Education Reform Bill (Allocation of Time)

– in the House of Commons at 4:04 pm on 1st February 1988.

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Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East 4:04 pm, 1st February 1988

I must tell the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery) that I have not selected his amendment.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton 4:18 pm, 1st February 1988

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I would not for a moment question your right to select or not select any amendment. However, the timetable motion was tabled at 9 am on Friday. Hon. Members therefore had five and a half hours in which to table their own amendments. As there were not necessarily many hon. Members here on Friday, we are in some difficulty.

Can the intentions of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, which were expressed last Thursday, be instilled into the motion? Whatever the intent may be, unless the House give, an instruction in the motion, there is no assurance that the intent will be carried out. The intent may be the wish of a whole host of hon. Members, but unless there is an instruction, the Business Sub-Committee could take whatever action it wanted. Would you therefore accept a manuscript amendment which would ensure that the intent of the Leader of the House is not an intent but an instruction?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

I have no authority to accept manuscript instructions. They must go down on the Order Paper by way of a motion.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think you know me well enough to know that I would never suggest that you should accept a manuscript instruction. I hoped that you would accept a manuscript amendment stating that an instruction be given to the Chairman of the Standing Committee that is considering the Education Reform Bill—

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. That is just what I have said the hon. Gentleman cannot do. I cannot comment upon a manuscript amendment until I have seen it, and I have not seen this one. But the hon. Gentleman cannot move an instruction by way of a manuscript amendment. That must be by a motion on the Order Paper.

Photo of Mr Robin Maxwell-Hyslop Mr Robin Maxwell-Hyslop , Tiverton

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Could you assist the House, as Speakers sometimes do, by making it clear whether you have not chosen this amendment for debate because it is out of order or because you have exercised your discretion as to whether to accept the amendment, although it is in order? Members of the former Procedure Committee, under the distinguished chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery), are very concerned that their recommendation should apply in this case, if it is in order.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

The hon. Gentleman, is a great expert on procedure and he well knows that Mr. Speaker is never required to give reasons for his selection or non-selection of amendments. Since he has asked, however, I can tell the hon. Gentleman that the amendment is in order and it will be perfectly in order for the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery) to canvass the contents of it during the debate.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. This is a very important matter, and I am sure that the hon. Members for Honiton (Sir P. Emery) and for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) will wish to discuss it with you after the debate. Are we riot again in the difficulty with which we have been faced repeatedly in the past few months? A report of a Select Committee of the House — in this case, the Procedure Committee — has not been debated and the matters contained in it, which would ultimately have been transformed into resolutions of the House, have not been discussed. Therefore, you are placed in a difficult position.

The Procedure Committee is in a special position. Its reports should be debated immediately they have been published. If they are not, you will have exactly the same problems in the future.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

I have already told the hon. Member for Harborough (Sir J. Farr) that I regret that the reports of the Select Committees are not debated, but until the House agrees a change in the Standing Orders, I am bound by the present Standing Orders. I have no discretion in that respect.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you cast your mind back—not as long as I can, but you can go back some time — to previous timetable motions on the Order Paper in which the exact division of times was stated? We decided that it should be left to a Sub-Committee of the Standing Committee to decide the division of time because it was better that that should be done by the people dealing with the Bill than by an instruction of the House. It used to be common for the House to give an instruction to the Business Sub-Committee. I simply want you to accept, as an amendment to the motion, a proposal for which there has been good precedent: that an instruction be given to the Committee—

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I have just told the hon. Gentleman, who was Chairman of the Procedure Committee during the previous Parliaments, that the Standing Orders do not allow me to accept an amendment based upon an instruction. I have not yet seen his manuscript amendment. Will he please bring it to me?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon 4:24 pm, 1st February 1988

I beg to move, That the following provisions shall apply to the remaining proceedings on the Bill:

Committee1. — (1) The Standing Committee to which the Bill is allocated shall report the Bill to the House on or before 3rd March 1988.(2) Proceedings on the Bill at a sitting of the Standing Committee on the said 3rd March may continue until Eleven p.m., whether or not the House is adjourned before that time, and if the House is adjourned before those proceedings have been brought to a conclusion the Standing Committee shall report the Bill to the House on 4th March.

Report and Third Reading2. — (1) The proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading of the Bill shall be completed in three allotted days and shall be brought to a conclusion at Ten o'clock on the last of those days; and for the purposes of Standing Order No. 80 (Business Committee) this Order shall be taken to allot to the proceedings on Consideration such part of those days as the Resolution of the Business Committee may determine.(2) The Business Committee shall report to the House its Resolutions as to the proceedings on Consideration of the Bill, and as to the allocation of time between those proceedings and proceedings on Third Reading, not later than the fourth day on which the House sits after the day on which the Chairman of the Standing Committee reports the Bill to the House.(3) The Resolutions in any Report made under Standing Order No. 80 may be varied by a further Report so made, whether or not within the time specified in sub-paragraph (2) above, and whether or not the Resolutions have been agreed to by the House.(4) The Resolutions of the Business Committee may include alterations in the order in which proceedings on Consideration of the Bill are taken.

Procedure in Standing Committee3.—(1) At a sitting of the Standing Committee at which any proceedings on the Bill are to be brought to a conclusion under a Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee the Chairman shall not adjourn the Committee under any Order relating to the sittings of the Committee until the proceedings have been brought to a conclusion.(2) No Motion shall be made in the Standing Committee relating to the sitting of the Committee except by a member of the Government, and the Chairman shall permit a brief explanatory statement from the Member who makes, and from a Member who opposes, the Motion, and shall then put the Question thereon.4. No Motion shall be made to alter the order in which Clauses, Schedules, new Clauses and new Schedules are taken in the Standing Committee but the Resolutions of the Business Sub-Committee may include alterations in that order.

Conclusion of proceedings in Committee5. On the conclusion of the proceedings in any Committee on the Bill the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without putting any Question.

Dilatory Motions6. No dilatory Motion with respect to, or in the course of, proceedings on the Bill shall be made in the Standing Committee or on an allotted day except by a member of the Government, and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.

Motion under Standing Order No. 20: extra time7. If an allotted day is one to which a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 stands over from an earlier day, paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business) shall apply to the proceedings on the Bill for a period of time equal to the duration of the proceedings upon that Motion.

Private business8. Any private business which has been set down for consideration at Seven o'clock on an allotted day shall, instead of being considered as provided by Standing Orders, be considered at the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill on that day, and paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business) shall apply to the private business for a period of three hours from the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill or, if those proceedings are concluded before Ten o'clock, for a period equal to the time elapsing between Seven o'clock and the conclusion of those proceedings.

Conclusion of proceedings9.—(1) For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed by this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee or the Business Sub-Committee and which have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall forthwith put the following Questions (but no others)—

  1. (a) any Question already proposed from the Chair;
  2. (b) any Question necessary to bring to a decision a Question so proposed (including, in the case of a new Clause or new Schedule which has been read a second time, the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill);
  3. (c) the Question on any amendment or Motion standing on the Order Paper in the name of any Member, if that amendment is moved or Motion is made by a Member of the Government;
  4. (d) any other Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded;
and on a Motion so made for a new Clause or a new Schedule, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall put only the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.(2) Proceedings under sub-paragraph (1) above shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.(3) If an allotted day is one on which a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) would, apart from this Order, stand over to Seven o'clock—
  1. (a) that Motion shall stand over until the conclusion of any proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee, are to be brought to a conclusion at or before that time;
  2. (b) the bringing to a conclusion of any proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee, are to be brought to a conclusion after that time shall be postponed for a period equal to the duration of the proceedings on that Motion.
(4) If an allotted day is one to which a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 stands over from an earlier day, the bringing to a conclusion of any proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee, are to be brought to a conclusion on that day shall be postponed for a period equal to the duration of the proceedings on that Motion.

Supplemental orders10.—(1) The proceedings on any Motion moved in the House by a member of the Government for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order (including anything which might have been the subject of a report of the Business Committee or Business Sub-Committee) shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion one hour after they have been commenced, and paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business) shall apply to the proceedings.(2) If on an allotted day on which any proceedings on the Bill are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed by this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee the House is adjourned, or the sitting is suspended, before that time no notice shall be required of a Motion moved at the next sitting by a member of the Government for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order.

Saving11. Nothing in this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee or Business Sub-Committee shall—

  1. (a) prevent any proceedings to which the Order or Resolution applies from being taken or completed earlier than is required by the Order or Resolution, or
  2. (b) prevent any business (whether on the Bill or not) from being proceeded with on any day after the completion of all such proceedings on the Bill as are to be taken on that day.

Recommittal12. — (1) References in this Order to proceedings on Consideration or proceedings on Third Reading include references to proceedings, at those stages respectively, for, on or in consequence of re-committal.(2) On an allotted day no debate shall be permitted on any Motion to re-commit the Bill (whether as a whole or otherwise), and Mr. Speaker shall put forthwith any Question necessary to dispose of the Motion, including the Question on any amendment moved to the Question.

Interpretation

13. In this Order— allotted day" means any day (other than a Friday) on which the Bill is put down as first Government Order of the Day provided that a Motion for allotting time to the proceedings on the Bill to be taken on that day either has been agreed on a previous day or is set down for consideration on that day;the Bill" means the Education Reform Bill;Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee" means a Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee as agreed to by the Standing Committee;Resolution of the Business Committee" means a Resolution of the Business Committee as agreed to by the House. This is the first timetable motion that I have moved, but I am pleased to say that it is also the most generous motion for 20 years.
The House will need no reminding of the importance of the Education Reform Bill, to which the motion would apply a timetable. The Bill represents the most far-reaching reform and improvement of our education system since the Education Act 1944. For schools, it contains provision for a national core curriculum, the control of budgets by governing bodies and head teachers, an increase in parental choice and the opportunity for state schools to opt out of local education authority control.
For higher and further education, the Bill implements proposals in the higher education White Paper by setting up a new Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council and establishing a Universities Funding Council, both independent of central Government. The provisions relating to the future of the Inner London education authority take account of the special position of London.

Photo of Mr Michael Foot Mr Michael Foot , Blaenau Gwent

What time was devoted in the House to discussion of the 1944 Act and at what stage was a guillotine imposed?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

The answer is 60 hours, which is way less than half, but no guillotine motion was moved.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

Does it not worry the right hon. Gentleman, as Leader of the House of Commons, that the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals has been reduced to saying, in relation to clause 94, that it pins its hopes on the House of Lords? Is it not deeply unsatisfactory from the point of view of the House of Commons that that committe should believe that its only hope is in the House of Lords rather than in the guillotined set-up of this House?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

We are moving the timetable motion now to ensure that those important matters are properly discussed in Committee. They are relevant matters and they will be discussed.

The Bill will benefit pupils, parents, teachers, head teachers, governors and those working in higher education. We believe that it will help to provide higher standards in academic and technical subjects, greater freedom for schools and colleges to be run by those who know and use them and greater choice for all in the education system. It is a demonstration of our positive and comprehensive approach in this area.

Of course, our proposals have been known for some time. Our 1987 manifesto, published in May last year, said: the time has now come for school reform and set out the policies that I have just outlined.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West

I am grateful to the Leader of the House for reminding us of what was in the Conservative party manifesto. What it did not mention was the abolition of the Inner London education authority. Since the Opposition attitude to the guillotine motion will be very much influenced by the future, or non-future, of ILEA, will the right hon. Gentleman tell us now whether the Government will table an amendment in Committee to abolish ILEA?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

No decision has been taken on a change of policy on ILEA, so that is a hypothetical question. If such a decision was made, I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State would make a statement to the House. As for the guillotine motion, if a new factor of major importance arose, it could be discussed through the usual channels. I give that undertaking now.

The Government made it clear during and after the election campaign that we intended to consult widely on the proposed reforms.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State for Education

The Leader of the House said that a statement on ILEA would be made to the House. For how long must London's children and parents wait? Will there be a statement this week, or will this vacillation continue week after week?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

I cannot give an undertaking that there will be a statement. I said that there will be a statement if there is a change in policy. Until there is a change in policy, the question of a statement is hypothetical.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science has issued no fewer than 13 consultation papers, distributing 10,000 copies to interested bodies and sending out more than 100,000 further copies on request.

It has been suggested that insufficient time was allowed for consultation. Nevertheless, about 17,000 responses were received and considered before the Bill was introduced on 20 November last year, and we have made it clear that that was only the initial phase of consultation. The thousands of responses that have come in since the Bill started its passage have in no way missed the opportunity to influence our thinking.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the contents of the Bill were widely debated during last year's general election, and that there could be no broader consultation than that?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

My hon. Friend makes his point well. My right hon. Friend and his colleagues are holding a number of discussions with organisations wishing to make representations.

Photo of Hilary Armstrong Hilary Armstrong Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson

Will the Leader of the House give an assurance that the consultations and representations that have been received since the last given date will be published and made available for us to read in the Library?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

I shall have to ask my right hon. Friend to deal with the detail of that when he comes to wind up.

These discussions and consultations are part of a continuing process that began more than nine months ago.

In addition to the great debate in the country at large, the proposals are subject to detailed scrutiny inside Parliament. Consideration of the Bill so far in Standing Committee is evidence of that. More than 88 hours of Committee have so far been devoted to the first 43 clauses, and another 104 clauses are yet to be considered.

I welcome the careful attention that the Bill has received so far, but I am concerned that sufficient consideration be given to all parts of this large and wide-ranging Bill. For the moment, the Standing Committee is still debating part I of the Bill; parts II and III, however, contain provisions for higher and further education, and on ILEA, which I believe the House would wish to be considered no less carefully than our proposals on the national curriculum, the delegation of responsibility and the establishment of grant-maintained schools. But that consideration must be balanced against our commitment to ensure that the legislation is enacted this session.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

Would the Leader of the House agree that this Bill is the same size as three normal Bills? I believe the right hon. Gentleman said that 40 clauses had been debated in 88 hours; is not a rate of two hours per clause pretty good going?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

I am not complaining about the rate of progress; I am endeavouring to ensure that the Bill is properly discussed right the way through in Committee.

This is a classic example of the need for a constructive timetable—

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State for Education

I am pleased to hear that the Leader of the House is not complaining about the rate of progress. Usually, the only reason for a guillotine is complaints about the rate of progress. Now that we have cleared away any suggestion of filibustering by the Opposition, can the right hon. Gentleman explain why, at no stage, Government Whips came to the Opposition to discuss arrangements for the Bill to be discussed without the need for a guillotine?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

I am not suggesting that there has been any filibustering. The purpose of my speech is to explain why I believe that a constructive timetable motion is necessary. I brought it forward, not to prevent filibustering in Committee—I am not accusing anyone of that—but to ensure proper, measured discussion of all parts of a complex and important Bill.

In devising the motion, I have in mind also the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery) and his colleagues on the Procedure Committee in the last Parliament: that the introduction of a timetable motion too late in the Committee stage can lead to inadequate consideration of a Bill's later clauses. Although you, Mr. Speaker, have not selected the amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton, I recognise the concerns behind it, which is why the motion has been proposed now rather than later and is so generous in its provisions for further debate.

If the Committee continues to sit each week for 18 hours, which is about the number of hours that it has done so far, there is a prospect of another 90 hours. Of course, it could sit for longer if it wished. I am sure that, in the spirit of my hon. Friend's amendment, the Business Sub-Committee will be concerned to allocate time in such a way as to ensure adequate scrutiny of all the remaining parts of the Bill. As many of the provisions in the remaining clauses are consequential or supplementary, I believe that the Business Sub-Committee will have considerable scope for manoeuvre. In addition, there will be three days of debate on the Floor of the House on Report and Third Reading.

