Agreements for Establishment, etc. of City Technology Colleges

Orders of the Day — Education Reform Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:42 pm on 19 July 1988.

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Lords amendment: No. 228, in page 94, line 8, after "of' insert "either— (i)

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

With this we may take Lords amendments Nos. 229 to 232.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley 3:43, 19 July 1988

I beg to move, That this House doth. agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

This is the last of the school matters set down for further consideration of the Lords amendments before us before we move on to higher education. I am delighted that the Opposition decided to choose city technology colleges for today's opening debate on the Bill. I have no doubt that they will make as big a mess of today as they made of yesterday.

Yesterday was a fiasco for the Opposition from start to finish. One Opposition Front Bench spokesman said that he wanted the world made free for atheists to teach religion, and later in the evening the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) set out his considered thoughts on the electoral system for grant-maintained schools. He destroyed not only the credibility of his policy, but his personal credibility with one of the worst-thought-out, ill-conceived and absurd proposals.

The amendment was moved by the Government on Third Reading in the other place following the amendment of my noble Friend Lord St. John of Fawsley on Report in the other place. It will allow the city technology programme to embrace institutions which focus on the application of technology I o the performing and creative arts. Those institutions will be known as city colleges for the technology of the arts.

The other amendment relating to CTCs was moved by the noble Baroness Blatch. That extended from five to seven years the minimum period of notice before a funding agreement with a CTC can be terminated.

The case for CTCs is straightforward. There is an urgent need for action in some of our towns and cities. In some of the schools in our inner cities there are high levels of truancy and many young people are achieving much less than they could otherwise do. Many often leave without any formal qualifications. The Government have policies to deal with that ranging from the technical and vocational education initiative to more technology in our schools and our new compact initiative.

The House may like to know that today we published a booklet entitled "Industry Matters" pointing out the way in which firms and schools should get together across the school system quite apart from the CTC initiative. It is important that schools, industry and commerce should work more closely together. I am sure that parties in the House are not divided on that. Since Industry Year in 1986 there has been a growing level of co-operation. It is good for our young people to experience what life after school is like in industry and commerce. Work experience is now a common feature of education for 15 and 16-year-olds.

Many parents are also worried about the opportunities that are being denied to our children in some of our towns and cities. Therefore, 18 months ago we proposed to establish CTCs. They will provide free education for pupils between 11 and 18 years of age. They will give parents a new choice of school.

We shall be setting up a network of 20 CTCs, which I am sure will become beacons of excellence. I hope that some of the practices and attitudes and, indeed, the ethos that they are creating will be copied and emulated throughout the education system.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

I shall give way to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) because he is only dropping in between rounds in the election.

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

The Secretary of State will recall that he set himself the target of 20 CTCs by the end of the decade. In the light of the manifest failure to launch any more than two, and those on somewhat dubious grounds, does he still believe that he will achieve his target? Will he confirm it now?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

The hon. Gentleman could not have been present at Question Time earlier. Seven CTCs have already been announced. The first, in Solihull, will be in operation in about six weeks. Nottingham CTC will be in operation next year, as, we hope, will Middlesbrough. There has also been a commitment for a college in Dartford, Kent, and by Dixons for one in Yorkshire, the site of which will, I hope, be announced shortly. The Philip and Pauline Harris trust has also made a commitment and there are others.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

Speaking of excellence, given the experience of the past 18 months, where will teachers of maths and physics come from? Is it not a question of robbing Peter to pay Paul?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

The hon. Gentleman, who follows these matters closely, will know that we have a scheme to promote greater recruitment of teachers of physics, maths and craft, design and technology. We had good recruitment levels last year and I hope that they will be better this year. We have also launched a big advertising programme. I am encouraging, through changes in the regulations affecting teacher qualifications, the more mature person or the person with an overseas qualification. In all those ways we are seeking to improve the number of teachers joining the teaching profession with maths, physics and CTC qualifications.

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

If there is such a great supply of teachers for maths and physics, why has Nottingham CTC found it necessary to pay maths and science teachers 5 per cent. above the national pay scale and offer inducements of up to £7,000 per teacher?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

One of the things that the hon. Gentleman cannot stand is that the colleges are independent and make up their own minds about salary levels——

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

The colleges know perfectly well that they will be getting the same or equivalent amount of grant per capita or per child as the state-maintained schools in the area. If they wish to pay their teachers more and to make more offers, for heaven's sake what is wrong with that? They will have to make their savings from the rest of their grant and they are prepared to do so. They make their own arrangements. The hon. Member for Blackburn wants a degree of standardisation and formality in such matters which most people find totally unacceptable.

Turning to the point raised about the lack of sponsors, the hon. Member for Blackburn said first that there has been poor support from industry. When I announced the CTC programme there was just one sponsor—Hanson plc—and I was chided and attacked and it was said that there would never be any other sponsors. But slowly the sponsors grew. We got to £5 million pledged by sponsors; then to £10 million; then to £15 million, £20 million and now to £25 million. That will be rising, I am quite sure, in the next few months to more than £30 million.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman in a moment when I have advanced a little further with my speech. I shall give way to him eventually because I always like giving way to him.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

In a moment.

The plain fact of the matter is that many companies up and down the country want to support the concept of these new schools, but I was told that large companies do not support the CTC movement. Just let me run through the list of some of the supporters. At Nottingham, Mr. Djanogly from Nottingham Manufacturers—one of the great companies in that city—is a substantial supporter of the Nottingham CTC. How about these for unknown companies: Boots, W. H. Smith, British Coal.

In a radio debate, the hon. Member for Blackburn told me that Marks and Spencer had not supported the scheme. Well, I can tell the House that Marks and Spencer has supported the Nottingham CTC. The hon. Gentleman did not even know that—[HON. MEMBERS: "How much?"] That is for the sponsors to decide themselves and for them to announce. The hon. Member for Blackburn cannot stomach the fact that more sponsors are coming forward, virtually daily, to support the CTCs. Opposition Members do not like appreciation of the success of the programme.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

I shall give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Brandon-Bravo).

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way. I hope that I am not misjudging the figures, but my recollection of Marks and Spencer's contrioution is that it is for a quarter of a million pounds.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

I am not prepared to comment on any figure or any sponsor. That is the line that I have taken. It is up to sponsors to decide how much they wish to give.

Let us look at the other supporters throughout the country. We were told that we did not have any national names. However, Dixons, which is a household name throughout the country, has announced its support. I shall mention the figure because Dixons has announced it—£1 million. In Middlesbrough, we have £1 million from British American Tobacco, supported—[Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

Hang on; I am dealing with the hon. Member for Blackburn. Is he going to attack the largest company in the country, apart from the oil and utility companies——

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

Smoking is a filthy and disgusting habit.

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

Does the Secretary of State approve of what Mr. Gerald Denis of British American Tobacco stated in The Times Educational Supplement and which he did not deny in terms when he wrote to that paper two weeks later: I do not think anti-smoking campaigns should be brought into the school."?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

Health education will be determined by the principal. Does not the hon. Gentleman recognise that British American Tobacco does not sell any tobacco products in this country and that 60 per cent. of the company's activities relate to organisations such as Eagle Star or financial services of one sort or another, and large paperworks?

Apart from British American Tobacco——

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

The hon. Lady should contain her natural impatience for a moment.

Apart from British American Tobacco, the other small companies that are helping the Middlesbrough CTC are British Steel—an extremely small company!—Davy McKee and John Hall, one of the great entrepreneurs of the north-east.

In the case of the Solihull CTC, £1 million was initially put tip by the Hanson Trust. It has now raised a further £1 million because between 30 and 40 companies in the west midlands have contributed. I am confident that Hanson will raise a further £1 million and that demonstrates the success and popularity of the programme. Many other sponsors do not wish to announce their names, but they will do so in time.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

The hon. Member for Newham, North-West must contain his natural impatience, but I am happy to give way to him.

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

I am most grateful to the Secretary of State. Instead of making it up as he goes along, the right hon. Gentleman would convince us more if he answered a simple question: how many sponsors? What we want to know is the number of sponsors. We do not want the Secretary of State simply to say, "A few have promised here, a few will come forward there". How many sponsors, and how much money?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

I have already told the hon. Gentleman that £25 million has been pledged. I have given him the names of several sponsors and when the other sponsors wish to announce their names they will do so. I am sure that he will be the first to congratulate them and to move motions at the Labour party conference to thank them for the public-spirited way in which they are planning to provide money from their funds to help to educate children in our towns and cities.

I hope that I have dealt with the accusations made by the hon. Member for Blackburn, who has also made the absurd claim that, to bolster the programme, we have extended its range to encompass technology in the arts. He should get up to date and find out what is happening in our schools with regard to art, design and technology. Incidentally, I should thank the hon. Gentleman for his unintended assistance, because each time he stumps the country attacking CTCs I am approached by another sponsor. Such sponsors believe that if the Labour party is arguing that CTCs are a bad idea, they must be worth supporting. The hon. Gentleman has turned out to be one of the best recruiting sergeants I could possibly have had——

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

—and here is another.

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

I wonder whether the Secretary of State recognises that many people are seriously concerned that a sponsor wishes to influence the nature of the curriculum. If the sponsor of the Middlesbrough CTC, British American Tobacco, wishes to ensure that there is no no-smoking campaign, will he reject its money?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

I assure the hon. Lady that the trustees of the CTC of Middlesbrough will not agree to that. The funding agreement must have my approval, and I assure her that I shall want to know the CTC's health education policy.

I am surprised that the Labour party has been so cool about support for technology in the arts because its arts spokesman has promoted a great interest in the arts. We must recognise that the arts—not just the performing and creative arts, but the range of design technology—is becoming much more technological. If one visits a music class, it is clear from the advanced music equipment that we are in a world of new technology—the world of music synthesisers and equipment that can compose music. Videos are pure technology and the new industries connected with satellite television are job positive.

We want a greater concentration on such activities. Certain sponsors have already said that they wish to come forward, but I must disappoint the hon. Members for Newham, North-West and for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) because those sponsors do not wish their names to be known. They want to create colleges that are involved with the performing and creative arts and they want to use technology to improve those creative arts. That must be a good thing. It is happening in some schools in the state maintained sector, and I welcome it. I have seen an extremely good city art and technology college in Newcastle that has a whole range of sophisticated photographic and design equipment. If people want to sponsor CTCs for that, why should we stand in their way? It is an absurdly dog-in-the-manger attitude for the Opposition to adopt——

Photo of Mr Dennis Turner Mr Dennis Turner , Wolverhampton South East

The Secretary of State has spoken of sponsors choosing.It may be old-fashioned, but millions of people are happy to have education provided by the state and believe that it should be first rate and delivered by his Department, not handed out in a great big cauldron-like begging bowl into which people are expected to throw their pennies. Rather than supporting the idea of sponsors, many people would like the right hon. Gentleman to get on and tackle the problems in our schools that they want to be resolved.

4 pm

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

I do not think the hon. Gentleman has followed the Bill's provisions closely. To begin with, I do not dole out education. The local education authorities provide education around the country. The whole thrust of the Bill is to create greater choice in our education system. The CTCs are one way of doing that; grant-maintained schools are another. I do not believe in the principle that local education authorities should have the complete monopoly on free education in our country. There should be greater choice and variety—that is what we stand for. But the Opposition do not want that; the hon. Gentleman has encapsulated their attitude perfectly.

It is the old Ford theme once again—"You can have any colour as long as it is black." In other words, people can have any sort of education as long as the Labour party provides and controls it by means of its councillors and unions. That is the choice the Labour party offers, but we are providing much greater choice, which I know the Opposition do not like.

I come now to the third absurd claim made by the hon. Member for Blackburn. I am more and more surprised that he uses the CTCs in a debate of this sort, because the campaign will be successful. The hon. Gentleman has made the absurd claim that we are spending more on the CTCs than on the introduction of the national curriculum. He made it again at Question Time today. That shows how desperate the Opposition are. The cost to the taxpayer of the CTC programme, which was published in the last White Paper, is about £90 million over the period from 1987 to 1991. That includes capital and current expenditure.

This should be compared with the costs of implementing the national curriculum. Over three years, £65 million has been allocated by central Government merely to cover additional expenditure. Added to that will be the large amounts of money allocated by education support grants and the LEA training grant schemes. In 1989–90 we expect to spend £30 million on the ESG scheme. Training grant figures are expected to be similar to those for 1988–89, when £22·5 million will be spent in national priority areas, with another £19 million from local priority area funds. That is a total programme of £90 million a year, compared with £90 million on CTCs for the whole period covered by the White Paper. On the same basis that the hon. Member for Blackburn used to make those absurd comparisons, we must add the running costs of primary and secondary schools. The CTCs' £90 million includes the running costs of the schools. That shows how absurd the thinking and approach of the Opposition are.

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

The figures that the right hon. Gentleman claims are absurd, which are for the preparations for the national curriculum and obviously do not include the day-to-day running of existing schools, came from his Department in answers from him. But if that analogy is unfair, will the Secretary of State explain how he justifies the fact that £16 million of taxpayers' money is being used to support the capital building of three schools while the local authorities in the three areas concerned—Middlesbrough, Cleveland and Solihull—have been allocated less than half that figure, £6·8 million, to spend on the capital and improvement works of 845 schools?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

We have in no way taken money away from local education authorities to provide the money that we have allocated to the CTCs. There is a separate amount of expenditure in the White Paper under the heading of CTCs. So this has not been at the expense of local education authorities' capital programmes. It comes from the money for the education system as a whole, and it will be money well spent. Opposition Members will see how successful the CTCs will be as the years go by.

