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Class X, Vote 6, Central and Miscellaneous Services (Department of Education and Science)

Schools – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd June 1975.

Alert me about debates like this

Motion made, and Question proposed.That a sum, not exceeding £14,142,000, be granted to Her Majesty out of the Consolidated Fund to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on 31st March 1976, for expenditure by the Department of Education and Science on miscellaneous educational services, research and administration, including grants in aid and international subscriptions.—[Mr. Mulley.]

7.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Norman St John-Stevas Mr Norman St John-Stevas , Chelmsford

I beg to move, That Subhead D1, Item (1), Salaries &c. of Ministers, be reduced by £1,000. I am sorry so soon in the career of the new Secretary of State for Education and Science to be attempting to reduce his salary. But the purpose of this procedural move is to draw attention to the harmful effect of Government policy which is intent on doing away with good schools, which the Opposition are determined to preserve.

I shall be happy to withdraw my amendment if the Secretary of State feels able to indicate in the debate that he is willing to modify the more extreme manifestations of his predecessor's policy. In that case he will be left with his salary unimpaired and, if there is a change of Government, some day it might be worth something.

Photo of Mr John Mendelson Mr John Mendelson , Penistone

His predecessor was a famous moderate.

Photo of Mr Norman St John-Stevas Mr Norman St John-Stevas , Chelmsford

That right hon. Gentleman declared that he was a moderate, but his actions did not always conform to his protestations. We hope to hear tonight not only a modification of Government policy towards direct grant schools but a clarification of the details of that policy.

I wish to begin by asking the Secretary of State to give some idea of what plans have been made to preserve the future careers of school teachers at these schools. His predecessor has already told us that the future of pupils already at direct grant schools is being safeguarded. I wish to ask him how that is to be done. Will capitation grants at these schools remain at the same level in the future as they are today? Because of inflation will this not discriminate severely against pupils already at the schools? What provisions have the Government in mind for head teachers and others likely to be made redundant by this policy? What will happen to the 10,000 boarding places provided by the direct grant schools? There is virtually no provision for boarding education in the maintained sector. These are important questions, and I hope that we shall have full answers.

We are debating these matters in the context of the severest and most threatening economic crisis the country has ever faced. What constitutes a threat to the economy in general also constitutes a deadly peril to the education service in particular.

It has been suggested by The Times Educational Supplement that the right hon. Gentleman's preferment to the Department of Education and Science was made with sinister reasons in mind. First, it compared his elevation to the promotion of Carlisle United. It was a simile which was rather lost on me, but I understand from friends who are experts in these matters that it was not intended to be a compliment.

Secondly, it has been suggested in that journal that a principal reason for his translation was that he could be expected to preside more docilely over the bleeding of the education service than his precedessor. I hope that that view is proved wrong. It is right that education should take its fair share of any economies that have to be imposed. But the education service expects the Secretary of State to fight its battles and not like the Under- Secretary of State who is responsible for the arts, to go over to the enemy, as that hon. Gentleman appears to have done.

If cuts have to be imposed, it is essential that they should be planned well in advance. Advance notice should be given and should not be adopted in haste and in panic. The cuts which the education service is undergoing are becoming increasingly severe. It was at the end of 1973 that Mr. Barber, as he then was, proposed reductions of 10 per cent. in current expenditure for the 1974–75 estimates and 20 per cent. in capital expenditure. Unwelcome as those cuts were, they had one feature to recommend them—namely, that they were for one year only. But the present Government have slashed the estimates for education well into the future. If we look at the public expenditure White Paper published in January 1975, we find that the Estimates for 1975–76 are reduced by £227 million, for 1976–77 by £292 million and for 1977–78 by £373 million. On top of this, as I understand the situation—no doubt the Secretary of State will fill in the details—the cuts announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Budget of £175 million will be applied across the board to the education service and National Health Service in 1976–77.

In addition, we have the continuing cuts in higher education. The numbers of students in higher education, estimated originally by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition when she was Secretary of State for Education and Science as being 750,000, have been reduced to 640,000 and the numbers of teachers forecast for that year have already been cut from 510,000 to a figure which I understand is between 480,000 and 490,000. In addition, Lord Crowther-Hunt has told the country that in 1976–77 the growth in the education service will be cut by nearly two-thirds or 2·7 per cent. in real terms, to 1 per cent.

Is this to be the end of the cuts? Have we now heard the full story? Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House this evening in his reply where these cuts are to fall? At present we do not know on what part of the education service they will fall, and we have had no guidance save for a vague statement that the Chancellor hopes to preserve the schools service.

It is true that the Opposition as part of our policy are calling for economies in public expenditure——

Photo of Mr Norman St John-Stevas Mr Norman St John-Stevas , Chelmsford

That is so, and I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has taken that in. But what is vital is where these economies are to fall.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Marks Mr Kenneth Marks , Manchester, Gorton

Where would you like them to fall?

Photo of Mr Norman St John-Stevas Mr Norman St John-Stevas , Chelmsford

The Opposition believe in putting the number of teachers before the extension of nationalisation. That is one of our priorities. We believe in putting the school building programme before indiscriminate food subsidies. I could go on.

I want to know whether the Secretary of State, at the beginning of his régime, is willing to make the most sensible economy of all and call off the vendetta against direct grant schools and the private sector, because if that vendetta is successful it will cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Marks Mr Kenneth Marks , Manchester, Gorton

The hon. Gentleman said—and presumably it is the view of the Conservative Party—that he believes in keeping up the number of teachers. Will he urge Conservative local education authorities which are cutting the number of teachers below the quota allowed for in the rate support grant to stop this process?

Photo of Mr Norman St John-Stevas Mr Norman St John-Stevas , Chelmsford

I am always willing to give my views on any part of the education service to local education authorities, but the constitutional function of urging them to take action devolves principally on the Secretary of State.

Photo of Mr Norman St John-Stevas Mr Norman St John-Stevas , Chelmsford

I know that the Secretary of State has acute hearing, and no doubt he will pass his hon. Friend's comment on to the local education authorities. It was with this economic situation in mind and the prospect of what could only be described as Draconian cuts to come in the education service that I suggested in a speech in Scotland a week ago that if the Secretary of State were to drop some of the extremer proposals of his predecessor on the pace and extent of imposing comprehensive schools everywhere, we could get out of this sterile battle between comprehensive and grammar schools, which nobody but a handful of educational fanatics want.

I wish to quote from an article written on 18th April by the editor of The Times Educational Supplement following a visit to the United States, where he found widespread dissatisfaction with the working of comprehensive schools there. He said: There is good evidence that the full, unadulterated comprehensive gospel is not held by many in the educational world and by few except ardent party ideologists anywhere. No Secretary of State, if I may say so, with respect, to the right hon. Gentleman, should conduct education policy as though it were a kind of religious war. If there is a place for civilised agnosticism, it is surely in the education sphere.

What is the point of insisting on the implementation of a comprehensive theory of education and not providing a penny to make that effective? The inevitable result will be to end up with botched-up schemes and schools that are comprehensive by label only, and it will in the end bring the whole idea of the comprehensive school into disrepute.

The question we should surely be asking at this critical moment in our economic fortunes is not what education policy is most in accord with Socialist dogma—or with Conservative dogma, for that matter—but what education policy do the majority of the parents of the country want for their children?

If we ask this question, it is very clear what they do not want and what they do want. They do not want the education system to be used as a means of social engineering to promote a mythical equality which educationists such as Illich and Jenks have themselves abandoned as being futile and Utopian. To confine children in a disadvantaged urban area to a neighbourhood comprehensive school and to deprive them of the opportunity of getting to a selective school is not, as Labour Members seem to think, an act of social justice. It is an act of social injustice.

Parents, furthermore, do not want the schools to become a party political battleground. They do not want the future of their children to be put at risk every time there is a swing in the party pendulum, either nationally or locally.

Thirdly, parents do not want to see all children forced into the straitjacket of a uniform education system. They want to see a system which puts into operation the requirements laid down by Section 8 of the Education Act 1944. That act envisaged as great a variety of institutions as is desirable in view of the different ages, abilities and attitudes of the children to be educated.

What parents want positively is, first, a disciplined and structured school environment for their children, and high standards of conduct and learning. Secondly, they want to have a say in the education of those who, after all, are their own children. They do not subscribe to the doctrine that "the man in Whitehall always knows best", or, in this context, that Sir William Pile always knows best. That is a doctrine that would not pass unchallenged even within the hallowed portals of Elizabeth House itself.

To the achievements of those ends Conservative education policy has been consistently directed. That is why, just a year ago, we launched at Stockport the proposals of our Parents Charter, to give at least a choice of school, to provide for parental governors, and to limit rigid zoning.

We are very glad that the Government have now followed this example and initiative and set up their own inquiry into the governing bodies of schools. We would certainly welcome discussions with the Secretary of State as this inquiry progresses, and would be interested to know tonight whether it has progressed at all from the bare announcement we heard in this House some time ago.

Secondly, because of the ends we believe in, of high standards and variety of school, it is vitally important to preserve good schools, whether they be comprehensive schools, grammar schools, direct grant schools or modern schools. We believe in the variety of schools. We believe that is a good thing in itself. We believe that one cannot say that there should be one type of school for every type of child. After all, education is not an exact science with predictable results. We are proceeding painfully in education, by trial and error, and learning all the time.

The case for a single type of secondary school organisation simply has not been proved. One has only to see the changes of view that have taken place over the desirability of large comprehensive schools to see how the kaleidoscope is constantly changing.

Photo of Mr Frank Hooley Mr Frank Hooley , Sheffield, Heeley

Will not the hon. Gentleman agree that in his catalogue of what parents want he has omitted one very important factor—that emphatically they want no return to 11-plus selection?

Photo of Mr Norman St John-Stevas Mr Norman St John-Stevas , Chelmsford

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that point. I can say equally emphatically that it is no part of Opposition policy to want to return to the 11-plus examination. What we ask for, where selection is relevant, is a flexible and continuous method of assessment and selection. I am extremely grateful to the hon. Gentleman for enabling me to make that point more effectively than I could have done without his helpful intervention.

Opposition policy is not for the 11-plus any more than Opposition policy is against comprehensive schools. There are good comprehensive schools and there are bad ones. There are good grammar schools and there are bad ones. What we are against is the imposition of these schools everywhere as a matter of doctrine. We are against the equally mindless determination, in my view, that no selective school of any kind will be allowed to survive within the maintained system.

We do not want the education debate to centre on this particular controversy, but so long as the Government insist on this policy of imposing comprehensive schools everywhere it will inevitably do so.

We in the Conservative Party also maintain that, given the right conditions, it is perfectly possible for comprehensive schools and grammar schools to exist quite happily together. This is so, for example, in my own constituency of Chelmsford, where we have two very good grammar schools and a number of extremely good comprehensive schools. The 11-plus is entirely voluntary there. Parents can decide to have their children take it or not, as they wish. Some parents prefer the grammar schools and others prefer the comprehensive school.

To bring the illustration even nearer home, this is the fact in West Woolwich, where some political activity is going on at the moment. There is an excellent grammar school there—Colfe's—and two good comprehensive schools. It is that grammar school that the ILEA, abetted by the Government, is intent on doing away with, against the express wishes of many hundreds of parents in that area. This by-election may serve some useful purpose in education if it highlights the importance of the education issue there. If the Secretary of State will not listen to what I am saying before the result of the by-election, perhaps I can express the wish that he may be more ready to listen to it after the result is announced.

The questions we ought to be discussing are these: first, how can we improve the comprehensive schools which in many places are undoubtedly causing anxiety and concern to parents, particularly in certain urban areas? Secondly, we should also be discussing what is the place of selection within an education system of which the major part in the future is likely to be comprehensive. Thirdly, how can one provide, in the secular age, and in a pluralist society, for the adequate moral and religious instruction of pupils in maintained schools?

The Secretary of State knows as well as I do that these are real concerns which are troubling parents, and it is those issues which—if we could get the comprehensive/grammar doctrinal battle put temporarily into cold storage in view of the economic situation we are facing—we would be able to discuss calmly and rationally in this House. So I appeal to him today, when he makes his first appearance at the Dispatch Box, in the very great office of Secretary of State for Education, to see whether we cannot make a new start in education.

We will do our part in seeking to modify the asperities of this debate, but the primary responsibility must rest upon the Secretary of State. He is the only person who can do this. He is the only person who has the power to leave alone the good schools of proven worth. It is not a new policy for the Labour Party. For example, this was the policy advocated by the present Home Secretary as long ago as 1959 in his book "Putting the Labour Case", in which he said that it would be in accordance with the liberal traditions in the Labour Party if existing grammar schools were left alone and left to continue their work.

I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to let the direct grant schools continue to send, as they do, 32 per cent. of their school leavers to universities and another 32 per cent. to other institutions of higher learning, and to let the education debate open up into wider and more relevant areas. In doing so, he will perform a major service to education in Britain and earn the gratitude of many millions of parents throughout the country.

Several Hon. Members:

Several Hon. Members rose

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Order. I should inform the House that I have a list of 16 right hon. and hon. Members who wish to speak in this debate.

7.21 p.m.

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

I shall try to comply with your injunction to be brief, Mr. Speaker, because these half-day debates impose rather a burden on the House, in that they mean that there are four Front Bench speakers. I understand that on this occasion it was the wish of the Opposition to debate two topics on the same day.

