart from the fees they receive from their students, almost the whole of their maintenance and capital expenditure is met from the Exchequer. They are run by independent boards of governors. It seemed reasonable to recognise these essential similarities by regarding both as grant-aided colleges for the purposes of the statute.

I consider it desirable also to extend the existing powers of the Secretary of State in regard to the constitutions and duties of colleges of education to cover the central institutions. There are 10 central institutions, national or regional colleges of technology or the arts. Some of them are well known to us. I think, of the Glasgow School of Art, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and the Colleges of Domestic Science. These central institutions are administered by indepen- dent boards of governors whose powers and duties—this is important—are at present laid down in three types of governing instrument: a Private Act of Parliament, educational endowment schemes, and articles of association.

These instruments are of varying antitiquity. Only three of them have been made or revised since 1939, and three date from before 1914. In the composition of their governing bodies and in the prescription of administrative arrangements, most of them inevitably reflect the conditions and attitudes of a period now long past. All require revision to take account of modern trends in educational thinking and administration. For example, no instrument at present provides for representation of the staff on the governing body, and none provides for the establishment of academic boards of studies.

The new Section gives the Secretary of State power to prescribe the constitutions and functions of the central institutions by regulations. The same result might have been achieved by the separate amendment of each existing instrument, but this would have been a cumbersome and lengthy process. Moreover, as the institutions are now financed by funds voted by Parliament, it seems right that their constitutions should be included in regulations and thus subjected to the scrutiny of Parliament.

The governing bodies of the central institutions have been consulted about the new regulation-making power. Naturally, they are concerned about their right to be consulted before changes are proposed. I regard it as of fundamental importance that, before any regulations are made, there should be full consultation with any interested bodies.

I give a firm assurance now that no regulations will be made under this Clause with regard to the constitution and the general functions of the governing bodies of central institutions before the existing bodies have been fully consulted; and that goes for regulations made after the new bodies have been created, too.

I should like to acknowledge the splendid work which members of these governing bodies have done in managing and developing these great institutions. It is our intention to include in the new governing bodies of the central institutions some members of the old bodies so that there will be a measure of continuity.

Photo of Miss Betty Harvie Anderson Miss Betty Harvie Anderson , Renfrewshire East

With reference to the central institutions, will the Secretary of State take particular care when making the regulations to allow for the continuance of individual persons on these boards? There are special cases to be made out, for example, in connection with the Glasgow School of Art. I hope that this matter will be carefully kept in mind.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

I give the hon. Lady the promise which she seeks. We shall bear that carefully in mind.

Now, Clause 19. I mention this Clause because, although not in itself particularly important, it is of some topical interest. It amends Section 85 of the 1962 Act, which gives certifitcated teachers a measure of protection against dismissal by employing authorities. The Teaching Council (Scotland) Act, 1965, extended this protection to registered teachers. Now that registration has replaced certification as the mark of recognition of a qualified teacher, it follows that we should take the further step of limiting this protection to registered teachers only. This is wholly consistent with the recommendations of the Wheatley Committee. The position of certificated teachers in further education has, of course, been safeguarded in the meantime.

I think it right at this point to say something about the General Teaching Council and the difficulties which have arisen because of the failure of a small minority of teachers to register. It is an unhappy situation which, I am sure, the whole House would wish to see cleared up. I do not want to say anything which would make it worse, but it is important that the Government's position should be clearly understood.

The general public and the parents of the children whose education is liable to suffer must find this very perplexing. When Parliament set up the General Teaching Council, in 1965, we followed very closely the unanimous recommendations of the Wheatley Committee in a Report signed by the presidents of the three main teachers' associations, including the Scottish School Masters' Association. This was very widely welcomed as giving Scottish teachers a new status and a large measure of self-government, putting the teaching profession in Scotland in these respects ahead of the rest of the world.

We gave the Council a large measure of control over admission to the profession and responsibility for probation and discipline, and we made it our principal source of advice on matters of teacher supply and training. Some people thought that we were going too far. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite should remember that, although the Report was published in 1963, they did nothing whatever about it during their last year in office.

We in the Government have always recognised that in setting up the Council we could only provide the framework. As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State said in the debate on 6th November, the continuation of the Council and its success will and must depend on the willingness of teachers to support it, register with it and take part in its activities. It cannot be sustained simply by the Secretary of State or even by official teachers' organisations.

I believe that we have done all we can. At every stage the Government have shown that they were most anxious to take the teachers with them in doing what the teachers wanted. The House will recall that after we had published the draft Regulations at the end of 1966, in preparation for the registration of teachers from April, 1967, I told the House, on 22nd February, 1967, that in the light of the representations I had received I would not proceed with the regulations; I would postpone registration for a whole year until April, 1968. This was to give the teachers' associations and teachers generally ample time to consider all the implications of the new system.

I did not proceed to make the Regulations until July, 1967, which gave nine months' notice of their coming into operation from April, 1968. A further nine months have elapsed since teachers were obliged to register with the Council. No one can possibly claim, therefore, that this system was imposed upon the profession, or that it has been rushed into it.

I recognise, of course, that some teachers dislike some features of the Council as at present constituted, and, obviously, it would have been sensible anyway to review this new system once we had sufficient experience of it. I have, however, gone further and made it plain that I am willing to institute an early review if there is a general feeling among the interests most concerned that that would be desirable.

But this is not a matter to be decided by only one of the teachers' associations, and as well as the teachers' associations there are the views of the education authorities to be considered. Let me repeat this: as soon as there is a general indication from the various interests concerned that they want an early review I shall put it in hand.

But those Members opposite who are so anxious to embark on an immediate review should apply their minds to the changes in the composition and functions of the Council they would expect to come out of such a review. Some people seem to think that the council is dominated by the. Secretary of State. In fact, I appoint only four members out of 44; the Wheatley Committee suggested six.

It should be remembered that the Wheatley Committee recognised that the ultimate responsibility for the schooling of the nation's children is, and must remain, that of the Secretary of State. The person who is always kicked when anything goes wrong is the Secretary of State and Parliament would not have it otherwise. To hand over that responsibility completely would be, in the words of the Wheatley Committee, "wholly unreasonable", and I do not believe that any Secretary of State could do this. Subject to that I have an open mind. As I have said, I am quite willing to have an early review.

Finally, I wish to make it plain that I am not sacking teachers. There is a very small minority who, after nine months, have still refused to register with the Council in the full knowledge that this would render them liable to dismissal. This is so because it is implicit in the setting up of the Council by Parliament, and in the registration system for which the Act provides, that, to quote from the Wheatley Report, registration should be obligatory on all teachers who wished to claim entitlement to the benefits conferred by certificated status.

Photo of Mr James Dempsey Mr James Dempsey , Coatbridge and Airdrie

If he is not sacking teachers, my right hon. Friend should explain clearly and unequivocally who is. They have received notices. I know such a teacher personally, and my right hon. Friend might also know some.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

The House passed an Act of Parliament and Regulations. There was no Division on the Regulations, and no debate on them. The effect was to lay down the conditions for registration, and if teachers elect not to register, they are going contrary to what the House has laid down. Even now, I ask such teachers to think again. If they wish to see changes in the Council, the proper way to go about this is to register and take part in its activities. The future influence and indeed existence of the Council depends, as my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary said, on the support of the profession. I am confident that wiser counsels will prevail and that teachers generally realise that we have taken a great step forward.

Without the Council's advice and assistance we should not have made the progress we have made with the long-standing problems of ridding the schools of unqualified teachers. It was only because of the existence of the Council that the present Government were able to make this step. We are the first to do so. We can be reasonably satisfied with the progress made in the primary schools, and know that progress can be made in the secondary schools as well.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

I thought that my right hon. Friend was going to continue his little debate with my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey), but he has left the position to which my hon. Friend referred rather in suspense. Who appoints the teachers? Is not the authority that appoints the teachers the authority that will dismiss them, and is not the only authority that can dismiss them the Secretary of State?

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

That is true. I do not want a long dialogue about this. One of the difficulties was that we were taking away powers from the local authority. The responsibility for having teachers in classrooms belongs to the local authority. But a local authority could employ whomsoever it liked, which was what led to the employment of so many unsatisfactory teachers. We now have the position that the local authorities are employing only registered or conditionally registered teachers in primary schools, and we have control of the problem for the first time. This is the important point. Of course, we have taken away power which the local authorities had, and we got their agreement to do so.

Earl of Dalkeith:

Will the right hon. Gentleman clarify what he means by "early review"?

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

I have been quite clear on that, I have said that I will hold an early review when I have had indications from all those mainly concerned, and it is right to let the matter rest there. By "early review" I do not mean next year or the year after. I mean an early review. I have surely said enough about that.

I am confident that wiser counsels will prevail. The establishment of the council has led to a very considerable improvement in the status and function of the profession. The differences about the composition of the Council are relatively unimportant by comparison with the need to work together to make the council a powerful and influential instrument for good in Scottish education.

Photo of Mr George Younger Mr George Younger , Ayr

The right hon. Gentleman has been trying to explain the background and I agree with almost everything he has said. But why is it necessary, in spite of the general way of doing this, actually to sack these teachers, who are a comparatively small number? Will it help the situation to sack them?

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

This provision is already in the Statute. The Regulations have the full force of Statute passed by this House. By failing to take this action, these teachers have put themselves out. The responsibility is theirs. We all had plenty of time to talk, think and argue about this and at the end the Regulations remained in their present form.

Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , South Angus

I understand that it has been stated in Scotland that local education authorities, which were under the impression that they were obliged to issue dismissal notices to unregistered teachers by 27 January, have been told that there has been a four months' extension. Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm whether this important climb down by the Government has been made?

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

I cannot confirm that. I shall have to see what is implied in that situation, but if there is anything important in it my hon. Friend will refer to it in replying to the debate.

Photo of Mr George Lawson Mr George Lawson , Motherwell

If there is a persistence of this hostility towards the council—which was set up at the request, over the years, of the teachers themselves—would my right hon. Friend consider bringing in a short Bill to repeal the 1965 Act, which set up the Council, and so let us get back to where we were before?

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

I do not think that that would be a helpful thing to announce at the moment. All teachers are surely aware of the importance of the decisions taken about this matter. They will, no doubt, ponder very carefully before they take action which may well influence the existence of the council. I consider the council—as the House does—a very considerable advance in relation to what the teachers in Scotland wanted at the time of the strike of 1961—greater status and a greater measure of control of entrants to their own profession. I am sure that they will not lightly throw that advance away.

Clause 24 simplifies the procedure for making Regulations under the 1962 Act. Under the existing procedure, every set of Regulations made must normally be published first in draft and sent to every education authority, and only after the lapse of 40 days, during which education authorities and any other interested person may make representations on the draft, can the Regulations be finally made. This procedure is most unusual and I know of no parallel outside Sc sh education. It tends to delay the making of Regulations unnecessarily. We propose to replace it by the normal procedure under which the Secretary of State makes Regulations without first publishing them in draft.

This change will not apply to regulations made under the Teaching Council (Scotland) Act, 1965, because we gave specific pledges at that time in relation to them. But the change does not mean that education authorities and others directly concerned will lose their present opportunity to influence the nature of any regulations which may be made. On the contrary, it will be a corollary of this change in procedure that consultation before decisions are made and regulations drafted will be the normal practice. This is the procedure under other Acts and it works well. Time does not permit me—

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

I thought that it was fair to give way to hon. Members on both sides of the House who wanted elucidation of certain points. I cannot give way and also be accused of having taken too long. The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways.

Photo of Mr Michael Hutchison Mr Michael Hutchison , Edinburgh South

The right hon. Gentleman has had 50 minutes.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

The hon. Gentleman has still further delayed me.

As I was saying, time does not permit me to describe the effects of the other Clauses. But all are, in my view, useful and necessary, whether they repeal outmoded provisions, modify existing powers or restate them in simpler and more appropriate terms. If right hon. and hon. Members have any questions on these, my hon. Friend will be glad to answer them.

This is a valuable Bill. It recognises that reform and development are constantly taking place in education and in educational practice and must be reflected in Statute. I repeat that most of what we are proposing is not controversial and is acceptable—indeed welcomed—by education authorities and by the teaching profession. The one provision which has so far raised serious opposition—the abolition of fees in education authority schools—is, in our view, essential if we are to pay more than lip-service to the ideal of equal educational opportunity for all our children in which, at least on this side of the House, we steadfastly believe.

5.8 p.m.

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

I beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which prevents parents from making any contribution to the cost of local authority schools through the payment of fees This debate is taking place on the Floor of the House instead of upstairs, as is the usual practice, because the Opposition feel strongly on the subject of the Motion. But I warmly agree with the right hon. Gentleman that education in Scotland and in the United Kingdom as a whole is changing, doing so mainly for the better, and that this sort of Bill is right and proper to bring in from time to time in order to make our legislation clear and simpler as well as to introduce new themes as they become appropriate. This provides an excellent opportunity for those on both sides who regard education as a most important part of the Government's job, as well as that of the local authorities, to provide their own ideas without dividing on narrow party political aspects. This is the right way and has always been the practice of the House in education debates.

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the current problems concerning the G.T.C., and therefore I want to say two or three very short and, I hope, helpful things. We on this side of the House have supported the Government pretty broadly in the adoption of the legislation. The right hon. Gentleman said that, although the Report was made in 1963, we did nothing about it, but he will remember that when he took office there was a Bill almost entirely drafted and which he picked up and used, with very minor changes, as his own Measure.

There was at least a great deal of work done, which made life a little easier for him at the time. I agree that a year or two ago there were many people who feared that the Secretary of State was exercising too much control over the G.T.C. He and I shared, to some extent, the feeling that a Secretary of State has to have some special responsibility in this regard. The situation has changed considerably, at least as it has been reported to me in correspondence.

There is now, it appears, a feeling among teachers, not that the Secretary of State has too much control, but that there are perhaps too many people on the G.T.C. who are not practising teachers. This is merely a reflection of what I believe is one of the underlying worries of the present situation. I will say no more in case I should make more difficult a situation which I regret and which I hope can be solved.

We were impressed by the right hon. Gentleman's sincerity when he said that he is willing to have an early review. I understand the difficulties of saying exactly when it will be or who is to demand that such a review should take place. Obviously it has to be from a consensus of views and not from one single source that the demand comes. On the other hand, we have been told within the last 24 hours that local authorities have been notified that 27th January is not the critical date. If that is so, then the Secretary of State, in conjunction with his statement about an early review, may well have done something significant to help the situation.

Photo of Mr Richard Buchanan Mr Richard Buchanan , Glasgow Springburn

Is it not in the teachers' conditions of service that they must receive two months' notice and that this two months' notice from 27th January is the reason for the subsequent delay?

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

I cannot do more than state what I have been told from sources outside this House. I am only too willing to tell the Secretary of State afterwards if he wants to know where the information came from.

I want to concentrate on three things in the Bill. The first is an item which I do not quite understand, the second is that part of the Bill with which I wholeheartedly agree, and the third is that part of the Bill with which I wholeheartedly disagree. Clause 7 is the first item. In the 1962 Education Act, on which this Bill is based, it very sensibly says in Section 29(2) that if both the education authority and the Secretary of State agree, a parent shall not be entitled to select a course of education from which his child will not profit.

It seems that the right hon. Gentleman is seeking to edge out of a different situation now. He has a responsibility to protect a parent in dealing with a powerful local authority, and he is abdicating that responsibility. It does not seem right for him to argue that he will be open to appeal at the time of transfer from primary to secondary education. His Circular No. 614 of 29th June, 1966, makes it clear that the important decisions are to be taken during the course of secondary education and not at the time of transfer. Paragraph 8 of that Circular says: The primary schools should not be expected to indicate the kind of secondary course which might be most suitable for each pupil; this in the Secretary of State's view, is essentially a matter to be decided after the pupil has had experience of secondary school work. This is very much in accordance with what he said at the beginning of the debate. He goes on: He asks authorities ought not to set external tests; nor should primary schools devise internal examinations specifically for the purpose of preparing information about the pupil for the secondary school. The information sent to the secondary schools should be based on normal primary school work. What I do not understand is why the Secretary of State wants to opt out of it. There are not many decisions of this sort, I believe that it is in the order of 100 a year, and perhaps of that number 30 or 40 of the appeals succeed. The load does not seem to be a very great one, and yet I have no doubts that the parents feel that in having this appeal to the Secretary of State they have their own special interests very carefully considered. Many parents who never appealed in the past, or perhaps even thought of it, will lose the reassurance provided by an independent person to whom they were able to appeal.

The second point I turn to is the problem of how to deal with handicapped children. There are about 11,600 handicapped pupils in local authority and grant aided schools. This is an opportunity for myself and for all hon. Members to express our gratitude for the wonderful work done by private organisations in this area. There are such organisations as Dr. Barnardo's, the Eastpark Home in Glasgow, Donaldson's School for the Deaf, the Trefoil School and the Spastics School. All of these depend to a quite remarkable degree on the support and work of volunteers and dedicated professionals. Without them the system would not exist. It is their experience that has contributed so much to legislation for the handicapped.

This Bill takes several important steps forward in dealing with the handicapped. It puts in front of local authorities the problem of the child identifiably handicapped at an early age, and highlights the need to take a decision on that child's future long before the question of schooling would be expected to arise.

Photo of Mr Arthur Woodburn Mr Arthur Woodburn , Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire

Does the right hon. Gentleman not feel that he ought to pay a tribute to the teachers in public service who give very devoted attention to these handicapped children when they could be teaching children, with perhaps more satisfaction, in normal schools?

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

Of course I agree with the right hon. Gentleman, and I willingly join him in paying tribute to all teachers. Often these people in the special schools get forgotten because they are not part of our normal teaching profession.

Not all children can be educated, even at a special school, and there is a slight danger when we debate a subject of this sort in perhaps giving too much prominence to this part of the Bill. The problem is one of multiplicity of individuals, each one facing different difficulites. It is impossible to legislate to cover all these tragic cases. What we must do is to try to ensure that local authorities are not prevented by some statutory restrictions from doing what is needed in a particular case. Often it is not the local authorities; who will make the case studies and provide the training and advice that is required. Voluntary organisations and their staff are more flexible. They have the time and effort and are able to devote attention on a scale impossible in any salaried structure.

What legislation must do is to lead a handicapped child to an organisation which can then assess the situation and allocate the right treatment and training for the condition. The parent is looking for advice and support, not for a specific course of treatment. In the Social Work (Scotland) Act, the single-door approach was introduced as a means of coping with families in trouble. The same attitude is needed for the handicapped child and his family.

In such cases the local authority must provide the umbrella of buildings or specialised medical treatment under which the many voluntary bodies can operate and co-operate. We must avoid the impression that Clauses such as this are some magic wand that will right, almost overnight, the difficulties and frustrations faced by families with handicapped children. The Clauses are very long and complicated, and we have to take care in handling this subject. In- evitably parents in such circumstances are often desperate for solutions to problems very nearly insoluble, and we must not give the impression that we in Parliament, or even in city chambers, can wave a magic wand and produce quick answers to all their problems.

Such people are only too willing to grasp at any glint of hope. I am certain that this will go a long way to help them, but we must be careful that they do not get the impression that their problems will be solved by these new and rather complicated Clauses.

May I now come to the main part of our objection to this Bill, in fact the only part of the Bill to which we seriously object. That has to do with the fee-paying schools. I do not find it one atom embarrassing to have to ask my English colleagues to come to the House this evening and vote against the Clause. The reasons why I do not find it embarrassing are twofold. The first one is that in England there is a different system of education; I do not say that it is better, but it is different. England has direct grant schools which provide much of the transitional system between the independent and the public schools. Secondly, I cannot believe it is right that we should in this House cause embarrassment to our English colleagues by asking for special conditions to apply in Scotland. We have an enormously long tradition of separate educational systems, and I am certain that all my English colleagues, whether they think that Scotland is better or worse than England in its educational system, would fully accept that if we want to we can have our own independent ideas about our education and we are perfectly entitled to support them. So there is no embarrassment to me in that regard.