I am not in the least surprised by the political hostility of the Opposition. Their attitude is exactly the same as it was towards TVEI in 1983, when Labour councils up and down the land said that they did not want to touch the TVEI money, which they said was at the expense of the education system—the very argument that we heard a couple of minutes ago. They brushed the idea aside. One or two were prepared to co-operate, but the generality were not. What was even worse, the money came from a Department other than the Department of Education and Science, which made it trebly tainted. It came from the Department of Employment. Now queues of local education authorities are asking for TVEI money. We have seen that it has worked and become a success. I predict that CTCs will do the same.

Photo of Mr John Bowis Mr John Bowis , Battersea

Am I not right in thinking that one of the last local education authorities to come round to TVEI was Lancashire county council, which is Labour-run and encompasses the constituency of the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw)?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

That is right. I have yet to turn up what the hon. Member for Blackburn was saying about TVEI in 1983. No doubt he could send me the odd press cutting to prove how strongly he supported it and how, with his visionary approach to education, he urged Lancashire county council to grasp the opportunity. If he wants to quote to me the speeches he made in 1983 supporting TVEI, I shall give way to him. He is condemned by his silence. He has gone deaf again.

The Opposition dislike other things about CTCs, too. For instance, they do not like their independence. The heads of Solihull and Nottingham CTCs display an entirely different approach. In Nottingham the principal has made it clear that he would expect no-strike agreements with his teaching staff. That must stick in the gullet of some Opposition Members, although I do not expect it to stick in the gullets of Opposition Members who are sponsored by Eric Hammond's union. It must be a joy, however, for many parents to hear of a no-strike agreement with teachers.

The hon. Member for Blackburn said that the whole idea was to build completely new schools and that we should not use old buildings. He said that in a debate with me on the radio—

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

A short time ago the right hon. Gentleman said that many of the teachers in the CTCs would be earning much above the odds. He has destroyed the negotiating rights of teachers and has been condemned by the International Labour Office for that. The ILO made a point of that, as I mentioned to the Secretary of State in the Select Committee the other day when all the journalists were present. Is the right hon. Gentleman really going to impose his will on the teaching force? Does he not realise that they will fight back at some time if he does so?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

That is the last intervention that I shall take. If salaries higher than the main teachers' grade or incentive allowances are offered, they will be offered only on savings that can be made within the recurrent costs of the CTC, and that is up to the CTC.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree with no-strike agreements with teachers? Will he come out and say that? Many people in teaching are saying it, as are many other unions. The hon. Gentleman is a strong member of the NUT. Will he advise his union to agree with no-strike agreements?

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

I profoundly disagree with no-strike agreements. To withhold one's labour in the face of tyranny and of not giving proper negotiating rights is a basic right, and the International Labour Organisation of the United Nations has condemned the Government for removing that right. The Secretary of State is violating international law, and if he expects teachers to go along with that he is dreaming. Therefore, the trade union movement, except for the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunication and Plumbing Union, will not agree with it.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

Many other unions agree with no-strike agreements—for instance, the union that is growing fastest in the teaching world, the Professional Association of Teachers. It is putting on as many members as the NUT is losing. Does not the hon. Gentleman think that that is related to the attitude that he has expressed, that he will willingly look at the prospect of more disruption in our schools?

I made clear to the hon. Gentleman in the Select Committee, and will do so again, that we shall be entering discussions with the unions after the summer recess to try to determine a better way to work out teachers' pay and conditions. I have made it clear all along that the interim advisory committee is an interim body that is necessary after the collapse of Burnham.

The hon. Members for Black burn and for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) have both asked about section 12 proposals. It is often said that schools that are running and, for one reason or another, wish to become CTCs should not do so. That is absurd. If schools wish to gain the benefit from the CTC programme, and if their governors wish it, and it is done with the approval of the education authority, why should they not be able to propose to do so? However, any plans to convert existing schools into CTCs require the publication of statutory proposals. All such proposals will be decided upon their merits.

Should potential sponsors wish to approach local education authorities and school governors with a view to future CTC establishments, they are free to do so. It is entirely for local education authorities to draw up what proposals they wish to publish. There is nothing new about this. Labour Members should think back, if they can recall that long ago, to when their party was last in power. The Labour Government advocated comprehensive schools on a huge scale. It became, in effect, Government policy that all schools should become comprehensive. Proposals were coming forward that the Secretary of State of the day had to decide impartially, case by case.

Photo of Mr Derek Fatchett Mr Derek Fatchett , Leeds Central

The Secretary of State argues that, under section 12, he will be in a position to deal with proposals put to him on their merits. How, after this afternoon's performance, in which he has clearly, with some embarrassment but also with some enthusiasm, put the case for CTCs, can he make a judgment on merit? Is it not clearly the case that the Secretary of State is partial and is using the resources of his Department to support a policy? He cannot make a judgment on the merits of a case.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

I have today defended Government policy, as Labour Ministers defended Government policy on comprehensive schools for nearly 20 years. In many cases——

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

Order. I doubt whether they did so on some narrow amendment from the other place. I hope that the House will now return to the amendment.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

You are right, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was drawing a parallel and defending Government policy—it is legitimate for Ministers to do so—I hope vigorously, and on as many occasions as I can. I am surprised that the Opposition have chosen to attack this policy. I am staggered that they have decided to attack this type of school. The first one is to open within six weeks. There is no doubt that it will be highly popular and successful. When parents in the area were canvassed, more than 350 children applied and 180 were selected.

Let me scotch at once the idea that the pupils were selected on account of ability. The average IQ of pupils admitted to Kingshurst is about 100. The range is from 70 to 124. One cannot get a wider range of IQ differentials in a school than that. We have often heard that parents are committed to education. When the school held its first parents' meeting, more than 300 parents turned up. That shows the commitment of parents, and of the local community and of industry, to these bold imaginative measures.

What the Labour party does not like is that these schools are independent of local education authorities. They are different. They bring spontaneity, inventiveness and creativity into the education system. If one had tried to spend this sort of money in revitalising and setting up these beacons, one would have got nowhere near doing what the CTCs will achieve. I confirm again that we are on course to set up a network of 20, and we shall have the support of parents and industry in achieving this. The net result will be better education for many children in our towns and cities.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

I inform the House that this amendment involves privilege.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State for Education 4:15, 19 July 1988

It is now 21 months since the Conservative party conference in October 1986, when the Secretary of State rashly announced his policy for city technology colleges. He said a moment ago that it was absurd for us to claim that this policy was for new schools. So short is his memory that he has forgotten what he said in October 1986. I will remind him. He does not want to hear those words because now he is twisting the policy that had been abandoned as a failure. He said that it was his intention to launch a pilot network of new schools in urban areas, including the disadvantaged inner cities. He also said that they would be called city technology colleges. In the 21 months since the Secretary of State's announcement, he has refused to secure any debate in the House about his policy. He manipulated the guillotine in Committee and on Report so that CTCs were crowded out by religious education and religious worship debates.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

The hon. Gentleman knows that when we were discussing the arrangements for the guillotine, I said time and time again that I was willing to accommodate his arrangements. He will know that, and it has been done time and again.

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

The Secretary of State makes my point because, having been forced——

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt , Bury North

Are we to reveal behind-the-Chair conversations?

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

It was the Secretary of State who decided to reveal the discussions in the Business Committee over who had arranged the debate for this evening. Yes, we asked for this debate to take place this evening. The Secretary of State says that he is proud to debate it tonight. He had better explain why it was that he proposed that this debate should take place for one hour between the hours of 11 o'clock and midnight yesterday—a time guaranteed to ensure the minimum publicity to something that is embarrassing to him.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

I was prepared to provide time for this debate at any time at which the hon. Gentleman wished it, and that is what I have done.

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

I merely draw attention to the fact that there has been no debate on this policy, and there was none in Committee. If the Secretary of State is so proud of this policy, why has he not insisted on a debate? Why did he not come to the House in November 1986 to secure the approval of this House for this policy? The Secretary of State knows that that is because he spoke before he thought. He gave a commitment that he cannot now fulfil. In the glossy pamphlet that he published on 14 October 1986, he gave two commitments that have failed to come about. This policy is therefore a failure. He said: The principle of funding will be that the promoters will meet all or a substantial part of the capital costs of CTCs. We know that that simply has not happened. Most—in some cases, almost all—of the cost of CTCs have come from the taxpayer.

The Secretary of State said something else in this glossy pamphlet, paid for by the taxpayer. He said that the Department is confident that the number of institutions and the number of pupils will build up rapidly thereafter. The Government intends that 20 CTCs should be in operation by the end of the decade. The end of the decade is next year. The Secretary of State has admitted to the House under cross-examination that there will not be 20 CTCs in operation by the end of this year. There will not be 10, or even five. There will be three and none of those would be in operation but for the bail out paid for by the British taxpayer.

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

Is it not a fact that the Secretary of State made the announcement at the Conservative party conference to get himself a standing ovation? The reality is that the British taxpayer will have to pay for that ovation. That is the action of a Minister who previously criticised Labour local authorities for the money that they spent on advertising. There cannot be a better example of hypocrisy.

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

My hon. Friend is right. Public expenditure on the CTC programme has risen tenfold. It is literally out of control. If a local authority had done anything of the sort, it would be rate capped and controlled by the Government.

Photo of Mr Christopher Hawkins Mr Christopher Hawkins , High Peak

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You reminded us earlier that the amendments were tightly drawn. It seems, however, that we are having a re-run of the debate on Second Reading. I wonder whether you could guide us——

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

Order. I was not in the Chair earlier, but I was following carefully the course of the debate before I took occupancy of it. I think that it is reasonable for me to allow as much tolerance and latitude to the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) as was allowed to the Secretary of State.

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

I am grateful to the Secretary of State—I am sorry, I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am always grateful to the Secretary of State because he provides us with such good copy. Unlike the right hon. Gentleman, I am trying to ascertain whether his policy has succeeded or failed.

It was typical of the Secretary of State to resort to cheap, personal attacks on my hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) when he opened the debate. He did so because he understood the nature of his own failure. He made an extraordinary suggestion about what happened during a debate last night. The right hon. Gentleman should check the record. What he said about my hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish is an untruth. He should check the record and apologise to the House.

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

I shall give the right hon. Gentleman the opportunity to do so.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

If I have said anything that is wrong, I shall withdraw it. I shall have to check the record to see whether that is so.

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

It is typical of the Secretary of State to speak before he has studied the record. He distorted what my hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish had said. He did not have the courtesy or the intelligence to quote the Hansard report in respect of my hon. Friend.

The Secretary of State described as absurd our proposition that there should be one vote per family in ballots for grant-maintained schools. There was one vote per family in a ballot on a CTC at Riverside school. In that ballot the parents voted overwhelmingly against having a CTC for that school. I look forward to hearing whether the Secretary of State will take note that 89 per cent. of the parents who participated in the ballot at Riverside school in Bexley voted against the proposition that there should be a CTC. I give the right hon. Gentleman decent notice that we expect him to say during the debate whether he will take note of that result. As the proposition would fall if it involved a grant-maintained school, will it fall similarly in the Riverside context?

Photo of David Evennett David Evennett , Erith and Crayford

The hon. Gentleman has referred to a school in my constituency. Does he agree that parents participated in many ballots about 10 years ago when they wanted grammar schools to be retained? The then Secretary of State for Education and Science, a member of a Labour Government, took no notice of the parents' wishes.

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

We are not talking about school closures. Every Government and every local authority, of whatever political complexion, would face major and serious difficulties as a result of declining school rolls. We all know that. We are talking about changes in status and whether the Government will follow their own principle of seceding to parents the right to choose. Apparently parents will have a right to choose whether their school, as it were, opts out of local authority control. Such is the imperative of securing 20 CTCs—whether new schools or old, whether in urban areas or rural areas—that the Secretary of State is ready to ride roughshod over parents' wishes, even where nine out of 10 of them object to the idea of a CTC.

The debate arises only by accident. In the closing hours of the debate in another place, Lord St. John of Fawsley proposed that the concept of a CTC should be widened to embrace what some consider to be the strange concept of a college for the technology of the arts, a concept so odd that Lord Stewart of Fulham said that it would, if implemented, enable children to learn about the role of the crane in a Greek drama but not of the purpose of the drama itself.

We understand why the Secretary of State has been so embarrassed about the CTC policy and why he has sought persistently to avoid debate on it. It is his Achilles heel. It is a morally degenerate and educationally divisive policy, and a policy which can he seen already to have failed abjectly when reference is made to its original conception. The taxpayer is now having to rescue the Secretary of State's failure, and is doing so on a staggering scale. The right hon. Gentleman promised 20 new schools in urban and deprived areas, where all or most of the capital would be put up by private donors. He promised that 20 such new schools would be in operation by the end of next year. He has failed on every count.

I accept that the Kingswood CTC will be opened this September. With luck, the CTC in Nottingham may be opened by next September. It is just possible that the CTC in Middlesbrough will also be opened. Of the 26 urban areas identified by the Secretary of State in his press statement on 14 October 1986, CTCs have been announced in only three of them.