It is perhaps worth pausing here to reflect that the time devoted to this Bill is more than double that for the Education Bill which became the 1944 Act. The Committee stage of that Bill discussed about 122 clauses and six lengthy schedules, and was conducted in only 14 sittings, lasting about 60 hours in total. In an interesting passage from his memoirs Lord Butler said: the beauty of the 1944 Bill was that it would keep the parliamentary troops thoroughly occupied, providing endless opportunity for debate, without any fear of breaking up the Government. So those who cavil at the time provided for this Bill by the motion should bear in mind that the 1944 Bill was considered in full in less than half the time that this one will be—by a House that was deliberately being kept occupied by the Government of the day.

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths , Bridgend

Does the Leader of the House agree that the fundamental difference between this Bill and the 1944 Act is that there was agreement on both sides about the main principles of that measure, whereas there a fundamental disagreement about the way in which this Bill will split our education service?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

I think the hon. Gentleman's memory of history is shaky. He may not have been alive in 1944, but if I recall aright, the 1944 Act's religious clauses, in particular, were controversial. In any case, there is a fundamental difference, in that this timetable motion allocates twice as much time as before—

Photo of Hilary Armstrong Hilary Armstrong Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, not only were the divisions about the religious parts of the Bill not across party lines, but there were two full years of consultation before the 1944 Bill was written and presented? This Bill has had such short consultation that, day by day in Committee, the Minister has to change what is on the face of it because it has not been properly thought through.

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

The Bill is controversial, but so was the 1944 Bill; indeed, so was the 1976 Education Bill, when the distinguished father of the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong) was at the Dispatch Box moving the guillotine motion. The amount of time that the motion makes available for the Committee stage, together with the Report stage and Third Reading, shows that it is not our intention to cut short debate on this matter. Rather, our purpose is to meet the anxiety expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) that another place might have the opportunity to say that major issues had not been fully debated in the House.

To ensure that all parts of the Bill receive parliamentary scrutiny, the motion—like previous timetable motions—includes provision for allocating the time in Standing Committee and on the Floor of the House for Report and Third Reading by reference to a Business Sub-Committee and a Business Committee. That seems to me the key to the sensibly weighted consideration of the rest of the Bill, giving the chance for those who are experienced in these matters and, in the case of the Sub-Committee, for those who are most closely acquainted with the Bill's provisions, to discuss the timing and divide the available time appropriately between clauses.

I commend the motion to the House, in the belief that it represents a realistic way to debate the Education Reform Bill, a measure keenly awaited by pupils and parents alike. Although the House may he sharply divided on its substance, I hope that we can agree on the arrangements to give proper time for discussing all the Bill's provisions. I suggest consideration of the words a Labour Back Bencher in the debate on the timetable motions in 1976: Everybody in the House wants to elevate standards … But doing better does not necessarily mean talking and sitting longer".—[Official Report, 20 July 1976; Vol. 915, c. 1640.] That Back Bencher is now the right hon. Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock), the Leader of the Opposition. I share those views, and I hope that his party does, too.

Photo of Mr Andrew Bennett Mr Andrew Bennett , Denton and Reddish

Does the Leader of the House accept that the main effect of a timetable motion is the protection of Ministers? It enables them not fully to reply to debates because they can play for time when they know that a timetable motion applies. The right hon. Gentleman will have read our proceedings in Committee. Does he not accept that Ministers were repeatedly under pressure before the guillotine came down? In future they can simply wait until the guillotine drops, and not reply to the difficult issues in the debate.

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

When I read through proceedings in Committee, I found examples of Opposition amendments that were withdrawn when the position was explained by Ministers. I believe that we have allocated the right amount of time.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 4:39 pm, 1st February 1988

If one forgot that the Leader of the House is a former Tory Chief Whip, one might almost be convinced by his pleas that this timetable motion is intended to slow down the precipitate progress of the Bill in Committee. That was the impression that he tried to create.

The guillotine has a long and not-too-good history for those who invented it. Its inventor had his head cut off by his own infernal machine. It is worth remembering that from a legislative point of view there was a little of that effect the last time the House considered a guillotine motion. The last such motion was to shorten debate on the Scottish poll tax Bill. I do not know how to express in a semi-Latinate phrase the effect of losing one's seat. It is clearly not decapitation, but whatever it is, that was the fate that befell many of the right hon. Gentleman's friends in Scotland as a result of the previous guillotine.

We should not blame the Leader of the House for the motion, because the person to he blamed is the Secretary of State for Education and Science. His dreadful Bill and his dreadful way of dealing with it have led to the timetable motion. I have observed since I have been in the House the progress of the Secretary of State. It seems that he has got on largely by fawning and flattery. He fawns upon the Prime Minister and flatters himself. Not content with flattering himself, he also gets no fewer than 38 press officers in his Department to flatter him if he is feeling a bit down.

The Secretary of State flatters himself most when he asks us to compare his Bill with the Education Act 1944. Such a comparison is not valid. The 1944 Act was the product of lengthy consultation, widespread public and professional if not religious agreement, idealism, experience and hope. The present Bill is the product of consultation so short and secretive as not to be worthy of the name. Far from commanding public and professional agreement, it is opposed in whole or in part by practically everyone who has expressed a point of view. It springs from cynicism and malice towards the public education system by Ministers who underfund it, abuse it and scarcely ever use it.

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

There is one other outstanding difference between the 1944 Act and the Bill. It is that the Bill fundamentally destroys the 1944 Act and destroys many other things.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

I am sure that we all recognise the difference between a positive and a negative measure.

After considerable progress in Committee and no attempt to reach an agreed timetable for the Bill's further progress, and when a major departure from the Tory election manifesto over the Inner London education authority is daily rumoured, we are asked to accept a guillotine to shorten proper consideration. The future of our children's education deserves such further consideration even if the Bill scarcely does.

If, in his self-flattering mood, the Secretary of State craves a comparison with the 1944 Act, let us compare the time and effort given to the progress of that Act through the House. The House will not need reminding that in 1944 our country was involved in a united struggle to survive and then to overthrow the racist, murdering regime of Adolf Hitler. One might think that that was no time for modest stillness and humility.

However, in 1944 the Commons found time, even in the weeks leading up to the Normandy landings, to devote no less than 19 whole days on the Floor of the House to the Education Bill. It received two days on Second Reading—the period that we asked for on this Bill and which the Government refused. It received 14 full days in Committee on the Floor of the House, one and a half clays on Report and a further one and a half days on Third Reading, plus a day in Committee upstairs on the issue of recruitment.

How different that is from the legislative life of our own dear Secretary of State. In this as in every other aspect, the present Secretary of State compares unfavourably with his Tory predecessors.

Photo of Mr Keith Hampson Mr Keith Hampson , Leeds North West

I should like to put the historical record straight. In 1944, the Labour party supported the Butler Act. All that legislative time was necessary to appease the Tory Right, which wanted fees, and the churches. The Opposition view now is a tremendous change of scene.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

The hon. Gentleman has demonstrated the difference between the proposition that was before the House in 1944 and the one that is before the House now. The 1944 Bill commanded the general assent of the people and the politicians. The one before the House today does not.

If we compare the Secretary of State with his predecessors, we find that even Sir Keith Joseph and the Prime Minister occasionally allowed educational considerations rather than party prejudice to influence their judgment. That is not the case with the present Secretary of State. Ambitious and spiteful, he uses his high office to pursue his personal ambition to be the next Tory party leader and to commit vindictive acts against those who run our schools.

The reasons to reject the guillotine motion are many and powerful and have a direct bearing on the schooling of children all over Britain. My hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) will deal with those matters in his usual cogent and trenchant manner. The refusal by the Secretary of State to make clear what he intends to do about the future of ILEA is itself sufficient reason to throw out the motion.

As it stands, the Bill proposes — I quote from the 1987 Tory election manifesto, that sacred text— In the area covered by the ILEA where entire borough councils wish to become independent of the LEA"— that is a spelling mistake— they will be able to submit proposals to the Secretary of State requesting permission to take over provision of education within their boundaries". As I shall explain, that is bad enough, but in the past few weeks we have had much publicised statements by the right hon. Members for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) and for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) advocating the abolition of ILEA. More recently we have heard leaks, either from the Secretary of State or from some of his 38 press advisers, to the effect that the Government have capitulated to pressure.

Whatever the arguments for or against that course, the abolition of ILEA would be in scale and complexity one of the greatest educational reorganisations since the second world war. It would involve the dismemberment of a unitary authority providing for 280,000 children, 170,000 college students and more than 250,000 people in adult education. To break ILEA into 13 constituent parts, each supposed to be capable of providing an education service partly within its own boundaries and partly through arrangements with its neighbours, would be a task of the utmost complexity, requiring careful thought and massive preparation. It cannot possibly be done by a few amendments to the Bill in Committee. Any attempt to do so would be an insult to parents in inner London and a deliberate blow to the educational opportunities of their children, For us, it would be a legislative nightmare.

Photo of Mr Richard Tracey Mr Richard Tracey , Surbiton

I shall recall for the hon. Gentleman, in case he cannot recall, that remarks similar to his were made when the abolition of the Greater London council was being debated in the House. As everybody knows, the GLC is not now missed at all. The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) said that the GLC was as full of bureaucracy and more difficult to break into than the Kremlin. Surely ILEA cannot be described in any lesser terms.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is inventing quotations. He ought to check, and if he does he will find that I was quoting my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone), and that what I said he said was not what the hon. Gentleman said I said.

The present arrangements for ILEA became —[Interruption.] I said that the housing department of the GLC—under the Tories, I might point out—was the slowest bureaucracy this side of the Kremlin, and I was quoting my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East.

The present arrangements for ILEA became law in the Local Government Act 1985. The system that the Secretary of State now proposes to change is the very one that he steered through the House. Why, then, has he changed his mind? Setting aside such base considerations as the salary, status and chauffeur-driven car that go with continuing to be Secretary of State, it may be because, despite all the Tory gerrymandering in the ILEA elections in 1986, Labour won control in a landslide, with the Tories receiving less that one third of the votes.

Over the whole period of the present Government, ILEA has been subjected to carping criticism, constant interference, threats, intimidation and, above all, cuts in Government grants. For the past eight years, ILEA has not received a penny piece from central Government towards the cost of running its schools. I challenge the Government's right to abolish ILEA, or even to change it. They do not pay anything towards it; they do not send their children to its schools; they know little or nothing about it; and they have no mandate from the people of inner London who would be affected.

No one can claim a mandate for the abolition of ILEA, because no one has put the proposition in an election. Certainly, as far as I know, no such proposition has featured in the election addresses of the right hon. Members for Henley and for Chingford, the Dastardly and Muttley of the present campaign.

As I have explained, the official manifesto of the Tory party spoke of individuals being allowed to opt out if their councils unanimously decided on that option. At the last general election, faced with that proposition, only 36 per cent. of inner Londoners voted Tory, while 41 per cent. voted Labour and 22 per cent. voted for the rest. More than six out of every 10 inner Londoners rejected any interference with the ILEA.

Photo of Mr Norman Tebbit Mr Norman Tebbit , Chingford

Is the hon. Gentleman putting it forward as a general proposition that no Government should bring forward a measure which was not in their election manifesto? If so, I think that he had better look back at his own record on some of the measures that he supported under the last Labour Government.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

There is a pathetic shortage of accuracy on the Conservative Benches. I have never sat in the House in government, so I can accept no responsibility for anything that has gone before. But for the chairman of the Tory party — who masterminded the last election campaign, and sat at press conferences saying there would only opting out of London borough. — to lead a campaign to destroy ILEA seven or eight months later is the wildest humbug. No doubt we can expect more from the right hon. Gentleman. I understand, Madam Deputy Speaker, that "hypocrisy" is out of order.

The Government talk about giving power to parents, but that is the last thing that they intend to do in inner London. I do not have a lot of time for opinion polls—[interruption.] I say the same when the polls are favourable. All the opinion polls, including those commissioned by the Tory boroughs, show ILEA to be popular with the people of inner London, and even more popular with the parents. It is more popular with the people who know most about it, and who entrust their children's education to it.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

No, I shall not. I do not think that hon. Members representing the far west of Wales should intervene on a matter relating to inner London. They can do their voting.

It is worth noting that, of six representatives on ILEA from the Tory boroughs which want to opt out, half are Labour. There has not even been a vote of confidence there. The three Tory boroughs — Westminster, Kensington and Wandsworth — which say that they want to opt out never put that option in their borough election manifestos, so they have no endorsement either.

In September last year, Wandsworth council held a poll. To its discomfiture, the poll showed that more than three quarters of parents who sent their children to ILEA schools were satisfied, and that, among secondary school parents, satisfaction was higher than the national average. If the Tories want to talk about parental choice, they should perhaps remember that, despite all the bad publicity, more children from outer London are sent by their parents to ILEA schools than go the other way.

Let us take Barnet, part of which is represented by the Prime Minister. Parents of no fewer than 780 children from Barnet so recognised the superiority of the education provided by ILEA that they sent their children from Barnet to ILEA schools. Even if we allow for children going from the ILEA area to Barnet schools, the net flow into ILEA was 332 children. Parents are voting with their feet.

What, then, is this education authority of which parents approve and the Tories do not? It has a duty to provide an education service for inner London. It faces enormous problems. It contains several of the most deprived local authority areas in England. If we take the Department of the Environment's own measures of deprivation, the average level of deprivation for the ILEA area as a whole, even including such places as Hampstead, Dulwich, Chelsea and Blackheath, is worse than that of any other education authority. Rather like the Metropolitan police, ILEA faces extra problems, incurs extra costs and, on crude calculations of performance, appears to compare unfavourably with other authorities in other parts of the country.

Photo of Mr Richard Tracey Mr Richard Tracey , Surbiton

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I wonder if you could guide the House on whether the material that the hon. Gentleman is using is strictly relevant to the timetable motion? Surely he is making the speech that he might make on Report or Third Reading.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

The hon. Gentleman's material is perfectly relevant to this wide debate.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

Good. We are all delighted to hear it. Even the Government ought to recognise that, when they made ILEA the subject of a special report by Her Majesty's inspectors of schools, the inspectors' conclusion was, roughly speaking, that it faced major difficulties, but — all things considered — was coping reasonably well. When Tories talk of concern about ILEA's cost and standards, they are usually repeating what some other Tories have said. When the Tory yobboes attack ILEA, it is perhaps understandable that they should know so little that they can only repeat one another's propaganda. But that is no excuse for a Secretary of State.

As the right hon. Gentleman's predecessors have recognised, ILEA has responded to its problems and challenges with a series of initiatives that have been commended by Tory Ministers, and recommended by them to other education authorities. Those initiatives include the appointment of parent governors; delegating some financial responsibility to governing bodies; the London record of achievement, providing all school leavers with a folder of work and achievements to show to employers; the SMILE mathematics scheme, which enables children to progress at different speeds according to their ability—and, at the same time, helps to monitor the performance and progress of every pupil; the extension of work experience arrangements with employers; and, most recently, the London Compact with major firms in an effort to guarantee jobs to school leavers. The Hargreaves, Thomas and Fish reports, analysing other problems and recommending further initiatives, have generated interest and acclaim far beyond the boundaries of inner London.

The authority, to its eternal credit, has taken steps to counter racism and sexism in its schools and colleges. Those initiatives have been mocked and vilified by people who either deny that racism and sexism exist or, worse still, recognise that they exist, but are not prepared to do anything about them. Such initiatives should have been welcomed by the Secretary of State, because they are vital if we are to achieve a fair and decent society. They are rational efforts by the authority to address real problems faced by real children and young people in inner London. They should not be dismissed in the way in which they have been.

Of course there are problems in ILEA schools. Of course improvements are needed. As a parent of children who have all gone to ILEA schools, I do not need any Tory Members to tell me that. Least of all do I need to be told of ILEA's problems by Tory Members who send their children to private schools.