May I make it quite clear that we do not envisage a vast extension of fee paying from the 27 schools up to 3,000, or whatever the total may be, and this will become clear as I develop my point. The problem that I find difficult to assess is why the Secretary of State is choosing to do this part of the abolition of fee-paying schools in this Bill. Why has he chosen simply the local authority schools? If his feeling is as serious as he said it was that the advantages were being paid for by the community as a whole, surely he should have gone the whole hog and done it in the grant-aided schools and, perhaps, in his wisdom, the independent schools as well. This seems to be a curiously small bite to take at this cherry at this time. The Secretary of State argues that in a curious way the advantages are being paid for by the community as a whole, and this I cannot accept in the context of what we are discussing in the Bill.

Some of these schools have been in existence for a great many years, many centuries, and if we are to change something which has played an important part in Scottish education, then the only reason for which we can claim a change must be that the local authorities or the parents, or both, feel that this is an improvement in purely educational standards. If we make changes in education for purely dogmatic reasons then we are liable to do great damage to education as a whole. We need not only a high average education for the country as a whole; we need also a high top stratum of excellence to provide nationally people who will be outstanding in the various spheres of work that are important to our country.

I would like to examine the records of Glasgow's fee-paying schools and take the average for the years 1963 to 1965 which are the latest for which I have figures. The comprehensive schools received 67·3 per cent. passes at H-level and 66·2 per cent. at O-level; the senior secondary schools received 67·6 per cent. passes at H-level and 67·5 per cent. at O-level; the fee-paying schools received 80·2 per cent. at H-level and 80·4 per cent. at O-level.

The Secretary of State was somewhat scathing about the selection of children at 4 years of age or at the age of 12, but at least on these purely academic results they have done considerably better than the other sort. I am not drawing the conclusion that, because the comprehensives were bottom, therefore they are the worst. They are the newest and have the more immediate problems to sort out. One argument which is commonly made is that these better results are due to a much higher teacher-pupil ratio, but this is simply not so, as is admitted by Mr. Alan Brown, who was a great supporter of the comprehensive system. Writing in the Glasgow Herald on 5th November, he said that the size of upper school classes in the comprehensives is usually smaller than those in the fee-paying schools because of the number leaving at 15 or 16. This is borne out by the statistics in Glasgow where, in 1967, 68 per cent. and 32 per cent. of pupils in comprehensive schools stayed on until the fourth and fifth year against 96 per cent. and 85 per cent. in the fee-paying schools.

Photo of Mr William Small Mr William Small , Glasgow Scotstoun

Will the right hon. Gentleman say how many uncertificated teachers taught in these schools during the period he mentioned?

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

This argument is slightly irrelevant. I know that there is a problem with uncertificated teachers, but when one is talking of a difference of something like 14 per cent. I cannot believe that this is the answer.

Several Hon. Members:

Several Hon. Members rose

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

May I just finish what I am saying. I do not want to keep the House very long and everyone will wish to speak. There is not a vast number of uncertificated teachers in the comprehensive schools in Glasgow—

Photo of Mr Arthur Woodburn Mr Arthur Woodburn , Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire

On the point with which the right hon. Gentleman was dealing, I cannot speak for Glasgow schools, but I know that in Edinburgh the fee-paying schools screen pupils very tightly and refuse to take pupils below a certain standard. They start with a high stratum of intelligence and refuse to take the lesser pupils, so the average is bound to be worse in the other public schools.

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that contribution. I am certain that there is some selection. The Secretary of State said that he could not see how the selection could be effective at the age of 4 or 12. Therefore, the two right hon. Gentlemen should get their arguments in line. They may both be right. However, educationally, fee-paying schools have paid off, in broad terms, for Scotland.

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

I will not give way, even in the face of the guile of my old acquaintance, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin). I wish to finish my speech quickly.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

The relevant point is this. One can easily achieve a 90 per cent. pass rate if one controls those who are presented. This is one way in which some schools achieve very good records. There are other schools which give every child a chance; they put them forward if they have a chance of passing. Therefore, percentages can be very misleading. I should like to be clear about the statistics before judging the effectiveness of what the right hon. Gentleman is saying.

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

I am prepared to discuss this matter at great length with people from both areas to ascertain the percentage. Inevitably, I do not have all the figures with me. It is, however, significant that a very large number of people stay on for extra years of education at the fee-paying schools. I hen higher rate of examination passes and the stronger urge to take full advantage of education other than in the comprehensive or senior secondary schools is an important factor.

I am sure that there are ways in which one could improve the fee-paying schools. I have no doubt that that is so, and that it always will be so. If the Government had put forward sound ideas to improve the fee-paying schools, my right hon. and hon. Friends and I would have supported them. But if they want to abolish them, we must oppose the Government.

I turn to the other argument about resources. The Secretary of State said that the advantages were being paid for by the community as a whole. I do not understand that phrase. The immediate effect of abolishing the fee-paying nature of these schools is, as the Secretary of State says—and I accept his figure—to put an extra burden of £250,000 on the ratepayer and taxpayer. This is a curious thing to do when everybody in local authorities and in Government is being asked to save money. It is also odd to do it when Glasgow and Edinburgh, the two main cities concerned, want to keep them.

It seems to me from what I have been told that most of these schools are not structurally suitable for comprehensive schools or sited in the right places for comprehensive education. It may well be that, over and above the loss in fees, we may have a considerable extra bill for school-building in order to cope with the situation. Neither the Secretary of State nor anybody else has said that fee-paying schools are more expensive to run and maintain than other schools.

I am therefore left in considerable doubt about what advantages are being paid for by the community as a whole. If this is a further step, as it may well be—and the Secretary of State has not said that it is—towards abolishing grant-aided and independent schools, perhaps I can understand why he has not gone further because the cost of doing that would be very large at a difficult moment.

Let us consider some other possible arguments for this move. Some Socialist friends of mine say that it is entirely wrong that parents should be able to purchase a higher education for their children. I remind the House that this is Human Rights Year and that the United Nations Declaration states that parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education which their children shall receive. Is the Secretary of State hoping to emulate the late Henry Ford, who is reputed to have said that one could choose any colour one liked for one's model T Ford as long as it was black. If that is what the Secretary of State means by choice, he is as much out of date educationally as a model T Ford would be on our motorways today.

Or is the Secretary of State saying that Scots parents, who, for at least three centuries, have been world leaders in making personal sacrifices to give their children the best education they could afford, must not afford approximately £20 to £40, which is the level of fees per year, for their children's education, at a time when we read in the newspapers that joiners on the QE2 are taking home £100 a week? If so, the whole concept is completely out of step. The fees paid are very small in relation to any sacrifice which any tradesman, working in Glasgow and Edinburgh, would have to make to pay for the education which he wants for his children.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

That is not the issue.

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

Is it argued that we should try to seek bland uniformity with England? If so, we reject that. I am surprised—and I am sure that the hon. Lady the Member for Hamilton (Mrs. Ewing) will want to make her contribution to this debate—that the S.N.P. seems to support uniformity with England in this context. I do not take issue with the Secretary of State in believing that comprehensive education is often the best. However, I take issue with him that this is the only way in which one can educate children. I hope that he has studied the Report published last October of the National Foundation for Educational Research, a quite expensive foundation, costing £200,000, which was set up by the right hon. Gentleman's own Government. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman is wondering whether the results of the Foundation's first report justify his belief in total comprehensive education.

The arguments, many of which have been put forward in letters to the newspapers, are, on the whole, fairly "phoney". I do not believe that the argument about abolishing selection can possibly hold water in view of Clause 7 in which the Secretary of State accepts as essential selection at some time.

I should like the House to consider the excellent pamphlet entitled "Living in Scotland", which sets out for incoming industrialists the genuine advantages of going to Scotland and taking their families with them and what they will find in housing, education, recreation, and so on. Considerable play is made with the amount of cheap fee-paying education available in Scotland and its excellence.

I am not sure that the Socialist Party as a whole realises that a large number of parents believe that choice matters. It does not realise that there is a large number of business people from Europe, England, America, Canada and elsewhere who have been brought up in a system in which they could choose the school to which they wanted their children to go. The part played by the fee-paying schools in the Scottish education system has not been appreciated enough.

If the Secretary of State makes an order under Clause 1, we shall rescind it. Thereby we shall restore to local authorities, if they want it—the decision will rest with them—the power to set up fee-paying schools again in their areas so that the great benefits which this type of education has given to local authorities, parents and Scotland may be obtained.

5.40 p.m.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

I want to confine my remarks to fee-paying schools. I was extremely interested in that section of the speech of the right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) in which he dealt with them, because it seemed to me that his remarks were a little contradictory. In the first place, he set out to assure the House and Scotland that the Tory Party had no intention of extending the system. There was no intention to extend it to all those parts of Scotland in which it does not exist. Then he went on to say what a good system it was. How does he reconcile those two views? One makes nonsense of the other. If it is as good as he says it is, why not give the rest of Scotland the benefits of it? Why confine it in the main to Edinburgh and Glasgow? On the other hand, if he does not want that, I suggest that the logic behind that attitude of mind is that the system is not as good as he tries to suggest.

For very many years, we in Edinburgh have suffered particularly from the fee-paying system. The whole educational structure of Edinburgh is distorted and weakened because of it, to the detriment of those children whose parents do not pay fees. That is my view in general terms, and I want now to look at some of the questions involved.

In my remarks, I do not necessarily criticise those who send their children to fee-paying schools. I have no quarrel with them. I believe that they are genuinely doing what they feel is in the best interests of their children in the circumstances in which they live and find themselves. We are not concerned with that. What concerns us is whether conditions as they exist in Edinburgh produce the best results educationally and socially, and I venture to suggest that they do not.

At present, about 10 per cent. of Edinburgh's school children attend local authority fee-paying schools. Another 10 per cent. go to grant-aided schools. In addition, a considerable percentage go to independent schools. Altogether, something like a quarter of the children in Edinburgh attend fee-paying schools of one kind or another.

Speaking for myself, I would like to see not only the local authority fee-paying schools dealt with but also grant-aided schools and, in the course of time, the independent schools. Nevertheless, I congratulate my hon. Friend on having the courage to bring forward these proposals to deal with local authority fee-paying schools. It is a battle which has been waged for at least as long as I have been in politics, which is a very long time.

Not only is it almost impossible educationally to select children at the age of 5—which, in reality, is between 4 and 5—for certain schools. One of the arguments produced is that it takes place and produces good results. I understand, however, that it is almost impossible educationally to do it. In my view, children cannot be selected on an educational basis. Whether that is so or not, it is quite wrong to divide children at the tender age of 5 into social groupings which are; dependent on the ability of their parents to pay fees and then keep them in those social groupings during the most formative years of their lives, from 5 to 11 years of age. I should have thought that it was wrong socially, and I cannot see how it can possibly produce good results to cream off a set of children as if they are better than other children going to non-fee-paying schools.

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Glasgow Cathcart

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that the social grouping which he does not like would become even more rigid and inflexible on a strict area basis with the setting up universally of comprehensive schools?

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

I am aware that that argument is used and that people tend to congregate in certain areas with social groupings being reflected in schools in those areas. But it depends on the territory covered by a comprehensive school or group of schools. That territory can be made to take in any area that one wants. I should have thought that if a good local authority planned its community properly, it would mix it.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

That is what happens in Edinburgh at present. A child living next door to Trinity Academy cannot go there, and, instead, has to travel to the other side of Edinburgh. More traffic in the peak hours is caused by Edinburgh children going to school than by people going to work. If anyone doubts that, let him take a bus in Edinburgh at 9 in the morning and see who are his fellow passengers. What the hon. Gentleman suggests contributes to the traffic problems of Edinburgh. I want to get rid of the problem, not accentuate it.

I suggest that it depends upon the area covered by a given school. Certainly children come from all over Edinburgh, travelling five, six or seven miles to attend Trinity Academy. They do it for one of two reasons. It is either because parents think that by paying fees for their children to attend Trinity Academy they are buying some educational privilege, or they think that they are buying a social cachet which will be of value to their children later in life. If it is possible to buy educational privileges, I suggest that it is wrong when at the same time we talk in terms of equality of educational opportunity. It makes nonsense to talk of equality of opportunity if it is possible to buy an educational privilege for one's children.

It is suggested by some that there is no difference between the fee-paying and non-fee-paying schools. In that case, local authorities are working a confidence trick on their general ratepayers. If a trader did that when attempting to sell his goods, it would land him in goal for about two years. That does not make sense to me. Either a parent is buying an educational privilege or he is not. If he is not, he should be required to pay nothing extra, unless, of course, he is being somewhat altruistic.

Photo of Mr George Younger Mr George Younger , Ayr

The right hon. Gentleman should not forget that about a quarter of the children attending fee-paying schools are allowed to go there free of charge particularly because they cannot afford even the very small fees payable.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

The hon. Gentleman must not try to excuse the system merely because a small number of children attend fee-paying schools free of charge. In any event, that does not destroy the argument about the system itself. It is really a method of preserving it.

If they are not purchasing an educational privilege, they are purchasing a kind of social cachet. When the child leaves school and goes out to get a job in Edinburgh he will find avenues of employment open to him which are not open to the non fee-paying child. Many bosses in Edinburgh opt for the child that has been to the Royal High. The boy who has been to the Royal High, irrespective of whether he goes on to higher education, has better avenues of employment open to him than the child who has been to non-fee-paying school. It is wrong that parents should be able to buy this social cachet which allows a child to get into other jobs. Looking at it in reverse, they are buying themselves out of unpleasant and less profitable forms of employment. I do not agree that that should be done. I do not find children who have attended fee-paying schools at the coal face, on the footplate, driving buses or on the workshop floor.

An Hon. Member:

That lets the Labour Party out.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

There are a number of Members on this side who went to non-fee-paying schools, and this is where they have landed up. Whether that is good or bad is not for me to say. Fee-paying schools tend to create a lot of social bitterness and frustration which cannot be good from a social point of view.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I do not know whether my right hon. Friend heard the remark of the hon. Gentleman opposite who inferred that people who have been to fee-paying schools are not found in the Labour Party. Is the argument being advanced by the Opposition that if we take out the fee-paying schools the membership of the Tory Party will decrease considerably?

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

Whether its membership decreases or not, they have to go a long way to get away from this domination of Eton. If a man has been to Eton he is almost guaranteed a place in the Cabinet in a Tory Administration. It is the highest social cachet of all. I think that this kind of education is socially wrong.

One of the bad effects in the public sector in Edinburgh is that because so much of the educational system there is fee-paying, either in the form of local authority, grant-aided schools or private schools, a third of secondary pupils go to fee-paying schools. This has led to the general acceptance by middle-class and professional people of the fee-paying system of education, which is the system in Edinburgh.

What is the result? Whether we like it or not, an aura of inferiority surrounds the public sector. People tend to accept the environment in which they live, which means that they look upon the non-fee-paying school as inferior. That cannot be very good either.

It has certain other effects. This creaming off of a great section of the school population which is more likely to have certain educational potential makes it almost impossible to create a decent comprehensive system. This is the situation in Edinburgh. Therefore, socially and educationally, the results in Edinburgh are bad. It is a good thing to get rid of that system. In doing that we are accepting or agreeing with the Educational Institute of Scotland, a very large educational body, which has condemned the fee-paying system as socially unjust and tending to give a dubious educational privilege.

Photo of Mr Henry Brewis Mr Henry Brewis , Galloway

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell me, with his knowledge of Edinburgh, what he intends should happen to these schools once fee-paying is abolished? I understand perfectly that this is an abolition of fee-paying. But what is to happen to these school buildings in Edinburgh? Are they suitable for comprehensive schools?

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

They stand as they are at present. The system will have to be adapted to make the best use of them. Some, which have recently been added to, should not present a great problem for the purposes of a comprehensive system. It may be there is an odd school which will present difficulty but, from my knowledge of what exists, it should not be a great problem. We will use the buildings. They were used for teaching children and we will use them for the purpose of teaching children. The point is that we will be bringing them within a system which enables a considerable degree of flexibility.

This leads me to a point that was made against me recently by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Earl of Dalkeith) and which came out today in the speech of the right hon. Member for Argyll, that somehow we were destroying or interfering with the right of a person to choose the education he wants for his child. That right does not exist for many people today. No one has the right to send his child to Eton unless he can afford it. A miner in my constituency has no right to send his child to the Royal High, because he has not £400 a year to send him there. This is nonsense. Applying a system of selection, the parent has no choice because someone else decides whether the child will go to the school. There is a greater possibility of a parent participating in the decision-making regarding the education of his child if it is done on a comprehensive system. One of the values of the comprehensive system is that it does not create a rigid structure in which the child has to move, but enables the parent to be consulted and to suggest what might be in the child's best interests. All these matters seem more desirable than to retain a system that is socially unjust and enables people to purchase educational privilege.

Photo of Mr Arthur Woodburn Mr Arthur Woodburn , Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire

My right hon. Friend seems to be making a distinction between the Royal High and the comprehensive system. Is not the Royal High a completely comprehensive system where children go from infancy through to university?

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

I agree. I understand that the Royal High building will be able to be used in a free comprehensive system. This was one school which I had in mind when I said I could not see many difficulties about it. There may be the odd problem, but if the results we are trying to achieve are worth while, I am sure we will overcome any difficulties.

6.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Michael Hutchison Mr Michael Hutchison , Edinburgh South

I find it difficult to understand why the Government want to bring in this Bill now. In the first place, if its provisions are implemented it will cost a great deal of money, and it would be wise in the nation's present parlous economic condition not to spend more. We are all seeking ways of curbing public expenditure and keeping down costs. Second, a Royal Commission is sitting on local government in Scotland which will recommend some marked changes in local government structure, which must affect the education authorities. It would surely be better to wait and see what is proposed rather than to legislate, when, shortly thereafter, we would have to bring in further legislation to amend this Bill.

Third, the Bill in many parts—particularly that part dealing with corporation fee-paying schools—seems to interfere with and dictate the workings and wishes and duties of local authorities. Education is primarily a matter for local authorities, and it is a bad principle when duties are delegated always to be interfering, chopping and changing, saying what is to be done and generally directing.

Fourth, for more than 50 years, local authorities in Scotland have, within certain limits, had the power to charge fees at their schools. In Edinburgh, the system has worked well. The city probably has, overall and for its size, better schools than any other city in Britain, perhaps in the world. Many of them are world famous. There is great variety among the schools. At no time during my time in the House, which is nearly 12 years now, have I been approached by anyone in Edinburgh to ask that the educational arrangements be upset or altered. Rather, the slogan has been: "Hands off our schools; let us get on with the job without interference and without the imposition of doubtful and untried theories".

It seems common sense, when schools are functioning well and turning out first-class pupils, to leave them alone and to direct any extra money and resources towards improving the structures of older and less good schools, and strengthening the staffs in them. That in my view, and I believe it to be the view of my constituents and people in Scotland generally. It seems sound sense.

It is apparent that the Clause aimed at abolishing fee-paying is paving the way to a subsequent attack on the grant-aided schools such as Watsons or Heriots, and I must warn people in Edinburgh and Glasgow that this is on the way. They should understand this. I hope that they will and that they will return the proper verdict at the next election.

May I commend the statement of my right hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) that if this part of the Bill goes through we will reverse it. This will give great satisfaction generally. May I urge him, further, to say that a Unionist Government would not interfere in any way with the direct grant schools, but would give them every encouragement in future.

I said that my constituents and people in Scotland generally do not support any radical changes in education. There are excellent schools of all types. One of the best is Libertine School, in my constituency, which is not fee-paying. But, in the end, much depends on the staff and children, and not all are equal either in intelligence or in characteristics. Calvin Coolidge once said that it is no good trying to make people equal who are born biologically unequal, and I agree.

The Bill seems to be largely based on false doctrine. Its implications have not been worked out. Do hon. Members realise that the fee-paying schools in Edinburgh could be filled three times over, so popular are they? I am not sure whether we should not have more fee-paying schools, rather than fewer. There is no infringement of human rights. In fact, the aim is that parents should have full right of choice.

The abolition of fee-paying, according to the Secretary of State, will cost £250,000. In Edinburgh, that is another 2d. on the rates. But we must not forget that the rates support grant is to be tinkered with, very much to Edinburgh's detriment, and education comes into the rate support grant. This will end in at least another shilling on the rates for Edinburgh citizens. I hope that they will understand this and clearly grasp how their pockets are being rifled by this Government—

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

The change in the distribution of the rate support grant has, of course, nothing to do with the Bill. What is more, it is not something imposed by the Government on the local authorities, but is agreed with the local authority associations and interests in the normal way. The only authority in Scotland which is standing out on this is, of course, Edinburgh, because Edinburgh happens to have gained, as the other authorities obviously think, rather unfairly from the formula in the past. This has nothing to do with the Government and nothing to do with this Bill.