The plan has failed and it has run into almost universal opposition. Mr. Peter Wood is a former Conservative councillor in the west country and a former director of Plymouth chamber of commerce. He is not a Labour councillor who wishes to dismiss the Secretary of State's plan. Mr. Wood is reported in the Friday 20 May edition of The Western Morning News. He said: The idea has now sunk without trace. We earmarked possible sites for the college and needed at least £600,000 to get it off the ground. In the event, we got one pledge of £30,000 from a single company. There has just not been enough commitment from local firms.

Photo of Mr John Bowis Mr John Bowis , Battersea

If the hon. Gentleman is so concerned about the low number of CTCs that have "got off the ground" to date, and if he accepts that part of the reason for this is the provision of buildings, or lack of provision, why has he not encouraged his colleagues on the Inner London education authority to provide the necessary premises when we already have the funding on offer from companies? The ILEA, with its dog-in-the-manger attitude, refuses to allow premises to be made available to put the schools therein.

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

The ILEA has not adopted a dog-in-the-manger attitude. Its attitude is central to our objection to CTCs. My hon. Friend the Member for Stretford (Mr. Lloyd) revealed in Question Time that the Conservative authority in Trafford is opposing the proposition to have a CTC in its area. The reason for that is simple. Almost every urban area has suffered disproportionately from falling rolls. The Secretary of State has forced these local authorities to close schools in their areas. They have gone through the trauma of reorganisation. In Cleveland, for example, seven secondary schools have been closed, and there are still 7,000 unused secondary school places in the area. Having gone through the sensitive process of parental consultation and reorganisation, authorities know that if they co-operate in the establishment of CTCs they will undermine science teaching in the other schools because the CTC will pay teachers more and, therefore, recruit more teachers. Secondly, they will destabilise schooling in their areas and force other schools to close.

I am astonished that Conservative Members, who claim to be economists, do not understand the diseconomies that will arise. The Secretary of State spoke about Kingswood school. I have been to look at Kingswood school and other schools in that area——

Photo of Mr Iain Mills Mr Iain Mills , Meriden

It is Kingshurst school.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Secretary of State for Education 4:30, 19 July 1988

I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I have been to Kingshurst school and to the other schools in that area. There is apprehension that the education in those schools could be damaged because the Secretary of State is loading the dice in favour of one privileged school sector and against local authorities.

The director of Plymouth chamber of commerce said that there was just not enough commitment from local firms. Yesterday I told the House of complaints by the colleagues of the Secretary of State that he is all presentation and not enough properly thought through policy. I can reveal to the House that the Secretary of State starts every week with an hour's meeting at 9.30 on a Monday morning, which is entitled quite simply "Publicity". In the last month he has had one meeting dealing with policy round-up for three quarters of an hour and four meetings—one every week—entitled "Publicity". The right hon. Gentleman's desire for a quick headline is catching up with him. The so-called policy on the CTC's has been seen through not just by the Opposition but by traditional supporters of the Tory party. Apparently, some of his ministerial colleagues are outraged by the way in which public funds have been hijacked from deserving projects to bail out this gimmick which has gone wrong.

Photo of Mr Christopher Hawkins Mr Christopher Hawkins , High Peak

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would help my shallow brain by telling us which amendment he is talking to.

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

I am talking to Lords amendment No. 230 which amends page 94, line 20 of the Bill and includes the words in the case of a school to be known as a city technology college, on science and technology". The Secretary of State should listen to those Conservative Back Benchers who have been offended by the way in which LEA schools in their areas have been starved of funds while a few favoured CTCs will receive millions. The Secretary of State has tried to play a trick on the House and the country by suggesting that the money comes from two separate pots. He ought to talk to his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister who rightly lectures that all public money comes from one source and that we have to make choices. He cannot seriously be trying to suggest that £86 million has been manufactured out of thin air and that if it were not used on the CTCs it would not be available to use on improving the education of the 95 per cent. of children who have to be educated in the state sector. That was a cheap and dishonest point to seek to make.

The policies have been seen through by businesses—even many of those businesses that give money to the Conservative party. According to the Secretary of State, 1,800 firms have been approached for money for CTCs and in many cases quite unacceptable pressure has been brought to bear on individual business men by the Secretary of State and those acting for him. It has been claimed that the companies owe the Secretary of State a favour. There have been veiled hints of honours for those who cough up and of political retribution for those who do not. Many business men to whom I have spoken thoroughly resent the pressure that has been applied. Even so, of the 1,800 firms approached the Secretary of State has been able to name only 20; what a hit rate that is. He claims that £25 million has been pledged and we should weigh that word with care. Even if the sum is £25 million, £9 million of that will come from the taxpayer in tax relief, because the businesses will get tax relief of 35 per cent. on every pound that they put in. The true figure is £16 million.

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

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a going rate in contributions to Conservative party funds for the buying of peerages and knighthoods? Does he know the going rate for the donation that one has to make to a CTC to get a knighthood or peerage?

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

Order. Perhaps we may get back to the amendment.

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

We know that there is a correlation between donations and honours and we shall see whether it applies in this case. Whether or not the Secretary of State tries to deny it in his bluster, almost every major company—especially those concerned about our science base—has boycotted the CTC proposal. ICI, the main company in Middlesbrough, has boycotted the CTC in Middlesbrough. IBM has boycotted the CTCs; Shell has boycotted them; BP has boycotted them and Sainsbury has boycotted them. The list goes on.

It is a mark of the desperation felt by the Secretary of State that he has had to resort to contributions from British American Tobacco—a contribution that gives new meaning to the phrase "It's the tobacco that counts." The Secretary of State did not repudiate what Mr. Gerald Denis told The Times Educational Supplement on 17 June: I do not think anti-smoking campaigns should be brought into the school. We know that those who run large companies think that it is not only the tobacco but the money that counts. Mr. Denis thinks that he has bought influence over the running of the CTC. That is what he said to the TES on 17 June. I hope that the Minister of State will clearly repudiate that view in her reply.

The Industrial Society, which is funded by most of the major companies, has labelled the CTC policy a failure and the director-general of the CBI, which represents almost every major manufacturing company in the country, has described the CTC policy as an irrelevancy.

The CTC policy, as originally sold by the Secretary of State, has failed. His solution to that failure is simply to raid the Exchequer. Private backers have boycotted the scheme and the taxpayer has been dragooned into rescuing it. If the scheme is such a success, why has the Secretary of State abandoned the condition that all or a substantial part of the funding will be put up by the promoters? What is the reason for that? It is simply an old-fashioned Heathite bail-out of a private operation at the taxpayer's expense.

According to the TES, £200 million will be put in—£90 million over the next three years. I see that the Secretary of State is leaving us and I am not surprised. More money—£33 million—is to be spent next year on a few CTCs and on preparation for the national curriculum. More civil servants, at a more senior level, are working on CTCs, for a few thousand children at the very most, than on the transfer of ILEA, which will affect 270,000 children in inner London. The Minister may say that it is not true, but I have the answer given to me by the Secretary of State on 13 June which clearly shows that £25,000 a month is being spent directly on the administration of the CTC policy. One grade 5 assistant secretary in charge of a whole branch is working on CTCs. There is one grade 5 HMI and two assistant secretaries with branches alongside in charge of CTC policy——

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

Order. I do not see how this can be remotely connected with the amendments.

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

With the greatest respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is directly related to the CTC policy. We are talking about how many officials and how many resources——

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

Amendment No. 230 goes to the very heart of the CTC policy because it gives the Secretary of State and the House powers to fund CTCs. CTCs cannot be funded without the administration of that funding.

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) says that he is talking to amendment No. 230, but that amendment has nothing to do with funding. It merely deals with the curriculum for the CTCs and the CCTAs. He may be talking to some other amendment, but it is not amendment No. 230.

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

That shows the hon. Gentleman's lack of understanding. One cannot have a curriculum without its being paid for.

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

The House may be pleased to hear that amendment No. 230 simply says: in the case of a school to be known as a city technology college, on science and technology; or

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

Order. I think that hon. Members will have read the amendment. It seemed to be for the convenience of the House to have a broad debate on the amendment and that is what we have had, but equally I think that the whole House will recognise that there must be limits. I hope that the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) will recognise the limits that I have set.

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

Alongside the fact that more officials at a more senior level are devoted to CTC policy than to the transfer of ILEA is the fact that more taxpayers' money is being devoted to the capital costs of just three CTCs than to the capital improvements of 845 schools in the whole of the three local education authorities covered by the three CTCs.

The Secretary of State seeks to ask why we object to CTC policy. Let me tell him why. It is because it is deeply and desperately offensive to the 95 per cent. of children who are being and will continue to be educated in the state system. It is based on a profound double standard. How does he justify the fact that in Middlesbrough, in Cleveland, that county council is crying out for funds to improve its laboratories and equipment and repair its leaking roofs in schools, yet it has been allocated a tiny amount while one authority is allocated £4 million? How does the right hon. Gentleman cope with the fact that in Nottinghamshire £9 million of state money is going to one school while 514 schools in the county of Nottingham are to receive £2·46 million? If the Secretary of State wants to come back on that and to give me the reason why there is that double standard, I shall he happy to give way.

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

Of course the right hon. Gentleman has his head down, because he knows that it is indefensible that one school can get £9 million while 500 schools share just £2·46 million. On the one hand, the Secretary of State follows a policy in which the education of the majority of children is supposed to be carried out on the cheap. ILEA is rate-capped and abolished for spending over £2,200 on the education of each secondary pupil. On the other hand, in the assisted places scheme, we find that Government funds can pay up to £5,600 and then that in CTCs—[Interruption.] If the Secretary of State wishes to intervene and to explain the double standards for how one school can get £9 million and 500 get £2·46 million, I shall happily give way. [HON. MEMBERS: "Come on."] Of course, the right hon. Gentleman will not intervene.

Money is being poured into CTCs. Earlier I asked the Secretary of State why CTCs would be paying their science teachers at least 5 per cent. more than the going national rate and were offering removal and relocation expenses of £7,000——

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


The Secretary of State sought to brush that aside. 'The simple truth is that there are great shortages of science and maths teachers. We all know that. The Secretary of State may try to argue, as he did in his earlier speech, about the need for competition between schools. Competition can work only if it is fair. The Secretary of State has loaded the dice in favour of CTCs and against other schools.

There is no fixed quantum of knowledge—education is a dynamic. But there is a fixed quantum of science teachers and of pupils. The policy of paying some teachers in a few CTCs will undermine teaching in other schools.

It is a further sign of the Secretary of State's desperation that the policy has been wholly altered from creating new schools to taking over existing, living schools. [Interruption.] Again, the Secretary of State has been commenting about my speech from a sedentary position. He said that it was an absurd idea for me to claim that there were to be new schools. Let him now explain how the policy has been overturned so that existing, living schools will be taken over to salvage his policy. The nature of that policy illustrates how unfair it is. Haberdashers' Mice's schools have been good, well-run voluntary-controlled comprehensives, happy about their relationship with ILEA. I visited——

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central 4:45, 19 July 1988

Order. The hon. Gentleman's speech is wide of the amendments. I hope that he will now get nearer to the amendments.

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

I am speaking about the curriculum in the CTCs and my speech is no wider than the Secretary of State's proposition. He said that the policy for CTCs had now been extended to cover existing schools and I am trying to answer that point.

Haberdashers' Aske's asked ILEA to ask the Department of Education and Science for money to pay for a new science block. The Secretary of State refused less than £1 million. He is now bribing that school to leave the state sector, with £4 million. My hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) will speak about. Downs school, but let me now ask the Secretary of State about the result of the parents' ballot at Riverside school. It is he who has spoken about the need for parents' views to be taken into account. I gave him notice that parents have voted by 89 per cent. to 11 per cent. against turning Riverside school in Bexley into a CTC. Will the Secretary of State respect the parents' wishes? I offer him the chance to intervene. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] The Secretary of State's silence speaks volumes because the simple truth is that he will ride roughshod over the parents' wishes, because they are inconvenient to him.

There is now the strange idea of a college for the technology of the arts. It is not just Opposition Members who have thought that to be a strange idea. Lord Beloff, a Conservative peer, said this of the proposition: To put forward at the Report stage of a Bill of this kind a suggestion that was not tabled either at Second Reading or at the Committee stage puts Members of this House at something of a disadvantage … But to think that at Report stage, at 9.50 pm, the House of Lords should invent a new kind of School—no one has suggested that this would be a partnership—is asking rather a lot."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 27 June 1988; Vol. 498, c. 1249.] At no stage during his speech today did the Secretary of State give us any details about how the school was to operate, what were to be its capital costs, or how much of the capital costs was to be met by the taxpayer, not by private donors.

This country faces a serious science crisis. We spend less on civil research than any other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development country. The Advisory Board for the Research Councils has said that our policy on science research is at a watershed and slipping in the wrong direction. Half the teachers of maths and physics did not study at degree level the subject that they now teach and 40 per cent. of postgraduates qualifying to teach do not enter the profession. The Engineering Council and the Secondary Heads Association has estimated a shortage of science teachers of 4,000 maths teachers and 2,300 physics teachers.

To that crisis the Secretary of State's only response is the CTC. The director-general of the CBI said that the idea of CTCs is irrelevant. It is much more likely to be damaging to science teaching as a whole. Some £90 million is to be spent on CTCs over the next three years. How much better could that money be spent on upgrading laboratory facilities in existing schools, on extending in-service training, on improving career prospects and recruitment of science teachers, or on encouraging genuine partnership between business and existing schools? But as ever with the Secretary of State, we are offered a gimmick in place of a policy, which is now being bailed out at the taxpayers' expense. The Secretary of State's CTC policy is a scandal, a fraud and a failure. I oppose the amendments.

