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Standards of Literacy and Numeracy to Be Achieved by Pupils

New Clause 3 – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th June 1976.

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'(1) The Secretary of State shall establish national minimum standards of literacy and numeracy to be attained by all pupils who have reached the age of ten years and six months, or at an age to be determined by the Secretary of State, and local authorities are required to establish a system of testing pupils who have attained the age of ten years and six months as soon as may be after the attainment of that age, such tests to include an assessment of the standard of literacy and numeracy achieved by the pupil in order to establish the child's future educational requirements.

(2) Where a pupil's attainment in literacy and numeracy at that age specified is found to be below the minimum national standards established by the Secretary of State under this section, the local authority shall be required to provide immediate remedial education, and transfer to secondary school, or to the senior school in a middle school system, may be delayed for up to one year as may be deemed necessary in order to raise the standard of attainment in literacy and numeracy for that child to the minimum national standard prior to entry'.—[Dr. Boyson.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

7.30 p.m.

Photo of Dr Rhodes Boyson Dr Rhodes Boyson , Brent North

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

This clause follows on remarks made at Question Time today relating to the basic standards of literacy and numeracy, on which there were comments from both sides of the House. The clause would bring in, through the Secretary of State, an examination involving a minimum standard test at the age of 10 years and six months for all children and would afterwards make provision for those who did not attain the minimum hurdle at that time.

It is important to say that this is not a new 11-plus test, which was a selective test and became unpopular because of the very fact that it was selective. This is a minimum hurdle, which all children without brain damage and who are well taught and have attended school regularly should attain by the age of 10 years and six months. If they do not attain it by that age they will be severely handicapped when they go on to secondary school. One can almost say that they will be unable to fulfil the requirements for secondary school education.

When the first move was made for State education between 1870 and 1876, it was presumed in evidence to the Newcastle Commission that minimum standards would be in force in all schools, so that it would not matter which school a child attended. When people use as a credit the difference in methods, approach, and achievement between schools it makes it more essential that, however different schools are in approach and method, they should all fulfil a minimum requirement of basic education. It is immoral and against all the feelings of those who brought in State education, to compel compulsory attendance without any guarantee of minimum standards, irrespective of the school that the child is attending. The indignation felt by many parents at the moment comes from the fact that children are often directed to neighbourhood primary and secondary schools whose standards are low, and they know that later their children's opportunities will be lessened because of the deprivation of those schools.

The test that we are proposing is not just another 11-plus test, with a starred honours board on the wall; it means that pupils and schools who do not attain these minimum standards will be picked out. If schools are doing badly year after year, with a low achievement rate, something should be done about them. Only two years ago the Labour Party said, in a Green Paper, that something would have to be done about the schools in which children were consistently under-achieving, compared with other schools.

We see and hear a lot about falling standards in our schools today; indeed, the Bennett Report itself refers to the fact that standards in many schools are such that hon. Members would not want to send their children to those schools. Yet they are State schools, for which local authorities and ultimately the Government in some way are responsible.

We read that between 1964 and 1972 there was a falling-off in literacy among children who were tested. This falling off was about three and a half months in reading ability at the age of 11. Similar findings came from the Horton Report, in Wales, and even the Bullock Report. Sometimes the Bullock Report reads like a Chinese Maoist book. I am only a simple layman but as far as I can decipher what it means I believe that it says that children are not doing as well as they did before.

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

I am concerned about the hon. Member calling himself "a simple layman". If that is what he is, what are the rest of us?

Photo of Dr Rhodes Boyson Dr Rhodes Boyson , Brent North

My description of the Liberal Party would have to be different from that which I apply to the rest of the House. I shall not go into that now. But we are simple laymen; we are not psychological testers. Even after long experience in education, I still regard myself as a simple layman. We find that more and more people, when talking about education, talk in terms that we do not understand. The Bullock Committee attained this achievement in as short a time as anyone. But I am not concerned about them; I am concerned about what the children of ordinary parents achieve in schools, and that should be the concern of every hon. Member.

One might ask why we need these tests. In one sense the end of the 11-plus as a selective examination meant its end as an achievement examination. I refer here to the Bennett Report, which states that The presence of a selective examination at the age of 11 is related to superior progress, particularly in reading, and most noticeably in informal classrooms. We treated the 11-plus examination like the plague, but although it may not have achieved an ideal selection it did lead to higher standards in informal schools. That is one of the few straight statements in the Bennett Report, and it is difficult to misinterpret it. Some people might not agree with it, but they could not misinterpret it. The end of the 11-plus examination does mean increased teacher freedom and freedom for heads to change their schools. But parents want stability in schools that their children are attending, and the disappearance of that test means a decline in standards.

One often wonders what is being done by the large numbers of local inspectors and Government inspectors. Are they going into schools to see what is happening? Are they carrying out the normal tests? We had a report that said that local education authority inspectors spent only 5 per cent. of their time inspecting. If that is so, why call them inspectors? Why not call them by the name that is most appropriate to what they spend 95 per cent. of their time doing? We are Members of Parliament, and we certainly spend more than 5 per cent. of our time here. We often think, and our wives think, that we spend too much time here. I suggest that the Inspectorate should be called an Inspectorate only when it returns to inspecting schools and making sure there are proper achievements within them.

There is a disagreement about formal and informal teaching methods. My view on this matter is that a brilliant teacher can teach a child by any method, but a poor teacher would have a riot with a dead rabbit. About 80 per cent. of teachers achieve good standards within a formal framework, but there has been a breakdown in that framework. If teachers teach in the way in which they believe and most enjoy, they are most likely to achieve results in the classroom, irrespective of the label that we put on the school structure. It is nothing to do with the age of the building or even the pupil/teacher ratio.

This new clause is very important. It points the way to developments that should come. There is a test at 10 years and six months. Instead of writing off children who do not pass, which is what is happening now, something has to be achieved. If these children are fortunate they go to a school that is prepared to do something about them, but we cannot have children in non-streamed schools who are not up to normal reading and numerical standards at the age of 11. They will become bloody-minded and delinquent as they get left behind. Many of our problems arise from the fact that children are moved up automatically, irrespective of the standards that they achieve.

We heard a lot about Tameside today on an earlier amendment, but in London, at one time, between one-quarter and one-third of the children transferring at 11 in divisions north of the river had to be given some form of remedial treatment before starting a normal secondary course. At Highbury Grove School, of which I have some knowledge, 85 of the 240 children who came were put in the remedial department for treatment for a year or longer, before they could cope with normal work and manage the normal secondary school curriculum. They are the ones we should be worrying about and passing Acts of Parliament to help. They are the problem. We should be concerned not with the organisation of schools but with the teaching in the classroom, the lack of achievement, and also with the satisfaction at the lack of achievement that exists in many of our cities with these kind of children.

We can look back to former times and talk about the Industrial Revolution, which is so beloved of Left-wing agitators. They forget, of course, that it was the Industrial Revolution that put an end to chimney boys. Children who pass on to secondary schools and who cannot read and write are every bit the equal of the chimney boys of the nineteenth century. They suffer from what Jenks calls "intellectual poverty"—an inability to fit in with other children. It is that which adds to problems later in their lives, when we have difficulties over welfare, delinquency, and so on.

Something must be done about these children. They could be transferred to schools with special remedial departments, but whatever is done, before they move on to ordinary secondary schools they must be brought up to the level of other children. It is no good Labour Members saying that these children are not left to sink, because many of them are. In some foreign countries and in some parts of this country there used to be special summer courses for children who were not up to standard at the age of 11. They had to reach that standard before they could enter secondary school. Crash courses were organised for two weeks in the summer, with teachers given extra money to do the job. It is true that education is short of money at present, but no money could be better spent than on ensuring that at the end of the summer these children could be moved into secondary schools with the appropriate standards of numeracy and literacy.

This test at the age of 10½ is not simply another form of the 11-plus; it is an alarm bell, to show that something is wrong with some children and, in some cases, with certain schools. There is nothing party political in the suggestion, because all parties believe in some form of accountability in schools—some method of testing what has been achieved. This proposal would not merely test what had been achieved; it would ensure that children were brought up to the correct standard.

This is not a high hurdle; it is something that all children with an IQ of 70 who are not educationally subnormal and are without brain damage could achieve by the age of 10½, given regular school attendance and minimal home support. It would show that the children were able to move to a secondary school not only because of their age but because they had achieved an adequate standard of literacy and numeracy.

Photo of Miss Margaret Jackson Miss Margaret Jackson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Education and Science)

The hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson) has made an interesting contribution to the debate. The clause, however, is based on two faulty assumptions. The first, which the hon. Member hardly discussed, is that suitable tests which can be used in the way he suggests are agreed to exist. The second faulty assumption is not just that suitable methods exist for making national assessments but that their results should be applied in the way he proposes.

The hon. Member referred to the Bullock Report. That report suggested that we need criteria for defining literacy and new monitoring arrangements. That is why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has set up the assessment of performance unit. It will promote the development of suitable tests for both literacy and numeracy. The first part of the clause is therefore somewhat defective in assuming that tests have already been developed.

I do not suggest, of course, that the Department is opposed to the establishment of adequate standards in schools. My right hon. Friend has made very plain, particularly over the past few weeks and in the setting up of the unit, that he is extremely concerned that adequate standards of education should be provided in all our schools. Where we disagree with the Conservatives is in the best way of seeking to obtain those standards.

The most interesting question about the clause is whether it implies sonic kind of new 11-plus examination. There is a fascinating schizophrenia on the Conservative side in this matter. The Conservatives assure us that their party is not in favour of the 11-plus and that it recognises all the difficulties inherent in it, yet whenever they embark upon a discussion of this kind they cannot refrain from describing how admirable was the 11-plus and what good results it produced.

7.45 p.m.

The hon. Member produced a classic example of that when he quoted a section of the Bennett Report which refers to the progress of pupils in informal classes in a system where the 11-plus operated. But that applied only to three classes, which was not a particularly large sample from which to draw a conclusion, even if one accepts the straightforward proposition that the 11-plus contributed to higher standards of education, without examining other relevant factors. Those other factors are whether the children were practised in doing tests and whether the tests chosen gave an automatic preference to those children. Even if one accepted that proposition, three classes are not much of a sample from which to draw a conclusion.

Photo of Dr Rhodes Boyson Dr Rhodes Boyson , Brent North

I regret it if my bringing in informal education confused the issue. The message of the Bennett Report is that classes of any type which employed the 11-plus had higher standards than those which did not. In considering informal education, it is worth noting that the best informal teacher in the report had her own child in the class preparing to sit an examination that year.

Photo of Miss Margaret Jackson Miss Margaret Jackson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Education and Science)

I made the point about the number of informal classes without accepting in any way the hon. Member's assumption that children in a class which operates the 11-plus perform better. Regard must be paid to the kind of tests involved. However, these are issues which are being carefully examined in the Department, and we are not leaping to any conclusions.

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack , Staffordshire South West

Would it not have been better to await the results of that examination before producing the Bill?

Photo of Miss Margaret Jackson Miss Margaret Jackson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Education and Science)

No. This sort of research is carried out over a considerable period of years and we could not simply wait for the results of a particular research project.

I do not wish to discuss the general merits of the 11-plus since the hon. Member for Brent, North assured us that it is not linked with the intentions of the new clause. He says that the clause relates to establishing some kind of national minimum standards. If one accepts that, one still faces the assumption that the only thing that was objectionable about the 11-plus was that it was part of a selective system and that there were not other aspects of the examination which caused it to become unpopular with parents, teachers and children—factors which led the Conservative Party to dissociate itself from that examination.

Even if one accepted the case which has been made, the results of the kind of assessment that is proposed are likely to be just as bad. The results would be used just as rigidly to classify children as were the results of the 11-plus. The hon. Member for Brent, North is suggesting that children who fail the test should stay for a further full year in primary school. But what would happen to children who were borderline cases? What would happen to children who could be brought up to standard in a few weeks or months? Should they be compelled to stay at primary school for a further full year? If we accept that they should not do that, they would be moved to the secondary school at a time when their fellow pupils had already had some secondary education. Would they then be moved into the same class, where they would be already behind in a different way, or would they be confined to some form of remedial class?

The hon. Gentleman has not thought through his case, nor has he examined what the effect would be on children when they eventually reach secondary school. He assumed that the test would be set at a level that any child would be able to pass. He has not considered who would decide when a child was ready for secondary school.

I am concerned about what would happen to a child at the end of a year of remedial training in primary school. If the child still failed to meet the standard for secondary school, would that child stay on in primary school for a further period of remedial education? If ever a recipe was devised for perpetuating second-class education, this is it.

One of the most difficult and abhorrent aspects of the proposal is the implication, intended or otherwise, that remedial education is suitably applied in primary school with the automatic stigma of separation from peers and education with younger children.

The hon. Member for Brent, North spoke of the difficulties that many such children have in living in society. I do not accept that their difficulties in fitting in would be any less if they were kept down a year in a primary school when children of their own age were moving into secondary school. Efforts should be made at secondary school to help such children. Many Opposition Members believe that children who require any kind of remedial help should receive it in a separate environment, preferably in a separate school, but that view is not shared on this side of the House and in the education world generally. We feel that children will do better generally if they are kept with their peers and contemporaries, receiving part-time help to assist them to keep up. That is the fundamental difference of approach between the two sides.