Photo of Mr Michael Hutchison Mr Michael Hutchison , Edinburgh South

There is no doubt why this is so—because they are going to be saddled with it and they do not like it. If the hon. Gentleman does not believe me, he should ask people in Edinburgh. We do not like it, and we are prepared to fight.

If there is to be comprehensive education, which I understand is the aim, and these schools are to be brought into the system, hon. Members must understand that further costs will be involved, because the schools concerned are not in the right places. The net result will be many schools in the west and north of Edinburgh and practically none in the south. No one has calculated what it will cost to erect new schools or convert the present ones. The Royal High School, among others, cannot be comprehensive because it is for boys only.

We have had no answers to these points from the Secretary of State, and I hope that we will hear something on them today or in Committee. This part of the Bill is unwanted, it is costly and it is dictatorial. Its implications have not been studied or thought out and it should be thrown out.

6.9 p.m.

Photo of Mr Richard Buchanan Mr Richard Buchanan , Glasgow Springburn

There seems to be a reversal of normal practice in the Bill. Recent education legislation has aimed at codifying and simplifying the law, but the Bill seems to reverse the process in as much as some Clauses do not propose Amendments to the main Act of 1962. Therefore, that Act, as amended, will not be the consolidating Act which we had hoped that it might be. All consolidating in the future will, therefore, mean another Bill. I am surprised about this, since the Prime Minister was asked on television only last night why there should be all this complicated law. It, therefore, surprises me that the Bill was not brought in simply as a series of Amendments to the 1962 Act. I do not know whether that is possible, but it is eminently desirable.

I have two other small apprehensions and a fairly large apprehension about Clause 1, which has nothing to do with fee-paying. My first apprehension centres round Clause 9 and the danger of the single leaving date. My fear is that at a time when more and more pupils are staying on at school voluntarily, a single leaving date will mean many more pupils remaining at school until they are almost 16 and, if the school leaving age is raised, until they are almost 17. The recalcitrant pupil will inevitably be forced to stay on, resulting in disciplinary and other problems arising.

In the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern) an instance arose when a boy was let out of an approved school on licence. I will not describe in detail what happened, except to say that everything went haywire in the school for four months until the boy was returned to an approved school. This is fair to neither staffs nor pupils. It is only recently that the regulation which compelled certificated pupils to stay on at school until the end of the session in order to receive their certificate was rescinded. I do not understand why my right hon. Friend has now decided to go in the opposite direction and apply this regulation to pupils who are mainly not certificated. There seems to be one law for the rich and another for the poor. My right hon. Friend said that he had no intention of requiring local authorities to impose a single leaving age. Nevertheless, an option to take this course is contained in the Bill and I believe that this is a retrograde step.

This bring me to the question of Clause 4, about which my right hon. Friend spoke at length. He is freed under this provision from the necessity of publishing draft regulations. No longer need he have regard to the representations made by those bodies which are interested enough to make comments on these matters. I regard this as a dangerous Clause because no provision is contained in it for consultations to take place The enlightened Secretary of State we now have will always ensure that consultation takes place, but what will happen in future when we may not have such an enlightened Secretary of State? Interested organisations may first know of these regulations when they are laid. It may be irritating to the bureaucrat and time consuming to have to announce regulations 40 days in advance of laying them, so that the necessary consultation may take place, but that is a true democratic safeguard against an abuse of power when delegated legislation is involved. My right hon. Friend may consider a shorter period in draft.

My apprehensions about Clause 1 are not concerned with the abolition of fee paying. It is inevitable that, in time, this step would have been taken, anyway. Perhaps this Measure is a year or two early in this regard, and this should have been left until we receive the report of the Public Schools Commission on Grant-Aided Schools.

The abolition of fee paying and selectivity is an easy matter for the legislator, but the real job must be done by the local authorities. I have shown people round my constituency in an effort to interest them in sites where new industry could be established. These industrialists have quoted to me what they consider has gone wrong with the Land Commission Act. My recollections of that Act are pretty vague. My fear with this legislation is about the future of comprehensive schools. The trouble is that we tend to pass legislation of this kind and then shrug our shoulders as we leave it to others to implement. This is one of the weaknesses of the Bill.

One can say little in favour of fee paying schools, except that perhaps they have acted as a criterion to headmasters of comprehensive schools in Glasgow, who are always trying to improve Glasgow High or St. Aloysius College. That is not much to say in favour of fee paying, but at least it is something.

Perhaps I should make my position clear. I went to a selective school. My father went to the same school, as did my grandfather. I refer to St. Mungo's Academy. My great-grandfather came from the Highlands, having attended a comprehensive school. I mention this to prove that the term "comprehensive school" is not a new one. We hear a lot these days about "this new mode of education", as though it were a gimmick. It is, in fact, a very old mode of Scottish education, dating from the time when we were the best educated country in the world.

My three eldest children went to a comprehensive school and I do not believe that they lost anything by so doing. Fortunately, their father happened to be chairman of the schools sub-committee in Glasgow at the time. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) may remember that until that time the lines of education were drawn as rigidly within the comprehensive school as they were for separate senior, junior and modified secondary schools. Much had to be done then and much still remains to be done in comprehensive school". I think I helped in a small way.

St. Mungo's Academy is a selective school, selecting from all over the city. I suggest to my right hon. Friend that the trouble with the comprehensive system is its method of rigid territorial recruitment. This is where one gets trouble with the district gangs of many and varied names. They tend to accumulate as a result of this territorial secondment to schools. It is not a good thing to be too rigid in this matter.

My right hon. Friend pointed out that in England the education authority fee paying school had been abolished. While I agree, I trust that he appreciates that I am arguing for betterment of comprehensive schools. The Inner London Education Authority published an interesting booklet in 1966 when it was still a Socialist body. In paragraph 22 of that booklet it was stated: What is a Comprehensive School? … Others imagine that it must serve a defined and restricted neighbourhood or that all the pupils within an area will be forced into one particular school: imaginings quite contrary to London's practice and policy". On page 17 we read in paragraph 24: Any comprehensive school is likely to serve mainly its own broad neighbourhood but it need not, and under the policy of the Authority should not, draw only from a defined area". On the question of parental choice, we read on page 25 in paragraph 51: In this year, parents were given, for the first time, a completely free choice of secondary school, without the restriction of any 'grammar school' category, to be made after hearing the advice of the primary school head". That step should be encouraged. There should not be rigid adherence to a strict territorial area, and the values of selective comprehensive education should be there for all to receive.

I have spoken about the dangers of being too rigid in this matter. I hope that the ecumenical movement will gain sufficient momentum to rid us for ever of one cause of discontent in our education system and make the job of the educator and administrator much easier.

Photo of Mr William Hannan Mr William Hannan , Glasgow Maryhill

Leaving aside the question of ecumenical pursuits, will my hon. Friend try to answer this question? Why is it that the gangs of which he has been speaking are absent at Queen's Park, Bellahouston Academy and North Kelvinside, and they are not fee-paying schools? Will he agree that that is due to social conditions?

Photo of Mr Richard Buchanan Mr Richard Buchanan , Glasgow Springburn

Probably many of the reasons which can be adduced are social, but there is no doubt that gathering as they do in these huge schools there is a tendency in the so-called gangs to have Billy against Dan and Celtic against the Rangers and so on. I believe the case against the selective comprehensive school is well-nigh made by the situation in London. Reasons for parents sending their children to fee-paying schools are three: snobbery, a genuine desire to do the utmost for their children, and to get away from the Ynaff Ynuck, the lout and the layabouts.

We are closing our eyes to reality if we refuse to accept that these conditions disrupt the education of children. We have only to go to the schools and speak to headmasters and teachers to realise the problem they have in maintaining discipline. This is where the permissive society starts—here in this House. It is we who make the laws, and this is where we take away the power of the teacher to discipline and make it impossible for a headmaster to suspend a boy who disrupts the school. If a boy is completely uncontrollable it takes six weeks for a headmaster to get him to a summary court. We must give headmasters and staffs in comprehensive schools enough authority and some sanctions whereby they can maintain discipline in their schools so that comprehensive schools can be given a chance.

Another danger in simply abolishing the fee-paying school is that we are making all the more attractive the independent school and increasing the value of property in good school areas. I have an aquaintance who is a magnificent advocate of the comprehensive school, but when his own child was 12 years of age and had to go to the local comprehensive school it cost him a pretty penny because he moved to Shawlands so that his son could go to the Academy there. He went away simply to dodge the hooligans.

Something must be done to give the staff in these large comprehensive schools some sanctions whereby they can control a pupil who is bent on upsetting the life of the school.

What worries me most in this Bill is the question of "School Education". The Clause effectively eliminates the distinction between primary and secondary education. If the Clause goes through unaltered, education authorities will no longer be required to provide primary or secondary education. It is far too facile an argument to suggest that definitions of this sort are no longer appropriate when maths and French are taught in primary schools and there is a continuing process in the primary school on the basis of experimentation. Primary schools are now teaching maths and French, but they have had enough of experimentation.

I visited one of the schools during the Recess and had a look at what was going on. I was shown essays done by eleven-year-olds in which the spelling was absolutely appalling and the grammar was very bad. I said, "This seems very bad work" but was told, "Oh, no, the advisers now say that you have not to inhibit the child; the child must be given freedom of expression. You inhibit it if you insist on correct spelling and grammar". That is a lot of psychological codswallop. Many of these psychologists in the education service are nothing more than refugees from the classroom. Imagine the psychological effect on any employer of labour who gets a letter applying for a job which is misspelt and in bad grammar.

If this continuing process by age, aptitude and ability in the primary school means that progression will be by ability and not as at the moment by age we are probably taking a step in the right direction but I have found it a true saying that if one wants to be in the forefront of education—this goes through the whole gamut from Thomas Aquinas to A. S. Neill—turn the clock back 30 years. This question of school education seems nothing more than that—reverting to the old supplementary classes.

If I thought it a psychological experiment, a social experiment or an educational experiment I should probably support it, but I think it is nothing more than an expedient. It is an expedient which presumes a surplus of teachers in the primary schools, and anyone who dares to talk about a surplus of primary school teachers when there are 45 children in a class and there are no tutorial classes is talking nonsense. However, more teachers are now coming to primary schools, and they will be fairly well staffed.

If this business of school education simply means that we are combining primary and secondary education so that extra teachers in primary schools can teach into the second year of secondary education, that is dishonourable. We shall be doing nothing more than diluting secondary schools. As I have said, comprehensive schools have to be watched carefully and given every assistance. Which pupils will get the non-graduate men teachers? Do we think that it will be the pupils who need most attention? Certainly not; it will be the certificated pupils who will get the graduate teacher. I ask for an assurance from my hon. Friend that these are not the thoughts behind the dropping of the definition of providing primary and secondary education and substituting school education. If the intention is, as I suspect, that we are diluting the secondary schools with non-graduate teachers I must have serious thoughts about supporting the Government tonight.

Several Hon. Members:

Several Hon. Members rose

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. I must remind hon. Members that almost every Scottish hon. Member wishes to speak in this debate. Reasonably brief speeches will help.

6.28 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Stodart Mr James Stodart , Edinburgh West

I have listened with great interest to the speeches made so far from each side of the House. I enjoyed the vintage extravagances of the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis), who was back into his old form after his years of restriction on the Front Bench. I was interested in his account of where he was to be found at 9 o'clock in the morning. I understood that he watches the congestion of pupils at the Mound in Edinburgh. On the two occasions in my Parliamentary career when I have rung him up at that time I have found that was not where he was.

Undoubtedly the main interest in this Bill, with much of which I think everyone agrees, is in Clause 1 and the intention of the Secretary of State to take powers to abolish fee-paying in certain schools. Many of these are in Edinburgh and so this matter is of great interest there. The most famous is the Royal High School, which has had the very good taste to move into my constituency in the last few months. So it is natural that I should have tried to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, and I do not apologise for making what to an extent will be a constituency speech.

I am by no means forgetful of the fact that the Royal High School dates from the twelfth century. Nor am I in the least careless of its many great traditions. However, I shall not base my arguments against the right hon. Gentleman's proposals to forbid fees being charged at the Royal High and at other schools on traditions which may or may not have existed for centuries. Perhaps I should have taken the trouble to find this out, but I did not. I do not know, though I suspect that fees were not charged when the Royal High School was founded.

Photo of Mr James Stodart Mr James Stodart , Edinburgh West

In that case the tradition is a very old one indeed. But if tradition alone were to dictate events in education, there could not conceivably be young ladies at Marlborough at present, which I understand there are, nor at many English independent schools. In my day, if there was a sign of young ladies within miles we were all locked up in our rooms, whereas now young ladies are extremely regular visitors there, and occasionally, I gather, as regular pupils. As a social system changes, so must there be great changes in education, no matter how hard this may be for the traditionalists.

I am very strongly in favour of the principle that, though no one should be denied a good education, those who can afford to contribute towards the cost of education should do so and should be encouraged to do so. I do not confine this view to education. Nor do the Government, because they have had to eat many of their words and act along these lines—reluctantly, admittedly—in certain matters concerning health. They make people contribute towards the cost of prescriptions. It is extraordinarily anomalous that, though parents may want to pay some of their education costs—I, like others, will delve into the reasons for their wanting to do so—the Government propose to stop them from doing so.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Aberdeen South

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that to make it a fair analogy he would have to argue that the Government, to encourage people to pay for prescriptions, had offered a higher class of drug if it was paid for?

Photo of Mr James Stodart Mr James Stodart , Edinburgh West

Without doubt, people do not want to pay for their prescriptions, but they have been made to do so. They do want to pay some of their education costs and thus help to relieve the burden on the public sector. [Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Edinburgh, East was too late to hear my earlier compliments to him.

Photo of Mr James Stodart Mr James Stodart , Edinburgh West

The right hon. Gentleman has just come into the Chamber again. He might have the grace to listen to me for a few moments. I am perfectly prepared to face this issue and to ask: Why do people want to pay for their children's education? Only each individual parent can give the reason. A whole mass of different reasons would probably be given. I give only three of the many possible ones. First, parents may well like the environment and the physical characteristics that a school provides. They may like the Royal High School out at Barnton with its new buildings very nicely landscaped, and so on. Secondly, they may believe, as they are entitled to believe, in selectivity; they may believe that this will help their children to develop better. Thirdly, they may want to keep up with the Joneses. That may be described as snobbery if one wants a shorter description. I do not think that any of these things are bad, although some hon. Members do.

I am not so naïve as to think that a desire to keep down rates and taxes is a motivating influence. However, I think that the Government are wrong to take a step which will add at least £150,000 on to public funds, much of which will have to fall on the Edinburgh ratepayers. This step is extraordinary, too, because the Royal High School went out to tender only two years ago—that is, in the lifetime of the present Government—and £¾ million were spent on buildings which the Government knew were to be designed as a selective fee-paying school for boys only.

I am told by people who are educational experts—I am not one—that there are two very strong reasons against the Royal High School going comprehensive. One is that it has been physically constructed for boys only. I am told that it is absolutely useless as a comprehensive school. I asked why there could not be a comprehensive for boys only. I was told that such a school would not be a comprehensive school. Right hon. and hon. Members may shake their heads. I can only say that that opinion was expressed by somebody who is an undoubted expert in education.

Secondly, I think that without doubt, if the Royal High School is to be made a district school, there will be enormous over-schooling in the district. At the moment there are Ainslie Park, Craigroyston and Craigmount projected just across the road, and Broughton started a little further to the east. No survey of the schooling density has yet been made.

There are sound reasons for the Royal High School remaining as it is. I am sure that these reasons apply to other schools as well, but the Royal High School is probably in a unique position as a town school in Edinburgh. This is going back to its tradition, but I repeat that I do not found my argument upon that.

It is not insignificant that even the leader of the Labour Party on Edinburgh Corporation has, according to the note which we have all received of the meeting which took place with the Under-Secretary, said that he, too, thought that there was a special case to be made for the Royal High School.

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

He was not even at the meeting.

Photo of Mr James Stodart Mr James Stodart , Edinburgh West

Perhaps I have elevated Councillor Williamson to a position which he does not hold. At any rate, he is a very influential and well respected member of the Labour Party on Edinburgh Corporation, and that is the view which he expressed.

If the Government are determined to have their way and to make no exceptions but to go hell-bent for comprehensive education at the Royal High School, may I urge the Minister to give the Royal High a special job to do? Edinburgh has done a great deal of pioneering work, especially medically. It has its transplant unit and its hospital ward unit, which is visited by people from all over the United Kingdom and, indeed, from all over the world, who wish to see how hospital equipment can best be designed and laid out. Why not let us have something of that kind in education as well? Why not, perhaps, have an experimental sixth-form college, taking pupils from all over the city? This is done, I believe, in Sweden and in France, and I understand that there is one such establishment in England, at Mexborough. As I say, if the Government are determined to make the Royal High School comprehensive, that is a field for which the High School might be admirably suited.

To turn to another matter, I was glad to hear the Secretary of State's assurances on the question of consultation with those who will be affected by Clause 16, the grant-aided further education colleges. There has been considerable anxiety about this. Bearing in mind that under the Clause the Secretary of State is to provide for the constitution of governing bodies, prescribe what the bodies are to do, provide for the appointment, pay, discipline and dismissal of staff, approve the fees to be charged, and, finally, even be able to dissolve any grant-aided college, it is essential not only that his assurances should have been given but that they should be written into the Bill.

The right hon. Gentleman described some of these colleges as being national and some as regional. I should have said that Atholl Crescent was neither national nor regional; it is international in reputation, and many Scotsmen—I speak feelingly about this—are grateful for the tuition which has been given to many Scottish girls who went to learn their cooking there.

6.42 p.m.

Photo of Mr John Mackintosh Mr John Mackintosh , Berwickshire and East Lothian

At a later stage of my speech, I shall comment on some of the points made by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart), but I shall concentrate on the situation which has been highlighted in this discussion of the Bill, that is, the question of local authority fee-paying schools. This has taken a good deal of hon. Members' time today. By far the strongest argument I heard from the Opposition benches was put by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison), when he said that this is the sort of matter which one should leave to a local education authority. If we could not leave to a local education authority the working out of its own pattern of education, its own system and fee-charging arrangements, what on earth could we leave to it? What was the point of local authority initiative?

That is the sort of argument to which I am most readily open, but in this particular case I feel that the principle underlying the question whether education should be predominantly or totally free is so vital to the health of the education system that it must be laid down unequivocally for the whole country. It is in the same category as the leaving age, basic standards for teachers, and matters of that kind.

As I have lived with this problem for most of my life, in the Edinburgh area, I shall concentrate on that aspect of the matter and try to show how pernicious is the system which has developed and what a detrimental effect it has on the education of all sections in the city. There are tremendous misunderstandings being put about in the Chamber today, particularly on the question of choice. There is very little choice, virtually no choice at all, throughout the system. Hon. Members opposite speak as though parents sit at home, tot up the cash in the box, and then say, "We can make the £14 a term, and that means school X"—and in the child goes. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no more restrictive system, in my experience, than that adopted in Edinburgh and similar places.

Let us take the simple case of a child at a Scottish primary school in one of the large cities. This has actually occurred, not only to the children of many hon. Members; I recall it happening to my own daughter. As my daughter approached the time of her 12-plus examination in the Scottish situation as it was then, it was clear to her—and it was made absolutely clear to all the children in the primary school—that there were three levels of achievement possible. They could do dismally and deplorably and go to the secondary modern. They could do fairly well and then they would go to the secondary school, the school to which most of the children would go. Or they could do extremely well and secure a place in a fee-paying corporation school. This honour would be bestowed, possibly, upon two or three in the class. For it, they were deliberately coached and pushed. When the announcement came, in public and in front of all the children, the headmaster congratulated those who had achieved places in the corporation fee-paying schools; he passed lightly over those who had not managed it, and he commiserated with those who would go to the junior secondary school.