Photo of Mr Tony Marlow Mr Tony Marlow , Northampton North

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. We are discussing a timetable motion. The normal debate for a timetable motion concerns why and whether there should be a timetable. It is not to debate a single issue within the education sphere within or without the Bill. Surely: t is whether or not we should have a timetable. The single issue is not even in the Bill.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

The House and the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) do not need any instruction from any other hon. Member. The hon. Member should be allowed to get on with his speech.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

No doubt the hon. Gentleman would be another applicant for the Chair, should a vacancy ever arise.

I certainly do not want to hear that the Inner London education authority, which spends around £2,000 a year on each secondary school pupil, is overspending. I do not want to hear that charge from rich existing or former Cabinet Ministers who send their children to private schools and spend up to three times as much on their children. Between them, Cabinet Ministers have more than 50 children over 11 years of age, and only two of them did not go to fee-paying schools.

Tory Members' ignorance of the Inner London education authority shows in practically their every utterance. Not long before the 1987 election, the then junior Education Minister, the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Walden), visited a primary school in Euston in my constituency. When the staff referred to hotel children, he thought that they meant children whose parents owned and ran hotels. He did not know of the squalid bed-and-breakfast hotels into which his Government had forced the homeless and their children.

Such children are numbered in thousands. The main parental choice that their parents would like is a home of their own. They are denied that choice by a Government whose latest White Paper on housing did not even mention the word "homeless".

Photo of Mr George Walden Mr George Walden , Buckingham

In the light of the hon. Gentleman's remark, the intervention that was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) was well justified. If the hon. Gentleman is reduced to retailing such inaccurate and absurd tittle tattle, he should sit down now.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

It is absurd, but I have no reason to believe that it is inaccurate. I know the veracity of the people who told me.

Another charge that is made against ILEA is that it is over-bureaucratic. There is some truth in that statement, but if its administration is so bad, why has the Secretary of State given a new top job to Mr. William Stubbs, the man who heads the bureaucracy? It was recently described by the right hon. Member for Chingford as an overgrown, overpriced underperforming monster. Surely the chief custodian of such a monster would be unfit for an important job that was newly created by his right hon. Friend.

Why is it that the right hon. Member for Chingford and his former arch-enemy in the Cabinet — so we understand—the right hon. Member for Henley, have launched a compaign to abolish ILEA? It is partly because it provides a defenceless whipping boy on whom they can demonstrate their Tory credentials to a waiting world.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

This relates to a school in the hon. Gentleman's constituency.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

Perhaps the hon Gentleman will concede that I have some knowledge of ILEA, having been deputy head of a comprehensive school in his constituency, having taught in ILEA for 23 years, and having sent three children to ILEA schools. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Williams Stubbs has regularly written about the level of administration within ILEA? He has been concerned about getting resources into teaching spheres and about administration. Is it not unfair for the hon. Gentleman to make such remarks about the retiring education officer?

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

I have made no criticism whatever of Mr. Stubbs. The hon. Gentleman should have noticed that. It is possible to mention people without criticising them. If people can understand them, my criticisms were directed at the Secretary of State. No doubt they will be directed by the right hon. Member for Chingford at the Secretary of State if he has appointed the person who looks after that monster to a job which, on the standards set by the right hon. Gentleman, he does not seem up to. But that is not my view of Mr. Stubbs.[Interruption.]

The interventions by the right hon. Members for Chingford and for Henley cannot really be the result of pressure or, indeed, interest from their local electors in Henley or Chingford. There is another reason. They have realised that the election commitment to let boroughs opt out is a stupid, ill-thought-out, costly blunder. Even the three Tory boroughs that have said that they want to opt out have now asked for outright abolition. If they had confidence in their abilities, one would have thought that they would rather like ILEA to remain in existence so that, by comparison, they could demonstrate the superiority of their new service. They have now looked in detail at the consequences of opting out and have realised that it would be an educational, organisational and financial nightmare.

What is the reaction of the educational vandals who, seven months ago, said that opting out was a great idea? When the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State said that it was a good idea, the right hon. Member for Chingford did not intervene or demur in any way. What did the Government do? They now say, "We were wrong. We got it wrong." Do they abandon it? Not they. Their scheme will not work. Now, to cover their embarrassment, the education of all our children in inner London must be put in turmoil. That is not right, and they know it.

If the Government really want to help the children of inner London, they should drop the current clauses in the Bill and abandon any idea of abolishing ILEA. They should abandon any further threats to its future. They should let it have the resources that it needs to provide a decent education for all our children in inner London, despite the poverty, homelessness, language difficulties, overcrowding and unemployment that beset and threaten so many of them and their parents. If the Government were sincere in their claims to be interested, that is what they would do.

Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine , Henley

I appreciate the trouble to which the hon. Gentleman has gone to make a speech that is related not to the Bill but to his assumption about what the Secretary of State may or may not decide to do. Having listened to all that the hon. Gentleman has said, my right hon. Friend will now be wholly convinced.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

If the former Secretary of State for the Environment and for Defence thinks that the fate of 280,000 children in inner London should depend on a flippant remark by him or a speech by me, he is treating them with even more contempt than I thought.

If we listen to Tories who talk about reorganisation, we should remember their track record. Look at what they did to the National Health Service, with its never-ending reorganisations. As Conservatives used to know, changes consume vast amounts of resources in ways that do not benefit patients or pupils. Instead of being able to get on with their jobs, staff at all levels must spend time protecting their jobs or even having to reapply for the jobs that they already have.

That will happen if ILEA is broken up. Where is the evidence that 13 separate administrations, each with elaborate bureaucracies to cope with cross-borough issues, will be simpler and cheaper than one authority? I suppose that it might seem so in Kensington, which has only one secondary school. But what sort of parental choice is that?

The Inner London education authority and its future deserve to be dealt with properly, carefully and fairly, with proper consideration by all hon. Members, if they could possibly turn their minds to doing so.

The law permits the Secretary of State to conduct a public and open review of the functions of ILEA and then determine its future. We believe that it would be wholly wrong for the future of ILEA to be determined either by the opt-out clauses of the Bill or by late amendments by the Secretary of State to abolish it altogether. We believe that it will be inappropriate to support the motion unless we know what the Secretary of State's intentions are. Is he suggesting, on the basis of the motion, that he can come forward with a proposition by way of an amendment, which would receive one and a half days' attention, and that the future of the education authority should be determined in that short period? We believe that that would be wrong and wicked, which is why we urge the House to reject the motion.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire 5:10 pm, 1st February 1988

You, Madam Deputy Speaker, reminded the House that this is a wide debate. I hasten to assure you that my speech will be short.

A few months ago, I was flushed out of the usual channels. Since then, I have acquired all the innocence of a born-again Back Bencher. It is in that spirit that I approach the motion.

I wish my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State well with the Bill. It will be a landmark in Tory education policy and he will follow the traditions of the late Lord Butler. He will be well equipped to counter the partisan remarks of the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson), which were made none the more agreeable by their length.

The Bill is a most ambitious piece of legislation. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House was most amiable in saying that he was not chiding the Standing Committee with lethargy and that its progress has been quite reasonable. On any rational basis, there was no way in which the balance of the Bill could be secured without a timetable. He assured us that it was the most generous timetable for 20 years. My right hon. Friend looked across the Chamber and saw the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot), who in one day produced more timetables than most of us dreamed possible. My right hon. Friend said that he was moving in the direction of my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery), and I hope that that is so. I shall say a few words about that in due course.

Although we go through something of a ritual when we produce timetables, we know perfectly well that for every timetable that, we have in this Chamber about legislation within our control, we give some moral authority to the other place to partake in the legislative process. I have never been an ardent unicameralist. I have been happy to tolerate another Chamber, as long as it could in no way compete in the national affections with what we do here. We always do the other place well when we assert our primacy and its relative role.

The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), observed, calling in aid the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, that there was anxiety that legislation could be properly considered in the other place only on the basis of this timetable. I hope that closer examination will persuade the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals to move a little nearer to what my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House said.

This is not the only occasion that we shall be having a timetable in this Parliament. Very often, consideration of a timetable is related to the known issues and conventions, with which we are well equipped and well informed. However, there is one more recent development that is impelling the direction to timetables — the fragility of legislation when confronted by judicial review. Every Government Department, to some extent or another, is anxious about this issue. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has a bold and friendly exterior. I am sure that he never gives a moment's thought to the Bill being mauled in the courts. I do not think that my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for the Environment and for Social Services will be quite so heroic about these matters.

We know prefectly well that the Committee stage is no adequate means of making legislation proof against judicial review. If that is to be undertaken, it must be done with the skill and pervasiveness with which the legislation is treated in the Department concerned. That is why the legislative process, in respect of certain aspects of legislation, means that more time will be taken before legislation is produced.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I think that that is a fairly innocuous observation. I see that the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown), the next leader of the as yet unnamed—I am sorry — the Social and Liberal Democratic party, is acquiescing, which encourages me. The hon. Member for Linlithgow should not spoil it.

Given the almost universal political pressures to produce a programme that is politically acceptable, there will be pressures on the work that the House will do in dealing with Bills if they have to be better prepared before they receive their First Reading.

That is why I welcome very much the gesture initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton. He (IA so in an amiable way, but discovered that the wicket is rather like a Pakistani one. He came expecting to play and found that, on the whole, it was better to retire not out. However, I hope that my hon. Friend will persevere.

I hope that every time we have a guillotine motion the House will use the occasion to talk about guillotines. Much as I have an interest in ILEA, which has burgeoned in the past 90 minutes, I am still concerned about the procedures of the House. I am concerned about the means of reconciling the interests of the House with those of the Executive within our procedures, knowing that they are far from perfect and knowing that recommendations of the Select Committee on Procedure have not received the warm embrace that it might have hoped for from previous Leaders of the House.

When my right hon. Friend replies to the debate I hope that he will give a welcome to the initiative shown by my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton and I hope that this debate will run and run.

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown , Yeovil 5:17 pm, 1st February 1988

It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen), who made some points that I hope others will study and read with interest, and with which I fully associate myself in terms of the need to reform the procedures for introducing legislation and then dealing with it. He made those points more elegantly and perhaps with more force than most, if not all, other hon. Members.

I certainly agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the reliance that is being placed on judicial review as the mechanism by which mistakes can be corrected is dangerous for the House and damaging to the process of our democracy. That, allied with the secrecy that now operates and surrounds government, makes it very difficult for the ordinary people of this country, who will be affected by this legislation, effectively to exercise that option.

The second point that the right hon. Gentleman made concerned the more careful preparation of our legislation. There is a serious case, with complicated legislation which will have a considerable impact, for a procedure that will build a sense of consensus of the sort that was built for the 1944 Education Act, although in different circumstances and perhaps with a different intention. If that were the case, the process of the Committee stage would be more effective.

It has been a pleasure to serve on the Committee. Although our debates have been strenuous and tough, the sense of good humour and accommodation has been a revelation and joy to us all.

There is a danger that the motion will devolve into a debate on ILEA, for reasons that we can all understand. Therefore, I shall say a word or two about the guillotine. It is natural and proper that there is a sense of outrage whenever a guillotine is introduced. That is not surprising, because it is the procedures of the House and the role that we play that are being guillotined. It is proper that the Opposition should feel outraged. Inevitably, that outrage will be synthetic to a degree. All Oppositions rage about guillotines; all Governments use them, whether or not they were previously in opposition. We must remember that, in one day in 1976, the Labour party introduced no fewer than five guillotines.

There is genuine concern about the Bill, for several reasons. Through the Bill, we place in the hands of the Secretary of State a range of powers–182 in all—that are devastating in their effect. I do not share the overheated phraseology used by the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) about this Secretary of State. I do not believe that the right hon. Gentleman will use most of those powers that the Bill will give him—

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown , Yeovil

We shall argue about that later.

I do not think that the Secretary of State will use all those powers in the ways about which we are naturally suspicious, but there can be no doubt that our job is to look at legislation in terms not of the present incumbent but of potential powers for people to use in the future. The powers granted in the Bill are draconian in extent. Who is to say that they will not be used by those who follow this Secretary of State, whether of the Conservative party or of another?

I do not understand why Conservative Members cannot see that the very precedents which they establish in this Bill and in others—they could be used by a Labour Government or a Government of my persuasion, should one follow this Conservative Government — are the mechanisms which would so turn education and so corrupt the education process that they would squeal, justifiably, about the effect. A decent Opposition must look to the potential of the powers that are concealed as well as to the person who will exercise them.

We must be relatively grateful for small mercies. Although I object to the timetable, it is relatively generous. How much better would it be if we dealt with these matters on a more structural basis and if there were timetabling of serious and important Bills such as this from the start? I do not say that because I think that hon. Members intend to filibuster. It is difficult at the start of consideration of 140-odd clauses in Committee to place an appropriate emphasis on the issues that should be taken up. Inevitably, more weight will be placed on the early clauses than should be placed, thereby perhaps neglecting later clauses.

Perhaps there is a case, in the absence of the type of reforms mentioned by the right hon. Member for Shropshire, North, for the House to consider timetabling and structuring from the beginning of debates on Bills such as this.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

There is a Select Committee report which advocates some of the hon. Gentleman's points. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that any such proposal would entirely change the polarities in Committee relating to length of speeches and who speaks and that the Minister's attitude and attention would be revolutionised because he would know that he needed only to get the touch and he would get away? In Committee after Committee, the uncertainty in the Minister's private office and in the Department has exercised its own democratic strengths. Surely that is something to which the Select Committee on Procedure and the hon. Gentleman have not paid sufficient attention.

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown , Yeovil

I agree with the hon. Gentleman's point and am grateful to him for raising it, but that is the downside of the issue which we have discussed. It would not be beyond the wit of the House to find a suitable mechanism—[Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) shakes his head. If he does, I must pay attention, because he is well respected for his opinions and ability in this respect.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury)

He was the author of the five guillotines.

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown , Yeovil

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for reminding me that the right hon. Gentleman was the author of the five guillotines mentioned previously. This serious issue needs to be addressed. I am grateful that it has been given serious thought.

The guillotine is of considerable and special concern in relation to this legislation, for several reasons. There has been no attempt to filibuster, and I am grateful to the Leader of the House for admitting that. The issues have been toughly debated and the speeches interesting and worth while. On an issue of this importance, surely we ought to let the Bill run its course more evidently than is allowed by the Government's move.

I hope that the Leader of the House will recognise that several times, when Opposition Members and I have approached the Government and said, "Can we structure the debate?", there has been the chilling response, "It does not really matter what clause is reached. We shall stack in the hours as hard as we can and then move the guillotine." It is not appropriate in those circumstances to move as fast as we have.

There is no doubt that, contrary to the experience of the Education Act 1944, this is one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation brought forward by any Government for the past 50 years, not even excluding the poll tax legislation. The impact will be felt for decades. What we are doing to our education system is not just a passing injustice, which will be felt for one, two, five or 10 years, when the provisions can then be repealed. It undermines the education process in a way that will be felt by the nation into the next century, until some of the worst effects can be assuaged.

I say that this is a contentious Bill not just because that is my view and that of the Opposition but because it is the view of all those who carry any weight—both producers and consumers—in education. There is not a respectable body — not even the Government's union, the Professional Association of Teachers—that supports the Bill in its entirety and does not see in it sinister and damaging proposals to which it is profoundly opposed. It is not supported even by the parents in whose names it is done, by the National Confederation of Parent-Teacher Associations and many other parent voices —[Interruption.] I shall give way to any Conservative Member who can name a parents' organisation that agrees with the Bill.

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown , Yeovil

A national parents' organisation? I am certain that an occasional school here and there, with selfish interests of its own—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Let me be clear. Some schools with selfish interests of their own may well be in favour of certain proposals in the Bill, but the payment will be made by the education process in the community to which they belong. One can always find selfish people who want to support legislation from which they will benefit, but is it for the benefit of the nation or of the community?

Photo of Mr Richard Tracey Mr Richard Tracey , Surbiton

The hon. Gentleman is almost reducing the definition to fit in with the Association of Liberal Councils. I can name an organisation, which I believe will grow and grow — the Campaign Urging Better Education. It was launched last week in Wandsworth—[Interruption.]—with a fine speech by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, with wholesale agreement by all parents.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State for Education

The hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey) makes the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) look like a giant.