Of all the proposals along these lines, I find that those in the clause are the most damaging and the least helpful to the children concerned. We share the anxiety about and concern for standards, but we do not share the view that such classes will benefit the children who, I accept, the hon. Gentleman wishes to help.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

The hon. Lady has referred to the problems of a young person who moves to secondary school a year late because he has been retained in junior school to do a year's remedial work. Will she tell the House what problems she thinks might result to that child if he went to secondary school unable to read or write properly? How could such a child go through secondary school without reading or writing properly? What would be the problems for the child when he left school?

Photo of Miss Margaret Jackson Miss Margaret Jackson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Education and Science)

The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) cannot have listened to what I said. I accept that there will be problems of adjustment for children who find it difficult to cope with secondary school work. We differ from the Opposition in our approach. Is it better to keep a child in primary school segregated from his friends because he is staying on another year and receiving remedial education, or is it better to give that child special help at secondary school? The hon. Gentleman is talking about children who need or receive a further full year in primary school. A child who did not need to stay down for a whole year would experience problems. There is a difference of approach which is to some extent based on the same concern, but I call on the House to reject the new clause.

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

I have considerable respect for the hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson). He is an original thinker on these matters. But the new clause does not take us away from the basic evils of the 11-plus, although I accept that it involves a different type of examination which is taken at 10½ years of age. It involves not so much selection but rejection or black-balling.

The new clause provides that children who fail in literacy and numeracy will be subjected to the same pressures that we all objected to in the 11-plus, and the borderline cases will be subjected to the same coercion, bribes and rewards as were involved in the 11-plus.

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack , Staffordshire South West

Why does the hon. Member have to adopt that patronising approach to other people's children? When his own children passed the common entrance examination, he was pleased enough that they could go to Westminster.

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

We are not talking about an entrance examination or private education. We are discussing a new clause which proposes a new age for a new examination which does not escape the evils of the 11-plus. The new clause seeks to formalise normality and pinpoint abnormality. That is why I am against it. Why do we need such a test? A child is an ongoing, living thing and there is no cut-off point. If a child needs help, it should be given from the day he goes to school—in fact, from the day he is born—until he no longer needs that help.

What I am against in the new clause, however, is the idea that at the age of 10½ one goes into a remedial process machine to come out soon afterwards ready to join the other children.

Anyone who argues about literacy and numeracy, looking at the Notice Paper and seeing that there are 95 new clauses and 158 amendments, that it is now 8 o'clock and that we are on only the second new clause, has every right to say that perhaps my numeracy should be examined. What I do not agree with is that it should be done at 10½ in one swoosh. That is why I shall certainly not vote for the new clause.

8.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

I must declare a concern. I was for 13 years a teacher in London comprehensive schools. I believe that some of the concerns of Opposition Members do not have a realistic basis.

I found the speech and the ideas of the hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson) comparable with those of dear old Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I, and many of my colleagues who are now in schools, believe that he is often half right but that the other half is very badly wrong. There was the usual mixture in his speech.

Where the hon. Gentleman is right is in saying that in the past few years there has, perhaps, not been sufficient attention in primary and secondary schools to the internal monitoring of basic educational attainments. I make a distinction between attainment and potential and the assumptions one makes about the future. The Conservative Party has assumed that attainment at a certain age is a reasonable premise for prognosis of future ability which it is not.

Photo of Mr John Stokes Mr John Stokes , Halesowen and Stourbridge

As the party of private enterprise we all know that some can go to public school, university and business school and others can start on a barrow and hardly sign their name, yet still be highly successful.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

The hon. Gentleman has given away his case. Such a person may be highly successful in terms of competitive enterprise, but can he succeed if he has a talent to contribute cooperatively? That is just as important.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

It may be verbiage to the hon. Gentleman. I am not surprised, because he perhaps does not know the meaning of co-operation in society.

Photo of Mr John Stokes Mr John Stokes , Halesowen and Stourbridge

I have been in personnel work for 30 years.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

If so, I hate to think of the staff relations the hon. Gentleman has left behind.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

I shall not follow up what the hon. Gentleman said, because I do not know the results of his efforts.

Photo of Mr John Stokes Mr John Stokes , Halesowen and Stourbridge

The hon. Gentleman knows nothing about anything.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

If the hon. Gentleman's delicacy of touch and diplomacy in his occupation are as he is now displaying them here, I am not sure that he will be very successful.

The hon. Member for Brent, North talked about teaching methods in the formal framework. There may well be some agreement about that across the Floor. There have, perhaps, been too many winds of educational fashion in the last 10 or 15 years.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

As a teacher, I have always said that one must advance in an island of formality, and then one may be able to reach any position of informality, once the pupils are ready, but one cannot impose ready-made systems, whether from inspectors, colleges of education or the Department.

On the whole we have ignored the question of standards. I remember pressing the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) two or three years ago to instigate an inquiry into the standards of those leaving school, not having taken public examinations. It took a long time for her and the Department to get round to that. I knew, as did many teachers, that many pupils who did not take GCE or CSE in secondary schools were having a difficult time. That was largely the responsibility of the attitude of Conservative Members.

I think that the Opposition would like to think twice about the attitude revealed by the clause, because of its implications. First, who is to decide what the standard is? Is it to be the local education authority, the head of the school, or the head of the secondary school? If the hon. Gentleman's logic is followed, it will before the head of the secondary school to say what standard he will accept. I do not think that even the Opposition would stand for that. If it is to be a Minister in the Department, it becomes a political issue. I do not think that it should become a political issue, even if it were agreed to be a professional issue.

Photo of Dr Rhodes Boyson Dr Rhodes Boyson , Brent North

They will have to be national standards. If they are to be accepted and if people are to know what they are, the Secretary of State will have to be responsible for them, but he does not need to apply them himself. He is responsible for many activities which he is not directing all the time, just as many other Ministers are. There must be a national way of setting this up, and then we can take it from there.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

That sounds very fine, but the Minister is responsible in many ways for qualitative matters. The Education Act is full of words such as "sufficient" and "adequate". We can argue about what they mean. The hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends are asking in the clause for something which is quantitative. One cannot say that the Secretary of State is responsible generally but that somebody else lays down the level. That is not a practical solution.

Even if it were practical, let us look at the educational results. It would mean that in any primary school there would be some pupils who would not go with their peer groups, their friends, their cousins and others. They would have to stay down for a whole year in the primary school.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

The result for children in an ordinary primary school could be catastrophic for the rest of their lives. I ask Conservative Members to cast their minds back. They seem not to realise the effect on children of having to stay at the same school with a group a year younger when they have seen all their friends go on. The damage to the self-esteem and progress of the children would be very great.

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack , Staffordshire South West

This is pseudo-psychological claptrap. Cannot the hon. Gentleman think of the catastrophic damage if the child does not attain certain standards and becomes an adult illiterate?

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

I shall come to that. The hon. Gentleman has misjudged the logic. That is not the alternative, which is something much more constructive. With his Jekyll side, the hon. Member for Brent, North saw the secondary school as process as a conveyor belt. This attitude was that one did not put the product on the conveyor belt until it was ready baked. The idea of a comprehensive school is that it comprehends sufficient educational skills and offerings to produce in various ways that which fits the unique needs of every pupil within its walls. This is done irrespective of age, and there will be a proper environment to take pupils up to the standard we would wish.

I was a tutor in a comprehensive school for 12 years and I had in my personal charge some pupils who went to university and others who left school almost illiterate. Hon. Members opposite may ask whether I had done my job properly, when children left school barely able to read and write, but in the cases which I recall pupils were taught to read in term time and forgot in the holidays. Perhaps hon. Members opposite have not come across that sort of situation. In the schools in which I worked I hope we had enough facilities to meet the needs of literacy, numeracy, manipulation and social needs, but even pupils who left with only a rudimentary knowledge of reading and writing left as reasonably rounded persons with a reasonable basis on which to pursue a reasonable life.

Photo of Mr Neil Macfarlane Mr Neil Macfarlane , Sutton and Cheam

At the outset of his speech the hon. Member indicated that he recognised the general decline in standards in primary and secondary education. What remedial course of action would he suggest if he does not approve of the new clause?

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

I think the hon. Member is putting words in my mouth. I did not say there had been a decline in standards. We can look at Hansard tomorrow, but I was saying that there had been a decline in the way in which we monitored the system. I refute the claim that standards have gone down. What has gone down is the way in which we internally monitor the attainments of pupils at any one age. I shall not give way again. I have given way enough and we should make progress.

During the 13 years I taught in secondary schools, 12 years at one school and one year at another, a matter of particular concern was trying to provide for ordinary pupils who were not taking the public examinations. Our task was made very difficult because of the attitude of the Opposition and their like. Before 1944 secondary education was linked in the public mind to grammar schools and certain public schools which were highly selective in character. It was not geared to the general needs of most children.

Since comprehensive schools started there has been an inbuilt, conservative approach on how secondary education should be organised. We have never developed a proper British rationale for secondary education. We have tried the pre-1944 system, which was a different system for a different age and different purposes.

8.15 p.m.

When Lord Boyle, well beloved or otherwise by hon. Members opposite, was Minister of Education he introduced the infamous Boyle's law and tried to increase the range of pay for teachers on the basis that the better teachers should get more. He broke the agreement between the NUT and the Burnham Committee in order to increase the grants to some teachers. Teachers taking exam classes were supposed to be superior and those with letters after their names got higher salaries. What happened to the ordinary pupils who were not taking the exams? The allowances went to exams and as the musical chairs developed and staff turnovers increased, the ordinary pupils lost out. This is one of the reasons we have not had from secondary schools the results we should have liked.

We have never developed a proper secondary rationale because there has been an assumption that we have a conveyor belt on the lines indicated by the hon. Member for Brent, North and based on a pre-1944 situation. We need to get away from that. We need to develop in secondary comprehensive schools skills and competencies to enable pupils to arrive at the attainments we would like them to achieve, and we need machinery and techniques designed for the job, and not those carried on as a result of pre-1944 practices.

Photo of Mr John Stokes Mr John Stokes , Halesowen and Stourbridge

I start by declaring two interests. I started my life as a schoolmaster for a happy year before the war and for 30 years since the war I have been in personnel and training work in industry and commerce.

One of the errors that have been made in discussing the new clause and education generally is the assumption that education is everything in life. It is enormously important, but if one observes life, one finds that character, personality, imagination, courage, ability to get on with other people, and other personal qualities are as important as, if not more important than, purely intellectual gifts.

It is important that our education system should be as sound as possible. I regret that there has been a diffidence —almost a conspiracy of silence—from the few speakers on the Government side about the grave decline in the standards of literacy and numeracy that have occurred in this nation over the last generation. One has only to ask employers, schoolmasters, or anyone who comes into contact with people to find out that many men and women cannot read or write well.

I find that people who apply for jobs cannot spell or express themselves clearly. There are frequent crossings-out in their letters. If I made a crossing-out in a letter when I was younger, I started all over again.

One hears of scientists and engineers who do not have the command of English that is essential in their jobs, especially if they wish to be supervisors or managers. We find sales people who are not able to speak even one foreign language. What a contrast that is to our competitors in Europe. The pronunciation of even common English words on radio and television is often quite appalling. It is strongly advisable for the parents of young children to keep them away from the box. They will not hear words pronounced properly.

Bad spelling and punctuation are all too common. Knowledge of the liberal arts and general subjects—for example, religion, history and geography—is lamentable. The classics are almost unknown. Even in this honourable House, a Latin tag, even of the most common type, has to be translated. In the increasingly high standard of housing in which most people live today, we see the large fridge, the huge television box, the water softener and every other gadget. The only things that we do not see are the books that were to be seen in the old days.

I believe that part of the failure is due to the lack of discipline in our schools and the new methods of teaching. I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Liverpool. Walton (Mr. Hefter), whose English nationalism, on devolution, I so admire, say that he wanted children to be brought up with a sound knowledge of the three Rs and to be properly educated.

Children need to be taught. They need to be made to learn. If not, they will never cope with the battle of life. It is on these simple and fundamental facts that the Government have failed. They tend to close their eyes. They have made no constructive suggestions. They say that all is marvellous, and that the jam is spread everywhere, but the jam is of such thinness that it can hardly be seen. In fact, it is full of turnips and not strawberries.

I believe that it is necessary to have tests in life, and not just examinations. I fully agree that we may have to have headmasters' reports, interviews and various different schemes, but in the end we must try to measure ability. We cannot allow the present sloppiness that has crept in under the present Administration to continue. If we do, we shall fall even further behind our Continental neighbours.

Photo of Miss Margaret Jackson Miss Margaret Jackson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Education and Science)

If we are talking about sloppiness, especially in our thought processes, I draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to two factors in his speech. First, he claims that we have said that nothing is wrong with our standards of education. That is singularly inaccurate, as he will realise if he reads Hansard. We have made statements about the unwisdom of the solution proposed by the hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson). It is inaccurate for the hon. Gentleman to suggest that we have claimed that nothing is wrong. Secondly, I was fascinated by his references to the halcyon golden age to which he was looking back, in which every house was crammed with books and in which every child spoke more than one language. I do not know where the hon. Gentleman spent his childhood, but obviously it was in quite a different country from that in which I spent mine.