What choice do the parents of children in this position have? I had no choice in that situation. It so happened that my daughter obtained a place in the corporation fee-paying school. But I could not have said to her, "Honestly, I do not believe in this sort of thing and I am sending you among the semi-failures". That would have been impossible. Parents of the "semi-failures" could not say to their children, "We have looked in the piggy-bank, we can manage the £14 and you can go one up". The children would not have been allowed in. There would have been no question of it. At that stage, parents could not say that they would put up a good deal more money and they would send their children to a grant-aided school, because these schools have long waiting lists, most of the children enter at five, and for later entrants there is a stiff test. It is impossible to change one's mind at a late stage after the qualifying results are available and decide afresh exactly where one wants one's child to go. The only possibility still open would be to go even higher up and buy a place in a totally independent school, the sort of school at which, in many cases, standards are so low that they are only too keen to attract children in, provided that they can pay very high fees.

This pernicious system offers only rock-bottom choice to the parents and imposes most severe strains and pressures upon them and their children. I was amazed when I heard the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South say that he had never had a complaint about the system. One of the most eloquent complaints I have read was that made by a constituent of the hon. Gentleman, Mr. John G. Gray, in his pamphlet on the situation in the primary schools of Edinburgh. It is an extremely impressive complaint about precisely the situation which I have described. His child had obtained a place in one of the best free State schools, but he was told that it was full and that the child would be shelved off into a former junior secondary school with a couple of extra classes tagged on at the end, a school which happened to be in a particularly slummy and bad condition.

I should like hon. and right hon. Members opposite to appreciate that the idea that the system allows a great deal of choice and that the choice is whether one wants to pay or not is totally inappropriate in this situation. It just does not apply. I am certain that most parents would be relieved if the whole elaborate hierarchy of very expensive independent, semi-expensive independent, fairly expensive grant-aided, slightly expensive grant-aided, local authority fee-paying, local authority non-fee-paying but good, local authority non-fee-paying but regarded, perhaps wrongly, as not so good, and all the rest—if this elaborate pecking order was removed and everyone was assured that his children, wherever they lived and whatever school they attended, would have a first-class education on a simple and straightforward basis. That would be a fantastic relief to them.

I know of many parents who have come into a city like Edinburgh from outside, from country towns where this sort of system has never applied, and who have been appalled at what happens. People coming from a country town where there was one school for the town and the surrounding area are shocked at the neurotic way in which some city parents behave, going from meeting to meeting or party to party and saying, "Where is your child going? We could not get ours in; he just failed", and then, on being told about the other child, saying, "You are one up on us". My own wife, who came into the city from outside, felt this very strongly, this idea of status and of privilege. She went to Dingwall Academy—there was only one school in the area—and she, like so many others, is appalled at the pernicious system which now exists, the lack of choice and the pressure upon parents and children—a state of affairs which does not arise outside the cities in the one-school towns or villages.

The effect of the system is spreading somewhat round about the cities. This, too, is deplorable. I remember speaking about this matter to the headmaster of an admirable school in Fife with a great reputation. I put it to him that it was a very fine thing that his school drew all the children from the surrounding area and it had no problems of segregation and class tensions. He replied, "That was true until a year or so ago, until the fast diesel trains came across the Forth Bridge, and some parents discovered that they could get their children into Edinburgh fee-paying schools". Then off a contingent went each morning. The headmaster told me, "When I met the parents at the former pupils" association and said, 'Mr. So and So, are not you satisfied with our school and was your child not happy enough here?', they were embarrassed and said that as far as they were concerned, it had been fine; the change was made because their wives heard that the child of somebody down the street had a cap and a blazer and was at a fee-paying school in Edinburgh, and they could do no less. This was nothing to do with the educational standards of the school but was a cachet attached to fee-paying. This attitude could well erode the situation in surrounding schools."

There are one or two other ways in which this situation is pernicious. It has a bad effect on the staff, particularly of local education authority schools that are non-fee-paying. They feel markedly that they are in a second-rate school, even when it is not true—and it often is not. Even when their own efforts have made the school adequate, they do not feel that they are on the same level. I remember discussing this with the headmaster of one of Edinburgh's most prominent free State schools who asked me, "What would you think if every March you had an intake of boys and girls into your school and you asked them, 'How many of you have applied for the free places granted by the corporation in its own fee-paying schools?' and two-thirds of the class put up their hands? By September, one-third of this class will have gone to the fee-paying State-run schools, leaving two-thirds behind clearly feeling that whatever the staff did, this school was second best". I commiserated with the headmaster and appreciated the loss he and his school had suffered, but suddenly he looked at his watch and said that it had been an interesting interview, but he must dash off and collect his son from Watson's.

In addition to the unfortunate effect on the staff, there is an equally bad effect on the fee-paying schools, and the further up one goes the worse it becomes. A certain number of pupils in a fee-paying school I visited found that they could not keep up with the academic pace. The headmistress at this girls' school told me that they would have been much better off doing a course that involved more domestic science and handwork, but when the school produced a course of this kind the parents complained and said they would rather the children sat uncomprehending at the back of an academic class, failing year after year, than doing things that suited them, because they had got them into a fee-paying school. They wanted the cachet of this purely academic education, however unsuited to the children.

This pecking order naturally creates a state of tension and the idea that parents must run on the treadmill. There is a very bad effect on the corporation schools in fixing the corporation's attention on its own fee-paying schools. It is shocking that in Edinburgh money should have been found to rebuild the Royal High School, and Gillespie's, both of which are fee-paying schools, and had quite reasonable premises, while appalling secondary schools serving slum areas in the city were left. I have been impressed with the way in which the staff at these schools, which are derelict in terms of buildings, have made tremendous efforts to keep them up to the level of other schools. It is a feature of the whole bad system that parents are put under intolerable pressure to try to find an escape route up the ladder in some way. This is most undesirable.

I welcome the Bill. One of the most important things we can do as a Government is to try to get away from the present pernicious system of education and into a more egalitarian system. One of our weaknesses as a nation is a lack of social equality. In our big cities today social segregation is getting worse, not better. Communities are living more and more isolated from each other. This is a major explanation of our failures in labour relations and leadership. I was a little shocked by the idea in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Buchanan) that because some schools have roughs in them all the other children should clear out, leaving the schools for roughs in those areas. This approach is deplorable. We wish to integrate our communities. We want understanding and affection between our classes and to see normal relations within our communities. This will be achieved only by starting at the bottom with a properly integrated system of education.

6.55 p.m.

Photo of Dr Winnie Ewing Dr Winnie Ewing , Hamilton

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in the debate, and shall try to be very brief.

My party is committed to the principle of comprehensive education. It is against the branding of children as failures at the age of 11 or 12, and claims that comprehensive education is an old Scottish idea. In introducing it we are reverting to a Scottish tradition.

I was at a comprehensive school. Children were not put into a different building at the age of 12, but there were different subjects and a good deal of to-ing and fro-ing, instead of the only 1 per cent. who are upgraded at present from junior secondary to senior in Glasgow.

In respect of junior secondary schools, at present parents have a feeling of "Abandon hope all ye who enter here". Some parents are suffering nervous breakdowns as a result of the situation, and even some children at the fear of being branded as failures. This is intolerable. For these reasons, and in line with Scottish traditions, my party supports comprehensive education.

The taxpayer should not pay for the selection of some at the expense of others. I wish here to attack the logic of both sides. The Conservative Front Bench relies for support on the provision in the United Nations Charter which gives parents a right of choice. I agree that parents should have that right, but only if they pay for it. The State has no choice; it must provide the education. Parents can have a choice to opt out, but the corollary must be that with the choice goes payment. Anyone who looks to the United Nations for an umbrella for his attitude is misreading the Charter's provisions.

The ability to choose leaves independent schools, which fulfil a useful function that no one has mentioned which educationists are pleased about, and they admit this. Experiments were carried on at new ideal schools, for example, of A. S. Neill and of Kilwharity. Views on schooling have been imported from Germany and other places. We are not of the view that we cannot learn from new ideas. Sometimes such schools must be on an experimental basis, with willing parents, for the ideas to be introduced, because the State must sometimes proceed more cannily before sweeping away accepted ideas in education. This, perhaps, justifies the independent schools.

I must also attack the logic of the Government's position, because if we are to abolish the choice resulting in a few having selection for their children at the expense of others why are we doing it only in relation to those cases where the ratepayers must pay, and not where the taxpayers must pay? This is not logical.

My party believes that the introduction of comprehensive education should be done over a period of years. The Gov- ernment are stating the period in which this is to be done. I sympathise with their problem. They must state a period, and this is a courageous action. But we do not have the buildings and the teachers for the range of comprehensive education at its best—as I have heard it explained by a great exponent, Mr. Christie—for introduction on the date the Government have set. There will be a great deal of chaos. One cause of unrest is that parents do not know where their children will be; they want to know what building they will be in. If the children are now in a building in which they are happy and are to be transferred to another which they cannot see because the new building is not built and if they see only the existing old buildings the parents are worried. This happens a great deal in my constituency. People are worried about the building situation. The date set will create chaos, though I admit the courage of the legislation.

In Denmark, when a similar system was introduced, the independent schools were left alone. But the State schools became so good and had such good facilities that, in effect, they became the schools to which everyone wanted their children to go. But the process was done over a period of years, and in Scotland, too, a period of years is essential to make the system work.

I do not know whether I am correct in what I am about to say, since I have not had time to check, but if a regulation under Clause 1 is to relate also to the size of classes, then we should most certainly like to see such a regulation enforced. If it could be enforced, teachers' attitudes to the difficulties of their job would also be greatly alleviated.

Clause 2 deals with the provision of museums by education authorities. I think that we should consider the fundamental ability of children to concentrate for such a long day. I believe that an academic morning is long enough and that we could learn from France in our attitude to the school day. The afternoon could well be spent in a different way—by civic visits of all kinds, for example, on a far greater scale than is the case now. These "extras" of yesterday are part of the bread and butter of many schools today but not of all, and visits to museums are certainly popular with the children. I would most certainly support cultural appreciation, sport and civic visits of all kinds in the afternoons.

This, too, would help to make teaching more attractive and would solve many problems. It would enhance the status of teachers to a higher level—the French have a higher level—make their lives easier, and so attract more recruits to the profession. This is a rather fundamental view, and I must admit that I have never had any support for it from any of the professional bodies. But at least Clause 2 shows that there is an awareness of the cultural activities which children want to engage in, and I hope that it will be widely accepted by education authorities.

Clause 4 deals with the standards of premises. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman can give an assurance about the speed with which the levelling up of buildings which lack fundamental equipment is to be done. In Calder Street School, in my constituency, there is no gymnasium and the children get their exercise only by the kindness of the Miners' Institute nearby. More and more schools are having swimming pools. This kind of thing is an essential and not a luxury.

Under Clause 7 there is to be a restriction of the right of appeal. I ask the Secretary of State to keep the right of appeal to himself until comprehensive education is introduced everywhere. He provides the full right of appeal to him in the case of handicapped children, in Clause 11, and I think that it would be reasonable for him to keep the right of appeal in general until the transfer to comprehensive education has been accomplished.

In Clause 11, I hope that the word "parent" in regard to the right of appeal in the new Section 66D means any parent—mother or father—and not just the legal guardian.

If the aim of Clause 12 is to leave more control over schools to the schools themselves, I am in favour of it. But I should like clarification. The phrase is, "to cause inspection". Inspection has been accepted in good faith as part of the normal supervisory process. But this is now to be permissive. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman can tell us how the Secretary of State is likely to exercise his power to cause inspection. One can imagine the distress of a school head if he felt that he had been singled out for a special reason for an inspection.

I turn briefly to finance. My party thinks that the burden of providing education facilities is too great for some areas of ratepayers to maintain. It is our policy to transfer the financing of education to the central Government—but only when the central Government is situated in Scotland, I hasten to add.

The proposed new Section 81 in Clause 16 deals with the central institutions. I believe that the Secretary of State, in his opening speech, gave an assurance regarding the regulations, saying that they would not be made before existing bodies were fully consulted. Is it possible to write that assurance into the Bill? Some of these bodies represent very broad sections of their cities. I can vouch for this from experience of the Scottish College of Commerce—later the Royal Scottish College of Commerce—which is now part of the University of Strathelyde. The governing body represented wide interests in the City. Such a body should certainly have the right of consultation.

I turn to the question of dismissal, a very tragic situation. I understand that the number of unregistered teachers is about 800 and that the number is greater than the number of those who are unqualified but conditionally registered. A perplexed parent, at one of the many meetings held about this matter, asked whether registered teachers—qualified teachers—could not be kept and the unqualified teachers allowed to go if there was such an impasse over the matter. I am sure that the House will understand that parent's perplexity. He was suggesting an apparently simple solution.

As a member of one profession, I understand why a profession wants to have a regulating body. In my profession, the governing body is controlled by practising lawyers. This is the heart of the trouble with the G.T.C. In the opening remarks of the Secretary of State for Scotland he exorted us to make constructive criticisms, and so I intend to make a constructive proposal about the composition of the Council. I was impressed by the fact that, although the Wheatley Report recommended six appointees for the Secretary of State, this has been brought down to four, and I am happy to leave that number there. I suggest that the remaining members of the Council should be nominated as follows: local authorities, three; universities, three; college of education principals, three; directors of education, one; governors of secretarial institutions, one; churches, two; secondary school heads, three; primary school heads, three; further education principals remaining, one; secondary school teachers, nine; primary school teachers, nine; further education teachers, one; college of education teachers, one.

That is my constructive proposal. I do not know whether in detail it would satisfy the teachers. It would create the situation in which practising teachers would be in a different position. One would expect that at least some of the headmasters and others from different types of educational bodies would be likely to vote with practising teachers on some issues. Such a Council would enhance the status of the profession. Certainly the practising members of the profession should have the biggest say. That is fundamental.

Like other hon. Members, I have received many representations. They have been from parents and teachers. One headmaster—the headmaster of Holy Cross School—who consulted me had not registered at the end of December. Many teachers have written to me because they sympathise with those who have taken their stand on principle. I have received two petitions. One is from Lossiemouth High School and is signed by 32 members of the staff. It expresses sympathy with those who have refused to register. The other petition is from Coltness High School, but this was a copy and I suppose that the original has been sent to its Member of Parliament.

The strongest argument against those who have refused to register is that they are a minority, but a minority is important when it stands on principle. Again, this minority is merely the tip of the iceberg.

A study of Parliamentary Questions and Answers about those who have registered, when they registered and when they paid the £1 would convince anyone with an open mind of the great reluctance of vast numbers of teachers to register. [Interruption.] I do not believe that it would be fair to teachers to suggest that the motive was that they would not pay the £1.

There are some who argue that teachers should get in and change the organisation from within. How can eight out of 44 do this? Even if one adds the likely support of other educational representatives, they still would not be in the majority. Even to go to the proposed representation that I have given, of 18 out of 44, they would still need the support of some of their brethren representing educational institutes or headmasters. Once a complex machinery governing a professional body is set up, I know, from my own experience in the legal profession, that it is very hard to change it.

Unless there is a suspension of the dismissals for a period bitterness will result. I hope that we shall hear that there will be such a suspension, and that on Monday we shall not have worsened this extraordinary shortage of teachers, which is already bad. In parts of Lanarkshire we are to lose the services of 800 qualified teachers. Many of them have mortgages, wives and children, and it must be a burning matter for them to do this. The bitterness is the important thing. Even if one disagrees about the position of these teachers, their colleagues will feel bitter in sympathy. New entrants will be discouraged from entering the profession at a time when we should be encouraging them. The training colleges have held meetings of protest. Here is a situation of bitterness that could be avoided.

The Bill introduces new regulations, and regulations do not always deal with the realities of the situation. Here the realities of the situation are that too many children are not being offered the variety of subjects that could be offered if there were more qualified teachers. I suggest that we should rethink our educational system to make the best use of the teachers that we have.

I make my personal declaration, as many others have done. I sent my eldest child to the local school. He was three weeks too young and there was the utmost difficulty in having him accepted. After nine months I was suddenly told that he would have to lose a year because he was needed to fill up the next class. We had a fight and won it. At the end of the year we were told "Do not think that you are getting away with this because we can keep him back for one year at any review". With that sort of threat I took him away. I had not entered the rat-race of the fee-paying schools, I had not put his name down, and we had to send him to an independent school, which is expensive.

My second child goes to a nearby school, where she will not be chucked out at 11. It takes all the children from round about, and it is one of the schools which I think will be affected by this proposal. If it is affected and made into a comprehensive school I shall be very pleased. I hope that in future my son will be able to get back into the comprehensive system.

7.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

Any reasonable person listening to this debate would agree with the case made out by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. I take issue with the right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble). He displayed a brochure and said that one of the main attractions for industrialists entering Scotland was the fee-paying schools. I was astonished at that, because I can tell him that one of the attractions for industrialists bringing in labour, particularly from England, is that with areas of comprehensive education in Scotland, parent do not have to worry about their child passing the 11-plus. There are many areas, my own is a good example, which have been successful in attracting industry because they have a proper system of comprehensive education which has been of great assistance to those coming from England.

When I was chairman of the Fife Education Committee, I inspected the Leicestershire experiment. I took part in discussions in Leicestershire and discovered that there was an element of selection. There may have been the ability to take a high school education, there may have been the I.Q. to go on, but because in that particular year there was not a sufficient number of places a person did not go on. Such a situation does not arise in the Scottish areas to which I have referred. It is rather strange that some hon. Members opposite should talk of education and the value of the fee-paying schools in Scotland. I do not say this pugnaciously, but it is a fact that if we are to talk about education from experience, as someone who was educated in a comprehensive school, as someone who was an administrator for quite a number of years in Scottish education, there is more experience on this side of the House than there is opposite.

Photo of Mr Henry Brewis Mr Henry Brewis , Galloway

Does the hon. Gentleman not think that this is a dangerous argument? It might be said that one should not talk about Scottish prisons unless one had been educated in such a prison.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

I do not get the significance of the hon. Gentleman's remarks. He is obviously poverty-stricken if he has to introduce such a remark as a debating point when discussing education. We are really arguing about the pool of ability. There is such a pool, but the fundamental difference between the two sides of the House is that we do not believe that the pool has ever been plumbed in depth.

One cannot calculate that the pool of ability means that 65 per cent. of the population must be written off and sent to some form of junior education while the remaining 35 per cent. should go to a higher form of education. As chairman of my own education authority I recall that we proved that to be absolute nonsense. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) should remember this when he gives us statistics about passes in State education and in fee-paying education. He did not mention the matter of presentations, which is very important.

When we operated a comprehensive form of education in Fife we increased "O" level passes to 42 per cent. and 43 per cent. We increased the number of people going on to take higher examinations, the numbers in teacher training colleges, who would, under the old system have been at the bottom of the predetermined pool of ability. Hon. Gentlemen are trying to argue the Kingsley Amis argument, that more shall be worse. We are not prepared to accept that.

It is said that parents wish to make a contribution to education. There is nothing to stop parents from doing that. That is a feeble argument. As someone who has been associated with education for many years, and who is one of the few members of the Scottish Council for Educational Research, I say that I have no antipathy towards parents who send their children to fee-paying schools. My wish is that when we have a proper system of non-fee-paying education, such people will voice concern about educational opportunities. Such parents within a proper system of education will be an insurance policy to ensure that the standards of State education are of the highest possible.

I was surprised that the hon. Lady the Member for Hamilton (Mrs. Ewing) gave examples from Denmark. I wish that she would pay attention to areas in Scotland where we have done away with fee-paying schools, and the people concerned would not go back to the fee-paying system. If she goes to Ayrshire, Fife or Midlothian, she will find parents who would not go back to the fee-paying system.

Photo of Dr Winnie Ewing Dr Winnie Ewing , Hamilton

I gave the example of Denmark only to illustrate a country which had had the courage to say that there should be State schools or independent schools. Denmark has done it so well over a period that independent schools have withered away. I am not disagreeing with the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

That is precisely what I am saying. I still make the point—and it may be a debating point—that we do not have to go to Denmark for examples. We can go to Scotland and talk to people who speak the same language and they will tell us their experience. If the hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour) were present, he could tell us about what has happened in the university town of St. Andrews. In the town of Cupar, where we have the Bell Baxter school, there was a change from the fee-paying system to a comprehensive system of education. The parents would never go back to the fee-paying system. Therefore, to say that the abolition of fee-paying schools with the abolition of selectivity will endanger education is nonsense. The argument does not stand up to examination.