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown , Yeovil

The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) says that the hon. Gentleman makes the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) look like a giant. The hon. Member for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey) mentioned the Association of Liberal Councils. I do not claim that it is a national body which has an impact on the nation's affairs, but how much less does that apply to some organisation in Wandsworth, for goodness' sake? Let us see how this develops. We shall watch the hon. Gentleman's space with some interest.

Not a single body supports the Bill, which is deeply contentious and contains some deeply contentious items that have yet to be discussed. We are halfway through discussing opting out. As we go on, we must discuss first, for example, the city technology colleges. In a single clause, we shall discuss that proposal, which many of us regard as deeply divisive. I do not say for one second that there is not a case for considering the provision of education outside the monopoly provision of local education authorities. There may well be a case for other bodies to think about establishing schools, provided that they fit within the admissions policy and the general education policies of the local education authority for the area, which serves the community as a whole. I do not object to that as a concept; it is well worth considering. However, the CTCs are a bird of a totally different feather. They will be damaging, and it would be inadequate to deal with that matter in such a short time.

Secondly, there is also the question of the Inner London education authority. Again, I do not pretend for a moment that there is not a serious level of concern about the operation of ILEA, nor do I pretend for a second that there is not a need for a fundamental programme of reform or that in some areas ILEA may fail and fall short of what it should be doing. Indeed, that is hardly surprising with an organisation of that size.

However, the idea that we should abolish it by stealth, which is what the Bill will do — or, as the right hon. Members for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) and for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) would suggest, abolish it by statute—is to my mind wholly unsupportable, because ILEA is a strategic education body that looks after the City of London and the education of 1·25 million of its pupils. The truth of the matter is that both those proposals come from the same stable and are informed by the same motive—political spite. Their suggestion has nothing to do with the education of 1·25 million children in London.

If the proposals were subsequent to a review or study of the operation of ILEA and about ways in which it might be reformed, perhaps one could understand it, but they are not. Frankly, the proposals of those two right hon. Gentlemen, who are not in the Chamber, are a more stark, open and naked option of the sort that the Secretary of State wishes to put forward by stealth. The truth is that those proposals are informed by spite and represent ideological vandalism.

Photo of John Maples John Maples , Lewisham West

If the desire of the boroughs to opt out is motivated by political spite, why does Tower Hamlets number itself among those boroughs?

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown , Yeovil

The hon. Gentleman has raised a lair point and I am grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to put the matter on the record. What he says cannot be surprising. The Liberal administration of Tower Hamlets has made it clear that it is in favour of ILEA and wishes it to continue. However, if ILEA is not to continue because of the Government's ideological spite and if the rich boroughs then opt out, surely the hon. Gentleman realises that it would be foolish for anybody to be left in there as a rump organisation. Tower Hamlets is following that procedure simply because it has no other option. Indeed, we now understand that that applies to one or two of the Labour-controlled authorities also.

There can be no doubt that those authorities believe, as I believe, that the destruction of ILEA is motivated much more by politics than by the best interests of the pupils of London. If that were not the case, why is it that all the reforms which the Secretary of State said that he would like to see in ILEA are in his power to deliver? Indeed, the succeeding Education Acts that he has introduced have given him the reforms with which to move into Brent, Hackney and the other areas which we now hear played up as the whipping boys for the Government's intentions, but the Secretary of State has not made one move. He has not used any of those powers to reform the education of London because he wishes to have a reason for doing what he now seeks to do out of political motivation.

Briefly and finally, the third of the proposals is, in a sense, almost the most damaging of them all, with the possible exception of opting out. The proposals for higher and further education will give the Government a direct capacity to control what goes on in our universities and higher education institutions. I suspect that the Government will hear a lot more about that. The Government's control of higher and further education strikes not just at the heart of the nature of our education system but at the nature of our democracy and of the pluralism within our system. That matter should not be discussed under the control of the guillotine.

Therefore, for those reasons, we shall certainly vote against the guillotine tonight. We believe that this legislation will be damaging, divisive, and destructive and that its effect will be felt for decades to come. Therefore, it must have proper consideration and not one which, as the guillotine will propose, will be timetabled, curtailed and far too short.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton 5:34 pm, 1st February 1988

I am delighted that part of the tradition of the House, to debate with a previous speaker, can be followed in my instance. I take up what the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) said when he mentioned that, on the introduction of the guillotine, there must be a sense of outrage. That sense of outrage is not shown much by the number of hon. Members attending the debate or in the structure between the usual channels. I take the hon. Gentleman back 20 years, or perhaps more, because, whenever a guillotine motion was introduced in the House then, there really was outrage. The debate was not only for half a day; it was for a whole day and the House was full. Indeed, the relationship between the usual channels was often put considerably at risk. Therefore, the outrage today is immensely synthetic compared with the past.

I was delighted to hear the hon. Gentleman go on to talk more about the Procedure Committee than about the guillotine. I ask the hon. Gentleman to take up House of Commons Paper No. 324 of the 1985–86 Session, which contains recommendations for timetabling after 121 hours of debate, with the timetabling in the hands of the members of the Committee so that they could inherently decide.

I refer in passing to the intervention of the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing), who suggested that the effect of the threat of delay and the worry of the private office has considerable effect. I advise the hon. Gentleman that the Procedure Committee considered that fully. Our judgment was that in every Bill, in the long run, the Government have always got what they wanted. In our view it is a fallacy to think that what is said has a major effect on whether the Government give way.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

I shall just finish my sentence.

I advise the hon. Gentleman that Governments give way on matters about which they do not really care. Governments are happy to show some movement on such things, but on the things that they are determined to do and on the dates when they want their Bills out of Committee, every Government, of any party, have always had their way during the past 20 years.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way on this point. I do not argue with it as a general proposition, but surely the question is how difficult it is for the Government to get their own way and whether timetabling, as his Committee suggested, would make that harder or easier. I suggest that it would not only be easier to some extent, but that it would be more predictable. Those facts combined mean that the Opposition would, by definition, lose certain powers. That applies to any Government of any political complexion and would therefore be bad for the House of Commons.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

I have heard that argument, and I have no doubt that it will be mounted again, but I counter it by suggesting that what I wish to ensure, and what the Procedure Committee wishes to ensure, is the totality of a Bill and that all of it will be debated. That is of greater importance than nearly anything else in the consideration of this Bill and of what happens in Standing Committee.

One real worry would be the type of guillotine before us today if we did not have the assurance that has been given by the Leader of the House. Of the 104 clauses that remain to be discussed in Committee, there would be a considerable chance that between 50 and 60 of those clauses would never be debated in Committee; that we would come to the Floor of the House and they would not be debated fully here; that the Bill would then go to another place and that another place would have the right to begin saying, "We must interfere in that legislation because it has not been dealt with by the House of Commons."

Photo of Mr Keith Hampson Mr Keith Hampson , Leeds North West

I wholeheartedly endorse what my hon. Friend says. The outrage about higher education is synthetic. There is no question but that, on a Bill of this length, the crucial higher education clauses, and especially the issue of academic freedom, would not have been reached unless my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House had brought forward a speedy guillotine. I agree that such big Bills, which all Governments produce, should be formally timetabled so that the discipline of Opposition can he brought to bear on all contentious issues and Ministers cannot escape on any area.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

I am delighted to have the support of my hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Derek Fatchett Mr Derek Fatchett , Leeds Central

I assure the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery) that the clauses on education would have been debated because that is in the interests of the Opposition. We were keen to make progress. The Leader of the House has already said that there was no evidence of filibustering on the part of the Opposition parties. We were keen to make progress and would have continued to do so.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

I appreciate that, but with a guillotine it is possible for the Government to stop such filibustering by organising the way in which the time is allocated afterwards. The lack of time may not be the fault of the Opposition, but the way in which the Government engineer that time. For that reason, the Procedure Committee was concerned that the allocation of time should be settled to a greater extent by the Committee than by anybody else. That is a major factor in the presentation of the guillotine to the House.

When dealing with future guillotines, I hope that this debate will represent a move in the direction that the Government intend to continue. An amendment in the names of a number of right hon. and hon. Members much more distinguished than myself was not seen fit to be accepted by the Chair. But the wish expressed by the Leader of the House when he answered my question last Thursday was: I intend to see that every clause of the Bill is debated in Standing Committee."—[Official Report, 28 January 1988; Vol. 126, c. 489.] Our amendment did not go as far as that major statement. Given the number of clauses, the Procedure Committee was particularly intent to ensure that all parts of the Bill could be adequately scrutinised and that every substantive proposal could be considered. The amendment that is not before the House contained direct quotations from the Procedure Committee report. There is a lot of difference between consideration of every clause and consideration of every major matter within a Bill.

I welcome what the Leader of the House has done today. We are moving towards the general consideration backed by the two reports of the Procedure Committee. That consideration was backed by a vast number of hon. Members. However, the first report was voted down by the largest turnout of Secretaries of State, Ministers, Parliamentary Under-Secretaries and Parliamentary Private Secretaries ever assembled for any vote of the last Session of Parliament, and despite the fact that that vote was on a one-line Whip. That vote represented a great achievement and was to the credit or discredit of the present President of the Council who organised it. However, we are now moving towards some degree of flexibility. Indeed, it was the flexibility of the Committee's previous report that was unacceptable to the then Government Chief Whip.

When my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State replies, I urge him to follow up the undertaking given by the Leader of the House, that every major contention—not every clause—will be debated in Committee before the Bill is reported. If that means that the Committee must sit on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, or even Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, so be it. In that way, everything could be covered. No one here would suggest that the Education Bill is not of major contention, whatever one's views. With a Bill of such importance, it would be criminally wrong of us to send part of it to their Lordships' Chamber without it having been debated in Committee in the House of Commons. I ask the Secretary of State for an assurance that would reinforce that given by the Leader of the House.

I hope that this small movement to improve the procedures of the House will be acted upon. It may not be necessary to have 80 hours—it could be less—to ensure that the whole time is reasonably organised so that we can get over the problem whereby legislation leaves this place without due and proper consideration in Committee. If this debate marks the first stage in that achievement, it will be much more important than anything to do with outrage or with most of the votes and debates on guillotine motions than we have witnessed in the past 10 or 15 years. If we move in that direction, it will be a major achievement.

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths , Bridgend 5:46 pm, 1st February 1988

I believe that we have before us the first guillotine presented to the House in this Session. This timetable motion represents an attempt to deceive the House. The Bill contains nothing less than a syllabus of deceit of parents. They are being given the impression that the Bill, when enacted, will afford them greater choice for the education of their children, more power over the schools that their children attend and higher standards of education.

However, in effect, the Bill will give a little more choice to a few parents, and in many cases, will lead to less choice for virtually all parents. In no case will it give parents any power over the boards of governors, because parents will be in a permanent minority. Because of the divisive opting-out proposals, it will be much more difficult for local education authorities to deliver higher standards of education. However, we are now being asked to limit the amount of time that we can spend debating the Bill in Committee.

As a new Member, I have found it something of a revelation to watch what happens in Committee. I have been amazed at the way in which some Conservative Members have introduced amendments, for which they have spoken most eloquently, but have then either withdrawn them, on the most feeble assurances from the Minister, or voted against the said amendments. I find that a most amazing occurrence, and I am still awaiting a reasonable explanation for it, especially as some of those hon. Members have been paid consultancy fees by organisations that have promoted those amendments.

Photo of Mr Christopher Hawkins Mr Christopher Hawkins , High Peak

I am not paid a consultancy fee, but there is a sensible explanation for such procedures. If someone has got an assurance from a Minister that something they have asked for on an amendment may be delivered on Report, it is naive to put that amendment to the vote, because that means it may not be called on Report. If a vote is not taken in Committee, Mr. Speaker will assume that the issue should be debated on Report, especially if the Minister has given such an assurance.

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths , Bridgend

If the hon. Member for High Peak (Mr. Hawkins) was right every time that has happened, I would not have bothered to mention it. However, on some occasions, Ministers have denied any possibility of an amendment being considered; at other times, they have presented 20 arguments as to why they should not consider it, and then have decided to look at it again. Hon. Members have, on occasions, been in the feeble position of voting against their own amendments.

I turn to other things that happened in Committee. One afternoon we were to debate the proposals on testing and assessment. That same afternoon, a substantial report by the task group on assessment and testing—the TGA I report—came out. We barely had the chance to look at it. We were promised a debate on testing and assessment later. However, today we know that the Bill will be guillotined. We are in the shadow of the guillotine and the time that can be given to a debate on testing and assessment must be limited. It is questionable whether we will have sufficient time to examine the report — of several hundred pages — which, in many respects, contains proposals with which the Prime Minister would not agree.

Currently, we are discussing the opting-out proposals. We have spent some time on what must be regarded as the most divisive and dangerous part of the Bill. We could spend some time on it if we were not subject to the threat of a guillotine.

It has been interesting to note how Ministers have changed their stance under questioning. I shall cite one incident in Committee that shows that it is important for us to have time to tease out of Ministers what they really mean. The Minister of State, Department of Education and Science said that the fees—perhaps I should say the voluntary contributions that parents in opted-out schools will be encouraged to pay—will not be used to pay for the staff at the school. However, after half a dozen questions we were told that if the school governors so decided, they would be able to use those voluntary contributions to finance the staff. It took some time to get a complete volte-face from the Minister. Under the pressure of a guillotine, there will not always be time to probe Ministers. They will know that they can be saved by the guillotine.

However, there are many important topics that we have not yet touched upon, such as higher and further education. My hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) has already dwelt on the real future of ILEA, and he has explained at some length that, while we are under a guillotine, we cannot be sure which clauses and which amendments on the future of ILEA will be debated.

The Government have introduced a large number of amendments to tidy up the Bill as originally drafted. That is another important factor in our belief that there should not be a guillotine and that the measure should be debated in full, unencumbered by Government threats of a time limit.

I shall refer briefly to two parts of the explanatory and financial memorandum—the financial effects of the Bill and the effects on public service manpower—which arise in many other parts of the Bill. The Government show a lack of knowledge about what will really happen if the Bill is put into effect in its current form. The statement on the financial effects of the Bill says that some of the testing and assessment proposals will cost £33 million, but that for the rest of the Bill the financial effects will be broadly neutral, especially in regard to financial delegation. It says that, because there will be a change in administrative responsibility, any extra costs incurred in the schools will be saved within the local education authority.

Anyone who knows what happens when an organisation is attacked in such a way will realise that it is not easy to make strict comparisons of savings and losses. The Coopers and Lybrand report, sponsored by the Government, was quick to point out that it should not be imagined that financial delegation to schools will save any money. Again, we are threatened with the possibility of having insufficient time to find out exactly what will be the financial effects of the Bill.

Finally, I should like to raise the issue of public service manpower. The effects of the Bill on manpower — or perhaps it should be called personnel, as more than half the manpower is women—states: The implementation of the national curriculum and new admission arrangements for schools may require some redeployment within planned overall teacher numbers. That is an example of the certainty and depth of knowledge with which the Govenment have applied themselves to constructing the massive Education Reform Bill. The Opposition are certain that it will have significant effects. At one time, the Government gave us some assurances about the Bill's effects on personnel. We are still waiting for an answer. The probing questions asked in Committee received no answers from the Government.

Despite the fact that the Bill has been before the Committee, there is probably a myriad of civil servants in the Department of Education and Science trying to find out what will be the exact effects of the Bill. It is a disgrace that the Bill is to be guillotined when the Government have no confidence that they will be able to answer questions on so many aspects of the Bill regarding the future of the education service.

Photo of Mr Richard Tracey Mr Richard Tracey , Surbiton 5:58 pm, 1st February 1988

I know that I am not alone in speaking as a parent. It is right and proper that the voices of parents should be raised in the House about the urgency of their children's education. There is a real danger that, in regard to education in Britain we, as politicians, could be criticised for fiddling while Rome burned.