Photo of Mr John Stokes Mr John Stokes , Halesowen and Stourbridge

I am rather older than the charming young lady, the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science. I was brought up in a country rectory, with village people. Certainly they knew the Authorised Version of the Bible. They knew the Book of Common Prayer. They knew Pilgrim's Progress and they knew the glorious history of our country by heart. Most of those things have been lost.

In the days of which I am speaking the nation was far greater than it is today. The fact is that we have fallen behind the Continent. I saw France when it was in ruins. It has made a magnificent recovery. The hon. Lady cannot deny that, or laugh at it. If she examines the so-called old-fashioned and rigorous French education system, she will find that one of the results is that the French Foreign Office can make circles round ours, and certainly round our present Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. The French Civil Service and the French Government are, alas, greatly superior to ours. The standard of education is far higher in Europe. Almost any young man in Europe can speak three languages, whereas most Englishmen can barely speak their own language.

Photo of Mr Myer Galpern Mr Myer Galpern , Glasgow Shettleston

Order. It is a great pity that in the village in which the hon. Member for Oldbury and Halesowen (Mr. Stokes) was brought up there was not a copy of "Erskine May" to enable him to know when he was in order.

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

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a minority of primary schoolchildren in my constituency can speak both Urdu and English?

Photo of Mr John Stokes Mr John Stokes , Halesowen and Stourbridge

I bow to the hon. Lady's ability as a teacher and to her erudition in Urdu and English, but I am still mainly concerned—I make no apology for this—with this country and with our decline.

I believe that our decline is mainly moral, but it is to some extent educational. That is why my hon. Friends and I regard the Bill so seriously. That is why we intend to stay here all night, if necessary, and all tomorrow, to fight it, clause by clause.

A further error that the Government make is to imagine that all education has to be clerical. It is vital to speak and write good English, but some people at the age of 15 or 16 find that their fulfilment and their abilities are rather greater in some other skill, such as—dare I say it—that of a craftsman. I am told by many industrialists that there is a far greater shortage of craftsmen than of clerks. Why should we not have more craftsmen and fewer of those who speak and write such had English? What has bedevilled the education system since the Government have been in power is their determination to turn this once renowned and respected old England into some sort of mindless mass of semi-educated people who know a little of something but nothing of anything that very much matters.

The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) has attacked me in my personal and public life, and I think I am entitled to reply. I have spent many years trying to help young, middle-aged and older people in their careers. I have found that careers guidance and advice on the choice of careers has been extremely poorly done. Unlike the Government, who believe in dealing with the mass and the State, I believe in dealing with the individual. The duty of any Government is to encourage each individual to advance himself to the maximum extent possible. The individual should be encouraged in so doing. He should not be held back by schemes of egalitarianism that appear to be of more fundamental importance to the Government than the education of future generations of the British people,

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

If I said anything that caused the hon. Gentleman to make the interpretation that he has indicated, I wholeheartedly withdraw it. It was said in the cross-flow of debate.

Photo of Mr William Small Mr William Small , Glasgow Garscadden

I intervene for only one minute to make a comment on the intellect of Members in this Chamber. I thought that the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud) would give us impeccable teaching in educational terms. The hon. Gentleman talked about "kids". If he looks in Hansard tomorrow, he will find that was the word he used. I thought that kids were the offspring of goats, not people.

8.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Trevor Skeet Mr Trevor Skeet , Bedford

I listened with interest to my hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes). I certainly agree that standards of education in the United Kingdom have declined. We need standards today.

I have not had 16 years' experience in a comprehensive school, but I am the father of two boys. Therefore, I have considered these matters practically. When I look at the population I require no convincing that our standards have gone down. Yet all that the Government can produce is this Bill, which will do nothing to conserve standards. Indeed, we have only to look at Clause 1, which provides for a system of education not based…on selection by reference to ability or aptitude. To have ability or aptitude as a standard may now be disclaimed.

I listened to the Under-Secretary with interest. The hon. Lady indicated that she was not going to bound ahead with any experiment, but was going to read the reports one after the other. The Department of Education and Science is trying to invent new criteria for defining literacy. We have seen this before on many occasions. Education is being debased. Whenever the Government get into difficulty over the cost of living, they bring out a new index. Whenever they have trouble with sterling, they find ways of hoodwinking the public into believing that the situation is vastly improved.

Everybody, inside or outside this House, knows that educational standards have declined. [Interruption.] If hon. Gentlemen on the Government Benches do not know that standards in education have declined, I suggest that they go back to their constituencies and ask any man in the street.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Weetch Mr Kenneth Weetch , Ipswich

Before I came into this House I spent eight years training teachers and nine years teaching before that. What practical experience has the hon. Gentleman, to make the observation that he has just made?

Photo of Mr Trevor Skeet Mr Trevor Skeet , Bedford

My practical experience with men is considerable. I have travelled the globe. I was born abroad. I have had considerable experience in the United Kingdom. I am a professional man, and the father of two boys. That is the experience of life which enables me to come to that conclusion. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman should go to his constituency and inquire whether standards in some of the local schools have declined. I think that in some schools standards are going up, and I am delighted. However, I can tell the hon. Gentleman why standards generally are declining. I have given a little thought to this matter.

First, I challenge any person—headmaster or anybody else, including my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson)—to teach in a class where there is indiscipline. If there is considerable indiscipline, no child can learn. If the Department of Education and Science could devise some means of ensuring that teachers who can maintain maximum control are selected, I should be delighted. If methods can be found to ensure that discipline is maintained in classes, all well and good.

What worries me is that the Labour Party is more concerned about systems of education than the education of children.

Photo of Mr Trevor Skeet Mr Trevor Skeet , Bedford

We support variety in education. We support public schools, direct grant schools—the lot—because they give parental choice, but the Labour Party is concerned to bring in, overnight, one system, and one system only—regimentation of the mind. The Labour Party wants regimentation of the same type as was found in Nazi Germany prior to the war. [Interruption.] There has been conduct in the House of Commons of which hon. Gentlemen will not be too proud—for example, the breaking of pairs.

Photo of Mr Martin Flannery Mr Martin Flannery , Sheffield, Hillsborough

Where was the hon. Gentleman in the early hours of this morning?

Photo of Mr Trevor Skeet Mr Trevor Skeet , Bedford

I was at the House very early this morning. I must not deviate too far. However, as I have been challenged, there was also the case of the Shipbuilding and Aircraft Industries Bill, when the Government suspended the rules of the House.

Photo of Sir Arthur Irvine Sir Arthur Irvine , Liverpool Edge Hill

Order. I am not sure that this comes within the terms of the new clause.

Photo of Mr Trevor Skeet Mr Trevor Skeet , Bedford

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman wishes to ask me a question on this clause.

Photo of Mr Gwilym Roberts Mr Gwilym Roberts , Cannock

The hon. Gentleman referred to certain indisciplines in the House and elsewhere. Does he not agree with me that these indisciplines are a reflection of the "devil-take-the-hindmost and every-man-for-himself" sort of society of which he is an advocate?

Photo of Mr Trevor Skeet Mr Trevor Skeet , Bedford

One of the difficulties with some hon. Members is that their chips are so large that they cannot get them off their shoulders. I wonder whether they would try to approach education and life in the way that many other people try to do. We are much more cheerful about these matters, and like to see things in their proper perspective.

I have been trying to indicate why it is essential to have variety, and why we have difficulties in education today in the United Kingdom.

One problem may be the quality of teachers. I was appalled last night to find that the Secretary of State for Scotland is recruiting teachers in Canada. Is it because the quality of recruit here is not good enough? Is this also one of the reasons why literacy is not as high as it should be in the United Kingdom?

As to the problem of truancy, it is obvious that if a child is absent from school he cannot be educated.

Then there is the language problem. In Bedford we have a very large immigrant population. I pay tribute to the work of the local education authority, which has done a remarkable job in ensuring that the children are ready to receive education. It does so by giving them special language courses. Our experiments in this regard are probably the best in the country. Anyone who doubts this should come to Bedford and look at them. But this is precisely the sort of thing that the clause suggests. The authority is seeking to establish a standard in order that children may go on to further education and take full advantage of the system.

We have first to understand the cause of illiteracy in the United Kingdom, and then we have to have a standard to which people can approximate, hoping that they will then try to surpass it. We ought not to muddle this with the 11-plus examination, which at least kept people on course and was an aspiration towards which they could work. Unfortunately, there are no standards towards which people can work today. Industrialists say that they want boys and girls to be educated up to certain standards, but in practice they have to get hold of young people themselves and advance them to the required standards, when this should be done under the education system.

I hope that the Minister will be accommodating and say that, although the clause may not be in the form he would like, he will nevertheless take it away and put it into the right language.

Standards are very useful in both life and education. It is surprising that this aspect has not been thought of before. My hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North mentioned that in the last century people thought about it, but it has not been incorporated in the Bill in the way that it should be. In setting up standards, various criteria have to be established, and the matter requires to be carefully thought out. No doubt they could be brought in by the Minister by Order in Council.

How is this to be secured in practice? Surely nothing could be more reasonable than to defer a child's education for one year while he catches up, before he moves on. Special instruction could be given. We have many teachers who are idle today. This might be an extremely useful exercise for them. Rather than pay for social security, or to guarantee their salaries, we could use them in maintaining high standards in our schools, where they are particularly required. Something should also be done to re-assess teaching methods.

I earnestly suggest to the Secretary of State that he should accept the clause. It is a very sound one. It deals with a nonparty matter. It will benefit children and be of advantage to our education system.

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

I was interested to hear the view of the Minister, and of the hon. Member who had taught in secondary schools for 13 or 14 years, that almost the worst thing that could happen to a child was to be held back for a time while the other children in the class were promoted. However, I suspect that I am not the only Member, even among those in the Chamber at present, who can remember his own school days and being held back for a while, perhaps as a result of illness. Perhaps one missed a large part of a term and one was held back while one's colleagues in the class went on. I can remember being grateful for being held back so that I could do the work I had missed and not being forced to go on when it would have been assumed by the teachers that I knew work that I had not been able to learn.

Therefore, it seems idiotic for a Minister to come to the Dispatch Box and say that the worst thing that can happen to a child is to be held back for a time while his peers go on.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that there is a very big difference between being held back inside a school, particularly a selective school, in some way or other and being prevented from going from a junior school to a senior school with one's peers, and that the effect of that on a child of 10 is a very different matter from the situation that he describes, with which I have some sympathy?

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

I should have thought that, if anything, it was worse to be in the same school and to see one's colleagues of the previous term going into another classroom. That is surely more degrading, if it be degrading at all, than seeing them disappearing to another school, when one cannot be taunted.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

Could not the State system take a lesson from the private sector of education, in which the transfer age from prep school to public school is extremely flexible? Some pupils pass from prep school to public school at 12½ and some do not go until they are 14. It depends entirely upon their ability and educational development. Perhaps the maintained system can take a lesson from the private sector over the very thing that the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) was talking about, which is flexibility of education.

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend.

When my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson) was so ably moving the Second Reading of the new clause, he made some disparaging remarks about the Bullock Committee on literacy. I agree with my hon. Friend that the report could have been shorter and more definite and that the observations made could have been expressed more pungently. However, at least it underlined the commonsense factor that in schools literacy and books go hand in hand and that if one wants literate schoolchildren it is desirable that there should be a large and ample supply of books in schools.

We know, alas, that there is a very wide difference in the provision of school books between one area and another, and, indeed, between schools in the same area. The Government traditionally wash their hands of this state of affairs. At Question Time today we had a Minister saying at the Dispatch Box that this was not a matter for the Government and that the provision of books was a matter solely for local education authorities. The Government have consistently turned their backs on the recommendations in the Bullock Report that there should be national standards and national advice and that working parties should be set up.

8.45 p.m.

One of the advantages which would flow from acceptance of the new clause is that attention would be drawn to the schools where there was a higher-than-average failure rate in the literacy test. I suspect one would find that the schools which had a high failure rate in any national literacy test were also deficient in the provision of school books. I welcome the new clause because it would not only provide a necessary test for children but would provide a necessary test for schools themselves and would give us much needed guidance on where the too-scarce resources should be allocated.

Photo of Mr Andrew Bowden Mr Andrew Bowden , Brighton, Kemptown

I should first declare an interest as a governor of a school in my constituency, the Stanley Deason School, in which I have had the opportunity of taking a close interest for some 10 years and which in recent times has been facing considerable upheaval and change. However, thanks to the determination in particular of the headmaster and the staff, it is coping extremely well with the problems which have been created.

The House will agree that my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson) moved the new clause very effectively. I should like to bring the clause to the attention of the House in relation to individual parents. I suspect that many of my colleagues have found in recent years that more and more parents have been to see them at their constituency advice centres, or have written to them, expressing concern about standards in the schools, standards in education and standards of discinpline. There are many reasons why schools go through a cycle of difficulty. In most cases it reflects upon the standard and the quality of the staff.

When we look at the teaching profession as a whole, we realise that the country can be proud of the standard of the men and women who have taken up teaching as their career and profession. However, we must not blink the fact that an increasingly large number of pupils who move from primary to secondary education are not able to read as well as they should, are not able to express themselves in the way they should and clearly have not had the right dis- ciplinary standards applied in their early formative years in education.