Several Hon. Members:


Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

Order. I remind the House that the debates on these amendments must conclude not later than 6.30 pm.

Photo of Mr Anthony Coombs Mr Anthony Coombs , Wyre Forest

I welcome Lords amendment No. 230, which broadens the scope of CTCs. They will increase choice and diversity in the education system and will provide the skills that are so badly needed in Britain.

There are three reasons why CTCs should be set up. First, as was realised in America—sadly, it has not been realised by the Opposition—excellence is increased by increasing choice. Parents and children want choice, and that is why, when Kingshurst opened its books for pupils, 4,000 children from as far away as Bristol and Glasgow applied for the 175 places available. It provides a competitive spur for nearby schools. The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) said that Kingshurst will have a debilitating effect on schools in the area, despite the fact that its catchment area is extremely wide. It will take 100 pupils from the Birmingham area, and when one considers that the annual intake to secondary schools in Birmingham is 14,000, to say that Kingshurst is likely to have an effect on schools in the vicinity is to live in cloud-cuckoo-land.

The extended CTCs will provide a further choice, in our cities and I hope elsewhere, for many children who would otherwise be denied it, irrespective of their race, income and abilities—except for enthusiasm for and commitment to the idea.

The second reason is that technology—especially technology connected with the arts—is demanded by the jobs market. Professor Charles Handy of the Institute of Personnel Management estimates that, although 50 years ago 30 per cent. of the population were knowledge workers, in 10 years' time the proportion will have increased to 70 per cent. When we realise that 40 per cent. of pupils presently leave school without qualifications and that too many of our pupils do not have a commitment in their fourth and fifth years to what our schools are producing—in some schools near Birmingham 120 of the 270 fifth formers do not attend school at the beginning of their fifth year—making the curriculum relevant, as CTCs will do, becomes increasingly vital.

We are told about the necessity for engineering apprenticeships. In my constituency engineering apprenticeships are available but, sadly, such are the relations between schools and industry that only 50 per cent. are taken up. In West Germany, 85 per cent. of 16 to 18-year-olds continue in training. In the United States the proportion is 80 per cent., but in Britain it is only 60 per cent., and of them, only one third continue at school. As a result, it should not be surprising—although Opposition Members do not seem to understand it—that Britain produces only 13,500 engineers a year compared with 40,000 in Germany. More importantly, only 4,000 of the former find their way into manufacturing industry.

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths , Bridgend

The hon. Gentleman is making a fairly interesting point about the lack of training places for young people aged over 16 compared with the position in Germany and the United States. But which Government have disbanded training boards almost wholesale across the country?

Photo of Mr Anthony Coombs Mr Anthony Coombs , Wyre Forest

The engineering industry training board has said that funding for engineering apprenticeships, which are available but not taken up, has not declined under this Government. We heard that at a conference last week. CTCs will be another means of resolving the problem of engineering training.

Photo of Mr Rhodri Morgan Mr Rhodri Morgan , Cardiff West

Is the hon. Gentleman asserting that the number of engineering apprenticeships has not declined under this Government? If he believes that, he has been sadly misinformed.

Photo of Mr Anthony Coombs Mr Anthony Coombs , Wyre Forest

Last week the engineering industry training board said that the present method of funding engineering apprenticeship and training generally is satisfactory, but that the problem is that school leavers are not taking up those apprenticeships.

Specialist schools such as CTCs imply commitment, and at Kingshurst the emphasis is not on ability but on the commitment of parents and pupils. As the Secretary of State said, it is significant that the IQs of the children who attend Kinghurst vary between 72 and 128. In the United States, the former Benjamin Franklin school in New York had a 56 per cent. drop-out rate and only 7 per cent. of its pupils went on to further education. Since it was changed into a specialist school for mathematics and science it has attracted 3,000 applicants for 350 places. Half still come from the Harlem area and 95 per cent. of pupils go on to colleges.

Valerie Bragg, the principal of the CTC in Solihull, said that for her first parents' meeting nearly all the parents turned up, and the 10 who did not sent their apologies. CTCs will also encourage commitment from their staff. Although some teachers—not all—may be paid up to 5 per cent. more than average form teachers, at Kingshurst they are expected to do 40 hours of teaching a week, which is on average 30 per cent. more than they would be expected to do in state schools. They will gain 5 per cent. more pay for 30 per cent. more teaching hours, but they are prepared to show that commitment.

City technology colleges are a recognition of the fact that a specialised technological curriculum will provide commitment, choice and high standards. The hon. Member for Blackburn seems to have learnt that lesson. He is reported to have said that a Labour Government—it will probably not happen during the next 25 years—would not abolish CTCs. We shall be following the German example of specialist schools—the Gymnasium, the Hauptschule and the Realschule—in providing vocational training. Further, CTCs do not cut across the commitment to comprehensive education. Valerie Bragg says that she is a great believer in comprehensive schools, and she believes that, eventually, all schools will go in the direction that her CTC is taking.

Photo of Mr Rhodri Morgan Mr Rhodri Morgan , Cardiff West

Which of those three categories of German school that the hon. Gentleman referred to as specialist schools are available to all children in Germany? I do not see any resemblance between them and the CTC concept.

5 pm

Photo of Mr Anthony Coombs Mr Anthony Coombs , Wyre Forest

Anyone who has visited a Realschule—I visited the one in Frankfurt which has very close links with the local Höechst chemicals factory—will find that a company's relationship with a local school and its curriculum is similar to that being offered by the CTCs, and that that is the model upon which CTCs have been based.

CTCs will be consistent with the national curriculum, will provide choice, excellence and the involvement with parents and local industry that parents want. Most of all, they will act as a catalyst for greater choice and opportunity for the children, irrespective of their ability and their ability to pay. They will act as a catalyst for higher standards because of that choice and the resulting commitment. They will tend to bridge the gap that is evident throughout the country between schools and especially manufacturing industry because of the technological curriculum that they will provide. That is yet another and natural continuation of schemes such as the training and vocational education initiative, UBI, Trident and the enterprise programme that have been set up under this Government. I hope that they will be a forerunner of the potential for specialist and magnet schools, whether in the local education authority sector or outside. Those CTCs, especially as expanded for schools offering technology for art, will offer parents a degree of choice, variety and quality in education that they have not been offered hitherto and that the country desperately needs. That is why I shall be supporting the Lords amendment.

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

I have just received the written reply to my question No. 5 this afternoon, and I want to make sure that it is correct. The Secretary of State's answer is: Total planned public expenditure on the city technology colleges programme over the years 1987–88 to 1990–91 is £90 million, which includes both capital and recurrent costs. To date more than £25 has been pledged by sponsors towards the capital costs of establishing CTCs. This is … quite unprecedented". I imagine that it probably is—wholly unprecedented. I would not have thought that one would get very much for £25. One might be able to buy a packet of cigarettes, although I do not know whether British American Tobacco would want them smoked around the back of the lavatories in the CTCs. One must assume that there is an error here and, clearly, the Department of Education and Science needs to improve its numeracy.

My hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) has said much of what wanted to say, so I will not detain the House for very long. As hon. Members know, I have to attend a Procedure Committee meeting in a moment and I apologise to hon. Members for not staying to hear the rest of the debate. It is clear from what we have heard this afternoon that the CTCs were nothing more than the Secretary of State going for a cheap round of applause and, indeed, a standing ovation at the 1986 Conservative party conference. One understands that that is the norm at Conservative party conferences. Everyone who is capable of walking, talking and farting at the same time gets a standing ovation. To make sure of a standing ovation the Secretary of State thought he would try to bribe the conference by saying that he would set up 20 CTCs during the decade but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn said, his strategy now lies in ruins at his feet. His fumbling and bumbling during Question Time and when talking on this part of the Bill clearly revealed that.

I object strongly to the way in which the British taxpayer is being forced to pay out to save Baker's face. It is not a very handsome face and is certainly not worth £90 million of taxpayers' money. That is why we have tabled our amendment (a). If all the money, or a great majority of it—by which I mean 90 per cent.—was forthcoming from private business, the Opposition might see something in it, because it would be a bit of icing on the cake, but the British taxpayer has now to bail out this lamentable failure, this apology of a policy from this apology of a Secretary of State.

The Secretary of State said that he cannot tell us the name of the companies. Excuse us for believing that he probably does not know the names. It is the cheapest trick in the book to come to the Dispatch Box and say, "I have lots and lots of promises, but, unfortunately, I cannot tell the House what they amount to. I cannot name any of them." The Secretary of State has not the sort of track record that makes us want to take him at his word.

Mr. Brando-Bravo:

Not so loud.

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

I am speaking loudly, because I hope that I can get it through the skulls even of Conservative Members that what they are defending is a fraud and a con on the British people, because for education these proposals are not worth the paper that they are written on.

It is now clear that the Secretary of State cannot give straight answers. We did not ask the Secretary of Stale to reveal anything—just the number of companies involved. We cannot therefore believe anything that he says about CTCs and the future funding of them. The Secretary of State is, no doubt, trying to induce various Tory party-inclined business people to give money to save his face and that of the Prime Minister and the Government. He will be saying, "You can see that we do quite proudly by our friends when they stump up money for the Conservative party. If you put up some money for the CTCs, the odd knighthood or peerage could just mysteriously come your way."

Photo of Mr Christopher Hawkins Mr Christopher Hawkins , High Peak

I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman would enlighten us on which Lords amendment he is speaking to.

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

The hon. Gentleman knows precisely which one I am speaking to. It is all about CTCs and their funding.

One can imagine what is being done at the moment, because the Secretary of State is sprawling on the ropes. His policy is in tatters around him and he desperately needs some support. I can imagine him going along to Richard Branson, who seems to the the favourite Conservative-inclined business man at the moment, and saying, "Come on Richard, let us see some of that money and you can have a knighthood or a peerage." I shall watch the honours list very carefully because before long I know that we shall see the Count of Condoms or Lord Johnnie Branson appearing in it—him and his Mates.

Photo of Mr Christopher Hawkins Mr Christopher Hawkins , High Peak

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether the other place will think that the House has given any serious consideration to its amendments to this part of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Alan Amos Mr Alan Amos , Hexham

I believe that the establishment of city technology colleges is perhaps the most exciting, radical and much-needed development in education policy since the second world war. It is interesting, but not surprising, that yet another initiative from the Conservative party helps inner cities and makes what is taught more relevant and useful to the world of work. It gives expression to that part of the 1944 Act relating to a tripartite system, which was never given a chance to succeed.

The CTCs will have a number of features. They will lead and implement curriculum development in science and technology. They will widen parental choice, raise standards and introduce more competition—competition is a good word—and they will extend diversity and break the monopoly of education provision by often stale, backward-looking and out-of-touch Left-wing local education authorities.

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths , Bridgend

Which amendment is the hon. Gentleman speaking to?

Photo of Mr Alan Amos Mr Alan Amos , Hexham

I am speaking to amendment No. 230—the same amendment as the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) spoke to.

There is a crying need in this country for closer and more productive links between the education system and the wealth-producing parts of the economy. We simply must have more mobility of personnel and ideas between schools and colleges, industry and commerce and the Civil Service. As a country, we are too inward-looking, resistant to change and demarcated.

We should, therefore, welcome with open arms, not only the active interest by industry and commerce, but their willingness to invest their money. We should not be suspicious of that partnership, but excited by its possibilities. It represents a logical development of other Government initiatives to ensure that we have a properly trained and skilled work force to meet the challenges and opportunities of the next decade. We already have the TVEI and the CPVE. I am happy to confirm what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said earlier about the Labour party's attitude towards the TVEI. When I was chairman of the education committee in Enfield, the council resisted and objected to the idea and rejected the money. It has now changed its mind because it has seen that the system works.

All too often, economic growth is held back by a lack of skilled manpower. As the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong) knows, the problem of the lack of skilled manpower is already affecting the north-east. Northern Engineering Industries, Procter and Gamble and the Northern Development Company have already identified that problem. Local businesses in my constituency, which borders that of the hon. Member for Durham, North-West, are concerned about that problem and are doing something about it. Business is forging links, through the Northumbria employer network and the Tynedale Enterprise Agency Ltd., with local schools so that the schools can be better aware of the needs of the local economy and businesses can in turn provide school children with more direct experience of the world outside while they are at school. I cannot see why the Labour party does not welcome that initiative with open arms.

CTCs will be firmly in the state sector. They will be free, open to all pupils and have wide catchment areas.

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

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Secretary of State, in evidence to the Select Committee, said that CTCs would not be in the state sector, but would be private schools?

Photo of Mr Alan Amos Mr Alan Amos , Hexham

They are independent state schools, but, if the running costs and some of the capital costs of those colleges are provided by the state, the colleges clearly have a direct link with the state. It is nonsense to pretend that they are totally independent.

The CTCs will provide real hope for inner city youngsters to escape from the cycle of educational deprivation and from large, impersonal, bady disciplined comprehensive schools in which the curriculum is neither relevant nor suited to the needs of most of their pupils.

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

It is interesting to note that the hon. Gentleman sees Hexham as an inner city. Will he tell us whether any northern authority has welcomed the initiative and believes that it will meet the need for improved training and skill development in the northern region?