We must remember that 10 years ago Lord Callaghan began the great debate on education. His Government did very little about it. Quite a bit has been done by my Government since that time. The Labour party's efforts during those years were criticised, rightly, by Mr. John Lloyd, the editor of the New Statesman, who could hardly be described as a Conservative, when he said on 16 October: The Left did not face up to failures, and to the manifest alarm of the mass of parents. That is precisely what the Government are facing up to and that is why we consider that it is urgent that the reforms in the Bill should be debated and implemented as swiftly as possible.

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

The hon. Gentleman said that he is a parent and that there are many other parents in the House. However, does he send his children to schools within the state system of education? As my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) said, our experience is that the people who are out to destroy the existing system of education, just as in the National Health Service, do not use it. They are paternalising and lecturing to us about our children's education while sending their children to private schools.

Photo of Mr Richard Tracey Mr Richard Tracey , Surbiton

I am grateful for that intervention. Both my wife and I were educated in the state sector. My wife is a member of the Inner London education authority and all four of my children are being educated in the state sector. The hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends often run away with the fallacy that Conservative Members are not interested in state education and are not educating their children in the state sector.

It is urgent for parents, children and employers that the reforms in the Bill should be implemented.

Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley , Glanford and Scunthorpe

The hon. Gentleman mentioned urgency. Will he tell the House how many representations he has received from parents? I have written to every governing body in my constituency and I have not received a single letter from any parent or governing body saying that they are in favour of the Bill or the speed with which it is being put through.

Photo of Mr Richard Tracey Mr Richard Tracey , Surbiton

I have received several representations from parents within my constituency and outside—[HON MEMBERS:"HOW many?"] Some tens of representations. That is a fair number for a Member of Parliament to receive. The schools in my constituency , which is in the royal borough of Kingston-Upon-Thames, are well regarded by parents because we still have a grammar school and secondary modern system that the parents fight to retain. Indeed, they recently fought a Liberal-Labour coalition on the council to ensure that the grammar schools and secondary moderns were retained. On the question of standards as a whole, I have received representations and heard from parents saying that they support the aims of the Bill.

The comparison of performance between British children and children in Germany is illuminating. We hear that nine out of 10 children leave German schools with qualifications at 16 that are matched by only four out of 10 on a comparable basis in this country. There is considerable and accepted under-motivation of children in British schools and the level of attainment is not adequate; so many parents and employers regularly speak to Members of Parliament about that. I have been present at meetings of governing bodies where employers, who have been governors of schools, have raised that point with me.

Photo of Mr Gerry Steinberg Mr Gerry Steinberg , City of Durham

Will the hon. Gentleman tell us why so many national organisations and parents have written to members of the Committee opposing the Bill? I am prepared to show the hon. Gentleman the number of letters I have received opposing the Bill. Is he prepared to show me the letters he has received welcoming the Bill?

Photo of Mr Richard Tracey Mr Richard Tracey , Surbiton

There is no doubt that the number of representations Committee members have received—no doubt the hon. Gentleman has received the same as me have come mainly from unions and people who have been encouraged to write. My experience in inner London is that many parents and governing bodies are being whipped up to write to Committee members by ILEA. That authority says it is short of money but, as with Labour authorities that we all know so well in London, it can spend large amounts of money on producing propaganda to throw out when legislation is being discussed in the House.

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths , Bridgend

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that if parents and governing bodies are being whipped up in response to the Bill, it is as a result of the dismay they feel at the proposals the Government are putting forward?

Photo of Mr Richard Tracey Mr Richard Tracey , Surbiton

My view is that the whipping up is being done by partisan politicians, particularly from the Labour party. The literature I have received as a governor of an ILEA school has been urging governors to write to the Department of Education and Science and Members of Parliament saying that the governors are out of sympathy with the legislation. That is a ridiculous use of ratepayers' money by the Inner London education authority.

The Inner London education authority was discussed at great length by the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson). As I pointed out at the time, I thought that the speech should have been about the timetable motion, but he seemed to think that it was a debate on ILEA. The question of the future education of our children in inner London is critical. I believe that ILEA should be abolished and I have said that on a number of occasions over a number of years. I believe that our children in inner London are being ill-served by the political majority in county hall and I believe that the standards they could achieve are not being reached. I am sure that—

Photo of Mr Richard Tracey Mr Richard Tracey , Surbiton

Nobody put that precise point in their election address because the Government were being seen to move towards allowing boroughs to opt out. If the Bill continues in its present form, a few Labour boroughs will opt out. In itself, that would trigger the full abolition of ILEA. I have tabled an amendment to reduce the trigger point from eight boroughs opting out to five boroughs. However, I believe that the best possible solution would be for ILEA to be abolished at a stroke. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Cabinet will agree to that policy.

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown , Yeovil

The hon. Gentleman is complaining about the political direction of ILEA. Does he not realise that his proposals and those of the Government will put the schoolchildren of Southwark, Camden and Hackney into the hands of their boroughs? Is he happy to see that happen? That seems to be about as responsible as appointing as a head teacher at a school a drunken bankrupt who is in the process of having a nervous breakdown.

Photo of Mr Richard Tracey Mr Richard Tracey , Surbiton

I understood that the Liberal party had some hopes of winning control of Southwark council, so I am not quite sure what point the hon. Gentleman is making. When faced with a choice between the policies of the Conservative party and the policies of the Labour party, the electorate may well return a Conservative authority. It will be able to compare Labour's policies with the policies that have been pursued by Conservative authorities in well-run boroughs such as Wandsworth, where there is support for opting out.

I shall now direct some remarks to the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras. The Times pointed out the other day that, at the "Labour Listens" exercise in Brighton, he did far more talking than listening.

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

Will the hon. Gentleman give us the precise quotation from The Times, or is he getting yet another quotation wrong?

Photo of Mr Richard Tracey Mr Richard Tracey , Surbiton

I think the point made was that it was a "Labour Listens" exercise and that the hon. Gentleman did more talking than listening. By his rapid intervention just now, he has proved that he prefers to do more talking than listening.

The hon. Gentleman talked at length about ILEA. On 19 November there was a by-election in the Southfields ward of Wandsworth borough council. There was a rumour that the whole Labour Front Bench would be turning up to support the Labour candidate. As Labour Members are fair-weather politicians and it was a rather wet day, they resorted to sending only the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw). I cast no aspersions on what campaigning he tried to do, but the Labour party fought that by-election on the call to vote Labour and save ILEA. In fact, the Conservative candidate considerably increased his majority and, as a result, Wandsworth continues towards opting out of ILEA.

The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras referred to the wonders and successes of ILEA. On that and on Conservative education policies, I can do no better than to quote none other than Mr. Neil Fletcher, the Labour leader of ILEA, speaking to the Socialist Education Association on 30 September; The appeal that the Tories are making, and which plays on parent's fears, clearly has some resonance. Put bluntly, these fears are that comprehensive education does not stretch and challenge children enough or provide them with the essential skills needed for survival in the modern world. How do you build into a comprehensive system a real emphasis on the achievement potential of each child … Does our system let down these children? For too many of them, if we are honest, the answer is yes. Why are working class children still not doing as well as their middle class peers? I am doubtful as to how far we should take socio-economic background as a determinant excuse. Those are the words of one of the leading exponents of the Labour party's education policies. Mr. Neil Fletcher apparently accepts exactly what the Government are driving at and understands why there is an urgent need for the Bill to be implemented.

Photo of Mr Brian Sedgemore Mr Brian Sedgemore , Hackney South and Shoreditch 6:14 pm, 1st February 1988

I wish to make two brief points. First, as a person of extreme moderation, I find it difficult to know how I can be expected to vote for the timetable motion if the Secretary of State does not tell us in his wind-up speech whether ILEA itself is to be guillotined. At the moment, it is being destroyed by a thousand cuts and, as I told the Committee, by the tactics of chambre des oubliettes, but it seems that there is worse to come and that two Tory grandees, who have slipped out to avoid the whiplash of my tongue, are seeking to test to destruction the nerve of the Secretary of State.

As the Government try to make up their mind when and how to behead, dismember and disembody ILEA, they stand guilty, first, of denying the validity of the democratic process; secondly, of tormenting those who have the job of running ILEA's education system; and, thirdly, of playing with the education of 270,000 pupils. I should have thought that everyone, including the Secretary of State—good, decent, liberal person that he is—would find it tragic that the future of the children of the capital should be made contingent on the splenetic outbursts of the tigerish tiger from Henley and the Knuckleduster Kid from Chingford. Surely, the Secretary of State cannot be beyond shame. He cannot allow himself to become the cat's paw of the tigerish tiger and the punch bag for the knuckleduster kid.

I was present when the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) spoke about ILEA on Second Reading. He now appears to be in the driving seat at the Department of Education and Science. On Second Reading, he spoke about schools in ILEA and the institutions of higher learning that ILEA runs, with roughly the same gushing ignorance with which he speaks about so many other subjects. He comes here as a Privy Councillor and dabbles in this, that and the other. He ends up by appearing rather like a father who buys his young children a bucket and spade prior to sending them on holiday to the Rocky mountains.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) said, parents whose children attend ILEA's schools are beginning to wonder what it is—apart from political ambition — that makes the right hon. Member for Henley so concerned about the education of some of the poorest children in the country when he is one of the richest people in England. Parents in Hackney have decided that the right hon. Gentleman is living proof of Maurice Baring's famous dictum: If you would know what the Lord God thinks of money, you have only to look at those to whom he gives it. My first point, therefore, is simply this: before we vote on this timetable motion, the Leader of the House or the Secretary of State himself, as he is to reply, should tell us when the right hon. Member for Henley will officially take over the portfolio at the Department of Education and Science.

My second point concerns the offer of a job made to Mr. William Stubbs, the education officer of ILEA, by the Secretary of State and the fact that Mr. Stubbs has accepted that offer. We should not vote on this issue until we have had a statement from the Secretary of State about what he perceives to be his role in this and how he perceives and justifies the role of Mr. William Stubbs. In New Testament biblical times, the going rate for treachery was 30 pieces of silver, but for Mr. Stubbs it appears to be 10 G — that is, the £10,000 that I understand the Secretary of State will add to his salary when he takes up his new job and abandons ship at ILEA.

I do not want to criticise Mr. Stubbs professionally, but I criticise his courage, because a serious political point is involved that cannot be forgotten. In abandoning ship, Mr. Stubbs reminds me of the naval captain who, on hearing that war was about to break out, scuppered his ships so that he would not have to engage in battle.

Mr. Stubbs tells us that there is no conflict of interest between what he is doing and the fact that he is the education officer at ILEA. I ask Mr. Stubbs, the Secretary of State and the House to consider that. The Secretary of State, who is giving William Stubbs a job, only last week announced that he was cutting ILEA's budget, which Mr. Stubbs heads, by £114 million, putting at risk 3,000 teaching jobs. To say that there is no conflict of interest is to abuse the ordinary use of the English language.

The Secretary of State has offered a job to Mr. William Stubbs, the head of ILEA, who says that the Secretary of State's proposals in the Bill will destroy ILEA. Only somebody well versed in devilish semantics would seek to argue that there was no conflict of interest there.

Worse than that, the job offered to Mr. Stubbs is as head of the funding council of the polytechnics. Every ILEA member to whom I have spoken is opposed to the way in which that funding council will operate and to the role that Mr. Stubbs will play in denying academic freedom to polytechnics. That is the point that the universities' and polytechnics' funding councils have made. How dare the Secretary of State or Mr. William Stubbs seek to argue that there is no conflict of interest in the offer and acceptance of that particular job?

If Mr. Stubbs really believes that there is no conflict of interest, he no longer recognises the nature or quality of his acts, he is no longer capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, and if he came before a court of law he would be certified under the M'Naghten rules—and so, incidentally, would the Secretary of State. [Interruption.] We know that this is about, not certification, but political will power. [Interruption] I heard the Secretary of State ask me to repeat what I said outside the House. I was not going to tell him this, but over the weekend I wrote Mr. Speaker a private, confidential letter indicting the Secretary of State and Mr. Stubbs of breach of privilege and contempt of this House. I cannot talk about private confidential letters to Mr. Speaker, but I am sure that Mr. Speaker will take this matter rather more seriously than perhaps the Secretary of State has done.

This reminds me of the time when I was at the Bar, defending professional criminals. When some people had committed a serious crime, although their dabs were all over the scene of the crime and they had made a full and frank confession to the police and signed it, there was no way that counsel for the Crown—however hard he or she tried or however skilful he or she was—could get that guilty person to make any incriminating statement. By intensive psychological pressure one can wipe a crime out of one's mind. In this case, Mr. William Stubbs and the Secretary of State, caught bang to rights, will not issue a plea of guilty. Therefore, I hope that Mr. Speaker will take up the matter and come back to the House on it.

Photo of Mr George Walden Mr George Walden , Buckingham

I have listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman's speech in which he has ranged widely from the Old Testament to the Rocky mountains and back to confessions. I was reminded of what my hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey) said about the unpressured confession of Mr. Neil Fletcher. We are discussing the failure of ILEA, a massive and over-financed organisation, to provide education of quality for ordinary children. Before the hon. Gentleman sits down, will he deal with that central point and come back from the Rockies and the Old Testament?

Photo of Mr Brian Sedgemore Mr Brian Sedgemore , Hackney South and Shoreditch

I was about to sit down, but I am happy to answer the hon. Gentleman's intervention. In my discussions with ILEA, it has been put to me that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras said, there is a management problem. I do not want to criticise Mr. Stubbs professionally, but as the hon. Gentleman is drawing me out, I must say that the consensus of those who have studied the issue is that the management problem is not the problem to which Mr. Stubbs has addressed himself over the past 10 years. Although he has done some good work for ILEA, he has not addressed himself to the problem to which the hon. Gentleman objects most seriously. If that is true—and it is what ILEA members say—I regret it.

One should not damn ILEA out of hand. We hear a great deal about its examination results, and HMI has produced reports which show that, if ILEA's examination results are adjusted for social deprivation, they are slightly better than the average. I do not say that that is great; they should be improved. If there is any place in inner London where there is room to improve ILEA's education, it is Hackney which I represent. I am not trying to push ILEA to the skies or to knock it down. Nobody could suggest that either boroughs opting out or the Secretary of State introducing proposals to abolish ILEA, as we think he will, is sensible, and Mr. Stubbs to his credit, at least until recently, has argued that the proposals are silly.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

As one who worked with Mr. William Stubbs, I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will not wish to slur Mr. Stubbs to the extent to which he has done, without at least saying that Mr. Stubbs has given the most distinguished service to the children and teachers of London and to all connected with education.

Photo of Mr Brian Sedgemore Mr Brian Sedgemore , Hackney South and Shoreditch

Mr. William Stubbs has done some first-class work for ILEA, and the range of its educational service, which is universally admired by the inspectors, is to Mr. Stubbs' credit. On the debit side, Mr. Stubbs does not appear to have addressed the management problem. On the issue which I have raised, I do not retract one comma, colon or full stop. Everybody to whom I have spoken has been shocked by Mr. Stubbs, the speed with which he has acted and the fact that he did not consult his colleagues, or the people for whom he worked. In my view, his action constitutes a constitutional outrage for which both he and the Secretary of State must answer.

Photo of Mr Christopher Hawkins Mr Christopher Hawkins , High Peak 6:27 pm, 1st February 1988

It may please you Mr. Deputy Speaker, to hear that I intend to speak not about ILEA, but about an issue of concern to people throughout the United Kingdom.

I strongly support the motion to timetable the Education Reform Bill. It is a massive Bill, as befits a massive task. It aims to reform all levels of education. up to and including universities. Since the Bill has more than 140 clauses and so far we have covered only 43, my fear is that we may not reach the important clauses on universities unless we have the timetable proposed by the Government.