Perhaps I may make a few comments by way of general introduction to the debate from the Treasury Bench. In his very kind congratulations to me on my appointment, the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) expressed the hope that I would be as moderate in practice as my predecessor had been in theory. No doubt the hon. Gentleman had given a lot of thought to that phrase. I cannot undertake to satisfy him, by his standards, in either respect—either in practice or in theory. But I ask him, now that he is taking an interest in educational matters, to beat in mind that example is better than precept. If anyone is trying to make education a party political issue—as he says, stirring up a religious war—he should recall the phrase about pots and kettles. No doubt his nursery education told him about it. Certainly the Government do not want a religious war, as my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary—the hon Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor)—muttered when the point was made by the hon. Gentleman. We see ouselves engaged in a crusade in our education policy, but not a crusade of the character to which reference has been made.

The hon. Member for Chelmsford said something, though not a great deal, about direct grant schools. I found it a little surprising that he had not read the debate that we had on 13th June when I made my maiden speech as Secretary of State. I can understand the hon. Gentleman's not wanting to read my speech, but I thought that he might have read the speech made my his hon. Friend the Member for Dorking (Sir G. Sinclair).

In that debate I made clear the Government's position on direct grant schools—what we intended to do, and why. I made it clear that on this matter I intended to follow the general policy adopted by my predecessor and to stand with him on the principle involved. That principle is very clear. The continuation of the present system of finance to the direct grant grammar schools is totally incompatible with the Government's commitment to end all forms of selection for secondary education. With my right hon and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales, I shall very soon be making and laying before Parliament the regulations necessary to put our intentions into effect.

The House knows very well what the situation is. Before the end of the year the direct grant schools will be asked to make clear whether it is their intention to seek to come into the local education authority field of education and be part of a comprehensive system. I hope very much that most of them will, because I believe that they have a lot to contribute to the development of local education policy and to the education of children in their areas. If they decide not to do so, however, they may go independent.

I do not think that it will require very much, if any, additional expenditure, but it is quite impossible to give any esti- mate of what may be involved until we know how many schools will be affected. It would be wrong to seek to prejudge the answers that we shall get from the 173 schools involved.

It is quite absurd that at this moment we should be giving a direct subsidy from the Exchequer, on the strength of circumstances as they existed 30 years ago, at a time when many local education authorities are sending very few children to these schools, with the result that we have a capitation grant which subsidises every fee-payer, irrespective of means. This central feature of the direct grant system has even caused a number of Opposition Members to wonder whether it is not completely crazy. Clearly we have to bring this situation to an end, and I said in the previous debate that, as a matter of principle, we were determined to go through with these policies.

I do not understand why it is necessary to make a special point about head teachers. We have had a number of discussions and given certain commitments about staff, and "staff" includes head teachers. There will be individual problems, no doubt, but we are willing to do all that we can to ease them. There will be problems about boarding schools. This afternoon I saw a deputation from the Catholic hierarchy, which is concerned with its direct grant schools, although it is clear that the Catholic Church wants its direct grant schools to go comprehensive.

Photo of Mr Norman St John-Stevas Mr Norman St John-Stevas , Chelmsford

The Catholic Education Council has agreed to that, but many thousands of Catholic parents do not agree with its policy. If the right hon. Gentleman refers to the Catholic Church, which means the whole body of the faithful, I assure him that there are different opinions within it.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Marks Mr Kenneth Marks , Manchester, Gorton

It is rather like the Tory Party.

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

I can understand that many—not all—parents involved will object to the direct grant being taken away, because their children are enjoying a privileged education at substantially less than the cost. It would be against the normal run of expectation not to get protests, especially with a little prompting, as a result of a situation of this kind.

I want to make it clear that on principle we are determined to go through with the ending of the direct grant. As I assured the hon. Member for Dorking, we are considering a number of the detailed matters raised with us, as the policy affects teachers, for example.

There is plenty of experience on which to draw. Some direct grant schools previously have transferred from the virtually independent to the local education sector. We have some experience of what is involved in these changes and in fitting schools for a proper part in the comprehensive system of education.

The hon. Member for Chelmsford made a great deal of play about the economic situation. I ask him not to rest too much of his case on what he reads in such newspapers as The Times Educational Supplement. The hon. Gentleman referred to football. If any hon. Member doubts whether different versions of a story appear in different newspapers, I recommend what I find to be a very revealing exercise, which is to read two accounts of a football match, one in the local paper of the home team and one in the local paper of the away team. It sometimes happens that I have actually seen the match, and the result is that I do not recognise either account. If the hon. Gentleman has a file of Press cuttings about my appointment, I recommend him to attach the same value to those.

I regard education as being of prime importance. I shall do all that I can to get all the funds available for education and, even more, to see that they are all spent on education, getting the maximum value for money. If, as already has happened—and maybe it will happen again—there are cuts in public expenditure, it would be quite unrealistic to argue as I understood the hon. Member for Chelmsford was arguing—that education should be totally exempt from any such arrangements.

We are now considering the effects of the Chancellor's Budget cuts, and an announcement will be made in due course. However, I recall the hon. Member for Chelmsford, on my appointment, making what appeared to me a rather gimmicky statement, when he said that if I would not close down the direct grant schools or withdraw the grants he would remove from his own policy proposals to expand the direct grant system.

There is hardly a Conservative Member who makes a speech at the weekend who does not scream—not merely argue, but scream—for massive cuts in public expenditure. I can only understand from that and from what the hon. Gentleman has said, that if he were anything to do with a Conservative education policy the little money there was would all go to the private sector, and heaven help the ordinary parents and children in our schools. That is a message I should like to see clearly spelt out tonight, not only to West Woolwich but all over the nation. Conservative Members cannot scream for public expenditure cuts and then come here and plead for privileged and private education. Similarly, they cannot expect the ordinary parent who is concerned and worried about his childrens' future not to understand that message.

What the argument is really all about is whether we should have a selective system of schools for a certain number of people who, it is argued, are able to profit from a high academic education, usually to the almost total neglect of the rest. It is that concept that we totally reject.

One amazing testimonial to the success of the development of the comprehensive principle is that today almost all those who are against that principle acknowledge that the 11-plus has to go, although it may be that they put forward some fancy alternatives in its place and talk about tests at 14 years, constant assessments, and the rest. We challenge the whole concept of a selective education for a select few. It is not even logical on the basis that it should involve 10 per cent., 20 per cent., or 25 per cent. of the school population, because if we look around the country we find that prior to the introduction of comprehensive education the number of grammar schools in local education authorities varied enormously. The number of the so-called gifted children who could benefit from this academic education varies enormously from one part of the country to another.

Speaking for myself—and I believe I speak for most of my hon. Friends—I do not think that education is just a question of passing examinations and acquiring an academic education in the narrow sense. We believe that an important part of education is about learning for living. It is about enabling each pupil and student to develop to the full all his or her potentialities, not just as an individual but as a member of the community.

If social engineering means being concerned that the schools play a part in training people to take their responsibilities as citizens seriously, and to play a part in a community, I am all for it, and the more we have the better. I believe that selection at 11 years is wrong. I think the hon. Member for Chelmsford made a slip of the tongue when he said that in Essex the parents can decide whether to take the 11-plus or not. He implied that the parents take the examination. It is the influence of the parents both on the schools, on the one hand, and on the children, on the other, that has had such a depressing effect on our primary education—and it still has where the selection procedure continues. The most appalling thing is that so many previous generations have been condemned as failures at the age of 11 years.

Photo of Mr Ian Lloyd Mr Ian Lloyd , Havant and Waterloo

The Secretary of State has been propounding what seems to be the most astonishing doctrine, namely, that direct grant or grammar schools in some way do not equip their pupils to play a part in the community. Surely their contribution to the life of the community of this country has been unexcelled?

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

I did not say that they did not play a part. I am concerned about education for all the children in our schools. The narrow academic syllabus, which may be suited for some needs, needs to be extended for children of varying abilities.

I reiterate that there can be no deviation from the goal that we have set ourselves, of introducing universal comprehensive education and abolishing selection within the foreseeable future. I do not want to argue facts and figures too much, but the fact that 98 per cent. of local education authorities have comprehensive schools and that 89 local education committees are committed to the principle of organising their education on the comprehensive principle, suggests to me that they cannot all be wrong and that a great deal of benefit has come from the gradual—perhaps too slow—recognition throughout the country of the value of the comprehensive principle that we have been talking about.

Photo of Mr Norman St John-Stevas Mr Norman St John-Stevas , Chelmsford

I should like to ask the Secretary of State an important question about the local authorities. He mentioned a percentage which had accepted comprehensive schools in principle, but is it not true that altogether about 40 local education authorities have set no date by which they will go totally and universally comprehensive. That number constitutes a third of the local education authorities, and it indicates that there is very strong resistance to the universal policy.

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

I think that the hon. Gentleman is wrong. I think that there are only seven local education authorities that have not committed themselves to going comprehensive by a certain date. However, I shall write to the hon. Gentleman and give him the full details. As he knows, my predecessor and I have seen representatives from these authorities and they have been asked to look at the matter again in the light of the representations that we have made to them. I shall certainly let the hon. Gentleman have the facts as we understand them.

It is the Government's conviction that a truly good school is a truly comprehensive school, and that the grammar school that develops into a comprehensive school is better than the grammar school that is preserved within a selective system. The Opposition prefer to take the view that it is in their political interests that there should be an elitist system of education. When anyone on educational grounds questions them, they say that they are not motivated by a political consideration.

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

I shall not give way again, because I promised to make a short speech.

The complete abolition of selection for secondary education is a start. Although it is only a start it is a necessary precondition for making all schools good schools and giving all pupils the opportunity to develop to the full within a shared educational experience. This shared experience will contribute in some small measure to breaking down the barriers which bedevil our society. It is for these good schools that my right hon. Friend and I will go into the Lobby tonight.

7.40 p.m.

Photo of Mr Fred Silvester Mr Fred Silvester , Manchester, Withington

The Secretary of State has made a number of extraordinary remarks. First, he seemed to be accusing people working in schools other than comprehensive schools of working in schools which are not good schools. I am sure that many hon. Members will wish to bear witness to the fact that schools of all kinds which have contributed greatly to the education of themselves and their constituents do not fall into that category, and long may that continue to be so.

Similarly, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to put forward the proposition that the whole of his education policy was devised because of inequalities in home backgrounds, or whatever, which are affecting children's education. Of course that is true, but does he suppose that the abolition of the direct grant schools will necessarily make it easier for most children from deprived homes to get a better education? It is up to the right hon. Gentleman to say how those children will benefit from the policy that he is pursuing, because the loss to others is indeed easy to see.

I want to speak about direct grant schools, but not because I believe in an elitist education system. Indeed the proposition that the Conservatives would benefit from such a thing is an absurdity which can be demonstrated by looking at the voting figures.

I represent an area which draws heavily upon the direct grant schools. The Minister said that he had no intention of changing his view. I suppose, therefore, that I ought to write to or ring all the people who are coming down tomorrow to tell them that they are wasting their time and to turn their coaches round on the M1.

There is a great deal of feeling about the direct grant schools not only from people whose children attend such schools but from those who have seen the benefit of those schools in their localities. The right hon. Gentleman should not forget the importance of the direct grant schools in the North-West. Whereas only 14 per cent. of all secondary school pupils are in the North-West area, about 40 per cent. direct grant school pupils are in the North-West. If we take away those schools from the State system. we shall have a great loss. Already people in the city of Manchester have been deprived of them by the decision of the council not to send children from the city to direct grant schools. If one asks people in my constituency whether they have any benefit from that, one will get a very dusty answer.

We know that there are direct grant schools in Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Stockport and elsewhere which will undoubtedly go independent. Those schools will be withdrawn from my constituents and from constituents in Greater Manchester. Therefore, it is difficult to see advantage accruing to anybody whom the Minister claims he wishes to help.

At present those schools may, without remission, charge up to £400 in fees, depending on their calculations of the result of Houghton. If they go independent, those fees will exceed £500 or perhaps £600. More important is the fact that the remission system will cease to be available and the free places will cease to be available.

The headmasters and governors of some of these schools have said that they do not have the foundation of scholarship resources to provide anything like a similar number of free places. Therefore, they will become highly selective schools, entirely fee paying, for there are many people who can, and will be happy to, afford those fees.

The North-West has drawn heavily on the direct grant schools and less heavily on the independent sector. If the Secretary of State is seeking to demonstrate by this action a great egalitarian fervour, he is certainly not achieving it in the North-West. Indeed, he is making things worse, because he is destroying the opportunity for many children to take advantage of this kind of education.

There is a case for modification of the direct grant system. Most people to whom I have talked would not go to the stake in defence of the system as it is. But it has a number of distinct advantages. One advantage which the right hon. Gentleman should take into account is that, although pupils in those schools are heavily subsidised by local authority and State expenditure, the schools provide a mechanism for funding private funds into the State system. I understand that about a third of the cost of those schools is borne from private funds. Those funds will go straight into the independent sector or out of education altogether. I cannot see how that is to our advantage.