Photo of Mr Alan Amos Mr Alan Amos , Hexham 5:15, 19 July 1988

Yes, I can confirm that the Northumbria employer network, the Tynedale Enterprise Agency Ltd and the Northern Development Company have welcomed the initiative.

The establishment of CTCs will bring extra money into the education system. They will remain accountable to the Secretary of State for the way in which they spend their state grant. In effect, they will bring in new people with new ideas and a new style of management. That partnership between local industry and central Government has again brought to life cities that were destined to long-term decline. We should look around the world and broaden our horizons a little.

We can see a revival based on that partnership in Baltimore, Boston and New England. Those areas have built new economic growth and hope on the basis of the hi-tech industries of the future, instead of trying to reverse the irreversible, long-term decline of manufacturing industry. The sooner we have a CTC on Tyneside, the better. Perhaps I can ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State whether he will consider extending the initiative to rural areas such as Hexham where the need for a highly skilled and professional work force is just as important as in the cities.

The concept and practice of CTCs are right. As a teacher, I was often saddened to see so many pupils being dragged through watered-down academic courses which we knew had little relevance to their needs, abilities and aptitudes. It was a terrible waste of resources and of youngsters' opportunities. By concentrating on technology and science in those schools, many pupils will be able to use their innate abilities instead of becoming bored and disruptive pupils elsewhere. CTCs may be outside the system, but what is so sacrosanct about a decadent system? I ask Opposition Members to take this opportunity, instead of trying to defend stale old structures and practices. Whereas the Labour party destroys direct grant schools and grammar schools, we are building new city technology colleges.

Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock , Lewisham, Deptford

In opening the debate, the Secretary of State spoke about high levels of truancy, lack of qualifications, the need for schools to be in close contact with industry and commerce and the opportunities that were being denied to some children and the concern of their parents about that denial of opportunities. He sought to justify the amendments by reference to those issues. I ask him, therefore, why Ministers are talking to the Haberdashers' Aske's schools in Deptford. I cannot understand how those problems have been identified in those schools in Deptford because I do not believe that they exist there. How will the amendments introduce into the legislation a solution to problems that have not been perceived to be present in schools in Deptford?

The Secretary of State's original proposals sought to introduce new schools as an addition to the education provision. In Question Time today, we heard about redundant buildings and the need to make use of such buildings. Why, therefore, has he picked two flourishing comprehensive schools to be proposed as a CTC? They are neither empty buildings—heaven forbid—nor do they fall under the category of new provisions.

On the contrary, in Deptford we are fortunate to have the Haberdashers' Aske's girls and boys schools which the parents, teachers and governors of those schools will defend as schools of excellence. Why, therefore, should we have a CTC?

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

Does the hon. Lady agree that one of the reasons why my right hon. Friend is pursuing that policy is that Labour authorities are not making available redundant schools? If they were, we would see many more CTCs being created in the areas where they are most needed.

Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock , Lewisham, Deptford

The hon. Gentleman seems to suggest that, because the Secretary of State was frustrated in his efforts to get 20 CTCs, he is picking on two good and flourishing comprehensives. That is no answer. At the moment, the schools are operational and provide the education that children in my constituency need.

More important, those two schools are part of a five-school north Lewisham consortium which was set up specifically by the Labour-controlled ILEA to do some of the things about which the Government have spoken so enthusiastically. It was set up to raise standards, to provide sixth-form education for all five schools and to provide opportunities for the most disadvantaged children in my community, and there are many hundreds of those children. In short, the consortium was set up to give young people the benefit of the expertise that could be brought together from five schools.

Let me explain to the Secretary of State just how it works, in case he has not been able to look into the matter. There is a system whereby the school which is the most excellent and the most expertise in a particular topic offers a sixth-form course to all the children from the five schools. There is a combined revision centre for all the children from the five schools, funded by ILEA—I wonder for how long under this Government. It is genuine community-based education and it is extremely popular with parents.

I shall use the study of politics as an example. In the lower sixth this year, six children came from Addey and Stanhope school, six children from Aske's boys' school, five children from Aske's girls' school, two children from Deptford Green, and on this occasion none from Hatcham Wood. Will there be any room for the study of politics in the curriculum of the CTCs? If those two Aske's schools, which happen to be the best resourced schools of the consortium, are taken out, what will happen to the three remaining schools? What will happen to their sixth forms? What will happen to the 11 to 18 education that ILEA has attempted to provide in my constituency?

The Secretary of State spoke about contact with business, industry and commerce. What about the ILEA compact, which I suggest has been more successful in making those contacts than he has been in trying to involve and interest any sector of business or industry in my constituency with regard to funding of the CTCs? Those five schools have coped well with the problem of falling rolls with which we are all familiar.

Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock , Lewisham, Deptford

No. I have very little time.

The plans to expand the intake of 11-year-olds to the CTCs, which could mean an increase of 30 or even 60 children, would disrupt the partnership between primary and secondary schools in that area. The relationships between primary and secondary schools are extremely good. If the Secretary of State is in favour of parental choice, how will he give real parental choice to the parents of children in about 80 primary schools, whose parental choice will be limited by the removal of two of those secondary schools?

Mr. Bostock, the chairman of the governors of the Haberdashers' Aske's schools, has been persuaded that the status of a CTC will guarantee the continuation of 16 to 19 provision within the two schools for which he is responsible. Does the Secretary of State justify that with the destruction of the sixth forms of three other schools? Is he confident that the whole project might not result in the closure of one of those five schools? Is it not true that there will be increasing selective entry? If the schools are as good as he suggests, there will be competition, and what will happen to the more disadvantaged children who will be limited in their choice of school?

As for parental rights, will the Secretary of State guarantee that there will be consultation of all the people in my constituency who will be affected? Perhaps he remembers, as I do, that in April the chairman of the governors produced proposals without consultation to close those schools by September this year.

All the parents in my constituency are deeply worried about this divisive and elitist proposal that goes against all that we have striven to provide in terms of equality and opportunity in my constituency. Furthermore, Mr. Bostock has been led to believe that £4 million of public money might be available for the setting up of a CTC. Is that the case? Is the sum around £4 million? How can he justify that, when the running costs of all five schools in the consortium amounts to about £5 million?

Our schools are being starved of capital and funding because of the policies of this Government. The ILEA has reduced capitation allowances by nearly 60 per cent. and we have been trying to get Victorian buildings renovated and repaired throughout the years in which the Government have sought to impose cuts on ILEA and on our schools. Indeed, 75 per cent. of the maintenance grant has been cut from a school that I visited last week, yet, remarkably, after all the works at the Haberdashers' Aske's girls' school which were listed to be done and which could not be funded, suddenly two weeks ago an architect was busily inspecting the whole school, not to repair the leaking roof which we have been told could not be afforded, but to make an assessment of just how much money would be needed to set up the school as a CTC.

It is a horrible proposal because it seeks to steal money from the majority and give it to the minority. I am for excellence. I am a scientist by training and throughout my political career I have argued for the need for more science teachers, more science training and better education for our children. In my constituency, the parents, governors and teachers are all for more resources, more expertise and better educational standards. When I as their Member of Parliament demand those things, I do so on the basis that we want them for all. We do not want to take for some and leave the rest poor. In my constituency, educational standards need real public funding for real equality of opportunity and that is why we oppose the amendment.

Photo of David Evennett David Evennett , Erith and Crayford

I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in the debate. I welcome the clause which broadens the scope of the CTCs to include the creative arts. I also welcome the Secretary of State's comments on the city technology colleges. In particular, I should like to voice my support for his aims which will benefit the children.

We must not forget that we are talking primarily about the interests of the children, and, secondly, about parental rights. Those are the central issues to the clauses and to the establishment of city technology colleges. I hope that there will be a city technology college established in Thamesmead which is in my constituency. At present, the matter is before Bexley council, and eventually, no doubt, it will come before my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for his decision.

In principle, and contrary to the comment of the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), there is widespread support for a city technology college in Thamesmead from parents on both sides of the borough divide. The hon. Member for Blackburn mentioned no comments from parents from the Greenwich side of the borough boundary, who at present do not have a very good education system within the borough because it is under the control of ILEA. Large numbers of people in Greenwich write to me or Bexley education authority wanting their children to come across. Therefore, it is not true that parents in Thamesmead do not want a city technology college.

Photo of David Evennett David Evennett , Erith and Crayford

I shall give way in a moment.

I also remind the House that a similar poll took place in Thamesmead on the abolition of the GLC, and the results were similar. The Thamesmead Town Trust is running affairs so much better than the GLC did when it existed. People forget about the GLC and they do not regret that it was abolished. Not only are people not aware of what the GLC did but they look positively at what the Thamesmead Town Trust is doing and welcome it.

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

Are we to understand that, although the hon. Gentleman voted for the idea of a ballot among parents of an individual school where that triggers an opt-out application, he wholly dismisses the result of a similar ballot where the vote was nine to one against having a CTC?

Photo of David Evennett David Evennett , Erith and Crayford 5:30, 19 July 1988

As usual, the hon. Gentleman misses the point. I am talking about parents throughout Thamesmead, not just those concerned with one school. As I tried to explain in an intervention, during the past 20 years in which I have been involved in education, there have been Secretaries of State, including Shirley Williams in the Labour Government, who took no notice of parents who wanted grammar schools. One hundred per cent. of parents voted in favour of the retention of particular schools, but no notice was taken of them. We are talking about the establishment of city technology colleges in areas where there is a need for improved education. A CTC in Thamesmead would be welcomed by the vast majority of parents and would be in the interests of the vast majority of children, and we must never forget that.

I do not want to dwell too long on Thamesmead, because it is not mentioned in the Lords amendment. However, the debates there reflect what has been going on in debates in this Chamber and in the other place. Many people in Dartford support proposals to establish a CTC there. I understand from the Under-Secretary of State—my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn)—and many other people that there is strong support from teachers, parents and the local authority to establish a CTC in Dartford. I have it on good authority that even the leader of the Labour council has shown some support for the principle of a CTC.

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

There is a minority Labour group in Dartford-that is not quite the same thing. I confirm that Councillor Noel Jones, leader of the minority Labour group on Dartford borough council, has welcomed the principle of a CTC in north-west Kent.

Photo of David Evennett David Evennett , Erith and Crayford

As always, I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments. It is interesting to note how progressive certain Labour politicians are outside the House; it is a pity that there are not more of them in the Chamber speaking on these issues.

Conservative Members welcome the opportunity for choice in education. We deplore the standardisation that the comprehensive route allowed. There is choice for parents and children in Bexley. where there are excellent grammar schools and technology colleges, and there is an excellent bilateral school at Erith. We believe in choice for parents and the maximum opportunities for all children.

One would think from the Opposition's comments that the CTCs are élitist——

Photo of David Evennett David Evennett , Erith and Crayford

I am sorry that the hon. Lady again refuses to listen. Perhaps she would learn something if she did.

A CTC in Thamesmead would give all children, across the ability range, an opportunity to attend. At the moment, the majority of children do not have such an opportunity. Conservative Members also believe in excellence in education. We should like education standards to be raised across the board, by giving greater variety and opportunity.

Much has been said about technology. The hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms. Ruddock) talked about politics in schools. We all look for a wide opportunity for study in schools, but there are tremendous shortages in science, creative arts and technology. We must ask the Opposition what alternatives they would come up with to meet this crying need. Unfortunately, it seems from the Labour-controlled education authorities that the Labour party has no suggestions. What is Labour's proposal to meet the need to educate our children for the future? There are no suggestions and no policies. The answer is shrouded in the mists of secrecy. There is the old rhetoric from the Labour Front Bench on what Labour would like by way of more money and so on, but there appear to be no policies to provide skills in science and technology to redress the imbalance.

Photo of Joan Ruddock Joan Ruddock , Lewisham, Deptford

To produce the best scientists and technologists, scientific and technological education must be provided in every secondary school. It should not be provided in just a few at the expense of the many.

Photo of David Evennett David Evennett , Erith and Crayford

The hon. Lady is known to be wrong frequently on these matters. Why is that education not provided now? I can speak from experience in ILEA and I shall take no lessons from the Opposition. The money was spent in ILEA, but the facilities were not provided. It is no good the Opposition saying that they want simply to provide education for everyone. ILEA has had the money and been found wanting. We must look to the interests of the education of children for the future and to a new approach. CTCs offer a new approach providing the skills of tomorrow.

I can speak from my constituency experience when I visit people connected with industry and commerce. They are crying out for people to learn the new technologies. We have been too slow in following those routes. That must be the fault of the local education authority. We know ILEA's views and the way in which it likes to spend the money, but it does not spend it primarily in the interests of children or in the country's long-term interests.

Why are the Opposition so against CTCs? They think that they will be successful and that there will be an increased demand for places because the education offered will be of such a high standard. It is interesting that all the proposals and ideas for the future come from Conservative Members. The CTCs are bold initiatives, backed by Government and private finance. They offer an opportunity to move forward to the next century and to look to a better education, one that is relevant to the needs of children—not one that looks to the past and the disaster of the comprehensives. It is only too apparent to those of us who have worked in London schools and who know what is happening on the ground that the vast comprehensives did not work.

It ill behoves the Labour Front Bench to suggest that the future is to be found in the way of the past, and that we should just carry on in the same old way. That will not do. We want to go forward in the interests of all children. That will not be done by throwing money around, as some London authorities believe.