Some hon. Members might have seen a document produced by the French Embassy in London entitled "Education In France". I commend it to the Secretary of State, although perhaps he has read it already. In particular, I would refer to page 10 of that document, which ties in closely with what my hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stour-bridge (Mr. Stokes) said. It states: Primary education is provided in elementary schools. There is a common curriculum divided into five successive levels; the length of the first level may vary.Primary education is designed to give the child the basic tools of learning: oral and written expression, reading, and arithmetic; it promotes the development of intelligence and artistic sensitivity, manual, physical and sporting abilities. It provides an initiation to the plastic and musical arts. In conjunction with his parents, it undertakes the moral and civic education of the child". Those seem to me to be the fundamental reasons for education and the importance of starting in the right way at the first stage.

On page 15, the document refers to the timetable during primary education, taking an average week. Fifteen hours a week are spent on the basic subjects—language, reading and arithmetic; six hours a week are spent on subjects which make the children aware of their environment—history, geography, natural sciences; and six hours a week are spent on open-air activities, including physical training and team sports. We have a good deal to learn from the French. There, surely, is a basis on which primary education can prepare children for the advanced stages of education.

The area which concerns me most is the standard of discipline in primary education. In my days at school, I never took easily to hard work. Many years ago, there were ways and means of persuading one to work rather harder than one might have done which are not popular today.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

It did my hon. Friend a lot of good.

Photo of Mr Andrew Bowden Mr Andrew Bowden , Brighton, Kemptown

That is a point of view my late father held. When he took me to the school on one occasion, he said that if I was not regularly beaten it was unlikely that I would work hard.

One might argue that the pendulum in discipline has swung from one end to the other.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

That is an unfortunate choice of words.

Photo of Mr Andrew Bowden Mr Andrew Bowden , Brighton, Kemptown

I have to follow my hon. Friend occasionally.

When we talk about free discipline, that is really only another term for no discipline at all. That can create nothing short of chaos in the classroom, which must affect every pupil. Many children do not find it easy to learn, and they need the help of a disciplined environment. If we fail to provide it, as in too many cases we are failing, expensive remedial work is required.

Many schools—some, I regret to say, even in my constituency—have to spend a great deal of time in providing remedial classes at the higher levels of education. This is expensive in resources, particularly of skilled teachers, and in finance. Everything possible must be done to avoid that problem. One solution would be the new clause and the setting of basic minimum standards.

Even in higher education, even in some universities, what are effectively remedial classes have to be provided to prepare the students effectively for a degree course. That is scandalous. It is a gross misuse of funds, skills and teaching abilities.

Parents have the right to know what are the intentions of the education system. They have a right to know the basic standards that they can expect their children to attain as they pass through each stage of the education process. More and more parents ask for that information. A broad minimum standard at each level would be of great benefit to the teaching profession, and above all to the children. If we combine those standards with new steps to check and monitor them, we shall take a rapid step forward and get away from the gentle slide of standards and discipline, which is in danger of escalating.

I commend the new clause. I hope that the Government will accept it.

Photo of Mr Martin Flannery Mr Martin Flannery , Sheffield, Hillsborough

It would be difficult to find a more backward new clause than this one. It has the hallmark of the name at its head. I refer to the hon. Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson). In Committee the hon. Gentleman told us that he had once been a truant from school. He delved into the past, almost looking over the battlements. He told us how wicked mankind was and how people were prone to evil from childhood. He almost used the ecumenical expressions that are dear to the heart of the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. JohnStevas). The hon. Gentleman told us that he had a picture of children in a school yard wearing long grey socks and performing Swedish drill, and that he used it on a Christmas card. I hope that the Opposition remember that tour de force. It was positively feudal. It reeked of educational backwardness.

In their efforts to denigrate the education system, the Opposition overstate their case so monumentally that increasingly few people listen to it, although some people are able to drive the point home morning, noon and night in newspapers which they own. We are subjected to a constant barrage of propaganda on the evils facing schoolchildren and teachers. I speak as an experienced teacher. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh".] The Opposition do not like that. They speak with the inexperience of a backward class. That is the reality.

I should have liked all the children of this country to have seen what recently happened in this place when an hon. Gentleman seized and wielded the Mace. The Opposition talk about indiscipline, and they have the nerve to condemn children and schools. That is a point to counter the educational nonsense which is contained in this pseudo clause.

9.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Martin Flannery Mr Martin Flannery , Sheffield, Hillsborough

Hon. Gentlemen must be patient. I have listened patiently to the claptrap turned out by Conservative Members. They must be patient while I speak good, common sense.

Running down the educational system is a time-honoured pursuit. It is usually an indication of hardening of the arteries or old age. It is easy to denigrate a system that people are honourably in process of building up with the funds at their disposal. It is no answer to hold examinations for primary children instead of the constant process of daily assessment through human contact between teacher and child. As any experienced primary school teacher knows, that former system belongs to the past and has been relegated to the dustbin of history.

When the 11-plus examination is lifted from the primary schools, the teachers tell us that our primary schools are the pride of international education.

Photo of Mr Keith Hampson Mr Keith Hampson , Ripon

Dr. Hampson rose

Photo of Mr Martin Flannery Mr Martin Flannery , Sheffield, Hillsborough

I give way to the hon. Member for Ripon (Dr. Hampson), who has made such salient points.

Photo of Mr Keith Hampson Mr Keith Hampson , Ripon

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that the new clause is taken directly from the Bullock Report, which advocates a system of testing, particularly at the age of 7 and around the age of 11?

Photo of Mr Martin Flannery Mr Martin Flannery , Sheffield, Hillsborough

I gave evidence to the Bullock Committee.

In the school of which I was head, the teachers each day listened to the children as they read. When children have difficulties, there is no substitute for taking them round one's desk in a way which should be dear to the hearts of Opposition Members, and I should want that to happen in any school of which I was the head. If ever I left this place to become a headmaster, I would do that again. I would want a continuous process of assessment without the rigid formality of examinations. We have steadily got rid of the backward mentality of "Friday morning is test morning", utilising time in nonsensical examinations when we should have been teaching and making a continuous, daily, human, compassionate assessment of the children.

Subsection (2) of this futile clause would result in children being held back. The time for that has long passed. Let us hope that never again will young people be held back with younger children. That is one of the most dreadful practices in the education calendar. I hope that Opposition Members, through lack of knowledge of teaching and education, will no longer advocate such puerile nonsense.

Coming to the question of conduct in schools, Opposition Members talk as though school were an organisation for rectifying the ills of society. School, with deadly accuracy I am sorry to say, re- fleets the ills of the society outside. The society which we have imposed on the children is reflected in the school. It is nonsense to expect school to rectify the ills which we have created. Does anyone think that what happens in the primary school is responsible for the vandalism which occurs in our acquisitive society, in which Opposition Members lead the way. The acquisitive, devil-take-the-hindmost and weakest-to-the-wall society is imposed by Opposition Members, and it is reflected in the schools in which the children are taught.

Does anyone think that the hooliganism which occurs at football matches stems from schoolchildren? It stems from an illness deep within the bowels of the society in which we live. That has to be rectified, and it cannot be blamed on the schools.

This attempt to blame comprehensive education is to be expected from an elitist group the members of which have done everything for themselves and their children, and have held back the vast majority of children. But it will not work. We have twigged it. We see where it leads. We are determined to provide a compassionate, broad, general education of the type which is going from strength to strength and which has produced higher scholastic achievements than we have ever had, despite the denigration by the Conservative Party.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

We have just heard a fine example of intellectual arrogance. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) has indicated that he knows best and that everybody else's views do not count. I am not so sure that it would not be far better for the children of this country if the hon. Gentleman were to remain in this House rather than return to the classroom. It was a very famous Tory Prime Minister, a man with many progressive ideals and ideas, who said that the youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity. I do not think I need remind that hon. Gentleman that that was said by Benjamin Disraeli. I am sure he would also have agreed that children have a right to be educated.

My hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden) indicated, in his excellent remarks to the House, that parents have a right to know, and a right to expect certain standards. More than that, I would say that children have a right to know that they are being educated to a proper standard in literacy and in numeracy, and it is my view that many of the proposals of this Government will deny children this basic human right of knowing that they are to be educated to a proper standard.

If we are not very careful, in the years ahead children will become the new deprived—deprived of being able to read a job advertisement to get work, deprived of being able to do simple calculations, deprived of knowing the joy of being able to communicate with one another because they cannot write, and deprived, through lack of discipline, of being able to take their place in a free and ordered society. All the massive spending on new buildings, new laboratories, new teaching systems and glass palaces of varying opulence cannot hide the basic deprivation of children if they have not the ability to read and write, add, or communicate with others. Surely, this is what this new clause is all about.

We want this provision written into this Bill to ensure that there are proper standards for what is a very basic foundation of good life for any young person. I put to the House these questions: what extra opportunity and what guarantee of standards have been given to children who once went to a grammar school and perhaps now go to the neighbourhood comprehensive school, and those who otherwise would have gone to a secondary modern school where a good structured education once enabled the late developer, perhaps the young person requiring remedial teaching, to be given an equal educational opportunity? I would say particularly to one or two hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on the Government side of the House that for a number of years I have taken an active interest in education, both private and maintained. For a number of years I served as chairman of governors of a non-selective secondary school—an excellent school that produced excellent results in examinations, and where there was concern for the discipline of young people. Why? Because they had a fine headmaster who believed in a structured school, in examinations and discipline, and who set a fine example for that school, which produced such excellent results for the young people who went there.

I submit that the bright youngster—boy or girl—from a working-class background will be more deprived under the present Government proposals than he or she ever was under what some people so often criticise, the old 11-plus system. Indeed, under the 11-plus system, a child at a secondary modern school probably had better teaching and more opportunities to go to a university than does his counterpart who today is consigned to a comprehensive school with 2,000 pupils. At least the secondary school was smaller and was more able to cope with a child's individual needs, often with great success.

I direct that remark particularly to the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer), who for a number of years was a lecturer in education. I was a school governor for a number of years, as well as chairman of a governing body. I have taken an active interest in the running of the school concerned. I visited the school frequently, and have attended classes there to see the type of education that is provided. I was delighted to find that the school insists on standards of numeracy and literacy, because it knows that that is the foundation on which all subsequent educational progress is based.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

I can only tell the hon. Gentleman that I wish that were the case, because statistics clearly show a lowering of academic standards of numeracy and literacy in recent years.

Are the present proposals the equality of educational opportunity that the Socialists use as their defence for destroying the British educational system? Are Socialists proud that the only way for children to pass exams is to lower the standard to such an extent that everybody will hold meaningless, worthless certificates.

The subject of competition at school was absent from the speech made by the hon. Member for Hillsborough.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

Competition at school, with the emphasis on attainment, is necessary to spur children on to greater success. The hon. Gentleman may disagree, but that is a fundamental belief that I hold. It certainly has not done youngsters any harm in the whole of our history.

When the overwhelming evidence is against what the Government are doing, why are Socialists determined to implement the scheme by force? I suggest that they may not want a high standard of education for the nation as a whole. Only a collapse of the education system can contribute to the destruction of capitalism, which certain Labour Members seek. A determined policy to create a situation of virtual anarchy in our schools is the motive behind the policy promoted by so many Socialists.

Let me again refer to the subject of standards. I believe that the abolition of the 11-plus examination as a monitoring instrument, and the withdrawal by the right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short), when Secretary of State for Education, of the system of general inspections by Her Majesty's Inspectors and the influence of teachers who see their task as a "liberating" rather than as a teaching rôle, have played their part in the decline in standards, about which so many of us feel so strongly.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition believes that we are feeding into our children doubts rather than beliefs—that we have begun to teach them to doubt without teaching them to believe. That is an important philosophical point, and it has an important bearing on this clause.

Standards are vital not only to the children but also to their parents. If we want to encourage parents to take a more active interest in their children's education, surely we must give them an objective upon which to set their eyes. We must give them a standard that they will encourage their child to attain.

9.15 p.m.

One of the latest developments in education put forward by the educational bureaucrats of Whitehall and County Hall, with advice and cajoling by educational trendies, is the open plan school, which is physically without classroom divisions. I would ask some of these people, particularly the hon. Member for Hillsborough, how they can really assess the progress of a child in one of these open plan schools. I believe that this new trend, if carried to the ultimate, will wreak havoc with standards.

I hope that Conservative Members on education committees will be vigilant in ensuring that the educational bureaucrats of County Hall do not slip this proposal through on the pretext of lower costs to ratepayers. Open plan schools, in which children wander between activities and in which no teacher has any definite responsibility pinned on him or her for the standards of children, are schools in which there is little or no security of syllabus or structure. Such schools have no place in the education of children, in my philosophy.

How can these children be assessed day by day with that human touch that the hon. Member for Hillsborough mentioned? How can teachers assess the actual standards that young girls and boys are achieving in writing and arithmetic?

Another aspect that is not directly related to the new clause is the ability of youngsters to communicate with each other and with teachers and parents. Today, the art of communication is more important than it was in the past. Educational psychologists have indicated to me that many of the problems facing young people today, and many of the frustrations that are generated, are caused because they cannot express themselves. All this is a part of education.

The new clause that we are now debating is an attempt by the Opposition to ensure that young children are able to attain certain standards in numeracy and literacy. I strongly support the new clause and I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson) on the competent and excellent way in which he put the case for it.