All right, we have limited resources, there are things that the Minister seeks to do, and he is anxious to overcome the inequalities between children. I accept that the right hon. Gentleman may have all those objectives—indeed, I may share some of them—but it is abundantly clear that, by the withdrawal of the direct grant system at this time, he will advantage nobody and will deliberately damage good schools. The Secretary of State is damaging them either by taking them away from large numbers of pupils who would otherwise enjoy them and by making a more elitist system or by forcing a rough and ready change into a system which cannot readily absorb them.

The Secretary of State referred to the Catholic schools. In Manchester, for example, the Catholic hierarchy has put forward a scheme which it is trying to have accepted. But those schools, particularly the direct grant schools, are very much up in arms about that scheme. It is by no means certain that those schools will go into the State system. Indeed, it is likely that some at least will go independent.

I ask the Minister to pay particular regard to the North-West, because there the system is shown to be in its most extreme position. The North-West has managed to achieve a balance. Vast numbers of children from all homes are able to take part in a system of education which, unfortunately, is not so prevalent in other parts of the country. That form of education has provided a system whereby there is a considerable social mix and a wide scope of education. All this is available to people who know the schools and are willing to contribute some of their own resources. Those schools are doing a good job. If the Minister wants a shorthand education policy at this time, he should say not "All comprehensives are good, and nothing else". but, "For goodness sake, let me find those schools which are good and, when times are hard and money is short, let me hold on to those like grim death."

7.48 p.m.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Hammersmith Fulham

The Opposition are arguing, as they put it, that good schools should be preserved. By that they mean that direct grant schools should be enabled to continue in their present form as selective schools taking their intake on the basis of some kind of assessment of children's ability at the age of 11.

There is an alternative open to those schools—that is, to co-operate with local authorities in the development of comprehensive secondary education. That is the advice that the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester) should be giving to those responsible for schools policy in his constituency. The alternative, in homely language, is to go comprehensive.

The Opposition argue that if these schools go comprehensive they cease to be good schools, they are not preserved, or they are destroyed. It is no use the Opposition pretending that is not so. That is inescapably what they are arguing. They suggest that if these schools become comprehensive, they cease to be good schools. In the Opposition's view, the peculiar virtue of these schools is their selectiveness—the fact that they provide the kind of education which is believed to be appropriate for children who, on the basis of an examination at the age of 11, are supposed to be gifted. Their purpose is to provide education for that type of child, and that type of child only. That is the peculiar virtue that these schools are supposed to possess and that the Opposition are asking should be preserved.

Photo of Mr Keith Hampson Mr Keith Hampson , Ripon

Will not the right hon. Gentleman agree, however, that these schools take children also at 13? Is he denying the virtues of selection at any age and that children may have the potential for a good academic training?

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Hammersmith Fulham

I shall come to that shortly. It is certainly true that these schools are selective schools, and it must be plain to anyone, except apparently, the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas), that they depend on some kind of 11-plus. It is futile for the hon. Gentleman to argue that he is opposed to the 11-plus or, alternatively, the 13-plus.

What was the hon. Gentleman's phrase—a "continuous and flexible" process of selection? If one is talking about children in one school, of course one can make a continuing study of the development of a child's ability and make successive decisions as time goes by about the kind of courses which that child may most wisely pursue. But if the object is—this is the whole of the Opposition's case—that we ought to have different kinds of school for children with different kinds of ability, what does continuous and flexible selection mean? It can mean only that we put a child into one kind of school at 11, and then, if we find that we have made a mistake, pull the child out and put it somewhere else at 13. The more continuous and flexible we are, the more bewildering the child's education will be. In fact, it is neither educationally desirable nor adminisratively practicable.

The argument that one can remedy the defects of the 11-plus by transfer was exploded long ago. The hon. Member for Chelmsford talks of areas where comprehensive and grammar schools exist side by side. He knows perfectly well that the schools he describes as grammar schools have this quality. It is not possible for a parent to say "I live near this school and I want my child to go there" and be sure that his child will be admitted. For the child to be admitted there must be a selection process. To put it vulgarly but inescapably, the child must go through an 11-plus. It is no good the Opposition pretending that is not so.

The hon. Member for Chelmsford says that the 11-plus can be voluntary and not all parents will elect that their child should take it. This is the worst of all worlds. If we are to have an 11-plus at all, for goodness sake let all children have a go, because a child may sometimes astonish both its teachers and its parents by a demonstration of its abilities when it is put in the examination room.

Is it suggested that while children are in the primary school some parents should be encouraged to say that it is no good their children trying the examination and it is much better not to bother them with it? This is to push the process of selection back to 10 or to 9. It is to create the kind of world depicted in Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World", in which children are conditioned from an early age to believe that they are alphas, betas or gammas and to fit themselves for the station in life which that early judgment determines for them.

Whether the hon. Member for Chelmsford likes it or not, therefore, we are debating selection. The hon. Gentleman chose to make merry with possible reasons for my right hon. Friend's elevation to Secretary of State for Education. He might ask himself why he and not someone else is there on the Opposition Front Bench. He is known as a warrior for the 11-plus and a doughty opponent of the comprehensive principle. That is why he has taken the place of his hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee), who was sitting there but has since, understandably, left the debate.

The objective of getting rid of the 11-plus is not only national policy. It is parents' choice. The one thing which the great majority of parents want to do is to get rid of the 11-plus. That is an inescapable fact, and there are good reasons for it. In the first place, the 11-plus always distorted primary education. It caused the primary school to concentrated too much on getting successes at an examination on one occasion rather than on a good grounding of education. Second, it was appallingly fallible—no one disputes that—and it was also alarmingly random. A child's chance of going to a grammar school varied enormously according to where it lived and according to the year in which it took the examination, and it varied considerably also according to whether the child was a boy or a girl. Those are objections to the 11-plus which the hon. Member for Chelmsford has never considered. Indeed, I doubt that he was aware of them.

There was also the continuing discouragement to those who, as it was put, failed the 11-plus, causing them at an early age to think "We are not the really bright ones". This is a waste of national talent as well as an injustice to human beings. Moreover, it was divisive because it encouraged children to concentrate more on the differences of gift or achievement which might divide them than on the common humanity which united them.

One slogan today is "Schools are for education, not for social engineering". But the 11-plus is for social engineering. Nothing is more fatally easy than to use that examination not as an intellectual test but as a piece of social engineering. When it was a crude test of English composition and a paper of sums, it was probably fairer than when the defenders of selection got together to try to refine it, with teachers' assessments and so on. Under that system there is far more opportunity for favouritism and for making it a social rather than an intellectual selection.

These things have a long history. The Opposition always argue that we ought to study further how the comprehensive system works. In our previous debate on this subject, the hon. Member for Chelmsford produced the argument that enthusiasts for comprehensive education used to believe in large schools but have now changed their minds. I pointed out to him then that that was untrue. He was unaware of the history of the matter. Perhaps he should study the anthology of essays on this subject produced by the Association of Education Committees a good many years ago, the study by the National Union of Teachers, and several books about individual schools by people with real experience of them. They will dissipate the idea that some people are trying to put about that comprehensive schools are bound to be inferior to the grammar schools.

We know that there are problems in our schools today, problems of discipline and of behaviour. But it has proved totally impossible, despite the most determined efforts, to correlate those difficulties with the growth of comprehensive secondary education. Every one of us, I am sure, knows of deplorable incidents which have occurred in schools. These things always happen. They always will. They are bound to occur—not all over the place and not all the time, but they will occur, and they are to be found in every kind of school.

Photo of Sir George Sinclair Sir George Sinclair , Dorking

Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that violence to the extent that we see it now in this country, and in America, according to the broadcast yesterday, which the right hon. Gentleman may have heard, is no more widespread than it was, if I may so put it, in his day?

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Hammersmith Fulham

There are ups and downs in these matters. I agree when the hon. Gentleman refers it to my day, but let him go back a little further. It is some time since we had to call troops out to keep order in a public school, as happened in the nineteenth century. These things go in cycles, and they are not related to particular kinds of school. The attempt to show that they are correlated with the growth in comprehensive secondary education has no intellectual or factual foundation whatever.

One may add, with reference to the care taken by the refiners of the 11-plus to maintain the possibility of entry into direct grant and grammar schools, that these children, who are supposed to be the ablest, do not necessarily show an encouraging performance thereafter. Many people think that these schools might do a great deal better, considering how much trouble some of them take not to take on any children whose education might present problems.

Even if all the claims made for the selective grammar school were true, even if it were true that they were all academies of learning where excellent standards of behaviour and high standards of knowledge prevailed, I would still say that the direct grant schools which, at this juncture in our education history, refuse to go comprehensive are making a tragic error which can be damaging to our society and to our civilisation.

The standards of value of society in the end are set not by a highly educated minority but by the experience and beliefs and values of the majority, and if one creates an education system that is deliberately designed to keep those who are exceptionally intellectually gifted apart from the rest, their intellectual ability will not do what it should—fertilise and enrich the whole of society.

That is what the direct grant schools ought to be saying in so far as they believe in their own claim to represent high standards of knowledge and education. They ought not to be saying "At all costs, how can we stand aloof?" They should be saying "What is the special contribution we can make to the creation of really good comprehensive schools in which people of different gifts and abilities can learn, as good citizens, to understand and respect each other?"

The belief in comprehensive secondary education is not merely a piece of administrative planning. It is based on a faith in the virtues of a community where people, knowing that they have different abilities, different gifts and different interests, none the less contrive to understand and respect each other. If the direct grant schools throw away this opportunity, they will be making the error which has been made before in history by intellectual elites, to their own great disadvantage and that of the community to which they belong.

8.3 p.m.

Photo of Mr Charles Morrison Mr Charles Morrison , Devizes

It was only towards the very end of the remarks of the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart), when he asked how we might provide good comprehensive schools, that I thought that he was beginning to become concerned with the situation facing us in 1975. He spoke with his usual eloquence, but what he said would have been more relevant to the situation which existed 10 years ago.

I find myself completely bored by this argument about selection—much more so than when I first came to this House. It is an arid and sterile argument which does not advance the situation one iota. It is high time that the Government, even if they do not accept our views, at least appreciated that we are concerned with one thing only—the maintenance and improvement of standards.

I must admit also that I thought the Secretary of State's opening speech in his high office extremely disappointing. In particular, he demonstrated a completely closed mind, and I was left almost speechless by his comment that the only truly good school is a comprehensive school, because, if nothing else, that certainly is not proven.

I suspect that, even after having been in the House for more than 11 years, I am still one of the few who, in their misapplied youth, were chairmen of education authorities. When I first came to the House, I was in principle in favour of comprehensive education. I am now more in favour of the principle. But I am not always in favour of comprehensive education in practice, for the simple reason that I do not believe that one provides comprehensive education, nor does one establish comprehensive schools, simply by changing the names of schools or by providing what Lord Boyle used to refer to as "botched-up" schemes.

If there are to be comprehensive schools, as I hope that gradually there will be, they must be properly planned; there must be adequate buildings, and a great deal of thought must be put in to the planning before they are established. Because that has not always happened, there is in consequence a good deal of justifiable criticism of a number of comprehensive schools which exist.

If comprehensive schools are properly planned and executed, I have no doubt that in 30 or 50 years' time probably people will look back and wonder what the argument about reorganisation of secondary education was all about. I would think that if we approach this question with common sense those who look back in years to come will see the period of selection, from 1926 onwards until perhaps the 1980s, as an interim period, one further stage in the evolution of secondary education.

But if, on the other hand comprehensive schools are forcibly introduced everywhere immediately and all too quickly, and with inadequate thought, half their potential benefits will be lost and secondary education will not achieve the targets for the nation's children that it should. In this respect, I think that the Department should do much more to monitor the successes and, indeed, the failures which are occurring in comprehensive schools. I think that this would be to their advantage, and it would certainly be to the advantage of the education authorities, because they would know where mistakes had been made—mistakes which they could themselves avoid, thus benefiting from the experience of others.

I am opposed to the abolition of any secondary school until it is as certain as possible that it can be replaced by a school which will produce better results and a better form of education. It is crazy to propose writing off direct grant schools at a stroke. They have an unparalleled record, and it is as near a certainty as can be that the education they provide cannot be replaced by anything better. The right hon. Member for Fulham claimed that we think that their peculiar virtue is their selectiveness. That is not so. Their peculiar virtue is the standards of education which they provide.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Hammersmith Fulham

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that if they stopped being selective and became comprehensive they could still maintain those standards?

Photo of Mr Charles Morrison Mr Charles Morrison , Devizes

I shall deal with that point. The right hon. Gentleman anticipated me. I believe that, in order to maintain those standards, it is necessary for them to continue as selective schools in some form or other for the moment.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Hammersmith Fulham

The hon. Gentleman is in favour of selection.

Photo of Mr Charles Morrison Mr Charles Morrison , Devizes

It has been said that they should be abolished because they are an anomaly, that they are neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring. That is rubbish. It demonstrates a remarkable and incredible affection for dull uniformity. It also shows a lack of confidence and courage on the part of those who advocate total comprehensivisation now. If that is not so, why are they not prepared to leave direct grant schools in existence and, so to speak, in competition with comprehensives? Surely the direct grant schools can continue to provide for the moment a standard to which all other secondary schools can aspire. That by itself is a justification for their existence.

I believe also that education is evolutionary and often it is the anomalies that provide the impetus for progress. After all, let us face the reality that once upon a time comprehensive schools were an anomaly. Therefore, I appeal for common sense in our approach to secondary education.