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

If the hon. Gentleman is so interested in moving forward and not going back to the past, why is he such a staunch defender of A-levels, which most people in most universities say will not provide the skill and knowledge base for the future?

Photo of David Evennett David Evennett , Erith and Crayford

I am afraid that if I stray down that path I shall be very wide of the Lords amendment.

We are looking for a better curriculum and for better training and opportunities for children in science and technology.

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

Do not the comments of Opposition Members display an indescribable lack of knowledge of the needs of south-east London and north Kent along the riverside? Moreover, do they not understand that many authorities controlled by us see this not as a conflict but as an extra dimension of choice? That point has to be made time and again.

Photo of David Evennett David Evennett , Erith and Crayford

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. It is rather sad to hear the hon. Member for Blackburn speak about a particular school in Thamesmead. Perhaps he should come down to my constituency and the neighbouring one and talk to some parents, because he is not knowledgeable about the area and its needs. The hon. Gentleman is not even listening, which I regret very much, as he is only too willing to use examples from my constituency, but when I try to put him right he is not willing to listen.

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

I was merely reflecting that Buckhurst Hill county high school, where the hon. Gentleman was educated, has been turned into a comprehensive by a Conservative authority. Is he complaining about that?

Photo of David Evennett David Evennett , Erith and Crayford

I am not talking about my own school; I am talking about a school in my constituency which the hon. Gentleman named in his speech. I am talking about the needs of my constituents. I do not represent Buckhurst Hill or speak for that authority. I am pointing out that parents in Thamesmead would very much like a city technology college to be established in the area that the hon. Gentleman mentioned. As I have said, it is up to the local education authority to make the decision, and I would not dream of commenting on what is done by other local authorities, because I am not involved in them.

In principle, we are seeking a bold new initiative that has the support of the vast majority of parents who want a better education for their children. Bearing in mind the money spent by the taxpayer, they are not happy with the present system, and that is the reason for the Bill. We are aiming to improve results.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Epping Forest

The changes affecting the Buckhurst Hill county high school, to which the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) referred, are not the policy of a Conservative authority. They are the policy of Essex county council, which is not Conservative-controlled.

Photo of David Evennett David Evennett , Erith and Crayford

I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend for giving me some local knowledge of an area with which I no longer have contact.

We know why the Opposition do not like the amendment. They do not like change; they do not like choice; they do not believe in excellence; they do not like facts; they do not want to raise standards. They prefer to depress rather than elevate the conditions of our children. I consider their views misguided and inaccurate, and I look forward to a successful CTC network across the country.

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

The House will have listened to the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Evennett) with incredulity. I was intrigued by his speech, which seemed a product more of Conservative party propaganda than of brainwork. He said rather interestingly that it had sprung from his own experience. I thought that that would bear some examination and that it might be worth looking up the hon. Gentleman's entry in Dod. Having done so, I learnt to my surprise that the hon. Gentleman indeed has experience of education. He was a teacher for two years before becoming a Lloyd's underwriter, which he remained for 16 years. The House may comment on such a remarkable translation, but I feel certain that in the hon. Gentleman's speech we heard the voice of the Lloyd's underwriter rather than that of the teacher.

The idea that the Government are offering greater choice in any part of the Bill—let alone the part dealing with city technology colleges—is fraudulent nonsense. There may be choice for the parents of those fortunate enough to go to the few CTCs that there will be, and I do not pretend that they will not be chosen from across the ability range. But at what cost? The cost has been clearly displayed in the figures and the fact that payment for teachers will come from a different source. The same applies to opting out. A party that masquerades under the banner of choice and freedom is offering choice for the few—the advantaged and the rich—and the devil take the rest.

Photo of David Evennett David Evennett , Erith and Crayford 5:45, 19 July 1988

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way, because I always enjoy his performances, but I should like to ask him two questions. First, what experience has he in education? Secondly, as one who has been an ILEA governor-manager for many years, may I ask him what inner city experience he has in education?

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

The hon. Gentleman has asked me a direct question. I have been a member of a local education authority—as he will discover if he cares to look up my biography—for longer than the hon. Gentleman. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"] In Dorset county council. Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that someone who has no experience in a specialised range cannot comment? That is nonsense.

Photo of David Evennett David Evennett , Erith and Crayford

The city technology college is an inner city initiative.

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for digging a hole and then conveniently jumping straight into it. The Government said first that the CTC was concerned with inner cities, but they have had to move the goalposts there as everywhere else. When he first thought of this gimcrack idea, the Secretary of State referred to inner cities. That was in his speech, but the Government changed it because it would not work. The Bill has nothing to do with inner cities: it refers to urban areas, and that will be the theme of what I have to say.

The debate has been wide-ranging, dealing with the Government's policies on CTCs in general. That is as well, because the policy is now revealed as a miserable failure. I might even bring myself to feel sorry for the Secretary of State, given the mess into which he has got himself, but for the fact that the rope with which he has hanged himself consists of two strands of his own manufacture. The first seeks to implement, whatever the cost to children and to education, the ideology of the Conservative party. The second seeks to make practical what was essentially a mere gimmick. During the general election and before, we said that this was a "gimmick a day" Secretary of State. A gimmick a day takes attention away from the other problems of education, but this gimmick is now coming home to roost.

By any standards—even the Government's own—the policy has manifestly failed. Almost the most interesting question, which the Secretary of State refused to answer, was put to him by me. He had set himself a target of 20 CTCs by the end of the decade. When I asked him to repeat that, he refused. He knows that there is no earthly chance of establishing even five CTCs by the end of the decade. He has told us that the likely figure is three by the end of next year.

The policy has failed on other counts. The major proportion of the money was to be provided by industry, but we now know that the Treasury will have to provide the lion's share—in some cases, a huge preponderance. The Secretary of State said that the project would be for inner cities. He has now had to move the goalposts to make it relevant to urban areas. The facts—not the rhetoric—that the Government have presented show that they have underestimated the cost of buildings that will be required to put this madcap scheme into operation, and manifestly overestimated the amount that industry is prepared to contribute—a measly £25 million, pledged but not yet delivered. Watch this space, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I suspect that it will be much less than that.

The scheme is only being rescued by politically sympathetic local education authorities. The measly three that have been established, compared with the 20 that we were promised, have been established only in politically sympathetic authorities.

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Yes, the deprived area of Solihull.

Does not the Secretary of State find a certain irony in the fact that he has set up the system to bypass the LEAs, yet he cannot bring it into operation without the political co-operation of his political friends in the LEAs that they control? What an irony there is there.

Photo of Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo Mr Martin Brandon-Bravo , Nottingham South

Earlier, the hon. Gentleman spoke about choice for a few. That seems to be a common theme on the Opposition Benches. They believe that if everybody cannot have choice, nobody can have it. That is a foolish point.

It is true that there is great difficulty in finding sites within inner cities. That is because, in general, they are represented by Labour authorities which are fundamentally opposed to the idea. The citizens of Nottingham are grateful that, by a majority of one, the council is Conservative-controlled so that planning consent has been possible.

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Sites have not been found in inner cities because industry would not stump up the money to buy them. The Government manifestly underestimated the cost of purchasing those sites. The hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms. Ruddock) gave us a clear example of how, when the public are consulted, they are opposed to the scheme. This is an ideological bandwagon that the Government are determined to push through, irrespective of the damage that it does to education.

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to answer the hon. Member for Nottingham, South (Mr. Brandon-Bravo), I shall then give way.

The hon. Gentleman raised a fair point. I do claim that the choice that the Government are offering is fraudulent for reasons that have been well advanced here and in Committee, but it is reasonable to ask whether there is an alternative, and I believe that there is. I am on record as having said in Committee that I do not object to industry sponsorship. I do not object to industry partnership or to bringing in funds from outside. I do not even object to new foundations of schools, provided that they submit to the overall admissions policy and to the quality control operated by the LEA. That is the key point, because that would ensure that the needs of all are met and that those who at the occasional opted-out school, which will essentially be an island school which disrupts education provision for others, do not receive that advantage—if there is an advantage, and I suspect that there will be—paid for at the expense of others who are in less favourable positions. That is the way round the Government's point about how we would offer choice.

I am interested in one fact about the Government's proposals. I believe that I am right in saying—I am ready to be corrected if the Minister feels that I am wrong—that even for those CTCs that will be opened in September no funding agreement has yet been published. As I understand it, those agreements remain secret. Why? Is it because, once again, the Government intend to move the goalposts and make sure that the Treasury put in whatever money is necessary to make their policy work? To make this impractical gimcrack ideology, which will so damage education, work, they are prepared to use untold amounts of taxpayers' money, taken away from other sections of education.

It is wrong to say that this is new money. Of course it is not new money. It comes out of the same pot. When millions of pounds are spent on three schools—more than is given for the upkeep and fabric of 847 other schools in the same area—that is nothing less than damaging, divisive and dangerous.

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

I want to clarify one point. Earlier, the hon. Gentleman said that the Government's policy has failed miserably. If it has failed, why the excitement? Then he went on to say that this is most damaging to the education system. If it has failed, because in his view the number of colleges is so small, how can it damage the education system? Secondly, how does the hon. Gentleman's interpretation of the legislation and the philosophy of his approach to education differ from that of the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw)?

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

I am sure, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you would call me to order if I sought to answer—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question."] I will answer the hon. Gentleman's question. He knows the answer well. He knows the proposals that we have put forward. As someone who has mastered his brief, he will have read the document that I produced entitled "The Alternative Education Bill". He will know how our policy differs from that of the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw).

The Minister asks why there is such a furore if the policy has failed. Failed though it has, the Government are prepared to push it through at whatever cost to the Exchequer—money that others will be robbed of. The damage will be paid for by those left outside the CTC system.

Photo of Mr Paddy Ashdown Mr Paddy Ashdown Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

The hon. Gentleman should choose any one of the criteria that the Government have set, either in respect of the Treasury contribution, or the number of schools which are to be established, or the definition about inner cities, and measure how far the Government have got down the line. By any one of those criteria, this is., a miserable failure. The damage that the Minister asked about is being done because the Government are now seeking to drive through, at whatever cost, an idea that was cooked up on the back of a fag packet as a gimmick to get a standing ovation at the Tory party conference.

We shall vote against the amendment because here was an opportunity genuinely to establish a different kind of school. Here was an opportunity to bring in some new ideas. Here was an opportunity to set a decent framework for a partnership between industry and education, and to do it for the benefit of all within the framework of the admissions policy, the quality control and the curriculum set by the local education authority, but the Government have blown it. They have blown the opportunity and at the same time have damaged the education system. This is a miserable policy which the Government are now propping up at whatever cost. It deserves to die. I regret only that it will die slowly and painfully and expensively for many instead of being killed here in a Division.

Photo of Mr Iain Mills Mr Iain Mills , Meriden

I apologise to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and to the House for having been briefly out of the Chamber to meet some constituents.

As I have the first CTC in my constituency, I count this as a most important matter. I have listened today to hypertense passion from the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), who could not even get the name of Kingshurst right, and to synthetic indignation from various Opposition Members. Perhaps, on the basis of the degree of almost incoherent opposition to this policy, the opposition of the big and the multi-little, terribly little, Opposition parties, the House will judge that this is a good idea.

This is an extremely interesting extension of choice, not just ordinary choice, but choice on a technology base in an area which requires the regeneration of its manufacturing technology.

I use words such as "synthetic", "hypertense" and "incoherent" because Opposition Members do not even seem to realise where the college will be based and the character of the area. Chelmsley Wood and Kingshurst, which I have had the honour to represent for many years, is an extremely deprived area. It is north of the Solihull borough and is quite unlike it. I advise the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Ms. Armstrong), who has been laughing the whole way through——

Photo of Mr John Taylor Mr John Taylor , Solihull

As my hon. Friend's nextdoor neighbour and sharing the borough of Solihull with him, I can endorse every word that he has said. I should like to explain that there is a considerable difference in the nature and texture of the borough between north and south. Every word that my hon. Friend has said is correct. His area needs this choice, and I am glad that it has got it.

6 pm

Photo of Mr Iain Mills Mr Iain Mills , Meriden

I welcome the words of my hon. Friend. Like many hon. Members, we have varied constituencies. I hope that Opposition Members will listen carefully to what I am about to say. Kingshurst and Chelmsley Wood has an extremely high level of unemployment. I do not know whether I need to spell that out. It is an area that in the past has been terribly dependent on manufacturing industry.

When speaking on this subject, I should declare an interest as one who has worked for 20 years in the car component industry in the area, literally two miles from the school in question, so I do know a little about it. In my career I worked on the shop floor, the design board and eventually as senior manager and I know only too well manufacturing industry's demand for young people emerging from their school education with technological knowledge. I cannot stress how strongly I resent the remarks made by Opposition Members who seem neither to understand the needs of the west midlands and especially the needs of deprived parts of it, nor the need for technology. They have obviously never seen engineering or manufacturing except through a long-distance telescope, probably with the wrong end clapped to their blind eye. That seems the measure of their understanding or misunderstanding of the objectives of the CTCs.

Photo of Mr Iain Mills Mr Iain Mills , Meriden

I have waited patiently to speak in the debate and am not going to give way. I have already apologised to the House. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Photo of Mr Iain Mills Mr Iain Mills , Meriden

I shall continue. The CTC is based in Kingshurst and will offer a technology-based education.