Photo of Sir Ronald Bell Sir Ronald Bell , Beaconsfield

I think that there is no doubt about the existence of the problem with which the new clause is concerned. I do not think that one can be either dogmatic or absolute in one's approach to this subject, because there are a number of causes of lower attainment in literacy and numeracy.

There is far more which has to be taught today than there ever was before. The sum of human knowledge is cumulative and each generation faces the problem of how to teach children all they had to be taught before, plus a lot more besides. My own experience is mixed. I find that children from some schools have attained a remarkably high degree of literacy and numeracy while children in other schools have attained a deplorably low degree. There is a very great variation, and the extent of the variation between our schools should be particularly worrying to us all.

This is an enormously important subject because the correlation between crime and backwardness in reading is one of the best attested correlations one can find. There is no doubt at all that the child who is educationally backward is characteristically the one who is involved in crime. I do not think there is any absolutely easy solution. At least one element of clarity in my mind is that discipline is essential.

Everyone tonight seems to be talking about his own children. I seem to have had a fair number myself. I have always been impressed, upon asking one of them for an estimate of a particular member of the teaching staff, at being told in particular cases "So-and-so is no good; he or she cannot keep order." A child instantly condemns a teacher who cannot keep order and is annoyed and frustrated, and in a sense cheated, because an intelligent child wants to learn but cannot do so in a class where order is not kept. It is fundamental, therefore, that a good teacher must keep order, by sheer force of personality if necessary.

It has been necessary to try to elaborate new techniques, but the trouble is that they have rather gone to people's heads. I have heard teachers complaining that unless one has a gimmick one stays where one is, that a gimmicky teacher might become a local inspector and that an acutely gimmicky teacher might become an HMI. I think it was Bacon who said: Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man and writing an exact man. The television and wireless are the equivalent of conference or conversation, and those who say, rather too glibly, that our children are highly intelligent and well-informed these days are referring to the fact that in a sense they are too ready. But the trouble is that children do not read enough. That is the fault not only of the schools but particularly of the home. If a child is a reader, he is home and dry. If he is not a reader, academically he is sunk.

In the schools there has been excessive reliance upon techniques other than writing. After all, what one surely wants to do with a child is to extend its power of abstract thought, to extend the degree to which it can project its thoughts without concrete props. I referred earlier to the problem of indiscipline and the difficulty of conducting an indisciplined class. With the noise which is coming from the Government Benches, I think we can see a very good example of that problem at the moment. Perhaps it does not matter, however, because I despair in that quarter.

To return to what I was saying, I think that there has been, especially in primary schools, too great a reliance on these props to teach children through concrete and corporeal examples, and this has given them a certain facility for the time being.

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack , Staffordshire South West

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is most difficult for some of us to hear the excellent speech by my hon. and learned Friend because of the chatter of conversation being conducted on the Government Benches.

Photo of Mr Robert Hughes Mr Robert Hughes , Aberdeen North

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It would help if the hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell) were to address the Chair instead of turning his back on Members on the Government Benches who are trying to hear what he is saying.

Photo of Sir Arthur Irvine Sir Arthur Irvine , Liverpool Edge Hill

I do not wish to discourage anyone from addressing the Chair, but I was having no difficulty in hearing what the hon. and learned Gentleman was saying.

Photo of Sir Ronald Bell Sir Ronald Bell , Beaconsfield

I thought I was addressing you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and if there is a great desire on the Government Benches to hear what I have to say I am intensely gratified.

I entirely applaud the new clause, which ventures into a complicated area with many considerations on both sides. I do not think one wants to write off the present generation of schoolchildren as uneducated and entirely in the hands of cranks and lunatics. That would be exaggerating a case which is quite strong enough without any exaggeration.

We have been asked during the debate for evidence of what has been said. I cast my mind back to when teachers' superannuation was an important issue. Almost every teacher in the country wrote to hon. Members. It was like a written examination. One was shattered to find how few teachers knew that there was an "a" in the word Parliament.

Photo of Sir Ronald Bell Sir Ronald Bell , Beaconsfield

I am not sure that some of them knew that there was even one.

It is obvious that the formalism of education has not had a high place in the education of some teachers. We have had to introduce an examination in the use of the English language because it can no longer be taken for granted. The teaching of language is one of the met-wands by which one might judge. The English language is not taught in a formal way. Children are not explicitly taught sentence structure. They are given instead an absurd exercise called comprehension. Any child can bluff his way through a comprehension test, but to tell the difference between an adverbial clause and a noun-subject clause one must have a clear-cut mind.

I was never very good at mathematics, and when I was at school it was easy for a child who was not good at mathematics to be left behind in the class and to lose touch with those who understood the subject. Since then, there has been an immense improvement in the teaching of mathematics in good schools by good teachers. Systems like the Southampton mathematics project are helpful to children who would be backward in the subject and who could hold back the brighter child. The dilemma is whether one should teach a subject by a refined simplicity, which helps the child who finds it hard to grasp mathematical concepts but which creates the problems of a transition from traditional methods for the brighter child. One has to face up to that kind of problem.

That brings me to the new clause. I do not brush aside the objection raised by the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) to the proposition of holding back a child from transferring from one school to another. But there is a strong argument against sending a child to secondary school without the basic equipment of a facility in language and numbers. The job of the primary school should be to give a child the tools. The job of the secondary school is to teach the child to use those tools for the absorption and comprehension of the great mass of human knowledge. Is it right to send a child to secondary school without those tools? On the whole, head teachers' conferences have been against it. Head teachers have complained year after year of the time they have to spend on children in the entry forms, repairing the omissions of primary schools.

It is not an easy problem. I have not come here to be dogmatic about it. I have no experience of teaching. Like other hon. Members, I have a general interest in education. But there is at least something to be said for the proposal in the new clause for an examination or test at the end of the primary phase to see whether the basic skills have been taught. I have an open mind about what the consequences of failure to pass that test should be.

I hope that the Secretary of State will treat the new clause as a serious proposition that deserves thought. The whole question of testing the adequacy of skills at the end of the primary stage requires thought. What is more, we must do something, whatever it be, to raise the average standard of literacy and control of numbers with which children are leaving the primary schools and going into the secondary system.

9.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Shelton Mr William Shelton , Lambeth Streatham

The contributions from the Government Benches have been disappointing, in terms not of quality by of numbers. I think that I am the third successive Conservative Member to speak in this important debate. I hope for the Government's sake that the public will not be aware of Labour Members' lack of interest in what we are discussing.

I listened with great care to the few speeches from the Labour Benches. They strongly repudiated the suggestion that there had been a decline in standards. Whether or not there has been a decline, I ask Labour Members whether they are satisfied with present standards.

The hon. Lady who opened the debate for the Government used the charming word "unwisdom", which I very much doubt is to be found in a dictionary. She denied that she was satisfied, but offered no solutions.

The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) used the nice phrase "internal monitoring of attainments". I wonder whether he meant "testing". Perhaps he did, but perhaps, like so many of his colleagues, he does not like the word "test". I cannot believe that if they are interested in education, as I am sure many of them are, Labour Members are satisfied with the present state of affairs, whether it is better than before, worse, or as good.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

At first sight, the word "test" is superior to the phrase I used. In schools today testing has a place, in the sense of an objective examination, but there is something much more sensitive. It may be that regular and persistent looking at the way in which pupils are responding comes within that rather complicated phrase, which is an additional and very important part. Conservative Members do not always realise that it has a part to play.

Photo of Mr William Shelton Mr William Shelton , Lambeth Streatham

I had hoped that the hon. Gentleman would tell us whether he was satisfied with standards, as that is what we are talking about. How can he tell how pupils are doing without testing them in one way or another?

We on the Opposition side are not satisfied with the standards in our schools. I shall briefly give some reasons. First, I refer the Secretary of State to a document called "Educational Priority" published a year or so ago by his Department and the Social Science Research Council, which undertook research in schools in Liverpool, Birmingham, Deptford and the West Riding. A short report on it said that Thousands of children leave inner-city primary schools at the age of 11 unable to read even a simple sentaence, according to a Government-sponsored report published today. Are Labour Members satisfied that that should be so? I refer them to another survey—"Children's Reading Interests", published for the Schools Council, and written by Mr. Frank Whitehead. A report on it said: Forty per cent. of boys aged 14 never read anything more serious than a comic in their spare time, according to a random survey of 8,000 children between 10 and 14". Is the Secretary of State satisfied with that?

I refer the right hon. Gentleman to a report in the Teacher magazine, published by the Inner London Education Authority, which says: Over half a sample of 16-year-old day release pupils had a reading level below the average of 10 year old pupils. Is the Secretary of State satisfied with that?

A study undertaken by the social studies department of Oxford University into the special problems of immigrant children found that 60 per cent. of Asian children in Birmingham could not read English at the age of 11. Are the Government satisfied with that?

Mrs. Payne, who undertook that study, commenting on teaching in junior schools said that junior schoolteachers are generally not taught how to teach reading. This is thought to be the province of infant schools, yet in the junior schools studied, a large proportion of children were quite unprepared for the work expected of them. Clearly, something is wrong with our standards. They may be no worse, but everyone in the House should be as concerned about them as we are.

We have had no concrete proposals from hon. Members on the Government side of the House. If I may paraphrase the words of the hon. Member for Newham, South, they have talked of testing, and constant assessment, but they have not suggested any real action.

A headmaster told me the other day about a 10-year-old boy who arrived in his school on a Monday morning having come from Jamaica on the previous Friday. He had been living with his grandmother in the hills above Montego Bay and had had no education. His grandmother was taken ill, and the boy was put on a plane to join his mother in this country. On Monday morning he arrived at school. Such boys must be properly indentified and helped, or they will suffer grievously themselves and cause the children in their forms to suffer at the same time.

We should not underestimate the importance of reading and writing. One hon. Member opposite said how terrible it was to hold a boy back, but is it not much more terrible to allow a boy to leave school without being able to read or write properly? I wonder whether hon. Members opposite have ever talked to an adult illiterate. I have, and I found it a frightening experience. Think what it must be like to be illiterate.

The person to whom I was speaking was a lavatory attendant, and his ambition was to become a waiter in a restaurant. When I asked why he could not become a waiter, he said he could not read menus and would not know the prices. He cannot drive a car because he cannot read speed signs. These people are living in a different world. We must try to put ourselves in their position and imagine what it is like.

Hon. Members suggest that the worst thing in the world is holding a boy back for six months or a year to teach him to read and write properly. Are they not more concerned about people who leave school without being able to read or write at all? It is most terrible that that should happen to anyone.

Next, I wish to talk about the importance of mathematics. There is no doubt that some universities are having to establish remedial classes for mathematics for their students. They have to teach the basic facts and skills that the students have not acquired as they should have done. They lack a basic understanding of algebra, calculus, geometry and other disciplines. I point out to the Government—this may convince them—that in the Soviet Union there are special schools for selected children who are gifted mathematically. There are special boarding schools in the major cities of the Soviet Union, while most cities of any size have special day schools for those specially gifted in mathematics and physics. Perhaps the Russians are right to provide those schools, but I am not arguing that point. I am saying that at least our students must have basic numeracy and literacy before they leave school.

We are saying by means of the clause that the right time for the remedial class is before the student moves on from primary school to secondary school. Unless there is an examination such as we are recommending, how are we to identify the children who need help? Of course, it is a form of selection, but it is the same form of selection that is used to identify an educationally subnormal child who needs help, or a child who is hard of hearing or partially sighted.

The child who is illiterate or not numerate needs the same sort of help as does the ESN child, the partially-sighted child, or the child who is hard of hearing. How can the illiterate child or the child who is not numerate be identified by constant assessment? He must be identified by means of an independent standard, established nationally by the Secretary of State. Those who are heard of hearing, partially sighted, or whatever, must be identified by an independent standard. That is why I so strongly support the clause.

If, by accepting the clause and instituting the test that we are proposing, perhaps keeping back a few students a year, we can reduce by 10 per cent. or by 500,000, or even 100,000, the number of illiterate adults, thus preventing them from leaving school as illiterates, we shall have done a good day's work.

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

I hope it can be said without contradiction that the discussion of the new clause has produced a welcome debate. Certainly it has been a welcome debate for those who sat through 35 sittings in Standing Committee E. In all the discussion of the Bill which has raged since last December, we have at last broken some new ground with the clause. Those who have been involved in the proceedings in Committee might agree that some new ground in this discussion on education was badly needed.

The Bill was strongly contested by my right hon. and hon. Friends when it was presented for Second Reading. Nothing happened in the 35 sittings in Committee to lessen our deep repugnance towards the Bill. There have been small concessions, although there has been a remarkable reluctance on the part of Ministers to acknowledge them as such. However, the Bill still remains the same centralising dictatorial measure, robbing individuals and communities alike of the rights conferred upon them under the Education Act 1944 to shape the pattern of education in their areas.

9.45 p.m.

The last time we touched on these matters was on Second Reading, when my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) said: The Bill is an insult to the intelligence of all parents and is contemptuous of the anxieties that they feel."—[Official Report, 4th February 1976; Vol. 904, c. 1234.] That is as true today as it was last December.

While the total number of trained teachers joining the dole queue increases, while resources for education are being cut back and while the anxieties of parents, pupils, students and teachers over what is happening grow day by day, the Government have persisted with this measure, which is at worst damaging and at best irrelevant. If ever there was a betrayal of our children by those with statutory responsibilitiy for ensuring their education, it is the pursuit of this measure at the expense of recognising the real needs of parents, pupils and teachers.