From time to time over the years since I have been in the House dogma has reared its head much too strongly. In between whiles common sense has prevailed, and that must be the way it should be. I do not claim that in my own county the introduction of compre- hensive education has gone with complete smoothness and without mistakes, but within my own county of Wiltshire the local education authority has been prepared all along to learn by its mistakes and to look at the introduction of comprehensive schools in different parts of the county with complete objectivity. In consequence, it has made fewer mistakes and provided many more benefits than is the case in many other parts of the country. If anyone wants an education on the subject of the introduction of comprehensive education, he would do a lot worse than come to the county of Wiltshire.

8.12 p.m.

Photo of Mr Frank Hatton Mr Frank Hatton , Manchester Moss Side

I very much welcome the reaffirmation by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State this evening of the commitment to end selection completely and to implement the party manifesto in respect of direct grant schools. I very much welcome the statement made in my own city of Manchester in only the last week or so by the Catholic Diocese Schools Commission, indicating its willingness to have some form of non-selective secondary education in its schools. Its schools, in and just outside the city, include five direct grant schools, and the governors of one have already indicated their willingness to take part in the system of 11 to 16 age groups schools with a sixth form college. I reiterate the view of my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) that the direct grant schools themselves now have an opportunity to make a new contribution to secondary education.

The hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) spoke of a vendetta against the direct grant schools. It has been a very patient vendetta. In my city in 1963 there was a commitment to reorganise secondary education. Since then there have been continuing discussions with one group of councillors after another. As county schools were reorganised, there were constant discussions with the Catholic diocese to see in what way its schools could be brought into the system of non-selective secondary education. So it is not a vicious vendetta that over about 10 or 11 years produces a scheme that is still the subject of discussion. I welcome the decision of the Catholic schools in the Manchester area, because it will greatly help us to end the 11-plus for many Catholic children.

As Opposition Members have said, there are parents who will still campaign to retain the direct grant schools, and no doubt some of them will be in the Lobbies tomorrow. This is nothing new. Many parents campaigned against secondary reorganisation. They said that it was a vendetta against the county grammar schools. But there have been no major lobbies, no demand, for the reintroduction of the 11-plus examination. The real test is that people do not want to go back to the segregation of their boys and girls into grammar schools and secondary modern schools. Let there be no mistake—if there are grammar schools on the one hand, there are secondary modern schools on the other, the schools for the failures.

The hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester)—I am glad to see him still in the Chamber—referred to the large number of his constituents who used the direct grant school system in the North-West, and particularly in Manchester. That is an indication of how much of a problem the system is. Every year, about 5,500 pupils transfer from primary to secondary schools in Manchester. In a city with a population of 500,000, there are hundreds of primary schools spread throughout the city.

When Manchester took places in nondenominational direct grant schools and Manchester Grammar School it took 90 places for boys and 60 for girls. In a city of nine parliamentary constituencies, one third of all the children who went to Manchester Grammar School came from the constituency of the hon. Member for Withington. It is the sort of constituency that estate agents would describe as a good residential area. The figure is an indication of the social problems of the direct grant schools.

For 20 years hardly a pupil has come from the downtown ward that I represent in Manchester to find a place in a direct grant school. I could name one ward after another in the downtown areas from where pupils never go to the direct grant schools. It is a system of privilege, and I am glad that my right hon. Friend has committed us to getting rid of it as quickly as possible.

There are still many problems in our schools. The hon. Member for Chelms- ford mentioned some. He spoke of children in urban areas being confined to neighbourhood schools. I hope that my hon. Friends will not worry too much about such schools. Children are individuals, and cannot be packaged into grammar, technical, high and secondary modern school groups. It is impossible to have enough schools with the right number of groups for that. There are many good schools operating in the downtown areas of my city as neighbourhood secondary schools. I pay tribute to the heads and teachers of those schools.

We on the Labour benches will be watching carefully to see that the least possible attack is made on the education service by way of economies. If the Government cut back on teachers there will be a disastrous effect on class sizes. Specialist teaching in the urban areas will be affected, as will the siting and provisioin of nursery schools. We do not want to see such thngs as books and stationery, and opportunities for swimming lessons, taking a back seat. We shall give my right hon. Friend every encouragement in his move to get rid of the privileges of the direct grant system.

8.0 p.m.

Photo of Sir Nicholas Fairbairn Sir Nicholas Fairbairn , Kinross and West Perthshire

It is one of the primordial desires in good parents to do better for their children than was done for them and the best for the child that they can do. It is one of the primordial urges of any human being to choose what he wants. It is one of the protected sanctities—No. 26(3)—of the Declaration of Human Rights which was signed in Paris on 11th December 1948 by Lord Attlee when he was Prime Minister, on behalf of everyone in this country, that every parent shall have the right, as expressed in the 1944 Education Act and since repeated, to choose the manner of his child's education. To say "You may choose the manner of your child's education provided that it is comprehensive and provided that it is a school to which he is sent by the local authority," is a frustration of that fundamental human right to which the Labour Party was once, but is no longer, dedicated.

It is a further primordial human desire to search for excellence. Without it, in education, in achievement, in design, we shall never, as human beings, strive to do better for one another. Excellence needs variety. The destruction of variety inevitably requires the destruction of the pursuit of excellence. Socialism in its expressed form seems to hate the search for excellence. Socialists believe that it is wrong to search for excellence. It is wrong to have initiative or to have—I shall define the word shortly—privilege, unless it is they who have the privilege and are enjoying it.

It is, after all, a privilege to be a Member of the House of Commons. To have that privilege we have to undergo a system of selection. All Labour Members are in a privileged position as a result of selection. But it is all right when it suits them. To get to a university a person has to be selected on his capacity to get there and to stay there. I have not heard any complaints about that. Recently in this House we have seen the Government take the view that the interests of hares were above the interests of the children of divorcees, in Scotland at any rate, and other children who may suffer from broken homes, consideration on whose future has been postponed so that we may debate the interests of hares.

Assuming that animals are more important to the Labour Party than human beings, members of that party would not tolerate a situation in which the horse which is to run a race was selected for its excellence and trained according to its capacity in a stable which might make it a horse worth training. The Socialist doctrine is that all horses should have an equal chance to go to all stables. They should all run in the same race, and none of them should win. The Labour Party certainly puts public money on every public horse it runs, with the inevitable likelihood that the bet will be lost and the money thrown away.

There cannot be excellence without selection, first of all of the pupil by his capacity and, secondly, of the institution to which the pupil is sent on account of his frailties, capabilities, sensitivities or aptitudes. To have a doctrine which says, whether it be in Penzance or Manchester, Crieff or Edinburgh, irrespective of population, that we will abolish every direct grant school by decree is an indication of arrogance and ruthlessness, and of the insistence that the direct grant schools, or grant-aided schools as we call them, shall be done away with for some concept that comprehensive man will go to the local bureaucratic school and will get an identical education, regardless of his merits or capabilites.

There is a falsehood about this, because we are making an even worse selection. We shall select those who live in one area and compel them to go to such and such an institution. We will not, in the words of the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) give them this generous, all-embracing experience of every type and man in life. They will not go one week to a school in the Gorbals, the next to a school in Eton and the next to a school somewhere else; they will be condemned to the only school to which they can go. They will learn the morals, values and habits of that school and that area alone. I do not regard that as being a great sharing in society.

There is in my constituency a supreme example of a comprehensive school. In Scotland we have many schools which are grantd-aided and which were set up by men of capability, often men who were uneducated but who had made a great deal of money and desired that those who were denied the advantage of education should receive it. In Morrison's Academy, in Crieff, there is such a school—

Photo of Mr Myer Galpern Mr Myer Galpern , Glasgow Shettleston

Order. I must remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that it is one of the primordial rules of this House that we deal only with matters that come within the ambit of the motion before us. The motion selected entirely rules out anything to do with Scotland, because this is one sphere in which, surprisingly, Scotland has a degree of independence.

Photo of Sir Nicholas Fairbairn Sir Nicholas Fairbairn , Kinross and West Perthshire

I am obliged to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is pleasant that a Scotsman should be entitled to take part in an English debate. There are direct grant schools in England which take a proportion of local authority school pupils without having to do so, producing a comprehensive social mix of provan capability.

We have heard talk tonight of élitism, as if that meant exclusion. Élitism means the selection to do the best for the best, not the same for all.

Photo of Sir Nicholas Fairbairn Sir Nicholas Fairbairn , Kinross and West Perthshire

I am most obliged to the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland making that sedentary interruption. It is not a question of "To hell with the rest." The difference between Conservative and Labour Members is that Labour Members do not want anyone to have good education in case everyone has it. We say that all should have the education which their capabilities and aptitudes attract.

We should extend direct grant schools. Everyone should be entitled to spend more money on the education of their children if they believe it to be right and worth while. The doctrine has been pronounced that the direct grant system is unfair because it subsidises every fee-payer, regardless of his means and because every fee-paying parent saves the fees at the expense of the general taxpayer. If we adopt such a doctrine it is just as unfair that I should have to pay taxes for the education of those with 10 children when I have only three.

The direct grant system saves money. At a time when we require to save money and not have public profligacy to destroy these great institutions, merely in order to indulge in a doctrinaire concept of comprehensive man, is thoroughly irresponsible and unpleasant.

The effect of this policy is not to abolish selection or to give comprehensive education, in the sense that the pupil will be comprehensively educated according to his capacity, but so that all pupils will be educated in the same way to the same dull, drilled, docile standard. Parents will be unable to say that they would like their child to go to a boarding school, a residential school, a music school, or some such school.

Why should the parents not be entitled to select? When the Minister replies, perhaps she will advise me how comprehensive education relates to the Declaration of Human Rights, which gives every parent the right to select the manner of its child's education. To abolish as a doctrine these institutions, which have served the country so well, which have trained leadership, the values and morals of the country, and made a contribution which is quite exceptional and comprehensive, and to create a sterilised, frustrated system in which we all have to do the same wherever we live, is to partition and segregate the nation into areas. It will ensure that the native right of a child to be educated according to its capacity, and of a parent to choose the manner in which that child will be educated, will be frustrated by dogma, doctrine and jealousy.

8.32 p.m.

Photo of Mr Edward Graham Mr Edward Graham , Enfield Edmonton

Having looked at the topic for debate for tonight, namely, the preservation of good schools, I thought that it was a topic on which the House would be unanimous and that, quite clearly, there would be no one who could come to any debate on education and argue against the premise that we are all in favour of the preservation of good schools.

Conservative Members have chosen to introduce invective and hysteria into the debate, and the hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) eloquently introduced, a bit of class hatred. There has been a great deal of imbalance.

First, the hon. and learned Gentleman told us that the great argument was the opportunity of freedom of choice. He sought to inject into the debate the argument that there always has been a choice, and that the parents of all children had always had the freedom, the right and the opportunity to choose the education that they thought best for their children.

Millions of parents in Britain would dearly have loved the opportunity to choose to send their children, for example, to the local grammar school, if that had been possible. However they did not have any choice. Their choice was limited by their means, by the ability of the child, or by the selection process which was used. There never has been the freedom of choice which Conservative Members so often parade as the acme of educational opportunity.

My hon. Friends and I believe in preserving good schools. Our argument is that good schools are equally, if not better, preserved in the comprehensive system. Hon. Members have clearly shown that the nub of the argument tonight is the method of maintaining some form of patronage and privilege for some people who have access to it.

Edmonton, the seat that I have the honour to represent, is part of the London borough of Enfield, which is not unknown in the history of comprehensive education over the past 10 years. It has been involved in many dramatic changes—traumatic changes for the administrators, parents, and teachers involved. During that time, every administrator, every committee, has been concerned with the preservation of all that is best in the schools in the borough.

I do not accept the philosophy that the only way to preserve good schools is to take them out of the mainstream of educational endeavour, in our borough or any other, by isolating them, highlighting them, sometimes making them an object of jealousy. I do not believe that by sidetracking the schools which are held to be good one will preserve them. Tradition and academic achievement are important, but the best form of comprehensive education is not one with isolated pockets or selection. The best form is one which is all-embracing within an authority's area.

The first hallmark of a school which is worth preserving is its preparedness to accept the full range of abilities, not to decide that there are some levels of ability which need to be excluded. The second criterion is that the schools should be equipped to provide remedial education for pupils where that is desired. At the moment, in the London borough of Enfield, there is one school, Latymer, which is a voluntary aided school outside the comprehensive system, catering for 6 per cent. of the pupils of secondary age; the other 94 per cent. attend school within the comprehensive system.

It is a sad commentary that the pupils for this school are selected exclusively in secret, surreptitiously, without the collaboration of the local authority. A form of selection has been imposed by the governors under which there is a secret system of vetting pupils. Without public disclosure of the criteria, only some of those who wish to attend are selected. The full range of ability and the ability to help those who require it are crucial in a school worth preserving.

My personal regret as the Member for Edmonton is that the one selective school in the borough of Enfield is in Edmonton. I can understand the governors' feelings but I do not accept them. The maintenance of one selective school in the borough is educational nonsense.