What is the test of success? Opposition Members have talked about failure, but what is success? People wish their children to be involved in this new form of education——

Photo of Mr Iain Mills Mr Iain Mills , Meriden

If the hon. Gentleman had listened to the debate on short speeches, he would know why I am making my speech short. I have already taken six minutes and will take four minutes more——

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. We cannot have two Members on their feet at the same time. Mr. Mills.

Photo of Mr Iain Mills Mr Iain Mills , Meriden

I shall not give way, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as I wish to be brief.

If the test of success is demand, why has the school been oversubscribed by parents who wish their children to attend it? The demand is not just in the delineated catchment area, which is much wider than the Solihull borough—a point that has not been mentioned so far——

Photo of Mr Iain Mills Mr Iain Mills , Meriden

If that is so, I have missed it. Perhaps the House will forgive me. We should not be trivial about this important experiment. Any change in education will take time, effort and dedication and I congratulate the Government on giving all those things.

It is ridiculous for Opposition Members to try to diminish the number of industrial sponsors. I should have thought that Opposition Members would have been jumping around their Benches in astonishment at the fact that, to use the Opposition's own terms, the Government have got "capitalist" organisations to dig into their funds. However, instead of doing that, Opposition Members say, "It is not enough." I find that extraordinary. The list of industrial and commercial sponsors ranges from manufacturing to all sorts of industries which are apparently willing to put their hard-earned cash on the nail to create a school that will bring them children or young adults with a technology-based education. That is wildly exciting and should not be diminished. It has been done in 18 months.

I used the word "synthetic" about Opposition Members. The fact that Opposition Members say that it is a failure to move towards a technology-based education shows that their minds must be paralysed by the need for political opposition and that their minds are feeble and without logic. Opposition Members have an insensate desire to criticise the Government, but there is no logic in their argument. I would say that they are intemperate——

Photo of Mr Bruce Grocott Mr Bruce Grocott , The Wrekin

Answer one question.

Photo of Mr Iain Mills Mr Iain Mills , Meriden

No, I shall not give way, knowing your eagerness, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for other hon. Members to be called to speak for 10 minutes, which leaves me about one minute.

There will be choice for young people and their parents and improvements in deprived areas such as Kingshurst and Chelmsley Wood which have unemployment rates so high as to be tragic, and a need for skills retraining.

In conclusion, as a member of the Select Committee on Employment, I visited Germany fairly recently for a couple of days to see what is happening there. Its apprenticeship scheme, or the "Lehrling", shows that that country, which is supposed to be famous for indifference to change, is changing. The Ruhr and other parts of Germany now have skills training throughout the education system. We have this most exciting experiment, which will give my constituency and the west midlands more young people who are able to move into the factories in which I used to work, with not just knowledge but a knowledge of the ethic and culture of manufacturing industry. That should never be diminished. The experiment deserves to be tried. It has received far more support than we could ever have guessed when the Government launched it 18 months ago in partnership with industry, and with the voluntary interest of industrial companies. That bodes well for the future, for our technology and for the deprived areas of the west midlands.

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths , Bridgend

Opposition Members have had to listen for too long this afternoon to what is essentially empty rhetoric about the extension of choice. We should look at the real facts. We may have three CTCs by 1990 in the whole of England. There is no talk of one in Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland at the moment.

We have been told about the wonderful amount of sponsorship that has been successfully put into the schools, but on the basis of the Secretary of State's answer about the number of companies that have been approached, we find that so far he has succeeded in achieving an interest in providing sponsorship for the city technology college scheme of 0·0101 per cent. recurring.

The hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Evennett) said that the city technology colleges were about the interests of children and parental rights. I remind him that there will be three schools at an exorbitant cost. The school that is to be created on Teesside will receive £1·5 million from British American Tobacco and £4·5 million of Government money. However, the Cleveland local authority has a capital allocation of £3·6 million. Therefore, more money is being poured into one school than is given to the local authority for the whole of its capital allocation—[HON. MEMBERS: "Disgraceful."]——

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths , Bridgend

No, I shall not give way because the hon. Member for Meriden (Mr. Mills) refused to give way to my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Grocott). Therefore, I think that it would be better if I got on with my argument.

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths , Bridgend

No, I shall not give way.

The truth is that Conservative Members——

Photo of Mr Timothy Devlin Mr Timothy Devlin , Stockton South

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Gentleman is refusing to give way on the ground that Teesside city technology college is not in my constituency. I can inform the House that it is, in fact, in my constituency, as is one third of Middlesbrough.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

Order. The hon. Gentleman has got his point on the record, but it is not really a point of order for the Chair.

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths , Bridgend

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I made no claim about which area the hon. Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Devlin) represents or where the college will be situated.

The Government have introduced a programme on which they intend to spend £90 million to create a handful of schools in England. If they were truly concerned about the interests of all children they would divert that money to local authorities to help them to provide better facilities in their schools. We are opposed to the divisive nature of the CTCs. We are not against improving technical education, but let us provide such improvement for all children, not just a few.

Conservative Members have already gone to great lengths to prove that the CTCs are so popular that parents have been turned away. What choice is available to those parents and their children? It would be far better to improve the provision of technical facilities and technical teaching in all our schools than to try to scramble around getting industrial sponsorship for less than a handful of schools.

I am sure that Conservative Members read the article in The Observer this weekend., which highlighted another problem connected with the creation of CTCs. That article described how the Roman Catholic diocese of Newcastle and Hexham, which is part of the Gateshead municipal borough, is planning to sell one of its schools which is surplus to requirement and said that it will be used as a CTC. Gateshead has just gone through an extremely painful reorganisation process and it has already had to close four comprehensive schools to take account of falling rolls. If a new school is created within that area, the borough will have to consider its present schools and close one of them. What choice will be offered to parents if, as the result of the creation of another CTC, another school is closed? The parents would be forced to send their children elsewhere.

We must underline to the Government that they have failed in their intention to make "city" technology colleges because none of them is to be located in inner cities. They have failed in their intention to provide industrial sponsorship—it is running at about 15 per cent. compared with the 80 to 90 per cent. that the Secretary of State originally had in mind. Perhaps the Secretary of State would care to tell us exactly where he believes the 25 CTCs, about which he has such confidence, will be created.

A school that is faced with possible closure may believe that the way out is to apply to become a CTC, or it might consider it better to apply to be a grant-maintained school. Schools will have to consider the additional funding that they may receive. It may be a better option to be a CTC because the Government appear to be indiscriminately providing money for such schools. It is a pity that they are not indiscriminate when providing finance for comprehensive schools to improve their technical and other facilities.

Thanks to the way in which the Government are demoralising teachers, schools face difficulties with a number of subjects, not only technical subjects—foreign language teaching is in disarray. Surely the Secretary of State would agree that it would be far better to provide more resources to improve our foreign language teaching rather than just concentrating upon technology.

Conservative Members must come clean because they are trying to create selection by stealth and are trying to go back to the old 11-plus system. The hon. Member for Erith and Crayford referred to that system and spoke of the choice between grammar and secondary moderns. It was not a system of choice, but one of selection—the parents had no choice. We want to avoid that. Let us provide money so that all our children can have a good education rather than a few.

Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd , Cynon Valley 6:15, 19 July 1988

We are delighted to note that the Secretary of State is back in the Chamber. That means either that nobody turned up for his drinks party or, unfortunately, that he had to cut it short. I congratulate those Conservative Back Benchers who stayed and did not take up his invitation.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) has already said, this is the first opportunity that we have had to exchange our views on this important issue. Prior to today there had been no debate in Committee or in the House about this policy. As my hon. Friend said, the British taxpayer is having to bail out the Secretary of State's project. He has failed on every count and in particular he has failed to explain to us his CTC policy. That policy is a scandal, a fraud and a failure.

The Secretary of State's performance this afternoon was the performance of a man struggling up to his armpits in sinking sand. The Secretary of State chose to characterise local authorities' refusal to play ball with his half-baked idea as evidence of political dogma. However, ever since he announced his CTC initiative to the cheering hordes at the Tory party conference, he has emphasised that CTCs would be independent of local authorities and would draw heavily on industrial money and support. The hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Amos) still believes that is the case, and I hope that the Secretary of State will take note of that hon. Gentleman's special pleading.

Unfortunately, for the Secretary of State his grandiose schemes have collapsed about him. The begging bowl went round, but the captains of industry and even the bluest of the blue-chip companies, such as ICI, GEC, IBM and British Gas, refused to put anything in. Several leading firms, such as ICI, have made it clear publicly that they will not support the scheme. It has become painfully obvious that this tarnished idea, which was never discussed with education professionals or negotiated with local politicians, is proving to be a huge political embarrassment.

In yet another face-saving exercise the Government have moved the goalposts again. More public money is to be pumped in and the awkward local authorities are to be vilified, yet again. The Secretary of State has had to persuade the Treasury to bail him out and private sponsors are expected to foot only 20 per cent. of the bill. The Department's target of £20 million from private sponsorship was meant to represent almost all the capital costs of the planned 20 schemes, but such sponsorship now amounts to less than 10 per cent. of the cost. The rest of the necessary funding—we believe that it amounts to about £200 million—will come from the Treasury. It is unbelievable that any reputable company or local authority would allow the cost of a programme to increase more than 10 times in 18 months without an enormous outcry.

The taxpayer will receive a bill of £200 million, which is almost half the amount allocated for capital projects to all local authority schools, colleges and polytechnics for 1988–89. My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms. Ruddock) explained in her excellent speech how that money could be used to alleviate deprivation in her constituency. To master-mind the whole bizarre affair the Brylcreem boy has brought in his own envangelist, a man in his own image, the fund raiser in chief, Mr. Cyril Taylor—the former brand manager for Gleam toothpaste in the United States of America.

According to a report in The Independent, Mr. Taylor, who now has his own company and is a former Tory member of the GLC, took the project out of the hands of the civil servants. This is what he said: They had cheques on their desks and not even a bank account to put them in … They don't really understand how the world works. It is worth looking at the original promises made in the glossy brochure to which my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn referred. The Secretary of State declared that his initiatives would give parents a new choice of school and create fresh opportunities for the children of our cities. CTCs were to be sited in urban areas, particularly those suffering from acute social deprivation or those which are already the target of inner-city initiatives. The whole foundation of the CTC plan has been shaken by industry's justifiable reticence about getting involved; but our money—public money—is being used by the Secretary of State like Monopoly money so that he can buy his way out of prison and proceed to "Go". As the hon. Member for Wyre Forest (Mr. Coombs) said, as they realise in America, one can increase excellence by increasing choice. What he did not say was that the United States experience of magnet schools, on which CTCs are modelled, is that they cream off the best pupils to the detriment of the rest of the school system. But then the interest rate mentioned in his speech was possibly lower than the exorbitant interest rates charged by his family firm.

The Secretary of State's launch brochure proclaimed that the CTCs would be sited in areas of acute social deprivation—in deprived areas such as Bexley, Kent and Croydon. So even Tory authorities in well-off suburban areas are being press-ganged into helping the Secretary of State to meet his political targets, with the British taxpayer footing the bill. As The Times Educational Supplement said in an editorial on 17 June: By hook or by crook, he"—— Mr. Taylor of Gleam toothpaste—— is determined to be within sight of the target figure by the end of the year, even if he has to bend the ground rules a bit. Well, quite a lot". The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State may now care to comment on the CTCs proposals for his constituency. Is it true that Kent county council's proposals for the closure and sale of the Downs lower school in Dartford for allegedly educational reasons is nothing but a subterfuge for what is, in effect, a proposal to develop land in the green belt? Could it be true that local business man Geoffrey Leigh has struck a deal with Kent county council that he will fund the CTC to the tune of £1 million if the council puts the lower school on the market and removes the accompanying land from the green belt? Is it not true that this so-called public benefactor, who is chairman of Allied London Properties plc—incidentally, it contributed £6,200 to Conservative party funds last year—controls a multi-million pound property portfolio in the south-east, including an industrial estate that just happens to back on to the Downs school? Is it not true also that Mr. Leigh also effectively controls through a subsidiary Sterling Homes Construction, which specialises in housing development?

I understand that Mr. Leigh protests his innocence by maintaining that his proposals for a CTC are personal and unconnected with his business interests, and I am sure that there are some people in Kent who believe him. But the people of Kent should ask themselves whether it is pure circumstance that within a matter of months the borough of Dartford local plan should propose that the Downs school land and playing fields be taken out of the green belt and that, at the same time, public benefactor Mr. Leigh should turn up with an offer of £1 million.

Of course, proposals to change the plan must be approved by the Secretary of State for the Environment, so Dartford Tories are in a bit of a quandary. They should recall that it is only a month since the Under-Secretary of State attacked the Secretary of State for the Environment for refusing to allow development on land in north Dartford. I know that, because I have read the hysterical outburst of the Under-Secretary, as reported in The Sunday Times of 12 June.

The truth is that Dartford is divided over the proposals, despite assurances——

Photo of Mr Bob Dunn Mr Bob Dunn , Dartford

Perhaps the hon. Lady will tell me what I should say to the leader of the Labour group on Dartford borough council, who has welcomed and endorsed the principle of a CTC in north-west Kent.

Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd , Cynon Valley

We shall not take the hon. Gentleman's word for that: we want to hear the words for ourselves. We also want the answers to the questions that we were asking this afternoon.