It is said that when were are discussing any subject we should always listen to people with expertise in it. Sometimes people even talk about a businessmen's Government. I wish to refer to what the Educational Institute for Scotland has to say. I know that on the night that the representatives of the Educational Institute met a group of Labour Members in the House they met the Conservative group as well. The Institute produced a paper. I do not wish to read it out, but it is a devastating argument against fee-paying schools. It considers that the existence of fee-paying schools gives rise to social injustices and sometimes over-rated educational privilege. It should be possible to abolish fees and integrate such schools into the general system in a variety of ways". The case has been made on this side of the House for implementing the Bill. I have a number of comments which I should like to make, but I will leave them for the Committee stage. Any neutral person listening to this debate, and even perhaps the Press, which talked about the tremendous onslaught which would be made by the Opposition today, will agree that right hon. and hon. Members opposite are in default in their case and that we can go ahead with the abolition of fee-paying schools in Scotland.

7.25 p.m.

Photo of Mr Alasdair Mackenzie Mr Alasdair Mackenzie , Ross and Cromarty

This has been an interesting and useful debate. Although I do not agree with the Bill in every detail, it has a lot to commend it. I welcome in particular the provision made for handicapped children. Good work has been done in the past by the voluntary organisations. However, voluntary organisations should not be required to do all this work in this day and age, much though we wish to encourage voluntary effort. Every opportunity should be taken by education authorities to make the fullest use of the Bill for the benefit of handicapped children. I know from experience in education that parents are sometimes reluctant to take advantage of the benefits open to their children. They feel that in the past the bright pupil has been given priority and they have a certain inferiority complex when they have a child who is backward. We should do everything possible to get rid of this feeling among parents.

Fee-paying schools constitute a controversial matter. I understand the point of view of parents who wish to send their children to fee-paying schools, even though I do not agree with it. They feel that if their children attend such schools they will have a better chance in life and that greater opportunities will be open to them. I do not know how right they are. On the other hand, this has the effect of dividing pupils into categories. Other members of the community cannot afford to pay fees, and they feel that they are at a distinct disadvantage.

Throughout my life I have done my best to prevent class distinction. I have no axe to grind in this matter. There are strong arguments against fee-paying schools. Every hon. Member would wish all pupils to have the best opportunities possible. With the best will in the world, it is difficult to justify a situation which exists chiefly in the prosperous areas of Glasgow and Edinburgh. There are no fee-paying schools in my constituency—and thank goodness for that. It would have made very difficult my work during my term as convener of the education authority if there had been fee-paying schools in my constituency. Some hon. Members said that they thought that the day was coming when fee-paying schools would have to be ended. If so, this may be as good a time as any, when the Bill is going through Parliament, to end them. I cannot see my way to support the Opposition's Motion.

There is also the burning question of the General Teaching Council, and I find it difficult to follow the attitude of some members of the profession. The Council was set up for the benefit of the teachers and to raise the status of the profession, and I understood that the teachers were 100 per cent. behind the General Council. It is disappointing to find this division of opinion within the profession. If the Secretary of State can give an assurance that the position will be reviewed at the earliest possible date, that assurance should allay the fears of many teachers who are still unwilling to sign because they have grievances on the general set-up of the Council. By signing up those teachers would have an opportunity within the Council to improve the Council and so benefit the status of the profession. It will be very sad if teachers are sacked, and sadder still if they are prepared to sacrifice their life's work and the interests of the children rather than to sign.

I am a member of a small party; very often I find myself in a minority within that party, and I have every respect for the views of minorities. Those teachers who have not so far signed should not be charged with inconsistency if an increase of knowledge enables them to change their minds. I have said this in my own constituency where there are still half a dozen who have not signed, and I have impressed upon them that it would be in their best interests to do so.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

Will the hon. Gentleman take a step further and suggest a block signature of those who are now prepared to be dismissed, if the signature can be justified?

Photo of Mr Alasdair Mackenzie Mr Alasdair Mackenzie , Ross and Cromarty

I hope that the Secretary of State will take note of that remark. I sincerely hope that there will be no sackings, and that both parties can come together so that there will be no scar upon the profession or upon the Education Department.

I wish briefly to mention the speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Spring-burn (Mr. Buchanan). I do not know if the right hon. Gentleman was here when the speech was made—

Photo of Mr Alasdair Mackenzie Mr Alasdair Mackenzie , Ross and Cromarty

It was to me rather shocking. He said that education in Glasgow is deteriorating rapidly; punctuation, grammar and handwriting are all deteriorating. Has this change come about in the last few years? I was for a long time intimately connected with education when this sort of thing would not have been tolerated. According to the speech of the hon. Member for Springburn, things have deteriorated very rapidly, and this is something that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues should consider seriously. It is past a joke if this is the position.

7.35 p.m.

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

I am always pleased to follow the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Alasdair Mackenzie). I am in complete agreement with many of the points which he made. I wish I could say that about the gist of the speech of the right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble). It is a great pity when we present an important Bill on Scottish education that the one point of criticism that finds its way into a Motion on the Order Paper is this single item of fee paying in Scottish schools. I would have thought that there were other matters of such paramount importance in Scottish education that the Opposition would have tried to isolate those of first-rate importance and dealt with them in the debate today.

I understand that Renfrewshire has taken the decision on its own, before the passing of the Bill, that at the end of this academic year it will abolish fee paying in its schools. This leaves only the city of Glasgow and the city of Edinburgh where there will be local education authority fee-paying secondary schools. One of the main reasons for supporting the continuation of those fee-paying schools given by the right hon. Member for Argyll was that they catered for the top stratum of intellect. What is happening to the top stratum of intellect all over the rest of Scotland, in Lanarkshire, in the North represented by the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty? In every area with the exception of Glasgow and Edinburgh we should be weeping tears about the terrible neglect of this top stratum of our intellect.

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

The right hon. Lady is quoting me entirely out of context, as she will see when she reads HANSARD tomorrow. I did not say that this top stratum came only from the fee-paying schools. I suggested that the fee-paying schools, the grant-aided schools and the independent schools all had an important part in this.

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

The right hon. Gentleman is corroborating that they all play a part, and I hope that later we shall deal with the grant-aided schools and the independent schools, but in this Bill we are dealing only with local education authority fee-paying schools. I say to the right hon. Member that in ordinary non-fee-paying secondary schools, in Glasgow and in Edinburgh, apart from the rest of Scotland, we have young men and women whose intellect is as high as that of those in fee-paying schools, and the sooner the Opposition get to know what Scottish education has always been about the better it will be.

Many of the other points which I meant to make have been dealt with in what I thought was a devastating speech against the Motion, a devastating speech in favour of what the Secretary of State wants to do with these local education authority schools, made by my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh), and I congratulate him on the clear way in which he put the case. When most parents read his speech, they will realise that what is proposed in the Bill is good for all our children and for Scottish education generally.

It may be that I am the only hon. Member who has taught in one of these local education authority fee-paying schools where it is proposed to abolish fees. I taught for five years at Allan Glen's Boys' School, and they were five very happy years for me. It is a first-rate school, but when I was there it was what might almost be called a comprehensive school in that the range of ability of pupils was comprehensive. There were two pre-secondary classes. In them there were some children of high intelligence. There were others who had been in ordinary primary schools in Glasgow whose parents realised when their children reached ten years of age that they would never make the necessary grade to get into one of our free senior secondary schools. As a result, they bought them places in Allan Glen's primary classes because they knew that, when it came to a decision about secondary education, they would automatically obtain a place in the secondary school. I do not know the position obtaining at Allan Glen's Boys' School today, since there are no longer primary classes, but the result then was that boys who would never have entered a six-year senior secondary school where no fees were charged attended Allan Glen's School. The intelligence quotient of many of them was so low that they had no second language, either Latin or French, but they got a great deal from that school because it was one of the best examples of comprehensive education in terms of the ranges of ability for which it catered.

But, clearly, schools such as Allan Glen's present in our education system the severe disabilities which were highlighted in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian, and I have no intention of saying any more on that subject, although I wanted to make a strong case for comprehensive education, in which I believe very deeply.

I turn now to another matter which is causing great concern to Scottish parents. Many of them wonder, in a country where there is a shortage of teachers, what the future holds for the education of their children if certain teachers either strike or are sacked. In this debate, it is important to get the picture in proper perspective, and I want to try to do that.

Only a very small minority of teachers have refused to register with the General Teaching Council. It was the Tory Government who set up the Wheatley Committee, which reported in 1963. Its report to the then Tory Secretary of State was unanimous, and that fact ought not to be forgotten. It was signed by all the members of the Committee, amongst whom was the President of the Scottish Schoolmasters Association. He served on that Committee and listened to all its discussions. As far as we can learn, he had no hesitation in signing that Report with the other members of the Committee.

Believing that it would enhance the status of teachers, the Labour Government decided to act speedily on the Committee's recommendations. The result was the Teaching Council (Scotland) Act, 1965. It is important that parents should know that that legislation brought in by the Labour Government closely followed the recommendations of the Wheatley Committee's Report.

In paragraph 171 we find these words: We envisage that by legislative act registration will effectively replace certification. We think it desirable, therefore, to suggest that all existing certificated teachers will have to register with the Council, from a date determined by it, if they wish to continue to be entitled to the advantages of certification. It will not be enough for them to assume that having once been certificated they need take no further steps to maintain their position…Registration should be obligatory on all teachers who wish to claim entitlement to the benefits conferred by certificated status. There are no ifs or buts. There is a clear recommendation that registration should be compulsory.

I am glad that the vast majority of Scottish teachers have registered. However, the Scottish Schoolmasters Association advised its members very strongly not to register. In spite of that, many members of the Association have registered. I want to stress again that the President of the Association was a member of the Wheatley Committee. Despite that, we have had what I can only describe as the most intemperate propaganda from the Association in addition to the most scurrilous attacks on my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, and I resent those very much. I do not blame the General Secretary of the Association, Mr. McClement, whom I have known for a long time. He was Secretary of the Police Federation, and when I was at the Scottish Office one of my responsibilities was for police in Scotland. What is more, when I did Front Bench duty as an Opposition hon. Member, I had many close consultations with him. I found him to be a most reasonable man. I suspect that the kind of letters that we receive from him today reflect the intemperate feelings and attitudes of the Council that he represents.

Photo of Mr James Hamilton Mr James Hamilton , Fermanagh and South Tyrone

My right hon. Friend has made reference to the Council of the S.S.A. In the industrial world it would be called the Association's executive. If present information is to be believed, we understand that 50 per cent. of that executive have already registered.

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

If over 50 per cent. of the executive registered, it is strange that it should be advising its rank and file members not to register. But, again, it seems that the S.S.A. is taking strong exception to the composition of the General Teaching Council. The hon. Member for Hamilton (Mrs. Ewing) dealt with this matter. She gave us the kind of composition that she would like to see. It was evident from her speech today—[Interruption.] I make no complaint that the hon. Lady is not here, because she has been in the House for most of the day. Her speech today and the quotations from what she said in the Hamilton Advertiser at the weekend all give comfort to the Scottish Schoolmasters Association. It seems clear that if it goes along the lines suggested by the hon. Lady we shall indeed have great difficulties on our hands.

The composition of the General Teaching Council, however, is the same as that recommended by the Wheatley Committee. It seems wrong now to have this kind of intemperate attack on both the Council and the Secretary of Slate when every attempt has been made to get the General Teaching Council in line with the recommendations of the important Wheatley Committee.

The hon. Lady took the same line as the Scottish Schoolmasters Association. It seems that whenever a teacher gets promotion and becomes a headmaster he can no longer talk for or represent teachers. It seems from what has been said by the hon. Lady and the Scottish Schoolmasters Association that the moment a man becomes a headmaster he is completely divorced from the problems of the general teachers of the country. I may tell the hon. Lady that in her constituency a headmaster of a school of over 1,000 pupils for about two years has had to teach chemistry to the fifth and sixth forms for presentation for the higher leaving certificate. That man is fully aware of the problems being faced by teachers at the present time. Not only that, but those who become headmasters have great knowledge of their profession and its problems. Far from criticising those who are on the General Teaching Council, the S.S.A. really should regard it as a matter of supreme importance that the body of teachers is well represented.

I am not suggesting that the balance of interest on the General Teaching Council is perfect. It may not be. It may be that we should have one headmaster fewer and one teacher—I will not say practising teacher, because some headmasters are still practising teachers—more. I do not know. It is not for me to suggest what changes ought to be or should be made. There has been a big enough hullabaloo when the Secretary of State has followed the Wheatley Committee's suggestions without my suggesting in detail what changes might be made. But, if there is an imbalance, it is not so great as to threaten the education of our children by strike action, as the Scottish Schoolmasters Association is doing.

It is suggested that we should have a referendum to find out—

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

I ask the hon. Gentleman who says "Hear, hear" what kind of Government is he asking for. What he is suggesting—and I know he supports a referendum—is that where we get a small minority of dissidents against a law—because this is a law; this is legislation—the Government should immediately rush and hold a referendum. That would be the very antithesis of good government. The Secretary of State made it clear today, but he has made it clear long before today, that he is willing to hold an early review on this matter. I understand that the General Teaching Council met yesterday and again made it very clear that it was willing to support the Secretary of State in an early review. It seems to me that, with the promise that the Secretary of State made some time ago and the backing that came from the General Teaching Council yesterday, there can now be no legitimate reason for any member of the teaching profession to refrain from registering with the General Teaching Council. Any member of this House who was a party to this legislation, who knows the whole case as I do and who puts forward any other case today, must accept the responsibility, along with those teachers who may continue to refuse to register, of doing the gravest damage to the education of our children, particularly to those of our children facing their O-levels or their higher certificates in March this year. I hope that the hon. Gentleman who is to wind up for the Opposition will deal with this in a most responsible manner.

Before I sit down, I beg those teachers who have not registered to register immediately. Once they are inside, with this promise of a review by the Secretary of State backed by the General Teaching Council, there may be some chance, if there is an imbalance, of getting that imbalance corrected.

7.58 p.m.

Photo of Hon. Thomas Galbraith Hon. Thomas Galbraith , Glasgow Hillhead

I am delighted to be following the right hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison). In the past we have often crossed swords, and I hope I shall be able to do that adequately polemically tonight.

What seems to be wrong with education in Scotland is not that it is socially divisive or that it splits the pupils into the privileged and unprivileged, but simply lack of money. That is why the classes are large, the teachers are few, and too many schools are still slums. Provide more cash and all these problems will be solved. Instead, the Secretary of State in the Bill is actually reducing the flow of money into education. He is preventing parents making any contribution when he should be doing the very opposite and encouraging them to spend more lavishly, because that is the only way to get rising standards in education. It has been proved conclusively that it cannot be done through taxation alone. So, instead of abolishing the fee-paying principle, the Secretary of State, if he wishes to get higher standards, should, if anything, be extending it. However, the right hon. Gentleman does not do that, because the new god in education is not a high standard—perhaps in a few schools, for the rest to aim at—but comprehensiveness and never mind about the standards. This may well be a false god. We do not know. An American educationist, writing in the Glasgow Herald on 1st November, thought that it was a false god and said: You"— that is, the people in this country— should stop quarrelling with educational excellence merely because everybody cannot have it right now. Surely we would be wise to accept that warning. He may be right or the Secretary of State may be right, but we do not know, and before putting our money on an entirely new and untrained horse, surely we should see how it operates in practice. Even the dumbest punter would do that.

After all, there is no reason why these two systems should not exist side by side. Have the comprehensives in the new towns which are going up all over Scotland, and compare the end product, both educationally and socially, with the fee-paying schools, but do not destroy for the sake of what may be only a passing fashion in education schools which have existed not just for generations but for centuries—800 years in the case of Glasgow High School—and which have contributed men of the highest calibre to the nation. I would particularly urge the Secretary of State not to do this when the need for an élite is perhaps greater than ever before if Scotland is to keep her place in the forefront of progress.

We have heard from the Scottish Nationalist Member that her party is behind this move to abolish what is unique in Scottish education and make it conform more nearly to the English pattern, but surely this enthusiasm of the Nationalist Member is enough to make the Secretary of State pause and think again, particularly when the local authorities most affected are dead against the scheme because they realise, quite apart from the educational implications, that it will mean a further burden on the rates and also an unnecessary expenditure on enlarging local secondary schools to take those at the present fee-paying schools. In Hillhead High School, for example, 75 per cent. of the pupils come from an area outside that served by the school, so that will mean a good deal of building.

Another point is that the right hon. Gentleman knows how much damage has been done to Scotland's image by the lack of variety in housing, for which, I am sorry to say, the egalitarian outlook of his own party is very much to blame. He knows how difficult it is, because of this image, to get people to move to Scotland. The reluctance of the Post Office to move was an example. Thus, when we in Scotland have something rather better than the English have, when there is more variety and greater choice between the completely independent school and the completely State school, I urge him seriously, even at this late stage, to hold his hand—

Photo of Hon. Thomas Galbraith Hon. Thomas Galbraith , Glasgow Hillhead

No, I will not give way to the hon. Member. I have done that often in my life, but I will not do so tonight, purely because of the time; it would not be fair to other hon. Members.

After all, if the aim of the Bill is to remove social divisiveness, which I do not believe really exists, the substitution of the area school for the fee-paying school will surely only make matters worse. Those children who live in a professional, middle-class district, will go to a professional, middle-class area school, while those who live in a working-class district will go to a working-class area school. Thus, in the place of the existing cross-fertilisation, although it is, admittedly, limited, there will be these two rigid ghettoes, with no inter-communication. Is this what the right hon. Gentleman really wants, so that the only way that a parent can choose a school is to change his home? Is seems to me absolutely crazy and also grossly unfair.

The Bill also seeks to make things easier for the handicapped child, and rightly so, but why should the abler child be made to suffer, which is what will happen? For unless a child is sufficiently fortunate to live in a middle-class area, where there is a tradition of staying on longer at school, he will be under tremendous pressure from the example of his fellow working-class pupils to leave school as soon as possible. That is what will happen to the pupil from a working class area. Snobbery and wealth simply do not enter into it. The division lies not between the rich and the poor, between the snobbish and the egalitarian, but between those who regard education as valuable and those who do not.

With fees in Glasgow at a maximum of £23 a year, there is scarcely a family, if it feels strongly enough, which could not afford a fee-paying school. Even if there were some slight sacrifice, that would be to the good. The trouble today—I know that hon. Gentlemen opposite will not like this, but it is my philosophy, and I am therefore telling them—is that there is so much doled out that people do not value it in the same way as they would if they had striven for it with personal effort. So they do not impart to their children a love and appreciation of learning. Because the majority do not do this, and are not willing to make this very slight effort to send their children to a fee-paying school, is that any reason why the minority who wish to make that sacrifice, should, contrary to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, be prevented from doing the most natural thing in the world and making efforts on behalf of their children?

It is argued that to allow this is unfair to the children whose parents will not make the effort or do not know about the opportunity. This is the basis of the argument of the party opposite. This is the philosophy behind Estate Duty and the projected wealth tax. A child must not benefit from the efforts of his parents. It is the philosophy now being applied to this Bill—denying parents the right to make sacrifices and do the best that they can for their children.

Where will it end, this wicked and unnatural philosophy espoused by the party opposite? If it is wrong for parents to be allowed to strive for their children's education at school, what about bringing them up at home? Is it not unfair that some parents take more trouble than others, and should not all children, therefore be removed to the care of an impartial and benevolent State at birth so that all can get the same treatment?

Photo of Hon. Thomas Galbraith Hon. Thomas Galbraith , Glasgow Hillhead

No, the hon. Member must not tempt me: "Get thee behind me." I have often given way in the past and I intend to continue to do so, but not tonight.

This is a dangerous road which the party opposite are treading. In the end, even the inheritence of genes may be regarded as unfair. Marriage for creative purposes may be banned and we shall be in the test tube era of Huxley's "Brave New World".—[Laughter.] I expected hon. Members opposite to laugh at that. They may think that I am exaggerating, but this is the logical conclusion of what they now propose—taking away a parent's right to do the best that he can for his child just because every parent is not willing to do the same thing, and it would be a very foolhardy man who would be sure that this could not happen here.