The new clause sets out to bring our discussion back to the real needs which people in education are feeling. The purpose of the new clause is to bring the Government down from their flight of collectivist fancy to the reality of what is worrying people in our schools today. What more appropriate, therefore, than that the new clause should be concerned with standards of education in our schools?

The issue causing the most general concern among the parents of school age children today is the reorganisation of secondary education in some areas. We must admit and face the fact that, where this is the case, the concern usually runs in the opposite direction from that of the Government, as we discovered in the debate on New Clause 2 today.

There are many parts of the country where the comprehensive principle has been accepted and implemented. Therefore, we have a duty to parents in those areas to see that their comprehensives have and live up to all that is claimed for them. It is a major Education Bill which does nothing whatsoever to help parents in those areas and does nothing to meet their real and growing anxieties, which have nothing to do with the argument over selectivity, to be allowed to go through this House? Are there not real anxieties held by the parents of children in the primary sector which the Bill will do nothing to meet or rectify?

Photo of Mr Gwilym Roberts Mr Gwilym Roberts , Cannock

The hon. Gentleman has made a useful and pertinent point. He said that the Bill would not remove any of the anxieties of parents with children in the primary sector. Surely that is what the Bill does. The greatest anxiety of all to thousands of parents with children in the primary sector is the bogy of the 11-plus which some of their children still have to face.

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

That might apply to a number of parents of children in the primary sector. However, I know from experience that there are great anxieties among those parents arising from the precipitate elimination of selection in some areas. I speak from experience in my own constituency. Parents ask why a particular school of quality, which was open to their children, is now denied to them. That school has been driven into the private sector and replaced by something which in their eyes is totally unproven. I thank the hon. Gentleman for acknowledging the valid point that what has been described as a major Education Bill should lift its eyes above the argument over selectivity which has been engaging so many of us for many years.

We must recognise that anxiety, which is very general in the country in areas which still have selective education and in those which do not. It is not good enough for Ministers on the Government Bench to reject the clause and to do nothing whatever to meet that anxiety over standards by any other measure, amendment or new clause.

The truth is that there is far more general anxiety in education today over standards than over this or that particular pattern of organisation. There is growing concern over academic standards in our schools, as measured by results at O-level and A-level—secondary level—and as measured by literacy and numeracy attainment—the three Rs—in the primary schools.

Evidence of that is presented to us from all sides. It comes from teachers and head teachers in secondary schools who complain that children are coming up to them at 11 or 12, unable to read properly and sometimes unable even to read at all. They cannot express themselves, either verbally or in writing, have little command of number work and have no disciplined approach to learning. As a consequence, a great deal of time and effort is consumed in the first years at secondary level in remedying deficiencies which should have been corrected before the pupils ever came to that stage.

Similarly, we have the evidence presented to us from the universities. My hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Shelton) dealt with this just now. Many authorities in higher and further education are complaining of students coming to them from secondary schools without the knowledge and understanding which are necessary to enable them to commence the course at the levels that once applied. The university itself now very frequently has to teach basic facts and skills again before the pupils can embark on a proper degree course.

There are two well-known examples of this. One of them was cited by my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham. It is in mathematics, where remedial classes are now frequently necessary for first-year students in chemistry, physics, engineering and other mathematical sciences and technology.

Photo of Mr Gwilym Roberts Mr Gwilym Roberts , Cannock

Will the hon. Gentleman accept that the reason why additional classes in mathematical subjects are often now incorporated in university courses is that university courses themselves are becoming far more numerical in content? That is the simple reason. It has nothing to do with the background of the student.

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

I do not deny that that may well be a factor, but it is by no means the only one. We have evidence from the Chairman of the Schools Council Mathematics Committee, Mr. Douglas Quadling, that complaints about falling standards in mathematics are justified.

Photo of Sir George Sinclair Sir George Sinclair , Dorking

Will my hon. Friend accept the evidence of many of those who are concerned with the admission of people from secondary schools to the universities that though bright boys and girls may be, they are not sufficiently prepared when they arrive at the university to take full advantage immediately of the courses the university has to offer? This is the evidence being given by don after don and tutor after tutor in the universities.

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

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for reinforcing the point I was seeking to make.

Of course, the objections that are coming from universities are not restricted to deficiencies in mathematics. Many universities are now seriously saying that for a degree course in languages they frequently have to ignore all the work which has previously been done in schools and assume that a pupil knows nothing and start again from square one. It is equally said by people at this level that the teaching of basic English grammar and the structure of language, and so on, is so poor that a pupil has no proper linguistic foundation from which to pursue the study of foreign languages.

That is the evidence that is brought to us from the universities and schools. Some of my hon. Friends have referred to the evidence that is put before us almost weekly by employers who find standards dropping among those whom they are seeking to recruit. This is a tragedy which can cause a very nasty blight upon a school leaver's start in his working career from which it may take him many years to recover, if he really recovers from it at all.

Finally, there is the evidence which must come to hon. Members on both sides of the House, the evidence from parents. This comes in our mail weekly. I ask Labour Members, particularly the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery), who is not now present, to accept that this is not an anxiety that is being expressed from some elitist end of the population who see their own entrenched standards being undermined. Many of the letters that come to us are from working families who are very worried about the standards of education which they see sometimes applying in their local schools. These people, above all, often recognise the great value of education in improving the lot and the life of their children above that which they themselves were able to attain. Therefore, let us not be deluded by the argument that the motive force behind these complaints over falling and lapsing standards comes from some elitist section of the population. I am sure that Labour Members must get evidence on this issue coming into their hands just as Opposition Members do.

How has this situation come about? A number of suggestions have been made this evening. First, there is the suggestion that new teaching techniques have contributed to this. That is not an argument in which I wish to become involved tonight. It is becoming a habit in the debate to declare parenthood. I am the father of three children, all of whom are in the primary sector, and I have had children taught under formal methods of teaching as well as informal methods. I have seen children benefit and suffer under both these systems.

However, when one looks at the evidence from Neville Bennett's recent study, for example—about which there is good honest argument in the economic world —it amazes me that we have to reach this point in time and get a study of that kind presented to us before we begin to ask ourselves whether we should not be testing in some way the product of these new teaching techniques that we have so happily fallen for or implemented. Should not these have come long ago, and should we not have had comparative reports before us long ago? That is one area of argument as to how the situation has come about—the application of new teaching techniques. I stress, however, that I would not want to criticise those techniques per se.

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

Ordered,

That the Education Bill may be proceeded with at this day's Sitting, though opposed, until any hour.—[Mr. Thomas Cox.]

Question again proposed, That the clause be read a Second time.

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

The second explanation put forward for this situation is the disruption that has frequently arisen from reorganisation itself. It has been pointed out before that previous Secretaries of State from the Conservative side have agreed to comprehensive reorganisation schemes. But the important thing is to ensure the minimum disturbance and disruption to the pupils engaged in the process if, indeed, it is the will of the area concerned to have such a system.

The third reason advanced—here I echo a point made from our own Benches—could well be the application of the egalitarian ethic and the fear that has grown in many quarters of recognising and promoting excellence. On that point, if on no other, I would agree with the hon. Member for Hillsborough that frequently the mistakes and the lapses in our education system are the reflection of faults and changes in our society itself.

When intervening earlier, the Under-Secretary of State argued that no suitable tests were available for us to employ for the purpose outlined in the new clause. There are already a number of experimental monitoring schemes on reading ability. The hon. Lady will be aware of what is going on in the London borough of Croydon, where an assessment of every primary school child is made from the age of 5 up to 11. The reading is assessed and the exercise is repeated each year. This has already thrown up schools and teaching methods which are not producing satisfactory results, and the corrective measures are being introduced and implemented. Are Labour Members really against this as well? The basic supposition in the new clause is that we have reached a situation where public anxiety is now—[Interruption.]

Photo of Sir Arthur Irvine Sir Arthur Irvine , Liverpool Edge Hill

Order. It would be helpful to the Chair if private conversations could be carried on at a slightly lower level.

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

I suggest that there is currently sufficient anxiety among parents, and thoughout education generally, over standards in our schools to merit the consideration of setting a minimum standard for literacy and numeracy. That is the basic point covered in the new clause.

Surely the time has come to provide those minimum standards and to try to ensure that every child reaches them. The question is asked "Why at 10½ years? "The answer is that this is the age referred to in the original 1944 Education Act as the transfer age. However, hon. Members opposite will see that the new clause allows flexibility by adding the phase or at an age to be determined by the Secretary of State", thus allowing for middle schools and other ages of transfer. I suggest there is no reason why such minimum standards should not also be provided for younger ages too, for the seven-year-olds or the nine-year-olds. This is a point which could well be argued.

As a first move, surely a minimum standard in basic skills should be established before moving on to secondary school level. That would be of great value in telling us how our techniques are working and in showing secondary schools how best to start with new pupils.

The second part of the clause—I am surprised at the great exception which has been taken to this—suggests that the children who do not attain the minimum standards would be better served by being kept back and brought on for one year to equip them properly for the secondary education.

Photo of Mr Arnold Shaw Mr Arnold Shaw , Redbridge Ilford South

In the event of a backward child being kept back in the primary school for a year and then not making the grade, what would happen? Would he stay in the primary school for the rest of his school life?

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

A pupil who is persistently unable to reach the minimum standard would surely be a case for special education at a totally different institution.

All the evidence about anxiety over standards has come from my hon. Friends. All that we have had from Labour Members is the assertion that it has all been got up by the Press and that there is nothing to worry about.

The Under-Secretary made two basic arguments against us. First, she said that there were no suitable tests to fulfil this function. She referred to the assessment of performance unit set up to devise such tests but went on to say that the research was ongoing and implied that no satisfactory test would ever be obtained. Her second argument was that the implications of our test were undesirable and that it would have the same characteristics as aspects of the 11-plus other than its selecting function. This is an argument against all forms of examination and assessment. Previous Labour Secretaries of State have argued against examinations at any level of study or achievement.

If Labour Members had been here for much of the debate, they would have heard their hon. Friend the Member for Hillsborough argue that the only worthwhile assessment is daily contact with the teacher. He denied that there was any need for external assessment of performmance or ability at any stage. [Interruption.] But the most surprising thing about the hon. Lady's speech was her audacity in even mentioning the Bullock Report as a means of refuting what my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Dr. Boyson) had said—[Interruption.]

Photo of Hon. Peter Morrison Hon. Peter Morrison , City of Chester

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I cannot hear what my hon. Friend is saying.

Photo of Sir Arthur Irvine Sir Arthur Irvine , Liverpool Edge Hill

I agree with the hon. Member. I, too, had difficulty.

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

On a point of order. Mr. Deputy Speaker. I heard the hon. Member's speech. You have not missed anything.

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

I apologise to the hon. Member for Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud). I did not detect any point in his speech that was worth an answer.

The Under-Secretary had the audacity to mention the Bullock Report. Despite all the protestations of concern by Ministers, it is a test of their integrity on this matter that the House has never yet had a chance to debate that report. Is not that evidence of their complacent approach to standards of literacy?

We are all concerned, or should be—I sometimes doubt it—over current standards of education. We may have various theories as to the reasons for those standards —reorganisation, teaching methods and the rest. Surely we cannot accept the complacency of a Government who allow the passing of an Education Bill which they regard as a major measure but which takes no step to meet the legitimate anxieties of parents and teachers on this matter. We need effective remedies for the situation. The need to monitor and test, I should have thought had been amply spelt out by the Opposition.

We do not lay down in the clause how best the teacher should achieve these minimum standards. By means of the new clause we ask that there should be an acceptable minimum standard of attainment for all children. That is the least that the Government, in pressing this tawdry Bill on to the statute book, should accept.

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

I have not previously had the privilege of realising that the hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Gardiner) is an entertaining speaker.

There is no great difference between both sides of the House in so far as we are aware of and concerned about standards in education. Unhappily, there is nothing new in the fact that some children in our schools fail to attain the standards of literacy and numeracy that we desire.

I knew illiterates when I was conscripted into the Armed Forces 40 years ago. I lived in a barrack room with a number of illiterates. Many of them asked me to write their applications for special leave and other such matters on their behalf. My letters—at a moderate charge—usually enabled them to obtain such special leave.

The debate reflected concern about standards. The House must now decide whether or not to write into legislation a form of test which, in the judgment of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary—she put it clearly to the House—and in the experience of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery), might well make standards worse rather than better.

In other contexts, we were told—it is a reasonable point—that new methods should not be introduced generally without testing and monitoring their results. To put it no higher, it would be unwise for the House to make mandatory this form of testing as a means of achieving the standards that we want.

10.15 p.m.

The hon. Member for Reigate said that the Bill robbed local education authorities of the rights conferred upon them by the 1944 Act. If there has to be a change in the balance of control of education from local government to central Government—I am not afraid to face this problem—it will be much more in the area of national standards, which imply a national control of curricular matters.

The hon. Member for Brighton, Kemp-town, (Mr. Bowden) quoted extensively from a publication showing how the French education system operates. As with several other countries—

Photo of Mrs Elaine Kellett Mrs Elaine Kellett , Lancaster

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman rose

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

I should like to complete my sentence—

Photo of Mrs Elaine Kellett Mrs Elaine Kellett , Lancaster

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman rose

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

With due deference to the hon. Lady, whose charms I can never resist, I should like to complete my sentence, when I shall willingly give way to her.