Some of the clauses on universities worry me. Although the proposals for schools are catching the media spotlight, the proposals for universities seem to be at least as radical. Sadly, in some respects the proposals for universities will be extremely harmful. Since some of my hon. Friends believe that the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals supports the proposals, I should like to quote from a recent letter from Mr. Taylor, the secretary general of the CVCP. He writes: The universities are on the side of change. And indeed they have changed radically in recent years. They have been able to do so because their autonomy has allowed them to act imaginatively. They in no way question the importance of accounting in full for public moneys granted to them and have recently taken steps to sharpen up their procedures in this respect.Their autonomy is now threatened. This Bill would create a new beaurocratic machinery subservient to direct and detailed ministerial intervention. This is strangely at odds with the Government's declared intention to foster university autonomy and runs counter to its express belief that organisations respond best if they are given the responsibility implicit in freedom …At this stage we wish to concentrate on two major issues. The First is The Universities Funding Council and the powers of the Secretary of State. (clauses 92, 94). The Bill represents a very significant increase in the powers of the Secretary of State even above those foreshadowed in the consultative document issued six months ago. For example: The Secretary of State is empowered to 'make grants to each of the funding councils of such amounts and subject to such conditions as he may determine'. (94.3)The Secretary of State 'may by order confer or impose on either of the funding councils such additional functions as he thinks fit'. (94.1)The funding councils 'shall comply with any directions given to them by the Secretary of State'. (94.4)The logic of this is that the UFC would merely be the Secretary of State's agent. Nobody with a nervous disposition should read the powers given to the Secretary of State in the clauses relating to universities. Nobody should look on this Bill as a Bill solely for this reasonable Secretary of State, as we are writing legislation which may last 30 to 40 years and could cover all manner of Secretaries of State. These are extraordinary and dangerous powers. They are strong enough to destroy any reasonable level of autonomy in our university system.

On tenure and academic freedom, the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals says: The Government has decided to abolish academic tenure. Assurances have been given in speeches and parliamentary statements that academic freedom will be protected when tenure is removed. By 'academic freedom' universities do not mean unqualified job protection. They mean the freedom within the law for academic staff to question and to test received wisdom and to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions without placing individuals in jeopardy of losing their jobs. The Government has accepted this definition in its recent statements. So why is there no protection in the Bill? The Association of University Teachers is also opposed to the proposals on tenure, which it believes will add significantly to the brain drain. If our brightest academics can be fired at short notice, perhaps only for expressing unpopular views, why should they not go to other countries—even to America, which so many of my colleagues admire as the great home of the free market, where tenure is generally available in a free-market system and where no Goverment have tried in a nanny or any other way to remove universities' power to give tenure if they wish to do so.

These proposals are unwelcome in universities at all levels. I fear that they will create confrontation and ill will. It saddens me to see that resulting from our proposals.

I thought that it might be helpful for the House if I gave some figures to show what academic tenure means in practice—whether it means a job for life. Further, I thought that it might be helpful if I contrasted such figures with equivalents in the bracing atmosphere of the Department of Education and Science and other parts of the public sector, where, we are told, tenure does not exist.

I expected, of course, to find a static, sleepy university sector and a rapidly changing, thrusting and ever-moving DES. I found from the University Grants Committee official figures that one in six university staff in Britain have lost their jobs since 1979—some job for life․—and that 10,000 staff are on temporary appointments.

In a written question, I asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many employees of his Department have been made redundant on grounds of redundancy or financial exigency in the last 10 years". —[Official Report, 8 December 1987; Vol. 124, c. 100.] Those are the words used in the Bill. My hon. Friend the Minister of State replied that, from 1977 to 1985, the number of people declared redundant in the DES amounted to one part-time cleaner in a local office. In 1986—another heavy year for redundancies in the DES—one packer, nominally on secondment to the British Library in Boston, was declared redundant solely because he or she was unwilling to accept regrading.

I thought that it might be of interest to the House if I gave some figures for the House of Commons—another bracing atmosphere. I asked the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith), as representing the House of Commons Commission, how many employees of the Commission or its predecessor have been made redundant on grounds of redundancy or financial exigency in the last 10 years". He replied: In the last 10 years one employee's appointment has been terminated on grounds of redundancy."—[Official Report, 10 December 1987; Vol. 124, c. 242.] The idea that tenure means a job for life is clearly a myth when one sixth of university staff have lost their jobs since 1979 and when 10,000 are on temporary appointments. All the flexibility that the vice-chancellors could possibly want, and which any reasonable Government could want for any reasonable plans for universities, is already built into the system. I ask Ministers, hon. Members and the Committee to bear in mind the figures that I have given. I hope that Ministers will seriously reconsider the draconian proposals in this part of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Dafydd Elis Thomas Mr Dafydd Elis Thomas , Meirionnydd Nant Conwy 6:37 pm, 1st February 1988

The hon. Member for High Peak (Mr. Hawkins) has set out clearly his worries about the parts of the Bill that affect universities. I shall not cause him further embarrassment by praising his speech too warmly, but I am sure his trenchant criticism and the statistics that he provided will strike the absent Minister with responsibility for higher education when we reach the relevant clauses in Committee.

I shall be brief, as there is no need for those of us who are members of the Committee to rehearse setpiece debates that we have already had or those we are likely to have. I agree with the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) about the need for timetabling. I understand the argument that the exigencies of Committee work can sometimes lead to unexpected concessions late at night. My response is that we have had very few concessions, late at night or otherwise, from any of the Ministers. There have been no changes and it looks increasingly likely that changes will not be conceded unless the Government lose a Division.

We are not dealing here with the logic of the argument or the pressure on Departments. We should move towards pre-legislation reform through consultation with persons outside the House, and increasing use of Special Standing Committee procedure, followed by timetabling of all legislation. That would give us a more rational form of law-making than is available at present, when timetabling is not introduced until late.

I agree with one point made by the Leader of the House. There has been no attempt by the Opposition—neither the Labour, nor the minority party Oppositions as all Oppositions are plural in this House—to forestall or prevent the progress of reasonable debate in Committee. That is a credit to all Committee members and, particularly, to my hon. Friends who lead for the Opposition. They have been criticised in the education media for their role, but it is preferable to adopt such a tactic in Committee where principles and certain detailed issues can be debated and taken up with Ministers in a rational way. That is preferable to the notion of opposition which begins at clause 1, produces 100 amendments to that clause and wastes the Opposition's and the Government's time. It is right for minority Members on the Committee to pay tribute to the way in which the Committee on the Bill has been conducted.

Although I have spoken in favour of the principle of timetabling all legislation, my hon. Friends and I will oppose the timetable motion, not because of the principle of timetabling, but because of the principles of the Bill. Those principles are unnecessary for the education system in England. They are not being introduced in Scotland because the Scots, quite sensibly, do not regard the need to legislate centrally as a prerequisite of curriculum or structural changes in education policy.

In the light of history, the Bill will be seen as a major centralist intervention in the education system, destroying the partnership between local education authorities and central Government and creating new forms of centralisation in the guise of local decentralisation. Grant-maintained schools will be established through a central Department agency, although I do not see many such schools being set up in Wales. The local democracy of local education authorities will be subverted. In that sense, the Bill's principles are centralising tendencies. They are not about local freedom. They are about the destruction of local communities, because they will take the control of educational institutions away from the local community.

Similarly, the proposals for the national curriculum are centralisation proposals. They are attempts by the Secretary of State to impose an unnecessary structure on the curriculum development in schools. The agencies for change existed in the Schools Council and the examination bodies, but the Department prefers to undo those democratic structures, which included an elected element from the teaching profession, and replace them with centralising tendencies.

Although I am pessimistic about the Bill, I have a great deal of confidence in the education system. The Secretary of State may legislate, but he will not be able to deliver the negative principles in the Bill. That is already emerging. When he sets up groups of experts to consider assessment, they will come back and say that these simplistic notions, such as testing the attainment of kids aged seven, 11 and 14, cannot be implemented. The centralising hand of the Department cannot operate in the curriculum because it cannot reach into the reality of the classroom and of the education system. Although we who have lived and worked in education are concerned about the Bill, we are convinced that the reality of the system will be very different from what is being legislated for in the Bill.

Photo of Mr James Pawsey Mr James Pawsey , Rugby and Kenilworth 6:44 pm, 1st February 1988

I hope that the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Dr. Thomas) will forgive me if I do not follow him down the road which he has signposted, but I do wish to make a brief reference to the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Sedgemore). I listened to his comments about Mr. William Stubbs and thought, "Methinks he doth protest too much." Mr. Stubbs must indeed be a good choice if he upsets Opposition Members as much as he evidently does.

The Education Reform Bill is important to the education system and to the nation's children. Like many other Conservative Members, I am anxious to see it enacted in time for the new school year in September. That is why a guillotine is being introduced. It is a large Bill, which, including the schedules, contains 158 clauses, and, so far, in Committee we have dealt with about a third in some 89 hours. It will, of course, receive much further consideration in Standing Committee.

I listened with interest to the comments of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, when he described this timetable motion as the most generous for 20 years and said that it provides a further 90 hours to enable the Bill to be fully considered. In addition, it will be considered on Report and will attract considerable discussion and attention in the other place. If the motion is not agreed and the Bill continues at its fairly leisurely pace in Committee, the nation's children will not have the benefit of the reforms incorporated in the Bill by the next school year. That is why I and my hon. Friends will give the measure our unconditional support this evening.

Much nonsense has been talked about timetable motions. I have listened with interest to the comments of some Opposition Members. As the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) said, the record for timetable motions is held not by one of my right hon. Friends, and certainly not by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, but by a member of the official Opposition who, when in government, guillotined five Bills in one day, on 20 July 1976. That was truly a black Tuesday in the history of the House—[Interruption.] My hon. Friends describe the right hon. Gentleman as Robespierre, but it is not for me to comment on that interesting thought.

It is an impressive list of Bills. The Bills guillotined that day were the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill, the Dock Work Regulation Bill, the Health Services Bill, the Rent (Agriculture) Bill and—I hear the expressions of shock and horror from my hon. Friends, but the worst is yet to come—the Education Bill. That Bill set out to destroy choice and to introduce uniformity.

Opposition Members have expressed concern about the democratic process and the need for full discussion. I do not know how they can square their statements today with the actions of the Labour Government in 1976, but clearly actions speak louder than words. Their consciences, like their policies, must be pretty flexible.

The amount of time devoted to the Education Reform Bill so far is quite significant. More time has been spent on it than was spent on the corresponding stage of the Education Bill 1944, on which all post-war education has been founded. Here I must acknowledge with thanks the research done for me by the Library. The staff have advised me that about 86 hours, over 14 days, were spent on the 1944 Act. This Bill has therefore had more discussion than the 1944 Act.

The holier-than-thou attitude adopted by Opposition Members must sit uncomfortably on their shoulders, in the light of their party's previous actions. All Governments use the guillotine, and all Oppositions protest. The most effective weapon available to the Opposition is the delaying tactic—my right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen) made that point—but if Governments are to get legislation on to to the statute book, they must use timetable motions. I am anxious that the measures in the Bill are adopted as quickly as possible.

Incidentally, the Labour party speaks with a forked tongue on the core curriculum. On 11 October 1987, speaking on "Frost on Sunday", the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) said: I chaired a working party of the Labour party 15 years ago which recommended a national curriculum. It is a sensible way of trying to guarantee standards of education in all our schools … I am in favour and so is the Labour party of what we call diagnostic testing and regular and continuous assessment of children to find out how they are getting on. Those are comments of which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State would be proud, but it seems that between 11 and 20 November last year, a sea change occurred in the thinking of the hon. Member for Blackburn.

It is the duty of the Opposition to oppose, but opposition for opposition's sake on an issue as important as this is grossly irresponsible. That is why I hope that my hon. Friends will support my right hon. Friend in the Lobby tonight.

Photo of Hilary Armstrong Hilary Armstrong Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson 6:51 pm, 1st February 1988

The hon. Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey) obviously wrote his speech before he heard the debate. He has certainly not remembered much of what has happened in Committee—[HON. MEMBERS: "What about you?"] I admit that I prepared notes for this debate—

Photo of Mr James Pawsey Mr James Pawsey , Rugby and Kenilworth

Why is my preparation wrong and the hon. Lady's right?

Photo of Hilary Armstrong Hilary Armstrong Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson

The House can see what we are having to put up with in Committee.

I accept that a member of my family has in the past spoken in the House in favour of guillotines. I am not against guillotines in general, but I am against the guillotine on this Bill now.

In Committee, we have had serious debates, during which Opposition Members, on the instructions of my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), have made brief speeches. We have tried to consider matters carefully, without wandering from the subject, and to stick to the amendments. That has meant that Opposition Members have spoken for less time than Conservative Members. The guillotine motion has been moved at a much earlier stage of the Bill than on any Bill during the past 20 years. It has been moved now because the Government know that we are getting near those aspects of the Bill on which they are most rocky and to which hon. Members and people outside the House object most fiercely.

We have been told that, at our present pace, we could not hope to get through the Bill in time and discuss all the issues, but Conservative Members must know that that is nonsense. The Opposition have dealt with the Bill responsibly to make sure that we would reach the end in time. We were determined that every bit of it should be discussed effectively.

The number of hours that has been quoted for our discussion of the Bill is inaccurate, because it includes tea breaks and adjournments for Divisions in the House. It is much less than 89 hours.

The inadequate consultation on the Bill and inadequate preparation by the Government have meant that the Opposition are expected to do things in Committee for which any schoolteacher would be disciplined for bad behaviour. We must consider reports as they come into Committee and then the clauses which relate to those reports. The procedure is, at best, anti-democratic. It makes nonsense of any Government's commitment to consultation or to democracy.

I should have liked to say more about this outrageous guillotine motion, but I do not have time. The Opposition are determined to discuss the Bill properly, but the Government will make that impossible.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State for Education 6:56 pm, 1st February 1988

This has been an interesting and entertaining debate, with fine speeches from my hon. Friends the Members for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths), for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong) and for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Sedgemore). I am grateful to the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Dr. Thomas) for his remarks about the organisation of the Opposition.

We heard a courageous and stimulating speech from the hon. Member for High Peak (Mr. Hawkins), and we look forward to his contribution on that subject in Committee. It is noteworthy that the right hon. Members for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) and for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) stayed for the opening speeches and then disappeared—such is their close interest in the Bill and the future of the Inner London education authority.

The timetable motion is an abuse of power. No one can deny the wish of a Government to secure progress for their business, but that must be balanced against the need for adequate debate and discussion of a measure, for such debate and scrutiny of legislation are central to the work of Parliament. Guillotines can be justified only where an Opposition have filibustered a Bill, where they have refused all reasonable suggestions to agree a timetable, or where there is no possibility of the Government getting their business through at reasonable speed without a guillotine.

On Second Reading, the right hon. Member for Chingford anticipated all that. He said: In an attempt to show value for money, the official Opposition will insist on having about 80 hours' debate on clauses 1 to 3 or thereabouts in Committee, and then force a guillotine."—[Official Report, 1 December 1987; Vol. 123, c. 809.]. I am sorry to disappoint the right hon. Gentleman, and I am sorry that he is not here to answer my point—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] I do not know where he is. I told him that I would mention him.

The right hon. Gentleman was right about one thing: we have spent more than 80 hours in Committee. But during those 87 hours we have covered 43 clauses and two extremely long schedules. Even without a guillotine, we have devoted fewer than two hours of debate to each clause or schedule. As my hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North-West said, Opposition Members have spoken for less time than Conservative Members.

The Leader of the House made the interesting admission that there has been no filibustering by the Opposition. We have had no interest in filibustering. Our interest has always been in careful and relentless scrutiny of the Bill, and it is precisely because of that dissection of the Bill, which caused acute embarrassment to Ministers, that the Government now wish to curtail our discussion.