I know that this is far from the intentions of the Secretary of State, but the road to hell is said to be paved with good intentions. Whatever the future may hold, there is no doubt about the intense feeling of frustration which grips people today, because less and less choice is left to improve their lot and more and more depends on the "Do-goodism" of the State, represented by the party opposite. We talk a great deal about incentives and here is another incentive gone. For once the Bill is law, if a man wants better education for his children, he will have to persuade 50 million people to submit to extra taxaation to pay for it, instead of going out, as he can today, and buying what he wants at a fee-paying school for the price of a couple of packets of cigarettes a week. That is the way to get progress into education, to get money into it and consequently to improve standards. That is what the Secretary of State should be encouraging.

If he cuts off, as he is doing by the Bill, the supply of parental interest and financial aid, not only education but the whole quality of life will suffer and be poorer because another door to individual initiative of the most natural kind will have been closed. I urge the right hon. Gentleman not to do that because if he does it will bring nearer the day, already alarmingly clear on the horizon, when, figuratively and literally, "to go to pot" will be about the only thing left to work for.

8.10 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Hannan Mr William Hannan , Glasgow Maryhill

I have heard the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) and his father make many polemical and histrionic speeches. The one just made by the hon. Gentleman must be the worst of them all. For a young man, an ex-teacher, to proclaim the frightful philosophy which he has just enunciated is shameful.

The hon. Gentleman began by arguing that more money is the answer to our problems. He went on to speak against the provision of more money for additional educational services. He argued that pressure to leave school early will be brought to bear on children already in fee-paying or selective schools if the present system is broken down and other children are allowed in. Is he aware that his views are contrary to facts supplied by the Scottish Education Department? More and more boys and girls above the ages of 15 and 16 are staying on at school voluntarily. That is one reason why I welcome the Bill, particularly since the fee-paying concept is an anachronism.

Hon. Gentlemen opposite are living in the past. They are not aware of modern trends in education and the desire of young people to stay at school, including those who live in what we still describe as working-class areas, whether that term be applied to Easterhouse or North Kelvinside. They are staying on longer and we must face up to this problem. Despite these trends, hon. Gentlemen opposite like the hon. Member for Hill-head prefer to live in cloud-cuckoo-land.

I say that because the principle of fee-paying is not involved in this issue. Even Glasgow Education Committee's Convenor—that Committee is now Tory-controlled—has said that the principle of fee-paying does not arise. Perhaps the pressure on Progressives to use the word "Conservative" is causing much of the difference. I suspect that the attitude of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Wright) will be found to coincide with what I am saying. We are concerned not with fee-paying but with selectivity. Let us agree once and for all that this business of fee-paying is an argument as dead as a dodo.

The hon. Member for Hillhead argued that we should build up an intellectual elite. It is interesting to note that the author of the Newsom Report commented, when speaking of secondary education: We can't have an elite of eggheads"— which is what the hon. Member for Hillhead wants— unless you have working…with them an enormous number of skilled people. A race of eggheads, and serfs under them—that's economically barmy. The argument does not even centre on the right of people to pay fees. The trouble is that those who hold views similar to those expressed by the hon. Member for Hillhead extend their philosophy beyond education and into health and other social spheres. This part of their overall policy would result in not only educational ghettos but medical ghettos and ghettos in other social services.

It is worth noting the increasing numbers of boys and girls staying on at school under the comprehensive system. I received some interesting figures last October in answer to a Parliamentary Question. They showed that the Education Department was surprised at the tremendous increase that had taken place. Whereas the 12 and 13 year-old group was staying on at school longer compared with previous years, 3 per cent. more of those in the 15 to 16 year-old group were staying on in 1968 compared with 1967. In that year 25·7 per cent. were staying on beyond 15 compared with 22 per cent. in the previous year. These figures prove that whatever we do, the fee-paying system must go. The increasing number of children staying on must be catered for.

Hon. Gentlemen opposite have argued in the past that local authorities should be given freedom to act. Are they aware that all authorities have decided—some perhaps rather reluctantly—on the comprehensive system? The most important factor to be borne in mind is the increasing number of boys and girls wishing to stay on at school longer.

Another aspect to be remembered is the argument that the selective process operates for gifted children, such as in schools like the Yehudi Menuhin School of Music. But local authorities do their best to see that particularly gifted boys and girls are given all possible encouragement.

It is argued that the problem of early leaving is non-existent in fee-paying schools, but I suggest that this is only a matter of degree and time. It is also argued that the character of a school derives from the right of selection. Can this argument be sustained in respect of, for example, Shawlands Academy? Is the atmosphere at Queen's Park School more or less desirable than in the Glasgow High School for Boys? What would hon. Gentlemen opposite say about Whitehill School, Bellahouston Academy or Hamilton Academy, all non fee-paying?

Much depends on the character and integrity of the headmaster and staff of each school in seeing that the right conditions and atmosphere prevail.

Another argument advanced in respect of selectivity is that the only privilege which such schools enjoy is the initial recruitment from the ranks of students and mature teachers living out with Glasgow who are willing to work in such schools and who might not otherwise be willing to accept posts in Glasgow. Why is this? Certainly it is not a question of salary. If a different salary were paid to them the other teachers would want to know the reason why. It is because such men have not the character to take up the challenge of education. It is much more pleasant and easy, as the life of professors in universities proves, when all the students have about the same intelligence quotient and no great display of skill is needed to bring that out.

Photo of Miss Betty Harvie Anderson Miss Betty Harvie Anderson , Renfrewshire East

Does the hon. Member and his hon. Friends believe that as a result of this Bill there will be social equality and academic equality in Eastwood and Easterhouse under the comprehensive system?

Photo of Mr William Hannan Mr William Hannan , Glasgow Maryhill

I am arguing that while selectivity is confined to certain schools and areas which stretch from the centre of the city out to the west, no such schools which practice selectivity are found in the north and south. Schools, other than selective schools, are thus deprived of the leadership and the example of young people creamed off. The general population are thereby losing.

In education debates which I have taken part in from 1956 onwards, I have urged that we have laid too much emphasis on facilities for the top 15 per cent. and not enough on the remaining 85 per cent. of our school population many of whom because of the handicap of social background or home life, have not had the same opportunity. We can increase the much desired pool of educated people only from that 85 per cent. We should be devoting more resources to these purposes.

Young boys and girls who have native ability in local authority schools will have a greater chance of coming to the top than there is for some of the other young people. One of the most important Reports, the Brunton Report, which this House accepted, urged continuity of education to eliminate the gap between age 15 and the entrance to some of the professions. It called for a special kind of teacher. If we are to do something for our young people, and for the country, we must look to this field.

There has been argument about the amount of money involved. The Bill says that it will cost £225,000, but a report in the Glasgow Herald stated that the convenor in Glasgow considered that it will cost something in excess of £200,000 in Glasgow alone. There is £60,000 to £70,000 for fees and an estimate of £80,000 for books. Apparently the Progressive Party in Glasgow had prepared plans to increase the fees by £130,000. Therefore, a projected income is a loss. Glasgow has 365 schools and the total for books is £375,000, but apparently the cost of books for seven fee-paying schools was about £80,000. Something is wrong. Either the fee-paying schools have been paying in excess for books, or local authority schools have been parsimonious. The education convenor in Glasgow should look at this.

This Bill must be looked at as a whole. its other parts link with the general theme. I am glad to see in Clause 1 that not only is the question of fees dealt with, but a very important feature which I hope will be developed—nursery schools. The hon. Member for Hillhead alleged that many parents have no interest in their children's education facilities. Who are those parents? In the main, they are the product of the schools which I want to improve and they left school at 15 years of age. I also welcome the provision whereby local authorities will be required to have a single leaving date. Hon. Members opposite, when in Government before 1964, agreed that the school leaving age should be increased to 16. We want to do that, but in the absence of statutory provision this Bill goes as near as possible to achieving that ideal in practice. If there is one school leaving age it is hoped that in practice young people will stay at school as near as possible to age 16.

I commend what the right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) said, and I hope that in a sensible way we can get together in Committee on a problem which we both want to solve. That is dealt with in Clause 11, which concerns the ascertainment and classification of handicapped children. For too long we have done nothing about this problem. I remember the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. Gordon Campbell) answering Questions on this subject in 1963–64, when I was perturbed about the information I had received about maladjusted children being in classes for mentally deficient children principally because of the lack of appropriate accommodation. The Government will have to face the problem of provision of adequate and proper accommodation for all the various groups involved.

I give my hon. Friend notice that in Committee some of us will want to pursue the question of provisions for further education. Hon. Members know about the activities of the Workers' Educational Association, which has a wonderful record of voluntary service to Scottish education, achieved without the teaching grant which has been accepted as normal elsewhere. There is growing frustration amongst many voluntary workers. The lack of unpaid voluntary work of a high order is beginning to tell. I ask the Government to consider what extra help can be given.

I add my plea to that made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) that common-sense and reason will reassert themselves. I have been tempted to use intemperate language at the scurrilous attitude adopted by, in particular, one newspaper in Scotland. A minority of teachers have allowed their case to be exploited and distorted either for political ends or for journalistic ends. This has been done in an effort to have a kick at the Government instead of in an effort to enhance the progress of education and the status of teachers.

It is only too easy to suggest amendments and modifications. Anybody can trot out figures. What assurance can Parliament have that any other review or any other figures would at the end of the day command any more support from the teachers than the present proposals of the G.T.C., which are based on the Wheatley Report, which was itself agreed to by all three Parties?

It is no use anyone now saying that the GT.C. is an advisory body. The terms of reference of this body were known to the three teacher organisations. I profoundly regret that they have allowed their case to be exploited by opportunists of a journalistic or political calibre. I do not know whether any standards have to be attained in journalism. I hardly think so, in view of some of the stuff I have read.

In comparison with some other professions, the teaching profession has taken a big step towards self-government. The profession knew that it could not have complete independence. I regret the fact that a minority pursued a sectarian argument which has brought discredit upon the profession as a whole. Without regard to the feelings of parents or children, who will be in a highly nervous state in the next few months, a minority has been prepared to carry on a vendetta in the face of the facts.

I quite understand that there are criticisms, but the way for teachers to get the constitution of the G.T.C. altered is to get inside that body, given the promise of my right hon. Friend that a review will take place. I repeat my hope that common sense will reassert itself and that the words which Robert Burns used to describe students who go into universities— They gang in stirks, and come oot asses"— will no longer apply.

8.34 p.m.

Photo of Professor Esmond Wright Professor Esmond Wright , Glasgow Pollok

First, I make two points in praise of the Secretary of State. I join in the good reception which has been given to that part of his proposals which relate to handicapped children, and I support him also in what he proposes regarding the central institutions, although I give warning that I shall want to look hard at this in Committee. Not only in Scotland but in Britain as a whole we must begin to think of the central institutions in terms of the measure of independence which universities and colleges have.

Now, having said some kind words at the outset, I turn to other aspects of the Bill, apart from the question of fee-paying schools, which give me concern. I am worried about the proposal for two leaving dates or, perhaps, ultimately a single leaving date. There is a danger here that we shall not be prepared for this change in terms of either school buildings or school teachers if we introduce it too quickly.

Also, at a time when there is great unrest among parents, for a reason to which I shall come, it is unwise to remove from parents the chance of having discussions with headmasters about the transfer of their children. Parents should be brought into consultation as often as possible, and it is a dangerous trend to limit this opportunity to the moment of transfer alone.

Before coming to the major issue before us, I have a word to say about the General Teaching Council. A good many comments have been made about the G.T.C. in this debate. In some ways, this issue is only marginally relevant to the wider question, but it worries all of us, especially people in Glasgow and, perhaps, in some measure, in Edinburgh as well. I should like to know from the Under-Secretary of State in rather more specific terms than we have heard hitherto what his right hon. Friend meant when he spoke about an early review if enough bodies, associations and institutions approach him. How many, and by what date?

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the issue—I am defending no one and no cause—my worry here is whether certain schools will not only lose staff next Monday but lose so many that they will have to close. I think particularly of Shaw-lands Academy. What I want to know from the Government—this may be the last chance before next Monday—is what advice, much less instruction, they have given to Glasgow Corporation, because upon that Corporation a dual and conflicting obligation is imposed—first, to provide education for all the children in the Glasgow area, and, second, to dismiss those teachers who have not registered. Among those teachers who have not registered are some—for instance, Shawlands Academy—of the most highly qualified in physics, chemistry, mathematics and, to a lesser degree, English. There is here a straight conflict of allegiance.

I have made various proposals, as have other hon. Members. I have suggested that the phrase "entitled to be registered" could be used by the convenor of Glasgow education committee as meaning, in effect, registered, although perhaps unwillingly, and, therefore, not dismissable. I have suggested also that, if there is a case for dismissal, the dismissal should be of one token victim and that there should then be an appeal to the Secretary of State, which would force the right hon. Gentleman to look at the case or, perhaps, take it to court. Various expedients of that kind are open.

There is still a chance, and only the Secretary of State has that chance, to avert catastrophe. I join with the voices which have been raised today, with the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) and the right hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), in criticising and condemning any talk of strikes in any part of the teaching profession in Scotland. But my great fear is that there could be a break in the education system, a break affecting especially pupils who are taking O and H level examinations. It is this worry which has led me to say what I have.

However, as I said, that immediate issue is only marginally relevant to the question before us. The central feature of this debate has, unfortunately, been obscured, as so often, by hon. Members opposite who have tried to make it a general debate on the wisdom or un-wisdom of comprehensive education. We have heard, for example, from the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis), who referred far more often to Eton—perhaps because of the proximity of his hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell)—than he did any of our schools in Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman displayed an out-dated view of the situation in education.

In my view, there are three main grounds on which the Bill is at fault. We are not debating comprehensive education or even selectivity, although I want to come to that if there is time later. We are debating the wisdom, or otherwise, of removing from the Scottish comprehensive pattern, that has applied all over Scotland not only now but in many cases for centuries, those 27 schools that charge fees in Glasgow and Edinburgh, 27 out of 3,000.

If fee-paying schools go from Glasgow and Edinburgh it is the very logic of the arguments put forward tonight that grant-aided schools will also go. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear hear."] Those cries of "Hear, hear" indicate that that is the deep intent of the proposal. It is significant that the Secretary of State put this very early in the Bill; the fee-paying issue is central to the whole controversy.

The hon. Member for Maryhill raised the question of costs. I too have been looking at costs. I leave aside the fact that if there is a frontal attack on the 29 direct grant schools in Scotland this will remove from education funds £1½ million which is the contribution of parents, in addition to the rates and taxes they pay to have their children educated at grant-aided schools. I am trying to emphasise the facts, because much of the theory we have heard tonight is 40 years old, and even in terms of selectivity it is probably 20 years old.

The hon. Member for Mary hill questioned our criticism of the figures. The Secretary of State tell us that the resulting loss of income from the proposals is £225,000 in a full year, together with additional expenditure of £25,000 on books and materials. There have been many other conflicting accounts on this head. It is true that there was the £63,000 difference to which the hon. Gentleman referred in the figures put forward by the convenor of Glasgow Education Committee. This was his estimate of his increased cost which would go into the kitty and raise the amount to £200,000. But the same gentleman calculated the cost of books as about £80,000. The hon. Gentleman questioned the £80,000. There are 17,000 pupils at stake here, and I estimate the cost of books and stationery for them at £100,000 to £120,000 a year. This allows the pupils only about £7 or £8 per head a year on books and stationery. Is it seriously suggested that these figures are too lavish, too generous? How shall we educate people unless we give them books and stationery?

Photo of Mr William Hannan Mr William Hannan , Glasgow Maryhill

I made the point that for 365 schools in Glasgow the total expenditure on books is £375,000, which allows £1,000 per school. But £80,000 is the estimated figure for the seven fee-paying schools, and either £80,000 for books for seven schools is too extravagant, or there is parsimony in regard to books for the 365 schools.

Photo of Professor Esmond Wright Professor Esmond Wright , Glasgow Pollok

I am simply trying to establish the veracity of our figures, and suggesting to the Secretary of State that the total cost is probably twice the estimate in the Bill.

There are two other groups of facts that have not yet been stressed in the debate. New buildings will have to be built to replace existing schools if they are destroyed. The Glasgow High School and Allan Glen's, to refer to the school at which the right hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North taught, will cease to serve the purpose of being neighbourhood schools since they are in the dead centre of the city and will have to be moved out. This will cost money. It has been said that no figures have been worked out for this. But figures have been worked out, and the replacement building costs for Glasgow and Edinburgh alone, estimating that 15 per cent. of the pupils in the six schools concerned would be moved out into their territorial areas, would, on an optimistic estimate, come to just under £1½ million. I say soberly to the Secretary of State, "At this time, is this the way to spend £1½ million? ". Glasgow High School and Allan Glen's are perfectly good schools, and by moving them out the right hon. Gentleman is exacerbating territorial problems, to which some of my hon. Friends have referred.

There is a problem not only of age, ability and aptitude but of athletics, of the children having sporting fields and facilities. Does the right hon. Gentleman fully understand that Glasgow High and Hillhead have sporting facilities and that, if the clubs are competitively minded, they will ask money for these fields if they are requested to hand them over? The estimate of £225,000 is very modest. The figure could well be £500,000, and if we add what I am suggesting, it might be £2 million or more.

In my second criticism of the Bill I shall widen the argument a little. I head it, "Freedom". I do not want merely to repeat what has been said about parental freedom of choice. If a parent chooses to spend ten shillings a week on the education of his child, there should be an opportunity for him to do so in the affluent society in which we live, whatever the dogmas out of which the comprehensive notion has arisen. In fact, that notion arose out of the English environment. It is irrelevant to Scotland. Interruption.] You have said—

Photo of Mr Harry Gourlay Mr Harry Gourlay , Kirkcaldy District of Burghs

Order. The Chair has not said anything.

Photo of Professor Esmond Wright Professor Esmond Wright , Glasgow Pollok

I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am suggesting that there is need to stress parental freedom of choice. There were many references in the Plowden Committee to the need to bring more and more parents into presence in the schools—for example, through parent-teacher associations and through more parental contributions to athletics, music and the like in the schools.

But freedom does not mean only parental freedom. It means—and here I tread on delicate ground—also religious freedom. One third of the population of Glasgow is Roman Catholic. If Notre Dame becomes comprehensive, there will be no selective Roman Catholic girls' school in Glasgow but there will be five Protestant direct-grant schools.

Moreover, does the right hon. Gentleman fully realise that the area of the Notre Dame Convent and School is dedicated to educational purposes for that foundation to the year 2,009? He should walk warily on that issue. I do not need to stress that the Roman Catholic hierarchy has been critical of some of these proposals.

The right hon. Gentleman stressed that the local authorities have a rôle to play but that he has the right to overrule them. Education is a local matter, and the core of my case is that here we are concerned with a handful of schools which have a great tradition—a word I am not reluctant to use. Schools are organic places and not just brick and mortar, which take their life from the plasma of human material. Some of my hon. Friends have referred to the atmosphere of these schools, which is essential and should be maintained. One has a handful of schools of the quality of these. Glasgow High, after all, is not only 800 years old; it is older than Eton. I do not know whether the right hon. Member for Edinburgh, East realises that. It would have been a far better example for him.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

The hon. Gentleman keeps referring to Eton. I mentioned Eton once in a reply to an interjection from behind him. I mentioned the schools in Edinburgh throughout my speech.

Photo of Professor Esmond Wright Professor Esmond Wright , Glasgow Pollok

I conclude by referring to the document produced by the E.I.S., putting the case for the abolition of fee-paying schools and for more broadly comprehensive education. In that document are these two sentences: Where the school has exceptionally well-equipped premises, however, a highly-trained staff and a long tradition of fine academic attainment, one would hope that these resources could be preserved intact. The breaking-up of a good school can hardly be regarded as furthering the progress of education. I humbly suggest that it is part of the comprehensive character of Scottish education that these fee-paying schools, where the fees are so small as to be almost ironical, and which have a long tradition, are a corrective to the danger of neighbourhood schools growing up producing a West End in Glasgow which would be "snob" and an East End in parts of the south-east which would be poor. This can help to avert destroying those few old and proud schools which still allow some degree of selectivity.