In its latest report, dealing with creaming, the Campaign for Comprehensive Education says: There is now a good deal of evidence to show that where comprehensive schools are creamed by grammar schools, they are not likely to have as full an ability range or to have as big a sixth form or A-level offering as comprehensive schools not coexisting. They may also suffer in staffing and general morale, which in many ways is far more important. Not only is there the existence of the school, which is an anachronism; because of that anachronism there is an effect on all other schools in the system. The problems are serious.

Given good will on the part of the governors of that school and of other schools similarly placed, it should be possible to preserve within the comprehensive system all that is good about schools such as Latymer.

I take careful note of the response made by the governors of Latymer to the Secretary of State's invitation in Circular 4/74. When the Secretary of State asked governors to reconsider their attitude in the light of the Government's policy, the governors refused to do so. Paragraph 11 of the circular states: In the case of voluntary aided schools the governors cannot expect to continue to receive the substantial financial aid which their schools enjoy through being maintained by the local education authority, if they are not prepared to co-operate with that authority in settling the general educational character of the school and its place in a local comprehensive system. It should be possible for the governors of Latymer School and the Education Committee of the London Borough of Enfield to meet, to have discussions, and to work out a modus operandi whereby all that is best and worthy of being preserved in the case of Latymer is preserved within the comprehensive system. I greatly hope that when the opportunity is given to the governors they will respond with open minds and argue constructively with the Minister and his officers for the retention of all that is good and worthy of being preserved in their school which I believe can be done every bit as good within the comprehensive system as outside it.

8.42 p.m.

Photo of Mr Clement Freud Mr Clement Freud , Isle of Ely

When I read the Order Paper today and I saw as the proposed subject for debate the splendidly uncontroversial "Preservation of Good Schools" I had a vision of the entire House trooping through the same Lobby. I am sorry that in fact the debate seems to have been changed to that steadily impolite one of docking the Secretary of State's salary by some amount, which seems very hard considering the length of time he has been in his job.

This is not a debate about the preservation of good schools. That would not be a subject of debate, as the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Graham) so rightly said. The motion, which if one should oppose it would enable the enemy to turn the finger of scorn at one, is a poor motion. Perhaps it is designed more to afford Hansard-waving by the members of the Opposition for tomorrow's lobby of direct grant school parents and teachers.

Perhaps having realised that the direct grant schools actually afford education for only 1 per cent. of the children, the Tory Party has finally decided to change the subject. Perhaps more realistically the motion should be about access to good schools, because it seems to me that this is what it is all about.

There is one point that I am particularly worried about. This is the only time I shall go back to the direct grant school question. On 11th March the Secretary of State for Education and Science, when announcing the cessation of direct grants to the maintained school system, said: Grant to schools which are unwilling to enter the maintained school system or which it is not practicable to absorb into the system will be phased out, starting in September 1976. Arrangements to safeguard the interests of pupils already in the schools will be made."—[Official Report, 11th March 1975; Vol. 887, c. 271.] That should be considered carefully. Does the phrase "arrangements to safeguard the interests of pupils" mean that another school will be found for them? It would be illegal under the nineteenth century Education Acts if no school were found for them. So the Secretary of State must admit that a special school will be found for them or that a similar amount of money to that spent on the direct grant will be offered. Perhaps, in replying, the Minister will bear in mind col. 271 and give me an answer.

The Liberal Party does not often get Supply Days. Had we had a Supply Day on education, we should have chosen the subject of education for the able working-class child. Perhaps that is the most difficult problem of all, and one to which no one seems to have an answer. But we did not have a Supply Day and the Conservative Party did. Perhaps it is right to say here and now that Liberals are in favour of preserving good schools, and in favour of good housing, good hospitals, expanding industry and the Monarchy. Front Bench spokesmen must realise that they are not the sole guardians and protectors of educational excellence. We all believe in educational excellence. We have all heard too much talk about organisational systems, and it is time a little more thought was given to teaching.

We should all like to see the standards of the best becoming the normal. As teachers are as human and variable as the rest of us, some are better than others and yet others, in the memorable words of the hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson), would have a riot with a dead chicken. We should try to improve the standards of all schools and not extend the direct grant, as the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) once suggested. It was never made clear to us how he would achieve the extension of the direct grant, unless it was by allocating more of the gross national product to education than had previously been allocated. As he was in a position only 18 months ago to persuade the Treasury to allocate more money to education, surely that was the time to do it, not when his party is in Opposition.

In our present economic crisis it seems that there will not be any more money for education. However, it would cost little to do a number of things to make education more effective. It would cost nothing to strengthen the representation of teachers and parents on boards of governors and boards of management of schools. That could be done at the expense—if a few pounds a day can be called an expense—of the people whose election is currently due to their political allegiance. Few know as much about education as do teachers and, in the second instance, parents or guardians of those in receipt of education. It is crucial not that there should be just one parent governor of a secondary school but that parents should be properly represented.

When elections for parent governors are held, it is important to make clear to them—as it was not in my constituency—that the term of governorship is four years provided the governor has a child at the school. Thus at a secondary comprehensive school it is pointless being a candidate for election unless the child is 12 years old or under.

The Department of Education and Science is one of the largest spending Departments. I recognise the skill and dedication of our educational administrators, but there are signs that we are seeing in the new bulge, the foundation of the classic bureaucracy situation. The OECD, in a recent pamphlet on the Department of Education and Science, wrote: Decentralisation of decision-making has not resulted in a high level of participation. That is a valid argument. Participation by the community which is served by the scholastic establishments is probably what is most needed. We need participation that is taken note of rather than political interference.

Teachers must have the right to give an honest opinion about the schools in which they work without fear of what such a pronouncement will do to their career prospects. If a teacher feels that an educational administrator is incompetent, surely he must have the same right of a hearing and investigation without repercussions as the administrator has as regards his report. Bullock and, more recently, the National Foundation of Educational Research confirmed that, despite regular hysteria, education standards in this country are not in reverse and are not heading for the Dark Ages. Grammar and direct grant schools are capable and practical exponents in survival. They maintain their reputations by successfully adapting to changing circumstances. If circumstances are to change once more, I am sure that the good will survive. Ability, like cork, will rise to the surface.

At a recent conference on non-streaming, which was held the week before last and reported in The Times Educational Supplement, the head of the joint mathematic and science department of a large school in the Inner London Education Authority said: Children's ability in the secondary sector in no way correlates with primary school assessments. He went on to produce charts to prove that some of the best results achieved in the first year in the secondary sector were achieved by boys and girls who were considered below average in primary school.

We shall be supporting the Government tonight but not because we are against the preservation of good schools. Indeed, if we searched throughout the land I think we would find that not even the Government are in favour of the cessation even of all direct grant schools. For example, I believe that the Royal Ballet School and Yehudi Menuhin's school, which are both direct grant schools, will continue. I congratulate the Government, because I think they are correct in thinking that their continuation in no way limits educational opportunity for the rest of the community.

We shall support the Government because we believe that their principles of non-selection and wider provision of educational opportunity correspond more closely to our own Liberal educational policies.

Photo of Mr Myer Galpern Mr Myer Galpern , Glasgow Shettleston

The winding-up speeches will begin at 9.30 p.m. There are still five hon. Members who are anxious to take part in the debate. I am sure that they can all be accommodated if they are brief in their contributions.

8.54 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Hughes Mr William Hughes , City of Durham

It is with some hesitancy that I rise for the first time in an education debate, as my experience is confined to teaching in a university. However, over the past 10 days there has been an education dispute in my constituency which highlights some of the underlying characteristics behind the debate. I refer to the dispute at Sedgefield Comprehensive School. I shall not enter into the details at this stage, I merely say that over the past weekend, having heard the representations of the parents at that school, I echo much of what the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud) has said about the contribution which the parents have to offer to good schools and good education.

This whole debate can turn on the word "good"—since the subject of this debate as it appears on the Order Paper refers to the "Preservation of Good Schools". I recall that when I first went to Balliol the senior tutor addressed us at our first meeting with the following splendid words, "You must remember, gentlemen, that you are the cream of the cream of your intellectual generation". After there had been a mild vomit from many present, we realised what a good education meant to certain people. To many people in this country, it is the narrow pursuit of academic excellence to reproduce the species "don" at university which has been correlated with excellence and goodness. It is concerned with the reproduction of those who are unemployable except in the practice of the skills gained in the pursuit of Academia.

As one who was involved for a number of years in the admissions procedure at one of our older universities, what did I discover we were doing? We were selecting between persons who we knew in advance had gone to schools of differing qualities. We had to try to assess whether two Bs and a C from one school represented a better bet as a prospective entrant for somebody who had not yet had the chance to take A levels and who would never be able to come through the selection process even with those A levels behind him. The matter had to be taken on trust. In other words, we had to select on totally inadequate evidence.

In too many parts of our university structure one teaches the wrong stuff in the wrong way. When one examined the students, one examined them in the wrong way, and created a set of totally wrong criteria for judgment. That has gone back into the secondary system, whereby a school is judged by the number of university scholarships and entrances which it has achieved—not by the number of good people, or good citizens, or good general men that it has produced. Any hon. Member who believes that my children's opportunities—and they are going through the State comprehensive system—are the same as those of the person who started the same day at the same primary school but whose father was on the dole, deludes himself. If we believe that in terms of social engineering and change the 1944 Act is performing its task, we are deluding ourselves. That legislation is failing miserably in that aim. Newsom child begat Newsom child, and so it goes on. The State system has established the view that those that have education shall be given education. The problem of the gap between the amount which the State invests in the education of the fortunate few is a great deal worse than are the problems of direct grant schools.

A miniscule proportion of those passing through the State system are granted a major contribution of the State expenditure per head. That gap is far too wide. Therefore, when the Opposition talk about "good schools" and the preservation thereof, what they are asking for ultimately is that to a small group of children—by accident of birth, environment and so forth—the State shall devote a disproportionate amount of resources. That cannot be acceptable to Labour Members. The State must set about doing the precise reverse. To those children whom nature and other things have disadvantaged it must make available resources to ensure that the disadvantages under which they have suffered are brought to an end.

I trust that we shall vote against this motion, because "good schools" are needed to redress the imbalances of a bad society.

9.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr George Gardiner Mr George Gardiner , Reigate and Banstead

This debate arises very largely from the disappointing assertion of the Secretary of State when replying to the debate on 17th June, and repeated by him, unfortunately, today, that he intends to impose universal comprehensive education and the total abolition of academic selection with the same destructive vigour as his predecessor. He acknowledged today that he sees this not as a religious war but as a crusade. I comprehend his point. For him, this is a matter of principle that cannot be breached or tempered.

However, in education, as in other fields, rigid adherence to one principle frequently means denying a number of others which are clearly desirable, and the right hon. Gentleman's rigid adherence to this one involves him in the destruction of grammar, voluntary aided and direct grant schools whose academic attainment he cannot fail to acknowledge and which no one from his party so far has failed to acknowledge. It means, too, that he must ride roughshod over the clearly expressed wishes of thousands upon thousands of parents.

I wish very briefly to protest about the way in which parental opinion is being defied by this Government in order to enforce a schooling policy designed to satisfy the egalitarian instincts of members of their own party.

Section 76 of the Education Act 1944 decreed that children should be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents, so far as was compatible with efficient instruction, while avoiding unreasonable expenditure of public money. This guarantee was always imprecise and it has now been made pretty well worthless.

First, Circular No. 4/74 appears to whittle this right down to requiring local education authorities to pay due regard to parents' wishes concerning only denominational schooling, or bilingual schools in Wales. Apparently it is of no consequence whether parents have a strong wish for their children to be educated in a single-sex rather than a co-educational school, or vice versa, or whether they want a deliberately academically-oriented education for a child who has proved himself likely to benefit from it.

Secondly, the safeguards for parents provided by Section 13 of the Act have been made utterly worthless, too. Until February of last year, any body of parents or local electors who objected to an education authority's proposals for changing the character of a school in their district could appeal to the Secretary of State, knowing full well that that right of appeal meant something. Unfortunately, that is no longer true.

Thirdly, by pursuing this policy, the Secretary of State and his predecessor have rendered themselves deaf to any changes that have ocurred, or will in future occur, in the pattern of parental opinion. I have been able to watch this process under way in my own constituency, which is now in the throes of moving to a totally comprehensive system.

A few years ago officers of the education authority went round to meetings attended by minorities of parents, explaining how the 11-plus exam could be abolished and, perhaps, understandably, they came away from these meetings with the impression that the parents endorsed their general strategy. But, of course, the parents were never told that reorganisation would entail the denial of any choice between single-sex and co-educational schools, nor were they told that it would mean erecting an iron curtain around the catchment areas of certain schools. Now that they have been denied this choice, which they had before, and now that an iron curtain separates their children from some of the schools traditionally open to them, the complaints come flooding in.

At the same time, all over the country there is a growing concern among parents about whether sufficient regard is being paid by education administrators to the maintenance and improvement of academic standards. Too often these appear to have been compromised in favour of what educational bureaucrats call the social and emotional development of children. This is why a growing number of Britain's parents demand the preservation of schools of proven academic worth, coupled with flexible or voluntary systems of selection for attainment, and flexible catchment areas. This is why parents in many areas are asking whether the price which they or their children are being asked to pay for the universal abolition of selection is not too great. This is why thousands of parents will arrive at Westminster tomorrow to lobby in support of the direct grant schools which sustain these academic standards and offer their children an academically orientated education which under this Government's policies will be available soon only to those who can afford to buy it.