The proposals for a CTC in Dartford show the way forward for other CTCs and set an ugly precedent. Property speculators up and down the land are now eyeing up the land holdings of every prime site school in the country. Their objective is clear. If the land has potential, they will use the Tory party machine to propose school amalgamation or closure, thereby releasing land for development. Despite all the protestations, the CTCs have nothing to do with education. They are the excuse—the pretext—for the selective stripping of education assets, aided and abetted by the Secretary of State.

Photo of Mrs Angela Rumbold Mrs Angela Rumbold , Mitcham and Morden

One could not fail to mention the speech of the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw). It plumbed depths that he has hitherto not plumbed. He is known in The Guardian for his lacklustre speeches and lacklustre leading for the Opposition on education matters. Perhaps The Guardian would like to add "ramshackle" to the epithets that it gives his speeches.

It was nice to see the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) dropping in to give us the benefit of the salad party's attitude to education. I am sorry to say that he missed the prime time that I think he was hoping for, and his message came too late to help the Kensington by-election, in which his party saved its deposit by only seven votes. His arguments were threadbare.

Conservative Members have been anxious to take part in the debate, mainly because they are so fully supportive of the idea of the city technology colleges. My hon. Friend the Member for Wyre Forest (Mr. Coombs) made the most important point—that the engineering apprentices will benefit from the specialist nature of the CTCs for young people studying technology. My hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Amos) was also right to say that we should welcome the attitude of industry, and especially its real commitment to future generations. He was also right to mention that the TVEI initiative, which was brought in by the Government, was originally refused by many Labour-controlled authorities. Only when it was seen to be something from which they could gain did they come to the Secretary of State and the industry with their hands out grabbing for money. No doubt the same will happen with the CTCs.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Devlin) has greatly welcomed the latest initiative of the city technology college in his constituency. I understand from him that there have been no fewer than 45 applicants for the position of head teacher and that all who will participate in the building of the CTC will be local employers from the area.

I listened carefully to what the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms. Ruddock) had to say. I must tell her that my right hon. Friend has not picked any schools. He made it quite clear in his opening speech that it is for the people who are concerned locally and for the individual sponsors to decide whether they want to make proposals to establish a CTC. My right hon. Friend will naturally then be ready to consider any such proposals on their merits.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Evennett) for his open support. He rightly homed in on the point that the Opposition are fearful that this proposal for CTCs will prove a success. It is sad that a party that is supposed to be producing new ideas for education is so and that it cannot do any more than produce the old ideas of——

It being half-past Six o'clock, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Order [18 July], to put the Question already proposed from the Chair.

The House divided: Ayes 320, Noes 201.

Division No. 421][6.30 pm
Adley, RobertBottomley, Mrs Virginia
Aitken, JonathanBowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)
Alexander, RichardBowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBowis, John
Allason, RupertBoyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes
Amery, Rt Hon JulianBrandon-Bravo, Martin
Amos, AlanBrazier, Julian
Arbuthnot, JamesBright, Graham
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Brittan, Rt Hon Leon
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Ashby, DavidBrowne, John (Winchester)
Atkins, RobertBruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Atkinson, DavidBuchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Buck, Sir Antony
Baldry, TonyBurns, Simon
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Burt, Alistair
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)Butcher, John
Batiste, SpencerButler, Chris
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyButterfill, John
Bellingham, HenryCarlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Bendall, VivianCarrington, Matthew
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Carttiss, Michael
Bevan, David GilroyCartwright, John
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnCash, William
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnChalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda
Blackburn, Dr John G.Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterChapman, Sydney
Body, Sir RichardChope, Christopher
Bonsor, Sir NicholasChurchill, Mr
Boswell, TimClark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Hind, Kenneth
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)Holt, Richard
Colvin, MichaelHordern, Sir Peter
Conway, DerekHoward, Michael
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Cope, Rt Hon JohnHowell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Cormack, PatrickHughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Couchman, JamesHunt, David (Wirral W)
Cran, JamesHunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Critchley, JulianHunter, Andrew
Currie, Mrs EdwinaHurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Curry, DavidIrvine, Michael
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Irving, Charles
Davis, David (Boothferry)Jack, Michael
Day, StephenJackson, Robert
Devlin, TimJanman, Tim
Dicks, TerryJessel, Toby
Dorrell, StephenJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Dover, DenKellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Dunn, BobKey, Robert
Durant, TonyKilfedder, James
Emery, Sir PeterKing, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)Kirkhope, Timothy
Evennett, DavidKnapman, Roger
Fairbairn, Sir NicholasKnight, Greg (Derby North)
Fallon, MichaelKnight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Farr, Sir JohnKnowles, Michael
Favell, TonyKnox, David
Fenner, Dame PeggyLamont, Rt Hon Norman
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Lang, Ian
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyLatham, Michael
Fishburn, John DudleyLawrence, Ivan
Forman, NigelLawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Lee, John (Pendle)
Forth, EricLeigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Fox, Sir MarcusLester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Franks, CecilLightbown, David
Freeman, RogerLilley, Peter
French, DouglasLloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Fry, PeterLloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Gale, RogerLord, Michael
Gardiner, GeorgeLyell, Sir Nicholas
Gill, ChristopherMcCrindle, Robert
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir IanMacfarlane, Sir Neil
Goodhart, Sir PhilipMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Goodlad, AlastairMaclean, David
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesMcLoughlin, Patrick
Gorman, Mrs TeresaMcNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Gorst, JohnMcNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Gow, IanMadel, David
Gower, Sir RaymondMajor, Rt Hon John
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)Malins, Humfrey
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Mans, Keith
Greenway, John (Ryedale)Maples, John
Gregory, ConalMarland, Paul
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Marlow, Tony
Grist, IanMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Ground, PatrickMarshall, Michael (Arundel)
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Mates, Michael
Hampson, Dr KeithMaude, Hon Francis
Hanley, JeremyMawhinney, Dr Brian
Hannam, JohnMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')Mellor, David
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)Meyer, Sir Anthony
Harris, DavidMiller, Sir Hal
Haselhurst, AlanMills, Iain
Hawkins, ChristopherMiscampbell, Norman
Hayes, JerryMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hayward, RobertMitchell, David (Hants NW)
Heddle, JohnMoate, Roger
Heseltine, Rt Hon MichaelMonro, Sir Hector
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)Moore, Rt Hon John
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Hill, JamesMorrison, Sir Charles
Moss, MalcolmStevens, Lewis
Mudd, DavidStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Nelson, AnthonyStewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Neubert, MichaelStokes, Sir John
Newton, Rt Hon TonyStradling Thomas, Sir John
Nicholls, PatrickSumberg, David
Nicholson, David (Taunton)Summerson, Hugo
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)Tapsell, Sir Peter
Onslow, Rt Hon CranleyTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Page, RichardTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Paice, JamesTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Parkinson, Rt Hon CecilTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Patnick, IrvineTemple-Morris, Peter
Patten, Chris (Bath)Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Pawsey, JamesThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Peacock, Mrs ElizabethThorne, Neil
Porter, David (Waveney)Thornton, Malcolm
Portillo, MichaelThurnham, Peter
Powell, William (Corby)Townend, John (Bridlington)
Price, Sir DavidTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Raison, Rt Hon TimothyTracey, Richard
Rathbone, TimTredinnick, David
Redwood, JohnTrippier, David
Renton, TimTrotter, Neville
Rhodes James, RobertTwinn, Dr Ian
Riddick, GrahamVaughan, Sir Gerard
Ridley, Rt Hon NicholasViggers, Peter
Ridsdale, Sir JulianWaddington, Rt Hon David
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Roe, Mrs MarionWalden, George
Rossi, Sir HughWaller, Gary
Rost, PeterWalters, Sir Dennis
Rowe, AndrewWard, John
Rumbold, Mrs AngelaWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Ryder, RichardWarren, Kenneth
Sackville, Hon TomWatts, John
Sainsbury, Hon TimWells, Bowen
Sayeed, JonathanWheeler, John
Scott, NicholasWhitney, Ray
Shaw, David (Dover)Widdecombe, Ann
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')Wiggin, Jerry
Shelton, William (Streatham)Wilkinson, John
Shersby, MichaelWinterton, Mrs Ann
Sims, RogerWinterton, Nicholas
Skeet, Sir Trevor Wolfson, Mark
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Wood, Timothy
Soames, Hon NicholasWoodcock, Mike
Speed, KeithYeo, Tim
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Squire, RobinTellers for the Ayes:
Stanbrook, IvorMr. Robert Boscawen and Mr. Tristen Garel-Jones.
Stern, Michael
Abbott, Ms DianeBuchan, Norman
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Buckley, George J.
Allen, GrahamCaborn, Richard
Alton, DavidCallaghan, Jim
Anderson, DonaldCampbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterCampbell-Savours, D. N.
Armstrong, HilaryCanavan, Dennis
Ashdown, PaddyClarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Ashley, Rt Hon JackClay, Bob
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Clelland, David
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Barron, KevinCohen, Harry
Battle, JohnColeman, Donald
Beckett, MargaretCook, Robin (Livingston)
Beith, A. J.Corbett, Robin
Bell, StuartCorbyn, Jeremy
Benn, Rt Hon TonyCousins, Jim
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Cryer, Bob
Bermingham, GeraldCummings, John
Bidwell, SydneyCunliffe, Lawrence
Blair, TonyCunningham, Dr John
Boateng, PaulDalyell, Tam
Boyes, RolandDarling, Alistair
Bradley, KeithDavis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Bray, Dr JeremyDewar, Donald
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Dixon, Don
Dobson, FrankMarshall, David (Shettleston)
Doran, FrankMarshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Duffy, A. E. P.Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Dunnachie, JimmyMartlew, Eric
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs GwynethMaxton, John
Eadie, AlexanderMeacher, Michael
Eastham, KenMichael, Alun
Evans, John (St Helens N)Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Fatchett, DerekMitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)Morgan, Rhodri
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)Morley, Elliott
Fisher, MarkMorris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Flannery, MartinMorris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Flynn, PaulMullin, Chris
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelMurphy, Paul
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S)Nellist, Dave
Foster, DerekOakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Foulkes, GeorgeO'Brien, William
Fraser, JohnO'Neill, Martin
Fyfe, MariaParry, Robert
Galbraith, SamPatchett, Terry
Galloway, GeorgePike, Peter L.
Garrett, John (Norwich South)Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)Prescott, John
George, BrucePrimarolo, Dawn
Golding, Mrs LlinQuin, Ms Joyce
Gordon, MildredRadice, Giles
Gould, BryanRandall, Stuart
Graham, ThomasRedmond, Martin
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Reid, Dr John
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Richardson, Jo
Grocott, BruceRoberts, Allan (Bootle)
Harman, Ms HarrietRobertson, George
Haynes, FrankRobinson, Geoffrey
Healey, Rt Hon DenisRogers, Allan
Heffer, Eric S.Rooker, Jeff
Henderson, DougRoss, Ernie (Dundee W)
Hinchliffe, DavidRowlands, Ted
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)Ruddock, Joan
Holland, StuartSalmond, Alex
Home Robertson, JohnSedgemore, Brian
Hood, JimmySheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)Short, Clare
Hughes, John (Coventry NE)Skinner, Dennis
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Hughes, Roy (Newport E)Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Illsley, EricSoley, Clive
Janner, GrevilleSpearing, Nigel
John, BrynmorSteinberg, Gerry
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)Strang, Gavin
Kennedy, CharlesStraw, Jack
Kinnock, Rt Hon NeilTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Lambie, DavidTurner, Dennis
Lamond, JamesWall, Pat
Leadbitter, TedWallace, James
Leighton, RonWalley, Joan
Lestor, Joan (Eccles)Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Lewis, TerryWareing, Robert N.
Litherland, RobertWelsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Wigley, Dafydd
Loyden, EddieWilliams, Rt Hon Alan
McAllion, JohnWilliams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
McAvoy, ThomasWilson, Brian
McCartney, IanWinnick, David
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)Wise, Mrs Audrey
McKelvey, WilliamWorthington, Tony
McLeish, HenryWray, Jimmy
McNamara, Kevin
McWilliam, JohnTellers for the Noes:
Madden, MaxMr. Frank Cook and Mr. Adam Ingram.
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Marek, Dr John

Question accordingly agreed to.

Lords amendment No. 228 agreed to. [Special Entry.]

MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER then proceeded to put the Questions necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at that hour.

Lords amendments Nos. 229 to 265 agreed to, some with Special Entry.

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

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. At the beginning of the previous debate, when I was out of the Chamber for a short period—I was present for most of the debate—the Secretary of State accused me of seeking a licence for agnostics and atheists to teach religious education. This followed an intervention that I made in one of his speeches yesterday. It is amazing that the right hon. Gentleman should allow 23 hours to pass before taking up the intervention. Having referred to column 817, of yesterday's Hansard, I can say that his attack upon me was based on a grave distortion of what I said. I hope, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you have received an indication from the right hon. Gentleman that he wishes to withdraw the attack and the distortion, and to explain to the House how he will find sufficient teachers, who are Christians, to administer the legislation.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) takes my remarks as amounting to a grave insult, I shall withdraw. It was meant to be a little joke. It was not meant as an offence to the hon. Gentleman.

In his point of order the hon. Gentleman referred to religious education teachers. There is a substantial number of teachers who have been trained in religious education but do not teach it. These amount to about 6,000 or 7,000.