In France and in other countries there is central control of the curriculum, but that has never been our traditional practice. There may have to be a swing in our balance, but to say that the Bill robs local education authorities and teachers of their rights under the Act and, at the same time, to propose this form of testing, goes beyond anything that I might have said about that kind of balance.

Photo of Mrs Elaine Kellett Mrs Elaine Kellett , Lancaster

Does the Minister accept that imposing reasonable national standards in no way implies control of the curriculum? It would be left to the headmaster to achieve the standards in his own way. All we seek to achieve is a standard, not a set curriculum as is done on the Continent.

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

I thought that the anxiety that has been expressed was about teaching methods and the way subjects are taught. [Interruption.] Whatever school the hon. Lady went to, manners clearly were not on the curriculum, otherwise she would be less prone to make observations from a seated position.

It would not be appropriate to insert this form of words into the Bill. It would be wrong to take such a dramatic step without full consultation with the local authorities. We are sometimes criticised for not fully consulting education interests. We have to think through the implications. The hon. Lady heard me say in her constituency not long ago that there is concern, and that we want to raise standards. But this is not the right way to do it, and I ask the House to reject the clause.

Several Hon. Members:

Several Hon. Membersrose

Photo of Mr Michael Cocks Mr Michael Cocks , Bristol South

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Michael Cocks) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House proceeded to a Division:

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack , Staffordshire South West

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It will be clear to you that at least four hon. Members were on their feet when the Government Chief Whip sought to close the discussion on this important clause. May I therefore ask for your protection? Will you allow us to continue the debate?

Photo of Sir Arthur Irvine Sir Arthur Irvine , Liverpool Edge Hill

It is a matter for my discretion, and I have exercised my discretion.

The House having divided:Ayes 315, Noes 267.

Division No. 168.]AYES10.19 p.m.
Abse, LeoCunningham, G. (Islington S)Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Allaun, FrankCunningham, Dr J. (Whiten)Hardy, Peter
Anderson, DonaldDalyell, TamHarper, Joseph
Archer, PeterDavidson, ArthurHarrison, Walter (Wakefield)
Armstrong, ErnestDavies, Bryan (Enfield N)Hart, Rt Hon Judith
Ashley, JackDavies, Denzil (Llanelli)Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Ashton, JoeDavies, Ifor (Gower)Hatton, Frank
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)Hayman, Mrs Helene
Atkinson, NormanDeakins, EricHeffer, Eric S.
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)Hooley, Frank
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyHooson, Emlyn
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)Dell, Rt Hon EdmundHoram, John
Bates, AlfDempsey, JamesHowell, Rt Hon Denis
Bean, R. E.Doig, PeterHowells, Geraint (Cardigan)
Beith, A. J.Dormand, J. D,Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony WedgwoodDouglas-Mann, BruceHuckfield, Les
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)Duffy, A. E. P.Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)
Bidwell, SydneyDunn, James A.Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Bishop, E. S.Dunnett, JackHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Blenkinsop, ArthurDunwoody, Mrs GwynethHughes, Roy (Nwport)
Boardman, H.Eadle, AlexHunter, Adam
Booth, Rt Hon AlbertEdge, GeoffIrvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)
Boothroyd, Miss BettyEdwards, Robert (Wolv SE)Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)
Bottomley, Rt Hon ArthurEllis, Tom (Wrexham)Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)
Boyden, James (BishAuck)English, MichaelJackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)
Bradley, TomEnnais, DavidJanner, Greville
Bray, Dr JeremyEvans, Fred (Caerphilly)Jay, Rt Hon Douglas
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)Jeger, Mrs. Lena
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)Evans John (Newton)Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)Ewing, Harry (Stirling)Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Stechford)
Buchan, NormanFaulds, AndrewJohn, Brynmor
Buchanan, RichardFernyhough, Rt Hon E.Johnson, James (Hull West)
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)Fitch, Alan (Wigan)Johnson, Walter (Derby S)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)Flannery, MartinJones, Barry (East Flint)
Campbell, IanFletcher, Raymond (Iikeston)Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Canavan, DennisFletcher, Ted (Darlington)Judd, Frank
Cant, R. B.Foot, Rt Hon MichaelKaufman, Gerald
Carmichael, NeilFord, BenKelley, Richard
Carter, RayForrester, JohnKerr, Russell
Carter-Jones, LewisFowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Cartwright, JohnFraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)Kinnock, Neil
Castle, Rt Hon BarbaraFreeson, ReginaldLambie, David
Clemitson, IvorFreud, ClementLamborn, Harry
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S)Garrett, John (Norwich S)Lamond, James
Cohen, StanleyGarrett, W. E. (Wallsend)Latham, Arthur (Paddington)
Colquhoun, Ms MaureenGeorge, BruceLeadbitter, Ted
Concannon, J. D.Gilbert, Dr JohnLee, John
Conlan, BernardGinsburg, DavidLestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)Golding, JohnLever, Rt Hon Harold
Corbett, RobinGould, BryanLewis, Arthur (Newham N)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting)Gourlay, HarryLewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)Graham, TedLipton, Marcus
Crawshaw, RichardGrant, George (Morpeth)Litterick, Tom
Cronin, JohnGrant, John (Islington C)Lomas, Kenneth
Crosland, Rt Hon AnthonyGrocott, BruceLoyden, Eddie
Cryer, BobHamilton, James (Bothwell)Luard, Evan
Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)Park, GeorgeStott, Roger
Mabon, Dr. J. DicksonParker, JohnStrang, Gavin
McCartney, HughParry, RobertStrauss, Rt Hn G. R.
McElhone, FrankPavitt, LaurieSummerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
MacFarquhar, "PoderickPeart, Rt Hon FredSwain, Thomas
McGuire, Michael (Ince)Pendry, TomTaylor, Mrs Arm (Bolton W)
Mackenzie, GregorPenhaligon, DavidThomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Mackintosh, John P.Perry, ErnestThomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Maclennan, RobertPhipps, Dr ColinThomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)Prescott, JohnThomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
McNamara, KevinPrice, C. (Lewisham W)Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Madden, MaxPrice, William (Rugby)Tierney, Sydney
Magee, BryanRadica, GilesTinn, James
Maguire, Frank (Fermanagh)Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)Tomlinson, John
Mahon, SimonRichardson, Miss JoTorney, Tom
Mallalieu, J. P. W.Roberts, Albert (Normanton)Tuck, Raphael
Marks, KennethRoberts, Gwilym (Cannock)Urwin, T. W.
Marquand, DavidRobertson, John (Paisley)Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Marshall, Dr. Edmund (Goole)Robinson, GeoffreyWainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Roderick, CaerwynWainwright, Richard (Colne V)
Mason, Rt Hon RoyRodgers, George (Chorley)Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)
Maynard, Miss JoanRodgers, William (Stockton)Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Meacher, MichaelRooker, J. W.Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Mellish, Rt Hon RobertRoper, JohnWard, Michael
Mendelson, JohnRose, Paul B.Watkins, David
Mikardo, IanRoss, Stephen (Isle of Wight)Watkinson, John
Millan, BruceRoss, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)Weetch, Ken
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)Rowlands, TedWeitzman, David
Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)Sandelson, NevilleWellbeloved, James
Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)Sedgemore, BrianWhite, Frank R. (Bury)
Molloy, WilliamSelby, HarryWhite, James (Pollok)
Moonman, EricShaw, Arnold (Ilford South)Whitehead, Phillip
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)Whitlock, William
Morris, Charles R. (Openehaw)Shore, Rt Hon PeterWigley, Dafydd
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Moyle, RolandShort, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Mulley, Rt Hon FrederickSilkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Murray, Rt Hon Ronald KingSilkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Newens, StanleySillars, JamesWilliams, Sir Thomas
Noble, MikeSilverman, JuliusWilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Oakes, GordonSkinner, DennisWilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)
Ogden, EricSmall, WilliamWilson, William (Coventry SE)
O'Halloran, MichaelSmith, Cyril (Rochdale)Wise, Mrs Audrey
Orbach, MauriceSmith, John (N Lanarkshire)Woodall, Alec
Orme, Rt Hon StanleySnape, PeterWoof, Robert
Ovenden, JohnSpearing, NigelWrigglesworth, Ian
Owen, Dr DavidStallard, A. W.Young, David (Bolton E)
Padley, WalterSteel, David (Roxburgh)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Palmer, ArthurStewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)Mr. John Ellis and Mr. Donald Coleman.
Pardoe, JohnStoddart, David
NOES
Adley, RobertCarlisle, MarkEyre, Reginald
Aitken, JonathanChalker, Mrs LyndaFairbairn, Nicholas
Alison, MichaelChannon, PaulFairgrieve, Russell
Arnold, TomChurchill, W. S.Farr, John
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)Fell, Anthony
Awdry, DanielClark, William (Croydon S)Finsberg, Geoffrey
Banks, RobertClarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Fisher, Sir Nigel
Bell, RonaldClegg, WalterFletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)Cockcroft, JohnFletcher-Cooke, Charles
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)Fookes, Miss Janet
Berry, Hon AnthonyCope, JohnForman, Nigel
Biffen, JohnCordle, John H.Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)
Biggs-Davison, JohnCormack, PatrickFox, Marcus
Blaker, PeterCorrie, JohnFry, Peter
Body, RichardCostain, A. P.Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.
Boscawen, Hon RobertCrawford, DouglasGardiner, George (Reigate)
Bottomley, PeterCritchley, JulianGardner, Edward (S Fylde)
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)Crouch, DavidGilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)Crowder, F. P.Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)
Braine, Sir BernardDavies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford)Glyn, Dr. Alan
Brittan, LeonDean, Paul (N Somerset)Goodhart, Philip
Brocklebank-Fowler, C.Dodsworth, GeoffreyGoodhew, Victor
Brotherton, MichaelDouglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesGoodlad, Alastair
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Drayson, BurnabyGorst, John
Bryan, Sir Pauldu Cann, Rt Hon EdwardGow, Ian (Eastbourne)
Buchanan-Smith, AlickDurant, TonyGower, Sir Raymond (Barry)
Buck, AntonyDykes, HughGrant, Anthony (Harrow C)
Budgen, NickEden, Rt Hon Sir JohnGray, Hamish
Bulmer, EsmondEdwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)Griffiths, Eldon
Burden, F. A.Elliott, Sir WilliamGrist, Ian
Butler, Adam (Bosworth)Emery, PeterGrylls, Michael
Hall, Sir JohnMadel, DavidRoyle, Sir Anthony
Hall-Davis, A. G. F.Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Sainsbury, Tim
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Marten, NeilSt. John-Stevas, Norman
Hampson, Dr KeithMates, MichaelScott, Nicholas
Hannam, JohnMaude, AngusScott-Hopkins, James
Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye)Mawby, RayShaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon MissMaxwell-Hyslop, RobinShaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Hastings, StephenMayhew, PatrickShelton, William (Streatham)
Havers, Sir MichaelMeyer, Sir AnthonyShepherd, Colin
Hawkins, PaulMiller, Hal (Bromsgrove)Shersby, Michael
Hayhoe, BarneyMills, PeterSilvester, Fred
Heseltine, MichaelMiscampbell, NormanSims, Roger
Hicks, RobertMitchell, David (Basingstoke)Sinclair, Sir George
Higgins, Terence L.Moate, RogerSkeet, T. H. H.
Holland, PhilipMonro, HectorSmith, Dudley (Warwick)
Hordern, PeterMontgomery, FergusSpeed, Keith
Howe, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyMore, Jasper (Ludlow)Spence, John
Howell, David (Guildford)Morgan, GeraintSpicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Morgan-Giles, Rear-AdmiralSpicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Hunt, David (Wirral)Morris, Michael (Northampton S)Sproat, Iain
Hunt, JohnMorrison, Charles (Devizes)Stainton, Keith
Hurd, DouglasMorrison, Hon Peter (Chester)Stanbrook, Ivor
Hutchison, Michael ClarkMudd, DavidStanley, John
Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)Neave, AireySteen, Anthony (Wavertree)
James, DavidNelson, AnthonyStewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Jenkin, Rt Hn P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd)Neubert, MichaelStokes, John
Jessel, TobyNewton, TonyStorehouse, Rt Hon John
Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)Normanton, TomStradling, Thomas J.
Jones, Arthur (Deventry)Nott, JohnTapsell, Peter
Jopling, MichaelOnslow, CranleyTaylor, R. (Croydon NW)
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir KeithOppenheim, Mrs SallyTaylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Kaberry, Sir DonaldOsborn, JohnTebbit, Norman
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs ElainePage, John (Harrow West)Temple-Morris, Peter
Kershaw, AnthonyPage, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Kimball, MarcusPaisley, Rev IanThomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
King, Evelyn (South Dorset)Parkinson, CecilTownsend, Cyril D.
King, Tom (Bridgwater)Pattie, GeoffreyTrotter, Neville
Kirk, Sir PeterPercival, IanTugendhat, Christopher
Kitson, Sir TimothyPeyton, Rt Hon Johnvan Straubenzee, W. R.
Knight, Mrs JillPrice, David (Eastleigh)Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Knox, DavidPrior, Rt Hon JamesViggers, Peter
Lane, DavidPym, Rt Hon FrancisWakeham, John
Latham, Michael (Melton)Raison, TimothyWalder, David (Clitheroe)
Lawrence, IvanRathbone, TimWalker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Lawson, NigelRawlinson, Rt Hon Sir PeterWalker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Le Marchant, SpencerRees, Peter (Dover & Deal)Wall, Patrick
Lester, Jim (Beeston)Rees-Davies, W. R.Walters, Dennis
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)Warren, Kenneth
Lloyd, IanRenton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)Weatherill, Bernard
Loveridge, JohnRhys Williams, Sir BrandonWells, John
Luce, RichardRidley, Hon NicholasWhitelaw, Rt Hon William
McAdden, Sir StephenRidsdale, JulianWiggin, Jerry
MacCormick, IainRifkind, MalcolmWinterlon, Nicholas
McCrindle, RobertRippon, Rt Hon GeoffreyWood, Rt Hon Richard
Macfarlane, NeilRoberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
MacGregor, JohnRoberts, Wyn (Conway)Younger, Hon George
Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)Mr. Carol Matter and Mr. W. Benyon.
McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 265, Noes 315.