While we are preserving schools of high academic attainment, we should be doing more at the same time to raise standards in the rest. "Preserve the best; improve the rest" is a good maxim to follow in secondary school policy. To this end, let all academic and other results achieved by all secondary schools—we know that there are some very good comprehensive schools among them—be published so that parents may judge the schools to which they entrust their children, and let the iron curtains surrounding too many of our schools' catchment areas be lifted so that parents may choose between the schools within reasonable reach of their homes. There is no legal basis for rigid zoning, and parents protesting against the dictates of authoritarian educational administrators deserve our full support.

The sad fact is that the rights of parents in the education of their children have diminished and are diminishing. It is Conservative Party policy to ensure that they are increased.

9.7 p.m.

Photo of Mr Stanley Thorne Mr Stanley Thorne , Preston South

The hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) made one or two references to good comprehensive schools and good grammar schools, and he raised this rather old argument about them existing side by side.

As one of those who were involved in the arguments in cities like Liverpool and elsewhere in the early 1960s, I attempted to work out with some educationists how possible it was to establish a comprehensive school with a grammar school. This took me on, as it has done many others, to a consideration of what the comprehensive school really is.

When we talk about a comprehensive school, we mean, amongst other things, not just that a wide range of subjects will be provided. We are talking also about a wide range of children. In most urban areas there is a wide range of ability amongst children. In many areas there are differences of class and home background, and in the comprehensive school which feeds a locality we are likely to find that widespread.

If we have a situation where we have a system of selection and we cream off from the community about 30 per cent. to grammar schools, clearly we take out that level of ability from the comprehensive schools.

Photo of Mr Keith Hampson Mr Keith Hampson , Ripon

In the big cities the proportion going to these schools is between 5 and 7 per cent. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman listened to his hon. Friend the Member for Durham (Mr. Hughes). Will he accept that there is no such thing as a purely comprehensive school? A school reflects the social and other factors of the environment and, therefore, it is impossible to get all abilities and all classes in one school.

Photo of Mr Stanley Thorne Mr Stanley Thorne , Preston South

There are very few areas where all sections of the community are represented in that sense. There are not any millionaires living around the corner from me, but there are some members of the lower middle class. In the main they are working-class people of mixed abilities. Some of them come from backgrounds where the income level ranges from £2,000 to £5,000 or £6,000 a year. In my view it is the people from within those groupings whom we are talking about when we refer to comprehensive schools.

I do not expect that people who vend their children to Eton will change that school for my local comprehensive school. Their motivations are different. Indeed, the motivations that have prompted this debate are quite different from those that exist on the Labour side of the House when we talk about education. It is clear that what this debate is about is protecting—as the Minister said in his reply—a few privileged people within our society at present. We have heard hon. Members from both sides of the House—including my hon. Friend the Member for Durham (Mr. Hughes)—use the term "good". However, I do not know what sort of definition has been given to a good school in this debate. It seems to me that that would obviously vary on the basis of our whole set of valuable criteria.

My hon. Friend the Member for Durham worried me for a while when he appeared to denigrate academic excellence. With due respect to him, it is only when people have got their degrees in their pocket that they begin to denigrate academic excellence. Having been a late developer who went to university at the age of 50 years, I am very conscious of that sort of approach. It seems to me that there are many children in comprehensive schools who would reach university and other levels, but that does not necessarily mean that their school is a good school.

I suggest that there are a number of aspects of the definition of a good school about which this Government, particularly, will experience great difficulty during the next few months. In our comprehensive schools and in our common secondary schools, when we have got them, we should be able to provide much smaller classes. I should like to see a tremendous input into educational expenditure, not the cuts in public expenditure that I rather fear this Government will be concerned with in a short space of time. I should also like to see a massive improvement in terms of equipment. I want the capital investment, which a school is, to cease to be a one-purpose institution and become a multi-purpose institution within the community.

I agree with the hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Gardiner) about parent and teacher involvement within the school. In my view, right across the board the community should be increasingly involved in our schools and in consequence we should begin to make them better schools. They might become good schools—I throw this in at risk of being accosted in so doing—if we abolish corporal punishment. Many Opposition Members have indicated in various speeches over the last 18 months that they would want to try to create some additional forms of discipline and punishment in the schools in view of the general talk about violence and indiscipline amongst young people. In my view, where there is iron discipline in the school, the organisation, like most organisations in our society, is hierarchically created. There is a pyramid of control from the head downwards, and the consumers, the children, are subjected to a whole set of bureaucratic rules. If they attempt to question them or ask a teacher to explain why they should conform with them, the teacher shrugs the matter off as not being his concern. The child is there to obey. If he does not obey, there is some appropriate system of punishment.

We get children to become good citizens—again, my hon. Friend the Member for Durham used that term—on the basis of their conformity with a set of values that we apply through rules in the schools. In my view, we must begin to question a number of those values. We may get some good schools if we accept that children at 11, 12, 13 and 14 are beginning to understand something about the community and the nature of society and are, therefore, entitled to question authority if authority imposes values on them which they resent, whether because of teachings in the family, church or elsewhere.

I shall conclude on this note, because I know that other hon. Members wish to speak in the debate. One point that perturbed me in the speech by the hon. Member for Chelmsford was his reference to the pluralist society and how we need to deal with differing moral views by ensuring—this is what he implied; if not, perhaps he will correct me—separate schools for certain moral views.

Photo of Mr Norman St John-Stevas Mr Norman St John-Stevas , Chelmsford

I am afraid that I did not express myself sufficiently clearly and the hon. Gentleman misunderstood me. I was speaking not about voluntary schools but about the problem of giving religious and moral instruction in the county schools, which are specifically not organised on a religious basis. It is that problem which is so urgent at this time.

Photo of Mr Stanley Thorne Mr Stanley Thorne , Preston South

That is precisely what I thought the hon. Gentleman meant. I am probably expressing myself badly. I live in an area where there are Catholic, Protestant and Jewish schools. In Northern Ireland there are Protestant and Catholic schools. The evidence of what has happened in Northern Ireland is not conducive to the conclusion that setting up separate institutions serves our purpose in a pluralist society. There are many Indian and Pakistani children attending secondary schools in my constituency. We are not suggesting—I know that some people are—the setting up of separate schools for Hindustani children. We talk about integration in their context. Therefore, it seems to me that the ideal community into which children from all moral, religious, political and philosophical persuasions come is the comprehensive school.

9.18 p.m.

Photo of Sir George Sinclair Sir George Sinclair , Dorking

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Hughes) has left the Chamber, because I was interested in his worries about selection problems when he was at his old university. The hon. Gentleman made no suggestion that universities should be open without selection. That is an important point. Life is full of selection. If it is right for the universities, why should it not be right for secondary schools?

Within our education system certain schools are reserved for those who are slow to learn. Also, we have schools for those who are gifted in music—for example, the Yehudi Menuhin School, on the borders of my constituency, again, we have the Royal Ballet School.

What logic is there in not having schools geared to providing a good pace for those who have above-average ability? I am talking not only about academic education. I believe, as do most hon. Members, that education is for life and, to use an old-fashioned concept, for service to the community. One way to serve the community fully is to develop to the full the capacities that an individual has been given. For that reason, I should like to see selection going on, but selection to provide the most appropriate form of education for children of different abilities. It is in existence now. I do not see why it should be abandoned. Those who say that it should be abandoned may suggest that our universities also should be open, but that would lead us to a crazy world and, luckily, I shall not see it.

Many hon. Members have referred to the 1944 Act. Few have gone back to the basic principle laid down by its co-authors, Lord Butler and Mr. Chuter Ede, both of whom were interested in people more than in systems. They stated the principle that "the most important factor in the life of a child is the interest and affection of its parents", and the framework of their Act was based upon that and upon giving the maximum choice to parents. No one says that there is for everybody a wide range of choice, but, for goodness sake, when we have some range of choice let us not blot that choice out.

At about this time last week, in Manchester, I attended a major rally at which nearly 2,000 parents assembled together to ask that the direct grant schools in that area—in Manchester, Bolton, Bury, Stockport, and round about—should not be wiped out. They came from all income groups, the speakers were from all income groups, and they made the plea that schools which had served their area and provided good opportunities for their children should not be blotted out for the sake of something as yet unproven and uneven in performance.

Where there are good comprehensive schools, I shall be the first to rejoice— and there will be many with me—because the value of those schools will affect, for the rest of its life, every child who passes through them. But let it not be thought that because many at present believe that comprehensive schools are the right pattern the comprehensive system is inevitably the only right answer.

I think that it was the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) when he was Secretary of State for Education, who said, about universities, that "a unitary system would imply an omniscience which we do not possess". The same applies to schools. We do not yet know enough about education to be dogmatic and to declare that this or that is the right system. If it is laid down that something is the right system for today, it will probably be the wrong system for tomorrow, but that system will have to apply over many years if it is established now in a single form.

I beg hon. Members opposite, therefore, to be a little sceptical about their own omniscience. I put that especially to Ministers when they think that they know what is the right form or the best form of school to give the best education to the widest possible range of children—children with all sorts of backgrounds and all sorts of abilities and hopes.

I remember an occasion when the hon. Lady the new Under-Secretary of State and I were debating another Bill—a Bill about marriage. She said that each person is unique, and two unique people join together in a marriage which is also unique—and she asked "In such a relationship who is to know what are the real causes which lead to a separation? We must find some wise person who will judge", she said, "we cannot legislate for it."

We cannot legislate now as to what is the best form of school for the changing society that we shall be facing in 10 or 15 years' time. In the meantime, do not let us wipe out schools that have served this country and whole communities so well. Hundreds of thousands of parents are up in arms. Many will be travelling to London during tonight and tomorrow to protest against the wiping out of good schools. We do not know the final answer about schools. We are only just beginning to find out, for example, the value of the rôle played by nursery schools, which were so well championed by the Under-Secretary of State. Who knows but that we ought to be spending a great deal more money on them and not using it in the building of grandiose and now admittedly too large comprehensive schools in the inner London area?

Parental choice is one of the things that will be narrowed for hundreds of thousands of parents over the next 10 years if we wipe out selective schools. It is claimed that these schools are socially divisive. Again and again during the past three months, I have talked to parents who have moved house. When I have asked them why, they have said, "Because the school here is good and the one on the other side is bad". They had the money to move house, and did so. But that is just as divisive economically as some of the other divisions are by ability, especially when one realises that a great number of the 174 schools affected already offer up to half their places free.

I make the plea that when the Secretary of State is considering what money he has to spend he should decide to spend it on things that really matter, and that he should not just wipe out good schools. He should not spend money on botched-up schemes joining secondary schools which are not unified in site or in outlook, or anything else. Why wipe out what has done really well in the past, and is doing well? The success of these schools is shown by the demands of the parents to get their children into them. When the last survey was taken, a vast majority of teachers—70 per cent.—were shown to be against the wiping out of selective schools.

If the Government's policy goes ahead, it will be held up to ridicule throughout the educated and civilised world. People will say, abroad, "Here you have a system of education which provides great variety and which is the envy of countries outside Britain. We are trying to get selective schools established, but you are wiping them out. You must be crazy to do it". I hope that the Government will decide not to do so.

9.28 p.m.

Photo of Dr Rhodes Boyson Dr Rhodes Boyson , Brent North

Much mention has been made in the debate of types of good school, what is a good school and how we can preserve good schools. There has been no threat, by the Secretary of State or anyone else, to wipe out good comprehensive schools. That has not been an issue.

What we have established in the debate is that there are many good direct grant schools, many good voluntary aided schools, and many good grammar schools. Those are the three types under threat. No one is wiping out good comprehensive schools. Yet, with one exception, no hon. Member has criticised the academic standards of the schools under threat. I know that Bernard Shaw said that when he went to Heaven he would suggest improvements. I am surprised that hon. Members opposite have not suggested that as direct grant schools send one third of their pupils to university and another third to other forms of higher education, if the 11-plus is not perfect, as we are told by hon. Members opposite, the direct schools do a remarkable job with their pupils.

Similarly, Emmanuel School, one of the voluntary aided schools in London, for years has sent one third of its pupils to university and another third to other forms of higher education. The hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Hughes) spoke as though it was all blackboards and chalk in the State sector and golden pens at Emmanuel, but, in fact, Emmanuel has a lower staffing ratio than the Inner London Education Authority's secondary schools. The ratio at Emmanuel is 1 to 17, whereas in State secondary schools in London it is 1 to 14·6. I remember that 17 years ago when I was the head of a secondary modern school in Lancashire we had a wider disparity, and I think that the hon. Member's conscience is bleeding a little too much tonight.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester) and my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Mr. Gardiner) spoke of the destruction of schools such as Emmanuel, Colfe's, Godolphin, Latymer—which I am glad to hear is likely to go completely independent—and William Ellis. They are being driven to total comprehensive or total independence. This is a disaster for our time.

Photo of Mr Peter Hardy Mr Peter Hardy , Rother Valley

I am sorry about that restriction. The point that the hon. Gentleman is making needs to be examined. He says that one third of the pupils from these schools go to university and one third into other forms of education. Do not these schools often take the top 1 per cent. in terms of intellectual ability as that is recognised by the 11-plus? Does not that mean that schools of this kind waste thousands and thousands of young people who in other schools would probably find themselves going to university?