None of us should be surprised about that, because the members of the Committee have witnessed some extraordinary performances by Ministers. The Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn)— I am not surprised that he has had his hand over his face—agreed that the national curriculum need take up only one minute of any week. He described the national curriculum—to which the Conservative party devoted an entire party political broadcast—as a "fairy tricycle" or a "three-wheeled bicycle".

Under questioning, the Minister of State admitted that the policy of open admissions was in reality one for accelerated closures of schools and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgend said, gave three different answers in the same speech about whether opted-out schools could use money raised by parent-teacher associations to employ teachers.

Then there is the Secretary of State himself, a man who thought he would make his name with this Bill, but has found out otherwise, because support for opting out has not risen since he went around the country proselytising on behalf of the cause—it has declined still further from the 35 per cent. that it achieved in the polls after the election. Support for his version of the national curriculum has declined by an even greater percentage; it stood at 67 per cent. before he started advocating it, and it is now down to 46 per cent.

So I was distressed to read in the papers at the weekend that the odds on the Secretary of State in the Conservative leadership stakes have lengthened slightly as a result of his performance. That is a matter that causes me considerable distress. As I have told him, our interest, apart from trying to defeat the Bill, is to ensure that he remains upright when the leadership contest takes place. I am glad to see the Secretary of State taking that in the spirit in which it is offered.

Last Tuesday, the right hon. Gentleman could have taken all day to justify his proposals for opting out, but such is his real support for those proposals that he decided instead to take only seven minutes.

One reason why the Government have gone ahead with this completely unjustified guillotine — given that we have not filibustered — was to avoid the continuing embarrassment of Ministers. However, the Government planned to guillotine the Bill even before it was published. They did so for two reasons: first, because there was doubt about the competence, not to say the loyalty, of the Secretary of State's junior Ministers. When we heard the Secretary of State telling the Committee that he had never underestimated the capacity of his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary to dig himself out of any hole into which he had dug himself, we understood his dilemma.

The second reason for the guillotine, even before the 13111 emerged from the printers, was that the Secretary of State was petrified at what would happen on Report, in the other place, and when the amendments from the Lords returned to this Chamber.

Since then, there has turned out to be a third reason why the Bill should be guillotined—the incompetence of Government business managers. They are creating a logjam in the House of Lords; it took them two and a half weeks to get the poll tax Bill into Committee, which would certainly not have happened if the Secretary of State for Education had been in charge.

Photo of Mr Brian Sedgemore Mr Brian Sedgemore , Hackney South and Shoreditch

There would not have been a poll tax.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State for Education

My hon. Friend is wrong: it was the right hon. Gentleman's idea. I must tell Conservative Members that they need to watch the Secretary of State—he is very fly. He invents the poll tax and then clears off. He invests opting out and dismembers ILEA, and will then clear off. I daresay he will be put into the DHSS and then be cleared off.

The luckless Lord President of the Council is responsible for the fact that the House of Lords will have to digest 570 pages of legislation in about two months. I am not surprised that he sought to guillotine the Bill with no justification. Whatever the honeyed words of the Leader of the House or the syrupy words of the Secretary of State, this guillotine has only one purpose—to stifle debate.

I must tell the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) that he will have to find a bit more backbone if he wants to be the leader of the Liberal party, or the Social and Liberal Democratic party, or the Social Democratic party. To suggest, as he did, that the guillotine is relatively generous, is virtually to cross the Floor. He must be blind to what is happening. If we do the arithmetic, we discover, that roughly speaking, we have devoted just under two hours to each clause until now. As the hon. Member for Yeovil knows, that is not enough—despite the fact that he has spoken for a good deal of that time. But we have not wished to embarrass him by his record. If the Leader of the House had wanted to refer to a filibuster, he might have singled out the hon. Members for Yeovil and for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey).

Under the guillotine, there will be fewer than 45 minutes per clause. That is what the hon. Member for Yeovil calls relatively generous — —[Interruption.] Of course he will be voting with us. As we know, members of the Social Democratic Liberal party—or Liberal and Social Democratic party—are reasonable people and always wish to be on both sides at once. On the one hand, the guillotine is relatively generous. On the other, it is outrageous. There is a facility for voting on both sides in the House, and I urge the hon. Member for Yeovil to use it.

It is outrageous that we shall have only two and a half days to discuss opting out, two days on the reorganisation of further education, two days on state control of universities and only a day and a half on ILEA.

Why do we need more time to discuss opting out? The critical clauses on the balloting arrangements for opting out will be allowed only five hours of discussion. We need a lot more than that for the Secretary of State to explain the ballot-rigging that is inherent in those clauses, and how it is democratic and fair to devise a ballot so that the minority—and I mean the minority of those voting—wins. Under the proposed arrangements, parents of a minority of the children whose parents have voted win the ballot.

If we take a school, put all the children in the playground, separate out the children of parents who have not taken part in the election — on the grounds that those people do not count—and then ask the children of parents who have voted for opting out to peel off in one direction and the children of those parents who have riot voted in favour in the other, there will often be more children on the side that voted against opting out than on the side that voted for it—yet the side that voted for it will win. And they call that democracy.

Ministers must find time to explain another point. Why, at the same time as they are saying that a 50 per cent. majority of those who bothered to vote is enough for schools to opt out, have those same Ministers voted for the Second Reading of the Housing Bill, which provides for a completely different arrangement, insisting in clause 96—I am happy to give a copy to the Secretary of State, who is looking puzzled at what the clause contains even though he voted for it—that for local authority tenants to block a decision by a voracious private landlord to take over their tower block or council estate, 50 per cent. not of those voting, but of the total number of council tenants and people who happen to have bought their council houses must vote against that private landlord for the decision to be blocked?

I am glad to see that the right hon. Member for Chingford has returned. He must explain how he supports these proposals, when he sponsored the Employment Act in 1982. It contained a proposition, still on the statute book, that if a closed shop was to be approved, 85 per cent. of those voting had to approve it. The present Government Chief Whip, then the Under-Secretary of State for Employment, said at the time that that was because of the overwhelming importance to the work force of a closed shop and its effect on individual rights. If the closed shop had immense importance for individual rights, why does not the issue of opting out have similar importance? What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Mr. Tebbitt:

I can immediately point out to the hon. Gentleman a great difference between the two things. A closed shop can easily rob a man of his job, with no appeal, but opting out of a school will not rob a child of his education.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State for Education

We disagree on both counts. I believe that opting-out schools will rob children of their education. If the right hon. Gentleman has such confidence in his proposals, why does he not agree even to the idea that 50 per cent. of parents in a school should support a particular proposal?

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State for Education

I must close in one minute.

The Secretary of State has often described the Bill as a gerbil. I do not know whether the Secretary of State is aware of the natural history of the gerbil, but according to Maurice Burton's "Systematic Dictionary of Mammals of the World", gerbils are carriers of fleas bearing sylvatic plague. The "Encylopaedia Britannica" tells us that the African genus tatera gerbil is a possible carrier of bubonic plague. The Bill will bring plague to the education of the nation's children and the timetable motion should be opposed.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley 7:10 pm, 1st February 1988

This has been a short, interesting and crisp debate with excellent speeches from some of my hon. Friends. My hon. Friends the Members for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey) and for High Peak (Mr. Hawkins) made excellent contributions and I shall consider carefully what was said. We also heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby and Kenilworth (Mr. Pawsey), and we had two speeches on procedure to which I shall come shortly.

I stress at the outset the amount of time that has already been taken up in discussing this great measure of reform. It started on 26 October last year on an Opposition Supply day, when the Opposition asked for a debate on our consultation process. So keen were they that, on the day after they tabled the motion, they tried to change the order of business to put it off. That shows their commitment. When the Bill was introduced on 20 November 1987, they said that it was all far too early. The Government wanted to introduce the Bill at that time to ensure that there would be plenty of debate in both Houses on this important measure.

On 1 December, we spent seven and a half hours on Second Reading and the money resolution, and the Standing Committee has spent 88 hours discussing 43 clauses. Under the terms of the proposed timetable motion, there will be a further 90 hours in Committee, making a total of 180 hours in Committee, and that will be followed by three days on Report and Third Reading. That will add a further 18 hours and the House will then have spent well over 200 hours considering the Bill.

By any standards that is a generous amount of time—even allowing for the fundamental reforms contained in the Bill. The Education Bill 1944 took 60 hours. The Opposition have said that that was an agreed measure. They should look at the debates on that Bill and at the debates preceding it to see how contentious it appeared to the various religious groups.

If we look at the three major Education Bills that we introduced in 1980, 1981 and 1986 and add together their Committee stages, we arrive at a figure of less than 200 hours—the time that will be spent on the present Bill. This is the most generous timetable motion for over 20 years. Of course, I recognise that no allocation would be sufficiently generous to prevent the Opposition's ritual complaints.

I invite the House to consider the facts. At the Committee's average rate of progress—and progress has been rather slower than average in the last two days—it will take about 250 to 300 hours to complete discussion of the Bill, including the detailed schedules. That is about another 15 weeks. Allowing for the Easter and Whitsun recesses, it is unlikely that the other place would receive the Bill until about June. If the Lords receive it in June, there is no way that they could complete consideration of the Bill by the end of July, and it would have to go into the October overspill.

If the Lords received the Bill as late as June, there is a real danger that they could not complete consideration at all. Of course, that is what the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) would dearly like.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State for Education

If all that the right hon. Gentleman says is true, why did he not ask the Opposition for a deal?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

It became quite clear in various informal discussions that I undertook that there was no possibility at all of a deal. That has been confirmed by the assertions made during the debate. The Opposition have said that we need plenty of time to discuss all the measures in the Bill that have still to be debated. That is what I want to secure.

The matter of a filibuster has been raised. There was nothing on the scale of John Golding's filibuster. He talked for 11 hours on the Telecommunications Bill and I heard every minute of his speech—[Interruption.] That was in Committee. No Opposition Member on the Committee upstairs could hold the Committee's attention and interest for 11 minutes, never mind 11 hours.

The nearest to come to that was the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Sedgemore). He opened his capacious mind to the Committee and gave it discourses on philosophy, equality, homosexuality in public schools and the financial policies of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III, generally known as Amenhotep junior, the golden emperor who ruled Egypt in the 15th century BC. We also heard him on Welsh disestablishment and on agnosticism and atheism.

The hon. Member startled the Committee one day by asking us if we all realised that at school he had won all the religious and scripture prizes. What a wonderful beginning! Since then it has been downhill all the way. He also wrote a poem about me. It was an awful piece of doggerel. Indeed, it gives doggerel a bad name. It neither rhymed nor scanned. The post of poet laureate is filled, but I suppose that the hon. Gentleman could well qualify for the post of poet lunatic.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen) and my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery), who is a distinguished former Chairman of the Procedure Committee asked about the general nature of timetable motions. The hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Dr. Thomas) also asked about that.

I have had the task of taking through the House under the guillotine procedure two major Bills — the British Telecommunications Bill and the Local Government Bill 1985. The Procedure Committee should take seriously the proposal that we should find a better way of dealing with some of our legislation. My right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North is a great parliamentarian. Therefore, in view of the positions that he has held, when he advises the House to consider new procedures for these matters, the House should weigh his words very carefully.

As I have said, my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton was the Chairman of the Procedure Committee that reported on this matter. Its second report recommended that a Committee should be established at the start of each Parliament to consider which Bills were likely to involve lengthy discussions in Committee, so that the guillotine could then be introduced for these Bills. I understand that that proposal was later turned down.

My hon. Friend has rightly drawn the attention of the House to the amendment on today's Order Paper. It was not called by you, Mr. Speaker, but none the less it is an important amendment. The amendment proposed: The Business Sub-Committee of the Standing Committee shall allocate the time so as to ensure that all parts of the Bill can be adequately scrutinised and every substantive proposal of the Bill he considered. I give my hon. Friend the assurance that, in my discussions with the hon. Member for Blackburn, I shall certainly try to ensure that every major matter is given full and measured debate. It is in the interests of all that that should happen—not only the Opposition, but the Government.

The purpose of this guillotine motion is to ensure an even pattern of debate so that the major issues are debated. So far, we have covered the national curriculum, assessment and testing, open enrolment, financial delegation and now grant-maintained schools. There is still much to be done. We still have to deal with the rest of the grant-maintained schools, further education, collective worship, city technology colleges, higher education, financial delegation to colleges, polytechnics and universities and, of course, the Inner London education authority.

On the subject of ILEA, I confirm, as I said at the end of last week, that we are considering the various views put forward about its future. No decision has been taken and the matter will have to be considered collectively by Ministers and our conclusions reported to he House. I re-emphasise the point made by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House — that should there be a major change of policy there will have to be discussion through the usual channels about its implications for the timetable. I want to ensure that all these measures are properly arid fully debated. It is important that they are, because, as hon. Members have said, they are important measures.

The hon. Member for Blackburn chided my colleagues and me about our conduct in Committee. The House should recognise that the amount of time that we have now allocated, about 200 hours, is generous by any standards. I see that the Leader of the Opposition is calling it a gag. If it is a gag, it must be accounted the most inefficient in history. I think that the Leader of the Opposition knows all about gags— not from using them on himself, but from the accusations now being made by the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) about his silencing debate in his own party. It would appear that the only party in the' listening party who is not listening is the Leader of the Opposition himself.

None the less, that has not prevented the hon. Member for Blackburn from attacking the timetable motion. In fact, it has given him a new lease of life, because the Labour party has been rather subdued in Committee. Labour Members have not voted against 36 of the 43 clauses that have been taken as standing part of the Bill, including three dealing with grant-maintained schools. All observers of the Committee have been struck by the muted nature of the opposition.

I have had an analysis made of the time taken by each member of the Committee. The hon. Member for Blackburn has spoken for 321 minutes; the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown), on the other hand, has spoken for 475 minutes. He has spoken for longer than all the Conservative Back Benchers put together. It is therefore not surprising that The Guardian has described the performance of the Labour party in Committee as lacklustre. I have to say to the hon. Member for Blackburn, in the words of the old nursery rhyme. "Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack's tripped over the Liberal stick." —[Interruption.] Let me point out to the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch that at least my poem rhymed and scanned.

The hon. Member for Yeovil—the Liberal stick—has tabled more amendments than any other member of the Committee, including the Government. We all know his very good reason for doing that. In the past few weeks, he has wanted it clearly known that he will not be concerned with any of the shenanigans in the Liberal party. On that fateful night when the joint manifesto was being drawn up by the leaders of the Liberal party and what is left of the SDP, he was in Committee Room 14. What is more, 31 hon. Members can testify that he was there, boring them all to distraction, at the time when the crime was committed. The hon. Gentleman has a perfect alibi.

With all this volume of eloquence, we thought that we might get something out of the hon. Member for Yeovil about the Liberal party's education policy. However, our hopes have been dashed. The hon. Gentleman says that he likes parent power, but not too much; he likes choice, but not too much; he likes delegated budgets, but not too much; he likes excellence, but not too much. He has conducted a sustained exercise in restrained enthusiasm. As he flits from one half-belief to another thinly held conviction, the hon. Gentleman has become the snapper-up of unconsidered half-thoughts. How suitable in a spokesman for half a party.

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown , Yeovil

I am somewhat flattered that the right hon. Gentleman has so far spent more of his speech attacking me than he has spent attacking the official Opposition. He knows perfectly well that those policies were laid out in a document that I know he has received. Is he prepared to say to the House what he said in Committee: that the only effective opposition to his proposals has come from me, rather than from the official Opposition?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

Such modesty. Where is the manifesto? Where are the words? There we have it all. Where are the hon. Gentleman's colleagues? There is none to listen. His words have fallen on stony ground. The electoral college is not here.

The Opposition have not been making good use of their time in Committee. They have notably failed to put their arguments across convincingly. There is much more to be done.

It being three hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MR. SPEAKER proceeded to put the Question necessary to dispose of them, pursuant to Standing Order No. 81 (Allocation of time to Bills).