Division No. 169.]AYES[10.32 p.m.
Adley, RobertBoscawen, Hon RobertButler, Adam (Bosworth)
Aitken, JonathanBottomley, PeterCarlisle, Mark
Alison, MichaelBowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)Chalker, Mrs Lynda
Arnold, TomBoyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)Channon, Paul
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)Braine, Sir BernardChurchill, W. S.
Awdry, DanielBrittan, LeonClark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)
Banks, RobertBrocklebank-Fowler, C.Clark, William (Croydon S)
Bell, RonaldBrotherton, MichaelClarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Clegg, Walter
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)Bryan, Sir PaulCockcroft, John
Benyon, W.Buchanan-Smith, AlickCooke, Robert (Bristol W)
Bitten, JohnBuck, AntonyCope, John
Biggs-Davison, JohnBudgen, NickCordle, John H.
Blaker, PeterBulmer, EsmondCormack, Patrick
Body, RichardBurden, F. A.Corrie, John
Costain, A. P.Jones, Arthur (Daventry)Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Critchley, JulianJopling, MichaelRees-Davies, W. R.
Crouch, DavidJoseph, Rt Hon Sir KeithRenton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Crowder, F. P.Kaberry, Sir DonaldRonton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford)Kellett-Bowman, Mrs ElaineRhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Dean, Paul (N Somerset)Kershaw, AnthonyRidley, Hon Nicholas
Dodsworth, GeoffreyKimball, MarcusRidsdale, Julian
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesKing, Evelyn (South Dorset)Rifkind, Malcolm
Drayson, BurnabyKing, Tom (Bridgwater)Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
du Cann, Rt Hon EdwardKirk, Sir PeterRoberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Durant, TonyKitson, Sir TimorthyRoberts, Wyn (Conway)
Dykes, HughKnight, Mrs JillRodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Eden, Rt Hon Sir JohnKnox, DavidRossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)Lane, DavidRost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Elliott, Sir WilliamLatham, Michael (Melton)Royle, Sir Anthony
Emery, PeterLawrence, IvanSainsbury, Tim
Eyre, ReginaldLawson, NigelSt. John-Stevas, Norman
Fairbairn, NicholasLe Marchant, SpencerScott, Nicholas
Fairgrieve, RussellLester, Jim (Beeston)Scott-Hopkins, James
Farr, JohnLewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Fell, AnthonyLloyd, IanShaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Finsberg, GeoffreyLoveridge, JohnShelton, William (Strealham)
Fisher, Sir NigelLuce, RichardShepherd, Colin
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N)McAdden, Sir StephenShersby, Michael
Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesMcCrindle, RobertSilvester, Fred
Fookes, Miss JanetMacfarlane, NeilSims, Roger
Forman, NigelMacGregor, JohnSinclair, Sir George
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)Skeet, T. H. H.
Fox, MarcusMcNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Fry, PeterMcNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)Speed, Keith
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.Madel, DavidSpence, John
Gardiner, George (Reigate)Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde)Marten, NeilSpicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)Mates, MichaelSproat, Iain
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)Maude, AngusStainton, Keith
Glyn, Dr. AlanMawby, RayStanbrook, Ivor
Good hart, PhilipMaxwell-Hyslop, RobinStanley, John
Goodhew, VictorMayhew, PatrickSteen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Goodlad, AlastairMeyer, Sir AnthonyStewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Gorst, JohnMiller, Hal (Bromsgrove)Stokes, John
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)Mills, PelerStonehouse, Rt Hon John
Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)Miscampbell, NormanStradling, Thomas J.
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)Tapsell, Peter
Gray, HamishMoate, RogerTaylor, R. (Croydon NW)
Griffiths, EldonMonro, HectorTaylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Grist, IanMontgomery, FergusTebbit, Norman
Grylls, MichaelMore, Jasper (Ludlow)Temple-Morris, Peter
Hall, Sir JohnMorgan, GeraintThatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Hall-Davis, A. G. F.Morgan-Giles, Rear-AdmiralThomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Morris, Michael (Northampton S)Townsend, Cyril D.
Hampson, Dr KeithMorrison, Charles (Devizes)Trotter, Neville
Hannam, JohnMorrison, Hon Peter (Chester)Tugendhat, Christopher
Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye)Mudd, Davidvan Straubenzee, W. R.
Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon MissNeave, AireyVaughan, Dr Gerard
Hastings, StephenNelson, AnthonyViggers, Peter
Havers, Sir MichaelNeubert, MichaelWakeham, John
Hawkins, PaulNewton, TonyWalder, David (Clitheroe)
Hayhoe, BarneyNormanton, TomWalker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Heseltine, MichaelNott, JohnWalker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Hicks, RobertOnslow, CranleyWall, Patrick
Higgins, Terence L.Oppenheim, Mrs SallyWalters, Dennis
Holland, PhilipOsborn, JohnWarren, Kenneth
Hordern, PeterPage, John (Harrow West)Weatherill, Bernard
Howe, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyPage, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)Wells, John
Howell, David (Guildford)Paisley, Rev IanWhitelaw, Rt Hon William
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Parkinson, CecilWiggin, Jerry
Hunt, David (Wirral)Pattie, GeoffreyWinterton, Nicholas
Hunt, JohnPercival, IanWood, Rt Hon Richard
Hurd, DouglasPeyton, Rt Hon JohnYoung, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Hutchison, Michael ClarkPrice, David (Eastleigh)Younger, Hon George
Irving, Charies (Cheltenham)Prior, Rt Hon JamesTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
James, DavidPym, Rt Hon FrancisMr. Anthony Berry and Mr. Carol Mather.
Jenkin, Rt Hn P. (Wanst'd & W'dl'd)Raison, Timothy
Jessel, TobyRathbone, Tim
Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter
NOES
Abse, LeoAshton, JoeBates, Alf
Allaun, FrankAtkins, Ronald (Preston N)Bean, R. E.
Anderson, DonaldAtkinson, NormanBeith, A. J.
Archer, PeterBagier, Gordon A. T.Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood
Armstrong, ErnestBarnett, Guy (Greenwich)Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)
Ashley, JackBarnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)Bidwell, Sydney
Bishop, E. S.Gilbert, Dr JohnMarshall, Dr. Edmund (Goole)
Blenkinsop, ArthurGinsburg, DavidMarshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Boardman, H.Golding, JohnMason, Rt Hon Roy
Booth, Rt Hon AlbertGould, BryanMaynard, Miss Joan
Boothroyd, Miss BettyGourlay, HarryMeacher, Michael
Bottomley, Rt Hon ArthurGraham, TedMelllsh, Rt Hon Robert
Boyden, James (Bish Auck)Grant, George (Morpeth)Mendelson, John
Bradley, TomGrant, John (Islington C)Mikardo, Ian
Bray, Dr JeremyGrocott, BruceMillan, Bruce
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Hamilton, James (Bothwel)Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)Hardy, PeterMitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen)
Buchan, NormanHarper, JosephMolloy, William
Buchanan, RichardHarrison, Walter (Wakefield)Moonman, Eric
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)Hart, Rt Hon JudithMorris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Campbell, IanHattersley, Rt Hon RoyMorris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Canavan, DennisHatton, FrankMorris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Cant, R. B.Hayman, Mrs HeleneMoyle, Roland
Carmichael, NeilHeller, Eric S.Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Carter, RayHooley, FrankMurray, Rt Hon Ronald King
Carter-Jones, LewisHooson, EnrlynNewens, Stanley
Cartwright, JohnHoram, JohnNoble, Mike
Castle, Rt Hon BarbaraHowell, Rt Hon DenisOakes, Gordon
Clemitson, IvorHowells, Geraint (Cardigan)Ogden, Eric
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S)Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)O'Halloran, Michael
Cohen, StanleyHuckfield, LesOrbach, Maurice
Coleman, DonaldHughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Colquhoun, Ms MaureenHughes, Mark (Durham)Ovenden, John
Concannon, J. D.Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Owen, Dr David
Conlan, BernardHughes, Roy (Nwport)Padley, Walter
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)Hunter, AdamPalmer, Arthur
Corbett, RobinIrvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)Pardoe, John
Cox, Thomas (Tooting)Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)Park, George
Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)Parker, John
Crawford, DouglasJackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoin)Parry, Robert
Crawshaw, RichardJanner, GrevillePavitt, Laurie
Cronin, JohnJay, Rt Hon DouglasPeart, Rt Hon Fred
Crosland, Rt Hon AnthonyJeger, Mrs. LenaPendry, Tom
Cryer, BobJenkins, Hugh (Putney)Penhaligon, David
Cunningham, G. (Islington S)Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Stechford)Perry, Ernest
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh)John, BrynmorPhipps, Dr Colin
Dalyell, TamJohnson, James (Hull West)Prescott, John
Davidson, ArthurJohnson, Walter (Derby S)Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)Jones, Barry (East Flint)Price, William (Rugby)
Davies, Denzil (Lianelli)Jones, Dan (Burnley)Radlce, Giles
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Judd, FrankRees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)Kaufman, GeraldRichardson, Miss Jo
Deakins, EricKelley, RichardRoberts, Albert (Normanton)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)Kerr, RussellRoberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyKilroy-Silk, RobertRobertson, John (Paisley)
Dell, Rt Hon EdmundKinnock, NeilRobinson, Geoffrey
Dempsey, JamesLambie, DavidRoderick, Caerwyn
Doig, PeterLamborn, HarryRodgers, George (Chorley)
Dormand, J. D.Lamond, JamesRodgers, William (Stockton)
Douglas-Mann, BruceLatham, Arthur (Paddington)Rooker, J. W.
Duffy, A. E. P.Leadbitter, TedRoper, John
Dunn, James A.Lee, JohnRose, Paul B.
Dunnett, JackLestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Dunwoody, Mrs GwynethLever, Rt Hon HaroldRoss, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Eadie, AlexLewis, Arthur (Newham N)Rowlands, Ted
Edge, GeoffLewis, Ron (Carlisle)Sandelson, Neville
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)Lipton, MarcusSedgemore, Brian
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)Litterick, TomSelby, Harry
English, MichaelLomas, KennethShaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Ennals, DavidLoyden, EddieSheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)Luard, EvanShore, Rt Hon Peter
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)
Evans John (Newton)Mabon, Dr. J. DicksonShort, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)
Ewing, Harry (Stirling)McCartney, HughSilkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Faulds, AndrewMacCormick, IainSilkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E.McElhone, FrankSilverman, Julius
Fitch, Alan (Wigan)MacFarquhar, RoderickSkinner, Denner
Flannery, MartinMcGuire, Michael (Ince)Small, William
Fletcher, Raymond (Iikeston)Mackenzie, GregorSmith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)Mackintosh, John P.Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelMaclennan, RobertSnape, Peter
Ford, BenMcMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)Spearing, Nigel
Forrester, JohnMcNamara, KevinSteel, David (Roxburgh)
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)Madden, MaxStewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)Magee, BryanStoddart, David
Freeson, ReginaldMagulre, Frank (Fermanagh)Stott, Roger
Freud, ClementMahon, SimonStrang, Gavin
Garrett, John (Norwich S)Mallalieu, J. P. W.Strauss, Rt Hn G. R.
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)Marks, KennethSummerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
George, BruceMarquand, DavidSwain, Thomas
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)Walker, Harold (Doncaster)Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)Walker, Terry (Kingswood)Williams, Sir Thomas
Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)Ward, MichaelWilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Thomas, Mike (Newcastle £)Watkins, DavidWilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)
Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)Watkinson, JohnWilson, William (Coventry SE)
Thorns, Stan (Preston South)Weetch, KenWise, Mrs Audrey
Tierney, SydneyWeitzman, DavidWoodall, Alec
Thin, JamesWellbeloved, JamesWoof, Robert
Tomlinson, JohnWhite, Frank R. (Bury)Wrigglesworth, Ian
Torney, TomWhite, James (Pollok)Young, David (Bolton E)
Tuck, RaphaelWhitehead, Phillip
Urwin, T. W.Whitlock, WilliamTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.Wigley, DafyddMr. A. W. Stallard and Mr. John Ellis.
Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)Wllley, Rt Hon Hederick
Wainwright, Richard (Coine V)Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)

Question accordingly negatived.