Photo of Dr Rhodes Boyson Dr Rhodes Boyson , Brent North

I have never yet heard of an educational psychologist who knows of a test to identify the top 1 per cent. and I am sure that I should be glad to know. Naturally it is said that the direct grant schools take the top 10 per cent. The hon. Member speaks of a waste of talent, but let me point out something to him. In his book "All our Future" J. W. B. Douglas talks about the aspirations of high academic boys in comprehensive schools and high academic boys in grammar schools. Of the top 15 per cent. of academic boys in grammar schools, 60 per cent. expect to go to university. Of the top 15 per cent. in comprehensive schools, only 29 per cent., half as many, expect to go on to university. Is not that a great waste of talent? The figures have been published, and I commend the book to hon. Members opposite.

At present there are only two reasons why hon. Members opposite support the destruction of the good schools. One is that they believe that more academic education can be given to more children in comprehensive schools. The second is that it will help social mobility. I do not believe that the academic case for comprehensive schools as they exist in this country can be believed. Letters from the Department refer to Pedley's discredited evidence of 1966, 1967 and 1968. They also speak of the fact that since the introduction of comprehensive schools a greater proportion of pupils have stayed to the sixth form.

We can look at that the other way around. The Department of Education estimated that between 1965 and 1972 there would be a 44 per cent. increase in the number of pupils throughout the country obtaining two A-levels. In fact, during those seven years the increase was only 23 per cent. Thus, one can argue that the advent of the comprehensive system is the reason why we have fewer pupils with A-level passes than vacant university places. I am not arguing that, but it is a better argument than the usual nonsense put forward in favour of the opposite view.

There have been two reports by the National Foundation for Educational Research throwing doubt on the achievement of children in comprehensive schools in mathematics and other subjects. If in the ILEA there are to be mini-comprehensives of 450 pupils with a full spread of ability, it is unlikely that physics, higher mathematics and classics will be taught there.

There is the argument about mobility, assuming that we believe in mobility in a population so that people may move into the occupations for which they are best suited. Dr. Halsey spoke last night in the "Sunday Debate" about positive discrimination. The best form of positive discrimination we have ever had was the grammar school, which took a boy from a deprived environment in a city centre, placed him in an academic atmosphere and sent him on to university. It was said in 1967 by a then Labour Minister that a higher proportion of working-class children in this country went to universities than in any other country. What we are seeing now is the growth of apartheid neighbourhood comprehensive schools in the middle of our cities. They can be called community schools or whatever. The smaller they are, the more apartheid in nature they become. At a size of 450 they will be one block of flats moved from one clearance area to another. A full comprehensive mix will not exist.

What will happen to the London voluntary aided grammar schools and to the direct grant schools? The artisan working-class and the middle class will move out of London if these schools are destroyed. Figures show that it is expected that half the children who would have expected to go to such schools will either be sent to independent schools or will move with their families out of London. The centre of London will become even more of a ghetto than is currently threatened.

Last Friday evening I was speaking in Lincolnshire. I met many families who had moved from London because of their distrust of the neighbourhood comprehensive school. This may be an unfair statement, but I sometimes wonder whether the Labour Party aims at having only council houses in the middle of cities. Council houses are tied cottages, their occupants having a mobility rate of only one-fifth that of owner-occupiers. If there is to be this concentration of council housing in the centre of cities, together with neighbourhood comprehensive schools, there will be rotten boroughs or pocket boroughs belonging to the Labour Party on a scale that will make the eighteenth century pocket boroughs look quite insignificant.

Much is made about the subject of choice by Labour Members. They say that only 15 per cent. of children have a choice. Why cannot we increase that choice? The test of a libertarian society as against an authoritarian one lies in the degree of choice. Are we giving more choice or taking it away from those who have it? It is true to say that parents and pupils will co-operate with a school only when they have chosen it. They will not co-operate with schools to which they have been driven.

I was the head of a secondary modern school which was over-subscribed. People opted for that school and co-operated in a first-class fashion. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) and the hon. Member for Durham were right to say that there must be an involvement of the parent with the school. That will come only as a result of choice and not of direction. We shall never reach the point when education is static. We halve never finished one form of educational reorganisation before we start the next. The education systems in eastern Europe and Russia are sound—and we must recognise soundness wherever we find it. Having been totally comprehensive until 1931, they took a step backwards because they believed that they had to look after their talent and ensure that they could compete in the world—which will not be the case if the system which the Labour Party advocates in Britain becomes a reality.

In Hungary at present there are 500 primary schools which specialise in subjects ranging over mathematics, gymnast- tics, Russian, music and even Esperanto which account for 6·5 per cent. of the pupils in Hungarian primary schools.

We all know about the scientific and mathematical schools in Russia, 80 per cent. of whose pupils move on to take university degrees. Perhaps we need highly specialised schools of that type. The United States is beginning to think along these lines, and perhaps the direct grant and grammar schools are a means to that end.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John Stevas) said, Conservative Members would like a sustained look to be taken at our education system. Perhaps we need a moratorium of change which would enable direct grant and voluntary aided schools to do their job together and perhaps we should examine the workings of the comprehensive school.

Some comprehensive schools are good. Last Friday I visited one in Neasden. It was one of the best I had seen for a long time. However, there are others which offer an education which is worse than that given by any school in this country for one hundred years and where the deprivation is equal to that given to many chimney boys at the time of the Industrial Revolution.

We should accept the offer made by my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford and review what is being done. The results should be published. We should examine why some schools are successful and how success can be achieved in the future. Conservative Members do not want a world in which excellence and merit are accepted only in the sphere of sport and music, which the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud) threatened. Nor do we want a society in which academic achievement is discounted because all cannot achieve it. This will mean a levelling down, not a levelling up, in the standard of education.

I am sure that some hon. Members read the Evening News—[Laughter.]—not the elitists who laugh at that paper. We all know of the élitism of the Tribune Group. On 15th April I wrote a full-page article explaining the disadvantages of the schools in the ILEA. Tyrell Burgess, a member of the Inner London Education Authority and a lecturer at a polytechnic, wrote an article defending the ILEA. The newspaper said: Let the great debate commence—you tell us what you think. After seven days the article had not been published, and I inquired why. I was told that not one letter had been received in support of the ILEA or the statement by Tyrell Burgess. The newspaper published it the following night. Not one teacher, parent or child supported the views of Mr. Burgess. I am sorry for the honourable dinosaurs on the Labour benches, but this should be part of their reading in the future.

I should like to refer to the words of Dr. Walter Hamilton in 1966. He is now the distinguished Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. He said: No power on earth can make all schools equally good, but it may be possible to come and do deals nearer to making them equally bad". If the Labour Party continues with its present policies, that is what will be achieved and that is what we are opposing.

9.44 p.m.

Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eton and Slough

Although this debate was supposed to be about the preservation of good schools, with some relation to my right hon. Friend's salary—which I hope does not include mine—two or three things could have been taken for granted from the start. One was that we would get no definition of a good school. The second was that it was reasonable to expect, as I did, every Conservative Member, to a greater or lesser extent but mostly greater, to talk about direct grant schools. I should therefore like to make one or two points about those schools, although I do not intend to use my time to talk about them very much. After all, they represent only a minority of the children in the education system; right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have neglected the majority of children.

When we discussed selection at 11-plus, one of the strongest points made against those who said "Children have an equal opportunity to go to a grammar school," was always the geographical maldistribution of the grammar school—even if one accepted, as we did not, that it was a good school for certain groups of children to attend. In fact, the availability of grammar school places varied enormously throughout the country. The same is true of the direct grant schools, which Conservative Members are so keen to defend—[An HON. MEMBER: "SO what?"] If the hon. Member will wait, I shall tell him. When people defend the right of children to be selected for direct grant schools, their argument depends upon where those schools are and which parents have those rights. What no one has mentioned is that the 173 direct grant schools are mainly in towns, with a heavy concentration in the North and North-West. Over a quarter, including half the Roman Catholic schools, are in the North-West—23, for example, in Greater Manchester—20 in Greater London, 7 in Bristol, six in Newcastle and only four in Wales. There is none in Buckinghamshire, the Isle of Wight, Cumbria, Northumberland or Derbyshire. I wonder how all those authorities manage to cope without direct grant schools.

We have had no definition of a "good school". I should like to run through some of the things said by hon. Members opposite. First, I would welcome the hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson) on his first appearance at the Dispatch Box. Some interesting arguments have been made. The hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) said that grammar and comprehensive schools could exist happily together, including direct grant schools and all other forms of selection in that statement.

The hon. Member for Brent, North made the point excellently in the Black Paper II for whose production he is so well known. He said: A balanced ability intake is essential. Each local authority has the choice of a bipartite system of grammar and secondary modern schools or of full comprehensive schools in its area. One cannot have grammar schools alongside comprehensive schools or the latter will be nothing but misnamed secondary modern schools.

Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eton and Slough

If the hon. Gentleman is going to tell me that that is out of date, I shall come to a more recent quotation.

Photo of Dr Rhodes Boyson Dr Rhodes Boyson , Brent North

By all means: I am always interested in hearing my quotes. That was written in 1966, when I presumed that comprehensive schools would be academic. The hon. Lady's leader, the then Prime Minister, said that they would offer a grammar school education for all. In fact, they are finishing up by offering a grammar school education for none. Now that they are non-academic, that cannot be said.

Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eton and Slough

I have been very generous, but the hon. Gentleman cannot start making a speech now. He should write another article saying how wrong he was in 1966. He asked about the Inner London Education Authority and the mistakes that he said it had made. In that same article, he went on to refer to a right to take an intake balanced in each ability group equal to the balance throughout London. This seemed and seems the only definition of a comprehensive school which has real meaning. I accept that completely. That is a good definition of what we are aiming at in the comprehensive schools.

The hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Morrison) said that he would like to monitor the success and failure of comprehensive schools. Unfortunately, the hon. Member did not say what he meant by success and failure. I, too, would frequently like to do that, but I shall give a definition later. I should like to do that in relation to direct grant schools and all sorts of arguments.

One of the arguments adduced by Conservative Members is that one-third of the children who go to direct grant schools do not go on to higher education. Some direct grant schools are amongst the largest in the country. Manchester Grammar School, with a pupil population of 1,400, compares with an average comprehensive school of 900.

The hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) spoke about human rights and said that parents must have the right to choose. It is no good hon. Members saying that we must preserve the right of parents to choose the school for their child. The fact is—I should have thought that every hon. Member opposite would know this; hon. Members on this side certainly know it—that every year when children are being placed in schools there is a queue of adults forming to say "I do not want that school for my child. I want this school."

The overwhelming majority of working class people have never had a choice of school to which to send their children.

Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eton and Slough

I shall not give way. I gave way to the hon. Member for Brent, North and he took up a great deal of my time. I have no intention of giving way again. I did not interrupt the hon. and learned Gentleman. I am saying that working class parents have never had the right to choose a school for their children. That choice has been applied to a minority of parents. I do not regard that as human rights at all. I regard that as a certain privilege and a speciality, even, if one accepts the definition of success that hon. Members have used for a small minority of parents, because it militates, incidentally, against the progress and development of other children in our society, certainly against the privilege of job opportunity.

Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eton and Slough

I am sorry, but I do not intend to give way. I agreed to take a quarter of an hour on my speech. I have given way to the hon. Member for Brent, North. I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to contain himself. He can always write to me, come to see me, or raise the matter at Question Time.

A point was made about developing horses. I know nothing about racehorses, but I think the argument was that nowadays there was no desire to develop any good horses; we wanted them all to be equal, and then none would win. I always think that one of the tragic or interesting things about racehorses is that they are not fit for anything else. One develops excellence in racehorses, but what are they useful for afterwards? They are useful for nothing. That is all they are useful for. It is precisely the same with a large number of people who have a narrow and blinkered education in our society.

The hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Gardiner) raised the question of single-sex schools. I was not sure of his point. He said that we were, first, going against people's views about comprehensive education. Twice in 1974 the people voted for the Labour Party's programme, and education was one of the big issues that many of us discussed during the election campaign.

The hon. Member talked about the abolition of single-sex schools. I should have thought that it was made perfectly clear on Wednesday evening and in the early hours of Thursday morning that the Sex Discrimination Bill did not include the abolition of single-sex schools. I should have thought that everyone would be aware of that.

Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eton and Slough

I have no intention of giving way. The hon. Gentleman must contain himself. He then made a most interesting point, with which I agree. He asked whether we wanted to abolish university selection. I will tell the House why I believe that university selection is unfair in its present form. It is all right for a pupil who goes through the system of education which allows him to go on to university at 18 or 19. But for a person who has to leave school at the earliest possible moment and who then tries, a few years later, to get into university when he has the wherewithal and the means to do so, everything is stacked against him.

It cannot be said that selection for university is fair or that the system can be defended as it operates at present. It is a most difficult task for a person who has to leave school at the earliest possible moment to go to work, later to get into a university or to receive higher education. We have all had experience of trying to get grants from local authorities which say that they are not giving grants this year for that purpose or who give such a meagre grant that many people who want to get to university are unable to do so.

People mean various things when they talk about good schools. Clearly, what spokesmen on the Opposition benches—with the exception of the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith)—mean by good schools are direct grant schools, because they all talked about direct grant schools.