If there were time I would argue that there are suggestions that in the comprehensive mixed character of many schools selectivity comes in very early and that there is very little social mixture in many of these schools. I will not press the point, because it is not relevant to our debate, but what I am stressing is that we are being invited to preside over the abolition of a handful of schools of a quality and eminence which has enabled them to make a great contribution to Scotland. One has provided two Prime Ministers. On this basis we should oppose the Bill.

Photo of Mr James Dempsey Mr James Dempsey , Coatbridge and Airdrie

On a point of order Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is very obvious that a lot of hon. Members want to speak this evening. In the past we have seen United Kingdom Bills debated until ten o'clock and then an extension being granted. In view of the importance of this subject and the fact that many hon. Members desire to take part, may I ask if it is possible at this late hour to send for the Leader of the House with a view to getting an extension of the debate so that those who have not yet spoken can put their point of view on a major item of educational importance?

Photo of Mr Harry Gourlay Mr Harry Gourlay , Kirkcaldy District of Burghs

I take note of the hon. Gentleman's point, but it is not a matter for the Chair.

Photo of Miss Betty Harvie Anderson Miss Betty Harvie Anderson , Renfrewshire East

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is is not a fact that those who are precluded from speaking in the Committee stage are also left out of this debate? Is there any course open to such hon. Members, who may have as many as 5,000 children in their constituency affected by the Bill?

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Glasgow Cathcart

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is any time allocated in the debate for those who are former pupils of the schools referred to?

8.54 p.m.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

There is a time limit, unfortunately, and it has been placed on me. Therefore these interruptions have considerably threatened the ten minutes which it was suggested I should take. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Wright) referred to Allan Glen's School. My right hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) was a teacher there and I was a pupil. I was a pupil because I managed to win a bursary, value £5 per year for three years. That enabled me to get into the school. It was built with money left by a Glasgow wright called Allan Glen to provide education for those children in the City of Glasgow whose parents could not provide it for them. It was meant to be a school to provide secondary or higher education for children in Glasgow, of whom I was one, who would never get it by the payment of fees. It was free, like many of the best things in life. But what happened to Allan Glen's? Gradually, the business element in Glasgow—

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

Yes, a Tory element—gained control of the school. Fees were introduced, and this robbed the school of the purpose for which it was created. However, in order to maintain the pretence that it provided for those whom Allan Glen had in mind when he left the funds to build it, two classes were instituted, to which my right hon. Friend referred—preparatory A and preparatory B. Boys and girls got in at the elementary stage without the payment of fees. If they showed ability, they could get into the secondary stage. But that was a facade to turn free education into education limited to the well-to-do people in the City of Glasgow.

That remains the purpose behind the speeches which have been made today from the benches opposite.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

Right hon. and hon. Members opposite are fighting for privilege. They are seeking to maintain a fee-paying system which is utterly irreconcilable with the age in which we live.

However, that does not mean that those of us on this side who have contributed to the debate are entirely happy with the Bill. There is a great deal in it of which I approve. Too little has been said about much of the Bill. One-third of the Bill, apart from the closing parts of it, deals with handicapped children. Not many Bills on education have directed so much attention to, and made provision for, one of the most serious problems n the social life of the City of Glasgow. Those of us who represent divisions like mine, and who see the voluntary work being done for spastic children and the helplessness of these young ones when they come to our meetings and their pleasure at being among normal people, pay high tribute, not only to the voluntary work, but to a Government which is, bit by bit, taking the voluntary element out of this work and backing it with the power of the State.

That is an important aspect of the Bill. It has been, naturally, overwhelmed, not purposely disregarded, by the fact that it is concerned with the dismissal of teachers. These are in a minority, but I have been so long in a minority that I have the utmost sympathy for them. I am not dealing with the rights and wrongs of the issue. I am still in a minority in this House, but I must not talk about that—

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

I wish it were. The movement to which I belong was built on minorities, and when we on this side of the House pass judgment on minorities we should be very careful in offering a final verdict. Not one of us here would like to be in this situation now; it is a most difficult issue and we have every sympathy with those concerned. It is easy to ask my right hon. Friend to think very carefully before he makes the final decision.

I was once in a minority in a teaching row under the former Glasgow education authority, and gallantly I went to the scaffold. I would not sign, nor would a hundred of my colleagues, on a certain issue. The number gradually dropped until there were only 50; then the education authority, not anxious to dismiss 50 teachers, as it would not be a happy job putting them on the streets when there was no dole, rather than asking us to injure our pride, said that we need not sign separately but could sign as a group. The thought flashed through my mind when I was listening to the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Mackenzie), realising the different circumstances and the fact that a parliamentary Bill is involved, whether it would be possible at this eleventh hour for my right hon. Friend to consider the idea of a block signature. Losing 800 teachers in Scotland might be a bigger disaster than the risk of the Secretary of State suffering loss of that proper dignity which must attach to his office.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) has asked us to decline to give a Second Reading to a Bill which prevents parents from making any contribution to the cost of local authority schools through the payment of fees. There is far more wealth on that side of the House, looking at us here in the midst of poverty—[Laughter.]—I never thought that the Tories would descend to such a depth of unfairness as to laugh publicly at poverty; it shows how low they can get. There is nothing in this Motion which prevents them making a contribution towards education. Those who are anxious to pay money for education need not pay fees, but they can still pay money for the education provided by the public authority if they so choose. They can pay voluntarily, but they have no business preventing the Government seeking to abolish fees. In our age, education must be free. After all, the best things in life are free, and education is one of the finest advantages that life has to give, and it, too, must be free.

A few days before we rose for the Christmas Recess we had an announcement from our own Front Bench when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science indicated to the House that he was now making arrangements for the continuation of religious education in English schools. There are a good many people who think that religious education ought not to be given in schools, but the Government have decided, and arrangements are being made to continue that education in English schools. Religious education will still go on in Scottish schools for those who want it. We will make provision for it. The Church will give free religious education to children.

However, the Tory Party wants to perpetuate the system of fee-paying schools in Glasgow, and the logical conclusion of that is that right hon. and hon. Members opposite want Glasgow parents to pay for their children's religious education. If fees are paid, they are paid to cover every subject taught in school. As a result of the Government's decision, religious education is a subject which will be taught in our schools. While the Church round the corner gives it free to children, the Tory Party wants to impose fees for it, assuming that the House supports its Amendment. It is an absurd position and one which cannot be faced by the party opposite. When the time comes to vote tonight, I hope that the more even-tempered and better-minded Tories will support the Government in damning the Amendment.

9.7 p.m.

Photo of Mr Ian MacArthur Mr Ian MacArthur , Perth and East Perthshire

Many of the speeches in the debate have shown that the proposed legislation can be described best as a curate's egg of a Bill. The most that can be said about it is that it is good in parts. I find some parts of it desirable, other parts questionable, and the major proposal thoroughly objectionable.

I think we all agree with the welcome given at the beginning of the debate by my right hon. Friend the Member for Argyle (Mr. Noble) to the proposals for identifying handicapped children and helping them overcome the educational problems and disadvantages which confront them. No doubt we shall debate these proposals in detail in Committee. However, I was glad that my right hon. Friend referred to these as rather complicated Clauses, because I hope that it may be possible for the Secretary of State to simplify their wording. We had a similar discussion about one part of the Social Work (Scotland) Bill when we attempted a good deal of redrafting. It would save considerable time if the right hon. Gentleman could come to Committee with the important Clauses simplified. It is important that they should be simplified, because, perhaps more than most, the parents of such children require an Act which is easy to comprehend. Certainly in its present form the proposed legislation is not easy to comprehend.

We have also heard references to the removal of the right of appeal by parents in Clause 7 after a child has been transferred to secondary education. I warn the right hon. Gentleman that we shall be asking for a great deal more information about this in Committee. Perhaps there will be time, although I doubt it at this late stage, for the hon. Gentleman to say something about it in his reply tonight. What will be the position of a child removed during the course of his secondary education from one local authority area to another? Will the parent have no right of appeal? What will be the position of a child coming home with parents who have, for example, served abroad? There are a number of anomalies of this kind which this restriction might present.

Before turning to the objectionable part of the Bill, the part proposing the abolition of fees in local authority fee-paying schools, I should like to respond to the invitation by the right hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) to say something about teachers' registration. I do not wish to say very much, because it is easy, speaking off the cuff in this way, to say something which might exacerbate a delicate situation. However, I think that the Secretary of State's review of all that has taken place to date was helpful and was a reminder to teachers that it is in their interests and in the interests of the teaching profession that they should register. Having said that, I hope that we shall hear a little more tonight about the precise intention of the Secretary of State concerning the review to which he has referred.

In a Written Answer just before the Christmas Recess and in the course of his speech today, the right hon. Gentleman spoke about his readiness to hold a review if there was any general feeling among the interests most concerned that this would be desirable. The Secretary of State will know that I wrote to him only a fortnight ago suggesting that he might take a short step further forward than that and announce that there would definitely be an independent review within a stated period. I repeat that suggestion, which I hope is helpful. I believe that a number of teachers have not registered not because they oppose the principle of the General Teaching Council but because they genuinely hold some severe doubts about its composition and powers. A statement of this kind by the Secretary of State would, I believe, be welcomed and would encourage some of those teachers to register even now. A statement of that kind would not undermine the position of the Secretary of State, although I recognise that interest is not in his mind in this situation, and it certainly would not undermine the position of the G.T.C. Indeed, I understand that the General Teaching Council would welcome the prospect of an early review. So perhaps what the right hon. Gentleman said earlier could be put into a more definite form before the end of the debate.

I hope, too, that we shall be told whether there is any truth in the rumour that some new instruction has been given to local education authorities about the dismissal date, 27th January. Is it or is it not true? A "Yes" or "No" is required by the end of the debate.

The debate has revealed the confused and illogical thinking which lies behind the major purpose of the Bill. I remind the House that the Bill proposes that the Secretary of State should be able to remove, by order, the powers by which local authorities may charge fees in certain schools. There will be a very wide welcome in Scotland, and particularly in Glasgow and Edinburgh, for the assurance which my right hon. Friend gave at the beginning of the debate that the next Conservative Government will rescind any such order. The debate has made it clear, however, that it is not only fees in themselves which are to disappear but the whole educational system of which they are a part. The fees will go and with them we shall lose the principle which has given these schools their strength and character—the principle of selection, and not selection by wealth, or by class, but selection by intellectual merit.

Many people have been wondering why the Government propose to destroy these schools. We were given one reason in the Gracious Speech, … to bring the law relating to education in Scotland into line with current developments. Obviously, the Government want to bring Scotland into line with England and Wales. We were reminded this after- noon by the Secretary of State himself—this simply emphasises my point—that there are no local authority fee-paying schools in England and Wales, and that has been the position since the 1944 Act. But it is not true that Scotland will be brought into line with England by abolishing its local authority fee-paying schools.

There is already less variety in Scottish schools than in English schools, and this variety will be reduced further if the local authority fee-paying schools disappear. Further, the Regulations which stemmed from the 1944 Education Act laid down that the direct grant schools in England and Wales should provide at least a quarter of their places free, without fees, so that, in Lord Butler's words in the debate at the time, they would be brought within the reach of poor pupils.

On the other hand, in Scotland the grant-aided schools do not have this same obligation to provide free places, and so we do not have the fully developed middle sector of education which has been available in England and Wales. This lack has been partially met up to now by the Scottish local authority fee-paying schools. What these egalitarians on the Treasury Bench are doing is removing choice in education not from the rich, who can look elsewhere, but from the poor. Under this Bill they will have no choice.

What hon. Gentlemen opposite overlook in their conformist zeal is that the fee-paying schools, particularly in Edinburgh, provide many of their places free for those who cannot afford to pay even these relatively modest fees. By abolishing these schools the Government are most certainly not bringing Scotland into line with England and Wales on fee paying. Even if that claim were justified, there is no merit in trying to bring our distinct Scottish education system into line with that of England and Wales.

What the Government should do is seek to preserve and protect our Scottish system of education. Scotland expects her Secretary of State to defend Scottish institutions and resist those current developments in Whitehall which have no place in Scottish traditions.

We have heard much today about comprehensive schools, and perhaps they are one of the "current developments" which are to be imposed on Scotland. I agree with the hon. Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Buchanan) that comprehensive schools are a traditional and distinguished part of the educational pattern in Scotland. But that is not to say that the comprehensive system should be forced on local authorities to the exclusion of all else. This caution applies particularly to the cities.

Since the publication of Circular 600 the Government have continued the pretence that they are in consultation with local authorities. Some local authorities have bowed to the Government's insistence—I do not question their decision—but the discussions with Edinburgh and Glasgow have shown that the approach of the Government is one of compulsion masquerading as consultation.

My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison) made the telling point that we need more authority delegated to local government. The Minister came to these discussions with his mind made up in advance, and the Bill proves it. There has been no recognition in this shabby affair of what the Government recognise in another context; of what was said in the Green Paper "Administrative Reorganisation of the Scottish Health Services" … the degree of independence traditionally considered appropriate in dealings between local authorities and the central government. We have seen none of that in this sham consultation that has been taking place.

In their search to justify the Bill hon. Gentlemen opposite have given other reasons for the abolition of these schools. The Secretary of State spoke against selectivity saying that there was no place for it in the comprehensive system. The hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) gave what I would call a highly coloured picture of the tensions which accompany selectivity. Today, as on many other occasions, we have heard the claim that selectivity is a sin. But the doctrine that other schools are not selective is totally false. There is selectivity in every form of education. I was interested to hear, for example, the hon. Member for Springburn quote from the London Comprehensive Schools Report of 1966. I have that document with me, and I commend to him another interesting paragraph which shows how selectivity is observed under the comprehensive system. Paragraph 164 begins: Although many of the schools rely upon a fairly close grading or streaming of the classes, this may not necessarily be known to the pupils and the schools tend to use some ingenuity in devising form names to disguise the grading of the particular form. Rightly and understandably that paragraph concludes: How far this deceives the individual pupil is, however, a matter for speculation. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have also sugested that there is no place for fees in education today. I do not agree. If parents are prepared to pay fees towards the education of their children, I see no reason why they should not be allowed to do so. After all, their efforts relieve the taxpayer and ratepayer of a considerable cost—a cost which, I suggest, is much larger than that suggested in the Financial Memorandum to the Bill.

My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Wright) spoke about the cost of books, and, while I will not do a complicated sum, hon. Members may be interested in the list which I have with me of books required for a first-year secondary pupil at one of the local authority fee-paying schools in Glasgow. The cost of books alone for such a pupil is nearly £11. There are nearly 4,000 children in secondary schools in Glasgow, and if that is the cost for each of them, it is probably an under-estimate when one reaches the figure of £42,000 for Glasgow secondary schools alone, leaving aside the primary schools, and let alone Edinburgh, where I concede some of the local authority fee-paying schools are provided with books free.

This figure makes no allowance for the cost of stationery and other materials, which must be met. I suggest, therefore, that the £25,000 mentioned in the Financial Memorandum is a gross underestimate. I believe that by paying fees parents become that much more involved in the education of their children and are, as a result, more disposed to creating a home climate in which the child's study will be encouraged.

It has also been suggested that the existence of fees excludes deserving children from the opportunity to attend these schools. However, the fees are relatively small—up to about £23 in Glasgow and £44 in Edinburgh. It is difficult to accept the argument that fees of this order seriously deter parents. There has been a long tradition in Scotland of making sacrifices for education. The sacrifice in Glasgow, as my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) pointed out, amounts to about the cost of a couple of packets of cigarettes a week. These fees are small indeed when set against the amount spent by many families on smoking, drinking, gambling and leisure. They are to be increased, but even then they will not be excessive if the increase of fees is accompanied by the creation of more free places.

We have heard the argument that these fees are socially unjust because they do not represent the actual cost of education. We are asked why ratepayers and taxpayers not enjoying this privilege should subsidise others who do. This is a curious argument to come from a party which requires people in the Borders to pay through taxation towards the railways deficit and yet denies them a train on which to travel. One might ask how many who pay for the Concorde will ever take a seat in a supersonic airliner. Why should schools be singled out from the vast range of tax financed services which are not enjoyed personally by everyone?

Perhaps hon. Members opposite do not regard freedom of choice in education as a desirable service for the community. My hon. Friends and I certainly do. In this we, not they, are on the side of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. The right hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis), like a trumpet from the Silent Service, objected to what he described as educational privilege. Let him use that emotive word if he wishes, but it hardly describes the true position, which is that these school places are open to everyone in the locality and there is a large demand for them.

If the right hon. Gentleman persists in the argument that this so-called privilege should be removed, he should also demand that university students should pay the full cost of the privilege of higher education, or that those who do not attend university should get a tax rebate, or that the universities should become educationally non-selective. Further arguments such as these would be in line with the right hon. Gentleman's logic, and would have the further advantage of revealing his original premise in its full absurdity.

It has been suggested that the local authority fee-paying schools deprive the non-fee-paying schools in two ways. The first is that they cream off the ablest pupils and so lower the average ability at the other schools. I simply remind the House that there is already a statutory obligation on local authorities that these fee-paying schools should exist without prejudice to the public schools. I will not develop that.

Photo of Mr John Mackintosh Mr John Mackintosh , Berwickshire and East Lothian

Why not develop it? They prejudice the local authority schools.

Photo of Mr Ian MacArthur Mr Ian MacArthur , Perth and East Perthshire

I do not develop it, but if the hon. Member says that they prejudice these schools he is claiming that local authorities throughout Scotland have been in breach of Statute for 50 years.

There have been suggestions that the staff-pupil ratio in the local authority fee-paying schools is wrong, but there is no evidence of this. I remind the House that local authorities have been bound for the last 50 years by the clear requirement that the provision of fee-paying schools must be without prejudice to the non-fee-paying schools.

We have also heard the old cry that the schools are "socially divisive", another favourite from the Socialist dictionary of phrase and fable. This is just what the schools are not. Their pupils come from every walk of life and are drawn from a very wide area—the whole of Edinburgh, the whole of Glasgow, and from beyond the city boundaries. Social divisiveness would arise if the schools were converted into territorial neighbourhood schools. In the cities there is more social grouping by area and less truly local sense of community than in the country.

I do not know how the Government would propose to convert the Glasgow High School or the Royal High School in Edinburgh into comprehensive territorial schools. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart) asked pointed questions about this. Have they contemplated the cost? Have they begun to consider what the catchment area would be? In the case of the other schools the limitation of the catchment area would lead to social divisiveness. Far from removing social divisiveness, the Government are creating it.

These are the arguments advanced by hon. Members opposite in support of their proposal. All the arguments we have heard are false. It is significant that there is one argument which we have not heard. Not one hon. Member has suggested that the education provided at these schools is defective in any way. Indeed, there have been tributes to the quality of that education. There have been references to the long tradition of the schools. That is true, but I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West that what matters more than tradition is the quality of the education and its application to the challenge of modern life.

In these schools children of proved ability are taught in a testing educational climate for a full course. The places are open to everyone. I cannot accept that the fees they charge are a serious disincentive, particularly in view of the free places provided. The Scottish Council publication referred to by my right hon. Friend shows how the unique quality of these schools can help to attract new industry to Scotland.

The specious arguments advanced in support of the proposal spring from dogma, envy and adherence to questionable and unproved theories, as my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South pointed out so forcibly. Hon. Members opposite are guided by blind political doctrine and not by a true and open concern for education itself.

Some people may think that we on this side are making a stand on a small matter affecting only a few schools. But these schools teach thousands of young Scots, and the threat to them must be resisted in defence of a fundamental principle, the principle of freedom of choice in education. If this principle goes unchallenged, it will lead surely—hon. Gentleman have pointed this out—to the abolition of grant-aided schools and thereafter to an assault on the independent schools. The question before us tonight may seem to some to be a small matter in itself, but if a little fire is suffered and not quickly trodden out, rivers cannot quench it in the end. I therefore ask my hon. Friends to vote for the Amendment and so defend freedom of choice in education, a freedom which is put in jeopardy by the Bill.

9.32 p.m.

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

Despite some of the things said by the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur), the Bill has been given a general welcome today, because it contains many necessary and desirable provisions affecting the reform of Scottish education.

It is very gratifying that the House as a whole has clearly welcomed the statement my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, made in introducing the Bill, about the General Teaching Council. In particular, the House has welcomed my right hon. Friend's reiteration of the statement that has been made on a number of occasions before that he hopes to have an early review of the Council as soon as the interests which are most intimately concerned with the operation of the Council have said to him that they wish that review to take place.