Question put accordingly.

The House divided: Ayes 281, Noes 222.

Division No. 159][7.24 pm
AYES
Adley, RobertBruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Aitken, JonathanBuck, Sir Antony
Alexander, RichardBudgen, Nicholas
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBurt, Alistair
Amess, DavidButcher, John
Amos, AlanButler, Chris
Arbuthnot, JamesButterfill, John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Carrington, Matthew
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda
Ashby, DavidChannon, Rt Hon Paul
Aspinwall, JackChapman, Sydney
Atkins, RobertChope, Christopher
Atkinson, DavidChurchill, Mr
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Baldry, TonyColvin, Michael
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Conway, Derek
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyCoombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Bellingham, HenryCoombs, Simon (Swindon)
Bendall, VivianCope, John
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Couchman, James
Benyon, W.Cran, James
Bevan, David GilroyCurrie, Mrs Edwina
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnCurry, David
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnDavies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Blackburn, Dr John G.Davis, David (Boothferry)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterDay, Stephen
Bonsor, Sir NicholasDevlin, Tim
Boscawen, Hon RobertDickens, Geoffrey
Boswell, TimDicks, Terry
Bottomley, PeterDorrell, Stephen
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaDouglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Dover, Den
Bowis, JohnDunn, Bob
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir RhodesDurant, Tony
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardDykes, Hugh
Brazier, JulianEggar, Tim
Bright, GrahamEmery, Sir Peter
Brittan, Rt Hon LeonEvans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Browne, John (Winchester)Evennett, David
Fallon, MichaelMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Farr, Sir JohnMates, Michael
Favell, TonyMaude, Hon Francis
Fenner, Dame PeggyMawhinney, Dr Brian
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyMayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Forth, EricMeyer, Sir Anthony
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanMills, Iain
Franks, CecilMiscampbell, Norman
Freeman, RogerMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
French, DouglasMitchell, David (Hants NW)
Gale, RogerMoate, Roger
Garel-Jones, TristanMonro, Sir Hector
Gill, ChristopherMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Glyn, Dr AlanMoore, Rt Hon John
Goodhart, Sir PhilipMorrison, Hon Sir Charles
Goodlad, AlastairMorrison, Hon P (Chester)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesMoss, Malcolm
Gorman, Mrs TeresaMoynihan, Hon C.
Gow, IanMudd, David
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)Neale, Gerrard
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Needham, Richard
Gregory, ConalNelson, Anthony
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')Neubert, Michael
Ground, PatrickNicholls, Patrick
Grylls, MichaelNicholson, David (Taunton)
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynNicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)Page, Richard
Hampson, Dr KeithPatnick, Irvine
Harris, DavidPatten, Chris (Bath)
Haselhurst, AlanPatten, John (Oxford W)
Hawkins, ChristopherPattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir BarneyPawsey, James
Hayward, RobertPeacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Heddle, JohnPorter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hill, JamesPorter, David (Waveney)
Hind, KennethPowell, William (Corby)
Holt, RichardPrice, Sir David
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)Rattan, Keith
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Redwood, John
Hunt, David (Wirral W)Rhodes James, Robert
Hunter, AndrewRhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Irvine, MichaelRiddick, Graham
Jessel, TobyRidley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Key, RobertRidsdale, Sir Julian
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Kirkhope, TimothyRoe, Mrs Marion
Knapman, RogerRost, Peter
Knight, Greg (Derby North)Rowe, Andrew
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Knowles, MichaelRyder, Richard
Knox, DavidSackville, Hon Tom
Lamont, Rt Hon NormanSainsbury, Hon Tim
Lang, IanSayeed, Jonathan
Latham, MichaelScott, Nicholas
Lawrence, IvanShaw, David (Dover)
Lawson, Rt Hon NigelShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lee, John (Pendle)Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Shelton, William (Streatham)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkShephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SM)
Lilley, PeterShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Lord, MichaelShersby, Michael
Lyell, Sir NicholasSims, Roger
McCrindle, RobertSkeet, Sir Trevor
Macfarlane, Sir NeilSmith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
MacGregor, JohnSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)Soames, Hon Nicholas
Maclean, DavidSpeed, Keith
McLoughlin, PatrickSpeller, Tony
McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)Squire, Robin
Madel, DavidStanbrook, Ivor
Major, Rt Hon JohnSteen, Anthony
Malins, HumfreyStern, Michael
Mans, KeithStevens, Lewis
Maples, JohnStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Marland, PaulStewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Marlow, TonyStokes, John
Marshall, John (Hendon S)Stradling Thomas. Sir John
Sumberg, DavidWaller, Gary
Summerson, HugoWard, John
Tapsell, Sir PeterWardle, C. (Bexhill)
Taylor, Ian (Esher)Warren, Kenneth
Taylor, John M (Solihull)Watts, John
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)Wells, Bowen
Tebbit, Rt Hon NormanWheeler, John
Temple-Morris, PeterWhitney, Ray
Thatcher, Rt Hon MargaretWiddecombe, Miss Ann
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)Wiggin, Jerry
Thorne, NeilWilkinson, John
Thornton, MalcolmWilshire, David
Thurnham, PeterWinterton, Mrs Ann
Townend, John (Bridlington)Winterton, Nicholas
Tredinnick, DavidWolfson, Mark
Trippier, DavidWood, Timothy
Twinn, Dr IanWoodcock, Mike
Waddington, Rt Hon DavidYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Waldegrave, Hon WilliamTellers for the Ayes:
Walden, GeorgeMr. David Lightbown and
Walker, Bill T'side North)Mr. Kenneth Carlisle.
Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
NOES
Abbott, Ms DianeCunningham, Dr John
Allen, GrahamDalyell, Tarn
Alton, DavidDarling, Alastair
Anderson, DonaldDavies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterDavies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Armstrong, Ms HilaryDavis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Ashdown, PaddyDixon, Don
Ashley, Rt Hon JackDobson, Frank
Ashton, JoeDoran, Frank
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Douglas, Dick
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Duffy, A. E. P.
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)Dunnachie, James
Barron, KevinDunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Battle, JohnEastham, Ken
Beckett, MargaretEwing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Beith, A. J.Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Bell, StuartFatchett, Derek
Benn, Rt Hon TonyFaulds, Andrew
Bennett, A. F. (D'ntn & R'dish)Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Bermingham, GeraldFields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Bidwell, SydneyFisher, Mark
Blair, TonyFlannery, Martin
Boateng, PaulFlynn, Paul
Boyes, RolandFoot, Rt Hon Michael
Bradley, KeithFoster, Derek
Bray, Dr JeremyFoulkes, George
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)Fraser, John
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Galbraith, Samuel
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)Galloway, George
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Buchan, NormanGarrett, Ted (Wallsendj
Buckley, GeorgeGeorge, Bruce
Caborn, RichardGilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Callaghan, JimGodman, Dr Norman A.
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Gordon, Ms Mildred
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)Gould, Bryan
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Graham, Thomas
Canavan, DennisGrant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Cartwright, JohnGriffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)Grocott, Bruce
Clay, BobHardy, Peter
Clelland, DavidHarman, Ms Harriet
Clwyd, Mrs AnnHattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Cohen, HarryHeffer, Eric S.
Coleman, DonaldHenderson, Douglas
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Hinchliffe, David
Corbett, RobinHolland, Stuart
Corbyn, JeremyHome Robertson, John
Cousins, JimHood, James
Cox, TomHowells, Geraint
Crowther, StanHoyle, Doug
Cryer, BobHughes, John (Coventry NE)
Cummings, J.Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cunliffe, LawrenceHughes, Roy (Newport E)
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)Pendry, Tom
Illsley, EricPowell, Ray (Ogmore)
Ingram, AdamPrescott, John
Janner, GrevillePrimarolo, Ms Dawn
John, BrynmorQuin, Ms Joyce
Johnston, Sir RussellRadice, Giles
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)Randall, Stuart
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)Redmond, Martin
Kennedy, CharlesRees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Kinnock, Rt Hon NeilReid, John
Kirkwood, ArchyRichardson, Ms Jo
Lambie, DavidRoberts, Allan (Bootle)
Lamond, JamesRobertson, George
Leadbitter, TedRobinson, Geoffrey
Leighton, RonRogers, Allan
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eccles)Rooker, Jeff
Lewis, TerryRoss, Ernie (Dundee W)
Litherland, RobertRowlands, Ted
Livingstone, KenRuddock, Ms Joan
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Sedgemore, Brian
McAllion, JohnSheerman, Barry
McAvoy, TomSheldon, Rt Hon Robert
McCartney, IanShore, Rt Hon Peter
Macdonald, CalumShort, Clare
McFall, JohnSkinner, Dennis
McKay, Allen (Penistone)Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
McKelvey, WilliamSmith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
McLeish, HenrySmith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Maclennan, RobertSnape, Peter
McTaggart, BobSoley, Clive
McWilliam, JohnSpearing, Nigel
Madden, MaxSteel, Rt Hon David
Mahon, Mrs AliceSteinberg, Gerald
Marek, Dr JohnStott, Roger
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Strang, Gavin
Martlew, EricStraw, Jack
Maxton, JohnTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Meacher, MichaelThomas, Dafydd Elis
Meale, AlanThompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Michael, AlunTurner, Dennis
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)Vaz, Keith
Millan, Rt Hon BruceWall, Pat
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)Walley, Ms Joan
Molyneaux, Rt Hon JamesWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Moonie, Dr LewisWareing, Robert N.
Morgan, RhodriWelsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Morley, ElliottWigley, Dafydd
Morris, Rt Hon J (Aberavon)Williams, Rt Hon A. J.
Mowlam, MarjorieWilliams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Mullin, ChrisWilson, Brian
Murphy, PaulWinnick, David
Nellist, DaveWise, Mrs Audrey
Oakes, Rt Hon GordonWorthington, Anthony
O'Brien, WilliamYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Owen, Rt Hon Dr DavidTellers for the Noes:
Parry, RobertMr. Frank Haynes and
Patchett, TerryMrs. Llin Golding.

Question agreed to.

Resolved,

That the following provisions shall apply to the remaining proceedings on the Bill:—

That the following provisions shall apply to the remaining proceedings on the Bill:

Committee1. — (1) The Standing Committee to which the Bill is allocated shall report the Bill to the House on or before 3rd March 1988.(2) Proceedings on the Bill at a sitting of the Standing Committee on the said 3rd March may continue until Eleven p.m., whether or not the House is adjourned before that time, and if the House is adjourned before those proceedings have been brought to a conclusion the Standing Committee shall report the Bill to the House on 4th March.

Report and Third Reading2. — (1) The proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading of the Bill shall be completed in three allotted days and shall be brought to a conclusion at Ten o'clock on the last of those days; and for the purposes of Standing Order No. 80 (Business Committee) this Order shall be taken to allot to the proceedings on Consideration such part of those days as the Resolution of the Business Committee may determine.(2) The Business Committee shall report to the House its Resolutions as to the proceedings on Consideration of the Bill, and as to the allocation of time between those proceedings and proceedings on Third Reading, not later than the fourth day on which the House sits after the day on which the Chairman of the Standing Committee reports the Bill to the House.(3) The Resolutions in any Report made under Standing Order No. 80 may be varied by a further Report so made, whether or not within the time specified in sub-paragraph (2) above, and whether or not the Resolutions have been agreed to by the House.(4) The Resolutions of the Business Committee may include alterations in the order in which proceedings on Consideration of the Bill are taken.

Procedure in Standing Committee3.—(1) At a sitting of the Standing Committee at which any proceedings on the Bill are to be brought to a conclusion under a Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee the Chairman shall not adjourn the Committee under any Order relating to the sittings of the Committee until the proceedings have been brought to a conclusion.(2) No Motion shall be made in the Standing Committee relating to the sitting of the Committee except by a member of the Government, and the Chairman shall permit a brief explanatory statement from the Member who makes, and from a Member who opposes, the Motion, and shall then put the Question thereon.4. No Motion shall be made to alter the order in which Clauses, Schedules, new Clauses and new Schedules are taken in the Standing Committee but the Resolutions of the Business Sub-Committee may include alterations in that order.

Conclusion of proceedings in Committee5. On the conclusion of the proceedings in any Committee on the Bill the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without putting any Question.

Dilatory Motions6. No dilatory Motion with respect to, or in the course of, proceedings on the Bill shall be made in the Standing Committee or on an allotted day except by a member of the Government, and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.

Motion under Standing Order No. 20: extra time7. If an allotted day is one to which a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 stands over from an earlier day, paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business) shall apply to the proceedings on the Bill for a period of time equal to the duration of the proceedings upon that Motion.

Private business8. Any private business which has been set down for consideration at Seven o'clock on an allotted day shall, instead of being considered as provided by Standing Orders, be considered at the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill on that day, and paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business) shall apply to the private business for a period of three hours from the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill or, if those proceedings are concluded before Ten o'clock, for a period equal to the time elapsing between Seven o'clock and the conclusion of those proceedings.

Conclusion of proceedings9.—(1) For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed by this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee or the Business Sub-Committee and which have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall forthwith put the following Questions (but no others)—

  1. (a) any Question already proposed from the Chair;
  2. (b) any Question necessary to bring to a decision a Question so proposed (including, in the case of a new Clause or new Schedule which has been read a second time, the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill);
  3. (c) the Question on any amendment or Motion standing on the Order Paper in the name of any Member, if that amendment is moved or Motion is made by a Member of the Government;
  4. (d) any other Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded;
and on a Motion so made for a new Clause or a new Schedule, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall put only the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.(2) Proceedings under sub-paragraph (1) above shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.(3) If an allotted day is one on which a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) would, apart from this Order, stand over to Seven o'clock—
  1. (a) that Motion shall stand over until the conclusion of any proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee, are to be brought to a conclusion at or before that time;
  2. (b) the bringing to a conclusion of any proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee, are to be brought to a conclusion after that time shall be postponed for a period equal to the duration of the proceedings on that Motion.
(4) If an allotted day is one to which a Motion for the adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 stands over from an earlier day, the bringing to a conclusion of any proceedings on the Bill which, under this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee, are to be brought to a conclusion on that day shall be postponed for a period equal to the duration of the proceedings on that Motion.

Supplemental orders10.—(1) The proceedings on any Motion moved in the House by a member of the Government for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order (including anything which might have been the subject of a report of the Business Committee or Business Sub-Committee) shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion one hour after they have been commenced, and paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business) shall apply to the proceedings.(2) If on an allotted day on which any proceedings on the Bill are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed by this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee the House is adjourned, or the sitting is suspended, before that time no notice shall be required of a Motion moved at the next sitting by a member of the Government for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order.

Saving11. Nothing in this Order or a Resolution of the Business Committee or Business Sub-Committee shall—

  1. (a) prevent any proceedings to which the Order or Resolution applies from being taken or completed earlier than is required by the Order or Resolution, or
  2. (b) prevent any business (whether on the Bill or not) from being proceeded with on any day after the completion of all such proceedings on the Bill as are to be taken on that day.

Recommittal12. — (1) References in this Order to proceedings on Consideration or proceedings on Third Reading include references to proceedings, at those stages respectively, for, on or in consequence of re-committal.(2) On an allotted day no debate shall be permitted on any Motion to re-commit the Bill (whether as a whole or otherwise), and Mr. Speaker shall put forthwith any Question necessary to dispose of the Motion, including the Question on any amendment moved to the Question.

Interpretation

13. In this Order— allotted day" means any day (other than a Friday) on which the Bill is put down as first Government Order of the Day provided that a Motion for allotting time to the proceedings on the Bill to be taken on that day either has been agreed on a previous day or is set down for consideration on that day;the Bill" means the Education Reform Bill;Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee" means a Resolution of the Business Sub-Committee as agreed to by the Standing Committee;Resolution of the Business Committee" means a Resolution of the Business Committee as agreed to by the House.