Photo of Miss Joan Lestor Miss Joan Lestor , Eton and Slough

I make another exception for the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack). Some hon. Gentlemen spoke of grammar schools. The hon. Member for Chelmsford referred to other good schools. He did not say which schools they were or how he judged them. He concentrated most of his remarks on selection and the preservation of schools which he considered reached certain academic standards. Several hon. Members referred to academic excellence.

Good schools are the schools which make the most difference to a child—schools which develop a child's potential to the full, open opportunities and widen the child's horizons. A good school is a school which not only compensates a child for a deprived or inadequate background but helps a child who has been so steeped in the academic ambitions of his parents that his natural aptitudes and abilities are held down and he cannot do what he wants to do because of the ideas and ambitions of his parents.

That is why my hon. Friends and I believe that it is not a question of preserving one school against another school. It is a question of offering all types of education within our State comprehensive schools to children with widely differing social backgrounds and abilities. It is not a matter of one school concentrating on one aspect and a second school on another, but of a comprehensive system of education which embodies all aspects and caters for all children of varying abilities, aptitudes and backgrounds, so that they can choose the way they want to go.

As I said, Opposition Members concentrated on the preservation of direct grant and grammar schools. I regret that nothing has been said about our excellent comprehensive primary schools, which offer the widest opportunities for all children with differing social and economic backgrounds and differing abilities. I defend those schools, and any idea of polluting them with more examinations and selection disrupts their whole purpose.

The primary school is a comprehensive school in every sense of the word. People come from overseas to see our primary schools, and they are held up as an example of what we can do in education for a variety of children of different aptitudes and abilities. That is why we shall go ahead and get rid of direct grant schools, get rid of selection, and develop a fully comprehensive system of education that is not inhibited and does not preserve a system of selection that divides our children into the so-called success and failures.

Question put,That Subhead D1, Item (1), Salaries &c. of Ministers, be reduced by £1,000.

The House divided: Ayes 262, Noes 296.

Division No. 243.]AYES[10.00 p.m.
Adley, RobertGardiner, George (Reigate)Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)
Aitken, JonathanGardner, Edward (S Fylde)McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Alison, MichaelGilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Amery, Rt Hon JulianGilmour, Sir John (East Fife)Madel, David
Arnold, TomGlyn, Dr AlanMarshall, Michael (Arundel)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)Godber, Rt Hon JosephMarten, Neil
Awdry, DanielGoodhart, PhilipMates, Michael
Baker, KennethGoodhew, VictorMather, Carol
Bell, RonaldGoodlad, AlastairMaude, Angus
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)Gorst, JohnMawby, Ray
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Benyon, W.Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)Mayhew, Patrick
Berry, Hon AnthonyGrant, Anthony (Harrow C)Meyer, Sir Anthony
Biffen, JohnGray, HamishMiller, Hal (Bromsgrove)
Biggs-Davison, JohnGrieve, PercyMills, Peter
Blaker, PeterGriffiths, EldonMiscampbell, Norman
Boscawen, Hon RobertGrist, IanMitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)Grylls, MichaelMoate, Roger
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)Hall, Sir JohnMolyneaux, James
Braine, Sir BernardHall-Davis, A. G. F.Monro, Hector
Brittan, LeonHamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Montgomery, Fergus
Brotherton, MichaelHampson, Dr KeithMoore, John (Croydon C)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Hannam, JohnMore, Jasper (Ludlow)
Bryan, Sir PaulHarrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye)Morgan, Geraint
Buchanan-Smith, AlickHarvie Anderson, Rt Hon MissMorgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral
Buck, AntonyHastings, StephenMorris, Michael (Northampton S)
Budgen, NickHavers, Sir MichaelMorrison, Charles (Devizes)
Bulmer, EsmondHawkins, PaulMorrison, Hon Peter (Chester)
Burden, F. A.Hayhoe, BarneyMudd, David
Carlisle, MarkHeseltine, MichaelNeave, Airey
Carr, Rt Hon RobertHicks, RobertNelson, Anthony
Chalker, Mrs LyndaHiggins, Terence L.Neubert, Michael
Churchill, W. S.Holland, PhilipNewton, Tony
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)Hordern, PeterNott, John
Clark, William (Croydon S)Howe, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyOnslow, Cranley
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Howell, David (Guildford)Oppenheim, Mrs Sally
Clegg, WalterHowell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Page, John (Harrow West)
Cockcroft, JohnHunt, JohnPage, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)Hurd, DouglasPattie, Geoffrey
Cope, JohnHutchison, Michael ClarkPercival, Ian
Cordle, John H.Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Peyton, Rt Hon John
Cormack, PatrickIrving, Charles (Cheltenham)Pink, R. Bonner
Corrie, JohnJames, DavidPowell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Costain, A. P.Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd)Price, David (Eastleigh)
Critchley, JulianJessel, TobyPrior, Rt Hon James
Crouch, DavidJohnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Crowder, F. P.Jones, Arthur (Daventry)Raison, Timothy
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford)Jopling, MichaelRathbone, Tim
Dean, Paul (N Somerset)Joseph, Rt Hon Sir KeithRawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Dodsworth, GeoffreyKaberry, Sir DonaldRees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesKellett-Bowman, Mrs ElaineRees-Davies, W. R.
Drayson, BurnabyKershaw, AnthonyRenton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
du Cann, Rt Hon EdwardKilfedder, JamesRenton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Durant, TonyKimball, MarcusRhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Dykes, HughKing, Evelyn (South Dorset)Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Eden, Rt Hon Sir JohnKing, Tom (Bridgwater)Ridsdale, Julian
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)Kitson, Sir TimothyRippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Elliott, Sir WilliamKnight, Mrs JillRoberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Emery, PeterKnox, DavidRoberts, Wyn (Conway)
Eyre, ReginaldLamont, NormanRodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Fairbairn, NicholasLane, DavidRossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Fairgrieve, RussellLangford-Holt, Sir JohnRost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Farr, JohnLatham, Michael (Melton)Royle, Sir Anthony
Fell, AnthonyLawrence, IvanSainsbury, Tim
Finsberg, GeoffreyLawson, NigelSt. John-Stevas, Norman
Fisher, Sir NigelLe Marchant, SpencerScott, Nicholas
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N)Lester, Jim (Beeston)Scott-Hopkins, James
Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesLewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Fookes, Miss JanetLloyd, IanShaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)Loveridge, JohnShelton, William (Streatham)
Fox, MarcusMcAdden, Sir StephenShersby, Michael
Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St)McCrindle, RobertSilvester, Fred
Fry, PeterMacfarlane, NeilSinclair, Sir George
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.MacGregor, JohnSims, Roger
Skeet, T. H. H.Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)Walters, Dennis
Smith, Dudley (Warwick)Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)Warren, Kenneth
Speed, KeithTebbit, NormanWeatherill, Bernard
Spence, JohnTemple-Morris, PeterWells, John
Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)Thatcher, Rt Hon MargaretWhitelaw, Rt Hon William
Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)Wiggin, Jerry
Sproat, IainTownsend, Cyril D.Winterton, Nicholas
Stainlon, KeithTrotter, NevilleWood, Rt Hon Richard
Stanbrook, IvorTugendhat, ChristopherYoung, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Stanley, Johnvan Straubenzee, W. R.Younger, Hon George
Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)Viggers, PeterTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Stokes, JohnWalker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)Mr Adam Butler and
Stradling Thomas, J.Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir DerekMr. Cecil Parkinson.
Tapsell, PeterWall, Patrick
NOES
Abse, LeoDoig, PeterJohn, Brynmor
Allaun, FrankDormand, J. D.Johnson, James (Hull West)
Anderson, DonaldDouglas-Mann, BruceJohnson, Walter (Derby S)
Archer, PeterDuffy, A. E. P.Jones, Alec (Rhondda)
Ashley, JackDunn, James A.Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Ashton, JoeDunnett, JackJones, Dan (Burnley)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)Dunwoody, Mrs GwynethJudd, Frank
Atkinson, NormanEadie, AlexKaufman, Gerald
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Edelman, MauriceKelley, Richard
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)Kerr, Russell
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Bates, AlfEllis, Tom (Wrexham)Kinnock, Neil
Bean, R. E.English, MichaelLambie, David
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony WedgwordEvans, Fred (Caerphilly)Lamborn, Harry
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N.)Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)Lamond, James
Bidwell, SydneyEvans, John (Newton)Leadbitter, Ted
Bishop, E. S.Ewing, Harry (Stirling)Lee, John
Blenkinsop, ArthurFaulds, AndrewLestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)
Booth, AlbertFernyhough, Rt Hon E.Lever, Rt Hon Harold
Boothroyd, Miss BettyFitch, Alan (Wigan)Lewis, Arthur (Newham N)
Bottomley, Rt Hon ArthurFlannery, MartinLewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Boyden, James (Bish Auck)Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)Lipton, Marcus
Bradley, TomFletcher, Ted (Darlington)Litterick, Tom
Bray, Dr JeremyFoot, Rt Hon MichaelLomas, Kenneth
Broughton, Sir AlfredFord, BenLoyden, Eddie
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Forrester, JohnLuard, Evan
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)Lyon, Alexander (York)
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)
Buchan, NormanFreeson, ReginaldMabon, Dr J. Dickson
Buchanan, RichardFreud, ClementMcCartney, Hugh
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)Garrett, John (Norwich S)McElhone, Frank
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)McGuire, Michael (Ince)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)Gilbert, Dr JohnMackenzie, Gregor
Campbell, IanGinsburg, DavidMackintosh, John P.
Canavan, DennisGolding, JohnMaclennan, Robert
Cant, R. B.Gould, BryanMcMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)
Carmichael, NeilGourlay, HarryMcNamara, Kevin
Carter, RayGraham, TedMadden, Max
Carter-Jones, LewisGrant, John (Islington C)Magee, Bryan
Cartwright, JohnGrocott, BruceMahon, Simon
Castle, Rt Hon BarbaraHamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Clemitson, IvorHardy, PeterMarks, Kenneth
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S)Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)Marquand, David
Cohen, StanleyHart, Rt Hon JudithMarshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Coleman, DonaldHattersley, Rt Hon RoyMason, Rt Hon Roy
Concannon, J. D.Hatton, FrankMaynard, Miss Joan
Conlan, BernardHayman, Mrs HeleneMeacher, Michael
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)Healey, Rt Hon DenisMellish, Rt Hon Robert
Corbett, RobinHeffer, Eric S.Mendelson, John
Cox, Thomas (Tooting)Hooley, FrankMillan, Bruce
Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)Hooson, EmlynMiller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Cronin, JohnHoram, JohnMitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)
Crosland, Rt Hon AnthonyHowell, Denis (B'ham, Sm H)Molloy, William
Cryer, BobHowells, Geraint (Cardigan)Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Cunningham, G. (Islington S)Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh)Huckfieid, LesMorris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Dalyell, TamHughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Davidson, ArthurHughes, Mark (Durham)Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Newens, Stanley
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)Hughes, Roy (Newport)Noble, Mike
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Hunter, AdamOakes, Gordon
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)Ogden, Eric
Deakins, EricIrving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)O'Halloran, Michael
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)O'Malley, Rt Hon Brian
de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyJanner, GrevilleOrbach, Maurice
Delargy, HughJay, Rt Hon DouglasOvenden, John
Dell, Rt Hon EdmundJeger, Mrs LenaOwen, Dr David
Dempsey, JamesJenkins, Hugh (Putney)Padley, Walter
Palmer, ArthurSilkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Park, GeorgeSilkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)
Parker, JohnSnape, PeterWalker, Harold (Doncaster)
Parry, RobertSpearing, NigelWalker, Terry (Kingswood)
Pavitt, LaurieSpriggs, LeslieWard, Michael
Pendry, TomStallard, A. W.Watkins, David
Penhaligon, DavidSteel, David (Roxburgh)Watkinson, John
Phipps, Dr ColinStewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)Weetch, Ken
Prescott, JohnSillars, JamesWeitzman, David
Price, C. (Lewisham W)Silverman, JuliusWellbeloved, James
Price, William (Rugby)Skinner, DennisWhite, Frank R. (Bury)
Radice, GilesSmall, WilliamWhite, James (Pollock)
Richardson, Miss JoSmith, Cyril (Rochdale)Whitehead, Phillip
Roberts, Albert (Normanton)Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)Whitlock, William
Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)Stoddart, DavidWigley, Dafydd
Robertson, John (Paisley)Stott, RogerWilley, Rt Hon Frederick
Roderick, CaerwynStrang, GavinWilliams, Alan (Swansea W)
Rodgers, George (Chorley)Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Rodgers, William (Stockton)Swain, ThomasWilliams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Roper, JohnTaylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Rose, Paul B.Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)Wilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)
Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Rowlands, TedThorne, Stan (Preston South)Wise, Mrs Audrey
Ryman, JohnTierney, SydneyWoodall, Alec
Sandelson, NevilleTinn, JamesWoof, Robert
Sedgemore, BrianTomlinson, JohnWrigglesworth, Ian
Selby, HarryTomney, FrankYoung, David (Bolton E)
Shaw, Arnold (Illord South)Torney, Tom
Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)Tuck, RaphaelTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)Urwin, T. W.Mr. James Hamilton and
Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.Mr. Joseph Harper.

Question accordingly negatived.

Original Question again proposed.

It being after Ten o'clock the debate stood adjourned.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Pendry.]