I do not intend, in the situation existing with regard to the Council, to put any gloss on the words my right hon. Friend used today. I merely say to hon. Gentlemen who have asked either for more precision or that I should say something more about the situation—in particular, I ask those outside the House concerned with this matter, especially qualified teachers who are not yet registered—to read very carefully the statement my right hon. Friend made today.

I do not believe that we are at a situation now or, indeed, that we have needed to arrive at a situation, in which there can be any legitimate reason why any teacher who wishes to see the success of the Council should not register forthwith. The general view of the House today has been that qualified teachers who have not yet registered should now register. They need not, by so doing, by any means deny the objections they may have to the constitutional functions of the Council. These are all discussable. They can all be argued about in the months ahead. We must get a situation in which we can discuss these questions in an atmosphere of calm instead of one of crisis. What my right hon. Friend said today and what he has said on previous occasions gives a basis for this.

I have one other word to say about the General Teaching Council, and this arises from a matter raised by several hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire. I was asked whether there had been some development in the situation by which the Secretary of State had said to the local authority associations and the local authorities, "Please postpone your meetings for Monday, 27th January, and hold them two, three or four months later". There is absolutely no truth in that suggestion. We have not been in touch with the local authorities, either through their associations or individually, about this matter.

I ought to make clear that the date 27th January is not one which comes from the Regulations. It is a date come to by the local authorities meeting together in association and deciding how they would deal with the situation in a consistent and concerted way. That is the date which they themselves chose. It stands. I understand that the local authorities have agreed among themselves that on that date the dismissal motions will be carried and the dismissal notices will be sent out, with the two months' notice, to the teachers concerned.

Photo of Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne Mr Jock Bruce-Gardyne , South Angus

Will the hon. Gentleman nevertheless confirm that there is nothing in any sense legally binding about the date 27th January? It was plucked out of thin air by the Association of County Councils, and it has no element of binding force at all.

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

As I have said, the date is not written in the Regulations. The operative date for registration is 1st April, 1968. I emphasise again the point which my right hon. Friend made this afternoon—the date 27th January demonstrates it—that there has been no question of rushing into the situation. There was a long development before 1st April, 1968, and that is the operative date. Every teacher qualified to register ought to have registered from that date.

I hope that I have made the position clear. In any case, what I have said about the dale 27th January in no way detracts from what I said earlier regarding my right hon. Friend's statement. I believe it to be the general view of the House that teachers who have not registered should register forthwith.

Before coming to the controversial item in the Bill, I shall answer one or two other points which have been raised. The right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) asked about Clause 7 and the precise nature of the new arrangements for appeal to the Secretary of State. I suggest that this is a matter which can be developed in Committee, but, to fill in the background to some extent, I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that, in practice, virtually all appeals to the Secretary of State in recent years have been appeals at the point of transfer. That is what is provided for in the Clause. However, I have some sympathy with the points which the right hon. Gentleman made, and I look forward to having the matter debated in Committee. To my mind, it is by no means a question on which the balance comes down wholly on one side.

I was asked about Clause 9, with particular reference to the question of a single leaving date, by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Buchanan) and one or two other hon. Members. I repeat what my right hon. Friend said in opening. He has no intention of imposing a single leaving date at present or as far forward as one can see—certainly not before the raising of the school-leaving age, or, one would think, until some time after that, when we have accommodated the difficulties in raising the age. However, it seemed right to provide the statutory framework for a single leaving date in order to allow it to be introduced either by the Secretary of State or, in the initial period—this is much more likely—by a particular authority which wished to have a single leaving date. Such an authority would then be able to ask for the Secretary of State's approval. But I do not know of any education authority in Scotland at present which would wish to introduce a single leaving date in the near future.

Now, Clause 11 and the problem of handicapped children. I appreciate what was said by several hon. Members about the devoted work done for these children in the special schools, in occupational centres and outside the education service in the care centres run by the local health authorities. The same praise is rightly given to the devoted work done by voluntary societies for so many of these children. I also take the point of the right hon. Gentleman that we are providing what we consider to be a better statutory framework, but we must not by this raise the hopes of the parents of the children concerned that we have produced a magic formula which will be able to deal with the sometimes very distressing difficulties one finds in such cases. Nevertheless, what we are doing is an important step forward.

I was asked about Clause 16, on consultations with the Central Institutions before the introduction of Regulations. Again, I ask the House to read what my right hon. Friend said very fully about this. It is our intention that there should be the fullest consultation, as is the practice in matters of this kind already in the education service, and there is no danger of the Secretary of State's introducing Regulations in the initial stage or later without the fullest consultation with all the interests concerned.

I was also asked about Clause 24 by, among others, my hon. Friend the Member for Springburn and about the change we are making in the regulation-making powers. This will no doubt be exhaustively considered in Committee, like virtually everything else in the Scottish Committee.

We feel that the present procedure is unnecessarily cumbersome, that it produces delays without at the end of the day providing a more desirable result for the Secretary of State or for the teachers' associations, the local authorities or the other interests concerned. We believe that we can get the necessary consultation without going through the rather elaborate procedure, which is not repeated elsewhere in our legislation, of draft Regulations before the production of final Regulations. I hope that if we do not have the support of the Opposition as a whole on this we may have the support of the right hon. Gentleman, who has had some experience of this as Secretary of State and must know the difficulty to which the present procedure can sometimes give rise.

Now I should like to come to the matter which has taken up most of the discussion today, the proposal to remove the right of local education authorities in Scotland to impose fees at local authority schools. I am not sure why the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire should say that this is the major proposal in the Bill. It is one of a number of important proposals, and I do not look upon it as the only major proposal. It is certainly not the reason why the Bill is being produced at this time, but it is an important proposal because it raises a number of questions of principle which I shall want to deal with shortly. The Opposition have it quite out of proportion, and they have it out of proportion in their estimate of public feeling in Scotland on the matter. Listening to the speeches of hon. Members opposite I found it difficult to understand what the mixture of principle and practical considerations was, and which of the various considerations they attach particular importance to in their criticisms. The real difficulty of the Opposition on such a matter is that very few hon. Members opposite understand Scottish education. Not a single Conservative Member who has spoken was educated at a Scottish school.

Photo of Hon. Thomas Galbraith Hon. Thomas Galbraith , Glasgow Hillhead

I was educated for seven years in Glasgow.

Hon. Members:

Withdraw.

Hon. Members:

Withdraw.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. Let us get back to education.

Photo of Hon. Thomas Galbraith Hon. Thomas Galbraith , Glasgow Hillhead

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can I have your protection? This is something constantly cast against hon. Members on this side. I spent seven years at school in Glasgow, and if Glasgow is not in Scotland I do not know what is.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

That is not a point of order.

Hon. Members:

Withdraw.

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

I am not sure why hon. Members opposite should be so sensitive about having been educated at English public schools. Perhaps I can give the facts to the House. The right hon. Member for Argyll is an old Etonian, as is the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison).

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart) was at Wellington, as was the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith). The hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire was at Cheltenham College. The odd man out is the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Wright), who is an English grammar school old boy—and I sympathise with him sitting on the benches opposite.

Photo of Mr Ian MacArthur Mr Ian MacArthur , Perth and East Perthshire

I find it difficult to know what the hon. Gentleman is trying to prove. The experience of Scottish education on this side is no less than that of hon. Members opposite. I have six children. Three of them are at school in Scottish State schools and one is at an independent school. The hon. Gentleman has had some fun. I hope that he will now give a serious reply to the important questions arising in the debate.

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

Perhaps if Members would not keep interrupting me I could get on.

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Glasgow Cathcart

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is not the hon. Gentleman reflecting on the Chair? He must know that several hon. Members who sought to speak on this side of the House but were not called were educated at Scottish schools. Surely he is criticising the Chair for not selecting hon. Members on this side who were educated at schools in Scotland.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

The Minister was not reflecting on the Chair.

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) was educated at the High School of Glasgow. He was one of the cream, presumably—God help us.

I come now to the merits of what we are discussing. First, I will deal with the practical consideration. There seems some controversy about the amount of finance involved. As explained in the Financial Memorandum, it is £250,000. To get this into proportion, we must appreciate that we are spending about £200 million a year on Scottish education at present.

The second practical consideration put up is that the buildings in some cases have not been designed for comprehensive purposes. But the practical problem here is no different from the practical problem of integration with any other senior secondary school in Scotland. Similarly, the practical problems of integration such as those raised by the hon. Member for Edinburgh are again in the first instance matters for the local education authorities. I presume that he would not wish it otherwise. I have told both Glasgow and Edinburgh that once the Bill is passed I expect that they will produce proposals for integration of the schools within the comprehensive system in those two cities, with the initiative in the first instance resting with the local education authorities.

I come now to what we might call the "principles". I find it difficult to understand what the excitement is about.

The hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire kept talking about the unique character of these schools and the unique contribution that they have made to Scottish education. Basically the argument is not about primary schools but about secondary schools. There are not 27 secondary schools, there are only eight involved in this provision. Five are in Glasgow, three in Edinburgh. Are the right hon. Member for Argyll and the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire seriously saying that education in Argyll and East Perthshire is deficient in some respects because there are no fee-paying schools there? If they are not saying that I find it difficult to understand what they are saying.

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

What I am saying is that if in future the education authority in Argyll or anywhere else wants to reintroduce fee-paying schools for a good educational reasons we will allow it to do so.

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

That does not answer my question. I am asking about a matter of fact. As of now, as of today, does the right hon. Gentleman believe that the educational system in Argyll is deficient?

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

I did not say so.

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

He does not. Then I cannot understand what the argument is about. It was part of his case and part of the case of every hon. Gentleman opposite that without these fee-paying selective schools one was not providing adequate secondary education for the children of Scotland.

These schools, small in number, have a quite disproportionate influence in particular areas. The very eloquent and excellent speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) demonstrated that with a wealth of personal experience and background, cutting through arguments about details and so on in a way which I cannot hope hope to emulate in the few minutes left to me. Nor do I think that the principle can rest on the payment of fees as such. With the payment of fees one is in a dilemma. If the fees are too large the schools inevitably become exclusive.

On the other hand, if the fees are small then it is a remarkable proposition that on payment of a small fee somehow or other a parent should be able to buy a better education for his child, which is again the argument being used by hon. Members opposite. If there is a case for a different kind of education, a selective kind, it has nothing to do with the payment of fees. In this respect fees are irrelevant, but it is fees that we are directly dealing with in the Bill.

Let us examine the proposition that in any case it can be right or desirable to pay within the State system for a better kind of education. If it is a better kind of education, then it is completely inexcusable within the State system. Better for some implies worse for others. Better does not mean anything unless it is in comparison with something which is worse. If it is not a better kind of education, I find it difficult to understand why anyone can possibly suffer from the change that we are proposing.

Hon. Gentlemen opposite have suddenly become wedded to the idea of selection, or at least the old Adam has come out again. Some of these schools have selection not at the age of 12 but at the age of five. Apart from the absurdity of this, one result is to pre-empt the places in the secondary schools on a selection procedure which is decided at the age of five, or, in the particular case where the secondary place is not pre-empted, then an injustice is bound to be done to the child who is taken in at the age of five and told at the age of 12 that he is not good enough to go on to the secondary form of the fee-paying school. Either way this selection seems not only to be an absurdity but to involve injustice.

Selection at the age of 12 is against everything we are doing elsewhere in Scottish education, including what we are doing in Argyllshire and Perthshire. As my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian said, fee paying in the areas where it exists distorts the primary school in a way which is highly undesirable in a system in which we are trying to relax and liberalise the primary school and not have primary education geared exclusively to the production of a small percentage of successes at 12. The system is incompatible with comprehensive education, and hon. Members opposite may as well face up to that fact.

It is not possible in any area to have a genuine comprehensive system and a selective system working side by side. This is the kind of unreal compromise which appeals to hon. Members opposite because it means that they can avoid looking at the realities. It is a complete contradiction in terms and it is not possible to have it because the creaming influence involved in the existence of the selective system in the same area as the existence of the comprehensive system. We know very well that that is a matter, not just of educational argument and theory, but of direct and basic educational experience.

Nor is it true, as the right hon. Member for Argyll argued, on extremely dubious statistics which clearly he did not fully comprehend, that there are better examination results in the fee-paying schools compared with the comprehensive and senior secondary schools.

Photo of Mr Michael Noble Mr Michael Noble , Argyll

Totally unfair and incorrect.

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

The pupils are different. They start from a different basis. Secondly, one is concerned, not simply with the percentage of passes in relation to those presented, but with the basis upon which presentations are made in the first place, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said.

The quotations of the right hon. Member for Argyll from the Report of the National Foundation for Educational Research, another document which obviously he had not understood, were particularly inept since a moment or two before he was warning us against going on English and Welsh experience. The Report dealt exclusively with English and Welsh schools and did not mention Scottish schools at all.

The most absurd argument of all is the argument of parental choice. Whatever the virtues of the selective system, the one virtue which cannot be claimed for it is the virtue of parental choice, because one is either in or out. If one is out, it does not matter what one's parental choice may be. That is the essent of the selective system. Hon. Members opposite have never had to bear the rigours of the selective system be-

cause they have always been able to contract out by paying fees outside the State system.

I have dealt with a number of the points which have been raised in the debate. I have not pretended for a minute that this proposal, and the comprehensive system as we have it now will by themselves solve the problems of inequality of opportunity. The problems in education are more fundamental than that. But this proposal is an important step forward because it elucidates the principles. It enables us to argue where we are going in Scottish education. Taken with the rest of the proposals in it, this is a very worth-while Bill which I have great pleasure in commending to the House.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 132, Noes 182.

Division No. 45.]AYES[10.0 p.m.
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)Grant, AnthonyOsborn, John (Hallam)
Baker, Kenneth (Acton)Grant-Ferris, R.Page, Graham (Crosby)
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)Grieve, PercyPearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Balniel, LordHall, John (Wycombe)Pereival, Ian
Birch, Rt. Hn. NigelHall-Davis, A. G. F.Pike, Miss Mervyn
Black, Sir CyrilHamilton, Lord (Fermanagh)Pounder, Rafton
Blaker, PeterHarvey, Sir Arthur VerePowell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.)Harvie Anderson, MissPrior, J. M. L.
Body, RichardHeald, Rt. Hn. Sir LionelPym, Francis
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. JohnHeseltine, MichaelQuennell, Miss J. M.
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir EdwardHiley, JosephRamsden, Rt. Hn. James
Brewis, JohnHolland, PhilipRawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Brinton, Sir TattonHordern, PeterRenton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir WalterHornby, RichardRhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Hunt, JohnRidley, Hn. Nicholas
Bruce-Gardyne, J.Hutchison, Michael ClarkRossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M)Iremonger, T. L.Russell, Sir Ronald
Bullus, Sir EricJenkin, Patrick (Woodford)Scott, Nicholas
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)Jennings, J. C. (Burton)Scott-Hopkins, James
Channon, H. P G.Kaberry, Sir DonaldSharples, Richard
Cooke, RobertKershaw, AnthonyShaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Cooper-Key, Sir NeillKimball, MarcusSinclair, Sir George
Costain, A. P.Kirk, PeterSmith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)Knight, Mrs. JillSmith, John (London & W'minster)
Crouch, DavidLane, DavidStodart, Anthony
Cunningham, Sir KnoxLegge-Bourke, Sir HarryTaylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Dalkeith, Earl ofMcAdden, Sir StephenTaylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)
Dance, JamesMacArthur, IanTaylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Dean, PaulMaclean, Sir FitzroyThatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)Maginnis, John E.Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Digby, Simon WingfieldMarten, Neilvan Straubenzee, W. R.
Dodds-Parker, DouglasMaude, AngusWard, Dame Irene
Drayson, G. B.Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr, S. L. C-WeatherilI, Bernard
Eden, Sir JohnMills, Peter (Torrington)Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)Mills, stratton (Belfast, N.)Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Elliott, R. W.(N'c tle-upon-Tyne, N.)Miscampbell, NormanWilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Emery, PeterMonro, HectorWolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Errington, Sir EricMontgomery, FergusWorsley, Marcus
Eyre, ReginaldMorgan, Geraint (Denbigh)Wright, Esmond
Fortescue, TimMunro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughWylie, N. R.
Foster, Sir JohnMurton, OscarYounger, Hn. George
Galbraith, Hn. T. G.Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Gibson-Watt, DavidNicholls, Sir HarmarTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)Noble, Rt. Hn. MichaelMr. Jasper More and
Glover, Sir DouglasNott, JohnMr. Timothy Kitson.
Goodhew, Victor
NOES
Abse, LeoHamilton, James (Bothwell)Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, East)Hannan, WilliamMorris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Alldritt, WalterHarper, JosephMoyle, Roland
Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw)Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)Murray, Albert
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)Haseldine, NormanNewens, Stan
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)Hazell, BertOakes, Gordon
Baxter, WilliamHenig, StanleyOgden, Eric
Beaney, AlanHerbison, Rt. Hn. MargaretO'Malley, Brian
Bidwell, SydneyHooley, FrankOrme, Stanley
Binns, JohnHooson, EmlynOswald, Thomas
Bishop, E. S.Houghton, Rt. Hn. DouglasPage, Derek (King's Lynn)
Blackburn, FHowarth, Harry (Wellingborough)Palmer, Arthur
Blenkinsop, ArthurHowarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)Park, Trevor
Boardman, H. (Leigh)Howie, W.Parker, John (Dagenham)
Booth, AlbertHughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. ArthurHughes, Roy (Newport)Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M.Hunter, AdamPerry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Bray, Dr. JeremyHynd, JohnPrentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Buchan, NormanJenkins, Hugh (Putney)Price, William (Rugby)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)Probert, Arthur
Butter, Herbert (Hackney, C.)Jones, Dan (Burnley)Rankin, John
Cant, R. B.Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Reynolds, Rt. Hn. G. W.
Carmichael, NeilJones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)Rhodes, Geoffrey
Carter-Jones, LewisJudd, FrankRoberts, Albert (Normanton)
Coe, DenisKelley, RichardRobertson, John (Paisley)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Kenyon, CliffordRogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Crawshaw, RichardKerr, Russell (Feltham)Rose, Paul
Cullen, Mrs. AliceLawson, GeorgeRoss, Rt. Hn. William
Dalyell, TamLeadbitter, TedRowlands, E.
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)Ledger, RonShort, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Lestor, Miss JoanShort, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton. N. E.)
Davies, Harold (Leek)Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Lomas, KennethSilkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Loughlin, CharlesSilverman, Julius
Dempsey, JamesLuard, EvanSkeffington, Arthur
Dewar, DonaldLubbock, EricSlater, Joseph
Diamond, Rt. Hn. JohnMabon, Dr. J. DicksonSmall, William
Dickens, JamesMcBride, NeilSnow, Julian
Dobson, RayMcCann, JohnSpriggs, Leslie
Doig, PeterMacColl, JamesSteele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Driberg, TomMacdonald, A. H.Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Eadie, AlexMcKay, Mrs. MargaretThomas, Rt. Hn. George
Edwards, Robert (Bilston)Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty)Thomson, Rt. Hn. George
Ellis, JohnMackintosh, John P.Thornton, Ernest
Ensor, DavidMaclennan, RobertTinn, James
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)Urwin, T. W.
Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)Varley, Eric G.
Ferryhough, E.McNamara, J. KevinWatkins, David (Consett)
Finch, HaroldMacPherson, MalcolmWatkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan)Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)Weitzman, David
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Whitaker, Ben
Forrester, JohnMallalieu, J. P. W.(Huddersfield, E.)Whitlock, William
Fowler, GerryManuel, ArchieWilliams, Alan Lee (Homchurch)
Freeson, ReginaldMapp, CharlesWilliams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Galpern, Sir MyerMason, Rt. Hn. RoyWillis, Rt. Hn. George
Gardner, TonyMendelson, JohnWinnick, David
Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)Mikardo, IanWoodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Gregory, ArnoldMillan, Bruce
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)Miller, Dr. M. S.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)Mr. Charles Grey and
Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)Mr. J. D. Concannon
Griffiths, Will (Exchange)

Main Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 39 (Amendment on second or third reading), and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time and committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 40 (Committal of Bills).